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Mobile Web Usage Trends: What You Need to Know

  There’s no fighting the fact that mobile internet usage is a trend that’s here to stay.  As such, offering your website’s information in a format that’s easily digestible by mobile consumers is no longer a luxury – it’s a “must have” for any company that’s serious about courting the growing number of smartphone and tablet users who rely on their mobile devices for internet access. With this in mind, the following are a few specific mobile web usage trends your business needs to be aware of, as well as the recommended actions you’ll want to take in order to maximize your own company’s mobile presence:   TREND: “Mobile to overtake fixed Internet access by 2014” ( Smart Insights Marketing ) If you’ve ever set foot into a coffee shop or restaurant and seen more than half the establishment’s patrons bent over their smartphones, it isn’t difficult to imagine mobile internet usage overtaking desktop access in the near future. However, as a website owner, this statistic shouldn’t just surprise you – it should spur you to action.  If 50% or more of all internet activity is occurring on digital devices, then your website needs to be accessible to these users.  Mobile marketing research suggests that website without mobile-optimized versions frustrate users, which it’s why important for all businesses to make mobile website versions a priority in their upcoming marketing plans. Fortunately, you have several different options for creating a mobile website version that don’t involve hiring an expensive developer or custom-coding your own new site.  If your website runs on WordPress, you can install free plugins like WPTouch or you can work with a responsive theme that automatically adjusts to fit your viewers’ mobile browsers. Alternatively, you can take a look at GoMobi – a mobile site creation tool offered to HostGator customers.  With GoMobi, developing a mobile-optimized website version is as simple as clicking a few mouse clicks and selecting the aesthetic elements that’ll best complement your existing brand.  It’s an easy-to-use solution to the issue of mobile website development and even offers advanced features such as click-to-call and ecommerce integration.     TREND: “4 out of 5 consumers use their smartphones to shop” ( comScore ) Since our mobile phones and tablets appear to be glued to our hips, it’s only natural to imagine that these tools would play a role in the buying process – whether in terms of product research or the actual completion of mobile-based sales. In fact, the data is quite clear on this point.  Consumers are using their smartphones to shop, and they’re doing so in greater numbers than ever before. As a result, your business needs to be prepared.  In an ideal world, every website that sells products would offer a fully-functional, mobile-optimized site version that allowed consumers to browse, research and purchase products – all from the comfort of their digital devices. This type of setup is possible using tools like GoMobi, but the ability to buy via smartphone isn’t the only thing you should be concerned with as a business owner.  As you develop your own mobile shopping environment, pay particular attention to your website’s usability.  Even though you’re working with a much smaller amount of screen real estate, it’s still imperative that mobile visitors be able to easily access a product’s features, images and past reviews in order to facilitate these device-based purchases.   TREND: “60% of mobile users prefer to read news via mobile browser vs. app” ( Pew Research Center ) One final question most website owners have when it comes to mobile development is whether to release their content via mobile-optimized website version or standalone app.  Here again, the data is compelling. The majority of readers prefer to read and digest content from their mobile browsers – rather than in company-released apps.  Now, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t offer your readers an app, as there are certainly situations in which offering both of these tools will benefit your company’s bottom line. What it does mean, though, is that mobile website version development should be your first priority when it comes to courting this generation of internet users.  First, make your website easy to access via mobile device browsers – whether through the use of platforms like GoMobi or other types of responsive design.  Only after this crucial first step is completed should you look into standalone app development. The bottom line is this: you can’t hide your head in the sand when it comes to mobile website optimization.  Research conducted on mobile internet usage trends make it clear that this type of internet access is here to stay and will only continue to grow in the future.  By taking the time to implement these recommendations now, you’ll prevent your business from losing online traffic and sales, both from those consumers who are already using their smartphones to access the web and those who will be coming in the future. Continue reading

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Measuring the ROI of Your Social Media Campaigns

Social media marketing can be a great tool for promoting your brand and engaging directly with customers and potential buyers.  But at the end of the day, you should be getting more from your marketing efforts than simply being a part of “the conversation.”  If you want your actions on popular social platforms to translate into increased sales and profits, you need to learn how to measure the ROI of your social media campaigns. So, without further ado, here’s a simple process that any business can implement, using the free Google Analytics program:   Step #1 – Set your social media campaign goals The first step to measuring ROI in any situation is to determine the specific goals you’ll be tracking.  In this case, let’s assume that your goal is to use social media marketing to drive additional buyers to your website.  As a result, a sample goal might be to have 5% of the visitors your business receives from social media sites convert into paid product purchasers. Now that you know what goal you’re measuring – in this case, sales – you’ll need to set up goal tracking within Google Analytics. Begin by logging into the admin area of your account and clicking on the profile of the site for which you’ll be creating goals.  From there, select the “Goals” tab and click the “+ Goal” link in one of your goal sets.  This will pull up a screen that allows you to select between the four different types of goals that can be tracked within Google Analytics:   If your website’s sales funnel results in visitors landing on a defined “thank you” page (for example, “http://www.yourdomain.com/thankyou.html”), select the “URL Destination” goal option and fill out the additional fields that this action triggers.  If you use a more complicated ecommerce system, select the “Event” goal type and use the instructions found in Google Help’s “ Conversion Overview ” documentation to accurately set up your goals.   Step #2 – Measure goal conversions from social media traffic Once your goal is set up and activated, it will immediately start generating data on the number of sales occurring on your website.  However, setting up a conversion goal alone isn’t enough to provide meaningful information regarding the ROI of your social media campaigns, as this reporting feature will detail sales that occur from all sources – not just your social visitors. To filter out the goal conversions that have occurred from social visitors from those triggered by other referral sources, you’ll need to set up an Advanced Traffic Segment within your Google Analytics account. To do this, navigate to the “Traffic Sources Overview” screen within your reporting dashboard.  Immediately under the page’s main header, you’ll see a button labeled “Advanced Segments.”  Click this, and then click the “+ New Custom Segment” button that appears in the lower right-hand corner of the segmentation menu. From the new screen that appears, add “OR” statements utilizing the “Source” metric to specify visitors that come from particular social media sources.  As an example below, the custom segment “Facebook Traffic” captures all site visitors that arrive via both desktop and mobile Facebook platforms:   Create a custom segment for every social media website your site receives traffic from, being sure to include desktop and mobile domains, as well as any platform-specific URL shortening services (for example, “t.co” from Twitter).  Don’t group all social domains into one “Social Media Traffic” custom segment, as this will diminish the value of the data you generate.   Step #3 – Adjust your social media marketing strategy based on data Once your custom social segments have been created, return to the “Goals Overview” reporting dashboard within the “Conversions” menu and apply the custom filters you’ve created to your data by clicking on the “Advanced Segments” button.  This will allow you to determine how many of your website’s conversions your social media visitors are responsible for. Finally, to fully capture your social media marketing ROI, compare the number of sales your social efforts have generated to the amount of time and money you’ve invested into these campaigns.  Measure your ROI on a platform-specific basis, as it’s not uncommon for a site to see a positive ROI from one social site and a negative ROI from another. Use this information to adjust your social media marketing strategy.  If you’re seeing a negative ROI across all the social properties you’ve invested in, you need to either improve your social media marketing techniques or cut back on the amount of resources you commit to this promotional strategy. But even if you’re seeing a positive ROI, use the platform-specific information you’ve generated to drill down further into your social media marketing strategies to see what’s working and what isn’t.  By consistently evaluating the performance of your social media activities and adjusting your strategies accordingly, you’ll see an improvement in both your social network engagement levels and in your company’s bottom line. Continue reading

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5 Steps to Proper Conversion Rate Optimization

Too many webmasters approach website creation and management from a single perspective.  If something looks good, they assume that it’s as attractive and as profitable as it’s ever going to be. But savvy marketers know that this isn’t the case.  Truly effective website performance can only come from the measurement of set metrics and experimentation to determine which conditions and variables lead to the strongest website results.  By continually measuring and testing using the conversion rate optimization (CRO) process described below, you can boost on-site engagement and overall site profits significantly with just a few tweaks.   Step #1 – Explore your site’s current performance Before you can begin any CRO campaign, you need to understand how your site is currently performing. Suppose you want to increase the number of sales that occur from a given sales page on your website.  You aren’t trying to boost traffic necessarily – just to increase the number of people who are already on your site who make the leap from reader to buyer. While you can run a simple calculation – dividing the number of sales you make over a set period by the number of visitors your page receives in the same time – you’ll find the process much easier to manage with the use of Google Analytics or a similar web data measurement system.  Use Google Analytics to create a “Goal” that tracks your site’s current performance before moving on to the next step.   Step #2 – Identify CRO test variables The process of conversion rate optimization involves serving up different page variations in order to measure objectively which version will be more successful.  There are two protocols for doing so: A/B split testing, in which a single on-site variable has been changed, and Multivariate testing, in which several variables are compared at once. As an example, an A/B split test might involve changing the wording of your sales page headline in order to test its efficacy.  In a multivariate test, different combinations of headline text, color, size and position could all be tested at once.  If you’re new to the process of split testing, stick with the easier-to-manage A/B protocol and use it to test any of the following site elements (among others): Site headline wording and/or appearance Product image placement and design Calls to action Product or sales offers Size, placement and design of “Add to Cart” buttons While you can test smaller site features (for example, your site’s body text font), begin by testing the variables that are likely to have the biggest possible effect on your overall conversion rate.   Step #3 – Develop any necessary experimental test pages Once you’ve decided on a test variable, create any necessary experimental pages before setting up and running your CRO split test. Following with our example above, if you were to create an A/B split test that measured the performance of different headline wording options, you’d need the URLs of two pages: Your original page URL The URL of a live test page featuring your experimental headline wording Depending on the program you use to carry out your split test, you may also need the site URL that demonstrates a conversion has taken place.  In the case of product sales, this will likely be the “thank you” page that visitors reach upon completing a sale.   Step #4 – Run A/B or multivariate split tests After gathering all of this information, you’ll need to load it into a program that will automatically serve up either your original page or your test page at random to visitors and record the number of conversions that stem from each variation. For most webmasters, the easiest way to run split tests is with the use of Google Analytics’ “Content Experiments” tool (formerly, the Google Website Optimizer).  Not only is this tool free to use, it makes launching a new split test as easy as filling out a few quick forms and adding a small snippet of code to your website.  The tool also ties directly to the Analytics “Goals” created earlier, giving you a richer data set to work with when it comes to improving your site’s conversion rates.   Step #5 – Select a winner and launch a new test Upon completing the steps above, you’ll be able to launch your split test and start generating data immediately.  While this information can be exciting to watch, be sure to wait until Google has determined a statistically significant winner before making changes to your site based on this variable conversion data. Then, as soon as you’ve ended one test, make it a point to start another right away.  There are hundreds of thousands of different combinations of variables that can be tested on any given website.  Don’t miss out on the one that could make all the difference in your business’s bottom line by running one test and then giving up on the power of conversion rate optimization! Continue reading

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Sweet Plugin: TablePress, the successor to WP-Table Reloaded

About two years ago (yeah, really!) I reviewed the WP-Table Reloaded WordPress plugin on our show The Sweet Plugin. After a rebranding and reworking of the code, WP-Table Reloaded is now TablePress . The developer Tobias relaunched the plugin, renamed it with a much better name, and revamped a number of the plugin’s features. One of the biggest improvements has to be the all tables view, which feels almost exactly the same as the edit posts and pages WordPress screens do. Honestly, the closer any plugin or theme can get to WordPress core UI, or feeling like a real part of WordPress, the better it is. Adding and editing tables feels better too. A lot of what was there before is still in place, but nicer. Manipulating table content feels much better; you can drag and drop rows and columns around and change the display order of table cells with one click. This sort of table manipulation would have been much more time consuming under the old WP-Table Reloaded plugin. TablePress makes the table shortcodes much more obvious too. Each table management screen includes the table’s shortcode at the top of the screen, and they’re quickly available from the all tables screen too. TablePress also implements something I don’t remember seeing in WP-Table Reloaded, and that’s the ability to choose where in the WordPress dashboard the TablePress menu is located. This is one of those options which I could see popping up in any of the more complex WordPress plugins out there. Let users choose whether the menu item displays right below comments, at the bottom below settings, within the tools menu, and so on. I think this is an approach I can get behind — again, only in plugins that potentially warrant prominent menu placement in the first place. Where to grab TablePress You can download TablePress from the WordPress.org plugin directory, and based on everything I’ve seen there’s really no reason to hold back. Your tables will need to be exported from the old plugin and imported into the new plugin, but really that seems like a pretty seamless process. Tobias also runs TablePress.org , a nice resource for using the plugin. Have you switched over to TablePress yet? What do you think of the new, rebranded, and updated WordPress plugin? You just finished reading Sweet Plugin: TablePress, the successor to WP-Table Reloaded on WPCandy . Please consider leaving a comment! The post Sweet Plugin: TablePress, the successor to WP-Table Reloaded appeared first on WPCandy . Continue reading

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