Mobile Internet Use Now Surpasses Computer Internet Use

Jumptap and comScore recently released data for the past month that said internet usage from a mobile device (cellphones, tablets, etc) was at 51% and internet usage from computers was at 49%. Meaning that when marketing on the internet, their should be a sea change in philosophy and strategy.

For instance, building a fancy, animated website won’t really do too much anymore considering that those types of websites have a hard time showing up on mobile devices.  The goal now should be to build ultra simple and easy to use websites that can be easily navigated on any mobile device.

Mobile devices are no longer the future of marketing on the internet. They are now the present.

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In 2013, Does Facebook Work For Small Business Marketing?

It seems like more and more lately, people ask me whether or not it’s worth their time and or money to advertise and market on Facebook.

My answer is that it depends on how big their business is, whether they’re trying to produce sales leads, build brand awareness, etc. So here are some circumstances where Facebook marketing can work and doesn’t work.

Small business that advertises on Facebook (pay per click ads) and wants more phone calls (aka sales leads)

Facebook’s pay per click model is no different than other forms of display advertising. Currently, in 2013, it’s statistically ineffective for small businesses. We at Customwave have tried it every which way and there’s not enough calls for all the money spent on clicks for our small business clients to make money. I believe it’s because a lot of clicks come from people accidentally clicking on the ads on their small mobile device screen. If you run a small business and you’re paying for ads on Facebook, you’re wasting your money.

Big business that advertises on Facebook (pay per click ads) and wants more phone calls (aka sales leads)

If you work for a big company that everybody knows of, paying for clicks with Facebook ads will produce more sales leads and customers. So why do Facebook ads work for big business, but not small businesses? Because #1, the big business won’t need as many clicks to produce sales leads because of how familiar consumers already are with the business. So the click to call conversion rate for a big business will be much better than a small business’. Plus, the big business won’t care if they get clicks accidentally because building brand awareness is already their primary strategy.

Small business that socializes and networks with people they know on Facebook and wants more phone calls

This is the one way a small business can market themselves on Facebook and have it work. But it requires knowledge of how Facebook works and lots of time chatting with people. It requires meeting new people, building a relationship with them and then hope that if the time comes when they need your service, they’ll go to you. Very similar to how real life word of mouth business works.

Big business that socializes and networks with people they know on Facebook and wants more phone calls

Most big businesses don’t have to network online to produce calls or sales leads because people already know who they are. Big businesses will usually have people work on their social media accounts just for customer support and general marketing.

Small Business that advertises and pays for clicks on Facebook ads to build brand awareness

If you have the money to burn, this is a long term strategy that can work. But if you’re struggling to make payroll this week, I certainly wouldn’t recommend it. In the long term, making consumers aware of you over the course of a year, 2 years, 3 years, then advertising to them trying to produce sales leads will be even more effective because of how people are familiar with you. Facebook can absolutely help you with that by paying for clicks with their ads. But it’s not going to do too much right now.

Big Business that advertises and pays for clicks on Facebook ads to build brand awareness

And here we get to the main way Facebook is currently able to stay a float right now. Big business loves the vast amount of ad inventory and reach Facebook offers and does it simply to continue to have top of the mind awareness with consumers. And they don’t mind paying for accidental clicks because after all, even if someone clicks on the ad and sees the big business, the big business achieves their goal which is the consumer being reminded of them. It’s the same reason Coke and McDonald’s advertises just their logo in lots of places. All they need to do is remind you of them for their marketing to be successful and Facebook gives them another place to do that.

So there you go. Internet marketing constantly changes and next year Facebook may make major changes where people will start to use their website in different ways, but in 2013, this is how marketing and advertising on Facebook works.

 

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79% Of People Surveyed Say They Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations

Yes, you read that right. And we all know in the small business world how important referrals are. Here’s the full survey from Bright Local.

If you are someone that is reading this right now, run a small business, are spending money advertising on Google or other places on the internet, it is essential that you don’t have any negative reviews floating around. Litterally, by the definition of the word, essential. The last thing you probably want is an increased amount of people looking your company name up on Google because they saw your ad and have an interest in what you do and then find the bad review.

The survey also shows that an increased number of people in 2013 are looking at online reviews, but they’re reading less reviews when forming their opinion on the business. In other words, every small business should be concentrating the vast majority of their time on the review websites that are on the top half of the first page of Google when you search your business name. Those reviews in that real estate will make or break you.

It’s one thing to advertise your business. Get people to your website. Get phone calls from those people. But after that point comes the most important part where the potential customer decides if they’re going to give you their money or not. For a lot of people online reviews can be something that will help decide that.

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When Is The Best Time To Do Email Marketing?

GFI just put out an absolutely wonderful survey that asks people when they check their email!

The winner? Weekends at 81%!

You can check all all the stats of the survey here.

Why is this such a big deal? Because if you send out your email blast when people don’t typically read their email, it makes them less likely to read yours.

I’ve always suspected that the weekends were the best time to do email marketing selling Customwave Internet Marketing services, but now I have my proof!

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Within 1 1/12 to 3 Years, There Will Be More Mobile Internet Users Than Computer Internet Users

T-Mobile and MetroPCS completed their merger today to become the 4th largest cell phone company in the country.

But the numbers that really stood out to me are the following:

-AT&T has 105 million subscribers, Verizon 99 million, Sprint 54 million and T-Mobile / MetroPCS has 43 million. That makes 301 wireless accounts in the US, not counting the smaller carriers.

-Some of the accounts are secondary accounts for some people so comScore and Nielsen, it looks like the number is around 250 million people with cell phones in the United States.

-According to comScore and Nielsen, 57%-60% of cell phone users now have smartphones that access the internet.

-So that would mean around 150 million people in America with cell phones that have internet access.

-Both research firms believe that as even more people get smartphones, that within 24-36 months, there will be more people that access the internet with a mobile device than a regular desktop computer or laptop. Stunning!

-According to IAB, in the total digital advertising and marketing spend in the county, only 9% of the money is dedicated to mobile internet marketing.

-In other words, advertising and marketing targeted for mobile internet use will be absolutely booming in the next 3-5 years.

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If The Internet Tax Bill Passes, Customwave Will Leave The Shopping Cart Business

I’ve thought long and hard about this. If the internet tax bill passes in Washington D.C., it will no longer be worth it for Customwave to build shopping carts for small businesses.

There are a lot of reasons for this. The biggest reason is that on a technical level, it’s going to be a nightmare for companies like Magento to figure out how to put in each state’s sales tax into the database and then have to track the IP address for each user based on what state they’re in. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it will take them a while to figure out. And the cost for small businesses’ like Customwave to use shopping cart programs like this to build shopping carts like this will most likely go up. Joy.

Then there’s the fact that small business owners will turn to companies like us at Customwave to explain how this new internet tax deal works. And we don’t want to have to spend the extra time to become experts in whatever boondongle of legislation is passed and then take the time to explain how it works. And our clients won’t like it if we charge for our support on the phone. They’ll think we should include for free in the service.

Then there’s the issue that this tax will make it almost impossible for small businesses to make money with their shopping carts. It’s been polled to countless focus groups and surveys that the #1 reason people will buy a product off the internet is they’re trying to find a lower price than the nearby stores have. I know the politicians have been talking up taxing big corporations like Amazon, Ebay, Wal Mart, etc, but the small business will be hurt the most. Because a small business already has a very small profit margin with them trying to compete on price, after this tax, they’ll have even less money left over for themselves. And for a lot of companies, it’ll make having a shopping cart not worth it to them.

So, I’ve heard the argument about how the states are broke and they need to find new ways to bring in new money by taxing the internet. Well, here are the unintended consequences of their bill:

  • Internet marketing companies like Customwave will start to refuse to build shopping carts. But if they do decide to build shopping carts they will for sure charge more money for the reasons I stated above.
  • Programming companies like Magento might decide to leave the shopping cart business or charge more. This will also drive up the price for a small business having a shopping cart.
  • There will now be an increased burden on small businesses to have yet another place they have to keep track of taxes. So now they’ll spend time on this instead of spending time growing their business, which would help create new jobs.
  • Lots of small businesses will abandon their shopping carts and pull the plug because of higher prices and the hassle of being taxed. This will drive their revenue down being there’s one less place for them to make money.

The supposed “Fairness in the Marketplace” legislation (what the internet tax bill is ironically being called), I argue will harm small businesses more than help them. And the only people that will gain the most by this is people in the government that will be TAKING yet even more money from the private sector to spend it whichever special interest they need to pay back.

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Google Wants To Cut Out AT&T, Time Warner, Etc. To Take Over The Internet

Just read a very interesting article from Wordstream explaining Google’s motive for running their fiber optic experiment in Kansas City.

For those that don’t know, fiber optic internet is a new way of making the internet faster and Google has set up their own ISP (internet service provider) setup in Kansas City before branching out across the country.

On an earnings call, Larry Page and Patrick Pichette discussed what the purpose of Google Fiber is. In a nutshell, they said they’re not happy with the loading times people have while using the internet and blame other ISP’s like AT&T, Time Warner and others for this.

Currently right now, Google is dependent on other ISP’s to deliver its products. But the longer something takes to load, the more likely the user gives up on what they’re doing and Google loses money. So they want to cut out the ISP’s and offer their own ISP service to make sure people have the fastest times on the internet possible to ensure they make more money.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I’m all about faster internet. But on the other hand, if Google started offering faster internet speeds than the other ISP’s at a lower price (because Google cares more about making money off ads than making money off the ISP service itself), Google would be pretty close to a monopoly in controlling the most important parts of the internet.

AT&T and other ISP’s also sell cable and satellite TV service too and with them potentially losing that due to cord cutting, losing the ISP business would be devastating. So I’m fairly confident they’ll spend every last penny to protect that business and fend off Google.

But what if they can’t? Hmmm …..

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Does Display Advertising Work For Small Businesses?

Display advertising is very different than advertising on a search engine like Google.

All the big websites like espn.com or foxnews.com have display advertising or picture ads on the website.

For right now, I don’t believe display advertising works for small businesses. And on the whole, display advertising should be a lot more effective right now than it is.

Why is it not better?

Publishers (or people who create the websites and try and make money off the clicks) will set up the ads on the website to increase the likelihood of clicks as much as possible. Why? Because the more clicks that happen, the more money they make. But the problem is that the vast majority of people that click on these ads do so by accident.

Like, you’re on a website, the arrow of your mouse goes over an ad and you try and click something but before you know it, the ad expands and you accidently click on an ad. This especially happens on cell phones just by inaccurate touch screens.

So because of this, advertisers (the people who are paying for clicks and trying to generate sales leads or some other action) will pay for lots of clicks but get no results they’re hoping for. Because of this, they don’t make money off the advertising.

Bigger companies can absorb these losses and still be happy because their brand is still advertised and shown. But for small businesses that can’t afford to spend money and not make anything back, it’s very bad.

Display advertising will truly hit the big time once publishers stop taking short cuts and not collect accidental clicks. They need to not trick people in clicking on the ads. Just let whoever is interested click on the ads. Then the advertisers will make money and want to increase their click budget with the publishers. Once this starts happening, display advertising will become a very viable marketing option for small businesses. Until then, don’t waster your money.

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Yelp Sales Reps Blackmail & Scam Small Businesses

Yelp Sales Reps Blackmail & Scam Small Businesses

Since 2006, some of Yelp’s sales people have been blackmailing, extorting and committing fraud on small businesses. And still to this day, Yelp does nothing about it and pretends the problem doesn’t exist.

The following is a very typical story that I’m sure a lot of small business owners are familiar with. One of my clients had 3 negative reviews published on their Yelp page (which one was left by a competitor over the weekend). Then they have 8 positive reviews that are “filtered”, meaning they’re hidden. And on a pretty regular basis, my client will get calls from Yelp sales reps. Just today, he got a call from a Yelp sales person that said if my client pays for Yelp advertising he could “probably help with unhiding the positive reviews”.

Now, Yelp isn’t the only company that has sales reps that will say anything and do anything to make a sale. Unfortunately in this case, these Yelp employees have way more leverage than the typical sales person.

So can Yelp employees actually decide which reviews get filtered and hidden? The answer is no, they have no access whatsoever. They can’t control which reviews get filtered no more than you or me. So when they say that they can, they’re not being honest. All you’ll get is Yelp advertising. So the Yelp sales reps are blackmailing and scamming small businesses into paying for something they can’t deliver.

But it gets worse. I’ve seen other cases where some Yelp employees will actually submit negative reviews themselves onto a small business’ Yelp page. Then call them up saying if they pay for Yelp advertising, they can somehow get the positive review removed. And then they simply delete the negative review they created themselves after the small business puts their deposit in for Yelp advertising.

And of course Yelp’s management denies any knowledge that their sales people are doing any of this. And they can deny all they want. But it doesn’t change the fact that if you were hired on at Yelp to sell their advertising, it would be very easy to lie to small business owners saying you can remove their bad reviews if you sign up. And it would very easy to post negative reviews yourself and only remove them if the small business owner pays.

It’s inexcusable that Yelp has not done anything about this problem. These bad reviews damage businesses severely and can sometimes hurt word of mouth business and referrals. But they just bury their heads in the sand like the problem doesn’t exist. Yet, countless small business owners all across the country have almost identical stories of what people from Yelp say to them.

I normally don’t pitch our services at Customwave on my blog posts, but if you’re one of those small business owners that had bad reviews on Yelp and are interested in getting help, you can contact me at chris@customwave.net or call me at the Customwave office at (877) 638-0827.

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Yellow Pages Is Moving Away From Advertising Local Business, Starting to Target Nationwide Business

The people that run the different yellow pages companies are not stupid. They know their business model is dying and going obsolete. So it looks like they’re starting to do something about it.

Mike Blumenthal had some interesting stats today showing that the print, local yellow pages book is starting to have more big, nationwide businesses advertising than local, small businesses.

The yellow pages is probably thinking that small businesses can’t afford to advertise in their print book without making money off the advertising, but big, nationwide companies just want the exposure. They don’t care so much about increased phone calls. They care more about brand awareness and it’s another place to advertise and be visible.

It’s a novel idea, to sprinkle the whole country with the same phone book with all these big companies in it. The problem remains that a very small amount of people still use the phone book.

I still predict the yellow pages to go the way of the dinosaurs. But at least this move has the potential to slow down their demise.

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