Google: Mobile Makes Up Nearly 88% of All “Near Me” Searches

ThinkstockPhotos-517470080Do you know what a “micro-moment” is?

Google’s been coining the phrase over at their blog, which highlights their latest search data.

What’s their latest finding?

Just how prevalent “near me” searches (the “micro-moments”) have become. In fact, they’ve increased 146% year over year.

And it makes sense that mobile is where most of these searches happen.

But the real question is: are you ready to market to possible customers that do “near me” searches?

  1. First, More Data

Will consumers do “near me” searches for your business? According to Google research, these searches happen across every type of business.

Some examples they give include:

  • Hotels
  • Car rental outfits
  • Nail salons
  • Shoe stores
  • Pizza parlors
  • Banks

Basically, Google concludes, if you have a physical location, consumers will use “near me” searches for products or services your business offers.

So How Do You Make Yourself “Ready” for These Kinds of Searches?

We’ve covered the SEO part of this. By now, you know enough about SEO that we don’t have to explain all the ins and outs of how that works.

What we really want to emphasize: a responsive design.

SEO helps people find your site instead of your competitor’s. An attractive responsive design keeps them glued to your website so they’re more likely to buy from you than anyone else. And a useful design closes the sale.

Your digital “storefront” is more important than your physical storefront. While it’s important to have an attractive design, it’s more important that consumers can get what they want in as few clicks as possible.

Have you ever heard of the “3-click” rule? It means that most consumers will click on your website about 3 pages deep. They’ll click your main navigation, click again on the next page, and once more.

But, for most consumers, that’s about it.

Take a Look at an Example

So let’s say you run one of those stores Google mentioned people search for – a shoe store. In fact, you have a specialty shoe store that uses advanced video technology to analyze people’s feet and give them the perfect shoe for their needs and foot shape.

To engage them immediately, you may want a video on your home page showing exactly how your process works. Then, as they scroll down, they learn more about your business. By the way, this type of website is called a “parallax scrolling” website.

Here’s a screenshot of, and a link to, a website that shows parallax scrolling in action:

And it makes perfect sense for mobile users. You’ll also notice it follows the “3 click” rule.

By the way, you can learn more about i5ww’s responsive design and SEO services when you follow those links.

Top 4 Business Tools to Get You Through 2016

ThinkstockPhotos-100820219Have you ever scoured the web, trying to find the right tools and applications you need to run your business just the way you want? It’s hard work.

In fact, it can be a full-time job just testing all those tools and apps to find the right ones. Yes, you can find that many out there.

So here’s a list of some of the best and most useful apps to use in 2016. You’ll save lots of time downloading, installing, and testing the apps, getting straight to the right ones you need instead:

  1. Use Upwork for Outsourcing

Odesk and Elance have combined to form Upwork. There, you can choose from contractors around the globe to help you complete just about any kind of project you can imagine. It’s up to you to select the best contractor. But Upwork has plenty of measures built in to help you make a good choice.

  1. Make Zenefits Your HR Department

This company hasn’t had its IPO…yet. The reason they’re able to grow so fast is they charge you absolutely nothing to use their service. Zenefits makes their money when benefits providers pay them for you using their services.

Payroll, benefits, time, compliance, and every other human resources task you can imagine gets done through Zenefits. And because they’re already so popular, they’ll be around for a long time to come.

  1. Pipedrive Works as a Sales CRM for Small Teams

Setup for this app takes just minutes. It’s simple and visual. You won’t miss out on following up with a single lead. You get a 30-day free trial to start. And, it’s dirt cheap to use when they ask you to pay.

Learn more about Pipedrive here.

  1. Invoice and Payment Management – Freshbooks

Do you have a lot of customers that want to pay with Paypal? Freshbooks has an awesome unadvertised deal with Paypal where they charge just 50 cents to receive money from Paypal customers, assuming those customers are also in the United States. Figure that saves you around $3,000 – $4,000 per year on every $100,000 in revenue from Paypal customers.

But that’s not all. Freshbooks is super-simple for managing invoices and customers. It’s SaaS too, so you don’t have to worry about maintenance, upgrades, or fixing bugs. You also get great customer service. And they’re one of those startups that always adds new features, as demanded by users.

Today, they also offer basic accounting functions, although they’re not as comprehensive as QuickBooks…yet.

Those are some of your best options for business tools here in 2016. If you need them, you won’t regret using them.

YouTube: A New Marketing Tactic to Watch in 2016

ThinkstockPhotos-45810721510 years later, YouTube still isn’t turning a profit for Google. According to this analysis (and if you cross-examine it with others), it invests a lot of money into content and better streaming technology. So, though it turns $4 billion in revenue, it barely breaks even each year.
Google, who owns it, fortunately has fairly good business sense. They don’t want to see YouTube break even on profits if they don’t have to. At the same time, they’re smart enough to continue improving the benefits of YouTube so people want to use it more, and YouTube can likely become more profitable.

At i5 web works, we’re a big fan of using YouTube videos to promote your business. And today we’d like to explain to you some emerging reasons why:

  1. Most Companies Use YouTube to Drive Brand Awareness, But Data Shows It Increases Sales Directly

For many businesses, especially smaller ones, “brand awareness” isn’t the metric you want. You want sales. Brand awareness can come later.

Google performed an analysis of hundreds of YouTube marketing campaigns. They found that 35% of campaigns that included the “TrueView” option (that lets you skip the ads after viewing them for just 5 seconds), saw an increase in purchase intent. The average lift for each campaign was 4%.

For people who watched YouTube videos for 30 seconds or more, 61% of campaigns experienced a difference in purchase intent.

  1. What Works with YouTube Videos?

While YouTube doesn’t have a precise formula for success, YouTube videos do have some science behind them. For example, Google’s research found that people will watch videos longer when you show celebrities or make the videos funny. Also, if you show your logo during the video, viewers respond better when they see it attached to one of your products.

You also want to show your logo later in the video. People are more likely to skip your video if you show your brand early on, and especially if you do so within the first 5 seconds.

If you insist on not taking a humorous approach in your video (although you should consider it because it helps in ad recall a ton), then you should go with a suspenseful or emotional route in the first five seconds.

With music, humor again wins the day. However, brands see better engagement when they avoided music entirely in the first few seconds of the video.

Does YouTube work to boost your sales? Absolutely.

Consider adding it to your marketing mix in 2016.

Just In: YouTube Gaining Power to Influence Sales

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Video ads are picking up steam.

Case in point: Google did a recent study on YouTube users who viewed their ads for 30 seconds or more. For those who did (versus those who did not), their consideration was 45% higher, favorability was 14% higher, and purchase intent was 19% higher.

That’s encouraging information. But you do have to be skeptical because Google wants YouTube to be profitable. And right now, according to Business Insider, YouTube’s about break even.

However, it did increase revenue from $3 billion in 2013 to $4 billion in 2014. That’s a nice boost of about 33%.

And it’s likely video advertising is gaining steam. After all, in 2015, 72% of surveyed agencies said video ads were more effective than TV ads. And video ads get a 40% higher click-through rate than image ads. By 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, Cisco ads.

So are ads becoming more effective? Looks like it. But we’re not sure exactly to what extent. And whatever that trend is, it appears as though it will grow going forward.

A Few Reasons Why This Might Be Happening

If you think about it logically, smartphone users now have more bandwidth available than ever before. Almost every store of any kind has free Wi-Fi.

So now smartphone users can easily whip out their phones anywhere and watch movies, without fear of incurring massive charges.

And the web as a whole has much higher speeds than 10-15 years ago.

Remember downloading a video for 5 hours on dial-up, and then a neighbor called and disconnected you? You started screaming in frustration as a result!

No need to deal with that anymore.

Plus, adults, and especially the younger generations, practically live on their smartphones nowadays.

And another reason this whole thing’s working is because TV’s becoming on-demand. No one wants to sit around and watch commercials anymore. And commercials are broadly targeted.

With video ads, you can target much more precisely to people’s interests. So you’ll get more revenue as a result.

So there’s many macroeconomic market forces working in your favor.

Definitely keep an eye on video ads going forward!

4 New Marketing Opportunities Thanks to Smartphones

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Google has a nice little website, www.thinkwithgoogle.com, where they discuss the latest digital marketing trends as their research shows.

Thanks to smartphones, you have some new opportunities to market your business – and especially so if you’re a local one.

Let’s take a look at some of their recent findings and see how you might be able to capitalize:

  1. 65% of Online Consumers Look Up More Information Online Now Versus Just a Few Years Ago

Now remember, this just applies to US consumers. We’re generally well ahead of most countries when it comes to adopting new technology.

Our smartphone users look up information online more frequently than they did just a few years ago.

So when we discuss this whole “be useful” rule to attract online customers, we mean it. You don’t need a lot of content. But you do need practical stuff people can take and apply to their lives and get value from it.

And there’s a lot of room for growth in this. Because just 46.1% of the world has internet access as of this writing.

  1. 100% Increase in “Near Me” Searches in the Past Year

Don’t create “near me” pages on your website! But do have geo-targeting of your city and its surrounding suburbs.

A big win for local businesses.

  1. 91% of Smartphone Users Look to Their Phones for Help Doing a Task As They Do It

You tradesmen have a big opportunity here. You can be the “go-to” resource in your niche. Examples of content you can create:

  • “How do I change my A/C filter?”
  • “How do I plant new grass?”
  • “How do I prep my SUV for winter?”

The format doesn’t matter so much. Obviously, these topics lend themselves well to video explanations.

A simple smartphone video posted to YouTube will do, but a professional-looking video does even better. And you’ll want to make sure to SEO your video properly so people actually get to it.

  1. 82% of Smartphone Users Use Their Smartphone to Help Them Decide What to Buy in a Store

So if you have one of these “brick-and-mortar stores” that seem to get less common by the minute, there’s good marketing opportunity for you too.

For one thing, you’ll want to make sure the products you carry have good online reviews. Smartphone users will check those and consider them strongly in their decision.

Another benefit to you is this pushes you to do better marketing. You have to show what customers get with your products, why they’re better, and why they’re different.

When you figure out how to do that, which is hard and takes time, you have a strong marketing advantage in your niche. And that means you get more sales and have a healthier bottom line.

It’s tough to keep up with all this, but we’re here to help you stay on top of it and grow your revenues.

 

Get Ready for the Most Connected Holiday Shopping Season – Ever!

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Google has these fascinating facts to share about last year’s holiday shopping season:

  • 78% of shoppers used the internet to help them research the right buying decision
  • 29% – yes just 29% – of shoppers relied on help from friends, relatives, and colleagues
  • 40% of all holiday shopping happened online

Given the proliferation of and fascination with smartphones and tablet PCs, you know this trend’s going to continue. And most likely, it’ll strengthen here in 2015.

And when should you be ready for this to happen?

In the same post, Google says you need to start thinking about it before Halloween. Because your customers, 25% of them to be exact, started their holiday shopping before Halloween (in 2014). And 48% said they did MOST of their shopping before Cyber Monday in 2014.

…Cyber Monday happens the first Monday after Thanksgiving and falls on November 30th this year.

So if you’re used to procrastinating, or have friends and family for doing most of their holiday shopping on December 24th, don’t fall victim to the thinking that everyone does it that way!

Many people certainly do. But about half are done way ahead of time.

What Can You Do with This Information?

Well, the simple fact for local and small businesses is your website needs to be mobile-ready. In our experience, many businesses have website designs that appear dated to customers. Or they look fine on laptops and desktop PCs, but they don’t display correctly on smartphones. Or they’re hard to use on smartphones.

Websites not ready for mobile devices make customers think one of two things:

  1. You’re not in business anymore
  2. You don’t care about your business or customers

Websites are just like having clean bathrooms. You always keep them spotless because you know that your customers judge you on it.

It costs money to get mobile-ready. But it’s not a huge or prohibitive cost. And it pays for itself many times over time.

Some Other Ways to Capitalize on the Holiday Season

They’re simple and the costs pay for themselves:

  • Decorate your website and social media profiles with holiday-themed imagery. You don’t need a massive website overhaul. Just a few graphics to show the holidays are on your mind.
  • Send handwritten “thank-you” cards by mail. No joke here. Remember, most businesses do what’s easiest – so they e-mail or Tweet. Handwriting a “thank-you” card goes a looooooong way in building relationships with your customers.
  • Monitor PPC for new keyword opportunities. Search trends shoot up, and sometimes out of control, during the holidays. Monitor closely for high-ROI opportunities.

That’s what you can do to make the best of this upcoming holiday season.

Enjoy yours!