Study shows the future is bleak for BlackBerry

There was a time, not that long ago, when the ONLY phone you could have in the corporate world was a BlackBerry. In the world of corporate banking, using an iPhone for work pretty much meant that you were an anarchist (although many of them had one for personal use). The perception was that BlackBerry was secure, where other phones were not. However, that perception has been slowly changing. In spite of some malware warnings (usually from security software providers) there are many tens of millions of Android and iPhones out there with little evidence of security issues.

According to a new study, BlackBerry’s recent outage will considerably damage the company, with many of their users switching to other smartphones. YouGov’s smartphone survey (SMIX) found that in September most BlackBerry users rated the company between 8 & 10 (out of 10) for satisfaction. However, following last week’s problems, the overall satisfaction dropped by a massive 8 points. This was particularly marked by the number of users who would consider buying a BlackBerry again. Just 42% of users said they would get another BlackBerry, a drop of 11% on the previous study. Another recent study by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) found that only 16 percent were “completely satisfied” with their BlackBerries, compared to 44 percent of iPhone users.

Of course, conducting a study immediately after such a major outage will reveal customers at their least dissatisfied. RIM still retain a high level of customer loyalty and currently there is nothing that directly challenges BBM for both cost, ease of use and security. Now, if Apple were to develop a secure messaging function then maybe BlackBerry’s future then maybe the corporate world will switch to the iPhone.

More on the study here

SMS Spam: this time it’s mis-sold loans and credit cards

As expected, in response to increasing pressure in the accident claims sector, the spammers are switching their messaging to claiming for mis-sold personal insurance, bank loans and credit cards. Messages typically look like this:

From: (a mobile number)


URGENT!! if you took out a Bank Loan prior to 2007 then you are almost certainly be entitled to  £2900 compensation, to Claim reply YES …

(message shortened)

This message is illegal for two reasons: firstly no one has opted in to receive it, and secondly the company is not identified in the message. If a recipient replies to a message with YES or CLAIM they will receive a call to make it into a qualified lead which will be sold on. The call is always from a withheld number (also illegal) and the company will tell you that their name is something like ‘PPI Compensations Team’ or ‘Affiliate Data Systems’  and that information was passed on from their ‘Network Affiliate Response Team’. If you ask for any more information about the company, such as their address or website, then they will simply terminate the call.

The companies have also started to ask if the enquiry was as the result of completing an online survey and that no unsolicited message was received in order to generate the lead. Of course, as the spammers and the company calling are one and the same, they know that the lead was a result of their unsolicited message. However, if someone believes that they really will bet £2900 then they are likely to agree that they did indeed complete an online survey. By creating this collusion with the claimant it confirms to the company that they will not report them for an unsolicited text when they reveal their identity much further down the line. However the fact remains they are operating illegally in both the SMS and by refusing to reveal the company’s identity during the call.

The advice for dealing with these messages and calls remains the same as the accident claims ones. Best advice is to ignore it and report it to your operator (forward the message to 7726, or 67726 on Vodafone). If you have any further information about the company then report it to the Information Commissioner. Exactly the same operational methods are being used for the loans that have been used for the accident claims texts. The company, Affiliate Data Systems have been doing the rounds for some time. If you want to have fun with it, then you can reply YES and make up a claim (as long as you don’t actually attempt to claim) and waste as much of their time as you can.

SMS Spam: what does India tell us about stopping it?

It was little over a month ago when the Indian regulator, TRAI took steps to stem the flood of spam in the country. A number of measures were introduced, including larger fines, registration of messaging companies, and limiting the daily text messages on pre-pay SIMs to 100 per day. It was the latter move that grabbed the worldwide headlines because it was something that significantly affected many consumers. And surprise surprise, it seems to have made little difference. Although a dip was reported shortly after the measure was introduced, feedback from consumers shows that in just a few weeks, the spam levels have gone back up. All the spammers did was to switch their operating method to using web-based messaging systems. There are even reports of a switch to voice-calling.

Although the two markets are different in some respects, this is very telling for the work being done in the UK to reduce SMS spam. No one has yet suggested restricting text messages, however some people have called for ID to be used when buying PAYG SIMs. However, the government is planning to remove paid leads in the personal injuries market. This may or may not reduce the spam in this area, but the evidence is that they will simply move on to something else: PPI claims or debt management. As long as there is money to be made, spammers will try.

Does this mean there’s no solution to spam? There is one, but it will come from a combination of better filtering and management by the operators, better enforcement of the existing regulations and consumer education to ignore and report unsolicited messages.

Facebook Failures Infographic

As something of a Facebook skeptic (at least when it comes to a personal account), this handy inforgraphic lays out the history of problems with the social network. Interestingly, it was the failure of others, such as Friendster and MySpace that paved the way for Facebook’s success. So in spite of getting it wrong on a regular basis, the rise and rise of Facebook continues. Never mind the privacy, its the functionality that counts.

Latest stats show users iOS users do more of everything

New statistics show that in spite of Android’s domination of mobile handsets, iOS and the iPad dominate data usage

The latest figures from Comscore show that Android now dominates the smartphone market in the US, and an increase on the previous year. This has largely been at the expense of Symbian (Nokia) and RIM (BlackBerry):

Top Smartphone Platforms
3 Month Avg. Ending Aug. 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending May 2011
Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Smartphone Subscribers
May-11 Aug-11 Point Change
Total Smartphone Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Google 38.1% 43.7% 5.6
Apple 26.6% 27.3% 0.7
RIM 24.7% 19.7% -5.0
Microsoft 5.8% 5.7% -0.1
Symbian 2.1% 1.8% -0.3

In terms of handset ownership, Samsung are the largest, followed by LG and Motorola.  Apple, though popular, represent less than 10% of the handset market:

Top Mobile OEMs
3 Month Avg. Ending Aug. 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending May 2011
Total U.S. Mobile Subscribers (Smartphone & Non-Smartphone) Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Mobile Subscribers
May-11 Aug-11 Point Change
Total Mobile Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Samsung 24.8% 25.3% 0.5
LG 21.1% 21.0% -0.1
Motorola 15.1% 14.0% -1.1
Apple 8.7% 9.8% 1.1
RIM 8.1% 7.1% -1.0

However, when it comes to OS usage, Apple dominates with their iOS. There has been previous evidence that iPhone users do more of everything than other OSs – more app downloading, more web browsing, more social media. Add other iOS devices in the form of the iPad (and a few iPod Touches)  and Apple’s operating system dominate the market. However, it is the iPad that takes the most traffic of all. Whilst the iPhone accounts for 42% of data, Apple’s tablet has nearly 47% of all data traffic and 97% of all tablet-based online usage.

OS Market Share by Digital Traffic (Browser-Based Page Views)
August 2011
Total U.S. – Home and Work Locations
Source: comScore Device Essentials
Device Platforms Share (%) of Non-Computer Traffic
Apple iOS 58.5%
Google Android 31.9%
RIM 5.0%
Other Platforms 4.6%

BlackBerry NFC to allows sharing between phone

BlackBerry has announced that its new OS7 will include the facility to share files, contacts, docs and more between handsets, which are NFC enabled. RIM has been adding NFC chips to it’s higher end Curve and Bold models since the spring this year. They are not the only company to show an interest in Contactless technologies in mobile. Orange, in conjunction with Barclay card launched a Samsung NFC phone in 2011. Google has also firmly shown their commitment to NFC with their wallet.

However, BlackBerry is the first to promote the file sharing aspect of the technology. Outside of the business market, their key demographic are younger users (it’s all about BBM), and the presence of P2P-based file sharing will set well with that audience. It was this demographic that made use of Bluetooth for file sharing in the days when Nokia were still making phones. BlackBerry Tag looks set to replace that for their users. VFC has been slow to roll out, but could BlackBerry tag do for contactless what BBM did for IM on mobile?

Although not primarily aimed at mobile marketing, this initiative could help open things up for that market. The company will include a developer API to allow third party integration with the ‘tap to share’ function. Look out for a ‘tap’ to do download poster in the near future.

Getting Permissions Right

(or How to Do Mobile and Not Annoy People)

This article is to accompany a presentation given at the MobileSquared, Permission Marketing event on 3rd October 2011.

We know that there are many great examples of mobile campaigns across all of the various channels. However, there are almost as many examples of poor campaigns – mobile has the ability to annoy people like no other marketing medium. Perhaps the most sensitive channel of all is messaging – SMS and MMS.

Is Spam a Problem in Mobile Messaging?

Although most people are aware that spam exists in mobile, it is low-level when compared to the problem in email. However, the extent of the problem has been difficult to identify. In July 2011 the DMA conducted a survey with a weighted population sample of over 1000 people. The results were surprising to say the least. 58% of consumers had received, what they considered to be a spam message in the last month. Of these, 11% of people had received 10 or more messages during the month.

We also tried to understand what consumers regarded as spam. The regulatory definition of an unsolicited message is where a consumer has not opted-in either directly or through a sale or negotiation of a sale. However, our study found that consumers took a different view. Over one fifth (22%) of the spam received was from companies where they had previously bought goods or services. It means that whilst the companies were legally entitled to send such an SMS, those receiving them, regarded them as unsolicited. The fact that it represents such a large number of message, clearly shows that there is a problem. Brands are not matching consumer expectations when it comes to permissions.

There has been a problem with spam in its most obvious form over the last couple of years. We found that 42% of people had received an unsolicited message for accident claims compensation, mis-sold insurance or debt management. Such messages are quite incidious are designed to mislead the recipient. Interestingly we found that 3% of people had responded to make a claim to such a message. It shows that consumer are, understandably confused about some brand communications on their mobile phones.

However, it is not just the misleading messages. In an earlier study conducted by the DMA and IAB on mobile messaging, we found that consumers didn’t trust brands when it came to their mobile phones. 71% of people were worried that signing up to a marketing campaign would result in more spam or an additional cost on their mobile phone bill. Marketers were also not meeting expectations in terms of messages. Most consumers understandably wanted offers and incentives in their mobile communications, yet most people felt they were not receiving enough of these. Another element of trust for consumers was about control over what and when they received it. 41% of people said they would be more likely to opt-in where such control was offered.

Getting Right and Getting it Wrong

So what goes into a good permission-based messaging campaign? Almost everyone in the UK is familiar with Orange Wednesdays. Most people in digital marketing know that this campaign was able to generate 15 million responses in just five years, and it continues to be successful. The scheme is an essential part of their customer retention strategy. However, understanding this success shows how a mobile message campaign could be run. The offer is simple: any Orange customer, any friend, any Wednesday, one free cinema ticket. There aren’t complex conditions about who that friend is or which Wednesday they can go. It’s universal. Redeeming the offer is also easy. Just send a message to their shortcode, 241, and you get the voucher immediately on your phone. All you have to do it to show it at the cinema and one of your tickets is free. That immediacy may seem obvious, yet there are many brands who fail to grasp this basic point and make redemption of such vouchers a long, complex matter.

Whilst Orange have got that right, many brands have not. Other mobile operators are the source of frequent complaints from their customers. Too many, irrelevant messages seems to be the consensus. Whilst it is easy enough to opt-out of these campaigns, the evidence is that consumers just don’t want to receive these texts in the first place.

There are millions, even billions of unsolicited emails delivered in the UK each day. It’s certainly an annoyance, yet it doesn’t seem to generate the same level of brand disapproval that unsolicited text messages do. The reason is that mobile is the most personal of communication channels. Orange have carried out an annual study, called Exposure for the last three years. They survey 2000 of their customers about how they use their mobiles and what kind of brand activity they would like. In one of their surveys asked the respondents how they saw different media channels. Television was entertaining, radio was informative. When it came to mobile, most consumers saw it as personal (and personalised). The reason is that mobile is a technology that we rarely share but where we have our most personal of conversations.

In the DMA/IAB study in 2010, we measured consumer recall of brand messages. We found that 98% of people remembered what message they had received 24 hours later. The personalness of mobile means that good or bad, consumers remember brand communications on their phones.

Just because you have someone’s number doesn’t mean you have their permission

Many brands assume that a number in their database means there is permission. Consumers do not necessarily think that – there is a ‘permissions gap’. The image on the right is a good example of this. When I first received the message, my immediate thought was ‘how did they get my number’. It turns out that (via my operator) they sold me a phone 18 months ago. Although their T&Cs tell me that they opt-in everyone, the fact is that I neither recalled the company or the opt-in. To me, it is spam. Brands who have existing data need to ask themselves some key questions before embarking on campaign: how old is the data? How did they opt-in (soft or hard) and are they expecting to hear from us?

Be Engaging

It doesn’t have to be like that. Many brands have created opt-in databases by being engaging. Walkers Crisps did it by asking people to vote for their favourite flavour. Sprite/Fanta have done it by bribing teenagers with phone credit. An interesting example comes from the German pension company AMF. They got 20-something customers interested in pensions by asking them to send a picture message with their photo. A few minutes later it came back with their photo aged to 70 years. Do people want to really do that? Well, 330,000 Germans did and as a result their brand awareness went up three fold. This is a great example of personalisation. Many brands think, like the company that sent the message above, that personalisation is just a matter of adding your name. That isn’t personalisation, that’s just a mail merge. When a message is unsolicited it simply adds to the dissatisfaction.

One interesting point came out with our study last year: consumers like MMS from brands. We found a 150% higher response rate than SMS. People liked the images, for sure, but what they liked the most is that it looked like the brand. An SMS can be quite anonymous. MMS created more trust through the branding and logos.

Be Useful

Winning user permission doesn’t just have to be engaging. Delivering some (or all) of your service through mobile can be equally successful in receiving user permissions. Swiftcover, for example, were one of the first companies to do this with insurance. Airlines are using mobile for check-in. Similarly, Argos have seen considerable success with their text to take home service – over 6m people have used it with an estimated value of £30m from the resulting sales.

Once you have collected some permission-based data, it’s important to engage people in the right way. Offers are important, but relevance is also key. However, with mobile, timing is everything. Obviously you can’t send messages in the middle of the night, but as mobile drives fast responses you need to carefully plan when is the best time for a particular message. Mobile is exactly what it is. Mobile. So where is as key as what and when. Targetting by location can bring some of the best response rates.


Messaging: The Driver for Mobile

Getting permissions right for messaging is fundamental to any marketing campaign. Think of SMS and MMS as the drivers for mobile. Sometimes it is the campaign, but sometimes it’s just a great way to deliver response or service as part of a wider engagement. However, once you have gained the trust of your customers through mobile, then delivering engagement through other channels is easier and more successful. After developing a successful messaging customer base, M&S were able to launch their highly successful mobile site. Much of this is about test and learn: start with a sample group and develop the campaign from there. Don’t expect everything to be successful, but respond to customers and adapt. Their mobile site is not entirely the same user base, but the key is that having understood trust and permissions of their user base they were able to include these elements in their mobile offering.

From Push to Pull

For many brands, mobile campaigns are about pushing out the messages and hoping for a good enough response. They are also hoping that there are not too many opt-outs or complaints. However, brands need to think more in terms of ‘consumer pull’. Create great engaging offers or deliver service. Promote it well and learn from your mistakes. In the end, good permission-based mobile marketing is about understanding user expectations and meeting them.