My aunt, who has been retired in Florida for over 20 years, just got her first smart phone. I know this because she mentioned it on her Facebook Page. My mother’s retired friend, who used to think that Facebook was silly just “friended” me. Her 10-year-old granddaughter has been texting her from her new smart phone while on vacation in Disneyland.
Technology is not only rapidly changing, but is being adopted by all segments of the population. Today, more people access the Internet from their mobile devices than from their computers. People are spending more time on Social Media than watching TV – some more than sleeping. (An Accenture survey found that consumers spend an average of 6 to 6-1/2 hours a day using digital devices for personal activities.)
But as a business owner, what does it mean to you?
The basic goal of marketing has remained the same: getting and keeping the attention of people who might buy from you and buy from you again. What this boils down to is that you have to find ways to tell people you exist, explain why they need (or want) what you are selling, and then convince them to buy from you.
This doesn’t mean that traditional marketing tactics are completely obsolete, just that companies have many more choices and must decide how to allocate their resources in ways that make the most sense for them.
What has changed?
People today begin and end their product search at any time of day from from any device. They expect a personalized, consistent and satisfying experience, whether they walk into a store, research on a smartphone or tablet, engage with others on social media, or order a product on their computer. Businesses must evolve in order to reach and communicate with their audiences in ways that make sense for their company and their customers.
Marketing Success Today
We hear all the time that marketing has changed. It has had to. As consumers have become more “connected” with companies and with each other, they now have the power and (in most cases) the will to research the products and services – and the companies – they are interested in. They view websites, read blogs and ask their connections and friends about their experiences.
A Marketingland study found that “90% of Consumers say buying decisions are based on reviews.”
A mobile-friendly website is one that “scales” to be attractive and legible on any size device. That means coding it in such a way that the layout changes, the type font and images get larger and smaller depending on the size of the screen. It might also present a different navigation menu. Web developers have used different methods to accomplish this. However, the “responsive” templates are now the standard. Other design features, including parallax and one-page designs with “swipe” type navigation.
Why A Responsive Website is important
Most people start a search for products and services online, and more searches are done on mobile devices than computers. In order to give each viewer the best experience, every company should have a mobile-friendly website. However, this will become critical in April 2015 when Google’s new algorithm is launched. Websites that are not mobile friendly may be ignored for searches done on mobile devices. (It will be as if you don’t exist.)
Is your site mobile friendly? Here is a link to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Social Media Presence
Social Media has become an integral part of the lives of most people today. Most of us have apps on our smart phones that take us directly to our favorite platforms. Companies that ignore the billion plus people who are on social media do so at their peril, and here are four compelling reasons why:
- Word of mouth has always been a part of marketing. Your neighbor tells you about a product they love, and the chances you will also want to try that product. Social media is word-of-mouth on steroids.
- Marketing is about letting people know you exist, telling them what you are selling and convincing them to buy from you. Having a strong Social Media presence allows you to do that in a very friendly, interesting, and sometimes even amusing way. And today this is what people expect.
- When given a choice, people will choose to buy from people they know, like and trust. Social media gives you a chance to get to know your potential customers – often before they have decided to buy from you.
- Google is now indexing Facebook posts and “Tweets.” Google admits that it considers “social signals” in their search results. Social media absolutely enhances SEO (search engine optimization).
Still on the fence? Consider this:
73% of Facebook users have become a fan of at least one company or brand. The primary reason they “like” companies is a genuine like of the brand (34%) or access to exclusive deals and offers (24%). (Markle)
A word about privacy.
While people do care about their privacy, they seem to care even more about getting a good deal. I recently saw a social media post that stated that we have given up our right to privacy for added security AND a better customer experience.
A recent article on Accenture puts it this way: Although 87% don’t think their personal information is protected by adequate safeguards online, most welcome receiving relevant offers in real time and 42% appreciate that vendors and suppliers are using (social tracking) information to provide better offers. Accenture
Everything you say or write, online and off line, is content. However, in today’s parlance content is most often thought of as the text found on websites, social sites and blogs. Content is the way we tell others who we are, what we do and how we do it. It can be educational, funny, interesting or controversial. Done right, it tells our stories. Here are a few reasons content is important to your company:
- When someone searches for a company, they may not do it in a straightforward way. For example, when they need a plumber, they may search “my toilet is broken.” Content gives businesses a chance to write text using the key words that people might put in a search box. So if a plumber writes a blog specifically about fixing toilets, he may be found at the top of the search results for searches on toilet repair. As voice-activated internet searches become more prevalent, having the right answers, written in a semantic way, will become even more important.
- Google rewards fresh content. In other words, when people search for your products and/or services, Google’s algorithm favors (ranks higher) those companies that are publishing a constant flow of good content. In other words, the bigger your “digital footprint” the better.
- People today research before they buy. They may read 7-8 articles about a company, product or service before they decide on a supplier. (This is especially true for B2B companies.) Therefore, having several articles that explain things in slightly different ways may gain you the attention – and appreciation – of potential customers.
- Content feeds social media sites. Facebook and LinkedIn both have had to make decisions about the content included in their members’ newsfeeds. Both make decisions on the amount and value of content offered. Having a continuous stream of valuable content that is liked and shared will assure that more of what you write makes it to the eyes of your target audience.
Don’t underestimate the value of a well-titled, well-written, attractively designed email blast from your company account, especially when judiciously sent to the right segment of your database. Even the busiest people read their email – most of the time on their smart phones. In fact, 91% of consumers check their email daily (ExactTarget) ; 74% prefer to receive commercial communication via email (Merkle); and, 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an email marketing message (Direct Marketing Association).
The trick is to understand the marketing and advertising outlets available, determine where your customers and potential customers are looking for you and how they prefer to communicate with you. Finally, decide on a realistic marketing budget (considering both your time and money) and develop a marketing plan that gives you the most “bang for your buck.”