Capture the Screens
by Molly Burgess
Survival and success on the Internet is always being redefined and is certainly one of the fastest moving targets out there. Here is a little understanding of Internet reality, as of this moment..
You thought having a website was essential for your business. Then you learned that SEO was essential for website success. Today, your business or organization has to capture as many screens as possible. Sounds like a game of capture the flag to some of us, and it’s similar in a number of ways. The game (the physical one with kids playing all over the neighborhood until dark) involves a large territory running along a street block and every backyard you have permission to climb over or under the fence to get to. Two teams (or competing companies) are formed with kids who are familiar with the territory. They each have a flag (the physical indicator that they have won – success). Their goal is to capture the other team’s flag and return to home base without getting caught.
You may not realize that you too are playing a game of capture the flag (substitute screens) until it’s too late and you discover that they (your online competition) stole your success in online business, and pulled everyone’s eyes and business right back over to their own camp. How did this happen?
First, let’s define “screens.” We have known them all our lives. We fell in love with them when we started with the first one: the T.V. screen. We stole as much time as we dared in front of it and advertisers grabbed our minds, and often our mom’s pocketbook.
Move to the late 1980’s when many of us started using computers for work, games and home bookkeeping. That was the second screen we fell in love with and we stayed up all night playing Pong.
Believe it or not, the development of the mobile telephone began in 1918 with tests of wireless telephony on military trains between Berlin and Zossen, but that’s another story. The first prototype handheld phone was built by Motorola in 1973. It offered 30 minutes of talk time and took 10 hours to recharge. (Just think how much money we could save on that plan!) Jumping ahead, it wasn’t until about the mid-2000s that 3G technology allowed the kind of usage we now enjoy with Smartphones (screen number three). And boy, are we addicted to them.
The fourth screen belongs to tablets. Incredibly, the first patent for an electronic tablet used for handwriting was granted in 1888. (Yes, I got that number right.) Jumping through the long history of pen computing technology, in 2000, Microsoft coined the term Microsoft Tablet PC. This tablet was targeted for businesses, and used primarily as a note-taking device for field work and data capture in the health care sector. But, most of the population fell in love with the 4th screen in 2010 with the introduction of the iPad by Apple. It gave us a light-weight screen for the consumption of media through web browsing, emails, photo sharing, videos, music and e-reading. And, boy do we love to consume media.
Across all four screens, televisions to tablets, screens capture 90% of all media interactions today. Most of us use all of them, often together. Picking the one to use depends on where we are, how much time we have, and what we want to know or do. Only 24% of our media interactions occur on a computer, in part because we consume media when we are relaxing and are away from activities that are better suited to a lap-top or desk-top such as business applications.
We spend an average of 4.4 hours of leisure time in front of a screen. Television usage is still the winner at 43%, followed by computers at 39%, tablets at 30%, and Smartphones at 17% according to a study published by Google Think Insights.
Mobile is Available
Mobile search is always available. My family used to have a dictionary next to the dining table so that we could look up something we were arguing about. Now, when there’s a question, six people around the table all whip out their Smartphones and their fingers race to find the answer.
Accessing content (we talk about creating content constantly at RedFusion) remains the primary Smartphone activity at 93%. The most popular searches are 1.) the weather, 2.) the news and 3.) sports. (Who would have guessed?) Smartphones, seem to be used more on the spot, during an activity (to find directions, to compare prices in a store), and tablets are used in a relaxed way, typically on the couch as you watch TV. Mobile is also hyperlocal content, searching for content near you.
Interestingly, Google reports that 3 out of 4 mobile searches trigger an average of two follow-up actions. Those actions include: further research, a visit to a store, a phone call, a purchase, or a text or word of mouth sharing. And they happen quickly. Conversions (store visits, phone calls or purchases) happen within an hour in 55% of inquiries.
You can begin to see the importance of planning your marketing to not only involve interesting content that searchers want or need to find (stories, white papers, solutions, dates, data) but now, you have to format that content for not only the traditional website, but for at least two other screens, because all those screens have taken over the way we learn, decide and shop. You have to capture the interest of your target market by capturing all the screens.