Internet marketing news roundup, February 3

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The Super Bowl and Groundhog Day dominated web conversation this week, but marketing saw some major trends unveiled that could change campaigns for all businesses moving forward.

Two of the most talked about events of the young year have been hot topics online (and in the internet marketing community), with Groundhog Day on Thursday and the buildup to Super Bowl XLVI dominating search and social conversations.

On Sunday, the New England Patriots and New York Giants will play in the Super Bowl for the second time in the last four seasons. While the game is always a major topic on Google, Twitter and other social and search sites, the Boston-New York rivalry along with the Giants’ defeat of the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII in 2008 has only exacerbated the hype for the game. Throughout the week, it was among the most discussed topics on Twitter and a top search, according to Google Trends, fueling businesses in the sports, entertainment, food and beverage (among other) industries with ample fodder for content marketing.

Meanwhile, Groundhog Day was a frequent talking point throughout Thursday, and it resulted in an especially interesting observation. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, as he usually does, to guarantee Americans six more weeks of winter – at least. However, Brafton found that Americans are not particularly sharp when it comes to spelling the renowned rodent’s name. “Punksatony Phil” was trending search term late Friday, despite being an incorrect spelling. Google produced content featuring Phil’s first name spelled correctly in the most prominent news content result positions. However, those who posted website content with the incorrect spelling saw a remarkable surge in traffic. The boost was short-lived, though.

In general, Brafton has reported that Google considers quality to be the most important element of content it includes its search results. A spelling mistake or two isn’t going to kill a company’s SERP standing, but employing content writers is a must for businesses planning to implement search marketing campaigns including news articles or blog posts.

This week’s headlines demonstrate that getting content for SEO right is key to reaching online audiences. On Thursday, Brafton reported that 89 percent of consumers use search engines when they conduct research for purchases. More than ever, it’s important for businesses to create content that will help their website move up in SERPs.

Fleishman-Hillard found that the information users find online when they are looking to make a purchase weighs heavily into their eventual decisions. The study found digital content has more of an impact on purchases than recommendations from friends or family. For any organization selling products or offering services, creating news content involving the industry could help appeal to those turning to Google or Bing before spending their money.

For businesses looking to drive traffic to their brick-and-mortar locations as well as their websites, two new reports may demonstrate the value of web marketing for achieving both goals. Brafton noted on Monday that consumers that access a company’s website spend more money at its stores. The analysis, conducted by comScore, Accenture and dunnhumbyUSA, suggests that web marketing campaigns should focus on driving web conversions, but that they can also fuel in-store sales.

Additionally,Brafton reported on Wednesday that more than half of shoppers turned to a smartphone during the holidays while in stores. Pew Internet Research said that 24 percent used the mobile web to look for information on a product or compare prices at other stores.

In light of this, it seems an SEO campaign that includes mobile/local SEO elements could help companies rank well when prospects search from stores, effectively keeping them in a shop or luring them in from a neighboring store.

While the study noted consumers search from mobile devices while shopping, they also tend to check social networks and email. Ensuring that each channel included as part of a web marketing strategy is accessible and optimized for access from smartphones is critical moving forward.

Brafton reported on Friday that more than 47 percent of mobile phone users accessed the web from their device in the fourth quarter of 2011. The figure represents a pretty substantial increase from earlier research that found 42.9 percent accessed the web from a handset in the previous three months, according to comScore. Application use also grew, which places substantial emphasis on social media marketing campaigns, as part of strategies aimed at reaching mobile users.

While social media marketing is effective to find and locate new prospects, businesses may find that the channel helps them keep up with existing customers as well. Brafton reported on Tuesday that the channel is valuable in keeping current partners or clients happy. Loyalty 360 found that 27 percent of businesses named it as their best tool for encouraging customer retention.

Essentially, consumers and businesses enjoy reaching out to organizations they buy from or work with to ask questions and discuss trends or developments even if they’re already doing business. Effectively engaging existing customers will help make social a major win for a company.

The channel is also wildly successful for brands in terms of finding new prospects. Brafton reported on Thursday that 81 percent of businesses said their use of Facebook, Twitter or some other social network has boosted lead generation. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research reported that 88 percent of the companies tied their use of social media marketing to improved web traffic as well.

However, Facebook could get interesting in the next few weeks, as users adjust to life with Timeline, the new default profile layout. On Tuesday, Brafton highlighted a poll of more than 4,000 Facebook users, conducted by Sophos Security. The results showed that more than half said Timeline “worries” them to the point where they may consider deleting their accounts.

Just 7.96 percent of respondents said that they like Timeline, according to Sophos. As is often the case with changes of this scope, many are threatening to leave Facebook altogether.

As we move into next week, the web conversation will likely deal with those who do opt to delete Facebook and what this means for social media marketing. Businesses should also keep an eye on users’ threats to delete Google accounts in the aftermath of privacy updates. Based on past examples of user threats following major platform changes, marketers should likely maintain their Facebook and Google marketing campaigns.

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Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.
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