Futures Broker Embracing the Mobile Web

Futures Broking via Mobile Device
Futures Broking via Mobile Device

Perhaps the central issue with marketing via the mobile web is the centrality of the mobile web to the marketing organisation’s thinking process. Is the mobile web central to the thought process, or is it something of an afterthought? I have to own up that in most projects I’ve been involved in, even in the past year, I have to convince clients and their web designers of the value of the mobile web. Indeed, even in recent months some clients choose to ignore my advice to make their new websites truly mobile friendly.

Most of the time my attempt to persuade is to quote the progress made by clients that sell online. Pointing out the dramatic sales growth via tablet devices such as iPads. My request is for the new website to be built using responsive web design. That is a web design that adapts to the screen resolution of the displaying device. But given that most web designers are not familiar with the CSS and design skills required to effectively operate responsive web design, in the end we tend to compromise. We generally end up with a design that works okay with iPads and other tablets but fails to work on smart phones.

In essence, most clients have failed to fully embrace the potential of the mobile web. The same could not be said of futures brokers RJ O’Brien. RJO have launched a complete suite of mobile friendly products and services built specifically for the needs of users of iPhone and Android smart phone devices.

The thinking behind RJ O’Brien’s approach is driven by the need to provide a seamless service; in the office, on  the road, and at home and a stream of real time information in a market category where information is time critical.


Brighton SEO 2013 – One Week Away

Brighton SEO Conference 2013

Brighton SEO 2013 Underway on 12th April

Its now just one week to the Brighton SEO conference. The south coast’s leading SEO conference takes place on 12th April.

I’ve received an updated programme today and I’m really looking forward to the event. The agenda has a range of speakers from both client and agency side organisations, of various sizes. With the latest changes in the Google algorithm and resultant movements in rankings across many categores it will be interesting to get the latest feedback from SEO industry insiders an former Googlers. Sponsors of Brighton SEO include several specialist link building (or link selling?) agencies. It will be interesting to get their latest take on Google’s attempts to clean up the industry.


Of particular interest to me, there’s a specific presentation on integrating Google Analaytics into your Google webmaster tools management activity.


Lapsed PPC Management Client Returns

Simply Clicks has regained the PPC management of lapsed client Redford Charles. Redford Charles is a training course operator based in Rochester, Kent.

Redford Charles - Electrical Training
Redford Charles – Electrical Training and Assessment

Simply Clicks originally set-up a PPC campaign for Redford Charles over 12 months ago and managed the business on a retainer for an initial period of 3-months. The pay per click campaign targeted a range of terms related to electrical training and formal qualifications.

After a trial period the client subsequently decided to manage the business in-house. A combination recent change of circumstances at the client and the increasing complexity of PPC have encouraged the client to had the management of the campaign back to Simply Clicks.


Mobile and Ski Tracking Apps

It has a big weekend for mobile apps. The Sunday Times published the first edition of The App List, a list of what it claims is the top 500 Apps in the World. This week’s edition listed a total of 250 apps. These were for news, games and social networking.

The Sunday Times is published behind a paywall so that you can’t get online access to much of its content and of course Google cannot crawl and index it. The only way to get the content is to sign up for a subscription. The cheapest of which is the digital edition which costs £2 per week. So I’m relying on the old fashion way of reading the paper edition of the newspaper and picking out some highlights.

Skiing off-piste near Chamonix
Skiing Off-Piste – Avoiding Danger

The first edition App List does not cover travel mobile apps. Travel will be covered in the second section to be published next Sunday. However, the Driving and Technology section of the paper did cover skiing apps. Entitled White Hot, the best ski and snowboard apps. The newspaper selected 5 apps that between them can measure the calories you are burning, create a photo montage or even calculate the risk of avalanches in your ski area.

The mobile apps were a combination of free and paid for apps. Four of the apps are available for both Android and iPhone. With one exclusively for iPhone. In terms of value, the good news is that 4 of the 5 apps are available in free editions.

Alpine Replay - Free, iPhone and Android – Rated best for Fitness.
This is a tracking app that also uses your mobile’s GPS to gather stats as you ski down the mountain and works out how many calories you are burning. Some features require an upgrade costing £2.99 per month.

Ski Tracks – 69p, iPhone and 79p Android – Rated best for Tracking
Described as a tracking app for the stats-obsessed winter sports fan. This app also uses your mobile’s GPS  to track your maximum speed, distance travelled and vertical descent.

Actionshot - Free, iPhone – Rated best for Action Photos
Skiers and snowboarders often attempt to get action photos of jumps and turns. If this is you, then this is the best app for on or off-piste skiing photography. Its downside is that it is not available for Android devices.

Mammut Safety- Free, iPhone and Android – Rated best for Safety
This app gives up to date information on avalanche bulletins and assesses the risk of where you are standing.  This app also includes an in-app SOS button that sends an SMS text for help.

Ski and Snow Report – Free, iPhone and Android – Rated best for Powder Reports
This helps you make the most of your time on the ski slopes by helping you find the best powder snow. The app covers 2,000 major ski resorts.

A general rule for all of these apps is to make sure you understand the costs of using your mobile device whilst skiing abroad. Many of these apps are data hungry. So be careful to use locally available wi-fi. The Sunday Times carried out its tests in the Trois Vallees resort of Val Thorens, where wi-fi is widely available on the slopes and ski lifts. Other resorts that have a large number of outlets with free wi-fi include Chamonix. Both resorts have very high ski runs and offer off-piste skiing, where the safety and tracking would come into their own.

My advice would be to limit your selection to just one ski app. Decide on your priority – depending on the resort and type of skiing you will likely undertake and the function of the app that best suits it; tracking, fitness or powder snow etc. Once you have installed the app then set-up and familiarise your self with it before you travel on your ski holiday.


Google Quarter 4 2012 Financial Results

Google has just released their Quarter 4 2012 financial results.The top line data shows the following:

  • Total Revenues of $14.4 billion +36% on Q4 2011
  • Advertising (Mainly Google search) $12.9 billion +18% on Q4 2011
  • UK revenues $1.305 billion +23% on Q4 2011
  • Operating margin (Profit) $3.747 billion + 29% on Q4 2011

Excluding gains from foreign exchange and hedging Google’s UK Q4 2012 revenues would have been $1.288 billion.

Within the available it is possible to work out that average cost per click prices of the Google Adwords service have fallen by 6% against the previous year.

Since the acquisition of Motorola Mobile Google’s results have been more difficult to break down. Essentially, the Motorola mobile business is fairly sluggish compared to the rest of the Google group and tends to drag down the overall growth levels of the core Google search and advertising business.

For more detail see Google Q4 2012 earnings slides.




Brighton SEO Salary Survey

Brighton SEO has published its 2012 UK SEO salary survey. Its full of good data showing SEO salary data across the UK by region, experience and type of employment role – i.e. in-house SEO vs agency SEO vs freelance SEO.

The most surprising piece of data is that at the owner or director level SEO salaries in Brighton are the highest in the UK – being even higher than SEO agencies in London. See the graphic below for SEO salaries of in-house SEO salaries by location.

UK SEO Salaries By Location  - Source Brighton SEO
UK SEO Salaries By Location

The survey found that on average, in-house SEO staff are paid more than SEO agency staff, with freelancers generally paid the most. Obviously, the data is drawn from a survey of reported salaries so there is a risk of a high margin of error.

SEO salaries, not surprisingly, also increased with experience.  The highest paid salary registered by the survey was £190k, a freelance SEO with 9 years experience. The highest in-house SEO salary recorded was for an in-house SEO with 12 years experience. The highest SEO agency salary appeared to be about £82k.

For all the detail and more detailed graphics please go to the UK SEO Salary Survey.


Facebook Launches Graph Search

Facebook launched Facebook Graph Search today. Being on the sceptical wing of the search industry when it comes to social media I’m not what the hype is about. However, my 21 year old son insisted checked it out. Otherwise I risked falling behind. His exact words were “What would happen if you attended a client pitch and they asked you about Facebook Graph Search?”

So I’ve checked it out. Its apparently in beta mode. As well as registering for the Graph Search wait list. It appears to be an enhanced version of the existing search facility on the site. When Graph Search reaches the limits of its index it accesses the Bing index.

I have had a few ideas about how it can be used. Most importantly it means Facebook has the opportunity to retain search traffic within its own website for many types of search. However, we will see over the next few days how Facebook plans to commercialise its new offering.


Get Skiing PPC Campaign

Simply Clicks has recently been appointed to manage a PPC campaign for Kent travel agency, Get Skiing. The campaign targets group skiers for a range of European ski resorts in the Alps, the Balkans and Bulgaria. Prices for Get Skiing’s holidays start from as low as £281 for 6 nights in Borovets, Bulgaria.

Get Skiing is owned and managed by Gary Wardrope, the former director or Airtours’ ski tour operation. Gary Wardrope, is also the inspiration behind Get Cruising, Get Travelling and Get Lost.

Chalet Coeur - PPC Campaign Catered Chalet in Morzine
Catered Chalet Coeur – Morzine

Catered chalets are particularly suited to group skiing holidays. Get Skiing has a range of special offers and incentives. Chalet Coeur in Morzine sleeps up to 10. It is available from £627 per person and features one free child ski pass.


iPad Leads Mobile Internet Sales Surge

We are just starting to analyse many of our year end performance figures for 2012. The most dramatic improvement has come in the form of the surge in mobile Internet sales via our e-commerce clients. The top performer has been Simply Kids Beds, where online mobile sales have surged  304.7% over 2011. Revenue has grown faster than visits. Visits have grown 193.3%.

The per visit value grew by by 38.0%, due to a combination of a 22.4% rise in conversion levels and a 12.8% rise in average transaction value. The key to growth was the Apple iPad, which accounted for 92.4% of online mobile revenues. The leading smartphone device was the Apple iPhone which accounted for 5.5% of mobile Internet revenue. Android devices such as the Samsung Galaxy series did feature in volume terms but failed to register any sales.

We will analyse the mobile performance of other websites over the coming days. We will also drill into the data regarding the splits between revenues derived from various sources such as PPC and organic search.


Linking your Google Accounts and Managing your Identity

I have just completed a two day assignment with a client that has alerted me to a growing problem with the proliferation and integration of Google services and accounts that have an important role in search engine marketing. The problem I identified is the need to make sure that you properly link together the more relevant Google accounts.

I have identified six of the more important Google services for linking together under one identity :

  1. Google Webmaster tools – For SEO, sitemaps and website errors.
  2. Google Analytics – For website performance measurement and insight.
  3. Google Adwords – For pay per click management.
  4. Google Shopping – For your products and pricing feed.
  5. Blogger – For publishing news, content marketing, comment and insight.
  6. Google+ – For social networking and exploiting the rel=”author” tag.
Google Account Master Identity - Webmaster Tools, Analytics, Adwordss

The various search marketing services provide by Google.

Over the course of the two-day assignment we looked at the SEO and PPC performance of two client websites. The client employed an incumbent SEO and PPC managment agency. What I found was that each time we needed to investigate a problem or subject area, I was asking for a different log-in details. Sometimes the log-in was known to the specific client manager, sometimes it was known by someone else in the client marketing team and sometimes it was known by someone else in the client organisation. However, on some occasions the log-in the particular Google service was  known only by someone within the encumbent agent. This person happened to be located elsewhere and could not respond with the relevant information within the same business day.

Now if all of Google services were standalone this would not be a major problem. But increasingly Google is providing the facility to integrate or link these services. For example the way that Adwords can now accept a feed of Google Analytics results for bounce rates, page view and time on site. Similarly, Google Adwords can now display your relevant results from Google Shopping. These two examples provided particularly frustrating experiences. The first when the client wanted to change an image in their Google Shopping derived Adwords ad. The second when the client could not get Google Adwords to link to their Google Analytics account. In both case the client had a log-in of some form. But the log-in being used for the two services was different.

This series of issues meant constant disruption to the task in hand. Indeed the client did not manage to get the Google Analytics data into their Google Adwords account before the assignment deadline was reached. Being able to see bounce rate and page view data within the screens of Google Adwords means a user can make changes to an Adwords campaign without shifting backwards and forwards between an Analytics view and an Adword screen.

I found that many of the various Google accounts had been set up in the past. Generally to tackle a short term problem. And that the person who set up the account may no longer be with the client or agency. My solution was to suggest to the client that a specific person within the client organisation should be the master account holder. This person should own the master log-in email and password information. And be responsible for issues of security. Never forget that when dealing with Google Adwords you are dealing with money and potential access to importaqnt details such as cradit card information.