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Meet the Average Smartphone User

September 28th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Who has a smartphone and what are they doing with it? A new study from The Online Publishers Association, conducted with Frank N. Magid Associates, has the latest on American consumers, their smartphones and how they’re using the devices. Here’s a snapshot:

Nearly half (44  percent ) of the U.S. online population own smartphones (that’s 107 million people). That’s an increase from 31  percent  last year, and the figure is projected to hit 57  percent  by the second quarter of next year.

Smartphone users are passionate about the devices: Two-thirds of them say they “cannot live without” their smartphones. The most common smartphone activities (besides making calls) are accessing the Internet (59%) and checking email (58%).

Weather, video, local news and national news are the top types of information smartphone users access with the devices. More than half access content on a daily basis, and nearly one-fourth (24  percent ) have bought content to view on the device.

Smartphone users who view content are fairly engaged with advertising and marketing on their phones:

  • 15  percent have clicked on an advertisement
  • 12  percent have used a special offer or coupon
  • 12  percent have made a purchase either on a PC or at a store after viewing content on their smartphone

But those who have purchased content for their phones are even more active:

  • 79  percent have taken action after seeing an ad
  • 31  percent have clicked through an ad
  • 30  percent have used a special offer or coupon
  • 51  percent have made a purchase on a PC or in-store as a result of content or an ad on a smartphone
  • 24  percent have made a purchase at a store as a direct result of an ad

Finally, 96  percent  of smartphone content consumers have purchased an app. They have an average of 36 apps, 14  percent  of them paid.

What do these figures mean to you?

  • If your business lends itself to an app, consider creating one for your customers , but make sure it serves a worthwhile function.
  • Customers who use your app will likely be more receptive to other smartphone content from you, so consider sending special offers or coupons.
  • With email one of the top uses for smartphones, make sure your email newsletters are optimized so they display well on smartphones and that buttons, links or other calls to action are easy to see and interact with.
  • Consider creating videos about your business or asking customers to share their videos and posting them on your site or YouTube channel. More than half of consumers who use smartphones to watch video say they regularly watch user-generated content.

Image by Flickr user (Creative Commons)

What Are Shoppers Buying on Their Smartphones?

September 17th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

As we gear up for the holiday shopping season, mobile shopping is one of the hottest trends to watch. Almost 90 percent of mobile users report either regularly or occasionally researching products on a smartphone or tablet, according to recent research from Prosper Mobile Insights. Two-thirds regularly or occasionally make purchases on a mobile device.

What products are mobile shoppers most likely to buy? While some of them are obvious (ringtones) others might surprise you.

  • Apparel: 29.9 percent
  • Entertainment (CDs/DVDs/Books): 23 percent
  • Ringtones or other media for device: 20.1 percent
  • Small ticket electronics: 19.5 percent
  • Beauty products: 14.6 percent
  • Big ticket electronics: 10.4 percent
  • Home décor: 8.8 percent
  • Appliances: 7.9 percent

Apparel (40.5 percent) is the most popular category users research on a mobile device, followed by big ticket electronics (38.7 percent) and small electronics (37.8 percent).

What determines whether shoppers buy on a mobile device or through another method?

  • Price: 52.4 percent
  • The security of the site/app: 51.8 percent
  • The type of item being purchased: 50.0 percent
  • The form of payment (credit/debit/other account): 47.0 percent
  • The reputation of the site/app: 45.1 percent
  • How easy the site/app is to use: 41.8 percent

If you hope to compete with big ecommerce sites like Amazon.com, which offer all of the above, you need to make sure your site is secure, easy to use and offers a range of payment options to suit all kinds of consumers.

What items wouldn’t consumers buy via a mobile device? The answer is mixed. About 40 percent say they would never buy big-ticket electronics or furniture with a smartphone or tablet, but 37.8 percent say they’d consider purchasing any type of product via mobile.

Pam Goodfellow, Consumer Insights Director at BIGinsight, compares it to the early years of ecommerce, when a sizable proportion of consumers were scared to buy online.  “We expect the same for the growth of m-commerce: starting small, but once consumers find their comfort zones, mobile shopping will become a viable buying channel for a substantial proportion of the population.”

With a sizable percentage of consumers already buying by mobile, the trend is only going to grow. So if your ecommerce business isn’t already mobile-friendly, you’d better get moving—before your customers move elsewhere.

Image by Flickr user www.metaphoricalplatypus.com (Creative Commons)

Holiday Shoppers Plan to Go Mobile

September 10th, 2012 ::

 By Rieva Lesonsky

If you’re a retailer or e-tailer getting ready for the holiday shopping season, know this: Shoppers are going mobile this year. In Apigee’s 2012 Holiday Shopping Survey, more than half (57 percent) of mobile app users say they are considering purchasing their holiday gifts on a mobile device. Books, electronics, toys and apparel are among the top purchases users plan to make via mobile.

If your store doesn’t have a mobile shopping app, it could hurt you. More than half (54 percent) of respondents say stores that don’t have a mobile shopping app mean negative consequences for them, including:

  • I could waste a trip to the store looking for items they don’t carry – 30 percent
  • I could lose out on the best deals the store offers – 25 percent
  • It makes me think the retailer is old-fashioned – 19 percent
  • I could lose time – 17 percent
  • I could lose money – 12 percent
  • It could hurt my loyalty to the store – 7 percent

Shoppers aged 18 to 34 and male shoppers were more likely than older shoppers or women to feel the lack of a mobile app would hurt their shopping experience.

Why do shoppers love mobile shopping so much? The top benefits respondents cited were:

  • Browsing for deals wherever you are – 50 percent
  • Performing price comparisons inside a store – 48 percent
  • Using a mobile device to find a retail store – 40 percent
  • Redeeming electronic coupons – 38 percent
  • Secretly shopping without a spouse/significant other knowing – 25 percent
  • Buying embarrassing or personal items without using a work computer – 14 percent
  • Sneaking shopping time in at work – 12 percent

If you hurry, there’s still time to get your ecommerce site or store set with mobile apps that can tell shoppers if items are in stock, make it easy to browse online on a mobile device and simplify shopping. At the very least, make sure your users’ online shopping experience is mobile-friendly, even if you can’t create a dedicated app.

Image by Flickr user Brad Flickinger (Creative Commons)

Are Smartphone Apps Peaking?

August 17th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Is your small business investing heavily in app development? While smartphone apps are seeing a surge right now, that may not last, cautions a new study from ABI Research.

ABI predicts that global smartphone users will download some 36 billion apps this year, or almost 37 per smartphone user—an increase of almost 6 percent from 2011 downloads. However, instead of continuing to grow, ABI predicts app downloads will start to decline modestly.

The prediction goes against what some other sources have said. For instance, a Nielsen study cited by eMarketer showed that app use grew between 2011 and 2012 and significantly cut into time smartphone users spent on the mobile Web.

So why does ABI project a drop in app downloads? For one thing, the next big wave of smartphone purchasers will include older users who are less likely to enjoy playing around with apps. Perhaps more importantly, increasing sophistication in the mobile Web will make using apps less desirable, since consumers will be able to get much of the same functionality by going online.

Does this mean you should eliminate your company’s apps? Not at all. First, keep in mind the decline will be “modest,” at least at first. Apps are still extremely popular, and depending on your user base, may continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

What this data does mean is that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you’ve been ignoring the mobile Web and focusing solely on creating apps, now is the time to diversify. Keep in mind that this study focused on smartphones, and as tablets become more widespread, the mobile Web (already easier to access on tablets than on phones) is likely to even become more important.

Best advice? If an app makes sense for your business, by all means go ahead. But spread your risk around, and consider how you can make your small business website mobile-friendly so users can get the most from your business wherever they are, whenever they want, and whatever device they’re on.

Image by Flickr user topgold (Creative Commons)



10 Thought-Provoking Statistics That Affect Your Marketing Strategy

August 1st, 2012 ::

marketing statistics

After seeing the following marketing statistics, fresh off the presses from Hubspot, you might want to re-think some of your marketing efforts.  I certainly am!

Social Media Engagement

91% of online adults use social media regularly.  Is your business active on social media?

Don’t go overboard posting on Facebook!  If you post twice a day (rather than once), those posts only receive 57% of the likes and 78% of the comments per post.

This statistic is kind of sad: Less than half a percent of Facebook fans engage with brands they follow.

But this statistic is happy: 20% of Facebook users have purchased something because of ads or comments.

As is this one: 38% of people have recommended a brand they follow on social media.

Marketing Automation Works

If you set up messages to go out based on an event – like someone signing up for a webinar – the click-through rate skyrockets to 119% higher than a “business as usual” message.

Stop Ignoring Mobile

Emails are increasingly being opened on smartphones and tablets – it has increased by 80% over the last 6 months.  Are your messages optimized for all devices?

Businesses in the U.S. are increasingly on board with mobile.  Of the 45% of companies that use mobile marketing, 70% have mobile websites, 55% have mobile apps and 49% have QR codes.

Make Your Emails Relevant

A whopping 61% of emails received on “work” email accounts are non-essential.  Make sure your email marketing messages do not get dumped into that category!

Add Videos to Your Marketing Mix

YouTube users consume more than 3 billion hours of video per month.  Three. Billion. Hours.

Now that you have absorbed all of those numbers, how will you adjust your marketing efforts?  Leave a comment below!

Image courtesy of deploy511.org

Retailers: Time to Take Tech to the Next Level

August 1st, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

The future of retail is online, mobile and social, reports a recent Motorola Solutions survey reported by Marketing Charts. U.S. retailers polled predict that within the next five years, nearly half (42 percent) of retail sales will come from online, mobile and social commerce sites. To keep customers visiting their stores in the face of this trend, 75 percent of retailers say developing a “more engaging in-store customer experience” will be essential, and more than 40 percent plan to provide personalized product details to customers’ smartphones based on their prior browsing or purchasing behavior.

Better customer service is the core goal for retailers in the survey, with 51 percent saying they will invest in new technology to improve their customer service.

But there’s a big difference between what retailers want to do and what they can currently do. Although the retailers polled want to customize their in-store experience to each shopper, three-fourths of them admitted they currently have no way to know when a specific customer visits their store, 85 percent don’t know how to customize a store visit, and 89 percent can’t link shoppers’ online actions to their in-store behavior.

Among the technology retailers plan to deploy in the next five years is mobile or portable POS technology manned by clerks. Currently only 9 percent of retailers offer this, but 18 percent plan to add it. And 12 percent plan to offer customers the ability to self-checkout on their own mobile device (just 4 percent currently do).

So far, about one-third of retailers offer consumers the ability to buy on a mobile device in-store and have a product shipped to them. More than half (59 percent) say they will offer this within five years.

There are some ways you can improve customer service without any technology. Two in five retailers surveyed said not being able to find something they came to buy is a top complaint among customers. Simply helping customers find products or order them if you don’t have them in stock is one easy way to improve satisfaction.

Marketing Charts also noted that most customers prefer to be recognized in-store in person, not via technology. Simply greeting customers as they come in or browse, or setting up a frequent or preferred shopper program where you can greet customers by name as they check out, can improve customers’ experience in your store.

Last, but not least, integrate your in-store and ecommerce experience. Allow customers to buy online and return at your store; buy online and have it shipped to your store for pickup; or order in-store and have it shipped to them.

How are you keeping customers happy?

Image by Flickr user cogdogblog (Creative Commons)


How Are Your Competitors Using Mobile Marketing?

July 30th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

You’ve checked out Web.com’s survey, Are Small Businesses Ready for Mobile?, on how small businesses are using mobile marketing. But what are big companies’ mobile marketing plans? eMarketer recently reported some survey data that gives you the skinny on what your big competitors are planning for the coming year.

First of all—and this is kind of shocking to me—more than half (55 percent) of global brands surveyed aren’t yet using mobile marketing at all. But that won’t last long: Of those companies that aren’t using mobile, 43 percent plan to add it within the next year. Fourteen percent plan to do so in the next six months, 29 percent plan to do so in the next six to 12 months, and 32 percent will be waiting a year or more to do so.

What mobile marketing techniques are most popular so far? Heading the list are optimizing websites for mobile devices, cited by 70 percent of companies using mobile marketing . Next most popular are mobile apps, which more than half (55 percent) of mobile marketers use. Nearly half (49 percent) use QR codes and 40 percent use text messaging campaigns.

Even the big companies that are using mobile marketing aren’t yet spending a lot on it. Nearly one in four say their mobile marketing budget is less than 1% of their total marketing budget; 20 percent say it’s between 2 and 3 percent of their budgets. Just 6 percent of companies report spending 11 percent or more of their marketing budget on mobile.

However, if survey responses are any indication, that could change soon. More than half (55 percent) of respondents say their mobile budget grew in the past year, and 70 percent planned to increase it in the coming year. (Of course, that’s probably because it really couldn’t get much smaller than it already is.) Still, eMarketer projects rapid growth and estimates that spending on mobile advertising in the U.S. will hit $2.6 billion this year. That encompasses advertising via display, search and messaging.

What are you doing to keep pace?

Image by Flickr user sakeeb (Creative Commons)

How to Market Your Restaurant Online

July 3rd, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Is your restaurant marketing stuck in the 1950s? A study by research firm Restaurant Sciences finds that far too many restaurants are failing to take advantage of the advertising, marketing and promotional opportunities the Internet offers.

Here are some of the shortcomings Restaurant Sciences found:

  • More than half of independent restaurants do not have a website.
  • Of those that do have a website, fewer than 40 percent display a menu on the site, even though access to menus is among the most popular reasons users visit a restaurant website.
  • Fewer than 1 in 8 full service restaurant chains and fewer than 1 in 20 full service independents have a mobile website, even though some data has shown that more than half of all visits to restaurant websites are from mobile devices.
  • Just over 1 in 8 restaurants has a blog.

“One of the most surprising aspects was the large number of restaurants with no online presence at all,” said Chuck Ellis, President of Restaurant Sciences. “An online presence today is critical to the success of any food or drinking establishment.”

Ellis notes that there’s no excuse for not having a restaurant website today, nor for not having a mobile site. What else should restaurant owners do to effectively market their businesses online?

  • Use emails, email newsletters or similar enrollment vehicles to keep customers informed of what’s going on at your restaurant.
  • Make it easy for customers to make reservations. At a minimum, prominently display your restaurant’s phone number on your website. However, consider adding more convenient options such as a click-to-call button so they don’t have to dial, or adding OpenTable or similar online reservation tool to your website.
  • Make it easy for customers to buy gift certificates online. Prominently display a link to a gift card order form.
  • Have a consistent presence on local search sites such as Bing, Local.com and Google Plus Local (formerly Google Places), as well as restaurant rating sites such as Yelp!
  • Use social media tools like Facebook and Twitter. These are especially important to attracting younger customers. Posting photos of your menu items, ingredients or chefs in action is a great way to engage customers. You can also post or Tweet current menu items, limited-time offers or special discounts.

Image by Flickr user Seattle Municipal Archives (Creative Commons)

How Tablets’ Popularity Creates Opportunity for Small Business

July 2nd, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Tablet use is growing by leaps and bounds, reports the Online Publishers Association, which recently conducted a survey of how tablet owners are using the devices. Here are some highlights of what they found, and what it means for your business.

31 percent of the U.S. Internet population owns a tablet, up from 12 percent in 2011 when the OPA conducted its first study. By early next year, that figure is projected to rise to 47 percent, or 117.4 million U.S. consumers.

Tablet users are highly responsive to ads on tablets. 37 percent said ads on the device are “hard to ignore,” 33 percent say they are “eye-catching,” 29 percent say they are “unique and interesting” and 28 percent say they are “relevant.” Twenty-seven percent said an ad had motivated them to buy a product, and 26 percent said an ad had motivated them to research products. Some 23 percent of tablet users report having clicked on an ad in the last six months, while 20 percent have used a special offer or coupon delivered via tablet.

Tablets are a research tool. Some 19 percent of tablet owners have visited a product website in the last six months, and 29 percent have used the device to research a product.

Tablets are already a key part of consumers’ daily lives: 60 percent of tablet owners using the device several times a day, for an average of 13.9 hours per week. Typically, tablets are used in the evening and at night, between 5 and 11 p.m. Although tablets are most often used in the home (67 percent of time), they’re used at work or school 15 percent of the time, in the car or while commuting 14 percent of the time. Use while shopping is rare (just 4 percent).

Already, 38 percent of tablet owners (23 million people) have used the device to buy something online. While tablet apps are the biggest category of purchases, 21 percent have purchased retail or apparel, 19 percent consumer electronics and 17 percent health and beauty products.

How can you take advantage of these tablet trends?

  • Consider advertising. Tablet advertising clearly gets results, whether motivating actual purchases or driving consumers to learn more about your product.
  • Make your website tablet-friendly. When consumers use tablets to research your products or services, make sure they can learn what they need easily.
  • Time your emails right. If you’re marketing to tablet users via email, consider sending your emails after work hours, when users are most likely to be browsing or “playing” on their devices and more receptive to your emails.
  • Consider developing a tablet app. If an app makes sense for your business, a free one can raise your business’s profile and create more loyal customers, while a paid one can generate revenue of its own.

Image by Flickr user cote (Creative Commons)


Mobile Advertising Just Got Easier for Small Businesses

June 25th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Reaching consumers on their mobile phones is about to get a little easier—and more affordable—for small and midsized businesses, thanks to some major changes announced by Google and Facebook.

Advertising Age reports that Google is integrating AdMob mobile display ads into its AdWords. The change will make it easier for small and midsized advertisers to buy mobile ads, since the option will now show up in the same place as AdWords. AdMob adds show up on more than 300,000 mobile phone apps, according to Google.

Facebook recently made advertising on its mobile app an option for all sizes of advertisers, Advertising Age reports. Although Facebook has offered mobile ads since March, until now they were mostly bought by big corporations that could afford premium packages. But now advertisers who use Facebook’s self-serve tool can buy mobile ads, meaning they will be open to a wider range of companies, including those with much smaller budgets.

Ad Age cites stats from Borrell Associates that project small and midsized companies will spend some $4.5 billion on mobile marketing in 2012. And because mobile phones are so widely used, there is plenty of ad space going begging—meaning prices are lower and more affordable for small companies.

If you’re still not sure mobile ads are worth your time, consider these stats: Three out of four mobile phone users pay full attention to mobile ads while surfing the Web, according to a survey by Prosper Mobile Insights. And nearly 60 percent of smartphone and tablet users say they regularly or occasionally pay full attention to ads they see on mobile social media sites.

Prosper says men are more likely than women to pay attention to mobile ads, especially when surfing the Web, watching video online or shopping. More than half (51 percent) of men said ads they saw on a mobile device regularly or occasionally influenced their purchasing behavior; 43.7 percent of women said the same.

If you haven’t gotten into the mobile ad game yet, now could be the time to make your move.

Image by Flickr user gabofr (Creative Commons)