The world of technology evolves at an ever advancing rate and for companies who undertake business on the internet there has never been so important a time to stay abreast of change.
For the savvy businesses who stay aware of emerging trends and technologies there are seemingly unprecedented opportunities; however, for the companies who are unaware of the latest trends their marketing campaigns could well become a proverbial money pit. The saying ‘knowledge is power’ exists for a reason.
Here, we provide an overview of the vital happenings that are and will continue to affect the way that companies do business on the internet.
Key Points For Online Businesses
Markets that may prove lucrative
The unstoppable growth of Smartphone users shows no sign of slowing down, however of particular note is the unprecedented uptake of Smartphone technology in underpenetrated markets. Over the past twelve months alone there has been a 20% jump in Smartphone users in such markets, which includes countries such as China, India, Brazil and Indonesia (Amazon 2014).
The uptake of tablets
It will come as no surprise that tablet use is now more common than ever, however what is worth noting is that growth seen over the past few years have proven the tablet to have grown more quickly than PCs ever did.
This not only serves to underline the importance of having a mobile friendly website presence, but may well point to the importance of specifically enhancing the user experience when browsing via tablet.
The global amount that is spent annually on internet marketing continues its steady growth and is up by $16 billion dollars to $116 billion in total. What is most notably within this spend however is that mobile marketing is up by a staggering 47% over the past 12 months alone (Amazon 2014).
Key Trends For Savvy Businesses
Content will be a more powerful king than ever
Content marketing is looking set to become more important than ever, however the way in which businesses undertake content market is changing. The upcoming 12 months is promising a shift towards image and video based content marketing. This is easily verified by both YouTube and Pinterest growth, with YouTube providing 50% more viewing hours in 2013 than in 2012 and with Pinterest expanding from 10 million users to 50 million over the past 12 months (Jeff Bullas 2013). But having said that, you shouldn’t forsake all the other content marketing methods that have worked previously, an effective press release strategy can still have a significant impact.
Marketing messages made simple
Whilst there are no hard and fast statistics behind this forecasted trend, Marketing gurus are predicting an ongoing shift in what makes a marketing message effective. Experts say that messages will, and should, become simpler, and draw on the phenomenal successes of companies such as Apple and Google.
The importance of social media for SEO will continue to grow
Whilst Google will never reveal the secrets behind their ranking algorithm it’s pretty well known that social media interaction and the sharing of content has become increasingly important. This trend is forecasted to show no signs of slowing and businesses who are working this most effectively are the ones that thoroughly analyse their social media performance via Google Analytics.
This is just a quick look at some of the key points online businesses need to bear in mind, but the reality is that if your company is doing business online, it’s well worth trying to keep up to date with the latest trends, especially when it comes to how your competitors and your customers are using the Internet.
So it happened – Google put their new mobile update into play and the world of searches from a mobile changed forever. Did your business suffer from it or were you ahead of the game and had your website optimised?
Either way, now that the update is working and we are all beginning to see the results, it’s time to take stock and, with the help of London SEO company Grapefruit Marketing (www.thegrapefruit.co.uk), see what the update really meant for businesses.
Just in case you managed to miss the discussions on the new update and have a few questions about what this could mean for your rankings, here’s an overview – Google have altered how they rank websites when searched for via a smartphone based on how mobile friendly the site is. So while sites may have been top of the rankings before the update, if their site wasn’t optimized to be viewed and used on a mobile, they would vanish from those mobile search results.
This is particularly relevant when people are searching for a local business. Your car breaks down and you search for the nearest Ford garage to your location. There might be one in the next street but if their website isn’t mobile optimised and the one five miles away is, the second one will appear top of the rankings.
Why Mobile Is Relevant
It isn’t just local searches when you need info in a hurry that the mobile market is important for. Look at the example of Starbucks – they jumped into the mobile internet market from an early stage and as of last month, a huge 16% of their transactions in North America come from mobile, according to www.venturebeat.com meaning that this business has added around $30 billion to their profits each year.
In fact, the mobile market as a whole is now thought to account for in excess of $500 billion in sales, with some 20% of all in store transactions being influence by something on the mobile, according to www.enterpreneur.com. And industry experts think this will continue to increase – Starbucks again are expecting the proportion of sales through a mobile to increase to over 50% within the next twelve months.
And while most of us aren’t Starbucks, there are lessons to be learned for businesses of all shapes and sizes. The mobile friendly update doesn’t have to be a millstone around our necks, leading us to worry constantly about if our website meets the standard. The solution is simple – get an expert to turn their eye to the site and give it a health check. Once it is healthy for the mobile world, then the same principles apply to a normal site.
If your website isn’t mobile friendly, then the quicker than you properly remedy the problem, the better. Look at your competitors to see what they do with the mobile version of their website and use this as inspiration. Another element is to aim ads specifically at mobile customers – if it works for Amazon, then it can work for everyone on a different scale. But if you don’t look at the mobile version of your site, you could quickly be relegated to the lower pages of a search or worse, not even appear at all.
For most businesses in this internet age, the website is an integral part of their set up. Whether to sell their products, promote their services or just to let people know where they are, the website is a tool with many facets yet one of the most crucial of them, the app, is often overlooked.
More people now use a smartphone to access the internet than a desktop PC or a laptop. But instead of simply calling up a search engine to access the internet, around 89% of a user’s time is spent on the internet through an app. This means that if a business doesn’t have an app, they are missing out on the massive customer base.
The world of the app shows no sign of stopping its endless development. App development companies in NYC, for example, have predicted that the biggest trend in apps in the near future are going to be ways to pay for purchases made in a shop using the mobile phone. Another area of growing importance is location-based services, which allows marketers to send messages to a mobile device based on their geographical location – so if you are in the west of London, the ads you will see will be for companies in the west of London.
Spending money on advertising through the mobile phone is another area set to grow dramatically. Users in the UK spend 19% of their time on a mobile device but only 4% of all advertising is aimed specifically at this market.
Getting An App
So what does this all mean for the average business? Simple – the biggest failing most businesses make today is not creating their own app and harnessing the power of the smartphone market. Estimates show that in the very near future, 25% of software budgets will be dedicated to the development, management and deployment of the company’s app, using the services of app development specialists like messapps.
Now you may have on staff one of those computer geniuses who can create a perfect app for the business as part of his normal daily job. But if you don’t, the best way to get the right app is to hire a professional. There are hundreds to choose from so how to do you know you have the right one?
Firstly, ask them for example of apps they have already created. This allows you to see what they have done, how it works and how your own needs could be tailored into their ideas. Discuss with them what type of app they can create – for the iPhone, for Android or one that can work across all platforms. The more platforms the app can work over, the greater reach it will have. Finally, look at what you want to achieve from the app. Is it designed to make money or to show what your business can do? Is it to sell a product or to promote a service? Are you going to give it away for free or make a small charge? Ultimately, a professional app designer will help you answer these questions.
No matter what you want to accomplish with your app, the biggest danger is that it fails. However if you don’t have an app, you will never find out if your idea will work or not and you will be missing out on all those potential smartphone customers.
Seth Godin talks about winning at business in an interview with Bryan Elliott of Behind the Brand. He argues than everyone, including insurance agents, can be artists as long as they create something with care.
Technology entrepreneurs can learn a lot from this interview!
Website owners and online businesses are frequently told, ‘create great content and provide value’ and people will promote your website and your customers will come running – ‘if you build it, they will come’. But the reality doesn’t always work out that way. Here, Rand Fishkin over at Moz looks at some of the steps frustrated site owners might have considered.