The Ten Most Momentous Occurrences in Digital for Business in 2015

Naturally as we begin to ponder what is install for us in 2016 we take a look back at 2015. To say it was momentous would just be touching the surface. For small to medium sized businesses everywhere 2015 was the year of digital. If you’re not online, then you’re missing out. It’s not just younger generations who are comfortable spending online anymore, and as more people throughout the population become attached to their smartphones, 2015 was undoubtedly the year of mobile. Here I have collated the top ten most momentous happenings to have occurred in the world of business – how does your business stack up?

1) Micro-Moments from Google
It was the buzz-word of 2015 and paints the scene of the new battleground for businesses everywhere; Micro-Moments. There are several steps you can take to strategise your plan of attack. The best trick you can utilise is through developing a ‘Micro-Moments’ map. Your next step is to take your Micro-Moments map to an online marketing specialist, who can then devise an integrated marketing strategy to help you and your business leverage these moments.

2) Google My Business
The significant changes Google have implemented for the Google My Business platform has transformed how we manage Google+ pages and locations. With greater flexibility for adjusting business hours and a new-look dashboard and navigation panel, Google are going to great lengths to make managing Google My Business work in-tune with our busy schedules. For business owners it means greater visibility to important business details when potential customers are interested in your business.

3) Google Analytics Report Interface
The new Google report interface allows us easily put together graphic reports, pie charts and other visual reporting methods for many different aspects of the campaigns that we manage for small to medium business owners. The reports provide a great visual tool for clients to see at a glance what’s working and what’s not. For our clients, who are all very busy business owners, it means they can easily interpret the data to inform other business decisions.

4) Search Remarketing (RLSA)
Google announced in a blog this year that marketers can now leverage over 200 analytical dimensions to build unique audiences for your remarketing needs. There really is no excuse to not lure customers who have not (or have) converted back to your website. For those businesses suffering from ‘shopping cart abandonment’ issues, remarketing is the online tool they need to bring those customers back to convert. It is also a great tool to bring back loyal customers with suggestions of products they may want to purchase.

5) Video Content Across All Online Platforms
Sure, we all enjoy the videos of cute cats, but to be serious for a moment; video content is so much more than that. The increase in video content consumption, coupled with the increase in video content creation and with mobile device usage growing, you either have a video content strategy or risk falling behind! Why is it important? For businesses who are hungry to greater exposure, video content will put them front and centre in front of the people who matter – your customers.

6) Facebook Gets Visual
From a milestone point of view, Facebook’s push on their video platform and getting around eight billion views daily, along with the one billion daily users’ benchmark has been phenomenal. From an advertising point of view, the implementation of Instagram ads and the video push are equally as big. Both are big news and really show how the future of media is on hand-held devices. It all comes back to the importance of having a secure mobile marketing strategy in place to meet customers where they are spending their time.

7) Material Design as Graphic Design Increases in Importance
Even though Google released Material Design last year, it really only became widely used this year. Codenamed Quantum Paper, it’s a design language which, “synthesizes classic principles of good design with the innovation and possibility of technology and science”. While the impact for business owners is not instantly recognisable, with the growing importance of visual content, using a Graphic Designer who knows their industry inside out is crucial to producing and using visual content you’re happy to put your brand name on.

8) Google AdWords for SMEs
Google advertising for small businesses has become a lot more accessible and it doesn’t require an enormous marketing budget either. Small businesses can market their brand alongside big name brands on Google because their AdWords Pay-Per-Click (PPC) system has levelled the playing field. As a Certified Google Partner we get access to the latest Google releases and tools which mean the small businesses we manage get first access.

9) Mobile Optimisation
If you work in the world of online marketing, it’s likely that you circled the 21st of April on your calendar this year… numerous times. Yes, we were all waiting with bated breath for the Google mobile-friendly ‘mobilegeddon’ algorithm update in April this year. We now know just how important mobile is to business performance, and mobilegeddon was only the beginning. 2015 has been the year of mobile, so for businesses who are yet to optimise for handheld devices will want to hop to it.

10) Mobile Devices – The Remote Control for our Lives
Handheld devices are now the device of choice for people who search the Internet. As the ‘remote control for our lives’ increasingly becomes a tool we all feel dependent on, ensuring that people’s experiences on their mobile devices is increasingly important for web developers. If people can intuitively interact with a website on a tablet or smartphone, then people will bounce off the site, and our clients clearly don’t want that to happen. It’s so common now that any website we create is mobile friendly by default, but this has only happened this year. So for business owners who have had a website for a while need to update.

The Christmas season is well and truly here, and with 2015 being touted as the year of mobile marketing, the question remains if your online marketing strategy mirrors this claim. Mobile devices are always there with you, so your opportunities to market to your targeted audience are endless. To make sure you’re headed in the right direction, I have compiled my top five mobile holiday must-haves for small to medium businesses across Australia and New Zealand.

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Summary

Why should you make your social media profile more personable? A recent report by Rocketfuel illustrated the engagement levels between an animated visual cue and a real person in a video. Guess which one yielded better engagement? Yes, that’s correct, the video with a talking head. Human faces are 25% more engaging and likely to convert than basic illustrated graphics. Listen in to the video blog and find out more about how to personalise.

 

Video Transcript

Hi I’m Ben Bradshaw and welcome to this week’s video blog.

Now today I want to talk to you a little about social media and making it more personable.

Too often I see businesses utilising social media channels incorrectly. They’re uploading all the blogs and posts and everything else, but they’re forgetting that ultimately, people deal with people, and their social media efforts need to be mindful of this.

The more we make social media personable, the better interaction and engagement it’s going to have.

So this week, if you do one thing, think about how you can make your social media more personable. Whether that be via sharing some stories, work associated or personal, some photos from around the office, or whatever it may be, have a think about it because it will have an impact on the overall ‘impact’ of your social media.

That’s all from me and I’ll see you next time.

Take a short moment and listen in on the latest digital marketing predictions across the online space this year, straight from Ben Bradshaw.

The volume of personal information acquired by Facebook opens users up to a multitude of risks including identity theft.  The risk is not so much posed by the Facebook empire itself, but by other users who attempt to befriend individuals with the purpose of hacking into other personal accounts, including online banking and email accounts.

Many facebook users think that by giving a false birthdate in profile information adds an element of safety but this isn’t actually correct. Typically, what these hackers do is, once they have gained access to your profile page, they monitor posts and other information with the goal of finding out the password to your email account. 

If you have supplied your email address, all they need to do is work out different combinations of names and numbers to discover your password. People tend to use children’s or pet’s names as passwords. Then once they are in, they can search the emails in your inbox for banking information and passwords to other private accounts.

Facebook users were most vulnerable when they accepted friend requests from people they do not know personally,such as an attractve girl. Many of us have fallen into this trap to boost our “friend numbers” and to appear popular. There is definitely peer pressure to have a lot of Facebook friends, and this is often part of the strategy for business owners who use Facebook for marketing purposes.

An especially great risk is to children with Facebook accounts, simply because of information they give on their pages without being aware of what happens to it, or who is looking at it. Children tend to be especially naïve and trusting, because they feel protected by the screen in front of them. This is unfortunately not the case, and it is a known fact that there are predators who target children and teens on Facebook.

A major flaw with Facebook in its current format is the lack of a function that enables a child to have a profile page attached to the page of a parent. This function would enable parents to have access to their child’s page and be able to monitor what they put on there, as well as limiting settings to protect their child.

In the last blog post we talked about the simplest and most effective form of marketing, word of mouth and referral, and the trend toward shopping online. It was only a matter of time before the oldest and most cutting edge methods of marketing were combined, and this is effectively what facebook and Google have done. They are combining referral and word of mouth marketing with an online environment – to launch an entire new platform that will allow us to shop online, and access great deals for making referrals to our friends. The only condition is that we must buy as a group.

 

History of Group Buying – Groupon

The concept behind the Facebook Deals and Google Offers may sound familiar. Groupon was a brand new business concept when it launched in 2009. Groupon is actually a social e-commerce buying service that is group based.  It launched during a time when many other retailers were feeling the economic pinch, and Groupon was able to grow quite quickly.  They started with $4.8 million of funding from New Enterprise Associates and funding from an investor to the tune of $1 million but reached profitability within a mere few months. How it works is that you sign up to the site, listing your email address and the city in which you live. Then, Groupon offers daily deals on a variety of services from many different retailers in your area.  If enough people sign up for a particular offer (determined by the business provider), then the whole groups gets the daily deal.  If there are not enough people to sign up, then no one gets the deal.  Groupon collects payment from the members for the deal, takes their fee from the funds, and then passes on the rest of the money to the business. As you can see, it’s a bit of a win-win-win situation.  The consumer gets a deal, Groupon takes a small cut and profits, and the business is able to see an increase in sales. 

The incredible profitability (reportedly $2 billion in yearly revenue) and concept behind Groupon resulted in an acquisition offer of a reported $6 billion from Google. However, its three co-founders (CEO Andrew Mason, Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell) turned it down.  Google’s response then was to create its own platform to compete with Groupon – Google Offers.  A few weeks ago, Google launched Google Offers in Portland, and eventually will roll out to New York, San Francisco and other cities during the US summer. The biggest selling point for Google Offers is that it will integrate seamlessly with Google Wallet, the company’s NFC-based payment system launching this summer. Instead of printing out a coupon or barcode, completed offers are put into a user’s Google Wallet, where they are automatically saved and redeemable.  I will talk more about Google Wallet in the next blog post.

Buying as a Group on Facebook with Facebook Deals

 

Not to be left behind, Facebook also recently announced their competing platform, Facebook Deals. The new feature allows businesses to offer deals to fans and visitors through pages and Facebook Places. To setup the deal the business goes through a simple interface on the business page. It has been reported that Facebook Deals are available across four categories including loyalty, individual, friends and charity.

The loyalty offer offers customer rewards for repeat business, while the charity deal gives back to the charity of the business’ choice. Facebook users can take advantage of a discount for a particular product or service, but the main income earner is predicted to be the friends category. Like Groupon and Google Offers, when you make a purchase with friends and pay as a group, you all receive the discount.

 

Deals and Offers to Revolutionise Economy

 

There is no doubt that these new shopping platforms will revolutionise the way we shop, and the entire economy as a result. A lot of businesses will be placed in jeopardy as their business concept will be made redundant as a result. Last minute travel companies such as Wotif.com, will suddenly have competition for advertisers and customers, and traditional AdWords and SEO service providers will need to revise their business model, due to businesses preferring to advertise by offering deals via these platforms.

 

To keep up with these rapid changes in the internet marketing industry, my business, SponsoredLinX, has just launched a new arm that creates facebook marketing and advertising accounts for clients. This includes setting up facebook advertising, profile pages, facebook deals, and other areas that ultimately allow our clients to generate quality traffic and sales from social media.

 

 

 

In this digital age, very few business industries and sectors are remaining unchanged.  Internet marketing is one area that is so constantly evolving, that trends are formed over the space of mere months, rather than years. As I have expressed previously, simply staying on top of these trends and new technologies and tools is more of an occupation than a hobby.

I will use this blog as a vehicle to express my views on current trends in internet marketing.  My viewpoints on trends come from observing international blogs and commentary in this area, as well as future directions of Google and my client base.  Here are a few distinct trends that I have noticed emerging since late 2010.

Social Media Communities

Online communities, including social media, are now literally everywhere there is access and common objectives. Even social networks, such as facebook, blogs, You Tube and Twitter, are interconnected themselves, pushing and pulling content across various channels. Social Media is now being worked into advertising campaigns as a standard means of advertising.

However, it’s important to note that we are now seeing a trend toward building attentive communities, rather than just frequency. So, while Google Adwords and advertising will always remain an important part of a marketing campaign, companies and individuals now prefer to achieve listings higher on organic search results, driven through relevant content. And then, once the audience is captured, there is a strong emphasis on keeping an attentive community beyond the initial click. This is where blogging and video blogging comes into play.

Internet TV

It is a fact that more searches are currently conducted via You Tube than Google, indicating an enormous increase in popularity and demand for Internet TV. Internet TV provides a fantastic means of interacting with an audience, so that your clients feel a personal connection to you, rather than simply a business identity. As the world grows more digitised, people are seeking to do business with people, rather than big businesses.

Company CEOs, entrepreneurs, and individuals of interest will create their own You Tube channels for regular broadcasting of notices, tips, information, and other content of interest to their communities.

Furthermore, this demand for internet TV will promote wide scale adoption of internet TV services across a multitude of devices including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. Users will be able to watch streaming video content on your TV while controlling it with a phone/tablet, contributing live to shows with layered contextual Tweeting, voting and interacting with TV Commercials.

Social Metrics

Along with the increase in social media will be an increasing need for measurement of what communication is working. This includes Click-through-rate on Google AdWords, open rates on enewsletters and response on blog posts.

However, it will also become important to learn the social habits and sphere of influence of your audience, and this is easily achieved nowadays thanks to social media. The goal is to discover your audience’s ‘from’ and ‘to’ path to your web properties.

The key points to measure are:

  • What your audience wants?
  • How much time or clicks does it take from your audience to go from your initial source (eg your blog) to the intended web properties (eg website, online shop, etc)?
  • Where does your audience come from and how much does it cost (eg from Google AdWords)?

In upcoming blogs, I will continue to explore and report on internet marketing trends. Please feel free to post your opinions and thoughts on those I have discussed in this post, or certainly others you have discovered.

The head of an Australian SEO firm accredited by Google as only one of only a hand full of authorised AdWords resellers worldwide predicts the newest group buying offers from both Google and Facebook may be here within the next three months.

Ben Bradshaw, who is chief executive of the SEO firm SponsoredLinX and appeared on the SmartCompany Hot 30 Under 30, also says the new Google Wallet technology will be available sooner than people realise.

“I can’t go into detail on many things but from the information I’ve received from being in the game, I think it is within months that we are going to see these,” he says.

“They are certainly coming, the technology is internationalised and not designed for one particular country. There is no reason why it can’t expand into Australia.”

Google launches its new Offers program this week on a trial basis in Portland, Oregon. The program works similarly to Groupon and other group buying sites, with consumers able to download deals from merchants and redeem them at physical stores.

Facebook Deals has already launched in several countries, but is not yet available in Australia. But Bradshaw thinks it will be here earlier than expected.

“Based on the information I’ve received, being freely available and from being in the industry, I think we’ll start seeing systems rolled out.”

Such expansion could prove harmful to group buying giant Groupon, which today filed for an IPO rumoured to value the company at over $US20 billion.

In its filing Groupon remarks that it suffered heavy losses due to international expansion and subscriber growth – it has moved into dozens of countries fairly rapidly. It also lists Google and Facebook by name, saying it will increasingly compete against the pair as they offer coupon deals.

But as Bradshaw points out, Google and Facebook have infrastructure that is already internationalised; opening deals and offers into new territories will cost them much less than if Groupon decides to do the same.

“They’re only testing right now,” he says, “and it’s a small rollout process, but they’ve done it in a particular way that it can expand internationally without many problems.”

Bradshaw says companies need to be prepared. There is massive potential in running deals with these two companies, with millions of users already familiar with Google and Facebook infrastructure.

But he points out the Google Wallet technology, which will allow users to make payments via near field communication technology on smartphones, will fit in well with existing contactless payments already available in Australia.

“I think it will change business as we know it. You’re going to have prepaid funds in a Google account, and linked up to a credit card, and merchants are going to be able to accept funds wherever you go. If it did come to Australia – which I believe will be within the next three months – this will revolutionise the economy.”

“Not only will it change the way businesses work but it will change the way they market and dramatically change the way they buy products as well.”

While Bradshaw says there isn’t much Australian businesses can do to prepare before official announcements are made, he believes they need to be aware of how the market will change when these platforms arrive.

“I just think businesses need to be aware of it. You’ve got to play your cards right, and certainly I believe they will both be in Australia a lot sooner than the current media releases are saying.”

“Combined with the growth of mobile and smartphones and so on, it’s pretty huge stuff.”

Read the full article at: http://www.smartcompany.com.au/information-technology/20110603-new-social-media-group-buying-platforms-coming-to-australia-within-months-accredited-google-adwords-seller-claims.html

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