With no smartphone growth in 2017, is it the end of the smartphone?

The Mary Meeker report from Kleiner Perkins was released recently with one key statistic; global shipments of smartphones grew zero percent in 2017. There is also data that shows the average cost of a smartphone is declining – largely due to the need for low-cost devices in emerging markets – so does this mean the end of smartphones?

In the US, 95% of people own a mobile phone with 77% holding a smartphone. This means that there are roughly 18% of people who are yet to embrace the smartphone generation and “upgrade” from their standard brick phone. The majority of those without a smartphone have shown to be over 50 which isn’t likely to surprise many.

However, despite this slowdown in growth, and subsequent difficulty to fins room for growth, there are still positive signs within the mobile industry that should instil confidence in marketers. Mobile-first marketing is still extremely relevant as people continue to access the internet via smartphones. Even more important to this data is that growth in internet access through smartphones was coupled with a decline in growth of desktop internet penetration.

This information, in the shortest summary possible, leads to point out that there is no need to for change in mobile marketing and it is still incredibly relevant. However, there are a few things worth noting;

  • There is still notable room for internet growth (with global internet penetration at just 50%) with the majority to be through smartphones.
  • Digital media will continue to grow on non-desktop devices especially with the emergence and development of smart speakers.
  • Mobile will continue to be the driver for marketing growth.
  • Social media will also become driven by mobile.

Despite the slowdown in smartphone growth in the US, mobile will continue to be the dominant force in marketing and internet penetration. Whilst smartphone usage may be close to its peak, internet penetration still has a long way to go and the majority of this growth will be through mobile.

Smart speakers will also see growth but will take notably longer to become a prominent force as early models continue to be improved upon. Marketers should therefore continue to emphasise the importance of mobile and continue to build upon the user experience on these devices. There is no case for mobile to decline given that its convenience and continued development of features continue to make it a necessity in developed and developing markets.

Digital marketing trends you need to take advantage of

Digital marketing is ultra-competitive. It’s the ‘must have’ marketing element of any business and as such the landscape is becoming saturated. This means that you need to have things that differentiate you from the rest.

Content marketing full of valuable information

Content marketing is super important to get information out to your customers. However, this doesn’t mean bombarding them with facts that they won’t find relevant or are too complicated to understand.

You need to add value to your marketing and that is why content marketing needs to be carefully researched and put together. Content marketing should be aimed at certain customers and a certain stage of the decision-making process. Creative content that is engaging, informative and share-worthy needs to form the core of your inbound marketing.

Influencer’s

The rise of social media has led to the prominence of influencer’s. These people promote your brand from a voice that consumers view as trustworthy, trendy or valuable to engage them in your brands story.

Influencer’s should become a part of your brand so that they take consumers on a journey that they also feel a part of. It cannot be forced but should be moulded together so that influencer’s are now a reflection of your brand.

These people must be seen in the eyes of your customers as respected and admired individuals in order to have the desired impact.

Artificial intelligence

This is one of the booming aspects of digital marketing. Not only does it streamline processes but it allows you to engage with customers more through both employee and digital interaction. Chatbots enable you to gain more consumer information than ever before and automate marketing to individual consumers.

Live streaming

This builds heavily on your customer relationships allowing them a closer connection to the brand. If they are able to participate in releases, developments and announcements, even in a digital manner, they feel as though they are a part of the brand. Building deeper customer relationships is critical to the retention of customers and, further, building customer loyalty.

Virtual and augmented reality

Facebook has recently developed a new feature that allows marketers to advertise using augmented reality on its news feed. This is designed to boost user engagement with brands as a result of more personalised marketing campaigns.

Virtual reality is designed to have a similar effect and allowing consumers to delve deeper into the business operations, potential experiences and products will aid in both gaining greater attention and visibility whilst likely developing a stronger customer relationship.

4 PPC errors you could be making in your campaign

Despite the inherently digital nature of pay-per-click (PPC) marketing it is still set up by humans, and as humans we make errors. However, with a little more care, time and effort, we can easily avoid these errors, placing a greater emphasis on return-on-investment (ROI) as opposed to cost-per-acquisition (CPA) you can turn your PPC marketing around.

Turning these errors into success is a sure fire way to get your business back on top. Here are some common errors made and how you can fix them.

General remarketing

If your remarketing is too general then you simply aren’t getting enough out of it. Putting PPC ads out to users who visited your site within the last 15 days that are basic and general isn’t going to have great effect.

Instead, you should focus on segmenting users into groups based on the time since their last engagement and the types of article they have most recently read. Remarket to them with information that is going to add value to their experience. The point to stress here is that you shouldn’t worry about reaching everyone, reach those who took an interest.

Optimising for harder conversions

It can be all too tempting to try and turn visits into conversions for all users. The challenge faced here is that some people simply may not be interested or have found a better alternative to your product or service.

When it comes to PPC advertising, focus on those who are further down the funnel, i.e. those who are easier to convert. This means focusing on those who engaged more with the page and spent longer looking through the available options.

Overlooking later conversions

Depending on the campaign, not all conversions will be in the short term. Some may take a few months to materialise because of a time-sensitive product or service. A good example is insurance, if your campaign advertises a discount coupon on insurance it may not be used until a few months later when the user’s current insurance runs out.

Open up your conversion window and adjust you attribution model based on the timing of the campaign and how long it has been running for.

Not taking in the bigger picture

As a PPC marketer, it is important to analyse each individual platform as a separate PPC landscape. However, when running a campaign across multiple platforms it is important not to assume that because one platform isn’t performing well that it isn’t impacting on other areas of the campaign.

If you know your audience engages regularly with Instagram but you aren’t seeing any clicks that doesn’t mean they don’t see it. Google or Facebook might have high click-through rates as a result and it just so happens that the final push happens on another platform.

Make sure you see the whole picture when working with PPC advertising, whilst it may be difficult to integrate all the data, it is important to take it in as a whole.

The SEO checklist to make sure you rank

There is no denying that SEO is complicated and with thousands of different elements it often hard to explain and understand.

It can feel overwhelming trying to plan and execute a successful SEO strategy and balancing between ranking and giving users what they want. Luckily, Google is getting incredibly good at ensuring that the pages that rank are those that users want. Personalised and location-based search are helping users find what they want quicker.

There are a few simple elements of SEO that will provide a strong base for your strategy and build some visibility. These 5 SEO tricks below will take you the majority of the way to a successful ranking.

Accessible and crawlable URLs

You want and need Google to be able to find your website and delve deep into what it contains. It needs to be able to understand all of your images, videos and links that are included so that it can be put into the web index.

Keywords

It may seem simple but so often it is gotten wrong. Having the right keywords that both relate to your content and are regularly searched by users is crucial. Keywords are targeted in your optimisation efforts and therefore need to be able to solve the problems that people are searching. They should relate directly to your content based off what people are searching.

Understand what Google thinks is relevant

Google will include all of the features that it believes is relevant to the searcher in its search engine results pages (SERPs). Conduct a few searches based on what you believe people are searching and identify the key features that you need to include in your campaign. If there are any holes, i.e. elements that you think people want but other businesses aren’t providing, take advantage and fill the gaps.

Boost page speed

Page speed is a really important element as it is a big determining factor in your bounce rate. Pages that take more than a few seconds to load can encourage people to look elsewhere which is undoubtedly bad for your business. Of course, Google also considers page speed and if it’s slow, you won’t rank.

Regardless of how impressive your page looks and all of the snazzy images, videos and animations, if it takes time to load, no one will get to see it.

Make compelling titles and descriptions

Titles and descriptions, first of all, help Google determine what your page contains and its relevance to the user and once it is on the page it attracts users. Google frequently uses the title and meta description in order to determine how a page ranks. The description is what persuades people to click on your website so making it compelling will improve not only your rank, but also clicks.

 

The do’s and don’ts of social media for businesses

It’s no secret that social media has a big role to play in business. Its ability to reach a wide range of audiences and for audience interaction is diverse.

The main purpose of social media for businesses is to broaden their reach and engage with different audiences. Whilst social media is a great way to reach people through a range of different mediums and through different strategies and platforms, not every strategy is necessarily a good one.

Do know who you are

Just like marketing through any other medium, social media marketing requires your business to build a strong image. Your message needs to remain consistent and the content needs to build through the brands values.

With so many different people likely to be posting on your social media accounts, it is important that you have a clear brand identity that is followed to keep your message consistent.

Don’t be reactive

Social media has opened many positive doors for businesses but it also provides a really easily platform for consumers to post or comment negative feedback and opinions. It is important that you are not reactive to these sorts of things allowing them to escalate. Get on the front foot, be honest and empathise with consumers. This helps to build stronger relationships.

Do understand your audience

There are so many different social media platforms and everyone engages with them differently. Whilst you may be targeting a variety of audiences, they may not all be relevant on each platform. Know which platforms each audience uses and why they use it. This will help you to understand how to market to them.

Don’t assume you know social media

A business account is significantly different to a personal account when it comes to social media. There are so many features that are offered by Facebook, Instagram and the like that can be extremely beneficial for your business. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they all are.

Employ a social media expert to take control of your social media marketing. They will understand how to best utilise its features.

Do test campaigns

Even with all the data in the world it can often be difficult to understand how people will react to a certain campaign, image or promotion. Run tests to a select audience before opening it up to the entire customer base to get a gauge on what works and what doesn’t.

Learn from each test and your successful versus unsuccessful campaigns and make adjustments for the future.

Don’t set and forget

Like everything in the digital world, social media is constantly changing as peoples tastes change and adapt to new features. Your social media needs to be regularly updated to stay ahead of or line with trends and what your customers want.

SEO tips for success

SEO is becoming more and more critical to the successful operation of your business as Google begins to adjust their search algorithm to better suit consumers.

Having the number one keyword for organic Google results no longer means that it will appear first on the search engine results pages. This is because Google is starting to adjust its algorithm so that results are tailored to the individual based on previous searches, their location and their interests.

These changes make search engine optimisation even more important and it is even more crucial that it is regularly worked upon and developed.

There are a number of search engine results page (SERP) features that are now highly relevant in ensuring that your pages or website ranks for a number of search terms. Using these is a great way to increase visibility across the internet.

Featured snippets is one of the main ones and these feature below the Google AdWords giving a small insight into the content of the pages beyond the meta description. These are great for encouraging people to click on your site as they can already see that the key information is there.

Additional SERP elements include;

  • Sitelinks – these are great for providing searchers with a number of shortcut options within your site from the SERPs. These are small links that appear just under your meta description linking people to other parts of your sight
  • Local packs – these provide searchers with a collection of your local listings often attached to a map and make it easier for them to find your physical business

In addition to these SERPs features, as touched on above, it is critical that you are regularly updating your businesses SEO. Doing so will likely increase visibility through additional content or more relevant and ‘trending’ content that people are interested in. Not enough businesses make regular updates and in doing so you are able to stay ahead of your competitors.

Make adjustments based on data

Do thorough research on your keywords and the types of information that people react to. Find your sweet spot and be sure to maximise its value through repeated uploads, developments and finding the keywords that people search for on a regular basis. It is likely that these things change and should therefore be updated regularly.

Use diverse feature that boost SEO

Your pages need to look appealing whilst encouraging Google to rank you. This is done through an attractive and user friendly page that includes simple headings and reduced user effort. Include things like;

  • Images,
  • Captions,
  • Internal links, and
  • Informative text

So that users are able to quickly gather the necessary information and move on. This helps them to quickly find a solution whilst engaging with your site.

Opportunities to take advantage of in SEO

There is only one constant in the SEO world and that is change. This creates numerous challenges as experts attempt to hold strong on their beliefs and continue to use that which has worked well in the past.

The reality is that it is about keeping up with the trends and forever changing your perspective in order to keep up with both Google and the searchers. Jumping onto opportunities is one thing that you need to be looking for every day in the SEO landscape.

Here are a few of the developing trends and opportunities arising.

Link building is a challenge

Link building is something that is talked about frequently with much of the talk often about how it is going out of fashion and that it is no longer important. This sort of talk should be ignored. Link building is one of the most consistent performers when it comes to ranking well, it is simply that it is becoming harder and harder to do.

Google has managed to put a stop to buying and selling links or putting irrelevant links on pages or hiding them in an attempt to not be seen. Link building now requires high quality content that people want to read and others want to link to.

Mobile, mobile, mobile

The rise and importance of mobile adaptation in SEO is something worth repeating. It has become so prevalent over the last twelve months that those who haven’t jumped on the bandwagon have already fallen behind significantly.

Mobile search is growing at a rapid pace, such that over a third of people are engaging in a form of mobile search every day. This means that you must have a site that is mobile friendly or your ranking and user experience will fall.

The mobile rise forces businesses to condense their information and only include what is highly relevant. Boosting videos and images also helps and this is likely to have positive consequences for your desktop site too.

Voice search

As mobile search increases so does voice search. Siri, Alexa and Google voice searches are getting better and more understanding. The accuracy is now at a level that people want to use it on a regular basis.

Voicer search means that people are using more conversational language and long-tail keywords when searching. Your SEO must take advantage of this by researching more about what user’s needs are and the types of searches they are conducting via voice versus text. Voice searches are also more likely to be about finding a location so local search queries are should be a focus.

Mary Meeker report shows Amazon holds 90% market share in 5 categories

The recently released Mary Meeker report from Kleiner Perkins has highlighted the dominance that Amazon has built within ecommerce. Such is Amazon’s dominance, they hold over 90% of the online market share in five separate product categories; batteries, skin care, home improvement tools, kitchen and dining accessories and golf.

Not only is Amazon dominating these categories, but in a report from Jumpshot, they managed to feature strongly in all seven of the product categories included in the report with the five listed above joined by ‘cleaning supplies’ and ‘men’s athletic shoes’ of which they feature above 70% in both.

Amazon’s rapid growth is highlighted by an 8% rise in ecommerce gross merchandise value since 2013, a period in which the rest of ecommerce players’ value shrunk.

It is also becoming evident that it is not just the well-known brands that are helping Amazon to dominate the market with its range of private labels also performing well when compared to the ecommerce sales of Walmart, Target and Macy’s.

The ecommerce giant’s private label conversion rates equate to approximately 50% more than that of the aforementioned department stores. Most notably it is electronics that account for the majority of the share as when the conversion share of electronics is taken away, there is a 35% shift in the share of private label conversions to Walmart, Target and Macy’s.

Much of the reasoning behind this is because the majority of electronic equipment purchased on Amazon includes things like chargers, cables and batteries that are purchased far more frequently than devices like TVs.

Department stores like Macy’s, Target and Walmart will continue to remain competitive in private labels but will struggle to maintain competition in categories involving high frequency purchases. The data shows that for these businesses, consumers are purchasing their private labels in the Home and Women’s clothing categories with Amazon already dominating the others.

It is important to note that ecommerce as a whole is growing rapidly due to the convenience and time-friendly nature of online service. Amazon’s rise can be attributed to its diversity of offerings and the comprehensive delivery services that it offers to its customers. However, with a long way still to go with ecommerce sales only at 13% of total retail sales as of last year, it is clear that Amazon holds the upper hand in a growing market.

How digital has changed business forever

Our world is now driven by digital transformation in a way that is almost contagious. Such has been the impact of technology that we are seeing nations who have smartphones but no regular access to water.

Businesses, therefore, need to understand how best to utilise the available digital developments. Of course this is different for every business but there are certainly common themes that resonate throughout. Outlined, is how digital transformation has impacted, and continues to impact, business.

Communication

Whilst digital technology has allowed communication to grow for decades now, the rise of messaging applications is enabling people to interact instantly across networks. Social media has acted, and still does, as a great channel for reaching customers on a regular basis with tailored marketing.

However, instant messaging is now becoming a powerhouse in the communication world with teenagers now spending more time on instant messaging apps (Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat) than on social media itself. This means that businesses need to adapt and find ways of reaching customers through these channels.

Content overload

With global engagement on social media, there is an enormous amount of content hat is being shared on social media platforms.  This makes the marketer’s job incredibly difficult as they need to post informative, engaging and relevant content so reach consumers.

One such solution is to approach social media marketing in a more minimalist fashion. Yes, content is key and it needs to be included but utilising images and video that portray the message may be more beneficial. Using images and video as the face and providing consumers with the option to delve deeper could create a stronger brand image.

Excess data

The digital expansion has meant that business have access to data on virtually all business and consumer actions. Everything is computed and analysed to the nth degree and the array of data can be overwhelming and/or useless.

Understanding what data is important and how best to utilise it is critical to the success for your business. Integrating data is going to be the most helpful tool for this. There is no point having an incredibly high click-through rate if it doesn’t lead to any conversions.

Know which data is the most important for your business and understand what your customers want. Have multiple customer profiles so that data can be used to personalise your marketing efforts.

Humanised brands

Whilst in many ways digital transformation may appear to have reduced the need for customer interaction and put people further away from the business, those that are smart will see the opportunity for increased consumer interaction.

Social media has enabled people to get in touch with brands more easily, to ask questions and get to know the values of the brand on a deeper level. Technology enables companies to spend less time working through individual queries and releases so that they can reach people on a more personalised level.

A great example is the ability for companies to live stream some of their events so that people don’t have to be there in order to engage with the company on a more human level rather than just its products.

Embracing digital opportunities without disrupting your business model

Digital transformation often partners disruption but it is important to know that complete disruption doesn’t always have to occur when embracing digital opportunities. Digital opportunities are designed to benefit your business and limiting disruption is important in maintaining process and business structure.

In order to do this, companies must know how to best scan for businesses opportunities and developments, absorb them and take advantage of the opportunity.

Tracking business disruption

Being able to identify the possibility for disruption is important in being able to subsequently manage it. Many businesses, nowadays, will have a team or division dedicated to business development.

These employees will be constantly looking for areas of disruption and implementing ways to manage it whilst taking the opportunity associated. This process involves reviewing current strategies and seeking ways to best improve it whilst also looking externally.

Encouraging innovation

When businesses encourage innovation from all employees they open up more doors for employees to thrive and also diversify their idea generation. This boosts employee output and increases the likelihood of successful digital business innovation.

There is certainly no strategy that works for everyone and allowing employees to innovate, get creative and implement alternative digital strategies means that it is less likely to disrupt the business model and better take advantage of the opportunity available.

Go beyond traditional R&D

Putting structures and specific processes in place for research and development can be good in theory and does provide boundaries that keep employees on track. However, going beyond this and allowing for creativity as explained above increases opportunity and reduces the likelihood of complete disruption.

Opening up new doors to consumers and clients to engage in development is going to facilitate a more streamlined solution and thus less disruption when exploiting digital opportunities.

Provide the necessary training

This is probably one of the biggest mistakes that businesses make. They bring in new technologies that alter process and think that they will have an immediate impact without proper education. Employees need to understand how new technologies work and therefore require adequate training.

Training helps to ensure that the digital transformation is successful instead of hoping that because it is digital it will work itself out. Employees need help and education will not only enhance the impact of the technology but it will also limit disruption as the business makes a smooth transition to the new processes.