The new webRemember 1993?
The year the Internet first became commercially available for the public to use. Browsers called Midas, Erwise, Viola and Samba became available, and CompuServe, AOL, & Prodigy began to provide Internet access through dial up modems.
Seems like a lifetime ago (only 20 years), but now as we are firmly entrenched in Web 2.0 (websites that use technology beyond the static pages of earlier web 1.0 sites using social networking sites, blogs, wikis, folksonomies, video sharing sites, user-generated content, hosted services, web applications, and mashups), and beginning down the road of Web 3.0, there are many changes in technologies, devices, user preferences and behaviors that need to be addressed by smart organizations if they want to remain at the forefront of their industries.
1. The New Convergence of Capabilities.
Today’s web and its significant advantages, has gone from the realm of early adopters, to real mainstream. Almost 80% (78.6% as June 2012) of North Americans are Internet Users. 61 percent of Americans today own a smartphone. Sure, many still own a regular cellphone, with 91 percent of the adult population owning some sort of mobile phone, but the adoption of wireless internet connected devices such as tablets and smartphones has been exponential in the past 5 years. Ownership of smartphones is especially high in younger adults especially those in their twenties and thirties (although a majority of Americans in their mid-forties through mid-fifties are now smartphone users).
By the end of 2012, the number of mobile connected devices exceeded the number of people on the planet.
So now the majority of American’s use a smartphone to run their lives, both at home and at work. This amazing phenomena has happened very rapidly, and is due to the convergence of multiple factors:
• Ubiquitous connectivity & high speed broadband availability
• Mobile Internet access, almost anywhere
• The considerable computing power & usability of today’s mobile devices
• Their immediate and easy accessibility at all times from our pockets, desks, handbags and bedside tables
• The availability today of hundreds of thousands of easy-to-use “apps” that make our lives easier & better
• Search engine functionality is converging with social media, content marketing, usability, and more to work with smart devices to create intelligent and personalized information gathering
• Network & grid computing & cloud-based data storage
• The new visual web, with its ease of use and improved user interfaces, creating a positive user experience
• Software-as-a-service business models, allowing easy access to data & information because software and associated data are centrally hosted in the cloud
• Big data capabilities allowing intelligence & personal relevance, obtained from large pools of data to substantially improve decision-making, minimize risks, and unearth valuable insights and personalization
• Web services interoperability & open sources software, open APIs and protocols, & technologies
2. Businesses Can Not Ignore the Web as the Best Way to Create New Customers.
Information and knowledge on any topic is virtually instantaneous. For the first time in human history, the vast majority of people now have access to the world’s data (knowledge). There are over 100 billion global searches per month on search engines, and 46% of searchers now use mobile exclusively to search.
Some startling facts:
• Of the world’s 4 billion mobile phones in use, 1.08 billion are smart phones
• By 2016, 80% of the U.S. population will use mobile phones
• Globally, there are almost as many mobile-cellular subscriptions as people in the world: 6.8 billion subscriptions out of 7.1 billion people worldwide.
• As of 2014, more people will access a search engine on a mobile device than a computer
• In 2011 the mobile traffic data was 8x the size of the entire Internet’s traffic in 2000
• 53% of shoppers compare in-store prices to online prices while shopping
• The average price of an order placed from a mobile device is higher than the average order from a laptop or desktop
• More time is spent on the mobile web than in applications
• 80% of smartphone owners and 81% of tablet owners use their devices in front of the television
• From October 2010 to October 2012, email open rates on smartphones increased by 300%
• 29% of smartphone owners get local news from their phones, while 31% use these devices to watch videos
• iPhone users are more likely to take action after seeing a mobile ad
• One million small businesses globally will build a mobile website in 2013
• The average amount of apps downloaded per user in 2012 was 36
• Androids are most popular in the marketplace, with iPhones close behind
• More than three-quarters of U.S. adults (77%) own a laptop or desktop computer. Over half, 52%, of desktop/laptop owners now also own a smartphone and roughly a quarter, 23%, own a tablet computer (while 43% own just the desktop/laptop computer)
3. How Does this Impact Your Business?
What does this mean to a business? Organizations looking to add new customers who have previously relied on more traditional customer acquisition initiatives (cold calling, relationship selling, traditional advertising, trade shows), are beginning to have disadvantages as compared to their competitors, who are likely using a combination of traditional and internet based marketing.
Today, consumers (B2C Companies) and potential clients (B2B Companies) have the capabilities to research and determine best options before they have any contact with an organization. And they can do this in a matter of minutes. User ratings, online reviews, and many public documents are available to potential buyers within milliseconds through a quick search engine search.
Social media and & peer-to-peer networking (both B2B – LinkedIn & Twitter, and B2C – Facebook, Google+, Pinterest & Twitter), allow a potential buyer to get a rapid perspective on a potential purchase prior to any communication with the provider business.
Today, credibility is a key imperative for organizations. If your business “looks” unprofessional as compared to your competitors, the value proposition is unclear, or there are negative perceptions about quality or value – sales will be impacted.
Thought leadership can now be demonstrated within seconds. That is, demonstrating that your organization is the best choice as compared to other (competitor) options by Wikipedia defines Thought Leadership as content that is recognized by others as innovative, covering trends and topics that influence an industry. Buyers typically prefer innovative products and services that can demonstrate they have an edge or advantage over competitor options.
Thought Leadership is demonstrated through Blogs and other website content (copy, videos, demos, whitepapers, newsletters, newsfeeds), that can validate credibility and advantage. Inbound Marketing has taken over as the predominant way organizations are creating new customers. Today most (93%) of people start with a Search Engine online to begin to look for the best option.
4. A New Kind of Web Marketing
Today’s websites must be considerably more capable than websites created just a few years ago. The way a web browser presents information on a desktop or laptop with a large 16” screen, is considerably different to the way that same site is presented on a 3” wide smart phone screen. Data runs at different speeds on different devices , devices are now intelligent and offering choices based on demonstrated personal preferences (geo proximity, previous search criteria), and information is best presented based on the best user experience and graphical interface.
As margins are eroded, companies are looking to reduce costs, including marketing resource expenses, but businesses need to extend their social enterprise/social business conversations & media out to potential customers, partners, and prospects. The new web lets organizations manage and deliver web sites and content across multiple platforms, simply, more rapidly, with less complexity, at lower cost.
Smart companies are rethinking their marketing, customer acquisition & website strategies to leverage the new Internet: more connected, open, and intelligent, with semantic Web technologies, distributed databases, natural language processing, machine learning, machine reasoning, and autonomous agents – across multiple platforms.
As is already happening, inbound marketing strategies, based on demonstrating strong brands and thought leadership with highly relevant content to multiple target audiences is key.
Shoppers now never need set foot in brick & mortar stores. Instead they can now connect with their trusted advisors (social shopping) to determine best options, based on their specific needs. Data is now extremely valuable to smart operators, and the smarter the data, the more things we can do with it. The current trends we’re seeing today – filtering content, real-time data, personaliaation, make the Web more connected, more open, and more intelligent. The new web is transforming from a network of separately siloed applications and content repositories to a more seamless and interoperable whole.
Devices will continue to become faster and more intelligent, discerning information relevance to the user, and ignoring information determined unimportant to the user’s needs. Search engines will be smarter.
For businesses and marketers, the implications of the new web is changing the way we think about reaching people. It’s an incredible opportunity to deliver your valuable content and messages right into a prospective customer’s hands.
Peter Ashworth, Partner. Webhomes (www.webhomes.com)
We are passionate and knowledgeable about how to connect our clients to their customers in new ways through the fresh, always on technologies, devices, applications and data capabilities of today’s new web The new web. Contact us today.