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Do Mobile Payments Actually Work? Just Ask Starbucks!

April 11, 2012

By Sheila Bacon, BGGMarketing
Take a look at the Starbucks experience. In just the past 15 months Starbucks has processed more than 42 million mobile payments. Now that’s a buzz.
The program, which takes a more simplified approach to mobile pay than the yet-to-be significantly embraced NFC-based services from companies such as Device Fidelity, Google and Isis, has been such a huge success for Starbucks that the company continues to test top-secret, in-store technologies around payments.
Back in January 2011, Starbucks released “mobile pay,” a prominent feature of the company’s iPhone and Android applications. Customers can use the mobile app to pre-load money on to a digital Starbucks Card and then present a 2D barcode to pay at the register. Baristas simply scan the barcode using the scanners they already have at their cash registers. Cashless is coming via mobile payments which offers a happier customer experience—who wants to fumble with credit cards anymore?
Starbucks mobile payments app initially launched in the U.S., but has since migrated to Canada and the U.K., and Starbucks recently made it available to customers ordering from drive-thru windows! Yes, because none of us want to get out of the car now do we?In December 2011, Starbucks revealed that it had processed 26 million mobile payments. Adoption continues to grow exponentially.
For Starbucks, mobile pay is one of 10 core digital businesses that the coffee conglomerate attributes to enhancing its relationship with customers. A few weeks ago, Starbucks promoted Adam Brotman to the chief digital officer role, the first position of its kind at the company, and consolidated all of its digital businesses under a single digital ventures umbrella.
“Howard Schultz noticed that over the past several years there has been a real seismic shift in the way we interact with our customers through digital,” Brotman said. “There has been such a seismic shift, that we needed to pull it all together and make it priority.”
So let me know, what is your company doing with Mobile Payments these days?


Navigating The World of Mobile Payments

March 29, 2012

Q1 2012 Update

By Sheila Bacon, BGG Marketing

The mobile payment landscape is constantly changing. In case you missed it, below is a quick re-cap of this quarter’s activities. Although we are seeing good traction by all the players in this space, there are many issues yet to be addressed. So as you are planning your business and marketing strategies you might want check back as we track this activity and offer insights as to how this may affect your business. If we missed something you think is important, please let us hear from you.

• Isis Mobile Wallet Will Be Available to More Than 100 Million U.S. Card Holders” (ISIS announcement with BarclayCard, JPMC, Capital One)
• Visa and Vodaphone mobile wallet has the potential to transform the way that people pay and are paid the world over.” (Visa/Vodafone mobile wallet announcement at MWC 2012.)
• There are plans to serve mobile wallet via Facebook using American Express is a Facebook application that allows users to send, receive, and request money without leaving the social platform. (Facebook)
• Moneto has announced that six Samsung Galaxy S Andriod smartphones will be supported by the moneto wallet in addition to the iPhone 4, 4S & 3GS. The Moneto mobile wallet offers a way for smartphones that do not have an inbuilt NFC chip, for example the iPhone, to use NFC technology via a device in the microSD slot and a receiver tag on the back by the battery. The beauty of this device is that your data is encrypted securely and held on the microSD card with a PIN, you can take the microSD device with you to your new phone including any sensitive data, which could help prevent any flaws such as the recent Google Wallet hack.
• Visa and Samsung have announced that they will be releasing a payment app for the London 2012 Olympics that will allow users to make payments at over 3000 payment terminals spread across many of the Olympic venues

• Seeking to encourage service providers to introduce NFC applications, France Telecom-Orange group said it plans to roll out 3 million SIM-based NFC phones this year and 10 million in 2013. (nfctimes)
• Despite the lack of NFC support in Apple iPhones, various companies have managed to find workarounds, such as NFC-enabled SIM cards. DeviceFidelity recently rolled out a microSD card that is slotted into an iPhone case, which in turn will be attached to the iPhone, thus giving the device NFC capabilities.

• Google Wallet has announced that 22 of the largest U.S. retail chains support its initiative, which enables consumers to make purchases by tapping their Android smartphone at 300,000-plus MasterCard PayPass-enabled merchant terminals.
• DeviceFidelity’s In2Pay iCaisse4 becomes the First NFC iPhone solution to be certified by MasterCard for commercial deployment with MasterCard Mobile PayPass
• Retailers getting nfc. “We are exploring potential solutions that would help us to deliver the fastest, most secure mobile-payment experience possible for our customers.” (New retailer-centric mobile payments scheme)
• PayPal launches card reader for mobile payments to rival Square, aimed at small businesses.
• Square has focused on making the Card Case app more visible, and rebranded the app, as well as updated the UI—gone is the wallet look. Card Case has been reborn as “Pay With Square.”
• Juniper Research estimated that worldwide mobile payment volume would reach an incredible $240 billion this year. By 2015, Juniper predicts, worldwide mobile and point-of-service (POS) terminal payments will reach an even more incredible $670 billion.

• Home Depot to bring the revolutionary POS technology to nearly all of its 2,000 stores in the US via PayPal mobile wallet debut at Home Depot.
• Best Buy will shift toward mobile sales and smaller stores in an effort to boost sagging revenue and compete with rivals like Amazon and Wal-Mart. Best Buy’s signature big box stores will be dialed back, and 50 will close in 2012
• Apple is clearly running a semi-sandboxed experiment inside selected retail stores. The experiment? Allowing customers to buy physical goods using Apple’s own virtual currency system (iTunes).” (Apple Easy Pay Trial)
• Many vendors question weather the mobile wallet is actually a container that lives in the cloud or on a phone, that is accessed via the mobile phone, and that aggregates and makes easily accessible several frequently used payment tender types. That’s the PayPal and Square models (cloud-based) and what Google, ISIS, AmEx/Serve, Visa, Device Fidelity In2Pay, MasterCard and many more are all pursuing too.
• Visa has announced its first certifications of NFC phones, approving six models to run its contactless application, payWave, on SIM cards. The certifications will be welcome news to banks and mobile operators in such countries as Poland, the United Kingdom, Spain and France that are planning their initial NFC rollouts using payWave.

Stay tuned.

Seven Mobile Marketing Tips for Brand Managers in 2012

February 13, 2012

By Sheila Bacon

Mobile is not just the hot topic of the moment — it clearly is your future. The rapid growth in smartphones and decline of desktop PC’s quickly validates this thinking. Observe your own brand’s consumer behaviors. Every day consumers and businesses are growing more dependent on their mobile devices.
Truly embracing this reality requires a shift in thinking and many brands still do not have a mobile or encompassing digital strategy in place. Often quoted is the fact that over seventy percent of brands’ (still) have an optimized their web site for mobile!
Creating experiences across a variety of screen views such as smartphone and tablet-optimized sites, along with the increasing need to select mobile platforms and develop mobile apps, is not tomorrow land it is an imperative to improve a brand’s performance right now.
Below are seven tips to help brand managers think about and integrate mobile with loyalty ecommerce and CRM programs to create new integrated experiences for in-store, at home and on-the-go.
1. Take a Wide Eco-View: Look at all of the touch points and device considerations that surround a mobile campaign. Consider environmental conditions like in-store Wi-Fi, device detection and fallback tactics such as developing SMS or mobile web alternatives to more specialized mobile tactics. As mobile becomes more integrated with other touch points, the need to get store Ops and IT involved becomes a critical success factor. Pick an agency that knows how to work intimately with all facets of your organization.
2. Optimize Across Device Screen’s: Know what devices to optimize for and how far to take it. Don’t just look at today’s device penetration for a market, but also the consumer behavior that goes with it and where the trend lines point. Some agencies and platform providers are so bent on serving every device that the entire experience gets ‘dumbed down’ so far that it doesn’t engage anyone effectively, especially the smartphone crowd that is more likely to participate. Consider that your consumer will be using multiple devices at different times during the day, so you must be able to support that experience across platforms.
3. Leverage what Consumers Know. Remember websites and relevant marketing assets—such as email need to be optimized for tablets and smartphones for everyday PC tasks. Be sure these are integrated with your campaigns.
4. Pilot For More than One Test. As the promise of enterprise mobile solutions and point of sales integration continues to heat up, plan for concepts and pilots that set a bigger stage for follow-on investment. Sometime the wrong conclusion is reached from just a single trial.
5. Analyze, Analyze. ‘Big Data’ is back so the more multiple channels are connected; the more you need data to serve up the right experience to the right prospect and customer. There is a lot of opportunity here with location-based service integration and better behavioral and preference-based targeting.
6. Plan for Loyalty, CRM & NFC. As most consumer brands have a mobile app now is the time to plan for ways to enhancement the user experience (and create new revenues) that can bring context aware features, embedded loyalty, and in some cases pre-paid and mobile wallet capabilities such as a NFC app. Now is the time to be planning and testing these opportunities.
7. Grow Mobile Media Ad Budgets. As we transition from ad hoc mobile ad budgets, your 2012 media budget should include more purposeful campaigns and sizable budgets directly set aside for mobile.

This begs the question, what do you think are the most important mobile considerations that brand managers struggle with in 2012? Please let me hear your comments–

Checklist for New Twitter Users

November 16, 2010

I enjoyed speaking at the Houston Governor’s  Small Business forum yesterday. Several people asked me about how to improve their Twitter efforts, below are a few suggestions. Please feel free to comment and add to this list.

√ Create and customize a twitter home page

√ Tweet business related news once per day or ask as business related question

√ In your tweets be sure and use a Hash (#) mark preceding keywords that are descriptive of you business, this will help index what you say and get it found.

√ Respond to direct messages as needed

√ Upload photos as often as you can

√ Include twitter URL in your signatures

√ Retweet at least two articles that you read online per day

Mobile Ad Spending 2011

November 16, 2010

It’s time to talk about how mobile ad spending  is expected to grow by 55% from $797 million to over $1.2 billion in 2011.  That means companies will get the opportunity to speak directly to a wide audience via “on your smart phone” mobile advertising messages and what I call mobile “set up” activities.  The predicted spending for actual campaigns is expected to be about 80% of the effort with about 20% on set up activities.  This begs the question, what is your company doing about getting to your mobile audiences?  Can we help you plan your strategy or provide information so that you are engaging users.  What are the most important considerations that you are curious about?  Let us hear from you.


September 20, 2010

By Sheila Bacon

Managing Partner Mobile Marketing Practice

Rule #1: No company can simply buy a list of mobile numbers and start sending bulk text messages. This is spam.

Fix: You must build an opt-in list. We all know that our mobile phone is a highly personal device. So marketing via mobile devices requires explicit consent and also reconfirmed consent from each recipient that they are happy to receive text communications to their phone.

Rule #2: You must find the right incentive linked into media

Fix: You must know your audience to get the right mix. Building a quality opt-in list is finding the right advertising medium bundled with an incentive message to persuade the target audience to opt-in. You can use practically any advertising media such as print, POS, TV, Radio, Billboard or even internet web sites. Insert attention grabbing “call to action” (CTA) to encourage them to interact. There are many forms of CTA which can be effective such as a “discount”, sweepstakes or some other form of entitlement.  If you need ideas contact me.

Rule # 3: You must understand the ‘mobile handshake

Fix: The mobile environment has many players and complexities. This can be to your advantage. At a minimum you must understand short codes and automatic response process. It goes like this:

  • Short codes are the common method of response – whereby the consumer texts a keyword to a special short number. Short codes are quite versatile, they can be free, or charged at premium. All SMS texting rates are set by carriers, which again is the reason why the opt in permission is so very important.
  • An automatic response is triggered by the consumer’s message to the short code. This is part of the “mobile handshake” which sends the requested information, free promotion, confirmation that you’ve entered the draw etc.
  • Reconfirms Permission: The message process also asks if the customer wants to opt-in for future offers or messages.

Rule #4:  Be relevant.

Fix: Mobile messages need to be relevant and targeted to an individual. If the messages aren’t compelling the consumer will not respond. If it is irrelevant, irritating or too frequent, they will opt out of future messages. You must consider a few key pointers:

  • Fine tune your list: Use demographic profiling, analytical tools and feedback mechanisms, including surveys, personas and understand their product preferences. Know which group you will target what offer and test it
  • Few Words Big Speak. A benefit of SMS texting is the limit parameter of only 160 characters which forces marketing to have messages that get to the point quickly.
  • Timing is everything. Time of day or year can influence response rates e.g. a promotion for a restaurant at lunch time or a special birthday offer or an event e.g. when the national team is due to play a match or following a relevant purchase.
  • Location, Location, Location. As location based services become more available (stay tuned) we will have that information. Right now, the opt in database is easily perfected– communication of special offers, sales, or product can continue in perpetuity, the art is making each successive message more relevant and harder to resist.

Rule #5 Don’t Skimp—play by the rules.

Fix: Industry associations such as the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) have helped to provide guidelines for mobile marketing. Read this guideline. Not only should messages be consensual and targeted, it should also be simple for recipients to opt-out. If customers cannot reply to the message with “STOP”, they will be suspicious of your motives. Always be sure and have a quick way to handle opt-out by using “STOP” in the reply message.

I hope this helps you, let me know what you think.  If we can be of further assistance, please contact us at BGGMobile!  Email me at


June 4, 2010

By Sheila Bacon, Digital Strategist

Someone asked me the other day for some tips on using Linked IN, so here are my comments, please feel free to offer yours.

Linked In has over SIXTY FIVE million members in over 180 industries. Here are ten tips to help use Linked In to find a job. If you know someone who’s looking for a job, forward him or her these tips along with an invitation to connect on Linked In. Before trying these tips, make sure you’ve filled out your profile and added at least twenty connections

1.COMMUNICATE: GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT YOUR STATUS. Tell your network that you’re looking for a new position because a job search these days requires the “law of big numbers” There is no stigma that you’re looking right now, so the more people who know you’re looking, the more likely you’ll find a job. Recently, Linked In added “status updates” which you can use to let your network know about your newly emancipated status.
2. COMMUNICATE: ASK COLLEAGUES TO RECOMMEND YOU. A strong recommendation from your manager highlights your strengths and shows that you are/were a valued employee. This is especially helpful if you were recently laid off, and there is no better time to ask for this than when your manager is feeling bad because she laid you off. If you were a manager yourself, recommendations from your employees can also highlight leadership qualities.
3.RESEARCH: FIND OUT WHERE PEOPLE WITH YOUR BACKGROUND ARE WORKING. Find companies that employ people like you by doing an advanced search for people in your area who have your skills. For example, if you’re a web developer in Fort Worth, search profiles in your zip code using keywords with your skills (for example, JavaScript, XHTML) to see which companies employ people like you.
4.RESEARCH: CHECK OUT PEOPLE AT TARGET COMPANY. Find out where people at a company came from. Linked In “Company Profiles” show the career path of people before they began work there. This is very useful data to figure out what a company is looking for in new hires. For example, Microsoft employees worked at Hewlett-Packard and Oracle.
5.RESEARCH: CHECK OUT COMPANY CAREER PROFILES. Find out where people from a company go next. Linked In’s “Company Profiles” also tell you where people go after leaving the company. You can use this to track where people go after leaving your company as well as employees of other companies in your sector. (You could make the case that this feature also enables to figure out which companies to avoid?)
6.RESEARCH HOW/IF BEHIND THAT JOB LISTING. The sad reality is that in today’s job market, jobs are advertised but never filled. Check if a company is still hiring. Many job boards are posting jobs that are out of date. Check the Company pages on Linked In include a section called “New Hires” that lists people who have recently joined the company. If you have real chutzpah, you can ask these new hires how they got their new job. At the very least you can examine their backgrounds to surmise what made them attractive to the new employer.
7.NETWORK: FIGURE OUT WHO IS THE HIRING MANAGER. Ask friends to introduce you which is a great way to get to the hiring manager. Linked In’s job search engine allows you to search for any kind of job you want. However, when you view the results, pay close attention to the ones that you’re no more than two degrees away from. This means that you know someone who knows the person that posted the job—it can’t get much better than that. (Power tip: two degrees is about the limit for getting to hiring managers. I never help friends of friends of friends.) Another way to find companies that you have ties to is by looking at the “Companies in Your Network” section on Linked In’s Job Search page.
8.NETWORKING: FIND PEOPLE WHO SHOULD KNOW YOU! Get to the right HR person. The best case is getting to the hiring manager via someone who knows her/him, but if that isn’t possible you can still use Linked In to find someone inside the company to walk your resume to the hiring manager or HR department. When someone receives a resume from a coworker even if she doesn’t know the coworker, she almost always pays attention to it. Also since this technique is being used a lot make sure you send a thank you note to your friend who spent their time helping you. Be sure and let that friend know the status of your efforts so they know what happened.
9.NETWORK: GET AN EDGE ON YOUR RESPONSE. Find out the secret job requirements. Job listings rarely spell out entirely or exactly what a hiring manager is seeking. Find a connection at the company who can get the inside scoop on what really matters for the job. You can do this by searching for the company name; the results will show you who in your network connects you to the company. If you don’t have an inside connection, look at profiles of the people who work at the company to get an idea of their backgrounds and important skills.
10.CONSULTING: START UP BUSINESS CONTACTS. Find startups to join. Maybe this recession is just telling you it’s time to try a startup? The reality is that great startups are hard to find. Play around with Linked In’s advanced search engine using “startup” or “stealth” in the keyword or company field. You can also narrow by industry (for example, startups in the Web 2.0, wireless, or biotech sectors). If large companies can’t offer “job security,” open up your search to include startups.


11.DRINK BEFORE YOU ARE THIRSTY. Build your network before you need it. As a last tip, no matter how the economy or your career is doing, having a strong network is a good form of job security. Don’t wait until times are tough to nurture your network. The key to networking, however, is filled with counter-intuitiveness. First, it’s not who you know—it’s who knows of you. Second, great networkers are not thinking, “What can this person do for me?” To the contrary, they are thinking, “What can I do for this person?” Reach out, and help others.