2015 Key Metrics
How America buys goods and services continues to evolve at lightning speed. What worked two years ago is only marginally effective today.
How do you know which marketing tools and tactics will get the job done? And which ones are bombs?
My ongoing research for clients dug up a lot of interesting statistics, all of which affect buying decisions or even if your marketing material is seen at all.
To learn what marketing tools may best serve your business in 2016, click on what grabs your attention below.
56% of Small Businesses Invest Less Than 3% of Revenues in Marketing
56% of small businesses invest less than 3% of revenues in marketing. Of the remaining 34%, 20% of them invest between 4% and 6% on marketing.
In this study, product-based companies typically indicated they invest a greater percentage of revenue than non-product companies in their marketing. Some key findings from this survey of 1000 small businesses in the U.S. included a majority had confidence in the economy, and all expressed major challenges in growing revenue, hiring employees, and increasing profit.
Of most interest to me were their strategies to achieve those goals: 56% of them indicated they wanted to improve existing customer experience & retention to grow revenue. 45% said investing in new customer acquisition activities and methods (i.e. marketing) was important to them. And 38% indicated increasing IT spending was part of their strategy.
To learn more, review The State of Small Business Report 2015, Wasp Barcode Technologies.
The 8 Second Attention Span in Marketing
The 8 Second Attention Span in Marketing Fifteen years ago it was 12 seconds. Goldfish reportedly have an attention span of 9 seconds. (Oh, dear!) At this rate there will be no attention span by the middle of the 21st century.
What triggered this reduction? Digital content! Certainly texting, 140-character tweets, and other factors have played their role. In Microsoft’s study of Canadians, they cite the dominance of digital messaging in our culture and our glued-to-the-hip (or hand) relationship with our smartphones. It’s often cited that the individual is bombarded with more than 10,000 separate pieces of information to digest every day. Some are simple to respond to: Do you want beef or chicken for dinner? Is the left lane faster or the middle one? In essence, we’re all required to make our decisions very quickly. And for the most part we do them well.
In marketing and advertising, that eight seconds means whatever is in the public eye must convey valuable data to the viewer quickly if you’re going to win them over for another eight seconds. This may include:
- What’s the first thing viewers see on your website? Will they want to scroll down to learn more?
- Same goes for your social pages (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube…)?
- Don’t forget your printed literature! That 8 seconds applies to everything!
- TV and Radio
- Bus stop signage
- Window displays in storefronts
You get the idea. It makes me think back to a funny scene from Steve Martin’s “L.A. Story.” Marilu Henner played his girlfriend in the opening sequence. She was getting ready to go to an important lunch date and clearly a vacuous character from Martin’s point of view. She commented to a friend nearby about her fashion technique of looking into the mirror, turning away and taking a quick glance back to see what stood out. She was referring to using it as cue about what piece of jewelry stood out from the rest. (L.A. must have a “too much bling” problem!) Business owners and marketers can use the same trick for at-a-glance reviews to see if the most important content stands out.
Eight seconds to make an impression. What will you do with it?
50% of Websites Get Only 15 Seconds of Attention
50% of Websites Get Only 15 Seconds of Attention. That’s 60 times less than Andy Warhol’s famous 15 minutes. This statistic was posited by Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat, in his article, “What You Think You Know About the Web Is Wrong.”
As a web designer, one of the first tasks I take on for a new design is answering the question, “What’s the best way to grab the viewer’s attention and keep it?” The answer usually includes a variety of tactics.
Having fantastic content for a website is critical to passing that 15 second hurdle. But what good is fantastic content if it’s hard to find or buried on the page? This is where great website design comes into play:
- Do you know where visitor’s eyes are going to go first?
- Do you know where those eyes will move to next?
- Do those eyes get lost trying to find other content and abandon the website in frustration?
Since statistics generally show a site’s home page is where 90% of traffic lands first, design on this page is the most critical. I ask my clients to review everything on this page with an eagle eye:
- Are we conveying the most important information about the business in the top left corner?
- Is the next sequence of content (logo, menu/nav buttons, photos and text) all in the most logical, easy to follow manner?
- Does it, in fact, grab the viewer’s attention?
Once these factors are agreed upon, it’s critical to review the site’s analytics carefully to find out if your hypotheses have proven correct after the site has seen some traffic. If your guesses were incorrect, immediately redesign the elements of the page to correct the problem. After all, you’ve paid a good chunk of money for a kick-ass website. Make sure it gets more than 15 seconds of attention!
70% Trust Branded Websites - Whom Do You Buy From?
70% Trust Branded Websites – Whom Do You Buy From? A friend says, “Trust me! You’ll love XYZ’s products!” But what about a brand you found on your own? How do you know it’s trustworthy?
In the Global Trust in Advertising survey by Nielsen, an owned website is one completely controlled by the brand. You may have a page on Facebook, but you don’t own its controls. You are at Facebook’s mercy when they change design, policies and so on (much to your consternation). Your own website is “owned.”
What’s fascinating in this statistic is the level of faith by the consumer. Why is it so high? Seven of ten visitors will believe you if your home page says your product grows hair on a bald head! …at least statistically.
The ability to convince a first-time site visitor to trust your product or service has increased dramatically over the past 10-15 years. This is due, in large part, to the development of digital tools to aid the buyer. For example, the hospitality industry relies upon this so heavily other businesses have developed to aid with this service (Yelp, Trip Advisor). Restaurants rely heavily upon stellar reviews to keep new patrons coming in their doors.
For the small business owner, you can increase the trustworthiness of your site using some of these tools:
- Collect and display customer reviews on your site prominently.
- Provide links to your Yelp and Trip Advisor pages.
- Actively collect client reviews in print, digital, audio and video formats (as appropriate), and display them clearly on your site.
These tools all aid the prospective buyer in making a faster decisions, shortening your sales cycle. Consider employing one or more of these digital tools to speed your sales cycle.
56% Trust Emails They Subscribed To
56% Trust Emails They Subscribed To. With only slightly more than half of subscribers trusting your content, businesses will need to step up to improve.
This percentage is decidedly lower in trust than for branded websites. This may be, in part, because many marketers used backhanded tactics to trick (or automatically subscribe) folks to subscribe to their email lists.
Not unlike the double-negative that trips up high-schoolers in standardized testing, some tactics include underhanded marketers pre-checking opt-in subscription boxes and combining the information with a statement such as “If you don’t want to receive great tips and information on XYZ, uncheck the box.” Working from this reverse angle easily confuses those “15-seconds-only” website visitors. As a result of heavy usage of unsavory practices, it’s not uncommon to find many promptly unsubscribe from lists they weren’t aware they’d opted into.
If your goal, however, is to build a mailing list of highly valuable and loyal followers, then I recommend these practices:
- Follow CAN-SPAM Act regulations: Don’t use deceptive subject lines; no false or misleading headers; provide accurate contact information; make it easy for followers to opt-out.
- Building trust takes time: Begin with automated confirmation messages (“Thank you for signing up…”) and double opt-in formats to weed out spammers.
- Don’t abuse trust by illegally sharing your mailing list with someone else.
- Don’t send too frequently. Watch your analytics carefully to ensure you don’t have a spike in Unsubscribes.
- Use your analytics to determine what content resonates well with readers and what they don’t care about. Amend accordingly.
- Finally, if you want to know why someone unsubscribes, ask politely. You may follow up with an Exit survey. (“Can you let us know why you left?”)
The email results in the Global Trust in Advertising survey by Nielsen are a strong indicator there is plenty of room for improvement. This is where a professional marketer can help guide you to substantially better results. If your business depends upon conversion from emails, this is an area to focus on in the coming year.
48% Trust Video Ads Online
48% Trust Video Ads Online. And 53% take action on those paid ads, exceeding the level of trust. Do they click on a video ad out of curiosity even if they don’t trust the ad?
While the level of trust reported hasn’t changed in at least two years, the use of paid video advertising appears to continue to rise. However, it is disconcerting to see how prevalent bad practices in video advertising continue to flourish:
- Are you annoyed by video ads launching when you’ve not even clicked the Play button?
- Do audio-enabled video ads launch automatically when your mouse passes over the image thumbnail on its way to elsewhere on your screen?
- Are you finding video ads popping up between paragraphs of a story you’re reading from nowhere?
If you find yourself peeved when one of these instances occur, ensure none of these practices are employed when you begin your own video ad campaigns. If a viewer starts off annoyed with the video, you’re starting at a deficit to attempt to convert the viewer to click through. These are only a few of the tactics employed by video marketers. In large part, however, these ads convert, making them highly lucrative for video ad sellers.
On social channels, video can be wildly successful. But like the other tactics highlighted on this page, video requires a skilled hand in shaping the content that keeps viewers returning for more — whether it’s on Facebook or YouTube.
Before pursuing this channel of marketing, be sure you know your objectives and target results to ensure your goals are reasonable for the medium. Will it be a primary sales tool? Or is it used as a supporting tool — more of an educational medium?
63% Trust TV Advertising
63% Trust TV Ads. So if the ad’s on TV it’s significantly more trustworthy than a video ad online (trusted by 48%). It’s a curious paradox since you can run the ad both online and on TV.
Is television advertising trusted far more than online video advertising because it’s been established longer? Because viewers perceive that the government regulates television advertising more stringently? Or because there’s a perception that advertising the internet remains the unlawful wild west?
Whatever the reason, this statistic, showing a significantly greater level of trust in TV advertising than online video advertising, should play an important role in the small business owner’s decision-making process when choosing which mediums to advertise on.
The Global Trust in Advertising report by Nielsen doesn’t speculate on the reasons behind this high level of trust. I can only imagine if you ran the TV ads from the 1960s or 70s on TV now, the level of trust would drop dramatically since we now perceive those sentiments as being highly unauthentic. Perhaps advertisers are focusing most of their efforts on this medium to make quality improvements.
One way to unscientifically gauge the quality of advertising on television might be to review all the ads shown during the Superbowl each year. Did you love ’em or hate ’em? More importantly, what do you think your customers would say?
60% Trust Newspaers Ads and 54% Trust Radio Ads
60% Trust Newspaper Ads and 54% Trust Radio Ads. To be fair, there were statistics for several traditional advertising channels. Magazines came in at 58%. Billboards and other outdoor advertising came in at 56% trusted.
While slightly lower in trust than television ads, these mediums continue to be considered highly trustworthy. One important factor not to forget when planning your marketing strategy for the upcoming year is creating and balancing a mix of different platforms on which to advertise. Online video ads can complement and direct visitors to your website. Ads in magazines can reference your social channels and website, reinforcing your presence in many locations.
All of these add up to further credibility. While one person may dismiss a video ad, she may change her mind after seeing your print ad in her local newspaper. Your message is further reinforced when she hears your ad spot on her local radio station while driving to work.
Determining the right mix of mediums to employ for your marketing strategy can be a bit like trying to follow a treasure map. It works better, faster and more accurately if the clues aren’t obscure and difficult to grasp. A clear path and large “X” to mark the spot are stronger guarantees leads will convert to sales.
Marketers have uncovered a number of traffic patterns that help build credibility and trustworthiness among followers. In a treasure map, you can skip over a clue at your own peril, likely leaving behind potential leads in this case. Consider taking those leads through each step: A radio or TV spot may direct followers to your website. At the end of the blog post on your website, folks may be directed to “Like” the post on a social channel of their choice. Having “Liked” your page, a month later your followers may see another ad leading back to your website which eventually urges them to sign up for your mailing list. Easing them through the sales funnel in this manner prevents prospects from getting cold feet because they haven’t been pushed along the path too quickly or been left behind when there was a gap in messages.
80% of B2C Emails Will Be Opened on Mobile by 2018
80% of B2C emails are expected to be opened on a mobile device by 2018. Traditional emails that neglect mobile-friendly design are likely to be ignored.
Emails that still require that spreading motion with your fingers in order to read them on your phone do business owners a disservice. If prospects are pissed off because they must go to extra effort to view your content, they will quickly unsubscribe.
Responsive design (the terminology for online content which automatically resizes and reorganizes to fit whatever size screen is being used) is de rigueur in current design standards for websites to email. All email service providers now employ responsive design on their sites. So you don’t want to overlook this available tool to improve relations with your followers.
In Marketing Profs’ “Five Email Marketing Practices That Need to Die,” author Neil Berman offers a number of tips to keep business owners on track with email marketing success. Adding to his tips, I offer:
- Compelling and original subject line text is essential to getting your foot in the door for a good open rate.
- Combine great visuals with engaging content. A picture says a thousand words — but don’t neglect to use a few key words!
- Keep your message simple. Ideally, you should only be asking for one thing from the reader. But if format necessitates promoting several points, they should be integrated.
- Analyze! Analyze! Analyze! Your audience will tell you what they do and don’t like about your messages. Don’t wait to change course and correct to keep readers interested.
Email 40 Times More Effective Than Facebook and Twitter
Email is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined for acquiring new customers. You may think with this increase in success there’s little reason to put efforts into social channels…but you’d be wrong!
Social channels function like farmers’ markets and town bazaars — they are where consumers congregate and look for the solutions to problems they have.
In Marketing Profs’ “Five Email Marketing Practices That Need to Die,” author Neil Berman recommends using social channels to attract fans into the marketing and sales funnel:
- Include your email signup form embedded on these sites.
- Conduct contests and activities which require entrants to provide their email addresses in order to participate or win.
- Provide teaser content on social channels “to be continued” in an email campaign. Entice prospects to sign up to learn the rest of the story.
I have seen successful tweeters unveil an entire book, 140-characters at a time, with links to their email signup so that interested followers can have access to the entire story in chapter format. Ultimately social channels provide a fresh funnel-ful of new leads. Find ways to integrate these channels to attract the widest audience.
52% of Web Traffic to Retail Sites currently comes via Smartphones and Tablets
52% of web traffic to retail sites currently comes via smartphones and tablets. 36% of online sales are now completed on a smartphone or tablet device, according to a recent report from IMRG Capgemini. That figure rises to 40% for clothing and apparel merchants.
If you watch your analytics on your own website, you’ve likely also seen a rise in mobile and tablet traffic in your reports as well. And it’s likely we’ll see traffic and sales shift further and further to alternative devices from desktop:
- Is your website created in Responsive Design? If not, it’s likely you’ll alienate a large segment of your audience as the site won’t automatically resize and reconfigure for display on the alternative devices.
- Are there specific functions and services you could be offering your audience on smartphones or tablets which should be designed into your website? This may include registration with your company or a special display of products or services from which the prospect is to choose while they’re in your offices.
- Can you shorten a specific procedure or task using a smartphone or tablet for your customers? This may or may not require a new app to supplement your site.
55% is the Highest Open Rate on Average
55% is the highest open rate on average, far exceeding the overall average open rate for email campaigns with fewer than 35 subscribers, suggesting segmentation. (Overall average open rates for emails is 22%.)
The Open Rate is a measure of how many recipients of an email click to view it. It does not measure those who may (or may not) read an entire email in a preview pane.
In a study by Constant Contact, an email service provider, summarized by Marketing Profs’ “How Two Key Factors Affect Email Open Rates,” they reviewed 100 billion emails (!), uncovering a number of clear patterns.
First, the larger the mailing list, the smaller the open rate. Second, the results were quite different by industry:
- Email campaigns sent by nonprofit groups generally have higher open rates than those of B2B and B2C organizations.
- Religious organizations have the highest open rates (38%), followed by medical services (32%) and nonprofit associations (28%).
- The best performing B2C industry is sports and recreation (26% open rate), and the best performing B2B industry is professional services (26%).
Use this peer data to benchmark against your own results. If your open rate is low or declining, what are the possible reasons for these results? This statistic coupled with unsubscribe rate data are key indicators of success or going off the tracks.
3-4 Minutes is the Average Time Spent on Ecomm, Travel & Retail Sites
3:49, 4:35 and 3:35 are the average times spent, respectively, on ecommerce, travel and retail sites. These statistics come from Wolfgang Digital’s Benchmarking KPI Study of 56 million websites, 2015. Of interest in this report was the high percentage of traffic from these sites that came from Google: i.e. it generated 50 times more traffic for ecommerce, travel and retails sites.
What is your own site’s average time spent? Even if your own business doesn’t fit any of these categories and doesn’t rely heavily upon web traffic for revenue, the data can provide a sense of user behavior online. Given the investment in time, money (or both) in developing a website, it’s strongly recommended for business owners to track and analyze site visit analytics. (Available from Google for free!)
Some basic metrics business owners are recommended to track and understand are:
- Number of visitors visiting the site
- The source of those visitors
- What are the primary pages they visit, and which receive the most traffic?
- How long do they stay on each of those pages?
- Your bounce rate (how many exit the page quickly)
- Average time spent on your site
Some may see visitiors spending a minute or less on their site. Many may see longer visits. What do you do with this information? Know that Google, Bing and other search engines continually re-rank your site based upon how long visitors stay on your site. So if visitors are leaving in droves you can count on your ranking in Google results to go down.
How do you improve site performance?
There are a number of solutions I propose for clients after analyzing what is and isn’t working on a site. But one easy solution is the addition of video content. The important thing to consider is: Once you’ve got your site up and running, what are you going to do with it to improve your customer relations? Keeping your site current and improving are essential to success.
47% Trust Ads Served in Search Engine Results
47% trust ads served in search engine results and ads on social networks. 43% of people say they trust mobile advertising.
For slightly less than half the respondents, these digital ads represent a reasonable amount of credibility. In Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising report, a number of categories’ (mobile advertising, banner ads and mobile text ads [SMS]) trust levels land in the mid-40 percentile, unsurprisingly.
Why isn’t it higher? And why do I find many clients avoid all digital advertising?
I suspect (but I don’t have a survey report to prove it!) that digital advertising remains a steep learning curve for many. Ad buys require a fair amount of research on keyword phrases simply to place simple ads. Coupled with the time required to analyze results leaves many small business owners shaking their heads at the entire process.
My personal experience with ad buys on Facebook indicates it’s a viable medium for specific business types and goals:
- Cost of advertising is frequently one-quarter the cost of Google AdWords.
- For as little as $5 – $10 a week, a business owner can begin to understand how advertising works on this platform and begin honing results for early success.
- Highly targeted advertising is ideal, which helps business owners further target all advertising across platforms.
- Once patterns begin to emerge in results, they can be applied to other ad platforms, such as Google AdWords.
My recommendation: When appropriate, begin testing digital advertising with reasonable budgets for your business.
The Lifetime Value of a new Referral Customer is 16% Higher
The Lifetime Value of a new Referral Customer is 16% Higher above Customers Acquired through Other Sources. This statistic comes from the Wharton School of Business. With the significant increase in overall revenues from referred customers you’d think more businesses would shift their marketing strategy to build a greater stock of referred clients. But it remains a smaller source of new business for many larger companies.
But “referred customers” doesn’t have to reference only personal, human connections. Referrals can be made digitally. Online tools such as LinkedIn and other online services offer the opportunity to endorse and/or introduce colleagues to one another to increase referred business.
Programs taught through BNI, the Referral Institute and others provide business owners with the tools and techniques to enhance this aspect of their success. Referred customers:
- Cost less to acquire than non-referred customers
- Remain loyal to your brand longer
- Spend more with you
On your own website, prominent display of testimonials and referrals conveys to prospects that you value referred business as a central part of your business strategy. If you’ve not yet begun programs to enhance your referral-acquired clients, now’s the time to jump in on it! It could be as simple as just asking for referrals.
68% of Companies Rate Email Good for ROI
68% of companies rate email as “good” or “excellent” for ROI. Essential to successful ROI are easy ways for customers to buy online.
As cited in Econsultancy’s Email Marketing Census, the key to great email ROI is Call-to-Action (CTA). Examples of types of CTAs include buttons for:
- Shop, Buy, Purchase
- Ticket, Reserve
- Subscribe, Sign up
- Learn More, Details
- View, Download
- Visit, Join
Obtaining a great ROI on email remains an art form as many choices face the marketer:
- How many CTA buttons should you have in one email?
- What color should they be?
- What font and type size?
- How big should the buttons be?
- Where should they be placed on the page?
While you can’t obtain great email ROI without a CTA (oh, those acronyms!), the CTA has little value if the content isn’t compelling. It begins with a great Subject Line to make the subscriber interested in opening the email. Then you must decide about photos and text to maintain interest. While fewer smartphone owners disable all images on incoming email, it’s essential your email marketer provides compelling alt tags. (“Alt” what? you say) This is why results will improve with an experienced email marketer to increase your ROI!