Take Advantage: Social Media & Mobile Marketing Lead the Way for Black Friday, Cyber Monday Offers & Deals

Are you taking advantage of the major trends in online e-commerce by connecting with your customers where and when they want to do business?

Social media and mobile lead this seasons's online shopping

The year-over-year growth in the popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals illustrates why your mobile and social marketing strategies are more important than ever!

As the venture capitalist, Fred Wilson recently said in a blog post (with chart) showing how “Mobile is Eating the World“:

“The jump from 2012 to 2013 should be terrifying to anyone who has a business based anywhere but mobile.”

As we enter this year’s holiday season, there’s no doubt that online shopping will play a bigger role. Last year, the big Cyber Monday sales climbed 30 percent higher (2012 compared to 2011). In fact, in 2012, Cyber Monday ranked as the best day of the year for online shopping, besting any day in December. This is largely due to people using their smartphones to shop. Approximately 12 percent more users bought items from a smartphone in 2012 than 2011, while 18 percent of total Cyber Monday sales came from smart phones, as reported by the 2012 IBM Software Report.

Mobile Friendly Marketing

People are discovering and ultimately buying products and services from what they see on the smartphone. They may text a friend just after visiting a marketer’s Facebook page and/or after viewing a new online store. And social media platforms are becoming synonymous with phone usage. In actuality, 78 percent of Facebook users are accessing the social media platform from a mobile device, and Facebook earns 40 percent of its revenue from mobile users, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told TechCrunch. This confirms the importance of merging Cyber Monday promotions with the popularity and widespread use of social media. How is your business doing in this regard?

And, perhaps even more importantly, social media is built on sharing. Some 2.5 billion pieces of content are shared each and every day on Facebook. Only through effective, authentic social media marketing can marketers hope to get a small piece of this lucrative pie.

Directly Targeted Social Media

Popular, successful online specialty retailers set the pace by directly engaging with Cyber Monday via guerilla style marketing campaigns. For example, Tanga showcases a line-up of half-off products, and its direct social media efforts, including a staff of members posting about the savings, is just one method employed in the company’s completely online effort.

Integrating the power of “bricks and clicks,” the popular retailer Macy’s is taking full advantage of social media. Its popular ‘buy one, see another donated’ campaign is bringing increased attention to its social media feeds. Thousands are sharing the donation campaign to their respective followers on Facebook.

Twitter Hashags Push the Envelope

Facebook is not getting all the attention. Here’s an actionable tip for you: Cyber Monday marketers are also using the #blackfriday Twitter hashtag for added exposure. Going a step further, Shopping Blog has even implemented a distinct Black Friday Twitter account to fully realize the potential of its Cyber Monday and Black Friday promotions.

Strategic Marketing Plans Benefit All

Many companies have taken their long term social media strategies to a new level by thinking strategically about holiday shoppers. As we advocate and do when help companies with their marketing strategies, many online marketers have outlined detailed plans. For example, ReadWrite details how brands create a social media playbook that gives explicit ‘why’ answers and builds a goal plan hierarchy for continued success. Because social media has so many facets, companies need to outline exact strategies for harnessing its potential. Otherwise, the old axiom comes true:

“A failure to plan is a plan to fail.”

Cyber Monday, in particular, only accounts for a small component of the much larger Internet marketing, social media and mobile game plans. But it’s a great place to start. Please let us know if we can help.

Wishing you every success as well as a peaceful, nurturing and satisfying holiday season.

Mobile Apps and Mobile-Friendly Websites for Business: 
The Next Big Thing in Internet Marketing?

Shortly after Internet accessibility via mobile phones started to take off, marketers started to encourage businesses to build mobile versions of their websites. But there is always a gap between innovations and those who follow up in order to take advantage of the latest technologies.

mobile-friendly website with responsive WordPress theme

ComBridges’ new mobile-friendly website design uses a responsive WordPress theme

But, now that there is a meaningful volume of web visitors checking out every website (yes, even yours!) via mobile devices, spanning this gap is becoming more of a requirement. And yet, there are still a very significant number of businesses who don’t have mobile-friendly websites. The really bad news, particularly for those who are falling behind, is that the gap is widening between those who are meeting the demand for mobile-friendly web communications and those who are not. The good news is that there are a new generation of business communication tools arising in the form of apps and new kinds of websites that make meeting this need increasingly accessible. Illuminating these trends with specific examples is the purpose of this blog post.

The Mobile Web is Exploding

These changes are unquestionably dramatic. While the Web was born on desktop computers, it is obviously no longer simply a desktop medium. By May 2012, fully one tenth of the world’s web traffic was arriving on your digital doorstep via mobile phones and tablets. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s the “developing” world that is truly leading the charge. In those countries where cell phones have long outnumbered landlines, more than one-half of web use is now coming via mobile devices. This demand for mobile delivery is now forcing the issue and providing further fuel for the shift in how websites are designed. In this environment, for a company to ignore the need for the mobile-friendly delivery of its Web content not only limits that company’s engagement opportunities because they are essentially “dissing” a significant segment of their audience. In the US alone, mobile is now estimated to be about 15% of web traffic. Bottom line, this form of resistance to change (or upgrades) will also exclude that company from a significant component of how the next billion people will get online.

Chinese woman with iPad

Photo by Robert May, April, 2013

Not Your Father’s Website Design

Web development for the mobile age itself is advancing quickly. One of the latest innovations is called responsive website designs. Because responsive designs automatically adjust their layout to suit the device being used, they offer a relatively simple solution that can eliminate the complexity of having to create a separate mobile-friendly version of your website. But this means that those—like my company recently—must invest in a redesign in order to keep pace with the mobile revolution. But that’s not all. The pace of change does not slow down. It accelerates.

Span the Gap with an App

Now, at least for marketers who are committed to the leading edge of engagement with social media savvy users who love their mobile devices, a responsive design may not be enough. Mobile apps are yet another important innovation because they combine the emergence of ever-expanding Web access via mobile devices with the ability to communicate directly, in a native form (i.e. within the mobile medium) via customized business-specific functionalities from Facebook feeds, to special offers, to location-based components.

A recent article by SmartMediaTips on mobile statistics points out that over 50% of an individual’s time spent on a smartphone is spent using apps. In 2011, smartphone users downloaded 17.7 billion apps, and this number is expected to increase to 108 billion by 2015. As a result, more than 300,000 apps were developed in the last 3 years. In a sense, apps are the new websites (just like “60 is the new 40.”)

The good news is that some newly developed Web-based SaaS (software as service) resources are make building basic apps far more accessible and affordable than previously imagined. The result is a new trend in mobile marketing: the development of business apps that can be used by companies of virtually any size. Of course, many large, enterprise-level businesses have already jumped on the app bandwagon, including banks, Starbucks, Google, and even Walmart’s new checkout app. Now, there are mobile apps for the rest of us.

Mobile Apps vs. Mobile Websites

A business mobile app means that your website can be programmed to offer mobile users an interface for your website and social media content that is all the more friendly, not only with a vertical layout that fits a smartphone screen, but with an interface that features icons (rather than web-style text links) that are also a natural for the touch of a screen. Thus, an app offers more than a responsive website design. An app gives your business a mobile presence that can put local or social media interactivity in a more prominent position. In particular, an app allows your loyal customers and followers to retrieve content, like audio podcasts or video commentaries for example, that are more conveniently accessed while on the move. Likewise, Facebook posts and tweets, which are commonly accessed via mobile, can become part of your business app’s featured content.

One logical strategy is use the app to make your social media marketing and content marketing outreach more accessible. For example, when individuals are standing in line at the bank or at the grocery store, with an app at their fingertips, they will much more easily be able browse through your Facebook posts. In fact, they are certainly more likely to visit your Facebook Page while on your app rather than from Facebook’s own app where they are far more than likely to be distracted by their family’s photos, etc.

Likewise, if you host a contest, offer a coupon or some other form of promotion, those who get involved with your app can much more quickly check contest updates from an app and receive automated notifications (with permission of course). The app makes waiting for your responsive website to load, asking the user to find the contest page, then wait for that page to load, etc. seem prosaic. An app simply makes any interaction with your web content immediately available with a simple touch of an icon, rather than forcing a web page and more complex navigation through the smaller screen.

Learning from Experience

Small Business mobile app example

ComBridges’ Facebook Feed in our test mobile app

By way of example, as a boutique web design and marketing agency, our company, ComBridges used to have a mobile-friendly version of our website that was visible via smartphones. This was developed using a WordPress plug-in called WPTouch Pro. Recently, we have redesigned and relaunched our own site with a responsive WordPress theme.

What opens up the opportunity for a small business like ours (and so many others) to have its own app is online software services like Conduit.com’s Mobile. While these apps do require a small, additional monthly hosting fee, they are easy for developers like us to implement. So much so that some do-it-yourselfer small businesses could even build apps on their own. It’s a work in progress, but if you have a smartphone, you can preview our first generation mobile app via any mobile device at combridges.conduitapps.com.

You will notice that what you see on our app looks very different than what you see on our website. It’s designed for mobile interaction. In fact, thanks to Conduit, much of the content is automatically derived from our Facebook Page, Twitter feed and more. As you can see, many of our social media pages are featured along with easy options for contacting us, including click to call functionality.

Greeting the Mobile Future

According to Morgan Stanley, 91% of individuals who own smart phones keep their phone within reach 24/7. And 5.1 billion of the 7 billion people on earth own a mobile phone. With these numbers in mind, why wouldn’t every business want to make it easier for their customers, blog readers, Twitter or Facebook followers to engage with them via a mobile app?

Another benefit is that if you develop your business app now, before the gap widens further, you may well be seen as an innovator. At the very least, you will prove yourself smart enough to get an early jump on the next wave of mobile marketing strategies, rather than letting the gap widen between you and your competitors, as well as between you and your customers.


Jon Leland is author of “Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts that Every Business MUST Know” and is the president of the boutique web design, video and Internet marketing agency, ComBridges.com. He was assisted in this article by Tara Hornor who also writes for PrintPlace.com, an online printing company.

 

“It’s a Wonderful Web” 2013!

cb-ipadThe first edition of our “It’s a Wonderful Web” e-newsletter for 2013 is out. It includes the following articles:

  • 2013: The Year of Anything is Possible
  • Special Offers!
  • Free 1-Hour Audio: Web Radio Interview
  • Luscious Links

If you’re not already a subscriber, click here to read it online.

Luscious Links – Catching Up with the Goodness

I come across so much useful information in any given week that I’ve taken to these “Luscious Links” blog posts to try to share with you some of the best of the best that I find. Does this format work for you? Please let me know.

Google’s Focus on Quality and the PostRank Acquisition
This is an excellent & useful post from SitePoint clarifies the changing state of SEO & social media marketing. My take aways: 1. quality content rules 2. social media really does matter. 3. It’s the conversations, connections & relationships that matter most. Are you listening?

Why is Authenticity a Crucial Component of Internet Marketing?
As I’m re-grouping for the “next generation” re-invention of NewMarU.com, I was discussing with a friend, this ten-minute edited video conversation (linked above) with Robert Rabbin that came out of NewMarU’s first “guest” webinar. I LOVE what we said here and would really like more people to hear it. I sincerely believe that this is important information/perspective re marketing in the age of social media.

3 Smart Strategies for Book Promotion
Here are just a few smart ways that authors can promote their books with social media and PR. Practical steps any author can use for book marketing via SlideShare.

The “Talk Radio” Approach to Effective Email Marketing
I like the way that this CopyBlogger article underscores my core value that “it’s got to be fun.” Yes! In content marketing et al, FUN makes all the difference. Don’t you agree?

12 Awesome Facebook Stats, Charts & Graphs
Are you taking Facebook seriously as a marketing channel? If not, maybe you should check out these 12 stats via a nifty little Hubspot SlideShare presentation…

Learn How Your Website Can Be The Center Of Social Network Attention
My recent video comments on TheTVNews re social media marketing and a new solution that lets more active brands aggregate various social media conversations onto their website so it’s more of a “home base.”

How to Combine SEO and Social Media for Maximum Impact with Lee Odden
This is a good overview video interview that covers something I’ve been talking about a lot lately. It’s very important to understand the relationship between social media, SEO and content creation in order to produce effective marketing in today’s online environment. This is a valuable 5 minutes, IMHO.

Your feedback is encouraged. I’d love to hear any comments you may have.

The Fast-Track Intro to Internet Marketing | Free Webinar Tues 1/18/11

For those of us who more or less “live” online, it’s kind of amazing how many businesses and entrepreneurs are still struggling to understand and benefit from the amazing power of Internet marketing. If this is you, now there is a great way for you get up to speed, for free!

Jon has given his one-hour workshop, “What Every Business Should Know About Internet Marketing” in locations from Kona, Hawaii to Silicon Valley (as you can see in the video clip on Jon’s keynote speaker web page). Now, as just one of the benefits of registering for the free level of New Marketing University, NewMarU.com, this information-packed hour is being offered FREE via the Internet and phone conference lines on Tuesday, January 18th at 10:00AM PT / 1:00PM ET. Click here to register now >>

This useful and informative webinar includes a complete overview of the three main areas of Internet marketing, including:

  • The “Super Market-Trends” that have radically leveled the marketing playing fieldJon Leland at Web 3.0 Asia in Hong Kong
  • The two essential strategies upon which all successful internet marketing campaigns are based
  • The three main types of internet marketing: search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click search engine advertising (PPC) and social media marketing (SMM)
  • A comparative analysis of the time requirements for implementation, the kinds and quality of results, and the cost-per-lead that is derived from each main category
  • Valuable tips, tricks and resources that are based on real world experience

Why are we producing this event for free?

  • Jon LOVES to share information and people love learning this material. It’s important!
  • It helps to expose the expertise that makes ComBridges such a valuable marketing partner.
  • This is a “free sample” of things to come. We are working on a new educational website to be called “New Marketing University” that will have many more programs. We hope you’ll like this program enough to become interested in more. To learn more, please register now.

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, January 18th at 10:00AM PT / 1:00PM ET. We hope to see you there.

>> Please Click Here to Register Now <<
It takes just 30 seconds, really! And, even if you can’t make it live, by registering you will make sure that you get the link to the free recorded version.

Or view our 1-page PDF with the generic course description below . . .
What Every Business-Onesheet 03.25.10

ComBridges’ Connections: Linky Goodness, Insights & Free Stuff 8.18.10

A recap of recent resources and references  posted recently via my Twitter feed and our ComBridges Facebook page are below; but first, a small bit of shameless self-promotion albeit something FREE that I think you may well find to be valuable:

Watch, Listen & Learn: Free Webinar on Internet Marketing

Read It’s a Wonderful Web; ComBridges July e-newsletter

Marketing Lesson From the Grateful Dead: Loosen Up Your Brand
As they say, this is “what I’m talkin’ ’bout!” If you don’t know David Meerman Scott, you should. He’s a true thought leader & best selling author re viral marketing and creating “world wide raves.” This is an excerpt from his new book which comes out August 1st. Cool, eh? And valuable, right?

More On The Power of “Empowering” Your Viewers via Social Marketing
My VIDEO commentary from last week on TheTVNews.tv. Subject: those who are authentic with their internet marketing vs the fakers.

Social Media’s Critical Path: Relevance to Resonance to Significance – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review
Neat Harvard BizReview piece on social media’s ‘critical path’ by @briansolis http://ht.ly/2e5N1 I like. Thx 2 @johnbattelle 4 link

Viral Video Marketing with Dilbert
“only the truth is funny”

Video is Becoming a Must Have for Online Retailers
I’m getting ready to make a video about the critical importance of online video. Meanwhile… Yes, it’s pretty much a MUST HAVE now for any website looking to do real business online. Really. No kidding. Check out the stats in this article if you don’t believe me. And, did I mention that ComBridges has amazingly affordable video packages.

Have a Big Idea, Break it in Half | Jason Fried
Best business advise I’ve heard in a while from Jason Fried of 37signals

Beet.TV: Giant Convenience Store Chain Gone Viral: 7-Eleven Web Series Has 2 Million Views
Illuminating VIDEO story by @DaisyWhitney Big Brand Viral Video Marketing: 7-Eleven Web Series Has 2 Million Views

Free Internet Marketing Webinar for Businesses, May 27 at 11AM PT

If you are new to Internet marketing, we want to help you get up to speed, for free.

Jon has given his one-hour workshop, “What Every Business Should Know About Internet Marketing” in locations from Kona, Hawaii to Silicon Valley (as you can see in the video clip on our web page). Now, for the first time, it’s being offered free via the Internet, Thursday, May 27th at 11:00AM PT / 2:00PM ET. Click here to register now >>

This useful and informative webinar includes a complete overview of the three main areas of Internet marketing, including:

  • The “Super Market-Trends” that have radically leveled the marketing playing field
  • The two essential strategies upon which all successful internet marketing campaigns are based
  • The three main types of internet marketing: search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click search engine advertising (PPC) and social media marketing (SMM)
  • A comparative analysis of the time requirements for implementation, the kinds and quality of results, and the cost-per-lead that is derived from each main category
  • Valuable tips, tricks and resources that are based on real world experience

Why are we producing this event for free?

  • Jon LOVES to share information and people love learning this material. It’s important!
  • It helps to expose the expertise that makes ComBridges such a valuable marketing partner.
  • This is a “free sample” of things to come. We are working on a new educational website to be called “New Marketing University” that will have many more programs. We hope you’ll like this program enough to become interested in more. To learn more, please register now.

Mark your calendars for Thursday, May 27th at 11:00AM PT / 2:00PM ET. We hope to see you there.

>> Please Click Here to Register Now <<
It takes just 30 seconds, really! And, even if you can’t make it live, by registering you will make sure that you get the link to the free recorded version.

Or view our 1-page PDF with the generic course description below . . .
What Every Business-Onesheet 03.25.10

The Truth About WordPress

by Sallie Goetsch of the Podcast Asylum and Jon Leland of ComBridges

istock_000006783097xsmall2Recently, in a WordPress group on LinkedIn, the question was asked “Is WordPress the answer to all our prayers?” The writer was extending the conversation about his own blog post which objected vehemently to crazy claims that complete novices could build “killer websites” in minutes if they just used WordPress. It seems that the world of technology is filled with these kinds of false promises and unrealistic expectations.

For those of us who have hand-coded HTML back before tools like Dreamweaver were invented, and who have experimented and had learning experiences with creating web pages in a wide variety of ways, WordPress is an important new platform for website development. Compared to anything we’ve seen before, WordPress is amazingly simple and intuitive, especially given its array of powerful features. It lets you change your design without affecting your content, it has great built-in SEO (search engine optimization) features, and it’s free.

WordPress also has advantages over competing website publishing systems like Drupal and Joomla. For one thing, you can use easy offline editors (like Windows Live Writer and Ecto) to update content on WordPress sites. WordPress also began as a blogging platform, and as a result, it’s “natural” for WordPress websites to include blogs. For many website designers, even those who have never learned Java, never learned Flash, never learned PHP, and don’t know a single programming language, WordPress does answer many prayers.

But, that’s very different from saying that anyone can use WordPress to design and implement a sophisticated website. If you try to take advantage of WordPress’ full capabilities as a content management system without knowing anything about HTML, CSS, or PHP — or about WordPress itself — you are simply asking for trouble. Yes, you can set up a basic blog using WordPress.com without knowing much, but to really make WordPress (or any other new software) sit up and do tricks, you have to put some time into learning how to use it. (More advanced users download WordPress from WordPress.org. The supply of tricks available at WordPress.com is limited.)

When you think about it, most people only know how to use the most basic features of the software that they use every day. They treat Microsoft Word like a glorified typewriter and don’t even know most of its tools and options exist, much less how to use them. They pay hundreds of dollars for Photoshop and only use the functions they could have gotten for free with Picasa. (Photoshop is so sophisticated that even advanced users can spend hours studying DVD tutorials to learn new things.)

So why should WordPress be any different? It’s not, but people get excited and apparently WordPress’ many benefits give birth to irrationally exuberant expectations. Either that, or there are some people out there who think that because WordPress is easy for them, it must seem that easy to everyone else.

For example, if you hear that there are 5,000 free plugins that extend WordPress’ platform, and hundreds of free themes in the theme repository, shouldn’t you expect that just looking through them and testing them to see which ones would be best for you might take quite some time? And then there’s the fact that new versions of WordPress come out a lot more often than new versions of Photoshop. So you have to stay up to date, by doing things like attending meetups and Wordcamps, reading blogs, watching videos, listening to podcasts, or even reading books. (There are several good books on WordPress, but it is hard for print books to keep up with the rapid developments in the platform and its plugins.)

Because WordPress is a web-based platform, it’s much easier for geographically dispersed teams to collaborate on websites. But due to its popularity, WordPress sites are also open to server hacks and blog spam attacks–as ComBridges discovered first hand recently.

While it doesn’t necessarily take a programmer to learn WordPress, if you want to create a sophisticated WordPress site, skills like PHP will come in handy. And, if you want to learn your way around, study the WordPress Codex and be sure to allow some time to learn important fundamentals such as, for example, which plugins make it easier to use WordPress as a CMS (content management system). For professional website developers like us, that’s part of our job.

Even though WordPress is easy enough for Sallie’s hairdresser to update, Sallie was the one to create the site, and had to provide more than one tutorial on posting to the blog and editing pages.

WordPress deserves to be praised for many reasons, but exaggerated claims about its ease of use for the complete novice does everyone a disservice. Let’s practice a little expectation management, people.

Tapping into Twitter & other insights…

I am happy to write and release a new issue of my ComBridges enewsletter last week. It included some of my excitement about Twitter as well as other insights.

Please click here to check out the last edition of the ComBridges “It’s a Wonderful Web” enewsletter.

In the meantime, what I’ve come to call “Twittermania” has continued to heat up. In addition to the resources listed in the enewsletter linked above, here are a few more that I have found valuable:

And the list goes on, and the beat goes on, lots of interesting information being found by tuning into Twitter streams.

As pointed out in the O’Reilly webcast, Twitter really is different than other Internet communication channels. 1. Because the posts are SHORT, it’s microblogging, snappier and more accessible. 2. Because the posts are public and you can “follow” (or “listen”) to someone without permission, it’s more open than other social media platforms where you have to accept people as “friends” or whatever. And finally, 3. because it’s a text-based platform it can be pushed to you on a wide variety of distribution platforms from cell phones, to the web, to IM clients, you name it.

Mark my words, Twitter is really a big thing, maybe even the “next big thing.” The experience seems to be consistently that people don’t get it at first. It was that way for me and lots of others. But once you do get it, you see its enormous power and how much fun it is, especially for us information junkies. Enjoy.

The Best of Web 2.0 for 2007 (or 2008) & The Flip

Happy New Year! I was going to do an update on Web 2.0 software applications that I know and love, and still hope to find the time, but meanwhile I’m going to let Tech Crunch’s post, “2008: Web 2.0 Companies I Couldn’t Live Without” do it for me.

It’s a thoughtful list with brief articulate reasonings, and includes WordPress, Skype (without the emphasis on video & webcams that I think it deserves), as well as Zoho (whose CRM we use daily at ComBridges), Firefox and YouTube. I’ve gotten into Pakeflakes (rather than Netvibes) recently as a personalized home page, but otherwise it’s all good.

My favorite new gizmo is The Flip (Ultra), a pocket-sized, web-ready video digi-cam. No tape, just 60 mins of MPEG-4 video in Flash memory and a flip-up USB port.
Now I need time to do some video blog posts… More on that very soon, I hope.