recently published our analysis of how to use mobile messaging to create profitable customer relationships. The article, “5 Ways To Nurture Customer Relationships Via Mobile Messaging” describes how marketers can improve their mobile messaging by developing a crawl-walk-run strategy for: 

  1. Integration
  2. Modernization
  3. Personalization
  4. Conversation
  5. Analysis

Please check out to get the inside scoop. You can follow @CMO_com and us @Waterfall.

Read an article this morning and wanted to shine a light on it and make sure it got the attention it should: SFO Unveils App to Help Blind Travelers Navigate the Airport.

I am a huge fan of beacons and their potential for connecting brands in the physical world to their consumers. However, let’s face it, beacons clearly win mobile’s coveted 2014 “Shiny Object of the Year” award. With the number of articles, papers and sessions at conferences talking about beacons, one would think there was zero customer engagement over mobile prior to the beacon.

Joking aside, I am very excited with the number of retailers announcing trials, as connecting with consumers on a 1:1 basis and bridging the last mile has escaped so many brands. That said, the SFO article in VentureBeat highlights a compelling non-retail / QSR use case, which is the first I have seen announced.

SFO worked with Indoor and the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired to deploy 500 beacons in an airport terminal that allow visually impaired people to navigate to bathrooms, food, power outlets and boarding gates via audible alerts. I applaud the effort to leverage the newest technology for such a great utilitarian use. This solution should result in cost savings for the airport on staffing and – in the process – empower the visually impaired with a better experience.

Waterfall was not involved in this particular implementation, but as a leader in the mobile space, we wanted to take a moment to tip our hats to the folks involved and say congrats and thanks for doing great work.

Follow me @matthewsilk for more insights in what is happening in the mobile ecosystems.

A main goal in marketing is to target the right segment of customers in the right place at the right time. Geolocation targeting makes this task much easier. What is geolocation targeting? It is personalized communication based on a customer’s whereabouts. Marketers can target by county, state, zip code or, on the most granular level, GPS. Every smartphone contains Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation capability, which navigation apps and marketers can collect and utilize. While IP addresses could track online users in the past, mobile phones have less accurate IP addresses usually correlating with the provider’s office, so marketers need to instead request access to a person’s GPS location.

Begs the question, are customers really willing to share their location with companies? In a word, yes! Studies show that 57% of customers are happy to share their location to get more relevant advertising and 53% of customers are more likely to engage with location-based advertising. Customers are more receptive and likely to respond to geolocation targeting. For example, 72% of consumers respond when they see calls to action that are in viewing distance of a retailer.

Best Practices

Just because you can target using proximity to create relevance doesn’t mean that you should. Good geolocation targeting requires the marketer define a range. However, smaller range doesn’t necessarily mean better marketing. There is a tradeoff between reach and specificity. If location is too narrow ,it will be difficult to have a large audience. If it’s too wide, then it may detract from the intended action.

Another best practice to remember is that mobile doesn’t mean on-the-go; people often check their phones at home or at work where they may not be intending to make a purchase. Location should inform the content of the campaign when it comes to season, weather and regional events. For example, a retailer may want to profile festival style clothing for Austin subscribers right before SXSW, or send coupons on coats during a particularly strong cold front.

Examples of Geolocation Done Well

A case study involving Outback Steakhouse showed that engagement and intent to buy was significantly higher with geotargeted ads. Post-click activity was highest on the geo-conquested portion of the campaign, with an 11% life on conversion actions such as access to a store locator. The Outback campaign used 5 and 10 mile geofences around various competitor restaurant locations seeking to catalyze visits from loyal customers and possibly change behavior of those considering different casual dining establishments. Outback measures success by comparing same-store sales before and after. Below is an example of a campaign ad:

outback whiteSource: Geomarketing

Another example is a Taco Bell’s Happier Hour interactive campaign that combines engagement and convenience to produce tangible results. The campaign utilizes a phone’s reminders to set alerts and allows for downloads as well as proximity notifications when a consumer gets close to a Taco Bell location. Furthermore, there was an “Invite a Friend” bar that allows customers to choose a GIF to send to a friend as an invitation to join them for Happier Hour.

tacoSource: Mobile Commerce Daily

The key to successful geolocation is establishing customer benefit. As long as marketers can provide incentives such as discounts, early passes or convenience, customers will be willing to share information as personal as their location. If marketers can provide value, and use data in a smart and reasonable way, geolocation is a very powerful tool.

A robust advertising strategy has a lot of moving parts and requires an expert team to build. A great way to imagine the construction of a well-rounded marketing or advertising campaign is in terms of building a car. The automotive industry has worked out best practices for efficiently creating an end product with the help of many agents.

For example, Toyota designs and builds cars with the help of hundreds (if not thousands) of individual vendors responsible for specific components. While Toyota controls the specifications and overall design of a car, others step in and actually build the necessary components. This model is highly effective because it allows for quality and efficiency through specialization and competition. The fluidity of the model allows some parts to be mass produced and rebranded while others are built in house. If you walked into a dealership and the salesperson told you that Toyota designed, built, tested and maintained every part of the car themselves, you would have good reason to be wary.

fordImage Source: Ford

You see a similar situation in the advertising industry. While all-inclusive services may sound tempting, advertisers should beware the diminishing quality that comes with a lack of focus. When it comes to ad technology, for example, brands look to agencies for strategy, media and creative services across a number of channels who in turn work with application providers. When a new technology experiences widespread success, application providers ride the public awareness by including every service. Established agencies and application providers are moving away from cookie cutter solutions. They begin either with media, measurement or creative services and fill in the gaps with vendors that specialize in individual components, exactly like the automotive industry.

Just as most people need to consult a mechanic before making functional changes to their car, customer support for advertising technology is crucial. With SaaS, if a brand manager can’t utilize a product to its fullest potential, the advertised benefits are irrelevant.

Our advice to those designing advertising and marketing campaigns is that if a vendor comes to you and says “We do it all!”, approach with caution. Chances are that there are gaps in their services and if you need help in one area, they may not have the expertise to make a difference. Would you take your car to a mechanic who claimed he produced all the parts necessary to keep all cars running, or would you take it to the specialist who knew where to order the best parts and when to consult with other mechanics?

If you are a teen, you use SMS more than Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, Pandora and Twitter. You use it more than any other social network. SMS dominates your social life.

That’s why companies using SMS can put teens in the palm of their hands.

highschoolgradsSource: Niche

Day-to-day, 52% more teenagers text than browse Twitter. For marketers, this means that they can reach up to 52% more millennial customers by implementing SMS as opposed to a tweet-based campaign. Simply put, marketers an SMS campaign increases marketing reach more than any other social media channel.

To understand SMS’s success, think of it as the mp3 of communication. While mp3 audio and SMS messaging may not offer the same bells and whistles of other formats, they provide unbeatable simplicity and universality.

Fortunately, marketers are taking advantage of SMS today. Below are just two examples of SMS campaigns that produced tremendous results. 

Moreover, it’s important to note that these campaigns aren’t reinventing the wheel. They are successful because they draw on one key ingredient: the widespread reach of SMS and its ability to produce results. 

1. National Cancer Institute reaches more teens with helpful SMS reminders

text1By reminding teenagers via SMS to stay smoke free, the National Cancer Institute (“NCI”) doubled its average quit rate from 3% to 6%. As the campaign becomes more data driven, personalized and multi-channel, the quit rate will only continue to increase. SMS has proven to be the most effective channel for changing customer behavior.

To be specific, the National Cancer Institute illustrates two key best practices for effective SMS Marketing:

  1. Content: NCI texts teens phrases containing the second person “you”, i.e. succinct and encouraging language. “You” establishes comfort and mimics communication teens might see from their friends. Brevity is crucial because teenagers won’t read long texts (unless given an extremely compelling incentive). Encouragement works given the personal nature of a mobile device. Marketers looking to improve the language of SMS Marketing should use A/B splits to analyze the effectiveness of several content types to reveal the messaging that produces the highest yield.
  2. Interactivity: The campaign asks for a response, which provides an avenue for conversation. First, the teen becomes more engaged, as s/he receives more reminders to stay smoke free. Second, the different options add personalization to tailor messaging to the teenager’s current state of mind.

Imagine yourself as a teen who hears a ringtone the moment you are about to buy a cigarette. You open the text, and read the encouraging words. Reminded of your progress and your drive to quit smoking, you leave the gas station and walk home. 

Thanks to SMS, this hypothetical situation has become, well, not hypothetical.  Texting is so powerful because it allows marketers to reach teenagers at the right place, at the right time. 80% of Americans carry their phone with them 22 hours a day. SMS open rates exceed 99%. More than any other channel, SMS provides immediate and guaranteed engagement. Companies can use that engagement to incite action.

2.’s Gives Teens a Glimpse of Life as a Parent

cta-phoneInfograph from DoSomething.orgExample text from’s pregnancy text campaign.

For 24 hours,’s Pregnancy campaign sent SMS messages to participants detailing the thoughts of a “baby.” 

In order to increase the number of participants, partnered with the YouTube celebrity group SMOSH, which filmed their 24 hour experience and encouraged viewers to text SMOSH to join the campaign. In just 3 weeks, the SMOSH video garnered 700k views and over 52,000 signups, setting a record. demonstrates 3 best practices every  marketer should learn from. 

  1. Use incentives and a referral system. Referrals are nothing new, especially not in social media, where people constantly share articles and videos. However, many shared posts are ignored, or never seen. SMS’s high open rates ensure that teens will engage with anything “shared.”
  2. Partner with a well known entity to drive more subscriber growth. This is effective because cell phone numbers are so personal; nearly 100% of teenagers have one cell phone number. Because SMOSH is a well known and trusted celebrity group, teenagers are much more willing to participate.
  3. Write SMS-appropriate messages. Indeed, babies certainly do not text. However, by adhering to SMS culture, made the campaign natural, comfortable, and therefore compelling.

To be clear, the key takeaway illustrated by companies like NCI and is not to abandon other forms of mobile marketing. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram still command over a sizable percentage of the teenage population. Instead, marketers need to grasp the success of SMS campaigns and understand how to drive SMS results. The investment needed to create a compelling company-to-customer SMS campaign may be slightly more complicated than creating a Facebook page, but the rewards are that much greater.

Today we take a rare personal moment to congratulate our very own VP of Marketing, Kane Russell, on earning a top industry honor for his visionary marketing leadership.

The 40 Under 40

After several rounds of tie-breaking judging, Kane was selected as a Direct Marketing News 2014 40 Under 40 Award winner. The annual award recognizes “young, standout marketers whose work has already left an indelible mark on their organizations, clients, and the industry as a whole.” Internally at Waterfall, we’ve witnessed this since Kane was in his 20s (ahem), so it is especially rewarding to see his efforts be recognized by such a large audience today. Pretty impressive.

Kane will be joining an elite group of award winners for the awards ceremony on Tuesday, September 30 in New York, and a full profile of his accomplishments will run in the November issue of Direct Marketing News and online.

To learn more about the awards and access the entire list of winners, please visit:

Direct Marketing News is a resource for innovative marketers looking for insight into results-driven strategies and trends to propel multichannel marketing forward. The publication’s team of professional journalists and key industry columnists and contributors provide daily online news, analysis, case studies, and blogs on everything from Big Data, marketing automation, and retail, to integrated strategies, email, print, social media, and hot creative campaigns. They’re on Twitter @DMNews

IT Business Edge recently posted our thoughts on how to develop a strategy for mobile customer relationship management, or “mobile CRM.” Pretty cool, as we published our insights as a slideshow, titled “Four Steps to Implement Mobile CRM the Right Way,” which you can download and reference whenever needed. 

In the slideshow, we break down the process of implementing mobile CRM into four actionable phases:

  • Crawl – basic steps brands can implement near term to launch foundational mobile CRM capabilities.
  • Walk – processes for simultaneously launching mobile CRM across multiple mobile channels.
  • Run – how to integrate mobile campaigns and data in order to generate personalized content.
  • Fly – insight into triggering marketing campaigns according to individual customer actions and activity.

There’s also a bonus slide on how to “Soar” (we won’t give it away, so please see the presentation for more details). Any questions, you can let us know by posting to the comments.

Follow IT Business Edge @ITBusinessEdge and us @Waterfall.

Waterfall Interns

Waterfall Interns (cleverly) posing in front of a waterfall at the San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden.

As a member of Waterfall’s 2014 intern class, I have to say that interning in tech has been one of the most exciting and educational experiences of my life. Yes, I know that sounds cliché, but what can I say when it’s true? When I walked in the door on my first day, thoughts were spinning everywhere in my head: How am I going to keep up with the fast-paced nature of Silicon Valley (mobile, for example, is constantly changing – just take a look at Waterfall’s self-service MMS)? What kind of projects do interns work on? Am I even at the right office?

My concerns soon subsided and I now confidently say that I wouldn’t want to spend my summer any other way. Within these past few weeks, I’ve worked with passionate and inspiring people, learned the ins and outs of mobile marketing, and even participated in a world cup pool (despite not knowing anything about soccer). Starting out as a new intern can be incredibly daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m still learning every day, but here’s a bit of wisdom I discovered – keep these in three thoughts mind and you’ll be set to go above and beyond as an intern at any company.

1. Stay Curious

Every Monday morning during the all staff meeting, Waterfall’s San Francisco and Austin offices go over key presentations covering topics such as platform analytics or client data insights. As much as I learn during the meeting, I never cease to be inspired by the introspective questions that the team asks afterwards; people are always intellectually curious and eager to learn more.

Curiosity in the office is a key characteristic that permeates tech companies – there’s always more to learn and room to grow. More importantly, curiosity fosters an environment where interns can truly thrive. Everyone is willing to help, emphasizing collaboration and support within the office. In the past few weeks, I asked every question I could think of, whether about general life advice (“How do you transition from college to the professional world?”) or Waterfall specific (“How do Lookbooks fit into an overall marketing funnel?”). By constantly asking questions, I set a strong foundation that I can continue to build upon for the rest of the summer. It doesn’t matter if you’re asking client services about case studies or discussing philosophy with professors at school. No matter what the context, always be curious and build your knowledge. At the end of the day, growth comes from learning as much as you can, from as many people as you can.

2. Take (smart) risks

During my first week, Waterfall VP of Marketing Kane Russell told all the interns, “Make mistakes this summer. Just don’t make the same mistake twice.” One of my favorite parts of working at Waterfall is the freedom and ownership we have over our projects. I reluctantly admit that I thought interns had to do a few coffee runs here and there, but this myth was debunked after I came to Waterfall. Here’s a word of advice to fellow interns: believe that you can make a tangible impact (even if it is your first internship!).

For example, one project I’ve been working on is a key client database analysis to interpret various correlations in financial metrics and platform use. Having ownership means my colleague and I can really be creative and insert our personality into the project deliverable – it means we can take risks. Waterfall challenges me to be innovative and thoughtful, and to explore different perspectives to come up with the best solution possible.

The tech industry is incredibly fluid and flexible; there’s freedom to experiment, especially for young people. I compare taking risks as an intern to directing a movie: there’s already a storyline, but it’s up to us to bring it to life. Every morning, I look forward to coming in the office. I have the confidence that I’ll be able to do meaningful work and, of course, overcome the inherent risks and challenges.

3. Know the Office

It’s always fun to grab lunch with someone on the team and listen to their personal perspective. I leave every conversation with another viewpoint or interesting tidbit that I can add to the arsenal of knowledge acquired throughout my internship. I’ve been able to slowly build a comprehensive view of the company by talking to everyone in the office. With each interaction, I get to see a little more about how all of the departments work together and how the puzzle pieces fit to make Waterfall whole. Regardless of whether I’m asking about features on theplatform or looking to get some office ping-pong tips, people without a doubt contribute to Waterfall’s amazing culture. It’s a good idea to get to know them – as you never know what you might learn.

I still walk through the same door every morning, thoughts spinning through my head. Now, however, I’m asking myself different questions: What are the newest trends in tech? What challenges am I tackling for my projects and how do I overcome them?  How am I going to take what I learned today and use it tomorrow? That’s what it takes to be successful.

Yesterday, we were happy to announce a mobile industry first: self-service MMS for use by enterprise mobile enthusiasts everywhere. Marketers can now send pictures, audio and video directly to their customers’ mobile inbox, which comes with a 90+% open rate and near-instant response time. 

Those following Waterfall since the beginning know that “ease-of-use” brings us an immense amount of pride. Since our company’s inception, we have set out (and believe we have succeeded) in bringing a solution to market for users of all technical abilities.

With MMS in particular, “ease-of-use” carries some weight. On one hand, we had to make the marketer experience seamless. For example, we made sure that the process of adding content from a computer or smartphone eliminated any risk of users selecting the wrong file type. On the other, we had to make sure the customer experience had zero hurdles. With so many disparate device types and a myriad of wireless carriers, MMS requires a deep understanding of the greater mobile marketing industry. Fortunately, we’ve been around the mobile block enough times to know our way around.

With this latest iteration of MMS, we believe we’ve perfected the experience of delivering multimedia content to customers. In addition to the self-service user interface, marketers also have the benefit of comparatively high throughput, device detection, API integration, A/B split tests and everything else you might expect from an enterprise marketing solution.

Below is a screenshot showing how you can add an image while also personalizing the message with first name and email address. But don’t take the image’s word for it, please reach out to see a demo. You can also experience MMS for yourself by texting the keyword WFWF TUDOR to the short code 10958 (Commercial MMS campaigns run with standard one word keywords of course, no prefix; you need the WFWF prefix – with a space in a middle – in this case as this is a test short code).


Cool right? Any questions, feel free to post to the comments.

You can also read full details about Waterfall’s self-service MMS solution in the press release.