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Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

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Don’t Let the Arctic Blast Freeze Your eCommerce Site in 2014

By | February 4, 2014

You might have on two pairs of pants right now, but that’s just because you’re smart. You’ve watched the weather forecast. You put on your long johns and got ready to face the subzero temperatures waiting outside your door.

You should approach your 2014 marketing plan in the same way. We’ve got your online retail forecast right here. Read our list of the top seven forecasted trends for 2014.

  1. Multichannel – Integrated marketing is the way of the future. If you’re not already doing it, get on board. Whatever you’re doing offline, you need to be doing online. Keep things consistent.
  2. Responsive design – Mobile is going to be a primary driver for eCommerce in 2014. But, you can’t completely ignore your desktop users. Responsive design is the ideal solution. This already booming trend will continue to grow in popularity as a way to provide all your users with a positive shopping experience regardless of device.
  3. Personalized shopping experiences – As the fight against larger merchants becomes more challenging for smaller online businesses, it will become even more important for personalized shopping. This involves identifying personalized product suggestions and offers for customizable products.
  4. Quality, unique content – It was a huge driver in 2013 and will only continue in 2014. As Google continues to change algorithms, “traditional” SEO methods will be replaced by content that is tailored and useful for target audiences.
  5. Free and fast shipping – There are always deals available online involving shipping. Free shipping and free shipping upgrades are one of the best ways to keep your customers. If you don’t offer fast and cheap shipping, your audience will shop somewhere else.
  6. Optimize mobile experiences – 2014 will be the year for mobile commerce. Quick shopping and pricing competition will assist in-store and online purchases. Having a streamlined and secure ordering process through mobile will be important in 2014.
  7. Be transparent – Shoppers are educated. They are careful about making purchases from online retailers. Be as transparent as possible in 2014. Let customers know where their products are coming from and share vendor information. Successful eCommerce sites will provide better clarity and certainty to shoppers in the coming year.

Don’t get snowed in this year. Pull out your shovel and start tackling this list one by one. Before you know it, you’ll have cleaned a clear path to retail success in 2014.


Get more out of marketing automation by following retail content and sending strategies for email campaigns. Download our 13-pg. PDF:

Automated Retail Email Guide

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Coffee, Alcohol and SMBs’ 2014 Marketing Priorities

By | January 3, 2014

First off, in case you work for a Big Brand (or lest we get lost in abbreviation city), SMB stands for ‘small-to-mid-sized businesses.’ I don’t think I need to explain coffee or alcohol.

I discovered today something really interesting about SMB professionals. First, here are their top 4 marketing priorities for 2014:

  1. 28%: Increase online presence (further developing a website/online store).
  2. 27%: Adopt email marketing automation to easily and efficiently reach customers.
  3. 14%: Adopt mobile marketing best practices
  4. 11%: Ensure email marketing isn’t thwarted by spam filters or the new Gmail tabs.

None of the above should come as any surprise: The first is a no-brainer that has been trending up for years; the second (marketing automation) is a more recent phenomenon; the third is exploding (thanks to ubiquitous mobile adoption, Google, Salesforce, et al.); the 4th speaks to the increasing customization and sophistication of email user experience and spam filtering. These are all items I would also prioritize as a professional working for the average SMB.

But here’s where it gets fun:

Top personal resolution for business success: Exercise more often. (By a landslide.)

Least popular personal resolutions for business success: Giving up coffee or alcohol.

This is not a joke! 1,584 people actually answered this question, and a graph shows maybe 1% of SMB professionals (if any) saying they would give up either coffee or alcohol as a personal resolution for business success. Read into this what you will, but I’ve got a thought: SMB professionals need their coffee and alcohol. We live in a generally sleep-deprived society where stressful, fast-paced work environments are the norm, hence the need for caffeine on the job and alcohol to relax off the job. Giving up either of these substances may not be conducive to your job (unless you’re an alcoholic).

However, everybody knows exercise is a primary way to attain all sorts of health benefits (including the alleviation of stress), which can lead to professional benefits. It’s also the answer everybody gives for New Year’s resolutions (along with weight loss), so no surprise it tops the list.

I know plenty of people at SMBs (e.g., my colleagues) who need coffee to get things done. One might even argue it makes you a sharper marketer. Now, alcohol, on the other hand …

Source: J2 Global and Campaigner survey of 1,584 SMB professionals, Nov. 2013 via MarketingProfs.


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This Year's Cyber Monday Results Are Making History

By | December 4, 2013


Internet retailers are breaking records in 2013. Shoppers spent an estimated $2.29 billion on Monday and according to Internet Retailer, it is the most spent online for any single day in history.

Last year, when we discussed Cyber Monday and the big lesson of mobile searches and purchases, we anticipated this growing in the next year. And the results from this year’s Cyber Monday show that it definitely has. Below are some stats that back up mobile’s hold and growth in the retail industry on their biggest online sales day of the year.

  • Cyber Monday mobile sales accounted for 17% of all online sales. This is up 55% from the previous year. (Tweet this stat)
  • 31.7% of online traffic was mobile on Monday, which is up 45% from last year. (Tweet this stat)
  • Users chose smartphones as their mobile browsing device: Smartphones drove 19.7% of all online traffic compared to tablets at 11.5%. (Tweet this stat)
  • However, tablets led in online sales, capturing 11.7% of all online sales, more than double that of smartphones, which accounted for 4.4%. (Tweet this stat)
  • Smartphones and tablets account for nearly 40% of all paid search spend by retailers on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and 44% of all clicks on paid search ads. (Tweet this stat)

There’s no surprise who the winners were on Monday. Amazon and eBay saw the biggest increase in online sales. Amazon sales were up 44.3% over last year, and eBay sales were up 32.1% (ChannelAdvisor). Department stores also came out on top. Their Cyber Monday total online sales grew by 60.3% over 2012, with mobile sales growing 52% year over year. They also saw an increase in the average order value, which was up 18.7% compared to last year.

In the upcoming year we can only expect to see mobile traffic continue to grow. I also think retailers will simplify the purchase process on mobile and enhance overall user experience, resulting in more mobile sales next year than mostly browsing.

What do you think Cyber Monday will look like in 2014?


Get more out of marketing automation by following retail content and sending strategies for email campaigns. Download our 13-pg. PDF:

Automated Retail Email Guide

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5 Marketing Stats for New Business in 2014

By | November 29, 2013

excellenceOK, so I’m a liar. You will actually find 7 stats below, but 2 of them are closely related to the 5 main ones, and 5 seems like a tidier (if not cooler) number for this list. Please forgive me.

I’ll begin this not with a stat, but a statement from an IBM report:

CMOs in outperforming organizations invest more effort in capturing and using data to foster customer relationships. (IBM: “From Stretched to Strengthened,” 2013)

Let’s examine this closely: outperforming organizations invest more in capturing and using data. Not just any organizations, but outperforming ones. The implication: If you want to be an excellent organization that surpasses its competition, you need to be tracking data well and applying any insights to create more personalized communication with your customers.  In other words, what do outperforming organizations use this data for? Fostering customer relationships. By getting closer to your customers and better meeting their needs, you are creating value. Richer data leads to an enhanced understanding of customer desires and behaviors. Using this knowledge to give your customers what they want builds trust and strengthens the relationship.

1. By 2015, 71% of new business leads will originate from the corporate or brand website (SiriusDecisions, 2012).

It all starts with the website. Your website represents your brand and is the 24/7 virtual location for customer education, interaction and conversion. With always-connected customers increasingly going mobile, this also means your website has to work well on mobile devices, or you risk losing 48% of the U.S. population, or 143 million mobile Internet users (eMarketer 2013). Make your website an invaluable and user-friendly resource, and you will profit. Make your website an afterthought or user-hostile trap, and you will lose customers. How many leads is your website currently generating? Are you turning away potential business with confusing navigation, missing calls-to-action, restrictive forms or slow pages?

2. 89% of marketers say email is their primary channel for lead-generation (Forrester Research).

What has your email marketing done for you lately?

3. 84% of consumers want a seamless experience across channels (Retail Systems Research, June 2013).

Is your Web presence strong and fluid across channels? Is your message consistent across platforms? How well do you connect the digital to the traditional (or online to offline) when applicable?

4. 48% of all emails sent are now opened and read on a mobile device (Return Path).

If your emails are not mobile-optimized, then they’re not converting at the rate you want. In fact, 63% of US consumers say they delete emails immediately if they are not optimized for mobile (Return Path). How much of your user base is mobile? Are you wasting email marketing dollars? At minimum, mobile emails require simpler templates, bigger fonts and easy touch targets.

5. 78% of all shoppers use the Internet to research and purchase products and services (Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, “Catch and Keep Digital Shoppers,” 2013).

This ties back to the first stat: Business leads (and sales) are coming from your website. Is your website helping or hurting the cause? How mobile-ready is it? How customer-friendly (i.e., user-friendly) is it? Does it help people solve their problems?


Photo courtesy of Iqbal Osman via Flickr.

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Why Mobile and Search in Higher Education are Critical

By | September 27, 2013

shutterstock_106053509During the summer, I attended a handful of conferences focused on higher education and digital marketing. I’ve made a few friends along the way, and I learned that universities of all sizes face common issues:

  • Student acquisition and retention
  • Measuring offline advertising ROI
  • Developing a holistic strategy

Google recently released some staggering numbers showing that potential students are using search to decide which colleges and universities fit their needs. We’re all living in the age of digital consumption, so how can we address the above challenges accordingly?

Think Mobile First

Google reports that 40% of education search queries happen on a mobile device. At Fathom, we see that anywhere from 40% to 70% of all traffic for higher education clients comes from mobile. If your website is not yet responsive, now is the time to make sure it happens.

User experience plays a major role in the research process. If potential students are unable to learn more about your school, they will move on to the next competitor – one that provides a better mobile experience. Also consider your other marketing efforts, such as email. Career guides, financial aid information and any other type of email template should be mobile-friendly.

Look to Year-Over-Year Growth

The Department of Education reported that post-secondary enrollments declined for the first time in 15 years in the fall of 2011. However, education-related search queries grew year-over-year in the first quarters of 2012 and 2013. And not only are more students searching for their schools of choice, but they are also consuming information via social profiles such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

Students are turning to search more than ever. They’re looking for digital content to influence their decisions, and they’re rapidly consuming research-driven content on mobile devices. If we want to reach people through mobile and search in higher education, we have to stay ahead of their digital needs.

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