Insights on mobile strategy from InnoTech Digital Marketing Summit speaker Bryan Eisenberg

Mobile is Not the Next Big Thing…It’s Already the Big Thing

This post originally appeared on Bryan Eisenberg’s blog and has been republished here with permission from Bryan Eisenberg. Join Austin AMA to learn more from Bryan at the 12th Annual Innotech Austin Digital Marketing Summit held at the Austin Convention Center on Oct. 8. His session, “Designing Legendary Brands: a business process to customer experience, analytics, and profits” will take place during lunch at the conference.

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In mid-2013, mobile Internet access surpassed fixed Internet access, and according to comScore the gap is only widening.

Many people are not as easily frustrated with mobile as they are with desktop because their expectations are still low. It was the same way in the late 90s and early 2000s with desktop experiences.

However, that forgiveness won’t last very long. Consumers will keep expecting more and more great experiences like those they get from mobile-optimized companies like Amazon.

As more apps and mobile websites improve, we will see more companies leapfrogging forward by creating richer, easier, and more persuasive mobile experiences, allowing their customers to become comfortable with starting and finishing their buying process on mobile alone. Still, the current metrics show mobile has a long way to go when it comes to its ability to convert.

Marketing conversion rates by mobile device type

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no bigger opportunity online than committing yourself to evolving your mobile customer experience into something that doesn’t feel like it is a desktop experience crammed onto a teeny weeny screen where gigantic thumbs and a finger are the primary modes of interaction.

If you don’t want to wait for this to change, then you must commit sufficient resources to creating superior mobile experiences for your customers. They deserve it, and you will reap the reward.

To begin, consider the constraints of the mobile platform, and then figure out how to use those constraints as a positive. Find ways using design, tech, or UI to make the experience satisfying, to become more like a snack-sized version of your desktop experience, which will highlight your service or products. Find an alternative that will keep your customers from having to perform difficult tasks with their thumbs.

  • Can you use a smaller screen to your advantage?
  • Instead of forcing mobile customers to type awkwardly on the phone, can you use their cameras to take pictures of their credit cards?
  • Can you use an API like Google Maps to autocomplete their addresses when they start thumb typing them?
  • Can you find a way to make your product pages snack sized, instead of trying to cram everything you have on the desktop version?
  • Can you allow mobile customers a way to email their carts to themselves so they can finish on a computer or a tablet?

There are just a few things I had at the top of my mind. What ideas do you have about improving the mobile buying experience?
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Bryan Eisenberg, Internationally Recognized Speaker, Co-Founder and CMO, IdealSpotBryan Eisenberg is the co-founder and CMO of IdealSpot. He is the co-author of the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, USA Today and New York Times bestselling books “Call to Action”, “Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?” and “Always Be Testing”. Bryan is a professional marketing keynote speaker who has been the keynote speaker for corporate events and conferences such as Gultaggen, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, DreamForce, E-consultancy, Emerce, and the Canadian Marketing Association. He is also the co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Web Analytics Association (now the Digital Analytics Association). Bryan serves as an advisory board member of Search Engine Strategies, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit and several venture capital backed startup companies (e.g., Bazaarvoice, UserTesting.com, Monetate, Nomi, Sightly, BoostMedia, AllClearID, ChatID, OneSpot etc.). Find Bryan on Twitter, LinkedIn and on his website.
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Don’t forget! Register for the 12th Annual Innotech Austin Digital Marketing Summit on Oct. 8 to hear more from Bryan at the summit’s luncheon. Use discount code AMA69C for the special Austin AMA rate of $69. Includes full Digital Marketing Summit, AMA luncheon and all InnoTech conferences and networking functions.

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Top 5 Things to Know about SEO in 2014

Tommy-headshot-croppedSept-With Inbound Marketing on pretty much any good marketer’s radar, it has become increasingly important to understand SEO. Most of us are up to speed on the basics of on-page optimization, but that’s only the start.

Because of very spammy behavior that was clogging up the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) back in 2010, Google has released a series of algorithm updates and penalties to improve the quality of the SERPs. Rather than go through a list of changes, let’s take a moment to boil down the current state to the most important SEO topics you need to take seriously this year.

1.   Everyone Should be on Google+

When Google first launched Google+, there was an initial wave of interest followed by a big fat collective yawn. Over its first year or two, the platform was referred to as a “ghost town” and considered another failed experiment in social media by many. In reality, all of this criticism was short-sighted.

Fast forward to 2013, and Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt revealed that Google+ was more important for identity verification, as opposed to a foray into social media for Google. That’s right, it was built as a social network but intended to provide Google with a way to verify identity. Keep in mind that the old days of the internet were akin to the “wild wild west”, in that anonymity was commonplace. It was much easier to spam or scam the masses, and simply keep one’s identity secret.

If you want to succeed at SEO, the natural conclusion is that Google+ is a must. This extends beyond social to author markup, local SEO, and even publisher authority. Check out a deeper explanation of the thinking in my post Google Plus: Six Reasons You Should Be Using It.

2.   Social SEO is Part of the Game

So if Google Plus is more about identity than social, where does that leave social networking? It remains a critical piece of the online marketing puzzle.

There are a few ways that social can impact SEO. One of the indicators of a successful site to Google is the volume of traffic / visits the site receives. If your content is good and drives shares and likes, you will get referral traffic from social.

Even more powerful, the relationships you build through social media can drive word of mouth to spread your message. With enough of a social graph behind you, natural links to your website will result over time. This is very important – links are the fuel that drive website / domain authority, which in turn pushes you further up the SERPs for the keywords you target. Naturally earned links are like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and Social can contribute to your success in this area.

3.   Organic Performance Matters FAR More Than Ranking

A few years ago, it was typical that 15-30 keywords drove 80 percent of a site’s organic traffic. In that situation, it made sense to keep close tabs on where your site ranked for these keywords, referred to as “head terms” in the industry.

Then Google rolled out their Hummingbird algorithm update last summer, and head terms started to decrease in importance. Hummingbird was more than a minor tweak like previous updates. It was a complete rebuild and relaunch of the way they match results to search queries.

Post-Hummingbird, we are seeing a large number of websites deriving the bulk of their organic traffic from long-tail queries (search terms with 3+ words in them). One client of ours completely flipped the equation – rather than seeing an 80/20 split between head terms and long-tail, they are seeing a 20/80 split today!

This truly changes the game. You can’t over-focus on a few items and hope to win the game. Businesses are being forced to look at real business metrics to evaluate SEO performance, which should have been the focal point all along.

So today, it makes more sense to measure performance based on overall traffic, overall organic traffic, conversion volumes, traffic to each individual URL/page, and internet health metrics such as time on site, bounce rate, and pages per visit. If you are still obsessing over where your head terms rank, move on. That ship has sailed.

4.   Mobile Needs to be a Priority

In February 2014, mobile browsing surpassed desktop in volume for the first time, ever. If you have been holding out on optimizing your website for mobile, you are already behind the game.

Did you know that Google takes user experience (UX) into account when ranking your website? Did you also know that Google’s evaluation of your UX is platform-dependent? That’s right, if you don’t make it easy to maneuver your website on mobile, you simply won’t rank as well for mobile searches.

There are multiple ways to get your site optimized for mobile, but without a question, a responsive design is the best option. A responsive platform senses what platform or screen size is being used to view a website, and reflows the presentation of the site to suit the device.

There is no need to build a completely separate mobile site on an “m.domain.com” subdomain any more, now that we have the responsive option. Why waste time optimizing two separate websites anyway, when you can do it once and walk away? For anyone with resource constraints (i.e. all of us), it makes no sense.

5.   Manipulating Search Algorithms Is Dangerous

Speaking of penalties and algorithm updates, Google has gone to great lengths to not only penalize cheaters and manipulators of the algorithm, but also to make an example of them. Take for example the recent spate of slaps for spammy guest blogging, where they slapped an entire guest blogging network to send a message to webmasters and SEOs worldwide.

The benefit of all this mayhem is that we rarely speak with clients any more who think SEO is something that can rank them #1 for a keyword in a matter of days or weeks (thank you Matt Cutts). There simply are no more shortcuts, and those of us who choose to dance around the rules are only buying time.

Keep this rule of thumb in mind – if you have to ask yourself whether something is questionable or not, it probably is. When in doubt, opt for the ethical path. You’ll be happy you did.

Summary

SEO is a dynamic and changing area of marketing, and this has been particularly true the past several years. As we head into the middle of 2014, keep these five pieces of advice in mind. Build them into your overall approach, and you will reap the rewards in due time. Thanks for reading, and happy optimizing!

Tommy P. Landry has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and business strategy, at companies ranging from startups to enterprise. Having launched three businesses since 2001, Tommy is currently president and founder of Return On Now, a forward-thinking social SEO and inbound marketing consultancy in Austin, Texas that helps businesses increase their website visibility, traffic, and lead flow.

Return On Now (http://returnonnow.com)

 

AMA Austin: Mobilizing the Future

iPhone_5_AMA Spread

Great News for the Austin AMA and Josh Meler of AVAI Mobile Solutions! The Global AMA wrote an article featuring the Austin AMA Mobile App!

Download the Full Article (.pdf)

“Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram, Pinterest – social media channels change more rapidly than the weather nowadays. It is important that marketers keep up with this ever changing platform because each social media channel is a way for companies to reach out and relate to consumers. No chapter knows this better than AMA Austin, who upped the ante this fall by introducing the AMA Austin mobile app.”

The app was first brainstormed by AMA Austin volunteer Josh Meler, who works for AVAI Mobile Solutions. AVAI and Meler approached AMA Austin in the spring of this year with the idea for the app. “What better [organization] than AMA?” Meler stated, adding that AMA’s assistance and guidance to young marketers is what inspired him to create the app. Chapter President Melanie Brenneman gladly welcomed Meler’s idea. “Austin is becoming the next Silicon Valley.” she said, explaining how the chapter’s need for a mobile app was crucial. “We needed a way to share information that was easily accessible [to our members.]”

Launched this September, the app has already received 150 downloads. “The Events feature was the most important,” Meler stated. “Users can add events to their personal calendar, see a map to the event, and create reminders.” The multi-functional app also allows users to post photos straight to their social media accounts (Brenneman also mentioned the Photo Booth feature, which allows users to add fun graphics and frames to their pictures). There are links to job openings, surveys, board information, and tabs detailing the benefits of joining AMA.

When developing the app, the most important factor was accessibility, both for those using the app and those maintaining it. “I am not Computer Science major, I am a marketer,” Meler clarified when speaking about the manageability of the app. “What’s great about AVAI’s mobile platform is how easy it is to use.” Meler explained how changes to an app, such as adding a new event, typically take one to two weeks to write, approve, and publish. With the Content Management System (CMS) provided by AVAI, Meler and other volunteers involved with updating the app are able to make changes and add new information within the app in no time at all. “It’s pretty seamless.”

The app is available for iOS and Android users as well as a PC download. QR codes are displayed at every AMA Austin event, making downloading the app fast and convenient for all current and potential members. The app is also a “native mobile app” meaning it is functional with or without Internet connection. When asked what advice he would give to other AMA chapters thinking of creating an app, Meler said, “Don’t just have an app to have one. You need a reason.” Brenneman added, “It is about keeping people involved. The marketing channel has changed over the last five years. People are mobile and we have to stay with the times.”


About Josh Meler

AVAI Mobile Solutions

josh-headshotJosh Meler is currently the Marketing Manager for AVAI Mobile Solutions, an Austin-based mobile application development firm offering a platform approach to mobile app management. Here he helps formulate market strategy, articulate brand messaging, and implement a variety of marketing initiatives and campaigns. Josh is enthusiastic about mobile innovation and is excited for the technological hub Austin is quickly becoming. Josh graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing. Originally from the Kansas City area, Josh has lived in Austin, TX for about 2 years. He is an avid runner, with recent improvements as a triathlete. Josh also has a diverse creative background, and enjoys finding the time to pursue his imagination.

Chasing Millennials : Let’s Not Get Left in the Dust

By Yuliya Velmushkyna

Photo by Austin Photographer, Matthew LemkeThough I can’t speak on behalf of Millennials (Generation Y) representing almost 25% of the population, I respect them for having enormous enthusiasm, following their dreams of achieving financial independence, and doing what they love. This generation is responsible for driving new trends (Mobile, Apps, Games) and overcoming great challenges in the current job market despite paying huge student loans.  Millennials pursue financial independence, opportunities for flexibility, and the realization of work-life balance. Yes, they want a great career and money, but it’s all about learning new skills, taking initiatives, sharing with others, and becoming competent enough to gain the trust of others.

A common stereotype of Millennials is that they are slightly unfocused because they’re always keeping their eyes open for the next big thing. They may be unpredictable, are usually very self-aware and independent in their thinking, and might have short attention spans.  Generation Y looks for adventure, craves exploration and creativity, and is dissatisfied with the status quo.  David Tenorio, a 26-year old digital illustrator in Austin, said that “In order to deal with a less reliable economy and government, this generation instead relies on its peers and the information they generate personally”. Millennials excel in social media because they articulate their points of view beautifully and have mastered the ability to create connections through communication via mobile, texting, and videos.

How can marketers be creative in capturing the goals of Millennials in their plans and attracting this generation to your brands? This brings a unique opportunity to our world where we have the ability to market to a group of potential or current Millennials customers that are spending money! If you want them, you must be technologically relevant and engaging them in conversation at a fast speed.

Millennials are those born between the years of 1979 and the early 2000s. Who they are? They are a tech-savvy generation who use Snapchat, Waze, Vine, and Instagram every day. They absorb volumes of relevant information constantly at the speed of light. They are early adapters and quickly shift their attention to competing products. They are very much immersed in technology, prefer to shop online, detest corporate structure, and are fed up with being on hold at helpdesks.  I watched an interview with the CEO of Best Buy who believes that consumers come to his store for the “customer experience”. But he overlooked that Generation Y driving the Smartphone and Tablet market are avid individuals who don’t purchase overpriced electronics in stores. They have mobile apps that scan prices and compare everything to Amazon website where they usually spend their money.  The CEO argued that store experience, installations, and warranties distinguish his brand from competitors, but he failed to notice that Millennials are smart enough to tinker with their own electronics.

How does Generation Y want to do business? Due to their search for the best deal, the most efficient service, and the simplest process, this crowd may not be completely loyal to one particular brand. Why would you use old-school practices when there are many self-service options on popular Social Media networks? Brands should stay relevant by fine-tuning websites and streamlining online services so that they can more competently reach and keep Generation Y. The end goal is to build trust and show adaptability to modern practices.

As someone understands the need to remain relevant in ever-changing spheres of social media and Digital Marketing, I regularly try to grasp changing world because of Millennials. I was thrilled with the new release of Instagram’s 15-second video and failed to remain loyal to yesterday’s Vine video service with its short 6-second span. I am just beginning to understand that Generation Y drives the majority of current innovations through Apps, games, SM channels and digital conversations. You say that Facebook violates your privacy and you stay away from it. But you are losing Millennials customers because they are there all the time – searching, reading, posting, liking, and buying. But not from you! If you are not aggressively targeting Gen Y’ers, you will fail to promote your product to their world through social influence: family, coworkers, friends and their friends. They have special skills to mobilize their networks. It’s a marketing spiral that will continue to draw in revenue if you do it right. Embrace Social Media, use apps and games, offer free services, be genuine, become more open, and respond in real time. It’s essential for brands to create widespread content, engage with Millennials, and exchange free services for valuable information about the customers’ habits and preferences to retain this new generation.

How can you prevent your company from slowing down while staying in the race after Millennials at full speed? To ensure future success, engage in immediate conversation. Don’t wait another minute. Don’t try to be perfect; Millennials care about transparency and acting in the moment. Find where they spend time online and go there, whether on Social Media or mobile apps. Be everywhere and invest in visual media to attract attention of this generation. Don’t be afraid to jump into the statistics of ROI and real-time data. Be sure to modify your content according to their habits and preferences. In order to keep up with Millennials, put on your running shoes and chase after them with full respect of the amazing ways they are changing our marketing practices. Let’s not get left in the dust!

Do you want to learn how you can engage with Millennials on a more personal level by creating content that they want to read and share? Brett Jewkes, VP and CCO for NASCAR, and Dennis Devlin, CEO of Consumer Clarity, will present case studies showing how their brands are digging in with this demographic to make an impact. Register for the AMA Austin Signature event on June 27th “Is Your Brand Millennial Ready?” at the Marketing Jam.

Luncheon Recap: Effective Utilization of Mobile Marketing

The topic of our July Power Luncheon posed the question, “Why mobile?” And luckily for those who attended the event, Marcus Turner, Chief Technology Officer at Atomic Axis, and his guest Lauren Davis, founder and Principal at Alkali Marketing, were both ready and capable to inform the masses. Equipped with hard facts, knowledge of current trends and industry practices, as well as a concise list of to-dos, Mr. Turner spoke with an engaging enthusiasm about the potential that lay ahead for mobile marketers.

The presentation began with a proposed image of the typical American family, living under one roof, yet each person in their own world, clutching tightly their mobile device out of fear they might miss an email or a Facebook update. Our speaker was not necessarily making a comment on contemporary society but rather pointing out certain facts that every marketer should be well aware of. Facts like, “Today there are approximately 7 billion people on earth, 5.1 billion mobile devices and 4.2 billion toothbrushes.” This fact is quite interesting when you compare the last two numbers. He also quoted from research that “91% of smart phone users have their device within arm’s reach 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” That being said, there seems to be little reason to doubt the emerging potential of mobile marketing.

So (as a refresher) what is mobile marketing? Well, our speaker defined the term as “the use of mobile technology for promotional purposes.” Very general, I agree, but that was the purpose of the definition. Mobile marketing covers a broad spectrum of promotional activities that take place through mobile devices. For example: voicemails, emails, SMS, MMS, URLs, mobile apps, and most recently location-based services such as QR codes and Apple’s new Passbook app coming this fall. Without going too far into the advantages and disadvantages of each, our speaker did feel that there is significant potential for return on investment with location-based promotion. There will most assuredly be a pushback on the invasion-of-privacy issue, and as if already opposing the hypothetical argument, he stated:

“I walked into a McDonalds the other day and my phone gave me a coupon code for a hamburger. I got excited!”

That is to say most cutting-edge promotional practices can become controversial, depending on their level on intrusiveness, but then as time passes people simply grow accustomed to them; for example, re-targeting banner ads.

Also, it is very important to not only know your market, but to also know what you market’s mobile technology is capable of. Our speaker gave the example of BMW’s recent MMS campaign that yielded an impressive “30% conversion rate.” Knowing that the majority of their target market owned smart phones and were not the penny-pinching type worried about data usage, BMW sent out videos to their potential client’s phones hoping to showcase their product in a way that text just could not capture. BMW said it was “the most successful promotional campaign of their past five years.” The takeaway it seems is that with every advance in technology, you must be able to tailor-fit its application to meet your specific market’s behavior/needs.

And what would a luncheon recap be without the to-do list? Well, according to Mr. Turner there are six things that you, the marketer, should consider doing if you plan to take advantage of the opportunities within the mobile marketing landscape:

  1. Develop a Mobile Marketing Strategy
  2. Align Yourself with a Mobile Partner
  3. Embrace the Power of Social Media
  4. Use Mobile Analytics to Your Advantage
  5. Research Emerging Technologies & Trends
  6. And finally, Become a Mobile Marketing Guru

I would like to personally thank Marcus Turner and Lauren Davis for their time, as well as everyone who made it out to the Austin AMA July Luncheon. See you next month!

Travelocity Jams with Austin AMA

 

On May 17, Travelocity CMO Brad Wilson will join Austin AMA for Marketing Jam 2012. A pioneer in the online travel reservation market, Travelocity was the first company to allow customers the opportunity to book flights via the world wide web. Today, the company continues to be a top destination for online travel reservations, using a variety of elements into its marketing mix. Find out how Travelocity stays ahead by anticipating customer needs and using mobile, location and social marketing to foster big results.

Join Austin AMA on Thursday, May 17, at 6:30PM at Cool River Cafe. Members $30; non-members $40. Register at www.austinama.org/events. Afterward, jam out with your marketing friends over drinks while our DJ spins the tunes.