Consumer Behavior

Are You Ready for the Mobile Device Generation?

smartphone

It’s a New Dawn
Most of us are aware that Mobile Internet usage is on an upward trend, but recent studies are showing that it is now going mainstream. In fact, a December 2011 report from Nielsen (“The Rise of Smartphones, Apps and the Mobile Web“) showed that the number of smartphone subscribers accessing the internet has grown 45 percent since 2010.

Another report titled “Mobile Shopping Goes Mainstream” by comScore shows that two-thirds of all smartphone owners performed shopping activities on their phones. In fact, this same comScore report states that “retailers without a well-developed mobile strategy are not only missing a tremendous opportunity, but risk becoming obsolete”.

Thanks to faster networks and better devices, we are seeing the dawning of a new age in terms of how we access and use the internet. The days of sitting in front of a laptop or desktop computer to browse the web is decreasing, and although smartphones and mobile devices have been in the marketplace for a while (iPhone was introduced in 2007), what we are seeing today is that internet usage via a mobile device is now entering the mainstream. We anticipate that numbers showing this for the 2011 holiday season will highlight this growing trend.

Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?
Fortunately there’s a couple of quick and easy tests that can be done to see how your web site is performing via a mobile device. Our favorite tool is mobiReady (http://ready.mobi/). This is a free testing tool that evaluates your web site’s mobile-readiness using industry best practices & standards. It basically allows you to see what your web site will look like on different mobile devices.

A second free tool we like is provided by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community that develops open standards that ensure the long-term growth of the Web. Their test tool is available at http://validator.w3.org/mobile/. Although this tool is more targeted toward web developers, it will highlight specific areas that need to be addressed in order for your web site to be more mobile device compliant.

What Are the Consequences of Not Having a Mobile-Ready site?
What we are seeing – firsthand – is that a majority of online businesses and organizations do not yet have a mobile friendly web site. What are the consequences of this? Well, the number one consequence is that you could be missing out on a tremendous opportunity to capture new customers. If your competition isn’t providing a mobile solution, and you are… well guess what? You stand to benefit.

Secondly, you risk becoming obsolete in the minds of  your current or future customers if you don’t have a mobile solution. All of those dollars that you’ve spent throughout the years to attract new visitors could be lost if you don’t keep up with the upward trend with mobile internet usage.

Okay, So Where Do We Get Started?
First of all, you should remember that not all web sites attract the same types of users. You may have a business that attracts a smaller percentage of mobile device users. What we suggest is that you look at your web metrics reporting. Check to see how many web site users (to your site) are using mobile devices. If your mobile device visitor percentage is small (less than 3-5%) and you don’t yet have a mobile-ready web site, then you’re probably okay… for now. If the percentage of mobile device users is higher, then you really do need to start looking at some solutions for those visitors. Your future business could depend on it.

Web metrics reporting will provide some useful insights. Determine what pages mobile device users are looking at, and more importantly – exiting from. If all they are looking at is the home page, and the Bounce Rate is high, then you really need to start addressing your mobile device readiness.

Conclusion
The solution doesn’t need to be an expensive or time consuming undertaking. At a minimum, we suggest that you review your home page to see if it’s mobile device friendly. You’ll want to make sure that your company name, address, phone number, etc. are visible and easy to see. You can also provide links to content that’s already available for mobile devices like Facebook or Twitter (both have mobile-ready apps), etc.. Keep it simple, but have something for mobile device users to reach you through. The last thing you want to present is a blank web page because it won’t load into their mobile device correctly (or quickly).

UPDATE: Beginning in December 2011, Google now provides a mobile device publishing solution via their Google Currents platform. It’s easy to use, and you can publish all of your feed enabled content via this channel for all types of Mobile Devices. For more info check them out at the Google currents web site.

In closing, we certainly don’t believe that you need to create a completely new, mobile-ready web site. What you should do is some basic research and analysis to uncover areas on your web site that are in need of attention. There are many options available, and we can help you with your mobile device makeover for your web site. Please contact us to discuss some options.

Online Shopping Influencers

An InfluencerThe topic of “Influencers” has been getting a lot of attention in the Social Media Marketing world. In fact, the marketing firm razorfish has apparently trademarked the term “Social Influence Marketing”, but that’s an entirely different story.

So What are Influencers?
We’ve always had Influencers around us. As toddlers, our parents influenced how we behaved and responded in different social situations. In our teens, we kept a close eye on what our friends were wearing. In essence, our friends would have influence on our clothing styles and brands. As we mature, our buying decisions are formed in many different ways.

When it comes to internet marketing though, Influencers of the virtual type have become an extremely powerful force because they can shape and influence the buying decisions of large numbers of consumers and customers online.

Who are the Online Shopping Influencers
A September 2009 study titled Web Shoppers Trust Customer Reviews Most from Ripple6 and the e-tailing group, found that online shoppers are influenced by both online social networking sites and face-to-face conversations with friends. Most importantly though, this study found that online shoppers put more trust into online product reviews from strangers, rather than the recommendations of their friends.

A December 2009 press release from comScore reports that 28 percent of holiday shoppers said that social media had influenced their holiday purchase decisions. Of the types of social media cited in this story, the most influential were consumer-generated product reviews (13 percent of respondents), followed by expert product reviews (11 percent). Only 6 percent were influenced by a friend’s Facebook status update that referred to a particular product.

Although Social Networking is still relatively new (ca. 2004), it’s becoming apparent that online Influencers are playing an important role in terms of how shopping decisions are made. This is one reason why today’s marketers need to pay closer attention to the discussions that take place online about their products or services.

Steps for Today’s Marketers
Influencers can shape both online and offline perceptions. Online though, Influencers have the most impact because they can impact the buying decisions of a larger audience. So, what can Online and Offline Marketers do to become more engaged with their online Influencers? You may want to start out with the following steps:

  1. Search for your product, brand or company name online with a Blog or Group search on Google or Bing. Search Twitter as well using their search feature. Try to find out what sites or platforms people are using when they mention or discuss your products.
  2. Start listening to the overall discussions about your product, brand or company. You may need to do this for a week or so until you become more familiar with the overall discussion.
  3. Try to locate anyone who frequently talks about your product and determine what type of influence they are having on the buying decisions made online.

If you find an Influencer who likes your products, you may want to reach out to them and simply say “Thanks”. If the Influencer is NOT a fan of your products, try to figure out if anything can be done to remedy the situation and take the appropriate action as soon as possible. Online issues left without a quick resolution could hurt sales because they may show up in the search engines for a very long time.

Conclusion
It’s a new day and age in online marketing and the steps above are only a starting point. Overall, you’ll need to learn how to engage with your Influencers and customers because they may have a significant impact on your sales and the overall perceptions about your brand or product.

Who’s Your Town Crier?

the town crier

In earlier times the Town Crier was the primary source of news and information. They would ring a bell to catch everyone’s attention, read their proclamation or announcement, and then post it in a common area for all to see. Do you see any similarities today?

Good question… who are the Town Criers of today’s world of media and technology? Obviously newspapers, radio, and television still play an important role when it comes to keeping many of us informed. Thanks to the internet though, other forms of media have emerged which are providing us with more personalized sources for information.

This morning I attended a breakfast meeting for a local Social Networking group. The primary topic (as always) was the role that social media is playing in today’s online marketing world. One of the groups that presented was an online marketing group with a case study about a product called GoGirl, a “female urination device that allows women to pee while standing up”.

Now, I don’t want you to become too distracted by the thought of this, but GoGirl was definitely a product that caught my attention. What I found so interesting about GoGirl wasn’t so much the product itself, but mostly the presentation which gave social media much of the credit for their success. As it turns out, I think they missed a far more important communication link that played a huge role in the initial success of their product. This missing link is comparable to the modern day version of a Town Crier.

The Town Crier in this case was a local television reporter (Esme Murphy), who after hearing about this product, sent a tweet, ”wow, didn’t know we needed it. what do you think?”. Well, needless-to-say, she has many followers in Twitter and apparently because of the response to this tweet, she decided to run a story about this product on local news.

Not long after the story ran, news about the GoGirl product spread and it was quickly picked up by the national media. Before long, the GoGirl marketing team was making appearances on nationally broadcast talk shows where they introduced this product to even more people. What great PR for a product!

So the question begs to be asked, was more attention brought to this product through Social Media? Or, was it the “Town Crier” (in this case the reporter) who was able to reach out to people via a more mainstream media outlet.

When information about GoGirl was first broadcast on television, it reached a much wider audience than Twitter. Intially Twitter was basically used to gauge interest for this product. But word about this product really reached a more mainstream audience via the Town Crier on television.

Do you know who your primary Town Criers are in today’s world?  It’s an important consideration and one that should not be looked upon too lightly. It’s wise to spend time trying to find out who the Town Criers are for your specific market and audience. If you reach out to them, they could become an invaluable advocate for your product or service through their networking channels.

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Online Consumer Behavior

Do You Really Understand Your Online Consumers?
For most online marketers, creating a personalized online experience is a top priority. But, are they really providing the BEST online experience that will allow their web site visitors to achieve their online objectives and goals?

Even today many web marketers take a single approach in terms of establishing and defining what a personalized online experience should look like. Using a single approach, these web marketers then go on to create elaborate AND very costly initiatives which only serve a select group of online visitors.

Understanding the fact that each and every visitor to your web site has a different objective in mind will be the key to achieving long term success. For example, let’s say a visitor just needs information about a single product but they can’t even find this product on your home page? Are you really providing them with the best personalized online experience?

Consumer behavior really hasn’t changed all that much, even with the introduction of the internet. Yet it seems that many web marketers are easily distracted by emerging online solutions and networking options without first ensuring that they are providing their web site visitors with a personalized experience that provides the answers and solutions that they are seeking.

The Basic Consumer Buying Process
When you look at consumer behavior in general, the typical buying processes involve:

  1. Recognition of a Need (product or information)
  2. Search for Options (who has that product or information)
  3. Evaluate Options (what sounds like the best choice)
  4. Make Final Purchase Decision
  5. Determine Value of Purchase (are you happy with your purchase or information)

Are Your Web Site Visitors Achieving Their Goals?
Considering the above, can you honestly say that you know at what stage your web site visitors are at when they first reach your web site? Are you really providing them with a personalized solution that will help them achieve their goals at that specific moment in time?

Interactive Arts can help you define and create online campaigns that will cater to the needs of your web site visitors at various stages in the buying process. We achieve this through the time tested formula of Discovery, Marketing Campaign Design, Measurement and Continual Testing. This will help ensure that your online visitors are achieving their goals. Contact Us today for a free, no obligation web campaign survey.