Do you ever wonder if new technology has an immediate impact on your business? Are you curious about how the new iPhone or the iWatch will impact your business over the next year or several years? Most business owners are likely to brush off new technologies like the iPhone or the iWatch as things that people will buy, but that will have little to no impact on their businesses. While it’s easy to assume that someone having a new device may not have an impact on their bottom line, it’s a grossly erroneous assumption.
Travel back in time to the mid 1990’s and you might remember the emergence of the Internet as a mainstream technology that helped people find information. Back then, most everyone still used a phonebook to find local business information. Today, it’s hard to go anywhere where you won’t find a free WiFi network and phonebooks are all but extinct. Remember in 2002 when the first commercial 3G networks were available to consumers in the United States and you’ll find a population largely connected to the Internet, but not many people carried smartphones in their pocket. Many businesses still hadn’t realized the value of having even a basic presence on the web, either. Today, mobile Internet speeds are 10 to 15 times faster than they were when 3G was introduced and it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing a heard of people starting at the Internet on their smartphones.
So what does all of this boil down to for your business? Without even mentioning social media, it’s evident that technological changes have a drastic impact on consumer behavior over time – changes in behavior that lead consumers to new ways of interacting with businesses. No longer do businesses question whether having a website is important, but what they should be considering is whether their website is mobile friendly and if it’s actually delivering a return on investment. It is estimated that by 2015, 50% of all website visits will come from mobile devices. With a statistic like that, how can you ignore the impacts of change on your business? Here are some things to consider when creating your marketing plan for the 4th Quarter of 2014 and going into 2015.
Have a Mobile-Friendly Website
With so many people using smartphones to access the web, it’s essential that you website works well on all devices. Get rid of any Flash content, eliminate the need to pinch-to-zoom and make sure links are easily clickable with a thumb or finger on a smartphone. New websites today are designed using what’s call “responsive” design. This allows a website owner to delivery the same website to desktop and mobile users, but the layout of the site and size of text, images and buttons change to make the website easier to view on mobile devices. If you’re considering a new website design, be sure to ask your designer if the site they will design is “fully responsive”.
Make Sure Phone Numbers are Clickable on Mobile Devices
If you access the Internet or email via your smartphone, you’ve probably realized by now that by clicking on a phone number your phone will ask you if you want to place a call to that number. You’ve probably also realized that sometimes this doesn’t work and you have to try and remember the number while you switch to your phone to type it in and place the call. This is not only costing users additional time, it’s frustrating. Be sure the phone numbers on your site are clickable and prompt users to call the number when clicked on. It will ensure your users have a positive experience with your brand from the time they visit your site until they get you on the phone.
Consider Adding Video to Your Site
Video has exploded over the last year as a primary delivery method of content. Last year, video accounted for 53% of all Internet downloads in the United States. This can mean one of two things. Your kids are watching Netflix and YouTube videos 24 hours a day, or, people from all walks of life enjoy absorbing Internet content via video. Let’s face it, people are inherently lazy – who wants to read five paragraphs of text on your website? Well, the reality is, people still read text, but they spend more time on your site and with your brand when they have video to watch on your site. If you don’t already have video on your website, consider shooting a commercial or hiring a firm to create a motion graphics video with voiceover. At the very least, curate content from YouTube or Vimeo or record your own HD video with a device like the iPhone 6. After all, it has an amazing camera.
Make Calls to Action Clear
You might assume that people who visit your website will know what they want to do when they get there, but the reality is, they don’t. It’s up to you to tell visitors what they are supposed to learn and do on your website. In fact, you have a tremendous amount of control over what users do when they come to your website. Clear calls to action make it easier for visitors to know what you want them to do and where you want them to go whether it’s to buy a product, read more information, download a free guide or request an appointment. The right combination of text, images and buttons will result in more visitors to your website becoming customers.
Provide Multiple Avenues for Communication
Over the past several years, more and more people are opting to send emails via website forms as opposed to picking up the phone and calling businesses. Why is that? With more time spent working and less time to handle personal business, many people simply can’t pick up the phone to get information or schedule appointments. Moreover, people don’t want to commit to a phone call where they might be persuaded to make a purchase or commit they aren’t ready for. They’d prefer to stay somewhat removed from a relationship until they feel comfortable engaging at a higher level. So what can we do to improve communications beyond web forms and email? Studies show that having live chat on a website increases the rate of conversion amongst visitors to that site. Of course if you choose to have live chat on your website, be sure you have someone standing by to respond to requests when a visitor uses it. Most live chat software has the ability to turn it on and off.
Pay Attention to Search Engine Placement
Do you know where you show up on search engines when someone searches for the product or service you offer? I’ve had many business owners tell me that they show up high in search engines, only to find out they typed their business name in as the search querie. When you want to understand where you show up, type a product or service you offer, followed by the geographic location you wish to target. For instance, I would search for “Digital Marketing Williamsburg, VA”. If you aren’t in the top five results, you are likely missing some opportunities. If you aren’t on the first page, you’ve got some work to do. Businesses that consistently show up on the top of search results will often receive more traffic from search engines than from any other source.
Do More to Drive Traffic to Your Site
If you do show up high in search results, but are looking for more ways to drive traffic to your site, it might be time to consider advertising on search engines, creating a display ad campaign to run on websites and on social media or look into advertising with directory services like YP.com or group deal sites like Living Social. All of the above advertising methods provide legitimate ways for a business to attract more visits, but if you don’t have a site that works on all devices and has a plan to convert visitors, your investment won’t bring as great a return.
Apple Pay, Apple Watch, the iPhone 6 and other new Apple technologies announced today are likely to change things in ways we have yet to see or plan for, but if you aren’t paying attention to change and adapting your business in a way that takes advantage of those changes, your competitors will surpass you. Businesses that haven’t even been conceived yet will likely put you out of business entirely. It’s only a matter of time.
If you’re looking for a new way to reach people eager to become your customer, want to grow your business with a smaller marketing budget, are aiming to achieve a greater return on investment or just need to tune up your online presence, give us a call. Our team is experienced in providing 21st Century marketing solutions to businesses of all types and sizes.