This week: Click Monday vs Singles Day; EFF announces Let’s Encrypt; Forrester warns money is wasted on Facebook; Amazon’s Echo; Goodbye Google Glass & more…
Today’s Click Monday in New Zealand. Modelled on Cyber Monday in the US, it’s our biggest national one day online sale.
Click Monday was launched in November last year with over 80 retailers participating, and resulted in over $2 million in online sales.
That’s small change compared with Cyber Monday in the US, for which Adobe estimated more than $2 billion in sales last year. But neither event compares with Chinese Singles Day which, on November 11 surpassed $9 billion in sales. A marketing ploy invented by online retail firm Alibaba in 2009, Singles Day is the opposite to Valentine’s Day. Held on November 11 (note the four number ones in the date), Double 11 (as it is also known) is a day for single people to celebrate their one-ness.
The majority of Singles Day sales are through Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao online retail sites. This year, at the end of the day, Alibaba claimed sales of CNY57.1 billion (NZD $11.82 billion) and said it had shipped 278 million orders (with 43% of orders placed on mobile devices).
Singles Day sales surpassed US Black Friday sales (just over USD $1 billion in 2013) in a little over 20 minutes. A major reason for this was that domestic Chinese shoppers were invited to browse products online or visit participating retailers *before* the event. They were then able to add discounted items to online shopping carts ahead of the sale, and set up automatic purchase once the sale began.
Why should you care?
Sit up and pay attention if you run an e-commerce website. Although Click Monday isn’t yet the online institution here that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in the US, it is likely to grow in popularity.
Nielsen’s New Zealand Online Retail Report 2014 (“What Makes Kiwis Click”) reported that the first Click Monday generated around 265,000 visitors to the Click Monday site. Nielsen also opined that Click Monday and Click Madness were likely factors in last year’s increase in the number of online shoppers now making Christmas-related purchases via the Internet.
Already participating in Click Monday? For many consumers, shopping will start long before the day itself. Savvy retailers will find ways to build anticipation and create demand well in advance of the day itself. But be careful not to let sales slow down too much in the days leading up to Click Monday, nor to let heavy discounting have too severe an impact on profitability.
How do you like your superheroes? Decked out in dayglow lycra bodysuits, wearing colourful masks, and with super powers that amaze, dazzle and delight?
John Perry Barlow and his friends may not be superheroes in the Justice League sense, but we’ve always had a soft spot for the Electric Frontier Foundation (EFF) and its unerring crusade to protect freedom of speech and the right to data privacy.
The EFF delivered a sledgehammer blow for data privacy last week, announcing a new Certificate Authority called Let’s Encrypt. In league with fellow superheroes Mozilla, Akamai, Cisco, the University of Michigan and IdenTrust, the EFF has just made it easier and more affordable for websites to adopt HTTPS protocol for their connections.
In a press release announcing Let’s Encrypt and the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) providing the service, EFF Technology Projects Director Peter Eckersley succinctly explained how Internet users will benefit. “Right now when you use the Web”, he said, “many of your communications — your user names, passwords, and browsing histories — are vulnerable to hackers and others. By making it easy, fast, and free for websites to install encryption for their users, we will all be safer online.”
With launch planned for around mid-2015, Let’s Encrypt will automatically issue and renew free SSL/TLS certificates online, reducing the time and complexity in migrating a site from HTTP to HTTPS (the “S” stands for secure).
Why should you care?
If you’ve got an e-commerce or financial services website, HTTPS is mandatory – but it’s also costly to set up and the certificate expensive to renew. Most other websites still use the HTTP protocol, despite a recent announcement from Google that it’s starting to use HTTPS as a ‘lightweight’ ranking signal.
Once it becomes easier and free to adopt HTTPS, we expect Google to give much more weight to HTTPS sites when ranking them in search results. That, in turn, will expedite the move to a more secure Internet.
While an encrypted Internet won’t of itself solve all security issues, this is an important first step.
Market research firm Forrester has just published its “Social Relationship Strategies That Work” report, earning headlines in concluding Facebook and Twitter don’t work for most brands.
The Forrester study found that posts from top brands on Twitter and Facebook reach just 2% of their followers, while less than 1% of fans and followers actually interact with those posts.
“Facebook and Twitter don’t offer the relationships that marketing leaders crave,” VP and principal analyst Nate Elliott wrote. The report suggests that marketers invest instead in social features that exist on their own websites, or in smaller, more niche social networks.
Forrester predicts that “branded communities” are going to be the next big thing, giving as example Sony’s microsite for the PlayStation 4 (GreatnessAwaits.com) which has received more than 4.5 million visits.
Elliott adds that email should also be a focus: “If you have to choose between adding a subscriber to your email list or gaining a new Facebook fan, go for email every time.”
Why should you care?
Marketing research firms like Forrester get paid handsomely for their expert opinions. However, they too have an axe to grind and their recommendations may not be appropriate for your business.
Smart companies will assess what value a specific social platform is to their business, knowing that if most of their customers are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or Pinterest then that’s where they also need to be. And because they are smart, they will plan and measure engagement with customers on these platforms.
Done properly, social media marketing can be considerably more productive than is suggested by the Forrester study. However, you shouldn’t overlook other marketing channels if they too are effective. And more power to you if you can reach and engage customers and potential customers without needing a third party platform like Facebook.
After months of testing, Google has now officially launched “mobile-friendly” labels in search results. Following is the company’s example of the notification, appropriately rendered for IANA’s example.com.
What you should know is that Google is currently giving sites with a “mobile friendly” designation a ranking boost in mobile search results.
In another feature intended to improve mobile search, Google is testing delivery of scrollable answers in mobile results. This is what the new results look like on mobile.
Publishers already annoyed that Google scrapes their content to provide instant answers in desktop search results, now have more reason to be irate.
Why should you care?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year or so, you already know that Google is hot on mobile, wanting to ensure a good user experience for mobile users.
Predictions are that global mobile traffic is to surpass desktop traffic this year; while top UK publishers have already acknowledged over half their audience now views their content on a smartphone or small tablet. Things are happening a little more slowly here in NZ, but the time when mobile will overtake desktop traffic can’t be too far off.
So, is your site deemed mobile-friendly? You can find out with the “mobile friendly test tool” if these notifications appear for your website.
If your site fails the test, you’re likely to lose organic search traffic. More than that, a poor mobile experience is also likely to have an impact on online conversions and revenue.
Give us a call if you think you and your website could do with a little help.
A new report from marketing technology company Unruly, “The Geography of Sharing Video Ads”, has some fascinating insights into social sharing and behavioural differences around the world.
Amongst the findings was that the Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) holds good for video sharing. Just under 20% of Internet users (17.9% if you must) share videos on social networks more than once a week, accounting for 82.4% of all video shares.
South Koreans topped the charts in engagement rate with 28% of users clicking, replaying and sharing online videos. They are also the fastest to share videos (with 20% of shares happening in the first 24 hours). While the UK leads in YouTube views, Germans were most likely to watch a video to the end (at 79% of viewers).
While 59.4% of video shares worldwide take place on Facebook, sharing takes place across a multitude of platforms (13.8% on Twitter, 9.3% on Google+, 5.7% on Tumblr, and 3.9% on Pinterest).
Why should you care?
New Zealand wasn’t included in the Unruly report, but if your market is international there’s some good advice in this report (which can be downloaded from the Unruly website). Recommendations from the report include providing uplifting content if you want to create conversation, and targeting super-sharers from day one in order to get your content trending.
Amazon has quietly rolled out an interesting in-home voice-controlled device that can answer questions, play music, and interact with your shopping and to-do lists. Echo, which is currently only available on invitation, is an unobtrusive cloud-connected circular device, just over 23cm tall and 8cm in diameter.
Responding to the name “Alexa” (although owners can personalise the device with another name), the device includes seven “always-on” microphones that enable it to hear a question from any direction. Noise-cancelling technology means it will hear your question even though it may be playing you music at the same time.
Why should you care?
Echo is Amazon testing the market; we’re expecting bigger things soon. Speculation is that voice-search enabled shopping is on the company’s roadmap. We’ve long stressed the need for websites to be optimised for mobile users but in the next few years having a site that can be navigated by voice commands may become just as important. This will also require a fundamental rethink of website information architecture, content management and web analytics.
Socially awkward geeks will be heartbroken to learn that Google Glass will no longer be made available to consumers this year as had been planned. In fact it’s starting to look like Google may never release them.
In May Google was touting Glass as its next big thing, holding press demos to show off the latest apps and announcing a new line of fashion frames. However, it turns out that many companies who’ve built apps for Glass have stopped work or abandoned them, due to a lack of customers or limitations of the device. Twitter pulled its Glass app in October.
To date Google Glass has only been available to a select few early adopters willing to shell out USD $1,500 for a prototype. This, and the fact that wearing them makes you look like a complete dork, has resulted in the “Glasshole” backlash. At this point in human-cyborg evolution, GoogleGlass is widely perceived as geeky and elitist. And somewhat creepy, it has to be said, though we note that the same criticism has also been made of Amazon’s Echo.
The problem with Google Glass goes beyond image, however. The reality is the technology simply doesn’t offer anything that average people really want – let alone need – in their everyday lives.
The original concept was that Glass would use virtual reality and overlay the wearer’s field of vision with real-time information about their surroundings, a bit like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s vision in the Terminator movies. Cool idea, but not one Google could make viable with current technology.
So Google’s marketing team lowered its sights and started promoting the “convenience” of using Glass to check text messages, snap photos and pull up a search result without having to reach for your phone. Really? $1,500 just for that? In the end, it sounded like a solution looking for a problem…
Why should you care?
Chances are you don’t, or may even be relieved there won’t be distracted people around you wearing Google Glass anytime soon. Analytics guru Avinash Kaushik wore a pair at the Google Analytics User Conference in Melbourne a few months ago, but they were rendered inoperable due to poor wireless internet reception. And to date we’ve only seen one person wearing Google Glass in NZ – it was in a restaurant and frankly they looked like a self-conscious pillock.
Like Apple and Amazon, Google is a highly innovative company full of very clever people but, just like them, they aren’t immune from getting things wrong.
We’re all familiar with news sites that suggest other stories likely to be of interest to us, based on the story we are currently reading and others we’ve recently read. Now the concept is being rolled out to Google News.
Google News founder Krishna Bharat announced the new feature as “Suggested for you”.
Not impressed with Google’s suggestions? Notice the “Not interested” option shown after “You said you were interested in…” which appears under each article summary.
Why should you care?
There are two sides to this customised news experience. You may be impressed that Google is able to tailor your news diet to your specific interests and location. Or you may be wary as to just how much Google already knows about you when it recommends stories that you thought only you knew you wanted to read.
The benefits for news media remain to be seen, but publishers are likely to see increases in Google News visits.
OK, that’s what we think. We’re keen to hear your thoughts on any of the above – please comment below.
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Jeremy and Mark are two of the partners behind SureFire Search. Despite their deceptively youthful appearances, both have worked in search marketing for many years. To put that in context, Google didn't even exist when Jeremy started.