Are you plagued by the paper version of SPAM like I am? Don’t you wish you could hit the “JUNK” button on that stuff as easily as you can with your email? I know I’m not alone in this, because an awesome comic hit my inbox this week:

A Comic by The Oatmeal
This comic was created by The Oatmeal, a talented illustrator and humorist that everyone on the internet should know by now.

Some Other Things I Wish Were More Like Email:

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Phone Calls

I wish I could see a Subject Line of every phone call I ever got before picking up the phone. That way if I saw something undesirable, I could just ignore the call.

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Long Meetings At Work

It would be awesome if we could set up filters the same way we can with many modern email programs for our ears! Whenever we get stuck in a long meeting that we only need a small tidbit of information from, we could filter out all the fluff and have the important stuff dropped right in front of us. It would save me tons of time, but I’d miss out on a few power naps.

block-sender-baby

Everyday Social Situations

I would probably go out way more often if I could block sender on obnoxious people at bars, clubs, movie theaters, and anywhere else fun is often spoiled. The world would be a much better place if we could mute all of the people that bring us down.

Email’s Not So Bad

It’s easy to be annoyed with the emails we receive, the programs we use for it, or the barrage we sometimes get when we mistakenly get put on the wrong list. But when I look at other communication methods like these, it reminds that email’s not so bad. And I bet a lot of that is because of great technological strides like DMARC.

So thank you DMARC. Keep up the good work. And please go see what you can do for other moments in my life when I need to communicate with other human beings.

To learn more about DMARC, check out our Webinar:

Don't Deprioritize DMARC webinar

Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins unveiled her annual compendium of Internet trends and statistics last night, and it’s been getting a lot of attention – deservedly so – in the media and on Twitter throughout the past couple of days. What jumped out at me is that the report fleshes out in great detail some findings published earlier this year in MIT’s Technology Review. In that piece, author Michael DeGusta argued that judging from available data, smartphones were spreading faster than any consumer technology in human history, reaching market maturity faster than radio, TV, the commercial Internet and many other devices and technologies.

It took landline telephones about 45 years to get from 5 percent to 50 percent penetration among U.S. households, and mobile phones took around seven years to reach a similar proportion of consumers. Smartphones have gone from 5 percent to 40 percent in about four years, despite a recession…

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DeGusta goes on to float the idea that adoption rates for tablet PCs could outstrip even the eye-popping numbers we’ve seen with smartphones. While his assertions drew fire from several commenters who argued that tablets debuted long before the iPad (point taken, but the iPad is certainly the first instance where the tablet concept was first fully realized), the Meeker report provides rafts of data to back up DeGusta’s original observations. Let’s take a look at slides 12 and 9:

Microsoft PowerPoint - Internet Trends @ Stanford 120312 FINAL

Citing Pew Research Center numbers, Meeker shows that tablet sales are in fact experiencing explosive growth. Just as interesting, looking at numbers from Apple, adoption rates for the iPad tablet category device far outstrip those of the iPod and the iPhone:

Microsoft PowerPoint - Internet Trends @ Stanford 120312 FINAL

Meeker provides a lot more data to support her case that mobile computing is fundamentally reshaping the way humans live their daily lives, but I’d like to call out a couple more slides that marketers should play close attention to. First up, a quarter of all Internet shopping traffic on Black Friday last month was from mobile devices. It was 6% just two years ago. If this trend continues on its current glide path, shopping traffic could be close to or over 50% by this time next year.

Microsoft PowerPoint - Internet Trends @ Stanford 120312 FINAL

It goes without saying that for online retailers and ecommerce sites, the implications are enormous. So many of the processes and methodologies that have grown up around Internet commerce – email marketing, fat-browser-oriented site design, engagement strategies – are very much based on the assumption that the consumer is interacting with the business through a desktop PC with a mouse and full-sized keyboard attached. What we might call the customer journey for online consumers was a fairly well understood concept within most vertical industries. That world is fading away very quickly and we’re entering a new communications environment where marketers are going to need to rethink the ways they interact with and engage customers through mobile devices. How will we know when we’ve reached the other side? Let’s look at one more slide:

Microsoft PowerPoint - Internet Trends @ Stanford 120312 FINAL

In some countries, including India, mobile Internet traffic already outstrips desktop Internet traffic. It’s inevitable that the Internet experience will soon be largely a mobile one for most individuals worldwide.

No, credit cards aren’t going away any time soon, but consumers are finding it easier and easier to make credit card payments just using their phone. In May we first started hearing about Google Wallet, and I was a little surprised to learn that as of earlier this week one out of every four Starbucks card transactions was made using a mobile phone.

Granted, these are highly caffeinated, urban-dwelling go-getter types, but if that many would rather use their phones than little pieces of plastic, it’s a good indication of people’s readiness for mobile payment. And clearly the card companies, like MasterCard and Visa, are playing along.

How it Works
A clear standard for m-payments is yet to emerge, and currently there are a number of different flavors of m-payment, including the following:

  • A consumer sends a unique identifier code to a merchant’s short code over SMS, and after the consumer’s identity is confirmed, the vendor sends a receipt of payment back over SMS.
  • A consumer initiates a transaction at a website using a home computer or public kiosk at a retail location, and to complete the transaction, the merchant sends a one-time password to the consumer’s phone over SMS. The consumer can be billed through the mobile operator.
  • Using a Near Field Communication (NFC)-equipped phone, a consumer contacts the merchant’s NFC tag on a poster or store to initiate a transaction.
  • A consumer downloads an app from a merchant, and the consumer uses that app to make purchases against a pre-established account with the merchant.

The latter method is exactly how the Starbucks mobile-payment system works, and it’s a win-win: Consumers find it easy to pay and manage their Starbucks accounts (No more guessing how much they have on their cards) and Starbucks doesn’t have to manufacture as many cards or dedicate cashier time to reading card value.

However this shakes out, it’s likely that consumers will soon be looking to do business with companies that, as an added convenience, will let them pay by phone.

Ready or Not, Here They Come!
So, retailers, are you ready to receive mobile payments? You don’t have to be ready for this holiday season, but you’ll probably have to be ready for the next one. And what does it really mean to be ready?

It means you’ll need to be ready to send mobile receipts, and also be able to handle the mobile queries that come up. And if you really want to go the extra mile, it also means you’ll be able to respect each customer’s messaging preferences, sending receipts or other communications over email, and then switching back to mobile just while they’re traveling, for example.

It sounds complex, but it’s not; you know where to find us, if you ever want to talk about it!

In the course of developing their recent white paper, “Preparing for Message Convergence,” Dave Lewis and David Daniels adopted several terms to identify or describe certain new communications trends or concepts, including message convergence, device convergence and inbox convergence. I say “adopted” because these weren’t exactly new definitions. A quick Google search shows that these terms have been in use for a few years – limited use, but in circulation nonetheless. As many of us here at Message Systems are now using these terms in conversation and in a lot of the content we’re developing, I think it would be useful to get some definitions in place. (more…)