by Robert Hendrickson

A portion of my last article focused on garden center enewsletters and the importance of using mobile-friendly templates. Looks like mobile-friendly is not just important for enewsletters but now also important for websites. A front page article in USA Today featured what many in the tech world were calling “Mobilegeddon”. Seems that Google, the company pretty much in charge of internet search success, made some algorithm changes… again. All the work (and money) spent by companies trying to improve their website SEO may not be enough to garner Google’s gatekeeper attention. While rating guidelines remain regarding Google’s definition of a high quality website, such as “satisfying user experience” along with “authoritative trustworthy expertise” and others, websites not designed as mobile-friendly will see their search engine optimization rankings suffer.

As I mentioned in the past article that consumers now open more enews on mobile devices than computers, over half of all Google searches also happen on mobile devices. While the article said local businesses found through Google search will still appear, if someone then clicks a website address to find out more about a company, speed becomes a factor of conversion. Website requiring more than a few seconds to load can see 40% of their visitors give up and move on. A mobile- friendly website speeds up the process of impressing potential customers while making  friends with Google.

What to do if your current site isn’t on-the-go friendly? Begin by talking to your website host. Most have ways of converting non-mobile sites to mobile-friendly ones. If GoDaddy is your host, they have a tool that rebuilds your site to be mobile-friendly for a small extra hosting fee

each month. You can find out how your current site ranks with Google’s new standards by going to: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ 

It’s a fun, instructional site that provides suggestions in case a redesign issue is necessary.

But mobile-friendly or not, there’s one internet plague associated with many websites that in spite of the facts, just won’t go away.

That’s a lot of money…

It was a quick read in one of the many business enewsletters I receive each week tucked into an article about marketing. At first glance I skimmed over the number quickly without giving it much thought other than… “That sounds like a lot of money.”  But when I read the next portion of the article that said, “… and even though companies spent these billions, less than two-tenths of one percent of people ever click banner ads”. The vast disparity stopped me mid-sentence. I know two-tenths of one percent is really small, but just how much money is 22 billion dollars, anyway?

Here’s what I discovered…
– a hundred million dollars of one hundred dollar bills creates a tightly stacked pallet of money over five feet tall

– it requires 10 of these hundred million dollar pallets in order to reach one billion dollars

– so we’re talking 22 groups of 10 pallets each of one hundred dollar bills to reach twenty-two billion dollars of bucks!

Now we’re talking real money. Two hundred and twenty pallets of money  being spent on banner ads for less than two-tenths of one percent click.

Amazing.

Ok… I can hear most of you thinking… “So what? I don’t do banner ads or when I do it doesn’t cost that much money so this means nothing to me Mr. What’s The Point.”

Hold on… I’m getting to that.

First… print this article and use it the next time one of your media reps comes creeping around offering to place your banner ad (which they’ll design for free of course) on their company website for just a small pile of hundred dollar bills. All your media reps do it. You know they do. I warned people years ago to just say “NO!” to any media rep web offerings (what internally they call NTR… Non-Traditional Revenue) unless its free… the true value of what they’re offering.

Next… this is another example of how smart our Mothers really were when they offered their sage advice…
“Just because your friends jump off a bridge, would you jump, too?”
Given those billions being spent, it’s obvious that when it comes to banner ads and unfortunately many other forms of marketing, the typical answer from business people with more money than common sense seems to be…
“Uh… yeah.”

Which supports my position…
Retail Rules of the Road:
“One of the biggest disappointments of growing up is finding out adults in charge of important stuff do stupid things.”

And lastly… this twenty-two billion dollar banner ad lemming-leap reminds me of what happens too often in this industry, especially when it comes to marketing. Not just when it comes to banner ads, but the ease of conformity so many companies are willing to embrace. The position I’ve proudly taken my whole career regardless of crowd-think can be summed-up with this Mark Twain quote I ran across today…

“Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to
pause and reflect.”
 

There are some in the industry who believe the current garden center model is broken and in need of a major overhaul. My belief is any problem is due to the slow dilution of core strengths and questionable diversification into product areas that can’t help but cause consumers from any generation pool to wonder… “So what does being a garden center really mean?”

In his book, StoryBranding, author Jim Signorelli presents a similar view…
“Time and time again we see forecasts that “We must change our identity or we’re going to perish.” More often than not, the only thing that needs to change is an improved sense of who we really are. Authenticity is key to success.”

Next time I’ll share how listening to current customers can identify how to create companies and marketing messages enticing to any generation.