What are your customers doing online? The answer is most likely social media, according to a new survey from Experian Marketing Services, which also showed five minutes of every hour is spent on shopping. A great deal of this social networking and shopping is happening on consumers’ mobile devices, which brings up the question, how are your online marketing efforts doing? Is your business well-represented on local search sites? How does your website look on a smartphone? Are you using social media to announce new products, promote daily specials and communicate with your customer? The truth is there’s probably more you could be doing, so make it a point to find out what you don’t know about online marketing and get your business on the right track.Google+
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Posts Tagged ‘Technology’
With the tragedy of the Boston Marathon still fresh in everyone’s minds, it revives memories of other recent disasters that have misplaced citizens, families and businesses of all sizes. Even if your business is not located in a disaster-prone area, you never know what else could happen that would interrupt the normal operations of your company. Plan ahead by making sure your critical business information is backed up and stored offsite, diversify your suppliers in case something happens to their business and obtain business interruption insurance. Most important: Make a plan with employees to set up a chain of communication to make sure everyone is accounted for so you can let worried family members and coworkers know.Google+
Are you taking advantage of all the ways local search can drive users to your business? The 6th Annual 15miles/Neustar Localeze Local Search Usage Study, conducted by comScore, found that local search is more important than ever in attracting customers and closing sales. Here’s some of what they found, and what it means to your business.
Search is the primary activity consumers conduct on mobile devices is search. Nearly 86 million Americans regularly look for local business information on their smartphones. Last year, the total number of visitors to search sites and search apps grew by 26 percent on smartphones and 19 percent on tablets.
In contrast, PC/laptop searches are in decline. The percentage of local searchers who say PCs/laptops are their main way of accessing local search sites has dropped by 7 percent year-over-year.
There are important differences in how users search on laptops/PCs, tablets and mobile phones:
Mobile phone searchers are more concerned about accuracy rather than depth of information. They are more likely than tablet users to say maps, driving directions and distance are helpful to them.
PC/laptop searches are more likely to take place earlier in the purchase process, during the research stage. In contrast, mobile and tablet searches were more likely to be used in the middle or at the end of the purchase process. These searches were also more likely to lead to a purchase. Just 59 percent of PC searches resulted in a purchase, but 78 percent of mobile phone searches and 77 percent of tablet searches did.
Local searches on tablets are declining too, dropping from 64 percent to 48 percent compared to last year. This suggests tablet users are becoming less mobile with the device, and is probably why they are more interested in in-depth information than mobile phone searchers are.
Accuracy of information was the most important factor for all three types of searchers; however, tablet and PC/laptop searchers gave slightly more importance to depth of content than they did last year.
What can you do to benefit from all types of local searches?
- Make sure your business is represented on local search sites such as Local.com, Bing and Citysearch.com.
- Provide driving, map and distance information to help users find your business.
- Regularly check your listings to make sure they’re still accurate.
- Provide as much detail as you can to help shoppers make the decision to visit your business, whatever device they are using.
- Make it easy to contact you quickly with a click-to-call button or prominently displayed phone number for customers on the go.
Image by Flickr user vestman (Creative Commons)Google+
If you’re trying to boost the success of your content marketing efforts, one way to do so is by adding video. Online video is becoming more a part of consumers’ everyday lives, especially when it comes to online shopping, according to a report from Invodo and the eTailing Group.
The survey of over 1,000 Internet users found that the majority (52 percent) regularly watch video during the online shopping process. About one-third say they always watch video if it’s available; almost all (90 percent) watch it at least occasionally. Shoppers are also turning to video earlier in the shopping process—during the research stage—especially when it comes to big-ticket purchases or complex purchases.
What’s important for content marketers to know—whether or not they are e-tailers—is that:
- Internet users are showing more interest in video compared to prior years.
- Consumer engagement is greater on sites that offer video.
- Consumers are spending more time watching videos than in prior years.
- They are also watching more videos in more product categories than in prior years.
While Invodo’s study focused on ecommerce-related videos, there is a wide range of options for small business video—from an e-tailer’s video demonstrating what clothing or apparel looks like on a model, to an accountant’s video explaining the latest tax deductions.
Clearly, adding video is a great way to engage your prospects. So what can you do to make sure your videos get watched?
- Make them educational. Create videos that demonstrate your products or services, show past customers talking about their satisfaction with your products or services, or educated consumers about what you do or sell. Invodo found videos with an educational or demonstration aspect were more likely to get watched.
- Make them easy to share. Consumers eagerly share videos on social media—in fact, they’re more likely to share videos than they are images or photos. Add share buttons or embed codes that enable users to pass your content along, as well as text encouraging them to share the video with others.
- Consider mobile. Invodo found viewing of videos on mobile devices is on the upswing, so create your videos with mobile in mind. This means simple setups that are easy to see on small devices.
- Shorter is better. Under two or three minutes is a good length for most types of videos. If you’re trying to cover a complex topic, break it down into a series of shorter videos. You’ll have more content and are more likely to attract views that way.
- Post in multiple places. In addition to your website, post videos on social media and consider creating a YouTube channel for your business. The more places your videos are available, the more traction they’ll gain.
Image by Flickr user M4D Group (Creative Commons)Google+
Now you can keep your fingertips on the pulse of the American economy—wherever you are—with the government’s new app. Available for both Apple and Android phones and tablets, America’s Economy provides real-time updates for 16 key economic indicators from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of Economic Analysis. Some of the key economic measures include employment, manufacturing, international trade, retail sales, and residential construction and sales. The app allows the user to follow the U.S. economy as the government learns new data. You can see whether the indicator has gone up or down since the previous report, and trends over time.
Sharing and editing multiple documents online just got easier for you and your employees. With TinderBox users can collaborate on documents and marketing content without losing specific branding details. The tool contains a redlining feature that shows edits and comments; documents are housed in one central location so each department can see what exactly is being used during the sales process. Plus, you’ll get real-time analytics that show which marketing materials were successful (or not) in acquiring customers. Then TinderBox can help streamline the proposal and closing processes with e-signature features and group permissions.Google+
Google has done it again. The mega-giant has now added online couponing to its large portfolio of tools helpful to small businesses. Zavers by Google is an online marketing solution for small businesses looking to offer coupons, expand reward programs and track coupon redemption. Consumers can find the coupons on your website, add the digital coupons to their online cards, and have the savings automatically deducted at checkout. Coupons can originate from your store or from manufacturers. Zavers by Google can also help you target specific coupons to specific customers; making things even easier, customers can integrate Zavers with Google Wallet.Google+
Is the scanner going the way of the fax machine? If so, how will you get your handwritten forms into digital format? Anoto Live gives you the tools to turn your handwriting into digital text all by just handing you a pen—a special pen, of course. Anoto helps companies stay competitive by making it easier to receive and send data quickly. The new digital writing solution requires minimal user training and transforms any piece of paper into a live document that enables information to be sent instantly to any back-office system. Additionally, a complete image of the form is available if needed.Google+
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.Google+
Spurred by the rapid adoption of mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, as well as by major retailers’ investment in their websites, ecommerce sales in the U.S. are projected to rise from $231 billion last year to $262 billion this year—an increase of 13 percent–according to the latest forecasts from market research firm Forrester. Three product categories account for one-third of that total: apparel and accessories, consumer electronics and computer hardware.
Ecommerce currently accounts for some 8 percent of overall U.S. retail sales (or 11 percent, if grocery sales are excluded). Growth in online retail sales is projected to outpace the growth of traditional retail sales in the next five years. By 2017, total ecommerce sales in the U.S. should hit $370 billion.
Forrester says the increased use of smartphones and tablets is a major factor powering ecommerce growth. With over 50 percent of U.S. online users owning smartphones, many smartphone owners use any spare moment to go online. As a result, people are spending more time overall online than they would if they had to go to their PC or laptop to shop—and that means more browsing, shopping and purchasing.
Another driver behind ecommerce growth is that major retailers are rapidly making investments in their ecommerce divisions in order to better integrate their in-store and online shopping experiences. Even customers who head to a brick-and-mortar store now often end up buying merchandise online within the store, or using smartphones to find the same products elsewhere and order them online.
Surprisingly, new shoppers coming online for the first time are not a major factor in the growth of ecommerce. Just 4 million people are projected to buy online for the first time this year. Instead, growth is coming because people who are already comfortable with online shopping are now spending more money online, ordering more often, and buying a wider range of products from a variety of sites. Forrester says online shoppers typically become comfortable with ecommerce by purchasing low-risk items such as downloadable music or movies. Only then do they move up to more expensive purchases such as appliances or home furnishings.
Forrester’s report has some more good news, not just for ecommerce vendors but also for the economy as a whole: Ecommerce companies are powering employment growth. Currently, Forrester says, U.S. ecommerce businesses employ over 400,000 people, and that figure is expected to hit 500,000 by 2017.
Image by Flickr user Mosman Council (Creative Commons)Google+