7 pillars of digital strategy

Many have attended Blueliner’s popular seminar on Mobile Marketing. During the course of this presentation, Blueliner CEO, Arman Rousta outlines mobile marketing strategies that businesses can best take advantage of to fully penetrate the digital realm. Smart phones have the potential to be the ultimate marketing tool. Owners always have them on hand and are constantly engaging in data exchange through them. This level of attention combined with the personal connection one feels with their phone becomes a great advantage for businesses looking to expand into mobile. As phone speeds continue to increase and technology advances (NFC chips, etc) we will surely see greater integration of mobile phones and daily life.

The mobile webinar closely examines one aspect of mobile marketability that people are most interested in – mobile websites. This representation of your business is by far the most sought after mobile strategy, and surely a starting point for all ready to engage in a successful mobile campaign.

Websites are built to be viewed on a desktop/laptop computer and are not properly optimized for mobile; therefore a mobile page is usually necessary. A mobile site’s loading time should reflect current cell phone speed. Currently, those most likely to visit a mobile site will be using a smart phone. Smart phones available in at past the 2 two years (standard contract for an American phone company) will be capable of at least 3G speeds. Thus optimizing for 3G speeds should be a benchmark against which your site is tested. We can ignore those that have faster (4G) connections as they do not make up the majority.

What does this mean? It means proper optimization and careful selection of any images used. No one expects the same visual design on a mobile site as they do a regular. Moreover, they’re used in different manners and the design should reflect that. It should not be a mirror-image of your full website. This does not mean it has to be unattractive, it means to simplify. The same principles of whitespace in web design can be applied to mobile. Lessen the amount of images you include. Those that you do include should be small enough to not eat up loading time. If text on a mobile site loads significantly faster than the picture, users probably won’t wait for the picture, so including it becomes unnecessary. How do you make a mobile site look presentable with less imagery? Go back to basics. Use varying color contrasts to spice up the site. Make sure that colors, fonts, etc are in line with those of your website. After all, branding on your mobile site is just as important as the branding on your actual website.

User Experience means several things for a mobile site. Think about how people will use this site before even getting into the basic principles of design. What don’t you want users to do? Pinch and Zoom takes away the one-hand use of a mobile site. Side scrolling also makes it difficult to put a site into perspective. Remember, the canvas is significantly smaller. At a max of 4.3’’, vertical scrolling is all a mobile website should entail.

Your fonts should be large and clear. Keep in mind the size of people’s fingers – no one wants to hit the wrong button and end up on an undesired page, especially when not every phone has hardware built in to manipulate sequential browsing. This will make people very frustrated and will probably exit. Also keep mind of lengthy mobile sites. Continuous vertical scrolling does not affectively communicate much information to the user. Click-to-Expand subsections are often a great solution to this, and will help keep your site organized.

What should be on your mobile site? That depends on the type of business you have. Who will visit? When will they visit it? Putting yourself in the shoes on the user is the first thing any marketing campaign does. Let’s use the example of a restaurant. Most users will be driven to your mobile site on-the-go, via prior knowledge/word of mouth or from a 3rd party application/location based service. When they get to your website, it’s safe to assume that they’re looking for pictures of the food and decor, hours of operation, a quick contact phone number, or menu. Location giving, these are the direct factors that would encourage or discourage them from eating at that facility. Understandably, a restaurant website may contain more information than that. Information about the chef, private party rooms, social networks, etc are common. Information that is not likely to be clicked on in on-the-go situations are best left for the full version of the website. As a general rule of thumb, you should ALWAYS include a link back to your full site. People also expect this link at the footer. Don’t disappoint.

Last but not least, when planning your mobile website, consider your call to action. Those that visit a mobile site are arguably more targeted of a demographic than the average website visitor. Think of the context in which one would visit your mobile site. This makes it more important than ever to have a clear call to action placed in a prominent place on your site. This ensures that consumers convert and complete the required action. Whether it be to book a reservation, to call your company, email, etc – Your call to action is more important on it because it is statistically more likely to be effective on a mobile website.

There are a few things that you should remember not to do as well. Sounds and flashing images are annoying, take too long to load, and have become associated with tacky, spammy landing pages. Using Flash can also be a problem. While there are obviously two notable mobile devices (iPad and iPhone) that do not support flash, they happen to be two of the most popular. An audience of this size cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, several companies fall for this. For instance, in New York City, real estate is a huge market. Real Estate companies go through a lot of trouble to drive people to their website. This includes placing QR codes in traditional media spaces as well as having huge banners hanging off the sides of new buildings. While this drives users to the website, the lack of preparation in the follow-through to the campaign renders many ineffective.

Advertisements displayed for people on the go (on the sides of buildings, highways, etc) are meant for users to engage when seen. People rarely remember this information when conveniently by a desktop. Users will visit the advertised page on a mobile device and view directly. Buying expensive marketing materials and media space is irrelevant when the potential client gets to the website and it is difficult to see on a mobile device, or even worse, doesn’t work at all as the site is entirely Flash. Real Estate companies are often guilty of this. The only thing the campaign then manages to accomplish is to increase a web site’s bounce rate.

A mobile version of your site is a must-do for businesses preparing to enter the Digital Age. Ensure proper planning for thorough marketability of your mobile sit, and ensure success.

Our friendly neighbors to the north, Canada, have a lot of action at the moment.  The NHL Playoffs are underway, and fans can peruse tons of interactive marketing content to skate over.  They also have another election coming up, and need to fit it in the iPhone. Once they do enter the ballot box, be careful of bragging on your social networks.  

A prescient bit of legislation looms for Canadians planning to vote in next month’s elections.  In Section 329 of the Canada Elections Act, this statement looms:  “No person shall transmit the result or purported result of the vote in an electoral district to the public in another electoral district before the close of all of the polling stations in that other electoral district.”

The original piece rests here on Mashable, and holds interesting discussion themes.  The law was designed in 1938 to prevent radio stations from transmitting results.  Nowadays, the people use social media networks, especially Twitter, to get news. Elections Canada, the adminster of federal elections, will inform citizens of the provision and enforce if necessary.

We have seen social media play extensively across the globe for disaster relief and political organization among youth groups. We have not, however, seen possible government censorship of electoral data.  Especially when digital networks are so interconnected, a policy to subjugate every hashtag (#elxn41) seems fruitless.  The Canadian government will due their diligence to protect the system’s integrity. It is appropriate for them to worry about data leaking across provincial boundaries.  A social precedence of this scenario does not exist where the government could apply a statute.  At the same time, debate is part of the electoral process, regardless of the forum.  It is unclear if any communications advocacy groups have spoken out at the moment. Citizens have voiced their opinion on the matter, foreshadowing a future referendum.  Tweet your ballots in peace, Canada.

I admit to having a dose of skepticism when geolocation networks like Foursquare first came upon the social media scene.  Why would anyone post a map of their location?  As if the world wasn’t full of enough insecurities, with birds falling from the sky. Privacy is hard enough to earn in general, much less a city like New York.  Then towards the end of last year, I understood its value.  When enough people in your network are integrated into an application, it becomes a unit.  That unit tends to congregate in similar circles, mimicking tastes and preferences.  These social units are ripe for marketers to tailor their goods and services for sales. This is the goal of marketers: to research present details and engage for future profit.  

Businesses that receive frequent patronage from customers in these applications gain many dividends.  The applications are used on mobile devices, specifically smartphones, and drive the nascent mobile marketing sector for advertisers.  As this article from Mobile Marketer Daily states, mobile users seek a clear value proposition when checking into an establishment.  Therefore, mobile marketers should do their best to engage with exclusive content.

Major telephone carriers have started to catch on by introducing programs.  One example in the lead article includes ShopAlert, by AT&T. ShopAlert delivers coupons for consumers that enter participating merchant shops.  The program, as with any good mobile application, allow for true engagement with the retailer. Instant feedback can be transmitted, where a customer can opt-into a service via SMS or click.  They could also drive up an order value depending on the length and quality of time spent in the application.

Marketers who want to reach scale must become endeared to the terms.

 

In this report from paidContent, we see the film business trying to solve online advertising.  The distributor Screen Media Ventures will start streaming ads with Popcornflix.com.  Popcornflix is currently a beta site, so users should notify programmers immediately of any snafus.  

As the article mentions, Screen Media is targeting the college marketplace, figuring that they are accustomed to online video advertising in small doses. Hulu and TVShack are just a couple of hubs that split up content programming with commercials noted with a timer.

Even though the site’s content will be full of notable actors, the distributor is taking a somewhat risky bet by increasing the number and time of ads.  I would not get too cute with the experimentation just yet if I were Screen Media Ventures.  The roster of notable actors is a positive to entice viewers.  I just wasn’t too impressed with the features sliding across the interface.  The user experience recalls a test board for everyone involved.  It will be interesting to see if emerging advertisers join the fray. They can use the scale to develop riskier campaign themes which would not play on Netflix. Independent film distributors need to take these kind of bets. Can they roll eyes?

Valentine’s Day is one that brings out strong opinions in people regardless of their relationship status.  I’ve heard it called a corporate crock. I’ve heard it’s a Hallmark card brought to a cloying, saccharine diorama of life.  Stories in the past have also circulated about labor abuse of rose trade workers in Ecuador.  For marketers, however, Valentine’s Day can be one of creativity.

AT&T started an original campaign with BBDO Group, and they want your lungs ready. This digital strategy is looking for the ones that know the way to express your love is to scream.  If you want to shout, the details are here on AT&T’s Facebook page.  At 8 pm Pacific Time, the best results will be streamed via webcast.  Coupled with the mountain men, the strategy is an intriguing blend of video advertising and social media.  It also highlights the ridicule of Valentine’s Day on a pure level. Click on the heart to see the mountain men in action. Enjoy.

Social media ventures facilitate platforms to engage one another with the cyberspace community.  They are gaining credibility in the investor marketplace as LinkedIn recently filed for an IPO.  Facebook was investigating a plunge into the public sector by speaking with executives from Goldman Sachs.  That has sparked controversy.  

Controversy comes and disappears with new industries.  Business models also need to be solidified for an industry to truly take flight.  E-commerce analysts are drooling to leverage the wealth of social media’s personal database into sales.  Few corporations have come up with a successful model for online merchants.

A former Walmart CMO, Cathy Halligan, has some insight into the methodology for driving successful e-commerce into Facebook.  I’ll list a few of her thoughts.

1.  Deliver On The Fundamentals of Commerce. That’s mandatory, but corporations forget the basics. Don’t think about Facebook if you can’t deliver on the basics, which are:  product, price, in stock, fast checkout, and fast delivery. Speed kills.

2.  Don’t Bother With Facebook Ads. People don’t have purchasing intent on social network, unlike search engines. They look to share content, chat, debate, and gossip.  So Facebook Ads might be great for brand advertising, but not for sales conversion rates.

3.  Integrate Facebook Into Your Site. It’s not just about what goes on your Facebook page.  You should integrate Facebook into your site.  That means Like buttons above the fold on each product.  That means allowing people to connect with Facebook to post reviews — which can be pushed to their friends.

For more insight from Cathy Halligan, SVP, Sales & Marketing at PowerReviews, click here.

The term meta title sounds daunting to the uninitiated web reader.  One could think of it as the keyword to another dimension of technology.  To some extent, it is another dimension.  The idea behind the meta title is to link the vastness of cyberspace into a common, short bond of terms.  In order for search indexes to pull up the results we want, a good meta title is imperative.  

The Web definition of a meta title is a short set of characters that can be viewed at the top of your web page.  The magic of SEO comes in the next step.  The engines crawl across the web page and index it with similar results.  Writers too often fall into the trap of writing a meta title that has good keywords but does not fluidly express your campaign.  Sometimes you say too much in the title, leaving the reader little more discovery than to click onto the second page and glance.

Creative Boom of the UK has some other tips on writing metatitles for search engines.  Enjoy.

We’ve spoken ad nauseum about social media and its impact on our personal lives.  Anyone can become a relevant figure through social media networks.  Content of all forms is distributed around the clock from locations spanning the globe.  Also, we know that corporations are jumping into social media since many of their target customers peruse in the space.  They often jump into the fray without a lead representative, much less a strategy that proves effective.

I have discussed these themes before, but Lulu Phongmany delves further into the question of social media’s true value.  In her piece for paidcontent.org, one thing she discusses is the value it has added for publishers.  Newspaper sites are seeing about 50 percent of their traffic coming from Google alone, while Facebook accounted for 0.1 percent of referrals to newspapers.  Other statistics show traffic of 0.2 percent flowing to iVillage.co.uk. Articles are shared, but mostly, they are controversial and offbeat. This is hardly surprising, but not encouraging for businesses aiming to inform and generate unique visitors.

Phongmany importantly summarizes that social media is an evolution of the online portal, rather than the final destination of the online experience.  The user experience of social media varies in accordance with the individual.  Reality, however, shows that those experiences remain benign in terms of tapping profit.  She also points out that retail and gaming have brought measurable statistics. Farmville and Mafia Wars have exploded in terms of popularity through Facebook, and those are just two examples. Retro educational programs, Carmen Sandiego and The Oregon Trail, just debuted on Facebook.

The key point, however, is that these industries provide balming services used for folks to escape from the mundane instances of life. Social media is not yet a proper forum for insurers to gain candidates for life coverage or annuities.  They have created pages, but their target bases are not viewing them consistently.

For the moment, social media remains merely a domain of amusement on several levels.  The medium is lacking the professionalism to drive revenue on a consistent basis. One could attribute this to simply time, as further web developments could change the perspective.  It has, however, provided a forum for discussion of corporate strategy and product development. This in itself is where marketing executives must follow the herd.  Eventually, some members peel off and experiment with methodologies.  Digital strategies will innovate when the herd keeps stomping.

Website designers are some of the more modest professionals I meet on a daily basis.  They take strong pride in understanding the full dynamics of their project, from the mathematical measurements to the shades of their color spectrum.  Therefore, it is interesting to gage the feelings of a new logo released this week. Some designers have done so already.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) released a logo for HTML5.  It is a striking development aimed to champion the virtues of an open web platform.  Developers using HTML5, CSS, SVG, and other technologies are urged to post the logo on their respective websites.  Reception among web designer communities has been cautionary.  Some designers feel that the W3C is merely looking to gain publicity for their collective.  Others are excited about the logo and will post it for solidarity.

As a marketer, I feel that this is an interesting step towards developing a linear set of code standards for open source development. The logo is bold with a steely trim. I feel that the number also adds some ingenuity, showing reverence to the past but also taking initiative for the future. I urge web developers and designers to leave their thoughts below. Thank you. Here is also a FAQ board on the mission between the HTML5 logo.


HTML5 Powered with CSS3 / Styling, and Semantics

Influences breed a variable set of emotions in the human experience and our global economy.  Some people are influenced by the style of certain fashion designers or someone in their family.  Others are influenced by a particular set of media presentation, such as a television series, periodical piece, and the like.  The world of interactive marketing, however, shaves the definition to a unique level. Brian Solis gives you a guide at this link.

Social media exploded to an influential level of communication over the last couple of years.  This is undeniable.  In the beginnings of 2011, companies are emerging to identify and rank influencers in the cybersphere.  As this article on ClickZ reports, digital marketers and social media web developers will hear a lot more soon about Klout, MBlast, and other influencers in the near future.  It is yet another branch of web analytics that can measure quantifiably the activity of consumers.  But the science is hobbled by its lack of experience in business technology.  The companies are neophytes and so are the staff.  As a result, they simply have a limited scope of data which can be accurately measured.

As with all new media, the marketplace needs some corporate influence and maybe some federal involvement to set the tone. Everyone is influenced somehow, but not everyone knows the motivations or methodologies.  Only then will influence firms become a tool of social media measurement.