LinkSmart CEO Peter Sheinbaum says the time is right to integrate online content across devices and create end-to-end experiences that delight consumers
Editor’s Note: “Takes from the Top” is our series of posts where we ask industry leaders to share their opinions and insights into the industry issues and trends that they’re passionate about. This time around, we hear from Pete Sheinbaum, the founder and CEO of LinkSmart, Inc. a provider of analytics and traffic optimization solutions for Web publishers, who talks about how online content should be distributed in this time of multiple platforms and shrinking screens.
With an expected 1.2 billion mobile devices in the hands of consumers within the next year, marketers and publishers everywhere will be laser-focused on providing a strong multiplatform user experience for customers. Content delivery based on time, place, and location will be critical.
I believe that in 2013, brands and publishers will begin to marry both the technological advancements in smartphones, tablets, and computers with the more mature programs and applications (HTML5, etc.) that we use for sharing content. This perfect storm will drive companies to fully embrace an end-to-end consumer experience that delights, satisfies, and entertains their customers across all devices.
Historically, the technology strategies for publishers have been shaky at best. They focus on optimizing one-to-two networks for sharing content with their users while completely neglecting other viable channels. Typically the “end-to-end strategy” goes by the wayside or is neglected until some imaginary later date (or never). For example, magazines have great brands and loyal readership, but many have a tough time moving those brand relationships outside of their print versions or Web sites. Other Web sites, like Facebook, might have a great application but have not fully taken advantage of mobile.
The problem with a single-tier or even two-tiered business plan is the lack of stability. By ignoring a multi-platform approach, there is high risk of being usurped by another company who is willing to take all facets into consideration.
During the next 12 months I believe we will see companies taking great strides to build a more complete user experience that includes the integration of websites, mobile applications, push notifications (email, text, tweets, mobile push), and content syndication in a coordinated way. Leaving the myopic approach behind, the industry will move toward an end-to-end strategy that results in a solid way to distribute content to users.
Here are the four tiers that I believe will be critical in 2013:
Tier 1: Renewed focus on push communications: As an ex-email guy, I’ve heard for the past 10 years that “this” is the year email will die. Not so. Transactional and promotional alerts will keep on coming for the foreseeable future, and companies that recognize this will take advantage of how, where, and on what device their users consume push-type notifications. By leveraging push as a strategic platform, brands and publishers can connect more frequently with their audience in a service-based way.
Tier 2: Custom content and apps for mobile devices: All too often when publishers feel the pressure to “go mobile,” they simply port applications or content from device to device, ignoring the opportunity to craft a completely new use case based on where users are engaging with the content. I predict that in the next year, publishers will optimize their content for various devices to better target how consumers want to interact with the information. While a mobile app should always include the heart of a publisher’s content, the primary focus should be serving the customer’s preferred engagement method.
Tier 3: More engaging, interactive websites: In 2013, brands and publishers will embrace that the website is built for reading, browsing, researching, chatting, pinning, liking, and gaming, and they’ll use it to reinforce the opportunity to showcase their complementing non-desktop channels as well. By showing users how they can continue to interact with a brand on their phone, on demand via push, and on other sites, companies can help narrow the interaction gap, providing an anytime-anywhere approach to content consumption.
Tier 4: Supersizing Syndication: One of the lessons I’ve learned over the years is the power of a brand creating a voice and embracing syndication. Don’t let the fear of losing control over content hold you back. I believe that publishers in 2013 will embrace syndication. Instead of being overly concerned about sharing content, applications, and social votes with potential competitors, publishers will begin to share their content more freely and invest heavily in building credibility and voice among their audience. While not every passer-by will become a loyal visitor or consumer of a product or service, they will become aware of the content and perhaps share it with their friends.
In 2013, I’m optimistic that companies will start to get the user experience right by providing an integrated and individualized content consumption experience. Content has gone viral between devices and breached the borders of social networks in powerful and disruptive new ways.
As content creators and bellwethers of the industry, publishers will be the first to embrace these opportunities and will reap the rewards from users in terms of viewer loyalty, brand affinity, and purchase influence.