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Five Best Practices for Creating Meaningful Mobile Engagement



Engaging customers via their mobile devices is an exciting proposition for many organizations; however, it has to be done with care. These solutions often carry a significant cost and depend on a Return on Investment (ROI) model to make sense.

Achieving this ROI requires walking a fine line between meaningful engagement and being a nuisance. Here are five best practices to help you do that.



5 ways to ensure your mobile strategy works

1. Think big picture

The goal is to create a user experience that provides vast amounts of data to the organization while delivering value to the customer. Accomplishing that means the experience needs to be immersive and omni-channel (e.g., SMS, email, app-based, digital signage, direct mail, etc.).

Too many organizations jump straight to the mobile application without realizing adoption of mobile applications is low and retention of those mobile apps is even lower. A holistic approach that embraces the web (traditional and mobile), mobile apps, digital and physical signage, and some of the emerging areas such as augmented reality (AR) and context-aware chatbots will be far more successful.

Analytics and business intelligence tools must be included because understanding the success of these messages and their impact on the bottom line is a necessity, as engagement attempts that are ill-received may create a negative effect on the business.

2. Establish a baseline

Before rolling out any new engagement solution or even a single targeted campaign, it is important to understand the baseline. What is normal for a specific time of day, day of week, demographic, location, etc.

If there are areas in which these baselines are unknown, the success of an engagement will also likely be unknown. The length of time to determine a credible baseline depends on business and vertical; however, a month of data will provide statistically valuable data for many organizations.

3. Consider your social credibility

Each engagement or touchpoint with the user must be carefully weighed prior to being implemented, as the organization is spending “social credibility" with the customer in issuing these engagements. Determining that a message is hitting the right person at the right time and place is paramount to success.

While the organization may want to drive a specific behavior, it must be done in such a way that it is graciously accepted by the recipient. For less important messages, consider other channels for delivery—email, direct mail and digital signage integrations are options that are less invasive than a targeted push message.

4. Leverage employee engagement

Business should ensure the human component isn’t lost in this digital marketing frenzy.

Consider a scenario in which an employee could be notified when a user has spent more than five minutes in front of a specific retail display or there has been a high density of users in line for a drink at a sports game or concert venue. Rather than trying to ping users to have them go find another bar, consider triggers that have an employee come over with a mobile payment system and perform line-breaking transactions. This human component may still be considered a “digital engagement," but it won’t feel like it to the consumer.

5. Keep it fresh

Digital engagements should always be timely and relevant. Organizations can’t afford to be lazy about managing these platforms because pushing irrelevant messages will drive away customers, cause them to remove their mobile apps, and even consider competitors.

Campaigns should also create a sense of urgency—create a fear of missing out or at least ensure customers understand this immediate deal is good for only the first 100 redemptions.

Gamification is one way to keep things interesting for consumers, and it can drive additional spend as it may promise “bonus" rewards for the additional engagement. The solutions should be simple enough that they can be managed by marketing teams and not IT.

Originally posted here with Network World. Republished with permission as originating author. Also available on my LinkedIn page.



Bluetooth World - Day One Recap


My Bluetooth World day one started with a great conversation over breakfast as I presented on the need and opportunity for innovation in healthcare using Bluetooth enabled solutions. Our group opened up and had some fantastic discussion around some of the barriers that are currently challenging this industry such as limited numbers of Bluetooth radios being integrated into medical device solutions for connectivity. We progressed to discussion on all of the possible use cases as well as the opportunity for the data from an IoT-enabled world of healthcare to create new use cases as we better understand interactions between machines and humans.

The keynote speeches and individual presentations had great information, I was most interested in the direction of Bluetooth and the features that are coming shortly, especially the improvements to the meshing capabilities and range as these will open the door for great new use cases.

Also of personal interest was Kiyo Kubo’s talk about Bluetooth LE at Levi’s Stadium and the pain of getting to where it is today. Kiyo had gone through all of the challenges around Apple reducing their probing rates to almost nil and randomization of MAC addresses in the probing frames, forcing a change over to Bluetooth. They then had to develop a number of tools to make it a success both from an initial deployment and long term manageability.

The Expo floor had a wide variety of use cases from BLE managed LED lighting that synced with car audio to IoT-enabled hearing aids that would use location and ambient sound to automatically adjust their sound levels and noise filtration via a cloud interface.

Aruba Networks Sensors Everything

In case you missed it, Aruba Networks, an HP Enterprise Company announced the availability of their new Aruba Sensor product this week. This was spoken about at Atmosphere back in March, but then had seemingly disappeared. This new sensor enables Aruba Network's Meridian cloud analytics and wayfinding solution and best in class beacon management capabilities to be used on any wireless network. These sensors have a Low-Energy Bluetooth (BLE) radio to act as a beacon and manage other beacons in within a 25 meter radius and a wireless radio to provide network connectivity. Power is delivered through either AC power or USB and both power options offer security locks to ensure the safety of the Sensor. Making the same solution available for any wireless network is a huge deal as it allows for standardization of an engagement solution. ClearPass, Meridian and the Aruba Sensor/Beacon offer tremendous capabilities for any organization's network. Kudos to the team for embracing the market as a whole!



Google's Eddystone-Updating the Physical Web


Much ado has been made about the Apple iBeacon over the past couple of years with market analysts predicting a rise from $4B to $44B in iBeacon influenced sales. Outside of retail, some interesting use cases have cropped up and have been tested, however mainstream adoption for other verticals isn't there yet. Enter Apple's archrival Google with their Eddystone, an open-source, cross-platform low energy bluetooth (BLE) beacon. The open nature of the Google Eddystone and its ability to broadcast a URL offers some new and interesting use cases, especially since it no longer requires a mobile app. The requirement for a mobile app is the single largest hurdle to adoption of any beacon strategy as it requires end-users to opt in to using a company's solution in a major way. The upfront cost of a mobile app and often lack of understanding around mobile app strategy scares some companies away from attempting this and impedes the overall growth of the solution. Every conversation that I have had around iBeacon solutions to-date involves customer education around what is and is not possible and the level of effort required to make some things work.

What is Different?
Designed to be cross-platform, Google's Eddystone supports the Nearby API and is available on GitHub under Apache 2.0 license.

The Infobubble
Anyone interested in creating awareness of who they are, what they are doing, or empowering a device to do the same in a given location now has the ability to advertise to passersby. This has many implications from brand awareness to interacting with a specific device. Most importantly this can happen on the smallest of scales, increasing the chance for adoption and interaction since there is no dependency on a mobile app. Check out the Physical Web Cookbook for many newer ideas.

Multiple Frame Types
Google Eddystone supports multiple frame types enabling users to interact in a variety of ways. These frames are designated in the Service Data field associated with the Service UUID by using the high order four bits of the first octet. Github provides all this information in much more depth.

Frame Type
High-Order 4 Bits
Low-Order 4 Bits
(Reserved for Future Use)
Byte Value
Unique Identifier (UID)
0000
0000
0x00
Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
0001
0000
0x10
Telemetry Data (TLM)
0002
0000
0x20


Universally Unique Identifier (UUID)
If this sounds familiar, it is because it is the same type of identifier that iBeacons use. Google implemented the same 128-bit value that enables applications and specific use cases using major and minor numbers. This form of interaction is tied to a specific app and as such is limited to users who have that specific app installed.

URLs
The implementation of URL broadcast is meant to address the issues in which users aren't so interested in installing an app and caters to a "one-time use" scenario. This powerful option can provide a user with information through a standard web browser, ensuring that all users have access to this data. Effectively this URL broadcast could replace every instance of a QR code with the added benefit of not actually having to take a picture of the QR code, this data can just be available over the air.

Ephemeral Identifiers (EIDs)
A secured identifier that only permits authorized access. A 10-byte namespace is used to ensure uniqueness across multiple Eddystone implementations. Security is achieved using a truncated hash of a fully qualified domain name (FQDN) or an elided version 4 UUID which involves removing some information from the UUID.

Telemetry Data
Diagnostic data enabling an organization to better manage their beacon infrastructure. This includes battery life and other critical info. It is important to know that this type of information must be paired with either EID or URL since it does not contain a beacon ID. Telemetry data may include battery voltage, beacon temperature, advertising PDU count, and uptime.

Eddystone Ecosystem

Nearby API

Proximity Beacon API
The Proximity Beacon API is a new interface enabling users to manage their beacons via the cloud and use a REST interface. This enables monitoring of the telemetry data previously mentioned as well as reconfiguration of the beacons.

BKON Eddystone
I opted for the BKON Eddystones to try, there are a few options out there, but I liked the approach and packaging that I saw on the BKON site and acquired them through Amazon (2 for $60). AAA batteries were included and already installed. Also included a screwdriver and 3M dual-sided sticky tape. One thing I am not a fan of is the lack of screw type mounts as seen on the Aruba beacons. I'm not convinced the 3M sticky tape will hold up as long as a battery will, especially for beacons in tougher climates--outdoors, fridge/freezer, high humidity, etc. That being said though, the overall packaging and included items are great!

PHY.Net
Setting up with PHY.net was painless, simple field with beacon ID (located on side of beacon), valid email address and contact info. BKON sends a validation email to confirm.



Browsing...and a surprise
As of right now a specific browser is needed to browse the Physical Web. The screenshot to the right is from BKON's own "BeaconPages" available for IOS. Alternatively, you can install "Physical Web" available on both IOS and Android. I found it interesting that this Physical Web app picked up my HP printer via Bluetooth and let me view the configuration page. Interestingly, the Bluetooth radio is configured as "off" on the HP printer. I could pull my MAC and IP addresses, subnet mask, gateway, DNS info and host names via the Physical Web browser. I would have to log in to the printer to change any settings, but I was still surprised at how much information was readily available. Perhaps the next blog post will be on security.....







An Intro to the Contextually Aware Networking Blog Series

This blog series has been the impetus for me to get back into blogging and sharing my thoughts openly with the world. This topic of contextually aware networks is one that I have been discussing with my inner circle of techie friends for quite some time and it is finally getting to a place where it is relevant for us a technologists and consumers and for our customers. I hope to foster some of the same excitement that I share in those who are new to the space and elicit some good discussion from my colleagues, partners and customers out there. The first three parts will be building blocks for a final post that pulls the it all together.

What is a Contextually Aware Network?

A contextually aware network is one that is capable of delivering the right messages to the appropriate people based upon user defined preferences and do so at the right time and place. To accomplish this the system must be able to determine what is relevant to the user through opt-ins, installed Smartphone applications, etc. It is important to understand that for now, the Smartphone is a required ingredient of this solution as it is something that is personal to each of us. With time it is inevitable that there will be further integration with wearables that may offer further context and interaction.

Contextually Aware Network Scenario

You have booked a vacation at a tropical resort with your favorite people and are headed out to the airport. At the prompting of the hotel you have gone ahead and installed their application on your phone, enabling it to be your personal concierge for your trip. Upon arrival in this city your resort's app on your phone wakes up and pops up a message "Welcome to ______, John/Jane Doe. Please meet your shuttle outside the Terminal 1 baggage claim." After a ride to the hotel, you walk in and are prompted by your phone again "Welcome to Hotel _______. Would you like to use our e-check in?" Upon selecting yes, your phone checks you in based on your ID and credit card information on file with the hotel. The app then prompts you "You are in Room 135, can I get you directions?" Selecting yes here will provide you with turn-by-turn directions to your room from your current location. Your phone also notifies you that hotel management has installed smart locks in all of its rooms and the phone can be your room key if so desired. Upon entering your room, the phone is able to ask if everything meets your standards and allows for immediate delivery of anything that is missing or desired. Throughout the stay, your phone is able to notify you of anything you are interested in such as happy hours, shows, gym hours, etc. Down at the swimming pool, you are able to relax knowing that your valuables and cash are locked up in the hotel room safe and that your app can be used for checking out towels and paying for beverages or cabana rentals. Out on the golf course, you and your friends are able to order snacks and beverages from your Smartphones and have it delivered to you on the next tee. The shopping area notifies you of a free appetizer at dinner with a purchase from one of the stores. Upon checkout your receipt and bill summary can be delivered via app and a link to review your stay may be provided to you.

This blog series will explore how the systems supporting this scenario are built at a very high level and shed some light on some of the key components that make a context aware network tick.

Quick Links

Part III: Building a Contextually Aware Network: Analytics (TBD)
Part IV: Building a Contextually Aware Network: The Big Picture (TBD)