Editor’s note: We sent our mobile marketing expert and Product Marketing Director, Jose Santa Ana out to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona where he had a blast… and came home with a multi-part series on what’s new in mobile! Watch this space as we reveal Jose’s adventures in Barcelona over the next few weeks!

Mobile World Congress - HOLA
HOLA, Mobile World Congress 2014!

It’s been just over a week since Barcelona welcomed 80,000 attendees to Mobile World Congress 2014, and many a post has already been published recapping the record-breaking (in terms of attendance) event, but I thought I’d share my two cents anyway on the largest mobile event in the world today.

Needless to say, it was a huge event, spanning 8 huge halls full of auditoriums for conferences, exhibitors’ booths both large and small, meeting rooms, networking pavilions, and places to find nourishment and libations after exhausting yourself walking the enormous venue.  The event is so large, in fact, that it would clearly be impossible to cover everything in a single blog post – unless the post was War-and-Peace long.  So I’ll stick to what I think stood out the most at the congress (which already spans several posts):

Mobile hardware: As Ned Stark learned, no leader is safe

It’s clear from market share and sales figures that the mobile hardware market is still ruled by two big companies: Apple and Samsung. However, one wouldn’t think this from looking at the show floor.  First (as usual), Apple didn’t even bother to grace us with her presence.  And second, unlike in previous years when Samsung stood out above the rest, this year they seemed to be just another among many.

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We’re sure Jose had a nice invigorating 8-exhibition-halls-long walk

The other mobile hardware vendors: Sony, LG, HTC, Huawei, Xiaomi, Nokia, Lenovo are moving ahead, taking slices of the pie, enhancing their offerings and gaining a foothold in the nascent wearables space. The product gap between leaders and followers is almost gone. They showed powerful devices at competitive prices with complete lineups that included smartphones, tablets, phablets, fitness wristbands and smartwatches.

Speaking of smartwatches, MWC14 has shown that smart wearables are here to stay. Some might even say wearables stole the show at MWC14.

Mobile World Congress Smartwatches
We’re already out and running to the stores for this beauty. Who says you need the gym to keep fit?

Wearables began as one of those innovations started by a few disrupting companies a couple of years ago (Pebble, Fitbit, Jawbone) and questioned by the rest. Today however, it seems they are flourishing over expectations. Almost all big handset manufacturers in MWC14 have included wearables in their lineup, mostly as wristband fitness trackers and smartwatches.

In fact, the Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit, unveiled at MWC14, was awarded as best-in-show gadget. Fitbit’s was also one of the most talked about devices at MWC14 because of its initiative #FitbitChallenge which o­ffered attendees the chance to experience the e­ffect of wearable technology.

Mobile World Congress - Soccer Players
Samsung’s moving into the wearables and fitness space. Jose’s hanging out with world famous soccer players. Everyone wins.

Conference Sessions: Now Playing Second Fiddle

Sessions where industry bigwigs and giant players talk about the state of the industry used to be the concept that drove the Congress.  However MWC today is more an opportunity to network: find partners and clients, unveil upcoming products and let the world know who you are and what your role is in the space.

Mobile World Congress Seminars
That huge screen would fit nicely in our home theatres!

So while there were still tons of scheduled keynotes and seminars with flashy titles aiming to explore interesting topics throughout the 4 days, Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote and Jan Koum’s speech captured the bulk of the attention. The recent Whatsapp acquisition by Facebook has been the biggest and most strategic market move involving mobile apps so far, so the whole world wanted to know what they had to say about it.

Mobile World Congress - Mark Zuckerberg & Jan Koum
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in conversation with The Facebook Effect author and analyst David Kirkpatrick, a past keynote speaker at our annual conference

Koum explained how his childhood dream of connecting people became a reality and announced that Whatsapp will finally support calls by the end of the spring 2014.  Zuckerberg focused on the potential of Whatsapp to get beyond 1 billion users and how successful Koum’s invention has already been at engaging people precisely where Facebook Messenger couldn’t reach. Zuckerberg also talked about the commitment big Internet companies like Facebook must make to bring connection and services to the emerging countries, though we all know the real motivation behind the acquisition – more users on his platform for marketers to target!

 

Up next week… mobile operating systems and a connected future at Mobile World Congress 2014! While you wait with bated breath, why not watch David Kirkpatrick and his take on how Message Systems’ clients are changing the way the world communicates.

 

Jose Santa Ana  and Julie Ask, VP & Principal Analyst at Forrester team up to talk about mobile customer engagement in this free webinar. Are you ready to listen to what they have to say? We know that Your Mobile Customer Is Ready To Engage – Are You?

Webinar: Your Mobile Customer is Ready to Engage. Are you?

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

A recent study suggests that this might be the case, although numerous prior studies have come to different conclusions. That same study  stated that consumers continue to appreciate personalized product recommendations, so it appears that the extent of relevance in email personalization is the point of contention rather than its use. Does the future still lie in behaviour-triggered automated emails then? We’ve curated posts on both sides of the debate in this week’s issue of the email marketing digest for your consideration.

Marketers Undervalue Email, Overvalue Personalization

The Economist Intelligence Unit and Lyris report that emails hold more sway than social media, blogs and mobile when it comes to influencing a purchase.

When it comes to products, 51% preferred to learn about it through the company website, 19% through email and 19% through an independent website. Younger consumers (age 20-30) indicated similar preferences with 48% choosing company websites, 19% email and finally social media (5%) and blogs (2%).

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63% of consumers say they have grown numb to personalization and 33% indicated that superficial personalization annoyed them.

7 Excellent Examples of Email Personalization in Action

If you are going the personalized email route, Hubspot has a few great examples of email personalization. Here’s an educational email from Dropbox about a product feature that was triggered by user behavior.

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Personalized Promotional and Triggered Emails Seen Delivering Strong Results

An study released by Experian Marketing Services in March shows that personalized promotional and triggered emails deliver stronger open and click rates than their non-personalized emails. These personalized emails also have higher transaction rates and revenue per email.

Experian-Email-Personalization-Lift-Mar2013

Email Marketing: Your questions about personalization and length

Here’s an excerpt from Responsys’ Vice President of Strategy, Rich Fleck’s interview with David Kirkpatrick on personalization:

“They (digitally savvy consumers) move seamlessly between digital channels (Facebook, website, email, mobile, etc.) and they expect this to be an integrated experience.

Personalization supports this new expectation – as marketers, the more relevantly we are able to speak with a consumer, the better the response rate. With crowded inboxes and the abundance of digital messaging, personalization is an effective tool to cut through the noise and attract consumer attention with a relevant and timely message.”

Of course, more marketing gems lie within the actual article so do read the full article.

Marketers Don’t Send Personalized Emails (Infographic)

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Could it be that consumers have reached the tipping point when it comes email personalization? We present both sides of the debate. We leave the decision to you (and your A/B testing).

Email Personalization is one part of the marketing puzzle, deliverability is the next. Find out what it takes to get email in the inbox when you watch the Six Secrets of Successful Sending Webinar!

6 Secrets of Successful Sending

Techonomy
With just two months to go before the event, we’re deep into the planning stages for Interact 2012. One the high points from last year’s event was the keynote presentation from Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick. An astute observer of the tech industry, David early on understood the importance of Facebook, and got direct access to the company’s founders to write his definitive account of the company, The Facebook Effect. In his speech, David talked primarily about the ways Facebook evolved as a business, and how it’s shaping society and attitudes toward privacy. But he also had some interesting things to say about how social media is changing business-to-consumer relations. Here’s a short video from a conversation David and I had after his talk.

The behavioral changes in communication being pioneered by Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Fourquare and some of those companies are inevitably going to affect the way every business has to operate.