Archive for the ‘Insights and Observations’ Category

Mobile Websites are Dead. Long Live Mobile Websites.

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On April - 9 - 2013

With web traffic from mobile devices set to surpass that from desktop computers in just a few years, how can mobile websites be dead? While mobile traffic will continue to increase, what’s coming to an end is the practice of building a separate mobile version of a site. New technology now allows us to create one website that will elegantly adapt itself for smart phones and tablets by using responsive website design.

Anyone who has tried to navigate a conventional website on their smart phone knows how frustrating that can be. Most of them just aren’t “thumb friendly”. The solution until recently has been to build a separate mobile version of a site with a simpler design, less content and larger more finger friendly navigation. The site server would recognize when a visitor is coming from a mobile device and serve up a stripped down version of your website. Since the mobile site would have a different URL (often with an “m.” added to the beginning) mobile sites have sometimes been referred to “m dot” sites.

kelly_mobil

A responsive website will recognize the type of device you are on and adapt its size, scale and features accordingly. It can add, change or even delete features based on the capabilities of the device. This not only makes for an improved user experience but it eliminates the need to maintain and update multiple websites saving time for webmasters and marketers. You can also expect to lower your bounce rate and increase the time users spend on your site. The major search engines have made it clear that they prefer you maintain one URL, so responsive design is now the best practice for SEO as well. The initial development time for a responsive site is greater but that’s investment that’s should pay off over time. While it may or may not be worth the effort of updating existing sites to make them responsive, if you’re developing a new website it’s most definitely the way to go.

 

About Vin DeCrescenzo

Vin is the Digital Marketing Director for WSI Online Solutions. He has over 15 years of experience in Digital Marketing and is both a Direct Marketing Association and Google Adwords certified search engine marketer. Vin is a graduate of Colgate University with a Degree in English. Prior to starting his career in Digital Marketing, Vin worked in Film and Television and as a journalist in his native New York City where he still resides. He travels frequently to South Florida and throughout the country to consult with businesses and organizations on how they can benefit from Digital Marketing.

 

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Digital Marketing Explained

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On January - 21 - 2013

digitallandscape

It used to be about websites and search engine optimization. Now it’s about total web presence optimization. The digital landscape comprises of a mix of different channels such as social networks, websites, email; mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets; videos, widgets, kiosks, and gaming consoles. These mediums help marketers to build relationships with consumers, publicize their brands, and also sell their products or services.

Digital marketing arrived on the scene more than 15 years ago but has evolved rapidly in the last couple of years. Social media has significantly transformed consumer behavior. It has facilitated sharing of information with prospective buyers like never before through online advertisements, videos, blogs, tweets, and more. The digital space has clearly caught the fancy of savvy marketers thanks to factors such as its:

  • Huge impact on brand reputation
  • Potential to quickly launch online campaigns
  • Interesting mix of marketing technologies
  • Ability to engage prospects in dynamic exchanges that influence buying decisions
  • Measurability and cost-efficiency
  • Creative potential of platforms such as rich media, gaming, and mobile applications

Let’s take an in-depth look at how digital marketing has evolved over the years and how understanding it can help you influence consumer behavior.

The Evolution of Digital: A Convergence Story

Digital media has progressed rapidly due to the convergence of technology and easy availability of consumer technologies. This has paved the way for interactive mediums that engages the audience, something that traditional media did not provide.

It commenced with advancements in Internet technology that led to the launch of thousands of websites. This was still a passive communication medium since sites were not interactive. Then came email, the first dynamic medium that enabled direct communication between consumers and businesses in a cost-effective and meaningful manner. The revolution finally took off when ‘search’ became a part of the user experience. It was the arrival of social media, however, that made the digital landscape ‘interactive’ forever.

The success of social media sites such as Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter indicate how well connected today’s users are across multiple geographies. The digital experience has switched the role of users from a passive receiver to an active participant, circulating relevant, useful information and influencing buying decisions.

The convergence of mobile technologies with location-based services and smart devices has now made real-time interactions a reality. Consumers are spending more time and money on these devices for their personal and business consumption. This means an increased opportunity for sellers to create interesting mobile applications that engage users.

Marketers can now gain insight into the nature of information being accessed and shared. Since consumers are interacting through various digital channels, they play a critical role in building or demolishing a brand’s reputation. This makes it imperative to identify the most relevant consumers and understand their behavior in order to target the right audience and deliver the intended message.

The Reality of the New Digital Landscape

Digital media has emerged as a reality that is continuously challenging marketers. Adopting and promoting an apt digital strategy is easier said than done. It requires a shift in the way marketing functions approach digital media.

Here are some guidelines to help you successfully navigate the digital landscape:

  • Clearly define your business goal – is your focus brand building or lead generation or both?
  • Identify the channels that will help you achieve your goals
  • Define your target audience
  • Set the right expectations with stakeholders about what a digital strategy can achieve
  • Integrate your offline and online strategy
  • Provide engaging and consistently valuable content
  • Engage with the right agency that can tailor digital solutions to suit your customers’ needs—and it is okay to start small!
  • Implement the right analytics and automation tools to understand your target audience behavior
  • Review your plans over a defined period to measure progress and results
  • Have a backup plan: the biggest boon of digital media could be its biggest bane as well. On one hand your customers can be your brand ambassadors, but on the other they can damage it irreversibly. Ensure that you have a backup plan or team to respond to crisis situations.

Since the digital landscape is vast, success lies in having a consumer focused strategy and clear business goals. An effective integration of both with an overall marketing strategy can help organizations reap benefits and develop strong relationships with the consumers.

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Was Social Media Dangerous During Hurricane Sandy?

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On December - 4 - 2012

From time to time I like to showcase guest bloggers to weigh in on topics like social media and SEO. This week my fellow Digital Marketing consultant and Hurricane survivor Linda Waterhouse takes a look back on how some people abused social media during the recent disaster. Moral of the story is; don’t always believe everything you see on the Internet… Read the rest of this entry »

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The statistics are overwhelming. Consumers will either reject or embrace your brand based on what they see when accessing your website on a mobile device.

Here are just a few of the stats from the Google survey:

  • 20% of visitors to a mobile friendly website (small & local businesses) led to an immediate call to action (click-to-call).
  • 36% said they felt like they wasted their time by visiting a non-mobile friendly site.
  • 52% said a bad experience on their mobile device made them less likely to engage with a brand.
  • 61% said they would abandon a website if they didn’t see what they were looking for right away.
  • About 50% said that they felt the company just didn’t care about their business if their mobile site works poorly.
  • Conversely two-thirds said they were more likely to buy or interact with a company that was mobile friendly.

Consider the frustration when looking at a full sized website that is effectively the size of a postage stamp. The text is too small to read without “pinching” it larger and scrolling in both dimensions to read it. The buttons are too small to target with your fat fingers.

Take a look at the differences between the standard and mobile versions of these sites. Look at the mobile simulation, and then click through to the standard site and you will be able to envision the difference in user experience.

Also consider that the behavioral patterns of mobile users are different than those of their desktop counterparts. People don’t read on the Internet…they scan. People on mobile devices read even less, so the mobile version should be lean and mean, giving consumers only what they are looking for.

Finally, Google concludes that non-mobile friendly websites actually damage the consumer’s perception of the company. The good news is that for most brands, a mobile friendly version of their website is not that difficult or expensive to deploy.

Kreative Webworks is a full-service Digital Marketing firm in Orange County CA since 1999.

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3 Reasons Why Mobile Devices are the Virtual Highway to Buying Decisions

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On October - 10 - 2012

From time to time I like to showcase other digital marketing experts in the WSI network, and today I’m featuring my guest blogger, Mark Colestock, a friend and associate of mine from St. Paul, MN.

By Mark Colestock

Recently a prospect asked me a great question about his customer base in the next 10 years.  “Will young people bring new habits to their buying decisions, or will they change to adopt habits similar to their parent’s decision making?”  His concern is real – his current customers come to him as referrals, but future younger decision makers have new habits for researching and validating businesses.  So how must he change his business marketing to capture future business?  Here are 3 reasons the future buying decision path may be different.

1) Young People would rather be On-line than On-the-Road

Some of us who are a little older have lived through many changes in computers, internet, smart phones and tablets.  We have learned to utilize new resources and make decisions differently, where we no longer grab an encyclopedia, but pull out tablets or cell phones to search for information.  Today’s young people, whose second nature is searching out answers on smart phones, will adopt new technologies even quicker than their parents.

More young people are concerned about their phones 4G performance than their car’s V-8 performance, this according to an article in Bloomberg. Another article in the Times of India where it says “Smartphones now rival automobiles as the default symbol of adulthood…”

Social networking online is providing faster and better referrals between people.  Today’s youth have caught these facts faster than their parents.  The virtual independence certainly has car manufacturers worried.  But this impact will go far beyond the car industry.  All businesses need to take note of these changes in demographics.

2) Mobile device market penetration has grown

Mobile device acceptance has grown quickly.  We often see cults of mobile device users waiting for the next device to be released, as recently seen with such entries as the Samsung Galaxy S3, or the Apple IPhone 5 or maybe they are waiting for the release of the WP8 Nokia Lumia.  A Bloomberg Business Week article shows Google Android OS with 52% of U.S. smartphone market, Apple’s iOS with 32% and Windows Phone with 4%.  However, no matter which OS or mobile device is selected the trend is showing greater market penetration for mobile devices.  The differentiators between these manufacturing rivalries seem to come down to having the right applications and or the best internet search capabilities.  The devices that stay in the winner’s circle the longest are those which convince users that their overall internet experience is the best.  However the bottom line is the number of mobile devices is dramatically increasing.

Today users often buy both tablets and smart phones.  By 2013, the number of mobile device users will pass the number of desktop users according to an article in Search Engine Journal.  The demographics of market penetration provide a trend that requires our attention.  Mobile searches will dominate the search marketplace in the near future as this trend continues.

3) Mobile device users are making action decisions or conversions

The same Search Engine Journal article mentions a quoted statistic that “70% of Mobile searches result in action within one hour.” It also quoted a Nielsen report saying “73% of mobile users say they regularly look up and call business phone numbers.”  Where business owners do not have a mobile friendly website, they might be missing calls from these potentially high conversion rates.

As numbers of mobile device users grow, with younger users driving the demand we will see more market buying decisions.  Mobile devices are creating a virtual highway to buying decisions.  Can your business be seen on that highway?

Mark Colestock is a Digital Marketing Consultant for WSI DigNet Corporation, a digital marketing agency in St. Paul, MN.

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Online Reputation Management – Play Offense and Win

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On October - 3 - 2012

Think that being proactive with your online reputation isn’t important because you’re in a small market? Think again. My friend and colleague Malinda Davis with WSI puts it in perspective and offers a few words of wisdom that you can actually do yourself.

You are a small business owner in Mill Creek, WA – most of your customers live or work within a small radius of your business in Snohomish County. Why would it matter what people see on the Internet about your business? And it doesn’t impact sales, right? Not quite…

Digital Word of Mouth

No longer is your business reputation based solely on what customers tell their friends and family about the high-quality products you sell, the friendly atmosphere of your office and your excellent customer service. With the digitization of the marketplace, consumers can easily praise or punish businesses they visit – the impact is immediate, widespread and often long-lasting. We call this Digital Word of Mouth!

Online review sites and social media have essentially provided a megaphone for consumers to broadcast their feedback about their experience at a business. It is one-to-many sharing, reaching well beyond just friends and family. According to Facebook, the average Facebook user has 130 friends. Unfortunately, many consumers often fail to remember the positive experiences and choose to share their negative experiences with the world. Imagine the potential impact (on your reputation and bottom line) of a negative online comment from a customer on Facebook? What if they also posted a negative review at Yelp?

Online Reputation Management

Online reputation management is important for businesses of all sizes and industries to consider. Businesses need to be aware of their web footprint (or lack thereof). A dentist with a confusing or outdated website may cause potential clients to think twice about scheduling a consultation. A restaurant with the best food will be impacted financially if their online reputation is poor.

What can you do?

  • Be Present – Make your business discoverable on the Internet. At a minimum, this includes having a simple and clean website, claiming your social media profiles and verifying your local business listings (Google Places, online directories, etc.). Once you have a web presence and in order to stay ahead of your competition, sharing video content and optimizing your website and social accounts is essential to being present and visible online.
  • Play Offense – Be proactive. Provide avenues for customers to provide feedback and to share it online. Be proud of your success and ask for referrals! The alternative to playing offense is playing defense – and in this game, it is worth the effort and investment to be proactive. If you don’t, someone else will (i.e. your competition and/or an upset customer).
  • Listen – Monitor what is being said about you and your company online. This is an opportunity to learn how to better serve your customers and improve your business. When you listen and make changes based on the feedback, your relationships and trust with clients only increases.
  • Engage – Add fresh content to your website and social media accounts – this demonstrates your expertise and adds a personal touch to your business. Ask questions. Blog to educate your customers, share success stories and praise your employees for their hard work. If something negative is said about your business online, respond appropriately (acknowledge, apologize and take action to regain their trust). Choosing silence only magnifies the customer megaphone.

What About Negative Comments?

If you have created a solid web presence and still receive a handful of negative comments, don’t worry. Unfortunately, human nature is to share negative experiences. If you have addressed these comments, not only will the positive comments and your solid web presence overshadow the negative, it shows your commitment and pride to serve your customers.

And remember…. Your customers (present and future) are online, either on a computer at home or at work, or on their mobile smart phone. When consumers are unsure, or deciding which business to buy from, they use the information they find online to help them decide. Do you present a professional image? Are you credible? Should they trust you? What do other people say about their experience with your business?

Your customers are using social media. They are reading online reviews and will form an opinion about your business and your products. The perception they form is then strongly tied to whether or not they decide to purchase from you. With the Internet, consumers have access to an immense amount of information and purchasers have a digital megaphone to influence what their friends or families buy, as well as what strangers buy.

It isn’t a surprise or a secret – people use the Internet to find information about local businesses. What will they find when they search for you? Remember, be present, play offense, listen and engage. It is up to you to make sure they find the right kind of information.

Melinda Davies is a Digital Marketing Consultant with WSI based in the Seattle, WA area, and works with local businesses to develop their digital marketing strategy, including local search, online lead generation, email marketing, brand credibility, mobile marketing, social media, reputation management and web analytics. WSI has been providing innovative Internet marketing solutions for clients around the world since the mid-1990s. WSI has a global reach, with a network of digital marketing consultants dedicated to region-specific solutions in over 80 countries. Check out Melinda’s website at www.wsimarketingplus.com

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Social media has rules…who knew?

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On September - 26 - 2012

I guess its marketing’s version of natural selection. Social media didn’t start out with rules, they just kind of evolved. Those who set the rules figured it out through a combination of trial and error and common sense. Those who didn’t were domed to extinction and obscurity. (Darwin would be so proud).

  1. Loosen up!

    Don’t take yourself too seriously. You can be about business…but you can have a personality too. In fact some of our most popular posts have nothing directly to do with our digital marketing business, but that’s what keeps them coming back.

  2. It’s a balancing act!

    Social marketing has infiltrated every aspect of what we do as online marketing strategists. Even search engines factor in “likes” re-tweets and +1’s into their algorithms, but never forget that some good old fashioned paid marketing is still a vital part of the equation.

  3. Content marketing is about quality not quantity!

    Human beings could always tell the difference between well produced quality content and fluff. Try to slip low quality past your followers and the search engines, and all your efforts will fail.

  4. A clear call to action

    Online or offline, if you want something done, you have to tell them what to do. We’ve found that asking people to comment or like something actually works. Be clear about what you want your audience to do after consuming your content and engaging with your brand.

  5. You MUST add value!

    Value comes in different forms… information, entertainment, education – it’s all good. Bottom line is if people like it…it adds value and they’ll come back for more.

  6. Don’t talk at your audience…talk with them.

    It’s a conversation, not a lecture. Don’t just keep the lines of communication open, encourage it. When contacted, always respond quickly and sincerely. Mix your topics and keep track of what elicits a reaction.

  7. Don’t just DO social, BE social.

Chuck Bankoff is Director of Web Services and Social Media Strategist for Kreative Webworks, a Digital Marketing Agency serving Orange County CA since 1999.

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Online Reputation Management – Play Offense and Win

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On September - 25 - 2012

Think that being proactive with your online reputation isn’t important because you’re in a small market? Think again. My friend and colleague Malinda Davis with WSI puts it in perspective and offers a few words of wisdom that you can actually do yourself.

You are a small business owner in Mill Creek, WA – most of your customers live or work within a small radius of your business in Snohomish County. Why would it matter what people see on the Internet about your business? And it doesn’t impact sales, right? Not quite…

Digital Word of Mouth

No longer is your business reputation based solely on what customers tell their friends and family about the high-quality products you sell, the friendly atmosphere of your office and your excellent customer service. With the digitization of the marketplace, consumers can easily praise or punish businesses they visit – the impact is immediate, widespread and often long-lasting. We call this Digital Word of Mouth!

Online review sites and social media have essentially provided a megaphone for consumers to broadcast their feedback about their experience at a business. It is one-to-many sharing, reaching well beyond just friends and family. According to Facebook, the average Facebook user has 130 friends. Unfortunately, many consumers often fail to remember the positive experiences and choose to share their negative experiences with the world. Imagine the potential impact (on your reputation and bottom line) of a negative online comment from a customer on Facebook? What if they also posted a negative review at Yelp?

Online Reputation Management

Online reputation management is important for businesses of all sizes and industries to consider. Businesses need to be aware of their web footprint (or lack thereof). A dentist with a confusing or outdated website may cause potential clients to think twice about scheduling a consultation. A restaurant with the best food will be impacted financially if their online reputation is poor.

What can you do?

  • Be Present – Make your business discoverable on the Internet. At a minimum, this includes having a simple and clean website, claiming your social media profiles and verifying your local business listings (Google Places, online directories, etc.). Once you have a web presence and in order to stay ahead of your competition, sharing video content and optimizing your website and social accounts is essential to being present and visible online.
  • Play Offense – Be proactive. Provide avenues for customers to provide feedback and to share it online. Be proud of your success and ask for referrals! The alternative to playing offense is playing defense – and in this game, it is worth the effort and investment to be proactive. If you don’t, someone else will (i.e. your competition and/or an upset customer).
  • Listen – Monitor what is being said about you and your company online. This is an opportunity to learn how to better serve your customers and improve your business. When you listen and make changes based on the feedback, your relationships and trust with clients only increases.
  • Engage – Add fresh content to your website and social media accounts – this demonstrates your expertise and adds a personal touch to your business. Ask questions. Blog to educate your customers, share success stories and praise your employees for their hard work. If something negative is said about your business online, respond appropriately (acknowledge, apologize and take action to regain their trust). Choosing silence only magnifies the customer megaphone.

What About Negative Comments?

If you have created a solid web presence and still receive a handful of negative comments, don’t worry. Unfortunately, human nature is to share negative experiences. If you have addressed these comments, not only will the positive comments and your solid web presence overshadow the negative, it shows your commitment and pride to serve your customers.

And remember…. Your customers (present and future) are online, either on a computer at home or at work, or on their mobile smart phone. When consumers are unsure, or deciding which business to buy from, they use the information they find online to help them decide. Do you present a professional image? Are you credible? Should they trust you? What do other people say about their experience with your business?

Your customers are using social media. They are reading online reviews and will form an opinion about your business and your products. The perception they form is then strongly tied to whether or not they decide to purchase from you. With the Internet, consumers have access to an immense amount of information and purchasers have a digital megaphone to influence what their friends or families buy, as well as what strangers buy.

It isn’t a surprise or a secret – people use the Internet to find information about local businesses. What will they find when they search for you? Remember, be present, play offense, listen and engage. It is up to you to make sure they find the right kind of information.

Melinda Davies is a Digital Marketing Consultant with WSI based in the Seattle, WA area, and works with local businesses to develop their digital marketing strategy, including local search, online lead generation, email marketing, brand credibility, mobile marketing, social media, reputation management and web analytics. WSI has been providing innovative Internet marketing solutions for clients around the world since the mid-1990s. WSI has a global reach, with a network of digital marketing consultants dedicated to region-specific solutions in over 80 countries. Check out Melinda’s website at www.wsimarketingplus.com

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Digital Marketing on the Cheap

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On September - 2 - 2012

Maybe this just seems hysterical to me and my staff, but if you ever tried your hand at any sort of digital marketing for your business you’ll understand why this still cracks us up. If you have about two and a half minutes to kill, take a look at this short video and let me know what you think.

By the way, if you have any ideas for new videos we can make, hit me up!

 

Kreative Webworks is an online lead generation firm in Orange County CA since 1999 -www.kreativewebworks.com

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One Freebie to help Manage your Online Reputation

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On August - 22 - 2012

LinkedIn is so much more powerful and useful than people give it credit for. It can become your digital business card, or resume, or online Rolodex. I have dozens of tips and strategies that I will be sharing on an upcoming webinar in September. But here is one tip that you can get started on now:

Optimize your LinkedIn profile to show up on the search engines when someone Google’s your name.

Once you optimize your profile, it’s actually pretty easy to get it to show up in the search results. Since you control the contents of your profile, why not get it to be one of the top search results when people are checking up on you?

Here’s how: http://bit.ly/OtKhDk

Chuck Bankoff Director of Web Services for Kreative Webworks, Inc. and is a Digital Marketing Consultant, Speaker, Author and Trainer in Orange County California.

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