The CES, or the International Consumer Electronics Show, for those of us who aren’t in the technology awards circuit, commenced Monday, thus handing out its yearly prize to Samsung. Samsung won out in the 2013 edition of the CES’ convention over viable foe, Sony. The North Korean tech wizard claimed this year’s title through an array of products, led by its patented Galaxy S3 system, powered by Google’s Android OS. Many in the tech device know-how consider the Galaxy S3 the world’s only formidable competition for Apple’s iPhone, riding the coattails of a November sales report which positioned it as the world’s best-selling smartphone.
The victory comes with a small disclaimer. Industry giants like Apple, Microsoft, and Google did not “compete.” The yearly convention, according to some, has become somewhat nostalgic, as your usual industry trailblazers are not in attendance or in consideration. The reason for the nostalgia is the distinction in the tech market between hardware and software. Most experts point to software as being the primary player which drives the technology market, that’s why it’s no surprise that software leaders like Apple and Google were “left out.”
But keep in mind that without the hardware, the software is futile; they are interdependent upon each other. You could liken the hardware/software affinity to the wealth of information that the human brain possesses. It’s vast in its system of processing and sending information, but without a vessel (the body) with which to express those messages, it’s useless. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is a hardware vessel.
In 2012, it was estimated that about half of all U.S. mobile consumers used smartphones, and it’s projected that up to 70% could be smartphone users in 2013. This staggering stat brings a site’s mobile optimization (specifically for smartphones), or lack thereof, to the forefront. Here’s another statistical factor: a Google study anticipates that by the year 2016, roughly 80% of internet users will surf the net from their mobile devices, 80% of which will be smartphone owners.
Without getting caught up in the red tape of this year’s CES awards, there is a simple take-away. The fact is that when the world wakes up tomorrow, the world will probably need, or want, TVs, laptops, and smartphones. The world will also be inclined to surf the web from their mobile “hardware” devices, 8 out of 10 of which will be smartphones. So the winner of the CES’ yearly prize may draw laughs from a majority of the technology industry, but understanding the harmony between hardware and software has led Samsung into a deep understanding of their market, and they might just have the last laugh.
Hardawar, D. (2012, March 29) The Magic Moment: Smartphones now of all U.S. mobiles.
Weber, T. (2012, January 27) Web Economy in G20 set to double by 2016, Google says.
Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16753902
Each December Yahoo! compiles and organizes its “most searched” words of the year. These are usually representative of a year’s worth of trends, viral web sensations, and popular cultural anomalies. It can also imply what people are thinking about, talking about, and concerned about.
We can be encouraged that the top two searches for this year were NOT celebrities! With that said, and not counting their “overall” list, Yahoo! felt obligated to categorize its searches into “Female celebrities,” “Male celebrities,” and “Reality TV Celebrities.” The Kardashian clan mastered the latter, with family members claiming slots 1 ,2, 5, and 9 , respectively. Don’t worry though, Honey Boo Boo registered a solid third on the list. Justin Bieber logged the most esteemed spot on the Male Celebrity list and Kim Kardashian, Kate Upton, and Lindsay Lohan were the three most searched Female Celebrities.
As for the top “Overall” 2012 searches, the very civic Yahoo! users searched “Election” the most this calendar year. In the same vein, “Political polls” came in at number eight. It’s no surprise that in an election year politically related searches enjoy more keyboard mileage, but this statistic is encouraging in light of the charge that Americans are politically apathetic. Without knowing exactly how productive any given search is, it seems responsible to presume that most searchers sought to be more informed this election season. Another quadrennial (every four years) favorite for 2012 was “Olympics,” which grabbed the number seven spot on the list. The other non-celebrity top 10 search in 2012 was “iPhone5,” which was second. Could it be that a large sum of iPhone5 searches were made while standing idle in huge lines waiting to buy said iPhone5’s?
It’s true that many Americans put a lot of stock in celebrity goings-on, but this year’s Yahoo! top searches report can also be seen through a more optimistic lens. Substantive searches like “Election,” “Political polls,” and “Olympics,” indicate a measure of patriotism, and shows a continued use of online search for matters both trivial and meaningful alike. We expect 2013 will yield search use that is no less interesting or wide-ranging.
Google, the worldwide search engine leader, has some competition. Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, has steadily crept up search engine rankings since it debuted in 2009, and is now in the number two spot for the first time. Google and Bing’s trajectories appear approximately parallel, while the rest of the competition’s rankings continue to dip.
According to comScore, Bing and Microsoft’s other websites had a respectable 2.7 billion U.S. search requests in February 2012, but Google still remained on top with 11.7 billion search requests. Yahoo ranked third with 2.4 billion requests. Ask Network came up two percent in February to reach 535 million search requests, and AOL, Inc. had 266 million.
What do these statistics mean for your business? Basically, search marketing, or search engine optimization (SEO), is more important than ever. With the right SEO team, you can increase lead generation and bring in more traffic to your site. Ultimately, it is possible to take advantage of Bing’s surge and the increasingly competitive search engine market to increase sales for your business. Let Google and Bing duke it out, and reap the benefits by hiring a great SEO team.
Graphic courtesy of Statista.com.
Callaham, J. (2012, January 12). Microsoft’s Bing now second in US search, ahead of Yahoo. Retrieved from http://www.neowin.net/news/microsofts-bing-now-second-in-us-search-ahead-of-yahoo
(2012, March 9). comScore Releases February 2012 U.S. Search Engine Rankings. Retrieved from http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2012/3/comScore_Releases_February_2012_U.S._Search_Engine_Rankings
Silverman, M. (2012, March 26). Despite Bing’s Rise, Google Still Dominates Search. Mashable tech. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2012/03/26/search-stats-infographic/
US Search Market Since 2008. 2012. Statista, Inc. 10 Apr. 2012 http://www.statista.com/.
Why is Search Engine Marketing so Important? Retrieved from http://www.aslinternet.com/products/why-is-search-engine-marketing-important.php
According to data collected by online search giant Google, more consumers in each of five key global markets now have an Internet-capable mobile device than have a desktop or laptop computer. In the United States, the difference is creeping toward 10% more (76% to 68%), although consumers still report accessing the Internet on multiple types of devices. Still, Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker believes that, “Within the next five years, more users will connect to the Internet over mobile devices than desktop PCs.” Based on her predictions, she expects mobile data traffic to increase by almost 4,000 percent by 2014.
In addition, online tech blogs like The Verge are reporting that more Americans have smart phones than traditional feature phones, and research from the Canalys group backs this up by estimating that 487.7 million smart phones were shipped in 2011—an increase of over 60 percent from 2010. Adding fuel to the fire, Canalys doesn’t expect the increase in smart phones to continue as rapidly next year, but suggest that’s only because manufacturers will focus on higher-end models and greater profitability, instead of pushing a larger number of low-end products.
Along with smart phones, the tablet vs. personal computer debate has been evolving rapidly throughout the past few years, with no signs of slowing. According to market research firm IDC, we’re witnessing the first overall personal computer sales decline since the recession’s end, with total PC shipments, including desktop, laptop and mini-notebook computers, reaching 80.6 million, a decline of 2.6 million since 2010.
“Good-enough computing’ has become a firm reality, exemplified first by Mini Notebooks and now media tablets,” said IDC senior research analyst Jay Chou. “Macroeconomic forces can explain some of the ebb and flow of the PC business, but the real question PC vendors have to think hard about is how to enable a compelling user experience that can justify spending on the added horsepower.”
While it’s not likely the personal computer will replaced in its entirety anytime soon, the numbers say it all: personal computers are becoming less of a necessity, and more of an old stand-by in our increasingly mobile world.
So you have a great website, traffic is good and you are receiving inquires. But what about all of the visitors who come to your website and leave without contacting you? Have you ever wondered why visitors aren’t clicking on your calls-to-action or picking up the phone to contact you?
It’s tempting to think having a website with all of your information displayed will be enough to entice the user to fill out a form or pick up the phone, but this isn’t always the case. So how are you tracking whether or not there are certain elements of your website that can be improved? There are new methods of A/B testing that can make this tracking easy.
What is A/B Testing?
For our purposes, A/B testing is a way to track how people are getting through your website and what improvements need to be made. It allows businesses to test a different design and format of a webpage to see whether or not it is more effective than the current page. The testing should be random to ensure that a wide range of users get either page “A” or page “B.”
Google Analytics and Google Optimizer
To conduct some simple A/B testing, Google Optimizer and Google Analytics is a great place to start. Both of these tools are free to any user and offer a lot of insight into possible bottlenecks and problems that users are having with your website. Google Analytics allows you to measure click-through rates to other pages of your website once a user gets to the homepage. Google Analytics also allows you track how many interior pages users are seeing and also seeing the average amount of time someone spends on the page or whether they click to the page and exit. If the rate of exit is high on one page, that is a good indicator that there are some improvements that can be made. By narrowing down the problem pages in your website, you can start to think about improvements in usability and performance.
Businesses often re-work their websites to gain better user experience and higher conversion rates, but how can they actually measure the effectiveness of new layouts and designs? Google Optimizer allows you to do that. You can keep the original page you were using and also create a new page to see which one performs better. By putting a small script in the <head> tag of your website, Google Optimizer will randomly give the visitor either page “A” or page “B.” It will then track the clicks, conversions and bounce rates of those pages and show you which pages are performing better from a user’s standpoint. This can be very helpful to improve conversions and see what further improvements can be made.
The Importance of A/B Testing for Business
Businesses are always trying to improve the number of products or services they sell. And with so many businesses relying on their website to generate leads, it’s vitally important to do A/B testing. A website often creates the first impressions a new visitor receives a business. If the look and usability of the website is poor, visitors may be apprehensive about taking action.
Without A/B testing, your website may not be living up to its full potential and may be hurting your bottom line. This is especially true if you are running an e-commerce website where online sales are critical. If a user is frustrated or cannot find the information they are looking for within a short amount of time, they will leave your page and possibly never return. That is why it is crucial for your business to track bounce rates and the average amount of time a visitor spends on a page. If a visitor only spends an average of one second, and that page has a bounce rate of 80%, it is a good idea to look at the layout and elements on the page to see how you can simplify the user experience without losing the quality of content.
Heat Maps and User Behavior
If there is one website that has taken heat map technology and refined their entire flow of content because of it, it’s Google. With most people reading from left to right, it makes sense that visitors will almost always scan your website in the same fashion. The average amount of time a visitor spends on a webpage is about three seconds. If you can’t gain the visitor’s attention within three seconds, they may leave. A great tool to help gauge where people are clicking (and what people are most interested in on your website) is a freeware program called “Clickheat.”
Clickheat generates a heat map of any webpage on your website to show you where visitors are clicking the most. This can be a good indicator of where to put important calls-to-action or news on your website. More information about Clickheat can be found at http://www.labsmedia.com/clickheat/index.html.
More Resources for A/B Testing
- 101 A/B Testing Tips
A comprehensive resource of tips, tricks and ideas.
A place to share and read A/B test results.
- Effective A/B Testing
By Ben Tilly.
- Practical Guide to Controlled Experiments on the Web (PDF)
From Microsoft Research.
- Introduction to A/B Testing
From the 20bits blog.