We’ve truly become a digital society. That fact is reflected in both some staggering digital metrics from last year, and the forecast for this year.
According to Nielson, in 2012 –
• Google and Facebook were the two largest websites, averaging 172 million and 153 million unique monthly visitors, respectively
• YouTube & Hulu were the top viewing sites, averaging 15 billion and 833 million video views a month
• iOS and Android smartphone users were drawn to practical maps and integrated them into their lifestyle, with Google Search, Maps, Weather, Email and stocks dominating the list of apps downloaded.
It will soon become passé to even call digital marketing by its full name; it’s practically overcome all other aspects and should be a given in all strategies. According to Media Post, 89% of businesses polled will increase their marketing spend this year, with 56% devoted to email, 52% to social media, 43% to mobile and 40% to search.
The integration of these methods ranked as a high priority as well – 65% plan to merge email with social media, and 52% with mobile.
It isn’t enough anymore to simply set up online banners to direct traffic to your business. Thanks to the advent of social media and SEO, content is king, which makes it more important than ever to market effectively.
A survey from Econsultancy confirms that digital marketers are putting more emphasis on content marketing in 2013 – 39% of in-house marketers specifically included it in their goals for the year, up 10% from last year. A separate survey from Demandbase indicates that content marketing is the top investment of the year from B2B companies, with 53% inveseting in it. This is only second to social media, at 60%.
Providing tailored content proves to potential customers or prospects the value your company can provide. The same B2B companies surveyed from above also indicated they are marrying content marketing with vertical industry targeting – allowing them to determine where their company’s services will be of the most use and focusing their efforts there. About ¾ of those marketers polled said they determine their content based on a specific business’ need, followed by the type of company they are targeting.
More and more businesses are putting an emphasis on their social media strategy these days, but at the end of the day, there are still many brands that can do better. It’s as timely an investment as ever, because consumers are showing more inclination to engage and collaborate with brands socially than in years past.
Recent studies indicate smaller-than-anticipated number of small to medium size businesses that incorporate social media on a regular basis. Just one out of five utilize it in their marketing strategy, and less than 40% incorporate social media into their central company website.
The numbers come at a time when engaged social media users are showing more of a willingness to assist brands carve out their strategy, social or otherwise. 64% polled expressed a willingness to help a company improved upon a product or service, according to MarketingCharts, or in helping them improve upon customer service. Though email was shown to be the favored model for doing so, 43% indicated a free-to-join social media site like Facebook was the highest responding community to the poll.
Savvy retailers are already preparing for the most important sales period of the year. The holiday shopping season is only about two months away, and eMarketer is forecasting an increase in online sales of nearly 17%, the fourth consecutive year of growth. Nearly a quarter of 2012’s expected 224.2 billion in ecommerce sales will come this November & December.
The exponential rise of sales this time of year, even during times of economic uncertainty, are a testament to the power of email, social media & mobile tactics, when one surveys the way businesses put them to use. Customers are searching for the best deals at the best times, and they know social networks and smart phone apps make it easier for them to do so. Whatever the hot gift items are this year, consumers are likely compare prices online, and search for deals or promotions on Facebook or Twitter.
If you haven’t established a mobile or social media strategy yet, this is the strongest evidence yet to do so. BSMG can help.
A mother’s influence can play a huge role in the makeup of the average American family. Marketers and businesses have known that for decades and targeted them accordingly, but it’s worth bringing up for the simple reason that moms are taking to today’s technology, particularly blogs & social media, at an impressive rate.
99% of moms polled by eMarketer regularly use a laptop or desktop computer. 56% own a tablet and 49% own an eReader. With parents and grandparents being much more plugged in than years past, blog engagement is on the rise, as over two-thirds of the moms polled said it was their most trusted source of information or advice.
The following percentages of moms polled said they made a specific decision based on a blog they read:
60% read a specific book
56% purchased a food product
54% watched a TV program
45% purchased a toy
Moms are interacting with social media, with 64% trusting Facebook, 30% trusting Twitter and 22% trusting Instagram for parenting advice or guidance.
The numbers prove it – not just in terms of social media, but in terms of the key demographics to target. Remember – mother knows best.
The benefits of a social media strategy continue to be plentiful and diverse, as proven by the latest study by the Ryan Partnership: consumers are actively trying new products and services they learned exclusively through social media.
36% of those polled said that updates from a retail location said they were ultimately convinced to try a new product they hadn’t previously considered. Another study by Ipsos shows that 18% of those polled followed a brand or retailer because a friend did the same. Impulse buys and store choice have also proven to be influenced by social media.
While grocery chains are still relying heavily on print inserts and circulars, they are showing more initiative with their social media plans. 65% of those polled by Valassis said they plan to increase their social media promoting within the next five years. Opposed to retailers, though, they are a little less sure about which specific area – acquisition, retention or increased traffic – benefits the most.
Applications, online reviews, brand emails and deal sites have also proven influential, but social media is proving to be a key cog in the marketing machine for brands everywhere.
Separately, a business’ social media strategy and mobile strategy have their shares of benefits & opportunities in addition to challenges or limitations, like any well-founded initiative. When woven together, the impact of social and mobile can be even stronger.
Nearly 38% of U.S. consumers polled have accessed a social site or blog on their mobile device in 2012, while the use of downloaded applications (apps) has increased by 5% over a three-month period, according to MarketingCharts. This trend opens up opportunities for both consumers and advertisers.
Mobile users use the integration of social media and mobile devices to their advantage when it comes to seeking out coupons or deals. 25% of those polled said they were willing to sign up for an email newsletter or like a page on Facebook to get access to a deal, while 17% said they would tweet or re-tweet a deal. The average consumer saves $31 doing so.
Meanwhile, advertisers can use the slick integration and seamless customer experience of promoted tweets or social ads to disseminate their message even further. Twitter and Facebook alone will earn over $200 million alone in 2012 with mobile revenue. Mobile advertising is expected to reach 2.61 billion in 2012, with Google taking over 54% of that net revenue.
Even as the importance of having a mobile strategy and social media strategy becomes clearer, never forget one of the first elements introduced of the digital age: email. It might be easy to dismiss it as archaic or irrelevant when consumers are spending more time checking their phones and newsfeeds, but if utilized properly, not only is email still vital, but it can serve as a great compliment to the aforementioned digital elements.
A recent study by eMarketer indicates that email usage will increase by nearly three percent over the next four years, and will reach total saturation of 96% by 2016.
Email’s growth can be largely attributed to the rise of smart phones; 36% of consumers viewed emails on their phones. In a separate study by Forrester Consulting, 32% of smart phone users who were polled said they had made a purchase directly from a promotional message they received from their phone, with email leading the pack over SMG or in-app messaging.
The relationship extends to social media, as well. “If you’re doing [customer relationship management] work today, social goes hand-in-hand with email as a CRM tool,” said MediaWhiz president Ed Kats in a recent interview with eMarketer. “Email is a big driver of the beginning of the customer conversation, and social media is a natural channel for following up and continuing that conversation.”
Don’t forget about email’s advantages over other traditional media channels, like TV or radio, either. A recent Harvard Business review blog post by Arthur Middleton Hughes highlights this. It’s significantly easier to track all the variables associated with an email campaign, like which consumers opened and clicked what, and therefore better determine which aspects are working and which are not. They’re also much more conducive for users to expand their knowledge and views of your brand on their own via outbound links and related online content. And while it cannot always tracked, email is a quick and easy way to create awareness for a brand or product, that might pay offer later if a consumer buys in-store or visits your website at a later date.
Digital marketing is heading in a lot of exciting directions, but one of its cornerstones, email, remains integral as ever.
With the benefits of a strong social media strategy also come responsibility: Facebook and Twitter are strong forums for customers to post negative feedback, and if not monitored or addressed in a timely fashion, can reflect poorly on a company of brand. The more equipped a business is to address customer issues via social media, the better it will reflect upon them – and could even strengthen the relationship with a consumer.
A recent study showed that 17% of consumers had a customer service exchange via social media in the last year, and the number is rising. Companies are recognizing the need to address those customers, as well; nearly half of companies polled indicated they were using social media to track brand feedback and address customers’ concerns.
It’s important to have guidelines when determining how to respond to customers via social media. Here are a few:
Have a dedicated person or staff monitoring all social media channels on a consistent basis. Address customers directly as soon as possible if someone posts a complaint.
Be respectful and clear. Give as much helpful information as is available, and offer additional contact information. Offer an explanation for the issue if there is one, and accept responsibility and apologize if an error has occurred on the part of the company.
Give an individualized response – not a scripted or automated one. Customers post very specific issues, and companies should offer in-depth and tailored responses.
Having a strong social media policy helps keep your brand relevant and maintain customers. Customer service is a strong component of that.
Contact your local BSMG rep to get more information on the reputation management service we provide, or call 410-332-6300.
A new study sponsored by Tribune Interactive has showcased the rising advertising possibilities tablets provide.
72% of tablet owners remembered seeing an advertisement on their device, and more than half said they clicked it, according to the “The Accelerating Mobile Landscape” – compared to the 40% of smart phone users who have done so. 60% of the 1,500 consumers polled said they preferred their tablet over other devices.
These facts shouldn’t undercut the importance of mobile marketing, but they should illuminate the difference between the two, and hence help marketers carve out their strategy. Tablet owners tend to be in the comfort of their own homes when using their devices, and more likely to engage with content like videos, e-books, social media and shopping sites. This permits advertisers to make ads more immersive, as opposed to the more timely messages in mobile advertising.
More businesses and marketers are catching up to this fact – a separate study by the Yankee Group shows that 53% of all advertising will be via tablets by 2014, and it is expected to reach 60% by 2016.