Will the Mobile Revolution Smother the Trusty Desktop? | The State of 2015 E-Commerce

If a desktop computer could wear clothes, it would arise every morning at 6:30 a.m., don a blue shirt and khaki slacks, and hum the “Green Acres” theme song on its way to work – which is at Microsoft, of course. If a smartphone could choose its attire, it would look like a GQ hipster and wear a jacket in summer before it was cool.

This is serious stuff. Global business-to-customer (B2C) e-commerce reached sales of $1.5 trillion in 2014. Now drum roll please and a quick check of the sales analytics, in the United States, customers spent an estimated $480 billion on online sales. E-commerce has passed the tipping point to become mainstream, and its success depends on these two players: the white-collar PC and the urbane smartphone. Come 2015, what part will desktop devices, mobile phones, and shopping cart interface play in e-commerce?

Mobile and Desktop Device Ownership
In 1973, Motorola unveiled the world’s first smartphone for $3,995. That’s more than $21,000 in modern U.S. dollars. Today, everyone and his mother have phones. Ninety percent of Americans – and practically everyone under 49 – owns a cell phone. Eighty-three percent of those under the age of 29 own a smartphone, like an Android or an iPhone. The more urban, male, educated and affluent a person is, the more likely he is to own a smartphone. Differences in ownership by gender and ethnicity are negligible.

The mobile device newcomer is the tablet. In 2013, 200 million were sold. By 2017, pundits expect annual tablet sales to surpass one billion. That means one out of seven people, across the entire earth, would own a tablet. Approximately 12 percent of all time spent browsing the Internet occurs on tablets, and as will be seen, it is rapidly becoming the superstar of online shopping.

In the personal computer (PC) world, the three big players are Lenovo, HP and Dell. All report a dim future for the traditional desktop computer. The lion’s share of 2014 PC sales went to corporate businesses running large programs that require a PC, like companion diagnostics programs and personal medicine analysis, and the occasional cult of college gamers. For 2015, many predict that more people will buy tablets – not to mention smartphones – in lieu of traditional desktops and notebooks.

Synopsis: The PC is on its last tottering legs. The smartphone reigns king, and the tablet is the popular new kid on the block. Should businesses, therefore, spend the extra money to optimize website navigation and presentation for PC operating systems to entice business customers? Or should they build responsive websites and mobile shopping carts to woo the Millennial generation?

Mobile and Desktop Device Internet Usage
The third week of August 2014 held the answer. For the first time since mankind found caves, mobile devices brought more traffic to online stores than did computers.

Now, that trend comes with a soup of caveats. More desktop shoppers, for instance, used traditional search engines like Google and Bing, whereas mobile users preferred social media outlets like Facebook. That, too, comes with caveats. Antique collectibles and digital cameras are often purchased through Facebook. Home furnishings and specialty gifts, however, rarely are.

Here’s the biggest caveat of all: Mobile users may bring more traffic to online stores, but desktop users are more likely to push the buy button. Smartphone conversion rates often fall below one percent. Analogous tablet and desktop rates hover between two and three percent. This trend could be due to a dozen annoyances. Smartphones take longer to load web pages. Tablets can showcase more data per page. Desktop connections are viewed as more secure. Smartphones don’t have keyboards. Et cetera.

Perhaps the reason is simpler. Recent studies show that 77 percent of mobile users blame a poor or unsatisfying viewing or navigation experience with their unwillingness to buy from a site. For many businesses, responsive websites remain an afterthought designed for looks rather than ease of navigation. Building data-heavy interactive smartphone websites, therefore, could instantly improve conversion.

It is all well and good to know this information for the coming year. But how can a business get the data instantaneously, without waiting for pundits to crunch the numbers and paint ‘em pretty?

E-Commerce Software Programs
Meet Shopify, e-commerce software. Programs like Shopify allow users to monitor site traffic, visitor demographics, conversion rates and other metrics from the backend. It is like a digital surveillance program that does the math automatically.

A user can also hook up Shopify to third-party providers to exploit extra data. For example, a small business owner can create a dashboard with self-service analytics that enables her to transform her raw Shopify backend data into crisp, clean graphs. She can use these graphs to identify peak shopping season, customer demographic data, and her most effective marketing channels.

The mobile revolution has not yet claimed total victory. Desktop PCs, smartphones and tablets all bring billions to digital shelves. The savvy entrepreneur, therefore, will target all three devices – and buy an e-commerce dashboard to catch and crunch the salient numbers.

Image source: https://stocksnap.io/photo/VVSESFW1MS

The Difference Between Predictive Analytics and Business Intelligence

The Difference Between Predictive Analytics and Business Intelligence

Although there is definitely a great deal of value in successfully predicting future actions within your industry, the nature of prediction is uncertain at best. You may have a gut feeling about what will happen, but in many cases, external conditions and unexpected events will override predictive measures and cost your business a great deal of money and time for no reason.

There is a better way to use information than to put it into a predictive analysis algorithm and expecting a result that you can base executive decisions on. Here is a better format for organizing data that a busy executive can use in a streamlined way.

– First of all, create a data dashboard with more detailed information than what you think that you will need.

In order to fully create a picture of the present and the future, you need a full picture of the past. Many predictive models bind themselves because the model itself limits the input that can be acknowledged by the program.

If you want to create real business intelligence that gives you more of an opportunity for a correct decision than a predictive model, then you must begin with a program that allows for substantive input. “Garbage in, garbage out,” as the saying goes.

– Secondly, invest in a trusted line of human analysts to sort through the output of your business intelligence programs.

Before the raw information from a particular campaign is ever presented to an executive to make any kind of decision, there should be a trusted group of analysts whose job it is to sort through the output and determine the most relevant data to present for future analysis.

In order to turn a predictive analysis into a true business intelligence campaign, there must be input from people who understand the things that computers do not. For instance, only a human can respond in real time to unexpected events until that information is input into a program. Humans are able to interpret data trends that do not fit a certain mold – this kind of data will only confuse a computer program, or worse, make it think that a particular situation is something else entirely.

– Third, any executive that is expected to make a decision from information must be presented information that is relevant to a certain topic.

Although it is up to the analysts to sort through the raw data, it is up to the executive to dictate what the actual goal of the analysis is. There should be a meeting of the minds before any data is processed so that the computers can be programmed to look for the right kind of information trends and the analysts will be fully informed about what the goals of the process are. Otherwise, information can be interpreted in a number of ways. This is of no help to anyone in the company.

Although very few executives have the time to ask the “why” questions when information is presented to them, analysts should have this information handy for themselves. Before presenting anything to an executive, analysts will have a much better chance of providing true business intelligence by collaborating on the data that they will present to the decision making class of the company. This process will also help to quantify any of the ideas that are presented to executives rather than simply relying on the algorithm of the program.

– Fourth, the external situation must be considered.

The problem with predictive analysis is that it cannot analyze the situation surrounding any of the results of a certain condition. If trend lines are the same at two points in time but the market surrounding those conditions are different, a different outcome will likely occur. There may also be new competition in the market that was not there any more. All of these factors must be considered. They are factors that may not be able to integrate themselves into a program at all; this is another reason that the human analysis of the computer results are so important.

If there is a new and relevant competitor in the marketplace, then you must incorporate their impact on the marketplace into any new results that are compiled. Be sure that this is a part of the data table that your analysts put together for the executives and decision makers.

Customer Recovery: Recapturing the Heart (and the Business) of a Lost Customer

Even if your business is securing new customers constantly, losing customers at the same time will not help the company to grow.  Rather than assuming nothing can be done to regain the trust of that lost customer, it pays to get in gear and do what is necessary to rebuild the relationship.  Here are some tips that will help with the process.

Identifying the Reasons That the Customer Left

As the supplier or vendor, you are in the position to understand what happened on your end.  Unfortunately, too many people stop at that point and never consider the perspective of the lost client.  While using a zendesk integration to gather information from different databases is a good start, your job is to look beyond what you know to be fact and take a good look at what the customer perceives as the reason for the end of the relationship.

This is going to require more than an internal investigation.  As important as it is to check your own procedures and the actions of your employees, you must be able to see those events from the point of view of the customer.  Never dismiss them out of hand.  That is true even if what the customer perceives occurred was actually something else.  If you have any hope of winning back that customer, you must get a good idea of what he or she thinks.

Own the Situation

No matter what actions took place on each side of the events, you take ownership of the breakdown in the relationship.  That means you assume responsibility for what happened.  It doesn’t matter if the issue got rolling due to the failure of one of your suppliers to provide goods or services on time, or it the matter is because the client did not quite grasp how a certain service works.

Avoid backhanded apologies that leave room for some of the blame to be placed on the customer.  The worst thing you can do is tell a former client that you are sorry he or she didn’t understand how to place an order for rush delivery.  Instead, you take the responsibility and state that you should have made it clearer on what was needed to produce the desired result.

What Are You Going to Do About It?

Lost customers may appreciate a sincere apology, but the only way to really capture their interest is to offer a workable resolution.  This will likely mean tweaking some of your internal processes before you begin the effort to rebuild the lost relationship.  Even if you think the current setup is perfect, the fact that you lost a customer for any reason indicates there is room for improvement.

A twofold approach is likely to generate some interest.  First, explain to the lost customer what you’ve done to help prevent the same set of circumstances occur a second time.  Make sure each step is presented in a positive light, and call attention to how this will make things easier for the client.  Depending on how well those changes resonate with the customer, you could be on your way to getting that second chance.

For the second step, offer some type of incentive.  While money may not be the first priority of the client, you can bet it figures into the mix somehow.  After explaining how things will be different going forward, offer some type of discount for any orders or usage of services that will remain in place for a limited time.  For example, if you run a teleconferencing company, that discount could apply to all conference calls placed over the next thirty days.  Be clear about the amount and how the discount will be applied to the invoices, and be prepared to back up that verbal offer in writing.

Tracking Progress

Just as there is a sales funnel for cultivating and signing up new customers, there is also a customer service funnel designed to aid in customer service and support.  In order to manage that funnel effectively, your team must be able to retrieve relevant information with ease.  Since that data will not necessarily reside in a single database, it helps to structure the network so data can be downloaded and sorted in a common source.

One way to easily collect relevant data into one easy to use database is with the aid of an overlay that can grab the data and organize it for quick access.  The right integration program helps to provide the connection between different contact databases, manages the scheduling of follow-up calls, and even triggers the generation of email and hard copies sent by post.  The integrative software can pull from sales databases, the accounting database, and even grab information about the status of shipments.

Using this tool effectively will mean there is a constantly updating record of what actions have occurred with the client, what actions are pending, and even some ideas of what should be planned once those pending items are completed.  The right software makes it easy to generate reports arranging in any manner the user needs, or create charts that help to show the progress (or lack thereof) with winning back the lost customer.  The ability to collate the data and actually look at it up close will often yield new and more creative ways of what to do next.

The choice is yours.  Do you want to write off the customer as a lost cost, or do you want the relationship back?  Show the client you can provide them with excellent service and support, and the odds of healing the broken relationship are very high.

5 Useful Features MailChimp Offers Your Business

MailChimp is a unique online website that offers a quality online list building system to build your newsletter. If you are trying to create a business and get more of your clients to continue coming back, you need to save your clients’ emails as best as you can to reconnect with them down the road. There are other sites that offer lost building services, but you’ll come to find that MailChimp is the best one because of how they handle their clients and their features. Take a look at these 5 features that showcase how great MailChimp is for marketing.
Their Great Apps

If you’re an Internet marketer who is always on the go, their responsive apps are perfect for being able to do everything on the go. When you’re trying to send out another email blast or you just want to look at the data analytics, you can do it all on their apps. They actually have a myriad of apps to help you with multiple tasks. This makes it so much easier when you’re trying so hard to be able do tasks without having to stay on your computer.

Specific Customer Individual Profiles

When you have somebody join your list, it is hard sometimes to be able to know exactly what that person is doing and if they even read your emails. If you want to know what the person behind each email is doing, you can do that with MailChimp, tend not many autoresponders online can do this. The Subscriber Profiles are a unique and different part of MailChimp, and it allows you to see everything about the person. You can see what time zone that they are in, if they’re mobile or not, what email client they like more, and other great things to know about them. You can search for their name right in your account, and you can get valuable information about this exact person. Being able to do fast market research this way is definitely a unique way to do this.

Custom Thank You Pages

When a person signs up to your list, you want to be able to thank them personally by simply offering to write a custom thank you page. On MailChimp, your visitors instantly get lead to a “thank you” page that you can personally customize for your specific list. There are some people who hate the “please wait for the confirmation email” page, and it can be very boring and bland. Using MailChimp allows for you to entertain your guests and keep them happy. You can also use mailchimp for gated content if you don’t mind the double opt in process.

Great Editor

They have a great editor. You can edit your emails and your subscription forms so well. They have a very simple drag and drop system that allows for you to edit forms so easily. Their MailChimp editor is highly respectable for getting a top notch design that will work well on all devices. You don’t need to know anything about HTML or coding to utilize their designs. With their templates already available and easily customizable designs, you don’t have to worry about spending days just to work on getting your form ready. Their tablet and mobile apps can let you do all of this from your phone as well.

MailChimp is by far a step ahead of other websites that offer autoresponders. Building business mailing lists takes time, and it is vital that you use the right site to build your list and newsletter. MailChimp is definitely the best site you could use if you want to build a list and easily update them with emails using an easy to use platform.

 

How Nonprofits Can Take Advantage Of Google+

How Nonprofits Can Take Advantage Of Google+

When it comes to social media marketing, Twitter, Facebook, and visually focused social networks Google+ might one of the most under-rated marketing platforms out there. This is perhaps because there are so many different ways to connect, communicate, and interact on the service – the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. But the social proof of being popular on Google+ makes it worth the effort – especially for a nonprofit.

The Google+ Suite Of Tools

In addition to the standard capabilities for your brand to share content, links, images, and post status updates, there are some unique tools available with Google+ that can be particularly useful for charities and other nonprofits. For instance, Hangouts let you chat with your customers in real time, live on webcam – perfect for volunteer training, community brainstorming, and showing off your hard work. Google Events allow for a direct connection to their Calendars, and it is super easy for users to sign up for your mailing list (especially since they are already logged into their Gmail accounts if they are interacting with your company on Google+ to begin with).

Easy Connections Using Google+

Chances are, you already have a Google account for your nonprofit that you use in some way, shape, or form – Google’s myriad business services are downright ubiquitous. You probably have a gmail account, a business listing in Google Places, or you use Google Drive to create and store documents. And chances are your target audience does as well, so there’s no need for them to sign up for yet another social network in order to interact with you – the low barrier to entry increases the likelihood of engagement.

Simplify Your Content Sharing Process

Another one of the benefits of using Google+ is the ability to easily disseminate content across the various Google platforms – and beyond, if you choose to link your other social media outlets with your Google presence. This may seem like a minor and even unnecessary detail, but the less time you have spend on basic promotional activities, the more time you and your team can devote to coming up with new concepts and ideas.

The Myriad Benefits Of Using Google+

At the end of the day, social media marketing is all about self promotion – whether you are working for a nonprofit or any other type of company. Google+ can allow you to effectively create a cohesive central content hub that you can post to any time of the day (and studies have shown there is really no ideal time to post on the platform – users connect with Google throughout the day and night. In addition, unlike other social networks, Google+ is all about driving traffic to your website instead of keeping users on their own site, and there could be SEO benefits to using it as well – Google may reward companies that actively use their services.

 Real World Connections Are The Focus

Unlike many other social media sites, Google+ is likely to be linked to your real name, your nonprofit or company’s name, and your brand’s and online presence in a unique way – which means it can strengthen your business contacts in a powerful way.

It is statistically likely that many of your current fans and prospective audience members have Google accounts that they actively use, since after all, anyone who has a Gmail or any other kind of a Google account automatically is on Google+, regardless of whether they use it. Therefore, it can be an easy way to build your connection with your existing audience and develop new leaders.

Getting The Most Out Of Google+

Like any other social network, successfully using Google+ requires a thorough understanding of the platform. There are plenty of resources available – both from Google itself (they have an excellent support community) and from third party sites that offer tips and tricks specifically tailored to the nonprofit realm.

Overall, Google+ can be an excellent way for nonprofits to amplify their mission, and it lacks the amount of “noise” that can be found on more popular networks. Google+ is what you (and every user) makes of it – so make the most of it!

 

5 Things Small Businesses Can do Everyday to Crush it on Google+

5 Things Small Businesses Can do Everyday to Crush it on Google+

Google owns the worlds biggest search engine, so it only makes sense that being active on their social network will help your articles rank higher and be seen more in searches. If you aren’t using your Google+ page, your business is leaving some opportunities (and money) on the table!

I’ve highlighted 5 simple tasks that you can do daily to ensure your content and brand’s reach is maximized. None of these take large budgets or a big staff, but they do take dedication and commitment to building your community across your circles.

I hope you find the tasks below to be a valuable addition to your Google+ strategy. For more Google+ tips, you can download our free Google+ chapter from the ModMark Book, Get Social – The Ultimate Online Marketing Guide For Social Good: Google+ Chapter

5 Daily tasks to optimize your reach on Google+

  1. Respond to all comments and notifications

Start your morning by going through all of the comments and notifications from the previous day. You’re responsible for facilitating the conversation on your page, and encouraging people to engage with your brand. Your brand wants to be seen as responsive, so you should design your page to be the hub for discussion! Follow up their comments with questions and work to find the information to help your followers and establish yourself as an influencer in the industry.

  1. Share engaging content

Post content that encourages your community to comment, share and +1. You want your posts to be informative, educational, entertaining and something that visually catches your circle’s eyes when they are scrolling their feed.

  1. Share 2 – 3 posts from your connections/ influencers

In addition to sharing your own content, share great content from your connections. You want to establish your Google+ page as a go-to destination for your community to get up-to-date news for your industry and the top tips and best practices to succeed.

By sharing out other influencers content, you are building your relationship with them online. Ideally, they will also share your best content with their community, helping it spread further.

  1. Comment on 5 – 6 other posts

You not only want to share content, you want to engage with it. Find the people on Google+ who are discussing similar topics and are involved in the industry to connect with. Click on the Explore tab to find the trending hashtags and get involved with one or two of the most popular conversations of the day.

  1. Network with new groups/influencers

Under the Home drop down option on your Google+ page, click the Communities section. Once there, you can find groups specific to your industry to join. Instead of joining 10 groups and being minimally involved, pick out 2 – 3 very active groups and plan to actively join the conversation in these.

You can search for different groups on the communities page. Before simply clicking join without knowing anything about the group, do a quick assessment and see if it fits with your brand’s goals.

What to look for in a group

  1. The number of active members and posts will let you know not only how popular the group is but if the members are consistently contributing content
  2. Next, I click into the group and check for when the last post was posted. Some will say 8:30 that morning, others the last post won’t have been for over three months. If this is the case you don’t want to plan to join a group that hasn’t posted for three months because there won’t be that strong community to connect with.
  3. Read through the About the Community section. Here is where they have the rules and layout of the group. This will only further confirm this is a type of group you want to be involved in.
  4. Finally scan the feed and different sections in the group. Read through the posts and see what people are talking about and how they are sharing their content. Check for comments, shares and plus ones (+1), which will tell you if you do decide to engage with this group you will see good activity on your posts.

These 5 simple tasks won’t overwhelm your day. They take less than 30 minutes every morning and will help launch your Google+page off to a strong start. Keep blogging and creating great content to share out – and use your Google+s page and community to get your content seen by more people.

I want to end this by putting out a 30 day challenge to each small business reading this. Together let’s challenge ourselves to complete the 5 tasks above every day for 30 days. Get in the conversation, join relevant groups and build relationships through the great content you are posting and sharing out. Track your websites analytics and continue to adjust your strategy accordingly. Tweet us at @modmarkgroup and let us know how the 30 days drives traffic to your organization!

For more pro tips on how to crush it on Google+, be sure to download our free Google+ chapter from the ModMark Book, Get Social – The Ultimate Online Marketing Guide For Social Good: Google+ Chapter

Support CircleCount when Shopping on Amazon

Offering free features can get expensive and we are always looking for new ways to let you support us and keep the free features free.

Either by offering special services (like our business services or the coming premium services) or by a way which doesn’t mean any loss of money for you (like described here).

cc-amazon (1)

The next time you want to buy something on Amazon, you can open at first our Amazon page and click on the button for your country. That’s it!

You will have to pay exactly the same price at Amazon and we will get a few cents for each product. A win-win situation.

Thanks a lot for every click!

The Best Time To Post On Google+

A recurring topic among our social media circles revolves around when are the “best times” to post on a given network. When it comes to the “best time” to post on Google+, there are many factors to consider in order to find the “best time” for your posts.

Here is our infographic showing that there is no general “best time” to post:

best-time-to-share-a-post-on-google-plus-infographic

The single images in this animation have been created in the dashboard of CircleCount for different users. You can get your specific best time analysis for free here.

Now let’s check the factors for the different “best times”.

 

Your Audience/Follower’s Time Zone

Depending on the language you use to write your posts, your audience may be mainly concentrated in a specific region or geographical area, so it is important to consider your audience’s time zone(s) when you post. Whether you live in the region or not, you will want to choose a time that makes sense for your target audience.

 

Your Time Zone

If you are expecting people to comment on your posts, you should be available to reply, so it is important to consider your own time zone as well. While there are tools that you can use to schedule posts for specific times (there are great tools for that), your followers will soon stop commenting on your posts when they recognize that they are participating in a one-way discussion.

You have probably seen infographics telling you that the best time to post on Google+ is 9-11am EDT, but if you are located in Australia and would rather be asleep at 2:00 in the morning, then this might not be the best time for you to respond!

 

Your Topic

Depending upon your topic, your audience will be more or less likely to engage with your post depending upon where they are (work/home) or what they are doing at that time (working/eating/relaxing). For example, a blog post about the latest trends in social media might perform better when your targeted audience is at the office, while a Lady Gaga music share might get more interest after hours when your audience is at home drinking a glass of wine.

 

Your Goal

People are on Google+ for various reasons and depending upon the goal of your post, timing may or may not matter. For example, if your goal for a photo post is to get lots of plusones, choosing a great photo is much more important than what time you post; however, if you are hoping for an interesting, indepth discussion about your latest blog post, your audience will need to be in the right frame of mind and have time to both read and comment on your post, and you should have the time to respond.

 

Conclusion

The main point is: there can’t be just one “best time” that works for all people or even all posts. Rather than relying on an infographic to tell you when to post, figure out what makes sense for you keeping in mind the points above and make changes as necessary until you find your “best times” to post. You may also want to experiment with “Time Zone Reshares” and reshare your post at a different time to reach a different or a new audience.

Check your Google+ stream to get a feel for what is working for others and use the dashboard on CircleCount to learn more about your audience. Did we mention it is free?

The CircleCount Shop (shirts, mugs, flip flops and more)

We are proud to present the new CircleCount Shop, where you will be able to buy some great shirts, mugs, flip flops and more…

CircleCount Shop

They are all designed by +Rick Lutz our fantastic star designer. So a big thank you to Rick as well.

With every item to buy you support CircleCount with 1-3$, which we really hope is ok for you guys.

We have started with a .com and .de shop, which you can reach under the following URLs:

Both shops are in English and you can find the same articles in both shops, but you can save some shipping costs by selecting the one or the other (for example the .com for USA and .de for Europe).

CircleCount-T-Shirt

We are looking forward to see your photos with CircleCount! ;)

Average growth of the follower numbers

Yesterday we saw a decrease in the follower number of the most Google+ profiles. Here is a post by +Markos Giannopoulos who posted as one of the first about this change.

It looks like Google+ made a Spring Cleaning and a lot of spam-profiles / bots have been removed. Google+ is doing that regularly, but this time the loss was higher than in the past.

We have created a new page showing the Average Follower Growth on Google+ for every day. To calculate this number we are checking all profiles with more than 5,000 followers and their daily change in the follower number. Right now the chart looks like that:

google plus average follower growth per day - CircleCount

We can clearly see the Spring Cleaning of yesterday. The average growth is updated every hour, so that we will see in the coming days probably the average growth getting back to 0.1 – 0.2 %.

It is real uncommon to see people being happy about less followers, in that case we can absolutely understand this feeling, since we all “lost” bots in the follower lists.

Have you also seen a drop in your follower number?
You can check your profile here.