Mobile Web Trends + Stats

So this morning I was reading some very interesting trends and statistics on B2C and had to share them.  The real message is in the images at the bottom—this is vital information/awareness for businesses who may not be sold or totally clear on the impact of new marketing that touches mobile, social and global techniques.  It’s not just an individual user trend—it’s a business trend too.

It’s real, and it’s getting bigger and bigger!

  • Smartphone sales were up over 63% in 2011 from 2010 (488.5 million)
  • 5.9 billion people now use mobile phones globally
  • Over 300,000 apps have been developed in the past 3 years and downloaded more than 10.9 Billion times
  • 77% use mobile phones for search
  • Social networking accounted for 50% of all page views on mobile phones in 2011
  • Facebook mobile users quadrupled in 2 years from 50 million to 200 million
  • There are 200 million mobile video playbacks from YouTube every day
  • There are 1.2 billion internet connected smartphones

The upside for mobile commerce and smart phone growth is enormous as all mobile phones will eventually become internet connected. On current numbers that means that 4.7 billion smart phones are yet to be sold and connected! Is your business ready for the mobile web?

 

 

 

 

Why Use the Cloud?

written by Rod Schulhauser for VizzEco Inc.

Cloud (internet) computing has come a long way since the early days of likes of Gmail and Hotmail. Technological advances, such as high-speed internet, mobile devices and communications technology, have made the cloud a very efficient place to operate. Today, cloud computing offers both individuals and businesses tremendous advantages.

Sometimes keeping up with technology can be quite the task.  Businesses, regardless of their size, often face large expenses to keep current with technology.  So what can the cloud do for you?

Here are 10 reasons why you and your business should consider the cloud:

Save on software costs – buying licenses can be a costly affair, whether you are buying for one individual or a whole company.  Often you are faced with the decision to “make do” with what you have, or pay for upgrades.  Businesses have no option but to keep their licenses current—or face the wrath of piracy and the lack of technical support for non-legitimate software installs.  The cost to deploy a full suite of standard office/business applications for one employee is quite substantial, and if you are dealing with mobility the cost only escalates.

Save on hardware costs – software advances often influence the need for hardware upgrades.  New software versions usually require more computing horsepower, requiring hardware upgrades to track software upgrades.  These types of changes are difficult to plan for, budget-wise, since not all software changes are known in advance.  Cloud computing requires internet access and a browser, thus making even mobile computing (tablets, laptops, etc.) costs much lower.  The trend today is that hardware manufacturers are making computing options with cloud-only computing needs—at significantly less cost.

Save on infrastructure costs – the complexity and volume of infrastructure can be reduced with the implementation of cloud solutions.  The number of and constant upgrading of servers, operating systems, and applications can be reduced—saving both time and valuable capital funds.

Deploy valuable IT resources to key business functions – rather than doing upgrades, dealing with bugs etc.—valuable IT resources can be used on key core business projects/functions.  IT should not be thought of a simply a “necessary cost,” they too can be deployed to revenue-generating functions.  These resources are more valuable than what they are typically doing on a daily basis, without cloud deployed in your business.

Increase collaboration and gain efficiency – since data is stored in the cloud instead of on employee computers, multiple users can access and contribute to projects simultaneously without worrying about using the same operating system, software, or browser. For example, instead of collaborating on a document by sending back and forth revision after revision as attachments, documents are stored in the cloud. Coworkers can access the web-based document simultaneously in their browsers, and even make changes that other authorized users can see in real-time. Eliminating attachment round-trips by storing data in the cloud saves time and reduces frustrations for teams who need to work together efficiently.

Mobility is easy – since data is in the cloud, mobile devices can access the information just like other computing devices.  There is a large consumer trend  associated with mobility (hardware and applications) and taking advantage of these advances is enhanced further when your information is stored in the cloud.  You can access your information any time, any where, on any device—this is what makes a business agile and employees efficient.

Save on utilities and go green –  on average, individual employee computers are only used at approximately 10 to 20 percent of their capacity. Similarly, computers are left idle for hours at a times soaking up energy. Pooling resources into a cloud consolidates energy use, for both the users and the servers. When you are in the cloud, you essentially save on costs by paying for what you use and extending the life of your hardware.

Increased business agility – a cloud-based business can adapt to changes and opportunities quickly, since it’s not limited by technology or infrastructure. Cloud applications and their features can come to market much quicker than conventional software, thus brining efficiencies to your business sooner.  The next significant phase of the cloud will embrace social media for business applications, and with cloud computing deployed in your business, you’ll be able to access these revolutionary changes quickly and efficiently.

Better security solution – with data in the cloud, less business data is kept in vulnerable locations.  It is much easier to eliminate troublesome risks at one point, rather than at multiple points—a good example would be cloud email, such as Gmail, versus email on individual computers/clients. Top quality cloud solutions, such as Google, utilize significant numbers of the highest qualified resources to maintain the integrity of their server farms.  Security is increased in the cloud and multi-geographical redundancy secures your data.

Less glitches – Applications serviced through cloud computing require fewer versions (revisions). Upgrades are needed less frequently and are typically managed by data centers. Often, businesses experience problems with software because they are not designed to be used with similar applications. Departments cannot share data because they use different applications. Cloud computing enables users to integrate various types of applications including management systems, word processors, and e-mail. The fewer the glitches, the more productivity expected from employees.

 

Social Media’s Influence on Sales

Vinny Frogameni   |   B2C

Social Media’s Influence on Sales

The influence of social media on the conversion of sales is outstanding compared to traditional marketing. Being involved and creating a community using social media has never been as important as it currently is today. It is a proven science that a one-on-one interaction with customers creates a rapport between the consumer and the business. Building trust and loyalty converts into more sales PERIOD!

Most businesses have forgotten about the way our ancestors operated their businesses, and this is the biggest mistake that can be made today. Having a mom & pop shop mentality will give customers a comfortable and personable feeling towards your company, and using social media is the perfect way to accomplish this goal. Every customer should be interacted with, on one level or another. Interaction leads to trust and trust leads to loyalty. Gaining a customer’s loyalty and trust will lead to a word of mouth marketing campaign.

Word of mouth marketing is one of the most effective strategies that any business can pursue using social media. For example, a client compliments you on your services, and you then respond to the client on their social networking platform of choice. This leads to the customer spreading word of your company because of the personal interaction. Let’s say a fan of Starbucks reaches out to the business on Twitter and says “I love Starbucks Coffee”. Starbucks should then send a response such as “What is your favorite cup of coffee?” This leads to the customer feeling a sense of importance, because their favorite brand has mentioned them and took into consideration what their favorite cup of coffee was. Little things like this build a strong and loyal community. When a business can build a loyal community, then they will always be guaranteed sales and will expand their consumer base by existing customers spreading their business through word of mouth amongst social media networks.

People do not visit websites to find information about the best movie that is currently out, or what the best seafood restaurant is anymore. Consumers now find their information on social networking websites. If a Facebook user views a friend’s status and it says “Robs Seafood is the best!”, then the user will most likely check out what their friend has recommended, instead of what so called “professionals” prefer on other websites. This demonstrates how the word of mouth affect, using social networking websites, is one of the most important assets towards any business.

Stop Selling – Start Listening, Helping and Connecting

Tom Meriam  |  B2C

Listen-Help-Connect

Obvious to many people in the sales trade, the time of smile and dial is far behind us. Still, I frequently

Imagecome across sales people who are beating themselves up (not to mention their prospects) with old school methods of prospecting.

Yes, selling is still a numbers game. But, buyer mentalities have changed and so must the sales strategy. Here are 4 basic tips to improve your sales efforts in today’s market:

1. Find a common interest

Sales really has no excuse for NOT finding a common interest or connection with a prospect in today’s world of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Blogging, Online Groups/Forums/Communities, etc. Do your research and call out the common interest to gain some personal relevance.

Want more info on sales intelligence and social selling? Check out: www.socialsellingu.com

2. Leverage marketing content

Good marketing content has a specific audience, pain point and solution in mind. Offer relevant content to prospects to show that:

-You want to help them

-You’re interested in uncovering whether there’s a “need” before “selling” them on something

-Your company has experience solving the types of problems the prospect is likely experiencing

Check out Howard Sewell’s post on packaging offer content for higher response.

3. Don’t assume they’re a suspect just based on demographics

Just because someone is a CXO at the type of company you work with, don’t assume they’ll fall all over themselves to hire you or buy your product. Maybe they have a need, maybe they don’t. Maybe they’ll have a need later. But, you’ll turn off most prospects by aggressively following up with calls and emails that all have the standard “Just following up with you on my last (insert boring follow up tactic here).”

Instead try continuing to offer helpful tips or offer to connect them with people in your network that they might be interested in meeting. But don’t make them commit to something before they’ve engaged with you. Let the initial engagement be on their terms.

4. Listen (online and offline)

If you’re not “listening” to conversations online as well as offline, you’re losing out on potential opportunities. Your prospects are offering information about their needs all the time – yet many sales people are too focused on “selling” to listen.

Use resources like LinkedIn Groups and user communities to your advantage and “listen” for pain points that you can address. In following up, instead of responding in the community forum with a solution, sometimes it’s better to reach out personally with an offer to help. It seems less “salesy”. Even better, ask a client or partner that’s in the group or community to endorse you.

5 Proven Ways to Generate Leads Online

Chris Horton  |  B2C

5 Proven Ways to Generate Leads Online: The Facts and Figures

 

generate leads online today

It’s 2012 and you’ve realized you need to get a website up—okay check. I should be good now, right?……right?

If after dedicating time and money to website development you’re still not seeing the leads flow in, here are a few tips that will help transform your site from an expensive brochure to an online lead generating machine:

1. Start thinking Google – Google is the new Yellow Pages

  • Worldwide, we conduct 88,000,000,000 searches per month on Google
  • 57% of Internet users search the web every day

2. Ranking high on search engines is no longer optional, it’s critical

  • 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results
  • 60% of organic clicks go to the top of organic search results

3. Content will set you free

  • The average budget allocated by companies for blogs and social media has nearly doubled in two years
  • Companies who blog generate 70-90% more leads per month than those who do not

4. Social Media isn’t a fad, it’s a Revolution

  • 2/3 of US internet users regularly use a social network.
  • The average internet user spends 4.6 hours per week on social media sites compared to 2.9 hours spent on online gaming

5. Calls-to-Action – Use them, or you’ve missed the point completely

  • Simply placing a call-to-action form on your website such as a ‘Free Trial’ gives visitors a chance to interact with your brand and become a quality lead

Remember, if your brand isn’t using web and social to actively generate leads online, you’re missing the point- it’s kind of like fishing without a hook or bait: you watch web traffic click on your site and then ”swim” on by, heading for the website that provides meaty content and a sharp call-to-action. Sounds like fun, right?


ROI: Return on Investment in Social Media Marketing | Business 2 Community

Angela Hausman   |   B2C

5 Steps for ROI in social media

Step 1. Set Objectives

Setting objectives may sound kind of simplistic and unrelated to assessments of ROI, but it’s really a critical first step. Without some notion of what you want to achieve, how can you assess ROI?

Obviously, the end game is SALES. But, since you’re likely not SELLING anything through your social media, you can’t directly measure Sales in calculations of ROI.

Step 2. So, what should you measure?

Here’s a handy infographic I created to show actions that drive success in social media:

ROI: Return on Investment in Social Media MarketingUnlike the sales funnel, you don’t have to wait for customers to fall out the bottom to realize ROI. Each phase in the hierarchy creates sales and generates ROI.

But, unlike the more traditional hierarchy of effects, the social media hierarchy depicts additional actions by your community that reflect loyalty, sharing, trust, and advocacy. These actions have effects far beyond creating ROI, but spread your message, increase your brand mentions, create a positive image for your brand, and encourage others in the social network to purchase the brand — thus amplifying your ROI across social networks.

Based on this infographic, you establish objectives for and measure each element in the hierarchy.

Step 3. Collect Relevant Data

Once you’ve set objectives and know what to measure, you’re ready to collect data. Some data are readily available from Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, or other sources.

Other data, must be collected using survey instruments or qualitative data collection from interactions on social networks and I provide some instructions on how to collect qualitative data from your social networks here.

I think it’s important to collect both deep data that provides a snapshot of where you are and high level data that plots trends — at least over the last month, 6 months, and year — if your social media marketing efforts extend that far. In plotting past data, be sure to capture and record major changes over the time span. For instance, if you added a new channel, Facebook made some major platform change, or Google made a major change to its search algorithm. In the monthly plot, you should also plot your own marketing efforts, such as a newsletter date, a new blog posts, or an important social mention.

Step 4. Analyze Data

Part of your analysis comes from plotting data against your marketing actions. You should also look at competitors marketing actions, especially their social media actions. As a final step, you should assess how external factors impacted your results. Let’s say, your competitor announced a new product or uploaded a video that went viral — your results for a few days might be off a little. Or, let’s say something popped in the news and keywords related to this news brought a lot more traffic to your site for a few days. You need to correct for these anomalies, because you’ll never reproduce them.

Now, look at trends from your plots. What are they telling you?

  1. Certain types of posts generate significantly more (less) visits
  2. Certain days of the week or time of day for sharing generates significantly more (less) visits
  3. Certain actions generate more (less) engagement — ie. comments, sharing, liking
  4. Certain types of content generate more (less) engagement
  5. Where folks come from

If you now match the trend between what HAPPENED in social media with your ROI, you should see a lag with similar shape. Thus, as the number of LIKES increased, you should see an increase in ROI — although a lag between them is normal.

A lag occurs because people don’t immediately go out and buy your product as soon as they like it. Some brands, such as a new restaurant, take a few days because people may not go out to eat the same day they liked the brand. Some brands, take longer. For instance, a new toothpaste requires I use most of my existing toothpaste stock. So, you need to understand consumer buying behavior to assess how long a lag you should expect.

The problem occurs when you never see the change in ROI. This might happen when you’ve “bought” likes rather than gain them organically. What i mean by “buying” likes is you’ve held a contest or something to make people like you. These likes may not reflect your target market and they may not even truly like your brand.

A longer lag is common in driving consumers down the hierarchy — from liking toward evangelism. But, the improvement of ROI is also bigger as you move down the hierarchy because these folks spread your message to their networks, thus amplifying your reach. So, don’t forget to spend some of your social media marketing effort on gaining more engagement and driving more evangelism.

Now, you can use your marketing costs and lagged profits to calculate your ROI. Better yet, you can establish the value (in dollars and cents) of each like, each comment and share, and each evangelist to your firm.

What information comes from qualitative or other deep data ?

  1. Evangelists — who they are, where they come from, and what process created them
  2. Detailed information about each type of visitor — demographics and on-sight usage information
  3. How people talk about your brand — what are their favorite features/benefits; what do they like least; are they having problems? What are their “hot” buttons
  4. What else your customers need — this is a great tool for new product development and improvements to existing products.

Step 5. Action

Of course, data analysis isn’t the point of everything we’ve talked about — and measuring ROI isn’t enough.

You want to improve ROI. But, how?

Well, certainly you want to do more of whatever worked and less of what didn’t.

In your analysis, your social network told you what they wanted. Now, do it.

Personal “Cloud” to Replace PC

Mike Barton   |   Cloudline

Personal Cloud’ to Replace PC by 2014, Says Gartner

Will the personal cloud reign supreme over the personal computer in your digital life? Photo: Karen Ka Ying Wong/Flickr

There’s no doubting the cloud invasion. But the research firm Gartner believes the personal cloud will replace the PC as the center of our digital lives sooner than you might think: 2014.

“Major trends in client computing have shifted the market away from a focus on personal computers to a broader device perspective that includes smartphones, tablets and other consumer devices,” Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement on Monday. “Emerging cloud services will become the glue that connects the web of devices that users choose to access during the different aspects of their daily life.”

Google plans a cloud-centered future with Google Play and its market-leading Android mobile OS. But the personal computer will also not miss out on the cloud, as Microsoft and Apple are planning to weave the cloud into the next generation of their desktop operating systems, Windows 8, and OS X Mountain Lion.

But a cloud-happy future will not be as easy as that, because “it will require enterprises to fundamentally rethink how they deliver applications and services to users.” That’s a point echoed by two new bloggers at Cloudline. Todd B. Nielsen outlines what he sees as the perfect storm for cloud computing, noting that he is “in awe at the businesses and executives that are not treating cloud computing as a strategy to improve their company.” And Contributor Alexander Haislip drove home the missed-opportunity sentiment recently in his post, What the New iPad Won’t Do:

The new iPad may be the most impressive piece of computing hardware I’ve ever seen. Yet its true power is held back by large enterprise software corporations that cannot keep pace with the new devices designed with cloud computing in mind…. It’s as if they’ve completely ignored one of the most successful computing platforms ever built, outselling the total number of PCs its closest competitor sold last quarter.

With the new iPad sold out, it seems only a matter of time that those not on board with the cloud — and with their wares available on any device — will face an existential question.

And Gartner says a number of factors are converging to make for a perfect personal cloud storm by 2014:

Megatrend No. 1: Consumerization — You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet
Gartner has discussed the consumerization of IT for the better part of a decade, and has seen the impact of it across various aspects of the corporate IT world. However, much of this has simply been a precursor to the major wave that is starting to take hold across all aspects of information technology as several key factors come together:

  • Users are more technologically-savvy and have very different expectations of technology.
  • The internet and social media have empowered and emboldened users.
  • The rise of powerful, affordable mobile devices changes the equation for users.
  • Users have become innovators.
  • Through the democratization of technology, users of all types and status within organizations can now have similar technology available to them.

Megatrend No. 2: Virtualization — Changing How the Game Is Played
Virtualization has improved flexibility and increased the options for how IT organizations can implement client environments….

Megatrend No. 3: “App-ification” — From Applications to Apps
When the way that applications are designed, delivered and consumed by users changes, it has a dramatic impact on all other aspects of the market….

Megatrend No. 4: The Ever-Available Self-Service Cloud
The advent of the cloud for servicing individual users opens a whole new level of opportunity. Every user can now have a scalable and nearly infinite set of resources available for whatever they need to do….

Megatrend No. 5: The Mobility Shift — Wherever and Whenever You Want
Today, mobile devices combined with the cloud can fulfill most computing tasks, and any tradeoffs are outweighed in the minds of the user by the convenience and flexibility provided by the mobile devices….

“The combination of these megatrends, coupled with advances in new enabling technologies, is ushering in the era of the personal cloud,” Gartner’s Kleynhans said. “In this new world, the specifics of devices will become less important for the organization to worry about. Users will use a collection of devices, with the PC remaining one of many options, but no one device will be the primary hub. Rather, the personal cloud will take on that role. Access to the cloud and the content stored or shared in the cloud will be managed and secured, rather than solely focusing on the device itself.”

But he says it’s not about the oft-referenced post-PC era, “but rather about a new style of personal computing that frees individuals to use computing in fundamentally new ways to improve multiple aspects of their work and personal lives.”

That’s a point former Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie made recently, saying, “People argue about, ‘Are we in a post-PC world?’. Why are we arguing? Of course we are in a post-PC world,” Ozzie is is reported to have said at a GeekWire-sponsored conference last week. ”That doesn’t mean the PC dies; that just means that the scenarios that we use them in, we stop referring to them as PCs, we refer to them as other things.” Ozzie, who left Microsoft in 2010, started a company called Cocomo, which he said last week has it sights set on the center of the personal cloud storm: mobility and communications.

Jon Udell, another newcomer to Cloudline who will chronicle the personal cloud weekly on Fridays, writes in his first post:

The cloud platform has become a real option for companies needing managed, pay-as-you-use IT capacity. But you have to squint hard to see the emerging personal cloud. That future is already here, as William Gibson would say, but it’s unevenly distributed.

I see signs of the personal cloud in services like Dropbox, Evernote, and Flickr. You can use them for free, or you can pay for higher capacity and enhanced customer service. But the personal cloud also arises from a way of thinking about, and using, any of the services the web provides.

Chicken with an Asian flair…

Ran across a great recipe and tried it out on the family this past weekend.  It’s quite simple and makes the most moist chicken I’ve ever had.  I served it up with some nice Indian rice and a fresh salad – a great meal.

Ingredients:

3-5 boneless chicken breasts

Directions:

    1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken thighs, and sauté 3 minutes on each side.
    2. Combine fruit juices in a large bowl. Stir cornstarch and 1 tablespoon juice mixture together until smooth; set aside.
    3. Stir soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, vinegar, ketchup, red pepper and garlic into remaining juice mixture; pour over chicken. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes, turning chicken after 20 minutes. If using boneless chicken, cooking time will only take about 25 minutes.
    4. Uncover chicken, and stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until sauce thickens.
    5. Spoon warm rice onto a serving platter, top with chicken and sauce. Sprinkle with green onions.

 

Why You Should Use Social Media to Promote Website Content

Chris Horton   |   B2C

Why You Should Use Social Media to Promote Website Content

 

Increase-website-conversion-socialSocial media gives companies an efficient platform to build brand loyalty and engage consumers on a deeper level. By promoting solid web content such as blogs, e-books, white papers, case studies and videos throughout their social media networks, companies are able to amplify their message, drive web traffic and increase website conversion.

WHICH CHANNEL?

Think of social media as a constantly-running TV commercial for your brand. The goal of the commercial isn’t to actually sell your product or service (unless you’re selling ginsu knives on late-night info-mercials), but instead to generate interest for your brand and drive traffic to your business location.

In the online world, therefore, your constantly-running social media “commercials” should be sharing your web-based content to generate leads online by driving Internet traffic to your virtual storefront, i.e. your website.

In this way social media isn’t the deal closer – it’s the channel that creates potential for a future conversion. Social media can create brand familiarity and drive visitors to content that further draws them in, but it very rarely directly answers an expressly-stated need.¹ That, my friends, is what your website is for.

SPREAD THE WORD

Social Media’s great strength is to evangelize: to create brand followers and loyalists who can help spread the word with every Tweet, Like, and Share. Social media also gives companies exponential reach, empowering brands to leverage their content and messaging more efficiently than other marketing channels.

Let’s say your company posts a piece of content such as your blog onto Twitter. Every one of your followers has his/her own followers, be it 1, 100, or 1,000. Let’s say a follower of yours who has 1,000 Twitter followers shares one of your blog posts. Now that content is getting exposed to 5,000 additional people who weren’t directly following you. Any one of these people may in turn share your blog with their followers, and so on.

Unlike many forms of traditional marketing, whose reach tends to be linear, social media’s reach is exponential.

Businesses are seeing the power of social media to create brand awareness and drive website traffic. A comprehensive study recently published by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research analyzed the use of social media in fast-growing corporations. Ninety percent of responding executives report that social media tools are important for brand awareness and company reputation.  Eighty-eight percent see these tools as important for generating web traffic, while 81% find them important for lead generation.³

increase-website-conversion-study

In order to fully-capitalize on the power of social media, you need to integrate your website and social media messaging and content, providing a user experience that is clear, simple and seamless. Doing so will likely drive online lead generation and increase website conversion.

Are you using social media to amplify your web content? If so, are your efforts producing results?

¹ SEO MOZ, “Tracking the KPIs of Social Media”

² Hubspot, “Why You Need Social Media Followers That Won’t Ever Buy”

³ U MASSD study, “The 2011 Inc. 500 Social Media Update”

Lead Conversion – social media

Lead Conversion

An article just came across my desk… had to share it!

If you are just using social media for the sake of “getting something out there,” then getting actual results may (in some cases) be your true desire.  Here are 4 ideas or tips for converting leads via social media:

Bait your customers by understanding what they think.

Research keywords or phrases that people may be looking for and start addressing these topics.  Add value to the conversation by giving people what they need.  Remember you want to be a useful and valuable resource that is seen as a giver and not just a taker!

Mention people on Twitter

When other users are mentioned, they and they will pay more attention to you.  As simple as this point is, it is also very overlooked.  Also don’t be shy about retweeting other people’s quality content, as they might just return the favor!

Engage potential customers through constantly having interesting content.

Interesting content looks to address people’s interests or help them solve a particular problem.  Increasingly, people are growing tried of useless fluff on the Internet and want more.  Give people useful and engaging content and they will pay greater attention to your company.

Create Incentives

Provide users with specific benefits for engaging with you on your social media channels, as this will help you to create a community.  Giveaways, advance information, and different offers can help make followers feel special.

These four ideas will assist you to use social media for sales.  When you take these steps, your social media contacts will be more likely to visit your website and take interest in the products and services that your company offers.