ALTAMONTE SPRINGS — These days, Matt Weber said, most businesses have a web site. More than a few also use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to reach customers.
But are they actually doing what they need to do in order to build up their clientele? Most likely not, he said, because the Internet has become host to rapidly changing technologies that a lot of businesses are not aware of, and are falling behind on — to their great detriment.
It’s a brave new world, Weber said, with little in common with past methods of advertising, like television commercials or print ads in newspapers and magazines.
“My career in advertising started in television,” Weber said. “And there was a time in television when you could fall asleep for 15 years and wake up and go right back to what you were doing. Nothing changed. Today, I can walk into my office and something new will have happened on the Internet that I didn’t know about the day before.”
Weber is the president of Roar on the Web, a web design firm that also provides Internet marketing advice and service to other businesses. On Wednesday, he gave a presentation titled “8 Internet and Social Media Trends to Watch in 2013” at the Sandler Training Institute in Altamonte Springs.
“This gentleman really knows what he is doing,” said Eric Shulman, president of Sandler Training, an institution that provides sales and management training, and the man who invited Weber to make the presentation there. “Steal what you can from him.”
Weber said one of the most important changes in technology has been the widespread use and popularity of mobile application devices like smartphones and iPads, which enable people to check their emails or web sites on something other than their laptop.
“More people are using apps today,” he said. “Consumers are digesting web content on these devices, not desktops.”
That’s become a critical development for a lot of businesses, he said, because in most instances their web sites are not adaptable to mobile apps, meaning mobile app users cannot easily navigate their site from their smartphone or iPad. And that means lost customers.
It’s also created a new market called Responsive Design, introduced last June as a new technology that is built into a web site’s html content.
“It morphs itself, based on the content,” he said, making it adaptable to mobile apps.
“A web site’s ability to morph itself to the device looking it up will be key to your future in 2013,” he said. “Only 2 percent of businesses have a mobile optimized website. We haven’t adopted our sites for that.”
In the future, he said, every business will need a mobile optimized website or risk losing millions of potential customers worldwide who don’t rely on laptops.
“Some businesses say, ‘Hey, I can see my site on a mobile phone, does that mean it’s a mobile optimized site?’ ” he said. “It’s not, because you can’t navigate the site the way you can on a laptop. This is important because studies show that 90 percent of mobile searches result in visiting a business location or purchasing a product. Search engines favor a mobile optimized site.”
More importantly, he added, is that “Mobile advertising will increase and nearly double to $4.4 billion in 2013. Mobile advertising is a huge business that will impact you in 2013.”
Until now, Weber said, most businesses have relied on putting their information on a web site, and then sending out email blasts to prospective customers. But this approach is going to be more difficult and less effective in the future, again because of changing technology.
“Email marketing will be more difficult in 2013 than in 2012,” he said. “Email has always been a very cost-effective way to market. This will get more difficult because more emails are read on a mobile device than on a desktop, and you want to see how that email looks on an iPhone.”
It’s also become more challenging because an increasing number of businesses have anti-spam devices to limit email blasts from floating into their email accounts.
“One of the things we’re fighting is that 68 percent of U.S. email is spam,” he said. “Sending emails is not hard. Getting email to go where you want it to go is a lot harder. Getting people to read it and buy from you will be even harder still. Businesses still continue to ignore deliver-ability issues. In order for email to be effective for us in 2013, we have to understand this issue of deliver-ability. We can’t just push ‘send’ and hope for the best anymore.”
That’s how Responsive Design, Weber added, helps ensure an email is as effective to read on a mobile app as on a laptop.
Another new trend in this area, he said, is ESP — or Email Service Providers.
“We’re pretty convinced there will be an in-box management breakthrough in 2013,” he said. “That means your in-box will begin to understand your behavior. It’s this discipline that will understand how you behave on your email account, and manage it more effectively.”
How to reach an audience beyond sending out emails or simply posting a web site in cyberspace, he said, will also be critical this year. A lot of businesses, he said, set up Facebook or Twitter accounts to promote what they do, but don’t always use social media effectively.
The content of what gets posted on either Facebook or Twitter should be strong and interesting, he said, because sites like Facebook fear that too much frivolous content will drive viewers away from Facebook altogether, so the host site limits who can see the most drab postings.
But if the content is good, he said, it can draw people to your site.
“Facebook revenue is projected to grow from $4.2 billion in 2012 to $5.4 billion in 2013,” he said. “But most clients are not making money off using Facebook. Some companies have a terrible Facebook page.”
A significant tool these days, he said, is GoogleMaps, which offers an online version of what those hefty Yellow Pages books once provided.
“GoogleMaps created the world’s largest online directory of businesses,” he said. “Google listings draw dollars for most businesses. Facebook is not bringing you a dime.”
This is important, he said, because if your business and services are easy to find on Google searches, a business owner increases their chances of landing customers.
“There is a tendency of people to shop within 15 minutes of where they live, and 20 to 25 percent of all searches are local searches,” Weber said. “What’s putting money in your pocket is local searches. And you want to make sure your web site is effective enough for people to want to do business with you. Businesses today are not looking at the Internet analytically, they’re looking at it emotionally. The Internet fuels fads. The Internet fuels trends.”
One trend these days, is small businesses offering SEO services — or search engine optimization, to help a business web site rise in the search engine rankings. Here, too, Weber said, always know exactly what the company is doing for your site — or risk a catastrophe.
“There’s a right way and a wrong way to do SEOs,” he said. “There are techniques that can artificially elevate your rankings, and once they’re gone, you plummet like a rock, and it’s extremely difficult to get it back. A word of advice — don’t piss off Google. Every business needs to figure out Google.”
To learn more about Roar and Internet marketing, log on to Roar on the Web.
To learn more about Sandler Training Institute, call 407-617-1716 or visit Sandler Training.
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