One of our favourite things about working in online marketing is that there’s always something new to think about. Embracing new technology, expanding our knowledge, keeping up with the ‘new’ and learning from the ‘old’ – these are all essential elements to an effective digital marketing strategy.

That’s why we jumped at the chance to attend last month’s Google@Manchester event – which was led by Google’s director of agency sales, Dominic Allon.

We sent Adam Symes, senior account director at ClickThrough Marketing, along with senior PPC account executives Meriem Nacer and Samantha Thomas, to check out the event and catch up on the latest industry news – direct from Google itself.

They reported back with some intriguing details, and the information that they gleaned from the event confirmed that our innovations in search marketing are very much in tune with Google’s own reports.

That isn’t to say that we didn’t learn anything new, though. So to start 2012 with some fresh industry facts, here are six things we learned from our visit to Google@Manchester – firstly in detail, and then summarised in a ClickThrough Google@ Manchester Infographic:

1. 52% of conversion journeys are multi-click

Shane Cassells, online conversion specialist at Google UK & Ireland, gave a presentation entitled ‘Full Value of Search’, during which he provided some inside information that will be useful for any online retailer. Cassells recommended that the timeout for shopping baskets on eCommerce sites should be extended, and that we should all consider offline sales in our conversion strategies, as it has been shown that 40% of customers will buy offline after researching a product on the internet.

The big statistic to bear in mind, however, is that more than half of conversion journeys involve multiple clicks – whereas nine out of ten PPC conversions are still credited to the final click. As a conversion-focused online marketing agency, this kind of statistic is a nice reminder that we’re doing things properly – understanding that conversion paths are as unique and complex as the people buying your products.

2. Google+ is the fastest growing social media platform in history

Google’s foray into social media has proven to be a powerful marketing tool, with 94% of the top 100 brands already on board. We’ve been keenly watching the progress of Google+ and it will feature significantly in our social media marketing strategy for 2012, as we create and promote Google+ brand pages for our clients.

What Google@Manchester revealed is just how breathtakingly quick the rise of Google+ has been. Despite only being launched in June of last year, Google+ now has more than 40 million members – making its initial growth faster than Facebook, Myspace or Twitter.

To further cement its position as an innovative social networking tool, the portion of the show dedicated to Google+ was delivered as a video conference via the Google+ Hangout feature.

3. Customers are nine times more likely to click on mobile banners

Dr Patrick Dixon, futurist and chairman of Global Change Ltd, delivered a stirring speech called ‘Bringing It All Together: A Look Into the Future’. His scientific approach to marketing had the crowd transfixed – our own Adam Symes described Dixon as “one of the best speakers [he had] ever heard.”

His talk focused on the future of marketing, the emotional effects that marketing has on us and how we can build emotional relationships with our end users – pointing out that 80% of potential customers will lose interest if a process takes longer than 20 seconds. He made enough points to warrant multiple blog posts on this theme alone – but for the sake of brevity, we’ll focus on the intriguing details he offered on mobile marketing.

Dixon pointed out that whilst standard web-based banners typically have a 0.5% clickthrough rate (CTR), mobile banners boast a CTR that is nine times higher. He also mentioned the fact that mobile users are twice more likely to click on a banner after 8pm than earlier in the day. With only 17% of UK businesses offering mobile-optimised websites, but almost half of online consumers using their smartphones or tablets when researching or buying a product, it’s clear that businesses are risking missed opportunities if they ignore the powerful and growing mobile user base.

4. 60% of organic clicks are from top-three search positions

Dr Dixon also shared this search engine results surprise. We’ve always focused on getting top-tier results for our clients in the results pages of Google, Yahoo!, Bing and other leading search providers – what Dixon’s statistic shows is how incredibly important it is to optimise every facet of your business’s webpage. With an increasingly clued-up online user base, appearing in the first page of a Google search just isn’t enough anymore.

5. 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute

Another highlight of the event was the ‘Connected TV’ panel, featuring experts from Google, the BBC and IAB (the Internet Advertising Bureau). Here we learned that video-sharing site YouTube is continuing to grow at a phenomenal rate, and how technology manufacturers, agencies and companies can come together to combine the best elements of internet video and traditional television – with the interactivity and customer targeting of the internet, and the quality and reach that television can still offer.

Perhaps the overarching theme that we can glean from this discussion is that YouTube should not be ignored as an online marketing tool. By their nature, Google+ and Facebook offer a quicker, easier and more cost-effective way of communicating directly with customers. However, when a video booms on YouTube, it really booms – few social websites have the potential for viral marketing that YouTube provides. Rest assured, we have some tricks up our sleeve that utilise the video sharing site that started it all.

6. Digital sales grew by 16% in the third quarter of 2011

‘It’s All About You’ was Mark Howe’s contribution to proceedings. The country sales director for Google UK opened the show by discussing the tremendous growth that was been observed in eCommerce in the third quarter of 2011.

This is good news for any business that uses the internet to promote its products, and further proof that consumers are increasingly turning to online purchasing despite the continuingly difficult economic circumstances. With the rise of price comparison websites, and review portals such as Trustpilot – which provide customers with the opportunity to rate online shops according to their experiences – it is more important than ever to ensure that your online business practice and promotional strategy are up-to-date. Dr Patrick Dixon predicted that price comparison websites will destroy businesses within five years if their prices aren’t competitive enough.

Did you attend the Google@Manchester event? If so, what were your highlights?

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About the author:

John Newton has 14 years of strategic marketing experience across Online Display, Search Marketing and TV and Outdoor Advertising, in companies which include Yahoo!, ITV and TNS Global. John has written on blog monetisation for Web Designer magazine and was the editor of ClickThrough’s two books. John is a CIM Chartered Marketer.