Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Keeping up and being found is the goal

The internet shows little mercy and respect for business, even those businesses that only overlap the web don’t remain immune.  While Yahoo is still a large internet player it is in the shadow of Google and there is much expectation on Marissa Mayer as Yahoo’s new CEO to address the imbalance.  No matter how large or how successful you are currently, unless you are following the trends and technology you quickly fall off the pace and into history.  Even large and very successful companies like Nokia and RIM (Blackberry) who have ruled the mobile world are struggling to survive as the internet and mobile domains have merged. So great is the drive from consumers around internet usability, the old benchmarks of what made a fantastic mobile phone have been consigned to the past. Keeping up is the goal as with internet selling we rely on many components to successfully come together to make it work.  There can be more to it than a newspaper and eyeballs environment.

User behaviour on the web is rapidly changing brought about by evolving access methods and devices.  It is also not the world of the young any more with recent statistics showing more people over the age of 35 access the web than under.  Generally with age comes wealth, mobility, smartphones and tablets.  Following these users and their habits is now becoming a fulltime job and art, but so important to being successful online.  For dealers using Trade Me, the cost and time invested to ensure the maximum reach and exposure for vehicle listings just happens, what is not seen is the huge amount of work going on in the background.  The iPhone application emerged in November 2010 and in February this year both an Android and Touch site were launched. With this suite of three applications there is not a common mobile or tablet device that does not have access to an optimised Trade Me user experience.  It is not enough now to just be on the web you need to be device optimised.

This year has also seen the growth of the home eco system and Apple is the master of this. Without knowing it, one Apple device within a house becomes two, iTunes becomes the content provider of choice all served through an Apple TV; if your home does not already look like this your child’s classroom might.   Apple is not alone with Microsoft pitching the Xbox as a media centre and Sony the Playstation.  The concept of the second screen is alive and growing, as sitting in that cold spare bedroom or home office loses its appeal; life on the internet is now a tablet on the couch in front of TV. We are all winners as our customers move from looking at the web once or twice a day to an environment where they practically live on it.  An interesting exercise is to look at our own household internet usage, I would be surprised if you have not found it doubling each year.

With users being more internet savvy, being found and keeping customers engaged becomes the next challenge and as I outlined above they generally won’t hang around on content that is not optimised for the device they are using, hence why Trade Me has three standalone mobile applications.  If you have website, optimising it for mobile use is imperative as people who are shopping on their mobiles have different needs and expectations than those who are shopping online on their laptop or PC.  They need easier to read pages and for pages to appear quickly, they are searching for specific items therefore the information accessed on their mobile needs to be easily searched and accessed.  If your dealership does not have a mobile website, you are missing out on potential leads and sales.

More time online does not necessary mean more time looking at the same content.  As users become more knowledgeable and their search skills become more honed this leads to the fragmentation of content.  Once upon a time, Facebook was the be all and end all of social media and you would have thought no one could compete, however as users gain experience they are now moving to more niche sites for dedicated content or functionality.  People are choosing the application Path, for a more secure closed user group social network and sites like Instagram and Pinterest for more visual imaged based networking, and even sites like Spotify are starting to compete with Apple’s iTunes.  Like these sites, Trade Me holds a huge amount of user/dealer generated content and it is important that each time someone returns they are presented with new interesting vehicles.  Holding a mix of classified and auction listings ensures the user is always presented with something new and dynamically changing; if the content is not fresh the customers will not keep returning as they have choice.

Keeping up and being found is the goal, leverage where you can by partnering with providers that enhance both your fixed and mobile web presence. The longer and more often your customers are online the more dynamic and engaging your content needs to be to standout.

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