How Mobile Is Your Website?

Our mobile society always on the goYou’ve been there. You’re searching on your mobile phone for a store that has a particular brand of caulk that works well on concrete. You find a website on Google and you click on the link. What comes up is a very tiny version of the store’s regular website, which is impossible to read, let alone click on the Contact Us page to inquire whether they have the caulk you need in stock. So, what do you do? You expand the page to blow it up to where it is legible and then you find yourself scrolling left, right, up, down only to realize that you’re lost on the page. What’s left is to shrink it back down to locate that darned Contact Us link. And, hopefully you haven’t been doing all this while driving.

This is a plain lousy experience and one that makes you want to find somewhere else to shop.

So, does this happen when prospective customers come to your website on their smartphones? Do they have this same kind of bad experience? Are you losing sales because your website is not mobile ready? Did you realize that Google will now start ranking your website lower than your competitors’ sites if it is not mobile ready?

Let’s look at some research from Media Post:

What does this mean today, and what could it mean in six to twelve months?

  • “mobile commerce has surged ahead of desktop in terms of time spent shopping, with mobile accounting for 59% of online shopping time in the first quarter of 2015…”
  • “In the first quarter of this year, mobile’s share of retail spending growth increased 53% year over year, compared with increases of 9% for desktop retail e-commerce…”
  • And according to James Printing of Kansas City (, 42% of brand research is conducted on phones and tablets

The use of smartphones and tablets for shopping and research is expected to grow dramatically in the next year. Although purchases on smartphones and tablets still lags behind desktops, with the primary reasons being security concerns and the ability to see the products in detail, those issues will be resolved quickly with larger phone screens and enhanced mobile security.

Any website development company worth their stripes is creating new sites that are what’s called “mobile responsive.” This means that your site will render differently on mobile devices than it does on desktops, making the experience much better for visitors coming to see what you are all about.

What’s more, you will not be penalized by the major search engines for having a non-responsive website, and all the hard work you’ve done to maintain that search visibility will still be in place.

I would love to know your thoughts, or if you just have questions, let me know.



Give Up Brand Control?

Major League Soccer logoEver feel like your business is spinning out of control? Too busy, not busy enough, competition pressures, government red tape, taxes, employee issues, the list can go on and on. We love the concept of control because it gives us predictability, something we can count on, something to calm our fears. Yet control can be elusive.

Take, for example, your brand. We marketers refer frequently to the importance of trying to control your brand. Obviously, social media has made this effort much more difficult but consider something as simple as your identity (including the logo). We generally recommend that in your strategic marketing plan, you include a style book which dictates exactly how your logo will be portrayed in various kinds of media. The style book governs how and where your logo can appear and specifies the exact color or colors (generally no more than two) that are allowed. It is how you control that branding element. Consider brands like A.T.&T., Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and UPS. No one is allowed to change the presentation of these logos or their colors. Yet…maybe that has all changed.

Major League Soccer (MLS) announced a new identity and branding with the commencement of its 2015 season this spring. Not to be outdone by other sports like Major League Baseball, the NCAA basketball tournament, or the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the launch of the new campaign came replete with a shiny new logo. The logo comprises a shield outlined with blue, a blue diagonal line extending outside the shield, and the top left half with three stars, the letters MLS and seated in a field of red. Whether you like this logo or not is not what is curious. What blows the mind this marketer is that the MLS has allowed each one of the teams to alter the colors of the logo to match their respective uniforms! This even extends to the goalkeepers’ uniforms that are even different colors than the team colors!

Unheard of, I say. Can you imagine the NFL doing this? What about the NBA or Major League Baseball? These organizations don’t care what color your uniforms are, their logo must be presented exactly the same, even if that color clashes with your team colors.

I would say this is revolutionary, especially for a brand as young as the MLS.

So, is giving up control of your brand and logo the wrong thing to do? I would imagine that the MLS has not given up complete control, but stipulates the options each team has in using the league logo. It will be an interesting study to see how this turns out. No one can deny that the MLS is successful, having two new expansion teams this year and showing every sign of drawing larger and larger viewership and fan base.

Yet, it will be interesting to see if this is a trend that will extend to other industries, associations and non-profits.

I would love to know your thoughts.

Do You Understand Your Target Market?

957450_33460069One of the first questions I ask any client that I begin work with is, “who do you think is your target market?” There are many times where this question has never been asked and therefore I’m met with a blank stare. If the answer comes back as “everyone,” then I know we have some work to do. You may have the most amazing product ever invented in humankind but I’m sorry, it’s not for everyone.

It’s always best to start with a definition, no matter how simple we may think a concept is. A target market is a group of customers towards which a business has decided to aim its marketing efforts and ultimately its products and or services.

A target market can be defined by a set of characteristics that the entire group has in common. These characteristics give insight into how we might expect the target market to behave under different circumstances or in reaction to different marketing messages.

I recommend starting with your very best customer, because that’s who we want to find more of. Think in terms of what customer you absolutely love working with? How would you define them? Who are they? Are they male or female? How educated are they? What age are they? How did they learn of your product or service? Do they live in a certain area? How was the buying process? If applicable, have they been a repeat buyer? The more specific you can be here, the better.

Given that you want to clone this kind of customer and find many more just like them, let’s explore more about what was behind their purchase. Ask the question: Why did you buy from my company? I actually like to ask this question in person, through a survey.

On a very fundamental level, people make a decision to purchase something in an effort to increase pleasure or reduce pain. However, the answers you receive to the question above, why did they buy from you, will fall into one of two categories. Either the rational behind their decision was due to the attributes (or features) of your product or service, or your product or service was in sync with their emotional motivation for buying.

Examples of Product Attributes:

  • Price – Your price was competitive or in line with perceived value
  • Quality – Your product or service meets minimum quality requirements
  • Features – Your product has the features that I require
  • Service – You have the capabilities to provide service after the sale
  • Past History – There is a track record of positive experiences from others
  • Popularity/Sexiness – Your product has that “thing”

Examples of Emotional Motivators

  • Trust – I have faith that your product or service will perform as marketed
  • Communication – The sales person answered my questions and explained things to my satisfaction
  • Relationships – Over a period of time I feel I know the human side of your company. I like working with you
  • Fear – I don’t want to make a mistake that will cost me money or my job
  • Confidence – This decision feels right
  • Impatience – I don’t really want to wait any longer or shop more
  • Need – I am strongly compelled to move forward with this purchase
  • Desire for acceptance – I want to be like the people that own this product

As you collect the answers to your survey, you can use these product attributes and emotional motivators to define the kind of marketing message that you communicate. If these resonated with your current best customers, then they will likely resonate with potential best customers.

Happy hunting and I would love to hear your comments.


Is Facebook Too Big To Fail?

Oh that’s just not possible you say. Facebook fail, no way. Just let your imagination go for a minute.

I don’t think any of us could have imagined the possibility of General Motors failing, or AIG, or Citigroup for that matter, all of whom benefited through the combination of The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). In all of these cases, it was deemed appropriate to step in with financial help because these companies were “too big to fail.” The great economic domino effect of their failures would have lead to catastrophic consequences.

Let’s face facts, humans make mistakes, and so do CEO’s. It’s not beyond the realm of “possible” to imagine a world without Facebook, where enough mistakes, bad investments, scandals, questionable IPO’s et cetera, cause this social institution to fail. Do you suppose the government would step in and help?

I don’t want you to get confused here, I’m not trying to be political as I’m really going in another direction which I hope to reveal shortly.

Millions of people spend hours and hours documenting, sharing, responding, ranting, posting, joking, pontificating, preaching, questioning, bragging and lecturing on Facebook. The number of personal images and videos put there is staggering. Some would say that this is a giant waste of time. Regardless, when you think about the fact that whole lives are being stored on FB’s massive server farms and that this may be the only place where those lives are documented, you can begin to wonder – If that’s true, a Facebook failure could in fact cause catastrophic consequences for some. Unless of course, they have a backup plan.

I was reading recently in the “AARP Bulletin” (yes, I am old enough to read this) about the need for Baby Boomers to embrace social media, especially if they are interested in looking for a job. They talk about a “digital footprint” which I thought was a great term, because it encompasses several social media properties, including your own personal website. The article suggests that this website have your name as the URL, like And let’s face it, if you’re not out there socially, you look out of touch.

What does your financial advisor always suggest when investing your money, diversify? By doing so, you spread risk across multiple investment strategies and therefore reduce your exposure to the failure of one. I think the same applies to how you document your life experiences on the web.

There are many ways to memorialize the important events in your life and it doesn’t have to be all in one place, i.e. Facebook. Social media sites exist that cater to all kinds of interests and life styles. If your interested in a list, has an exhaustive list and even describes what they are about. Check it out even though there are some obvious omissions like Reddit, Stumble Upon, Vimeo and YouTube to name a few.

If the leadership of Facebook pulls off something really stupid and the company fails, and the government chooses not to “bail out” the social behemoth, by having your life documented across multiple online properties, you can reduce the risk that your life’s experiences could vanish with the unplugging of a server. Or, you could gamble that Facebook really is too big to fail.

I’d love to know your thoughts.


When Your Phone Rings Does Your Cash Register Ring Too?

TelephoneAre phone calls the life blood of your business?

It’s not true with online-only companies, but brick-and-mortar stores can live & die by the phone call. I have a client who claims that he can close one sale for every four phone calls versus closing one sale for every ten “contact me” forms completed on his website. Wow, that’s a big difference and I learned that he didn’t know exactly how many phone calls he was getting or whether they could be considered legitimate “leads.”

My client uses for managing leads and deals that are in the sales cycle and at various points of closing. Even though his website has a “leads-to-forms” application that automatically puts completed forms into Salesforce, phone calls that turn into leads must be manually entered by the sales people. He was very disappointed that his reports would only show a few phone calls per month. Knowing the difference in close ratios for phone calls, he was desperate to see more calls coming in.

I was introduced to a marvelous service called IfByPhone by a colleague who indicated that it might be very valuable to me. Was he right, or what?

I spent some time researching this service. Essentially, IfByPhone provides, among many services, call forwarding to your main business telephone number. When someone searches on Google for instance, your PPC ad or organic listing is displayed. If the searcher clicks on either, they are taken to your website page, however, and this is pretty cool, IfByPhone presents a unique, dynamic telephone number, which if called, is used to track that searcher’s call all the way through to completion. If the searcher calls within 60 minutes of viewing your webpage (and unique number), IfByPhone can report on the keyword phrase the caller used to find you. In addition, you also receive the caller ID in reports that can be generated “on demand.”

Imagine what you can do. You know who called and when; you know, in most cases, for what they were searching; and you know the length of the call (did they talk with anyone or just leave a voicemail). Not only are you able to see if the salespeople are putting leads into Salesforce, you’re able to accurately determine which keywords and phrases are generating the most calls and can then alter your SEO or PPC strategies accordingly.

I would think that the energetic salesperson could also use the caller ID information to place a “cold” call, knowing in advance where their interest lies. That’s about as warm a “cold” call as you can get.

This has been incredibly helpful for my client. He feels better informed and that he now has a better handle on what kinds of phone calls he’s getting as well as the accuracy of his Salesforce management system. We are also using the keyword data provided to improve conversions through SEO and PPC.

So, does your business rely heavily on the phone call? If it does, you may want to consider IfByPhone.

I’d love to know your thoughts.


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