6 trends that will shape digital in 2013

Originally published in iMediaConnection.com by on December 10, 2012.

Digital marketing has already had its share of watershed moments. 2013 is not going to be “the year of the [fill in the blank].” Instead, 2013 is going to build on the digital accomplishments of the past. Our industry is going to continue its refinement based on consumer needs — and not a marketer’s desire to make something big happen.

Something big has already happened.

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“Where” may be more important than “who”

This blog cross-posted at iMedia Connection on March 30, 2012..

US Smartphone Penetration - NielsenFinally, we can now safely say that the year of mobile has arrived. According to Nielsen, 50% of US mobile phone users now have smartphones. Looking at your web analytics you’re probably seeing upwards of 5-10% of your traffic coming from mobile devices (for some industries that traffic can be significantly higher). Less than a year ago, sites were only seeing 1-2% of their traffic from mobile visitors.

It’s time to jump on the bandwagon…It’s time for a mobile site (or app) and you need it now.

Looking at the right things

Before you run out and start developing (or updating) your mobile presence, it’s important to realize that mobile visitors aren’t all the same, and their needs vary dramatically based on the device they are using.

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Is your search traffic really helping your business?

website traffic sourcesOriginally published in iMediaConnection on February 1, 2012.

Most people are pretty happy when they take a look at their web site traffic and see that a large share of traffic coming to their site from search engines. The natural reaction to these numbers is likely to be “Isn’t this great? Look at all these new prospects who are finding me on the web!” But in many cases, such assumptions about who’s finding your site via search may be completely wrong. Before I give you some tips on how you can improve your search results, let’s take a look at how people use search engines today.

How do people search?

It all begins with a need or interest—something inspires a person to search for a certain topic. Let’s use a hypothetical example of person considering buying a new camera. A typical search begins pretty broadly. Type “camera” into Google (65.9% of searches happen on Google according to ComScore, December 2011); the results page brings up a bunch of links for places where you can buy cameras, some photos of cameras, links to manufacturer’s sites, and so on. Great—but you’re not even sure what you’re looking for yet. So you go back to the top of the page and start adding qualifiers to your search terms. Perhaps you go with “Camera Reviews” and are presented with a variety of sites offering reviews of the latest cameras. You start reading the reviews, go back to the search engine and search patterns start to diverge…maybe you want an “SLR camera”, “digital video camera”, “10 megapixel camera” or maybe even a “film camera.” This research process can last minutes, hours, days—even weeks depending on the searchers interest level. Somewhere along the way the searcher will start to get specific and introduce branded searches into the mix (e.g. “canon camera” “kodak camera”) and then near the end of the purchase cycle the searcher will start using specific model number as search terms.

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10 reasons to hate the click

This blog cross-posted at iMedia Connection on July 18, 2011.

As online marketers, we’ve long touted the benefits of online marketing as being the most measureable form of advertising. While in theory there is some validity to the argument, the reality is we spend most of our time focused on a relatively insignificant data point — the click. The click was the metric touted in the very first paid banner advertising when AT&T asked: “Have you ever clicked your mouse right here?” At first glance, clicks seemed like a metric that made sense, but when you dig in, you realize there’s a lot more to be looking for.

Reason 1: 99.9 percent of banner ads don’t get clicks
What other industries base their success on a metric where the industry average response rate is 0.1 percent? My best banner campaign ever had a 5 percent click-through rate. Now this was in the early days of digital marketing (1998), but it’s been a long time since we saw response even close to that. Ad networks tout success at a 0.05 percent click-through rate. It seems to me that the impact we have on the other 99 percent of the audience is going to be much more important.

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