The Apple iPhone 5 is coming to NZ and most website owners are missing out on the opportunity this represents as it adds to the rushing tide of Kiwi Smartphone use.

But first let’s just cast our mind back to when it all started.  It wasn’t all that long ago.  In fact the first iPhone advertising screened in the US on February 25, 2007 during the 79th Academy Awards.   Back then it was Nokia this and Erickson Sony that.  Phones were getting smaller and my Motorola Razr was black, sleek and fitted nicely into any pocket.  It was exactly what I needed in a phone.

Which was fine until the Apple advertising started and things phone related changed forever.  Now you didn’t have a phone in your pocket you had an internet connected screen.  And let’s not forget the camera that came with it too.  (Now I’m told that 90% of the photos taken in 2011 were from Smartphone’s.)

All this meant near commercial death to any phone manufacturers that were all about raised buttons, blurry cameras and postage stamp sized screens.   Samsung came along for the connected screen ride, as has HTC – names you probably would have never heard of five years ago in NZ.   Thankfully our local mobile networks have managed to keep pace and the cost and speed of mobile web access has broadly kept up to ensure the screen phone manufacturers promise was made good.

So what does that mean for your average website owner?

Firstly there’s probably a lot more people looking at your website, reading your email and clicking on your ads through the view of a mobile screen than ever before.  Thankfully the top analytics tracking tools – like Google Analytics – will tell you how many visit your website.   And great email tracking tools like Litmus will reveal those reading your email message “a la mobile phone” and Google let’s you target your AdWords advertising to attract just these types of visitors.

The tools are there to find and target this group but how many are using them properly?  From our experience very few.  (Possibly less than one in ten.)  For instance when was the last time you looked at your website via a Smartphone screen to see how it looks?  And how about running an AdWords campaign to just this mobile group and sending them through to a site set up for thumbs and not mice?

Which all means for the savvy website marketer there’s an opportunity to be had.  Now’s the time to be going after this growing group of mobile prospects while your competitors remain transfixed to their tethered friends.  Building a mobile version website isn’t as hard as you think.  For a start you need a lot less content and the call to actions can be a lot simpler to produce.  Don’t think intricate forms to complete – do think big buttons that fire up a “call now” action.  And let’s not forget videos too.  With the advent of super clear resolution screens they are a delight full screen on a phone.

Email marketing to a mobile audience is simpler too.  Here, like their mobile web browsing cousins, the focus is on providing simple vertical streams of content with easy to follow “thumb sized” click options.

So why not dive into your Google Analytics reports this week to see the percentage of visitors that arrive at your website via a mobile screen?  And for the next email sent – why not include a smart little piece of code to tell you who read your latest missive on their phone instead of their PC?

Then if the numbers stack up then why not kick off with a simple but effective mobile website marketing experience?

If this doesn’t get me banned from Face book then I don’t know what will.

Last week I had two good days at a client’s conference in town.  They did an exceptionally good job of selecting the presentations; the venue and the catering.   The only low point was  the obligatory 45 minutes presentation on Social Media.

Please if have to sit through any more Power Point slides that extol me to “be genuine”, “be honest” and “be there” then I’ll no doubt reach down, pull off a sneaker and hurl it towards the stage.  I’m truly over it.  I must have heard the same or similar message, said in the same earnest way more than a dozen times in a dozen venues by a dozen different speakers.  The subject matter just hasn’t moved on.

With my smattering of grey hairs I remember being involved in the launch of professional email marketing solutions in New Zealand back in 1999.  There was much of a fanfare then, lots of people spoke about best practices and principles and then we were told to leave the room and do stuff.

The result? 

Email marketing campaigns spouted left right and centre.  What had been mailed was now emailed and as a result marketers bathed in an absolute glut of measurement data that their printed experience had previously lay hidden.  After 18 months there were case studies a plenty from a wide range of industries all doing great things to improve their marketing and as a result  their businesses all because of email marketing.    Now we were well and truly out of the land of principles and well into the detail stuff of tactical delivery.

I think I heard my first evangelical social media story two years back.  Then, like the start of email, we were served a platter of tasty principles and theories and told to get stuck in.  And that’s where the story changes.   What came next was very, very different.   Still we are hearing of the same principles to be applied and the result?  Just a minor smattering of local case stories of business success in social medial land.

So what’s wrong?  Well basically when it comes to the merit of using social media as a reliable and predictable way to improve your own marketing and therefore your bottom line for a lot of companies the message is a sham.  For some it will work, but for the vast majority it won’t.

Think of it this way.  Say you removed the reception in your building and in its place you put a nice trendy cafe, complete with barrista, comfy chairs and the latest newspaper. Now don’t get too excited this isn’t for you – it’s for your customers.   Here they can come, meet, mingle and chat away with each other.    So how many of your customers would drop by?

Now if you were say the NZSO with their passionate and discerning fans the space could be quite cluttered.   Likewise if you were Les Mills with their group fitness classes then there could be a bunch of fit and friendly  people mixing and mingling in a place like this.  (In fact in every Les Mills gym there is a space just like this already.)

But say you were an accountant or a hotel or say a manufacturer of office furniture then things would be different.  Enticing people inside would be a challenge.  If you were really keen you could  bribe them with free stuff just to enter.  Which is fine until you realise that to keep them there the bribes need to keep on coming.

Funnily enough both the NZSO and Les Mils have vibrant social media experiences.  And bribing (become a fan to go in the draw stuff) is exactly what businesses do when they try to make social media work when naturally it shouldn’t.

Look I know the cafe thing is a weak analogy – but it’s close.  And just because it’s easy for some to make a success of social media doesn’t make it a logical strategy for everyone when time spent here would be a waste.   But if you can imagine your own cafe full of customers chatting away to one another then I strongly suggest you start to make it happen.  Otherwise give social media a pass and try considering another strategy.  Maybe something that has broad application across a wide industry group and with a strong chance of success – like email marketing perhaps:)

You can find the latest website marketing update edition here.

So your competitor tells you over a beer that they got 100,000 hits on their website last month.  You know that your numbers show just 5000 unique visitors.  Should you celebrate or commiserate?

You would be surprised how many times we are asked to help others answer this question.  So let’s get stuck into the measurement basics of website analytics especially when it relates to defending your stats at the bar.

Firstly, the concept of a “website hit”, also called a “page hit” is well outdated.  It is the count of a retrieval of any item of a graphic or a page from a web server.  Build a website containing a ton of small graphics and your “hit count” will skyrocket while your visitor count remains the same.

Some count page views instead of hits.  This is marginally better but still not ideal.  Page views are exactly that – individual views of the pages your website holds.  Own a website with lots of pages and if your navigation is good then your page view count should be higher than those with “skinnier”sites – even though the latter could be receiving more traffic.Nevertheless, tracking page views instead of hits is one step closer to the ideal measurement of measuring the real people who fire up their browsers and visit your site.

This leads us nicely to what Google Analytics (GA) focuses on tracking  ̶- real, live, website visitors.  Yep, the human biomass who clicks from page to page and hopefully does what you want them to do.It does this by setting a cookie on the person’s browser on their computer when they arrive.

The accuracy of this approach falls down if a) they use more than one browser on the same computer because then they are counted as two visitors; b) two people use the same browser on the same computer because then they are seen as one visitor; and/or c) either group clear their cookies or don’t allow them to be set.

Allowing for all this, once a person arrives they are marked with a cookie that tags them as visiting your website and a counter kicks off to measure the time of their visit.  If they come back tomorrow they are seen as a returning visitor.  (They have up to two years to come back before they are counted as a new visitor again.)  Their visit is finished when a) they leave your site; or b) stay on a page for more than 30 minutes.  (If they leave and come back within 30 minutes this is counted as part of the original visit.)

So just to recap, here are some of the core visitor, visit metrics GA reports on and what they mean.

Visitors – real people who visit your website.

New Visitors – those arriving for the first time.

Returning Visitors – those coming back to see more.

Unique Visitors – the total number of unique visitors to your website.  I may come to your website three times in a month – the first as a new visitor, the other two as returning visitors.However, I am only counted once as a unique visitor.  This last stat is a good one to use to compare site activity.

Visits – the time spent looking through your pages.

% New Visits – the % of visits of your site’s total that were generated by people visiting your site for the first time.

So when someone next tells you they had 100,000 hits on their website, tell them while that’s nice, how many actual people does that represent?