May 19, 2013

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6 Web 5.0 Imperatives In the beginning there were web pages. Brands staked their claims on the newly invented World Wide Web. Web 1.0 met consumer expectations that every brand would have an 800 number and a web page as points of contact. Web 2.0 was about finding, developing and embracing interactive technologies to engage customers, prospects and other constituencies. It was about Flash, bells and whistles and keeping up with the Joneses. Having a cool website mattered. Web 3.0 was about business results. It was a phase of encyclopedic websites. Governance was split between marketing and IT. The Holy Grail was a fully realized multi-dimensional interactive relationship between a brand and its customer base nurtured by using the latest and greatest tools to achieve predictable business results. Metrics, rather than showbiz, began to be important. In the Web 4.0 era, brands broke out of the corporate mold and sidestepped corporate rules to create countless mini-sites. Experimenting with one-off efforts to slip away from IT and corporate design and functionality restrictions, it was a re-run of 2.0 with more internal conflict and a much broader experimentation with designs, content and functionality. Video, photo carousels, animation and games were deployed. Social sharing was introduced. Brands began to orchestrate messaging, traffic and content between branded sites and Facebook. Today’s Web 5.0 is about the surgical use of sites to achieve specific marketing objectives in an era of near total mobility. Sites are no longer all things to all consumers. They are built to specifically and immediately achieve discrete business goals. They assume that context and mobility married to established best design, SEO and functionality practices will achieve results effectively and efficiently. And while everyone thinks they know how to create a 5.0 website, it is hardly the case. That’s why Gabe Shaoolian, founder of Blue Fountain Media is emerging as a Web 5.0 guru based on the sheer volume of sites he’s built and his UX-driven insights. Here are his six Web 5.0 imperatives. Start at the End. Determine what you want to the site to do. Then use user experience design techniques to direct visitors to make the desired action. Be rigorous. Eliminate anything that will distract or impede users. Put the most important stuff up front. Avoid too much scrolling. Pre-plan the page pathways. Then map them to business objectives. Use Responsive Design. The Internet has gone mobile. Build sites that automatically stretch to fit the screens they’re viewed on. Given the high rate of smartphone turnover and tablet adoption, responsive design is much easier and efficient than creating separate versions for each operating system and its variants. It will take a bit longer and cost a bit more. But the payoff, in terms of user experience and SEO, will be well worth it. Write for Scanners. Strive for clear concise messaging. Forget about intro pages. Anticipate FAQs. Proactively answer them. Avoid dense copy blocks and use lots of white space. Viewers, especially mobile users, scan. They don’t read. Design headlines and subheads to call out key messages. Use bullets and numbered lists to highlight content. And place big colored buttons to focus attention on your call to action. Forget Flash. The days of dazzle are over. Use video, animation and gaming techniques to engage visitors and sustain attention and page views. Don’t use music. Be careful when using copyrighted images, video, music or memes. Be wary of image carousels because rarely does a single viewer see all the images. Accelerate Sharing. Put social media buttons and sharing tools across the site. Create content with search and sharing in mind. Make it as easy as possible for visitors to help you earn added impressions. This is especially important for images, videos and games, which lend themselves to sharing. Make Navigation Simple. Put navigation across the top of the sight so users have a clear line of sight. Left navigation bars, especially on interior or sub pages are distracting and give visitors too many choices. Give users navigational control by using forward and backward breadcrumbs or numbers. The goal is to offer clear sign posts and reduce any friction or confusion. Web 5.0 promises to be the most productive era so far. Implementing these ideas will yield a site that improves your chances for customer engagement, commerce and loyalty.
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Remarketing & Retargeting Revisited Retargeting, also called remarketing, begins by dropping a cookie on site visitors. This enables marketers to follow them as they search, do social networking or flit from site to site. A person coming to your site can then be discretely followed by ads reflecting the content they viewed or reflecting their psycho-demographic profile. This tactic is particularly powerful because 90 percent of retail site visits don’t yield a sale. But consumers exposed to remarketing messages are 70 percent more likely to convert than those who are not exposed. And consumers who convert after retargeting generally spend 50 percent more than those who convert initially. So, marketers, who take a second or a third bite of the apple, by using retargeting, succeed better. And CPMs are much lower than banner advertising while the yield can be dramatic, as high as a 37% conversion rate. This has to be done carefully and with discretion and considered timing. Since many consumers find this very creepy and quickly abandon the brand retargeting them. If this feels like the Tom Cruise movie, AI, you are getting the point. Marketers can follow prospects as they search Bing or Google, socialize in networks or as they surf the Web. The mechanics of retargeting are done through third party networks. And there are a bunch of them including Google’s Display Network, the Facebook Exchange, AdMeld, Pubmatic and Rubicon. Similarly there are a bunch of emerging demand side platforms (DSPs) to manage this process. The leaders include AdRoll, AppNexus, Brandscreen, Criteo, DataXu, MediaMath, Nanigans, Kenshoo, Optimal, RocketFuel, Tellapart, TheTradeDesk, Xasis and X+1. The newest entrant in the DSP fray is Pinpoint, from Blue Fountain Media. Pinpoint claims to offer retargeting based on search history, demographics, geography and recency (within 24 hours), which, according to Gabe Shaoolian, is a proxy for consumer intent. “Pinpoint captures expressed interest and intent. It enables a brand to target a 40-year old upscale Mom on Long Island who wants a specific ring setting, with a specific gemstone, “ Gabe opines. “Because Pinpoint tracks online behavior and marries it to aggregated data, marketers get much more precision in terms of reaching interested consumers, identifying consumer intent and capitalizing on timing. It’s a retargeting trifecta.” Pinpoint clams to be “a new frontier in advertising.” It was beta tested with Oppenheimer Funds who found “better than expected results” that compared favorably to other DSP platforms they tried. Shaoolian is positioning this tool as a “big data play for medium and small marketers” than will provide “real-time bidding at the best prices.” There is no question that retargeting is effective. There is evidence that third party networks can provide the right inventory and that various tools can plan, buy, optimize and report on retargeting buys. What’s yet to be determined is who will survive the coming shakeout and what will be the emergent best practices.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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