Hi Tech & Alternative Energy: Future Thoughts I Learned from Salim Ismail

I like to think I’m an amateur futurist. I’m optimistic and involved with technology daily. I’m also on a team that creates tech solutions to marketing problems, so when I get a chance to hear someone speak about the future, I sign right up. That was the case this past month when my friends at Rokk3r Labs brought in Salim Ismail, author of Exponential Organizations, to talk about the future at a recent event at Miami Dade College’s Idea Center.

Here are a few things he said we can expect in the future:

(Note: Some of these don’t have sources, but are nuggets mentioned that I found interesting, thought provoking and inspiring.)

  • According to Salim, we won’t need to own cars. All cars will be provided by Uber-like services, so in the future, you won’t own one, you’ll just schedule a pick up.
  • The Google Self-Driving Car is so responsive and aware of its surroundings that it’s almost impossible for it to get in an accident. Here’s the Oatmeal’s take on riding in one.
  • DNA sequencing is getting cheaper. Currently, a full genome (complete DNA sequence of an organism’s genome a single time) is approaching $1000 per read. In ten years, it should cost about one penny. In the future, your toilet will be able to give you your full genetic read out.
  • We are two years away from writing DNA. There’s a team at Harvard University working to bring back extinct woolly mammoths. Jurassic Park anyone?
  • Remember the genetically modified glow in the dark cat? One of the issues with genetic modification is how to teach the next generation the ethical implications of the practice.
  • An artist creates faces from DNA left in public. More…
  • Xprize Foundation is creating a competition for an Artificial Intelligence app physician that you could access from your smartphone. The AI smartphone physician has to beat or meet the diagnosis of 10 board-certified physicians.
  • Solar power is doubling each year. In the near future, solar power will be cheaper than producing energy on the grid.
  • All of the energy created in the world (with oil, coal, gas, etc.) added together would only amount to 5 days of solar energy.
  • Germany is almost 50% solar powered. More…
  • Think of the potential for solar energy exports. Consider that some of the poorest countries in the world are also the sunniest.
  • Technology is eroding our privacy and 4th amendment rights (right to privacy). The constitution, much like software, could use an upgrade.
  • By the time you finish your master’s degree in technology, your knowledge will be out of date.
  • We are in the best and safest time to be alive in the history of mankind.
  • With all of the emoticons (emotion icons) or emojis being used in our writing and texting, linguists say we are better at expressing emotions in our (text) messages. At Momares “We ”
  • The first generation of internet companies stored data (Google). The second generation of internet companies shared data (Facebook). The third generation of internet companies will share, but not store data (Snapchat).
  • It took Starbucks and Nike 24 years to reach $1B. It took YouTube 1 year to reach $1B and it took Grand Theft Auto 5, the video game, only 72 hours to reach $1B in sales.
  • A farmer in Africa with a smartphone has more information in his hands than President Clinton had during his presidency.
  • There is music designed to stimulate you and help you focus and it might be better than caffeine. Try Focus @ Will, music scientifically optimized to boost concentration and focus. (I wrote this article listening to https://youtu.be/Fp78Yu1LYvo)
  • A BitCoin-style transaction authentication system may end the need for banks. The authentication system called blockchain is like a central ledger recording every transaction. Apple Pay?
  • There were 2 billion people online in 2010. By 2020, there will be 5 billion people online. That’s 3 billion more minds online.
  • We don’t know when robots will become self-aware.
  • Water will not be in short supply in the future. Desalination technology is becoming cheaper and faster.
  • It’s not the shortage of food, but the distribution of food that is the challenge.
  • New organizations are scaling as fast as technology.
  • TechShop facilities, a tool shop for rent, allows you to build anything using their tools.
  • The damage done to the environment is irreversible. This is one of the biggest challenges of our generation.

I hope the points above have inspired you to think forward or at the very least entertain you. I’d love to hear what you think, comment here or email me at marcos@momares.com

Are You Complying with the Rules of Text Message Marketing?

Rules for Text Messaging

While text messaging seems like a casual medium, there are very serious consequences if you don’t follow the rules. In fact, you can be sued for up to $1,500 per text!

Who has the power to govern your program and what are the rules for compliance? Read on for a breakdown.

Governance, Guidance and Best Practices

Overall, there are 3 industry groups involved:

  • The FCC regulates SMS programs under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) which limits solicitations by phone. Text message marketers can be sued (and have been) under the TCPA. In fact, big companies like Facebook, American Eagle and eBay are currently facing lawsuits.
  • The CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) is a trade association of wireless carriers, including AT&T, Sprint and others. It publishes guidelines for SMS and while it doesn’t have legal authority, it can report your program to the carriers, which can, in turn, suspend your account.
  • The MMA (Mobile Marketing Association) is also a trade association. It offers marketing best practices for SMS and publishes documents to help marketers optimize their mobile programs.

Rules for Communicating by Text

There are some very strict guidelines you must follow when sending marketing messages by text. Here are some simple tips to help you avoid any violations:

Make the consumer opt in
Whether they sign up by text or web form, consumers must opt in. If you’re using a web form, follow it up with text asking the customer to confirm their opt in. This ensures the consumer does in fact want to receive your messages and that someone else didn’t enter their number by mistake.

Include required disclosures
There are some key pieces of information you need to include when you advertise the program and BEFORE a consumer opts in. They are:

  • Business name
  • Program name (or the keyword for the program)
  • Frequency of messages (Ex: “up to 4 messages a month”)
  • A disclosure that “data and messaging rates may apply.”
  • A notice of written consent: “By participating, you consent to receive text messages sent by an auto phone dialing system.”
  • Confirmation that “no purchase is necessary.”

Tell them how to opt out
You must also tell the consumer how to opt out. Ex: “Text STOP to stop.”

Link to your terms and conditions, privacy policy and/or rules.

An example message could look like this…

Get $5 off your next purchase at Acme Sporting Goods!
To sign up for this and other discounts and alerts, text ACME to 65047.

Message & data rates may apply. Up to 4 messages a month. Text STOP to stop. No purchase necessary. You consent to receive autodialed text messages from Acme Sporting Goods. See privacy/rules at www.acme.com/mobilerules

Keep in mind also that text messages are not allowed to be sent outside the hours of 8 am and 9 pm—in the consumer’s time zone, not yours.

Following these rules is a small price to pay to reach your customers on a powerful platform and the device they attend to the most… their mobile phones!

Contact us for help with your text message marketing compliance.

Text Message Marketing Best Practices

Text message marketing can be extremely effective. However, there are a few guidelines that must be followed. They help you get the most return and make sure your program follows federal rules. When done well, a text message marketing campaign can yield fantastic results. To make the most of your text message campaign, here are best practices.

  1. Stay professional
    While it may be tempting to use texting shorthand or abbreviations it’s best to avoid them (think ‘u’ instead of ‘you’) and  only use regular abbreviations when necessary to save space (“exp.” instead of “expire,” for example). Your brand’s message should still be a professionally crafted message. Also, brevity is key – do not try to fill all 160 characters if you don’t need to.
  2. Make it easy
    Opting in (or out) of any text message campaign should be easy for the user. Keeping codes short, or asking the user to text a number should be something short. Pro tip: the best way to get a large number of entries on your list is to host a sweepstakes. Keep it short and easy to get the biggest number of entries!
  3. Plan what, then when
    It’s important for these text messages to come at a time that will not seem intrusive to the client. Acceptable hours for your text to go out should be business hours, around 9 am – 6 pm. It’s important to keep in mind that this is a client’s personal phone and to be respectful of it.
  4. Comply with the TCPA
    The Telephone Consumer Protection Act was made to protect the very people you are trying to market to. To avoid any legal issues, make sure that everyone on your mobile list has opted into receiving messages from you. There are also certain messages that should be included in your opt-in language (“Message and data rates may apply. Text STOP to stop. You provide consent to receive autodialed text messages.”)

These tips will  help improve customer response and ensure a successful campaign.

Using Mobile Coupons? See Examples From Top Retail Stores

Have you used mobile coupons for your business? Top retailers are sending them as often as once a week.

Whether you offer discounts weekly or monthly, there are plenty of opportunities to get your customers in the door. Best of all, these opportunities are only a click or text away.

All a consumer needs to do to sign up is text a word to a short code (a 5 or 6-digit number) and they’ll opt in for coupon updates sent directly to their phones. To quit, they simply text “STOP” to the same number.

Here are mobile coupon examples from top retailers:

1. Old Navy

Mobile coupon offer:  “Top off your long weekend with up to 50% off the entire store thru Mon., plus 50% off all fleece tops on Sat. only. Select styles, limit 5/person.”

2. Pet Supermarket

Text PETS to 65047 for pet deals and enter for a chance to win free pet food for a year!  Example coupon:  “We have treats, toys and gifts for furry family members. Plus get $5 off $25 or more w/ coupon 12420. Exp 12/21/14.”

3. Bed, Bath & Beyond

“Your mobile offer for 20% off 1 item in-store or online is here! [Link]”

4. Macy’s

Earn an extra 15% off by texting COUPON to 62297.

5. Target

Sign up online for mobile alerts such as this one: “Stock up for the Big Game with these Mobile Coupons! Click xxxx… Exp 2/4”

6. Family Dollar

Tell the cashier to use code 59409 and save $.50 on select Tylenol cold products.

7. Payless Shoe Store

Payless offers a 20% off coupon for texting PAYLESS to 747474.

8. Kohl’s

Enjoy 20% off at Kohls.com by texting SAVE02 to 56457. 

9. Avenue Women’s Fashion

“Take $5 off any purchase of $20 or more in store or online. Use coupon code xxxxx in store or code xxxxx at avenue.com.  Expires in 10 days.” To sign up, text AVENUE to 40679.  (Also a Valentine’s Day coupon below.)

10. JoAnn Fabrics

Text BEADS to 56266 (JOANN) to receive 20% off a purchase, plus five more coupons a month.

The Pros & Cons of Amazon Giveaway for Marketers

One of the biggest online retailers just got into the sweepstakes game today with Amazon Giveaway. And it looks like an attractive option. Running a sweepstakes involves a bit of work after all. There are entry forms to create, rules to write, prizes to ship out and even tax issues to handle.

Amazon handles most of that. So we can see why a self-service tool like this will appeal to “everyone from authors, aspiring artists, non-profits, brands, bloggers, social media gurus and more.”

But if you’re a brand marketer or have your own business, there are a few cons to consider as well. First, let’s go over how it works…

How it Works

  1. Select a prize on Amazon and pay for it.
  2. Use the wizard to set up the sweepstakes.
  3. Get a link you can share by email or on social media.
  4. Entrants click and log in to Amazon to enter (they must have an account).
  5. Entry is an easy instant-win process.
  6. Amazon notifies the winner, ships the prize & handles tax reporting.

A look at how it works

Sounds easy right? But there’s more to consider. Here are the pros and cons to using Amazon Giveaways for your sweepstakes:

PROS

  • Easy to set up
    You can leave most of the work up to Amazon, including entry setup, (some) rule requirements, winner notification, prize fulfillment and tax reporting.
  • Easy to enter
    It’s as easy as logging in and clicking two times to find out if you’re an instant winner.
  • More than a million prizes to choose from
    Electronics, books, home appliances… you name it, Amazon probably has it.
  • Option to build your Twitter following
    You can build in an option asking entrants to follow your Twitter account. This could help you grow your Twitter following obviously (a tweet doesn’t seem required though).

CONS

  • Who entered? You won’t know
    This is the biggest drawback of using the tool: you won’t know who entered. Sure, you’ll find out who won and may get a boost in Twitter followers, but that’s about it. As marketers, we all want to gather information from entrants (email or perhaps other details), but with Amazon Giveaway this is not an option. Per our contact with the company, all you’ll get is the winner’s name and address.
  • Website traffic? Yes, to Amazon
    Having the entry on Amazon means your prospects or customers will be visiting the big A’s site, not yours. Remember, all you’re getting is a link to the giveaway. We suppose you could set up a landing page or blog post to post the link on your site, but all your traffic will leave and will surely get hooked into wandering around this behemoth’s site, rather than your own. (The thank you page doesn’t link back to your site, in case you’re wondering.)
  • Official Rules are still your responsibility
    Some of the legal aspects are handled in the setup. For example, the overall prize value can’t exceed $5,000 (otherwise, you’d have to file a surety bond in certain states). This is helpful, but you’ll still need to create Official Rules for your sweepstakes and host them on your site.
  • Brand-centric or high end prizes are ruled out
    Yes, there are more than a million products to choose from, but there are still limits. You won’t be able to offer your own merchandise (unless it’s available on Amazon), gift cards to your store/site or items excluded by Amazon such as digital songs, movies or apps, along with Marketplace items (sold by third party vendors). Trips, cars and other luxury goods are also ruled out.

Longer-term benefits are missing

This tool will be great for Amazon’s business, but won’t give you all of the benefits of a good sweepstakes—especially, the ability to contact entrants after the promotion. You’ll get a temporary buzz boost, extra Twitter fans and the goodwill of offering a free prize, but the longer term benefits are missing.

Overall, Amazon Giveaway is a great option if you’re not worried about building your email (or mobile) list or don’t want the means to further contact entrants . But, for us as marketers, we consider that a primary goal.

Visit the site to try the tool for yourself.