Posts categorized ‘Mobile’

5 Digital Resolutions for 2014

People have made and hopefully are thus far sticking to their personal resolutions. But what about brands? Making a digital resolution for a brand is a great way to set your sights on something new for 2014 that will push your digital experiences to the next level. With such a rapidly changing landscape, there will be plenty to set your sights on in 2014.

1. Mark The Calendar

Forrester’s 5 predictions for global ecommerce in 2014 predicts the expansion in planning and strategy for shopping days worldwide, much like retailers put strategy into the Black Friday and Cyber Monday days domestically.

More generally, it’s important to understand the full retail cycle for whatever industry you may be in, and have content in the works for each new seasonal trend that’s upcoming. For instance, once Valentine’s Day is over, it’s only the middle of February, but it’s already time to start thinking about the “Moms-Dads-Grads” period from early May to late June.

2014 Calendar

2. Mobilize

Most brands have a mobile presence of some sort, even if it’s just ensuring that a site responds well in the mobile format. Practical Ecommerce predicts in 2014 that responsive design will become the clear preference over a separate mobile site, so if you’re still using a separate mobile site, it’s time to at least consider responsive design.

2014 will also be the year to take mobile beyond only having responsive design. Its rise in ecommerce has been so steady and the opportunity is also there to capitalize on this growing behavior. It’s time to engage in new ways over the mobile channel.


3. Customize

Whether it’s for an aforementioned shopping day, or for a specific persona of user or shopper, custom tools and experiences will yield engagement by providing value to qualified users. The holiday shopping season that just ended saw some brands creating unique online experiences built to generate inspiration among users. Tools or apps that help users solve problems and find inspiration, and also suggest targeted product purchases, will help take an ecommerce platform to the next step.

4. Partner Up

Whether it’s with a re-seller or marketplace, or a partner for featuring content, properly executed partnerships prove that 2 brands are better than one.

For products, marketplaces are expected to rise in popularity in 2014, according to Forrester. Having those types of partners in place could ensure that your products get sold in a way you perhaps have not mastered.

Similarly for content, having partners that will share your content and vice versa could secure new users and offer your brand more exposure. The trick is connecting with the right partners, so that new users are qualified enough to convert a good rate.

5. Innovate

Easier said than done, granted. Every brand is always trying to innovate, but that doesn’t mean it should no longer be a goal. Bonobos keeps their shopping online, but has brick and mortar fitting stores so that potential customers can learn their sizes once and know what to buy online. It doesn’t seem revolutionary, and yet they have carved out a unique niche in the crowded clothing and fashion space. There are always new and interesting ways to engage readers and consumers.


These are just a few trends that Zmags and others believe are worth putting more emphasis on in 2014.

What are some of the New Year resolutions your brand has made for this year?


(Photo Credit: Dan Moyle, Flickr, January 2014)

Create Digital Catalogs for Mobile with 3 Quick Wins

Automation, and not just marketing automation, has evolved rapidly over the last 5 years, and has changed our way of living. It’s transformed our way of thinking, the way we make decisions, and how we interact with others on a day-to-day basis.

In the business world, it has allowed us to be more responsive, make quicker and more efficient decisions, as well as personalize each experience for our clients. Businesses are consuming information, analyzing data and acting on that analysis faster and faster than ever before. But with the ability to automate so many things, it’s easy to lose sight of some of the finer details that really enhance the user experience.

Let’s take digital catalogs for example. Some software solutions that allow you to take a print version of your catalog and make it digital – such as Zmags Commerce – make it easy to create one publication for all digital channels. However, how those publications render on certain devices can create inconsistent experiences. With the consistent rise in use of mobile and tablet devices to shop, it’s critical that you tailor your publications to each device accordingly.

Since mobile devices have a much smaller screen area than the majority of desktop and tablet screens, the design and layout of a digital catalog on a mobile device is something many companies need to take into consideration.

Designs and layouts will vary depending on your product/service, your branding guidelines, and the story you are trying to tell within your publication. Regardless of your unique brand story, though, there are three actions anyone in any industry can take to enhance the user experience when creating digital catalogs for mobile.


1. Limit the Number of Products You Display to 3 or 4 Per Page

If your print catalog features 10 to 15 products per page, it is going to be very problematic for the user to see those products and shop. Even when you zoom in, it can still be challenging to see them and get a good feel for what they really look like. By limiting the number of products you place on a page, you allow the user to see them more clearly.

For example, this is especially beneficial in instances where there are a few products on model (shirt, pants, shoes) that when tapped, open up a product window. You will not have to worry about the user tapping on the wrong product bringing up the wrong window time and time again – they will most likely become frustrated and it could leave a sour taste with the overall experience.

PartyLite Mobile


2. Remove Small Text From the Page

Reading small text, such as a product description, on a desktop version of your catalog can prove to be difficult for many. Translate that over to a mobile device and it makes it that much more difficult to read. Now we’re not suggesting you remove all text in general – what we are suggesting is to keep the text on the page, but shorten the sentences or descriptions you have to 2-3 word phrases instead.

This will allow you to still tell your brands story, while making it easier for the user to read the words on each page. You could even use this on the desktop and tablet versions of your digital catalog as well. It can give you the ability to create a visual story which (depending on your product) can be more impactful.

North Face Mobile


3. Create Unique Calls to Action

You’ve changed the layout of your digital catalog by lowering the number of products you have per page and you’ve updated the text in your catalog as well. Now, you need to let your users know what to do. Creating a unique call to action is the best way to let your users know what action they should take within the catalog.

Some Zmags clients use plus signs, others use targets, and some even use smaller versions (or variations) of their logo. It all really depends on your branding guidelines and what fits best on each page. One thing to keep in mind is to be cognizant of how many you are putting on a page – too many, and it can take away from the overall look and feel of the catalog while creating confusion, not clarity, as to what to do.

Brahmin Mobile Screen Shot

While having your digital catalogs render a specific way across multiple channels is a nice automation, it is still important to take the design element into consideration. As automation and personalization continue to become more and more of an essential part of your digital catalog strategy, don’t allow the user experience to suffer – create consistent experiences across all channels that will keep your users coming back for more.

The Growth and Opportunity in Mobile Commerce Today

Earlier in the month, Econsultancy published an article on mobile commerce as part of their Mobile Commerce Compendium, and two stats located within were particularly telling:

  • Stat Number 1, on Growth: 23% of all ecommerce sales were completed through mobile devices in Q2 2013.
  • Stat Number 2, on Opportunity: 51% of smartphone owners hadn’t made a purchase using their smartphone in the previous six months.

The mobile sales percentage of 23% is up from 11.6% in 2012. Clearly, with better, faster devices and operating systems, consumers are feeling far less tethered to their laptops and tablets when it comes to making purchases. In addition, it’s becoming increasingly easier to purchase from mobile with apps and platforms that link to credit cards directly, avoiding the headache of typing 20 digits of credit card information into a tiny phone keyboard.


Mobile and Laptop


As Econsultancy points out, the fact that half of all smartphone users hadn’t made a purchase on their devices indicates that mobile commerce is far from hitting a plateau. Opportunity abounds for marketers and retailers to engage that “other half” and drive that percentage lower and lower.

So mobile commerce is growing rapidly, and there’s opportunity to engage many more consumers…what’s the problem?

Formatting and design for mobile remain tough nuts to crack – but the need is greater than ever to have an effective mobile presence in e-commerce, as the evidence suggests of the present and projects for the near future. Even the initial decision of whether to create an app, a mobile-responsive site, or both, can be difficult. As for the best mobile experience, it would seem that there is no right or wrong answer, but a “sweet spot” of how much content can be compartmentalized into the mobile format in order to be enjoyable and not overwhelming.

Mobile should be part of a greater plan that spans several devices and channels without any drop off in design or user experience. One experience that accomplishes that is the digital catalog, which can exist consistently across all devices, and re-configures automatically for optimal viewing from laptop to tablet to mobile. A digital catalog has a chance to perform better than the sales averages for mobile commerce listed above, because a digital catalog is designed strictly for shopping and e-commerce, as opposed to a mobile version of a site, in which ecommerce is simply one of several components.

Smartphone users are constantly on-the-go, but mobile commerce is not going anywhere. It will grow and change and adapt, much like the digital landscape continues to on a much greater scale. It is important to take trends like this to heart and act fast on them, in order to connect with consumers over a format and device that they are relying on at an increasing rate.

Read the entire EConsultancy article and purchase their Mobile Commerce Compendium for further statistics and insights.

Retailers Turn to Mobile for Fall Promotion

With back to school on the horizon and the anticipation of the leaves changing (depending on your geographical location), retailers are getting ready to launch into their fall and winter lines. Goodbye bathing suit season, and hello corduroys. But this season, in particular, is debuting more than just new clothes…

2013 has proven to be a shifting year for retailers, specifically, when it comes to mobile presence and outreach. Mobile and digital campaigns have only been on the rise the past few years but this season it’s front and center. A recent article on Mobile Commerce Daily highlights major brands like Gap, J.Crew and Oscar De La Renta who have engaged everything from Tumblr to Instagram and Pinterest to reach their key audience.


Brahmin Fall Lookbook


Typical fall fashion promotion has been done in the form of catalogs and direct mail pieces. Now, that paradigm is shifting and the extremely cost-effective digital approach is being rapidly adopted. Here are a few of the many reasons why this whole shift makes sense, not only for retailers, but for most brands in general:

  • Wider Audience – Social media avenues tend to have a wider brush stroke than direct mail, or even email at times. Customers today are more apt to pull to a brand, rather than being pushed. Giving an address or an email to a retailer is getting less popular (do we really need more spam?) so customers tend to seek out these brands via social media. “Liking” a brand on Facebook or following them on Instagram is a personal choice, and non-invasive. Therefore, when that brand wants to push information out to their social community they are actually reaching a wider audience.
  • Dicks CatalogImage Focused - For the same reasons why models still walk the catwalk with the latest fashion, images and lifestyle photography are critical to showing off the look and interpretation of the latest trends. It’s very easy to create digital image-favoring campaigns that can be shared on a website, app, or social media outlet. This allows users on a multitude of devices to absorb a brand’s message as if they were at fashion week watching it with their own eyes.
  • Cost Effective - Digital campaigns of all types are inherently less expensive than print campaigns. Printing catalogs and direct mail pieces are usually produced in several different versions and printed in the hundreds of thousands. This is not only expensive but final. The beauty of digital campaigns is the ability to:
    • Test certain images and styles
    • Track a direct ROI
    • Change course if something isn’t working. It’s easy enough to swap out an image or style in real-time than to reprint a direct mail piece

The Zmags Connection

Zmags is an essential asset to any digital campaign. Having the ability to upload, optimize and deploy a variety of digital content in a matter of minutes is a no-brainer. The Zmags platform meets the main criteria mentioned above as well as working across social channels, websites and more. The platform also includes a robust analytics offering which makes tracking campaigns and their success even easier. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Brahmin and Joules are just a few brands that are pushing their digital campaigns to the max with the help of Zmags.


mCommerce Marketing – Men vs. Women

It’s no surprise that the stereotypical shopping habits of men and women have carried into the world of Mobile Commerce as well. Men are still the no-frills, in-and-out shoppers while women still conduct research, want the opinions of others and are always interested in a bargain.

Marketers have spent the past few years diligently working to get a mobile solution out to the masses. Now that they do, the next step is to transform from “simply having a presence” to “meeting the needs of specific groups of consumers”.  A recent article from Mobile Commerce Daily drilled into the differences between how men vs. women use and shop on their mobile devices, helping Marketers think about how to provide content best suited to each gender. This got me thinking about the breakdown from the Zmags perspective and how that’s an area we’ve already begun addressing.


express menTargeting Men

Men are the simpler of the two and surprisingly more compulsive. When men are shopping on their mobile device they are looking for concrete direction and easy ways to transact. They are less detail focused and more end result driven. They want the experience to guide them to the end in as few steps as possible with minimal effort required.

Men are also not frequent shoppers- which is where the compulsive purchases come in to play. If men are committed to a shopping session then they tend to purchase more things on the fly- or more of something like clothes- because they don’t want to go shopping again anytime soon.


Targeting Women

Women are definitely more detail-oriented, emotional shoppers.  Women also care more about what others think. A mobile shopping experience for women should have an emotional message or connection and offer social capabilities for easy sharing and feedback. Women spend more time researching a product and analyzing their options than men do. Having reviews and recommended products readily available will help to solidify the conversion.


The Zmags Connection

Offering a digital experience, in the form of a Zmag cater to search as well as shopping behavior, and can easily fit the needs of both men and women. The functionality of the Zmag can tell the mCommerce story both ways.

For men, a linear digital experience in a Zmag will help guide them to their end result easily and efficiently. It’s also an excellent medium to showcase a series of products, or additional items, that can play into the compulsive purchasing behavior- i.e. showcasing an entire outfit and making it easy to purchase the entire look in one click, like Express does.

For women, take advantage of the immersive experience that a Zmag provides. Once you’ve got their attention, the more information you can provide, the better. Women are looking to spend time interacting with a brand, and Spanx is a good example of a brand that fosters that interaction with their digital catalog. They want a story or experience that they can relate to, with all of the information they need. Make sure it’s easy to find reviews, share the Zmag on all social channels and easily transact.

It was only a matter of time before the world of mCommerce would begin the shift to catered shopping experiences. Now, in addition to the traditional eCommerce site, there are other platforms that allow the flexibility to provide multiple experiences and tell different stories to your audience.


Mobile Web or Mobile App for my Customers? Or Both?

When evaluating your mobile strategy, the options can overwhelm. What should I be offering my users? How should they be interacting with us on different devices? Do I need to be in the app store?

Once the initial panic slows down, it’s easier to focus on a few key points. Most importantly – a lot like the chicken and egg the egg conundrum – what comes first? The web-based solution or the app?

mobile version


FUN FACT: A lot of other digital solutions like Zmags, social platforms and email offerings are already Omni-channel optimized and a lot of them even have app options. This can aid in expanding your brand without doing a full technical overhaul.

It’s important to understand the purpose of an app versus web-based solution and how they fit into your digital strategy. Some companies find they only need one or the other, while some brands become heavily dependent on both.

Why Web-Based?

With mobile on the rise, the need for optimization is continuously growing. There are many reasons to make sure your website is prepared for visits from any type of device. Some benefits of web-based optimization are:

  • Consistent branding across all platforms - Regardless of device, your brand is represented the same way.
  • Less commitment - A user doesn’t have to download an app onto their device to interact with your brand.
  • Website behavior is now inherent - Browsing is second nature and understood, so there is no confusion on what the user should be doing when they arrive at your site.
  • Price - This solution tends to be less expensive and easy to get up and running if it’s your first step into the mobile channel.

The web-based offering tends to be the first choice when branching into this space since its really just an extension from your current website and branding. A user understands when they arrive at your site that it’s the same as if they were on a computer.

Why an App?

When apps first came to fruition they were said to be the future for all mobile. Although they have definitely dominated at times, they serve a slightly different purpose when reaching customers. Some benefits of the app are:

  • Native Build - That means in an app environment the experience can be more custom and complex since its not dealing with the constraints of a mobile browser.
  • Offline Capabilities - Content can be cached and viewed when a device does not have an Internet connection.
  • Better Performance - Apps are just inherently faster, better functioning platforms since they are driven from the operating system of the device.
  • Customer Engagement - You can reserve an app for special promotions, engagement or features to those who have downloaded it. This shows extra appreciation to the brand loyalists invested enough in your offering.
  • Revenue Model - An app can cost money. Content inside the app has the option to only be viewable to those who pay to download it.

People who download an app tend to be more loyal to a brand. If they have taken the time to look it up in the app store and install it onto their device, then they are most likely going to interact on a regular basis as well as convert.  Having an app available for users like this ensures that they are getting the optimal experience every time they visit.

So What’s Best for Me?

It’s safe to say that in today’s society a brand’s website MUST be optimized for all devices. However, recent studies have shown that 85% of consumers tend to favor apps over mobile websites when interacting on a tablet or smartphone. Therefore, as broad as “digital offerings” can be it’s clear that for most people, offering both a web-based option and an app offers the best level of exposure.

MITX Mobile Migration Summit: Why to Focus on Tablets for Ecommerce

At last week’s MITX Great Mobile Migration Summit, I spoke to an audience along with Joan Connor from PartyLite, a home fragrance direct selling company, on “Why Tablets Will Outpace Smartphones:  Trends And Tips To Optimize Every Customer Interaction“.

photo 2

Our main objective?   To provide marketers and agencies with some creative ideas on how to capitalize on the distinctions between tablets and smartphone users – with the goal of helping them improve the digital experience for their customers.

Tablets are used more during leisure time (at night and during the weekends), while smartphone users tend to be on-the-go, looking for quick-hit website searches, directions, etc.  So, consumers are in a more relaxed mindset on tablets, often lingering on websites longer and viewing more content and pages – with up to 1.7x more pages viewed on tablets than on smartphones.  This multi-screen behavior of “couch commerce” while watching TV can lead to impulse buying and larger average order values among the tablet segment of shoppers.

tablets vs smartphones

Here are the Top 5 Tips we covered in detail

1.  Design for digital using HTML5
2.  Shoppable online catalogs
3.  Sales enablement
4.  Device recognition
5.  Tablet apps



PartyLite has been a Zmags client for several years, but has been printing catalogs for nearly 4 decades!  At first, PartyLite’s Zmags were just digital replicas of its print catalogs.  Several pages, such as candle ordering grids, did not translate well on screen – forcing shoppers to spend extra time just zooming in on all of the details.   At Zmags, we noticed this in the data, and recommended designing for digital, using interactive elements and a streamlined layout to create a better user experience, especially on tablets.

Joan’s team at PartyLite took this advice, and have since had incredible success with new optimized digital catalogs that focus on key collections they want to promote in their assortment, instead of long, comprehensive books.  The response has been extremely positive among Consultants (direct sellers) and their customers.   The PartyLite creative team, seeing the clear benefits, now photographs and designs for digital FIRST and print SECOND!

Take a look at PartyLite’s latest Zmags catalog, a great example of the rich photography and crisp layout that works well to inspire purchases on tablets.PartyLite ScentGlow

For a complimentary copy of the presentation, please contact us!


Recap of MITX Mobile Summit: mobile trends & dependencies

Yesterday, several of us from the Zmags team attended MITX’s Mobile Marketing Summit, The Great Mobile Migration, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

What a great event!  We made many new connections and returned to the office feeling much smarter about the future of mobile marketing and its challenges ahead.

Zmags and PartyLite at the MITX Mobile Summit

Zmags and PartyLite at the MITX Mobile Summit

Ironically, I had forgotten my iPhone at home in a rush that morning, so was feeling very disconnected all day– a strange contrast that reinforced how dependent society (ok, how dependent I!) have become on smartphones.  I yearned for my phone on multiple occasions:

1.  Had my co-presenter, Joan from PartyLite, arrived?  Where should we meet to prep for our speaking session on “Why Tablets Will Outpace Smartphones:  Trends And Tips To Optimize Every Customer Interaction”?

2. It was a gorgeous spring day, and everyone enjoyed having lunch outside on the rooftop garden.  I found myself wanting to know the exact temperature, but resisted the urge to ask someone else to check for me…

Earlier in the day, Cameron Clayton, President of the Digital Division for, shared an interesting stat:   that the Weather Channel is the #2 site/app checked on mobile, only coming in behind Facebook (beating out Google).  I believe it.

3.  Wanted to see and download the Dunkin’ Donuts mobile app during a great session led by Dave Tryder, DD’s Director of Digital Strategy.  It sounds like they’ve made the app extremely functional, with store locators, mobile payment capabilities and even digital gifting through the app.

A few speakers (including myself) talked about mobile commerce as an emerging trend that we’ll continue to see more of.  Right now, this has taken off more quickly on tablets vs. on smartphones.   However, well-designed apps that allow shoppers to easily browse and add items to their carts — even while offline! — should help make transacting easier on smartphones as well.

What activities are you and your target segments doing most on mobile devices?  Where do you think things are heading?

Tablet Vs Mobile: Is One More Important Than the Other?

Three years ago this question would have been irrelevant. Today, however, there are 75 million tablet users in the United States alone, and that number is only growing. Clearly, the digital landscape is changing drastically. Now, even less tech-savvy people are making demands that brands are being forced to consider and mold to.

The big discussion today in e-commerce and brand experience deals with Tablet versus Mobile. What type of presence should I have? Where are my customers? What’s more important? Where can I be more successful? It’s important that you distinguish between the types of customers that are engaging with your brand, and what type of device they are using to do so.  Identifying the personas of mobile and tablet users, as well as users who frequent both devices, will help you identify a strategy.

mobile on the goMobile:

This user is generally on the go, commuting to and from work, waiting at a doctor’s office or perusing Twitter while sitting in a meeting. They are the surface users trying to get quick-hit information like purchasing a Groupon or setting a dinner reservation on OpenTable.


How to Approach them: Offer an experience that is concise, clear and simple. These people are doing a million things at once and capturing their attention is considered a victory.

  • Quick offers- Provide a pain-free way to purchase or get more information with minimal form fields and clicks required.
  • Clear messaging- What are they getting out of this? Is the offer different because they are on a mobile device?
  • Optimized for the screen- Small screen means less real estate. Be sure to have clear imagery and content that is easily read or able to be zoomed in on with big enough calls to action.

tablet newspaperTablet:

Today, for most brands, the tablet has quickly become the holy grail of customer communication. Brands that can connect with consumers at this touchpoint via a digital catalog or shopping cart can capitalize on this growing behavior. What could be better than a slick device that fits perfectly in your lap while you sit on your couch catching up on the latest episode of Mad Men?  This trend is quickly becoming referred to as “couch commerce” and “multi screen experience” as people no longer solely watch TV while unwinding after work.

How to approach them: These users are craving a more in depth visit and are most likely conducting research or making a purchase.

  • Offer more- You can demand that these users take a deeper look at your offering. They want to explore more and want more information at their fingertips.
  • Easy to transact- These users are spending 54% more on their purchases than their mobile counterparts and 19% more than those on desktops. Encourage them and make it easy for them to buy. Right now tablets are the preferred channel for retail and eCommerce at around 10%, with mobile trailing at around 7%.
  • Clean content- The screen is still relatively small. No one ever complimented the iPad for offering them the best super bowl watching experience- so keep that in mind. Continue to keep the content clean, uncluttered, with clear calls to action. You want to make sure your visitors are clear on what they should be doing whether its clicking on a link, previewing a video or signing up for something.

End Result?

Both platforms are beginning to morph into the communication of the future. Don’t forget to optimize your experience for both – but understand your end game. A user is more likely to spend time engaging with your brand and transacting while on their tablet, so give them more information. However, never forget the mobile folks: on-the-go, but still worthy of interaction. Offer these two experiences and you’ll be converting visitors to brand loyalists in no time.


How the User Interface Drives Sales

One of the crucial game changers in online commerce is the user interface. The merit of the product, the innovation of the marketing campaign or the size of the deal offered may all lure customers to the website, but it is invariably the interface they encounter that determine whether they proceed with the purchase or go away.

Marketers have always worked hard to make the user interface as attractive as possible. Successful marketers make sure that such attractiveness does not compromise ease of use. Now, with the advent of multiple digital touch points, marketers need to do more.

Today’s marketers need to offer a clean and intuitive interface that not only caters to seamless engagement and discovery for the customer but also allows the customer to purchase without leaving the catalog. While the focus has always been on allowing the customer to explore or share content-rich pages and dynamic imagery with a quick tap or dab, it is time to allow the customer to move the product to the shopping cart with equal ease. In short, the marketer needs to interpose engagement and commerce to the brand’s online content.

Again, marketers need to not just ensure that they provide a rich and enriching brand experience to customers, but also make sure that such experience remains consistent across all devices through which the customer accesses content.

The new Verge Viewer offered by Zmags facilitates this, as exemplified in the latest catalog of Serena & Lily, the seller of luxury home décor products. The company adopted Verve to provide the next wave of digital experience to its customers. The technology allowed the catalog to sport some intuitive features, such as arresting visuals using maximum available browser space, facilitating swipe based navigation wherein the customers search for products by keyword, accessing the required page with just one swipe or click, and more. The catalog also groups products, displaying the full suite of catalog page below the current page, allowing shoppers to browse or purchase items individually or collectively.

The Zmags Serena & Lily Catalog

Are you creating a user interface that drives sales?