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The Future of Marketing: 3 Big Changes That Are Already Here

May 1st, 2013 ::

The Future of MarketingEach January, experts from every industry publish blog posts and articles that list their predictions of what’s going to happen over the next 12 months and how those changes will affect the industry.

This is not one of those posts – and not just because it’s May. We all know that marketing has shifted from offline to online, from analog to digital, and that marketing has become more personal.

Based on my research, there are 3 big changes that are already here but will continue to affect marketing over the next few years as they become more widespread.

1. Web and mobile sites will use responsive design to focus on the user experience

Responsive design means designing your website, tablet site, and smartphone site from one platform to keep the user experience consistent while taking advantage of each platform’s unique features.

Think about how you access the Web on each device. You navigate websites from a computer with a cursor, but you move around tablet sites by tapping and swiping. On your smartphone, you navigate a mobile site by tapping on a small screen.

What this means for you: With the explosion of tablet and smartphone use, especially when accessing email and the Web, it is critical that you have mobile and tablet sites that provide a great user experience.

2. Marketing will go beyond real-time

Ever hear of an Anticipatory Computer Engine? It will allow your smartphone to offer you relevant news, information, and recommendations based on where you are, what you’re doing, and what you’re talking about.

A San Francisco-based company called Expect Labs is developing a MindMeld iPad app, which will capture ambient audio, visual, and location-based information to interpret “meaning and intent from multiple different streams of sensor data.”

What this means for you: Yes, it’s kind of creepy, but think of it this way: one day, we will no longer have to search for information. The information we want will come to us, and, conversely, the information you are sharing online about your service will be delivered automatically to someone who is just sort of thinking about it.

3. Data will drive marketing

Analyzing and using big data for a variety of purposes will continue, but for now, there are quite a few tools at the small business owner’s disposal:

  1. Ad retargeting: Ads that appear in your browser after you leave a website without taking action (maybe you put 5 items in your Gap shopping cart but left the site without buying them).
  2. Predictive recommendations: Tailored recommendations based on products you have looked at or purchased (after you buy a book at Amazon.com, you always get recommendations for other books).
  3. Location-based social and mobile marketing: Mobile ads that appear from local retailers and merchants depending on your location (an offer from the pizza place you are about to walk by at 6pm).

What this means for you: Understanding someone’s behavior and interests helps you deliver tailored offers and messages when they are most receptive. In other words, you are marketing to people who are already qualified leads.

Are you already using some of the above technology? How has it improved your marketing?

Image courtesy of civilsociety.co.uk

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: Mogreet Express (Text Messaging Platform)

April 2nd, 2013 ::

Mogreet Express

Mogreet Express is a self-service text messaging platform that gives small- and midsized businesses the power to initiate text message marketing campaigns and send multimedia messages (MMS)—all at their fingertips. MMS messages step up your mobile marketing game by creating visual customer interactions including video, pictures and audio. Text message marketing gives small businesses the highest open rate of all types of mobile marketing (98 percent), and Mogreet Express makes your messages more intriguing and therefore more memorable. Business owners are able to build a mobile customer database and drive sales with branded promotional offers.

Luxury Marketing Goes Digital

February 4th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Surveys have shown that luxury consumers spend more time and money online than the average consumer. No wonder, then, that marketers of luxury products and services are expanding their focus on digital marketing in 2013.

eMarketer recently reported the results of a study by Worldwide Business Research and ShopIgniter that polled more than 130 worldwide luxury marketing executives. Some 85 percent say they plan to increase their digital marketing spending in 2013. Of those, 72 percent are planning to spend more on social media, making social the biggest overall area of focus.

The most popular social media platform for luxury marketers is Facebook, where 95 percent of luxury marketers are actively engaging with their customers. Next most popular is Twitter, used by 85 percent; then come Pinterest (used by 60 percent) and YouTube (used by 59 percent).

In fact, Luxury marketers are more likely to engage with customers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube than they are on ecommerce sites. However, more than half (52 percent) are connecting with customers on ecommerce sites as well.

Since luxury products tend to be highly visually focused, it’s perhaps not surprising that luxury marketers are using visual-focused social sites to reach out to customers and prospects. As mentioned, Pinterest and YouTube have high penetration, and even relative newcomer Instagram is used by 29 percent of luxury marketers.

Luxury marketers’ top content and product promotion tactics were posting images of products (81 percent), posting video (75 percent) and creating content about new product launches (60 percent).

One surprising area where luxury marketers are falling short is in their mobile presence. While the visual focus of luxury marketers could make it a challenge for them to translate their marketing efforts onto the smaller screen of smartphones, the crisp displays of tablets should be a natural for luxury marketing imagery. Still, just 35 percent of luxury marketers report using mobile apps, while a mere 26 percent say they currently use mobile commerce.

Another area of untapped opportunity for luxury marketers, according to the survey, is loyalty programs. Only 20 percent of companies currently use loyalty campaigns to reward customers.

Editor’s Note: Network Solutions offers an easy way to build a website for mobile devices in mere minutes: goMobi™, powered by dotMobi.

Image by Flickr user Mauro Cateb (Creative Commons)



Who’s Got Smartphones and Apps? Gen Y

February 1st, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky
It may not be a surprise, but Gen Y is leading the way when it comes to adoption of smartphones and smartphone and tablet apps, eMarketer reports. A study by Forrester, cited in eMarketer, found that consumers aged 24 to 32 are the most likely to own smartphones. Ninety-seven percent of Gen Y consumers have a mobile phone, and 72 percent have smartphones, higher than any other age group.

Overall, 93 percent of Americans owned mobile phones; however, only 50% have smartphones. Gen Z (age 18-23) was the second most likely group to own a smartphone, at 64 percent, followed by Gen X at 61 percent. After that, smartphone use declines rather drastically, with just 39 percent of younger boomers (47-56) owning them, 28 percent of older boomers (57-67) owning them, and 16 percent of those over 68 owning them.

Gen Y consumers are also more likely than any other age group to use smartphone and tablet apps, a different study by Flurry found. (This study defined Gen Y as 25 to 34.) Of the Gen Y users surveyed, 33 percent used smartphone apps and 26 percent used tablet apps. The 35-to-54 age group was next most likely to use apps.

You might be surprised that Gen Y are bigger users of smartphones than the younger generations, but eMarketer notes this group is in the “sweet spot” in terms of being old enough that they can afford more expensive smartphones, but young enough to want them and know how to make the most of them. In fact, the biggest reason younger customers cited for not having a smartphone was that they couldn’t afford it, while the top reason cited by older consumers was that they didn’t think it was useful or necessary for their lives.

What do these stats mean to you?

  • If your target market falls in the younger end of the spectrum, you’ll want to make sure your business website is mobile-friendly.
  • You’ll also want to consider developing useful, relevant and/or fun apps for your business that encourage sharing with friends.
  • Keep in mind that Gen Y is most likely to own iPhones, while in other age groups and overall, Samsung phones dominate.
  • Finally, keep in mind that Gen Y’s smartphone-dependency isn’t going away. As these customers move into their prime buying years, they’ll rely on their devices even more—so be ready to grow with them.

Image by Flickr user milesopie (Creative Commons)

Why Your Business Website Must Be Mobile-Friendly—and How to Do It

January 21st, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

There’s no question that consumer and business use of tablet computers is growing by leaps and bounds. The recent holiday shopping season put millions more tablets into consumers’ hands. Meanwhile, a recent report by Gartner notes that businesses are buying fewer PCs and instead turning to tablet computers.

Given all this, it’s clear why your small business website needs to be mobile-friendly, if it isn’t already. What are some factors to consider when optimizing your website for mobile use?

Use images wisely. The ability to display high-resolution photographs is a key part of the appeal of tablet computers like the iPad, but you need to make sure photos load quickly on a tablet or smartphone. Widely cited stats from Google say 60 percent of users expect mobile sites to load in 3 seconds or less, so don’t let photos slow you down.

Consider responsive design. The new trend in Web design, responsive design means creating sites in such a way that they “adapt” to the device being used and display differently depending on screen orientation, screen size and other factors. This can be a simpler option than the older method of developing different websites for each type of device or browser.

Use consistent elements. Your site should have the same overall look and feel whether it is viewed on a smartphone, tablet or desktop/laptop. Sure, there will be fewer and simpler elements on the smaller displays, but your website’s logo, colors, fonts and other elements of your brand image should carry over from one device to the next so that your site is instantly recognizable.

Develop simple navigation. Navigation on a touchscreen of a tablet or smartphone is different than mouse or trackpad navigation on a laptop or desktop. Account for the “fat-finger” factor; make sure users can easily tap, touch or swipe the icons they need to without hitting the wrong command by mistake.

Consider the competition. Before revamping your website for mobile use, check out what your key competitors are doing. Pay attention to what you like and don’t like when you access their sites on mobile devices. What seems to be missing that you could add to your site? Or what’s unnecessary on their site that you can eliminate from yours?

Borrow from the pros. Are there websites you frequently access on mobile devices that have a fantastic user experience? Whether or not these companies are competitors or even in your industry, take note of what makes them so enjoyable, and copy some of the same design, navigation and usability features on your own mobile site.

Editor’s Note : Network Solutions offers an easy way to build a website for mobile devices in mere minutes goMobi™, powered by dotMobi

Image by Flickr user muir.ceardach (Creative Commons)

The World Is Going Mobile. Is Your Business Following?

December 17th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

This holiday season is providing hard-to-ignore proof that increasingly, consumers are turning to mobile devices for functions like search and shopping. Recently, eMarketer did a roundup of some mobile device stats that should get you thinking. Here’s some of what they found:

  • The desktop isn’t obsolete yet. U.S. consumers on average still spend twice as much time on desktop computers than on mobile devices.
  • However, mobile devices are catching up fast. The average time spent on mobile devices is growing a whopping 14 percent faster than time spent on desktops.
  • In fact, if that rate of growth remains the same, eMarketer projects that time spent on mobile could equal time spent on desktops in just a few years.

What are consumers doing on mobile devices? In ever-larger numbers, they’re surfing the Internet. The eMarketer article cites data from Net Marketshare that says tablets and smartphones accounted for more than 10 percent of global browsing traffic in October for the first time ever in October. Net Marketshare notes that this figure is likely an underestimation since it didn’t include users who accessed the Internet via mobile apps.

Net Marketshare’s data is global, but in nations where smartphones are widely used, the growth in mobile Internet access is even faster. According to Chitika data cited by eMarketer, some 28 percent of Web traffic in North America came from mobile devices as of June 2012.

What does this growth mean to your business? If you haven’t yet invested in making your website mobile-friendly, or if you’ve treated this activity as an afterthought, it’s time to get with the program. While in the old days you could think about designing your website for desktop first and then stripping it down for mobile, now you’ve got to consider how users interact with your site differently on desktops, smartphones and tablets.

Also keep in mind consumers are increasingly expecting to be able to choose between a mobile-optimized website and a mobile app depending on their needs and moods—so if you haven’t thought about an app yet, it may be time (provided, of course, there’s some business value that you can offer customers).

I’m not saying you should ignore your website—it’s still the foundation on which all online activity is based, and for right now, it’s still where consumers spend most of their online time. But that’s changing faster than you think. Is your business ready?

Image by Flickr user p_a_h (Creative Commons)



How Can You Motivate Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers to Buy?

December 12th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

The holiday retail season is heading into the home stretch, but there are still plenty of Americans who haven’t checked off every item on their gift lists yet. How can you attract them and what motivates them to buy? The PeriscopeIQ Second Annual Holiday Shopping Survey has some useful insights about what works and what doesn’t.

QR Codes: So far, QR codes on ads, point-of-sale
items and price tags haven’t lived up to their potential, reports the PeriscopeIQ study, because nearly
three-fifths (59 percent) of shoppers don’t know what the codes are or what they
do. Fewer than one in five (18 percent) have ever used a QR code in
a retail environment, even though 60 percent own smartphones with built-in
scanners or apps. “We believe QR codes will continue to evolve but the
actual 2D code will be transformed by a newer, more efficient technology in
the near future,” said Mohamed Latib, COO of

Working Shoppers:
 Up to 40 percent of survey respondents admit to shopping online at work during the
holidays and year-round, and more than a quarter of
those polled shop more than 15 minutes daily on the job.

Gassing Up: Some 40 percent say their willingness to drive long distances for a bargain will be impacted by gas prices. And for shoppers in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, gas availability itself may still be an issue. Consumers’ awareness of gas prices is good news for ecommerce sites that let them shop from home.

Free Shipping:
 If you do have an ecommerce site, know that 95 percent of respondents say free shipping is a major factor in whether they buy from a particular site or not.

Smartphones Mean Smarter Shoppers:
 Over two-fifths (41 percent) of customers say they are pre-shopping online before going into stores, up from 27 percent last year. A smaller number (33 percent) check prices at other stores or at websites while in-store, and about 36 percent take pictures of items with their phones in-store, whether to get feedback from friends or family, or to do comparison shopping.

Waiting on Mobile Wallets: While mobile wallet options such as Google Wallet or Passbook have captured headlines, these technologies are still in limited use. Fewer than 5 percent of respondents say they use mobile wallet technologies.

Black, White and Read All Over:
 When looking for product information, sales and other information about shopping, almost
three-fifths (58 percent) of consumers say they still rely primarily on print magazines and newspapers.
In comparison, only 24 percent said they look at online reviews of products for information before shopping.

“With more than half of our respondents equipped with smartphones, the
multi-channel world is a boon to holiday shoppers,” said Dr. Pawan Singh, CEO and Chief Scientist at PeriscopeIQ. “But it can also be an
advantage to retailers who address physical, mobile and online customer
experiences with equal diligence.”

Image by Flickr user RetailByRyan95 (Creative Commons)

Black Friday’s Mobile Madness

December 3rd, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Just how mobile are U.S. shoppers getting? Extremely, according to a PCMag roundup on the results of the Black Friday weekend. On Thanksgiving Day alone, PayPal statistics showed that mobile payments via its service were up by 173 percent compared to last year. Black Friday itself saw an even bigger increase in the number of mobile payments, up by 193 percent at PayPal. Overall, PayPal’s total number of mobile shoppers was up 164 percent compared to 2011.

Etailer eBay also noted a similar increase in the number of mobile payments, up by 133 percent compared to last year, and eBay subsidiary GSI Commerce saw mobile sales increase by 170 percent.

IBM statistics over the holiday shopping weekend show similar growth. This year, IBM reports that some 24 percent of consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site, up from 14.3 percent in 2011. Mobile sales surpassed 16 percent, up from 9.8 percent in 2011.

Overall, IBM says 58 percent of consumers used smartphones and 41 percent used tablets to search for bargains over the Black Friday weekend. As you might expect, the iPad powered most of actual mobile sales. iPads accounted for almost 10 percent of online purchases, and for a whopping 88.3 percent of tablet traffic. iPhones made up 8.7 percent of online sales, and Android devices 5.5 percent.

Clearly, prognosticators’ predictions that this would be the year of the mobile shopper are coming true. And while mobile purchasing is still far from universal among consumers, what’s clear is that mobile devices are becoming essential tools in the research, bargain-hunting and product-finding process. Even customers who are leery of paying for products on a mobile device are happy to whip out those devices to help them find deals, stores and all the products on their gift lists.

How is your company adapting to the mobile mind-set of today’s consumer?

Image by Flickr user IntelFreePress (Creative Commons)

Is Your Small Business’s Mobile Marketing Strategy Falling Short?

November 5th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

How does your small business’s digital marketing strategy measure up? A recent study from BIA Kelsey, Local Commerce Monitor Study, Wave 16 found that small businesses are expanding their digital marketing efforts. Some 40 percent of small and midsized businesses in the study say they plan to increase their digital spending budget in the next 12 months; just 3.7 percent say they plan to cut digital marketing spending.

Beyond spending more on digital marketing, small businesses are also expanding their reach into more channels. In 2007, small companies in the survey said they used an average of three media channels; in the latest survey, the average almost doubled to 5.8 channels.

Overall, small businesses’ spending on all kinds of advertising and promotion is holding steady, at about $3,000 annually. Given that limited budget, it’s probably not surprising that Facebook was the top digital channel for small businesses. More than half (52 percent) of small businesses use Facebook for marketing. By comparison, 25 percent use email marketing, about 20 percent use Google + for marketing, 17 percent use online videos for marketing and 14 percent use online ad banners. “Social media appears to be rapidly evolving into a core medium for SMB advertising and promotion,” the study reports.

While small business owners are mastering Facebook as a marketing tool, one area where they still have a long way to go is mobile marketing. Only 20 percent of small business owners had a mobile marketing strategy in place. About 50 percent have heard about mobile marketing, but either don’t know much about it or simply aren’t using it. Ready for the real shock? Thirty percent haven’t even heard of the concept of mobile marketing.

Given that local, social mobile marketing can bring huge advantages to a small business that relies on a local clientele, this knowledge gap is especially amazing. If you’re a small business owner with a community focus, you need to get your feet wet in mobile marketing or your business is going to fall behind.

Image by Flickr user FutUndBeidl (Creative Commons)


What Your Small Business’s Mobile Website Must Have

October 8th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

What do users want from your small business’s mobile website? Speed is of the essence, according to a new Google study reported by MediaPost. Google found that taking too long to load was a big factor in whether consumers converted to buyers or not. Mobile sites that load in 5 seconds or less have higher conversion rates, the study found.

Consumers know what they’re talking about, since nearly 96 percent of them say they’ve run into problems with sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. In addition to fast load times, consumers also want:

  • Large buttons and text
  • Less content
  • Simple search features
  • Limited need to scroll, enlarge or pinch the screen
  • Quick access to information about your business, including directions, phone numbers, product information, click-to-call and the ability to email you and download apps
  • Simple forms that don’t require scrolling to complete and have a minimal number of fields to fill in

Overall, simplicity is key in designing a user-friendly mobile site. Consumers wanted to be able to find the information they need in just one or two clicks. Search was also crucial, with 78 percent saying an easy-to-find search bar is important. And nearly three-fourths (74 percent) want the option to go to your non-mobile site instead.

Less in demand, but still of interest, nearly half (48 percent) say they want to be able to easily access your business’s social networking page; 41 percent want to be able to view video clips about your business’s products and services.

This might sound like a lot of features to include in your mobile site, but if you think it’s too much trouble, consider this: If you don’t give consumers what they want, they’ll click right over to a competitor that does. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, 79 percent of users will search for one that is; 61 percent will immediately move on to a competing site they know about. Consumers are also five times more likely to give up on a task if your site is not mobile-friendly compared to one that is.

The bad news continues after customers click away, because having a site that’s not mobile-friendly hurts your reputation. More than half of respondents (52 percent) say they’re less likely to do business with a company again after having a bad mobile experience. Nearly half (48 percent) say having a bad mobile experience makes them feel that the company doesn’t care about their business. And 36 percent say visiting such a site is a “waste of time.”

What to do? Waste no time making sure your site is mobile-friendly—or watch customers head to your competiton.

Image by Flickr user Highways Agency (Creative Commons)