One of the biggest hurdles business owners and marketers face in creating marketing campaigns is bias. It is human nature, I suppose, that we believe our ideas and viewpoints are held by the majority of the public. However, it is important to remove your bias from the discussion when developing an ad campaign. Not all web surfers think alike or use the internet the same way to find information. More importantly to consider and understand…not all people think like you when it comes to finding information online.
For small and medium size business owners, this seems like one of the hardest marketing lessons to accept. It is understandable to expect a business owner, who built his or her business from the ground up, to have their pulse on what makes the business grow. When it comes to internet marketing and paid search campaigns, many business owners simply apply the same logic that helped build their business to the web. This is often a failing strategy, because of the bias inherent in the business owner’s thought process on what drives people to their website. It is this bias and inexperience from most business owners that lead to poorly created and managed paid search campaigns. Many of the fixes needed to restructure these campaigns are technical in design. For example, the business owner wasn’t aware of the proper way to build out and structure the campaign, which is to be expected. They have enough on their plates running their business, and probably never took the time to earn their Google AdWords Certification. Getting a business owner to agree to technical and structural change is relatively easy when providing paid search consultation, it is exactly the type of help they need and want to hear.
Where it gets challenging for the marketing consultant, is educating the business owner on how to drive higher quality traffic, when the recommendations are in stark contrast to the preconceptions of the business owner. I do not think many business owners like to hear their ideas on traffic generation are flawed. As a marketing consultant, educating the business owner on how to look past their own bias by showing real-time statistics to support your recommendations is imperative. Using Google Analytics (GA) is the most effective way to demonstrate the concept that not all searchers think alike and not all keywords are equal. Website visitors and their engagement with the site determine success for any campaign. As a business owner, learn to leverage that data to educate yourself and break down the walls of bias when creating and optimizing an online marketing campaign. Don’t assume you can just build out keywords based on how you search the internet. This will only limit your campaign’s effectiveness, because not all searchers think like you.
As companies evolve in their ability to analyze web traffic, it is becoming increasingly important to branch out to as many areas as possible to reach customers. Understanding how different sources of traffic interact with your website is equally significant in where you allocate your time and resources. Simply looking at bottom line traffic volume from various sources of traffic in Google Analytics (GA) is not enough. Numbers don’t lie, but they don’t always paint the most accurate picture either. Just because someone visited your site from an organic search, doesn’t rule out that they were influenced to visit your site from another channel.
A perfect example of this scenario lies in how social media impacts direct web traffic. In a recent study conducted by ForeSee, http://www.foreseeresults.com/news-events/press-releases/social-media-low-impact-on-web-traffic-2011-foresee.shtml it was concluded that “Less than 1% of website visits, on average, come directly from a social media URL. This finding suggests that the direct impact of social media is minimal, but also that the true value of social media cannot be quantified only by examining the traffic coming directly from a social media URL.” In simple terms, if you have a presence in social media, you probably do not see much traffic in your GA data related to social media traffic sources. Does this mean you should abandon your efforts to build your social media presence? Absolutely not, considering that 18% of website visitors acknowledge being influenced by social media to visit the site, according to the ForeSee report findings. That is a significant gap in the numbers, but does not indicate any sort of disconnect with visitors. In fact, it is closely in line with how people use social media – they are there for social interaction but can still be influenced by companies with solid social media marketing strategies. When it is time for those visitors to find a company, their previous exposure to your company in social media influences their decision to visit your site. They may do a search on Google to find you, and in the raw GA data Google organic gets credit for the site visit, but it was your social media presence that truly drove that visitor to your site.
Where it gets real interesting is how visitors influenced by social media interact with a website. According to the ForeSee report, visitors to websites influenced by social media are more loyal and satisfied customers, and they spend more than visitors who were not influenced by social media. When you factor this knowledge into the 1% statistic mentioned in the research, 1% becomes a more meaningful number.
The value of website visitors varies between sources of traffic. Establishing a presence across all aspects of the web provides companies the ability to reach out to all types of visitors. It is important to understand the symbiotic relationship between the different sources of traffic to your website. Keep that in mind the next time you are reviewing traffic sources and matching that up to your external web presence. Overall visits from your social media channels are most likely lower than other sources of traffic, but can be greater in terms of value to your bottom line.
The growth of mobile computing is off the charts and consumer confidence in using mobile devices continues to strengthen. Perfect evidence of this consumer confidence is represented by how many users rely on their mobile devices for researching important, sensitive data and personal information.
comScore released their latest findings on the number of people who use their mobile devices to access their financial data and the numbers are eye-opening. You can read the full press release here. One of the main findings in the report illustrates consumer confidence in mobile computing, and reads “in Q4 2010, 29.8 million Americans accessed financial services accounts (bank, credit card, or brokerage) via their mobile device, an increase of 54 percent from Q4 2009.” This is an excellent barometer of how mobile computing will grow to dominate the way individuals connect with and use the internet to access information. I am not predicting the end of home computing, but local bank branches need to pay attention to these numbers. For example, when the respondents were asked, “What is your primary method of accessing financial accounts? (Among Mobile Banking and Mobile Credit Card Customers) 44% said they go online from a fixed device (think personal home computer or work PC). 36% of the respondents said they use their mobile device or cell phone, while only 8% said they visit the branch or agent in person.
These are strong indicators of future consumer behavior and further demonstrate the need for all businesses to embrace a mobile strategy. Individuals are relying on mobile devices in growing numbers for even the most sensitive of personal data. If people are comfortable accessing financial information from their phone, they surely will feel confident using their phone to find a company to buy from when they want to make their next purchase. Align your business marketing strategy to account for these users with a mobile version of your website and a solid mobile marketing strategy.