Is SEO dead?

We are a browsing generation. Google alone processes over 40,000 search queries every second – that is more than 3.5 billion requests every day and I personally don’t know if I would survive long without Google. For marketers, this proves how important it is to be visibility in the search results as a way to be available for potential customers.

Although studies show that consumers tend to ignore sponsored listings in favour for the organic results, it turns out that marketers are not longer as focused on improving their organic rankings through SEO as they used to be. Instead, companies tend to invest in paid-placement campaigns. In 2003 approximately 82% of the amount invested in SEM went to paid-placement campaigns while only 12% went to SEO. According to Sen (2014) the main reason seems to be that although the click-through rate is lower, paid-placement ads are still cheaper than using SEO to customize your website to every search engine for every relevant keyword.

Does this mean that SEO is dying? Well, it seems to depend on what you mean by SEO. Robert Scoble argue that the algorithms of Google and Bing are getting too good at figuring out what sites deserve to be in the top of the results, to make tweaking your website, to receive a higher ranking, effective. But isn’t SEO about more than manipulating the system? I really hope so, and several SEO professionals appear to agree. With Panda and Penguin, Google makes it harder for grey and black hats to be successful. This mean that SEO is “not anymore about tricks but about making your site the best it could be for your users while keeping the search engines in mind”. And that is just better for everyone, isn’t it?

Let me know what you guys think in the comments below. Oh, and watch this Google Search video (just because it’s hilarious!).

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Big Data – The end of intuitive decision making?

Along with the Internet of Things comes a lot of data. As more and more of our daily activities get measured, the amount of collected information is growing. The access to this Big Data brings endless possibilities. For managers, Big Data means that decision-making now can be based on information, rather than intuition or gut feeling.

McAfee and Brynjolfsson (2012) argue that Big Data is revolutionizing management. Since we now can measure, and thereby access information about almost anything, business executives can now improve the performance of their business by making well-informed decisions. We’re moving away from a business environment where important judgements are based on the HiPPO – the highest paid person’s opinion. In fact, in many cases, the best decision maker will be an algorithm.

There are great gains to be made by acknowledging the power of Big Data. The findings of a Capgemini report from 2011 indicate that for processes where Big Data analytics has been applied, on average, there had been a 26% improvement in performance over the previous three years. And their expectations were even higher – a 41% improvement was expected over the following three years.

infographics_V9Image source

So, does that mean Big Data is the end of intuitive decision making? Off course not. Well at least if you can trust Jeanne G. Harris from Accenture Institute for High Performance. She argues that the full potential of Big Data can only be unlocked when it’s combined with business intuition. Even though it’s important to understand the power of analytics, you must also accept its limitations. Both intuition and data are invaluable, but you can’t really use either of them effectively without the other.

Do you guys agree? Or do you fully believe in the power of data? Let me know in the comments below!

Mobile is everything

I don’t think I’m the only one when I tell you I rarely read the newspaper, rarely watch TV and would never ever leave my house without my smartphone. Actually, I know I’m not the only one, apparently 77% of Australians are as crazy as I am when it comes to bringing their dear smartphones everywhere.

Australian smartphone penetration is now at a whopping 77% and about 2 billion consumers worldwide have smartphones.

So what does this smartphone epidemic mean for marketers?

Well, Forrest analyst Thomas Husson argues that many marketers still haven’t realised the importance of mobile, having a “narrow view of mobile as a ‘sub-digital’ medium and channel” leading to most brands underinvesting in mobile.

The graph below visualises this, showing the huge gap between the percentage of time spent on mobile, vs. the spending on mobile marketing.

Picture1Source: http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends

It’s probably about time businesses start to integrate mobile into their marketing strategies, huh?

The combination of being connected 24/7 and being able to track location with new technology gives marketers new possibilities to effectively reach their customers in a way that reflects their situational need and context.

Kaplan (2012) argue that the most sophisticated types of mobile social media applications are those that take account of both time and place simultaneously and refers to those applications as space-timers.

Using the location of your customers is key if you want to create effective mobile communication which is probably why beacons have become the new big thing.

Beacon technology allows retailers to locate the exact position of a customer in their store and communicate with them on their smartphones and is expected to be adopted by 85% of the top 100 retailers by the end of the year.

I guess the future is mobile, huh? Leave a comment below and let me know where you think mobile marketing is heading.

 

Measure the marketing metrics that matter

For all businesses, measuring performance is crucial. Obviously, that includes the performance of your business’s digital presence too.

Fortunately, there’s heaps of digital data out there for all marketers analyse. And when I say heaps, I mean HEAPS. Digital analytics provide us with more information than we could ever properly analyse, but taking a look at the right figures can help us develop a deeper understanding of our customers’ behaviours. That way digital analytics become a great tool when creating successful campaigns, page layouts or ads.

However, studies indicate that few managers are convinced of the benefits of marketing analytics and apparently only 9% of CEOs rely on marketing data to set corporate direction.

To me, this is pretty confusing when marketing analytics has been proven to generate positive performance outcomes for most firms and even greater outcomes for firms in industries with high competition and where customers change their needs and wants frequently (Germann et al., 2013).

So, I guess we have established that digital analytics is a good thing. But what should we measure then?

Obviously, you need to identify KPIs that are relevant to your company’s goals but with crazy amounts of data and different metrics to choose from I get that marketers are getting confused – ending up optimising a particular metric that doesn’t have any impact on the company or tracking metrics just because they are easy to track.

Web analytics expert Avanish Kaushik puts it like this:

“It is not that Visits and Page Views and Impressions and Fans and Clicks are useless. They are not. They are just not worthy of all the attention you give them. They are not. . . super awesome.”

Instead, he’s suggesting these far more awesome metrics:

Table1

I wish you all good luck in your future careers as web analysts and would love to hear your thoughts about figuring out what metrics to track.

Social media marketing – is this really the way to go?

 Am I the only one getting sick of all the ads, everywhere?

Despite the fact that 31% of Australian social media users say they are turned off by companies that advertise on social media, 72% ignore sponsored posts and ad blocking technologies are getting more and more popular, the proportion of businesses that pays for ads on social media keeps increasing (Sensis, 2015).

I totally get that the advertising model is the way these sites/apps generate income but what about the businesses paying for ads? If we, the customers, are getting so annoyed by constantly being interrupted by ads, is advertising on social media sites really a good strategy?

Hodis et al. (2015) argue that even though Facebook is an excellent platform for communication and engagement with brand communities many businesses are using Facebook completely wrong. Instead of taking advantage of the endless possibilities of social networking sites, Facebook is used as just another advertising medium.

I think it’s about time business takes a step back and re-evaluate the way in which they use social media. Why pay for ignored, creepy, contextual, advertising when you can use your brand page to generate real electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) just by being aware of the different social media personalities and trying to engage all of them?

Take a look at this RedBull-campaign and how they’re successfully taking advantage of the power of social media by engaging at least three of the four segments of Hodis et al. on several different social media platforms.

Creating buzz and engaging people is so much more fun than traditional ads, right?

Let me know what you guys think!