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Consumers Spend More Time with Mobile as Online Growth Slows

VCOMP Support - Monday, October 29, 2012

Over the last few years, the average daily time spent on mobile devices (excluding talk time) by US adults has increased dramatically.  In 2012, the average will grow to 82 minutes per day, an increase of 51.9% from 2011, and an increase of 141% from 2010.  Time spent online on other major media platforms is also increasing, but at a significantly slower rate, as seen by the table to the right.  Almost 3 hours of time spent with media on a daily average is online, and it is highly unlikely that the growth rate of this number will reach double digits even as consumers continue to spend more time on their computers.  On the other hand, smartphones and tablets have only penetrated a minority of all consumers when compared to laptops and desktops.  As more acquire smartphones and tablets, and current owners shift more of their online activities to these devices, mobile is taking an ever-increasing share of time with all media.

While time spent on mobile is increasing at a rapid rate, advertising spending has been slow to follow suit.  As can be seen by the graph to the left, mobile time share has increased from 3.5% in 2009 to 11.7% in 2012, but ad spending share has only increased from 0.3% in 2009 to 1.6% in 2012.  Advertising for mobile is expected to increase rapidly over the next few years (reaching an estimated $12 billion in 2016) as the popularity of smartphones and tablets continues to grow.

Contact Us for more information on Mobile Website Design or any other Internet Marketing services.  Alternatively, read the full article: "Consumers Spend More Time with Mobile as Online Growth Slows".

Social Media Marketing: Fall 2011 Trends and Statistics

VCOMP Support - Wednesday, October 19, 2011
An eMarketer estimate claims that global ad revenues generated on social networks will reach $10 billion in 2013, while this year's projected number is $5.54 billion. It is expected that nearly half that amount, $2.74 billion, will come from the United States. Despite optimistic speculation, there remains a sentiment within the Internet Marketing community that a business’ social media presence is still more important than advertising on social media networks.

2011 Social Network Ad Revenue EstimatesSocial Media Marketing
  • Facebook - $3.8 Billion
  • LinkedIn - $140.8 million
  • Twitter - $139.5 million

A survey conducted in July 2011, by Microsoft Advertising and Advertiser Perceptions, which questioned social media marketers from six countries, found that 74% of respondents considered it ‘very important’ to have a presence on Facebook, while only 57% believed it was equally important to advertise there. The disparity between the two figures was less significant when applied to Twitter, where 47% thought a twitter presence was very important, while only 42% believed it was very important to advertise there.

Some common social media marketer complaints included: difficulty measuring the effectiveness of Social Media Marketing (largely due to a lack of adequate analytics tools) and difficulty in reaching appropriate audiences, as social media fans often do not represent an ideal marketing audience. It is also reported that on average nearly ½ of social media marketer’s budgets are going towards attracting new visitors, while about ⅕ is spent on trying to keep social media users engaged, in an effort to reduce the substantial turnover that exists on social networks.

Contact Us to Develop a Social Media Marketing strategy now! Or for more information on the topic of social media marketing trends, read the full articles, Social Media Presence More Important Than Social Media Ads and Social Network Ad Revenues to Reach $10 Billion Worldwide in 2013.

Local Search Optimization

VCOMP Support - Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Search engine results pages (SERP) everywhere are now being increasingly populated by Local Search results, which are likely to become even more prevalent in the future. Thus, largely due to the inherently competitive nature of local search results, it is important that your business is not only listed, but also well optimized, as to be prominently featured in the rapidly expanding world that is local search.

Local search is capable of offering more relevant results to searchers, and has been proven particularly useful for mobile users, as a significant number (one estimate at 40%) of mobile searches have some form of local relevance. Also playing into the local search hype is how prominently featured they are on most SERPs, in some cases overshadowing even the highest ranked Organic Search results.

So, how does one go about capitalizing on all that local search has to offer? Well, the first step is of course to ensure that you are listed with the 'heavyweights' of the field, which consists of the usual suspects Yahoo, Google, and Bing. It is free to list your business on Google Places, Yahoo's Local Listings, and Bing Business Portal (beta). Remember when listing your business, to answer all questions thoroughly and provide as much relevant and detailed information as possible, which will enable search engines to better understand the needs of your business and will help guide you towards more qualified audience exposure. Secondly, it is useful to be listed in several local online directories, for example Yelp, SuperPages, and Yellow Pages.

After those preliminary steps are taken, the optimization process can truly begin. For starters, photos, logos, and images, constitute an outstanding way to promote your brand and optimize your listing. There is also the option of incorporating Coupons or Deals, which can serve to engage potential customers and prompt users towards an action, rather than simply providing them with generic information. There is also the social aspect to consider, Google in particular strongly promotes user submitted reviews of products/services. Of course as with SEO it is always a good idea to incorporate relevant keywords and keyword phrases whenever possible as well.

If it is your desire to go beyond the basic listing options, Google offers a premium service, called Local Enhanced Listings, which besides costing $25 per month, allows businesses to make use of a wider range of features in order to more comprehensively depict their business and distinguish themselves from competitors. Simultaneously Google Adwords offers locally targeted advertising, which is more or less akin to the PPC equivalent of Local Search. Much like Google, Yahoo Search Marketing offers a premium version of their basic service, which they call Enhanced Local Listings. It also entails the activation of additional features, for the cost of $9.95 per month. Yahoo too has their own version of paid local ads.

For more information on local search optimization read: How to optimize your business for local search. Alternatively, Contact Us at WSI for all your Internet Marketing needs. 

Responsive Web Design

VCOMP Support - Wednesday, September 21, 2011
As more and more users access web content from the wide variety of available handheld and mobile device options (smart phones, tablets, even traditional 'non-smart' phones), web-designers are being faced head-on with the challenge of having to accommodate the vastly different viewing experience offered by each individual device. Staying on top of your websites appearance across so many different platforms can be a complicated procedure, but the repercussions of not doing so involve ignoring a growing user-base and missing out on an expansive market.

Thus we have Responsive Web Design, as our knight in shining armor. With responsive design the emphasis is on compatibility, intrinsically outfitting websites with the capacity for cross-device porting, to allow for viewing on different screen sizes and at different resolutions, in standard or widescreen.

The best Responsive Design practices involve the incorporation of fluid grid layouts, which more or less equates to the ‘next generation’ of fixed-with, 'liquid layouts.' CSS Style sheets are another valuable tool, when it comes to accommodating traditional websites on new screens.

For now the most important thing to consider is which devices are actually being used to view your website. Once you know how users are accessing your website, you can prioritize for those platforms. Many browsers provide information about website visitors, allowing analytic tools to discover what devices are most frequently used to access your page.

When it comes to mobile, less really is more, and simplicity is the best approach. In most cases the capabilities of mobile devices are not that sophisticated; and the number of possible actions is quite limited, so it is best not to overwhelm users with overly complicated mobile sites.

It is equally important to always research and test new approaches. Fortunately, the process may be on the verge of becoming significantly easier, since new, smarter browsers (now often built into the devices themselves) are far superior at adapting to these types of variances than their predecessors.

As mobile web viewing continues to gain steam as an entity, the future of web design could change accordingly. Currently many websites scale down their websites for less complicated devices - but there is reason to believe that in the future the common practice may become the exact opposite, where mobile sites are designed first, then the micro version is expanded into a macro version, in which features are added to accommodate the traditional desktop crowd.

For more information on the topic of mobile design read, How to ensure your website works on any device, or inquire about Website Design and Development services.

'Not Com': New Domain Changes Approved

VCOMP Support - Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The Internet's domain name regulations are about to change. Starting on January 12, 2012 webmasters will be able to submit an application to register almost any TLD (top level domain), regardless of language. The changes that were approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in June, will open up top level domains to more personalization, no longer restricting websites to the limited number of gTLD (generic Top Level Domain; i.e. '.com', '.net') choices.

The new system is being billed by some as "owning your own little piece of the Internet." Instead of the current format, where your website's address reads something like: ',' under the new format your online address could read more along the lines of: 'anything.yourbusiness.' Essentially the right side of the dot has been liberated from the clutches of uniformity!

The application process is rather extensive and comprised of 6 main steps. In addition, it is expected that applicants meet three general requirements in order to move forward in the application process. The applicant must:
  • Represent an established brand or reputable organization
  • Consent to $185,000 in fees
  • Allow anywhere from 9 to 20 months for the application process to be completed

The substantial application fees and rigorous credential requirements should provide sufficient deterrent against the majority of potential scam and spam sites. This is particularly pertinent as these changes come on the heels of the '.xxx,' pornographic domain scare, which has many brands forking out cash to register undesired domains in order to protect their image online.

Overall, the relative merits of this new system are debatable, as web users have become accustomed to the standard generic top level domain system, and the addition of an infinite number of variables may just serve to confound and confuse.

From an Internet Marketing standpoint the prevailing question is: will anybody care? Well, though it is too early to speculate on how widely, and with how much enthusiasm, these changes will be adopted - the important thing now is considering possible applications of a completely customizable domain name.

For more information on top level domain changes read about ICANN's new gtld program.

Google Versus Facebook

VCOMP Support - Wednesday, August 17, 2011
After its release on June 28, 2011, Google+, Google's new social media platform, hit the 10 million user plateau in just 16 days, 836 days quicker than rival Facebook. Plus then became the fastest social website ever to reach 25 million users, hitting the mark in just 4 weeks.

Although Google+ obviously wouldn't mind stealing into Facebook's market, they are not yet positing themselves as a head-on challenge to the social media kings. Google Plus is not simply an alternative to, or improvement upon, Facebook. Though Google has introduced some innovations with the platform, particularly in the area of privacy, one of Facebook's more notable issues, the real significance of Plus' introduction to the social media conversation goes beyond a brand war; it could end up impacting the entire course of social media's future: "what's really at stake is which standard will eventually dominate the social layer of the Internet: the open web or the walled garden."

Google+ appears to be intended as a step in the direction of breaking down what has been called Facebook's "walled garden," a reference to the way in which activities on Facebook occur more or less within their own realm, cut off from the wider entity of the Internet. Google's plan could be to bring social networking back into the open web, where content can be, among other things: indexed for search purposes and made more available to advertising and marketing opportunities.

Its capacity to better accommodate internet marketing and advertising is likely where Google+ is the most attractive. As Dre Labre puts it: "Google knows what sites you're on, ads you're clicking on and what you're searching for, but the minute you go to Facebook, they lose you. With Plus as a social channel, you now have a seamless, ubiquitous social ecosystem," which will no doubt only further enhance the effectiveness of Google Analytics.

The million dollar question is: what type of impact will Google+ make if it turns out to be a success? Well, there is the possibility that Google may break down Facebook's "walled garden," only to more or less institute one of their own, if they actually do manage to gain dominance over social media platforms. Alternatively, Plus could instill itself as the 'social backbone' of the internet, ushering in a new era of inclusive social media, more available to the open web, ideally putting an end to platform fragmentation.

Instead of having multiple stand alone platforms, social media would become layered throughout the entire web, via interoperable platforms, that will allow for more sharing and synergy. There are indicators of this occurring, as users already have the option to use their Google and Facebook accounts to sign into some external websites and games. Email can be taken as a precedent for the potential realization of a 'socially layered' internet. Before electronic mail was standardized, most e-mail systems were closed and not interoperable, only when it became ubiquitous did e-mail truly reach its full potential.

There is genuine cause for optimism about Plus, but one only needs to consider such enterprises as Orkut, Buzz, and Wave, for evidence of Google's lackluster track record in social media. There are still many hurdles to overcome, and for now Google is taking it slow with Plus, introducing it incrementally. So though it is too early to crown Google Plus the champion of open social web standards, there are at least some signs that social media platforms, and perhaps the internet as a whole, is primed to head in an entirely new direction.

For more information, read Canadian Business' full article on 'Google Versus Facebook,' or for more details on the social backbone concept, 'Google+ is the Social Backbone.'

Social Media: The Future of E-Commerce

VCOMP Support - Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Being in their early stages, Social Media Commerce and Facebook Commerce, or "F-Commerce," for abbreviation lovers, can be difficult terms to clearly define, as they continue to evolve as concepts, becoming more versatile and widely adopted. At a basic level though, social commerce is a subset of electronic commerce, which makes use of social media platforms, like Facebook, to assist in the buying and selling of products and services online. Due to rapid growth and a promising future, now is definitely the time for businesses to get on board with the social media revolution as it relates to e-commerce.

The benefits of social media

Social media allows for easy 2-way, back-and-forth communication between companies and their customers. Communication that acts more like a personal conversation than a public address; the difference between talking to people and talking at people. "According to eMarketer, 73 percent of U.S. companies in 2010 reported that they see social media as a powerful marketing tool for creating a dialogue between them and their customers." Clearly, social media has a knack for generating social currency, as research estimates that almost 100 million Facebook users actively share and discuss products or brands with friends through their profile page, which is significant because: "according to The New York Times, 90 percent of online shoppers trust recommendations from people they know, and 87 percent spend more dollars online after seeing recommendations."

As it stands today, people do not often use social media with an intent to shop, though this shows some signs of possibly changing. For now, engaging potential customers and offering special deals and promotions, are just two ways in which companies can get the most out of their social media presence and possibly prompt consumers to make impulse purchases. At the end of the day, Facebook is currently more of a tool than a destination. Accordingly, emphasis should be placed on attracting visitors from Facebook to online stores, more than bringing stores into Facebook. After all the ultimate goal is more customers, not fans and friends.

The question of monetization

Still, social media has some scratching their heads regarding potential investment returns. 'The Social Shopper,' an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report from June 2011 reports: "39% of respondents as saying they are doing a poor job of measuring social media effectively, while 45% say they are just average at it." In addition: "only 6% of respondents reported that they were able to monetize their investment in social media. However 32% believed monetization had occurred though they could not prove it, and 38% said they had no evidence that monetization had occurred."

Obviously this means there is room for clarity and improvement, but also and perhaps more importantly, it demonstrates that companies who do already have a strong understanding of their social media situation are the clear minority, and thus have an advantage over those still lagging behind.

Looking ahead

When embarking on a social commerce, or any type of social media marketing, initiative it is important to actively embrace the medium. Successful social media campaigns require a simple approach and a clear and consistent commitment. Simple dabbling, in order to get in on the trend or superficially capitalize on the latest buzzword will most likely not amount to the desired results. That being said, social commerce is not some short lived fad, and is not going anywhere, anytime soon.

For more information, read the full articles on the latest trends in social commerce and monetization of social media or visit our Social Media Marketing page.

Will Social Media reach maturity in 2010 ?

Vio Ivanescu - Thursday, December 31, 2009
As it was already predicted throughout the entire 2009, recent research shows that the most talked about topic in Internet Marketing for 2010 is Social Media. Although we are all fully aware of the strong trend to use the Social Networks these days, we also know that the vast majority of businesses out there are not yet ready to embark on the Social Media train.

There are multiple aspects of an Internet presence that need to function properly before Social Media can be effective. Not trying to provide an exhaustive list, I can outline:
  • Properly designed Website, that is targeting potential business generating visitors
  • Adequate conversion architecture, that can manage all the possible "sales funnels"
  • Corresponding Inbound Marketing strategies, lead by but not limited to Search Engines
  • Strong Outbound Marketing activity, built around E-mail and Newsletters Marketing strategies
  • Appropriate tracking and web analytics, to allow for constant monitoring and adjusting of the online strategy
  • ...

A recent study conducted by eMarketer is showing that the Social Media spend within the B2B community will increase by 60% in 2010.

Along with that, B2B companies will still spend a significant amount of money preparing and maintaining the performance of their websites towards Search Engines and Conversion Architecture.

Although Social Media could function and bring some advantages to any type of business and website, it is almost imperative that the proper foundation exists prior to launching an online presence into Social Media. That includes an adequate internet presence but also the proper internal infrastructure, prepared and ready to address any topic raised on the Social Networks.

In conclusion, the most obvious prediction for 2010 is that it will indeed bring businesses closer to being ready for Social Media. Will 60% of the US B2B businesses launch campaigns on the Social Networks in 2010 ? We will see. One thing is for sure though, much more companies will become ready for Social Media in 2010 than in 2009 and that trend will continue for a few more years.

Social Media Trends Report

Vio Ivanescu - Thursday, December 17, 2009

"According to findings from the recent eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, 42% of marketers worldwide plan to increase their marketing spend via social media, while 35.5% plan to maintain their current budgets. Interestingly, video advertising spending will see the largest increase in 2009 (61.5%)."

Read our Social Media Trends Report and let us know your feedback about how Social Media impacts the activities in your line of business.

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