Tag Archives: digital

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Introducing ‘INNW’ (a new marketing acronym)

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I’d like to propose ‘INNW’ as a new acronym* to guide marketers in 2017.

These 4 letters stand for a relatively simple statement – If Not Now, When?

As (almost) everyone in business and marketing knows, the world has changed. A lot. If you’re in the business of selling a product or service, you’re probably scratching your head and wondering how to manage a decreasing marketing budget amongst an increasing array of media options. “Do more with less” seems the mantra nowadays.

As 2016 comes to a close, and in the spirit of new year resolutions, I propose that “If Not Now, When?” be the slogan that inspires your approach to marketing in 2017. Marketing demands bold ideas, innovation and bravery. That means marketers should always be looking to test new strategies and tactics.

So next year (not next decade), see if one or more of these are right for your business.

Get mobile-friendly.

This message has been hammered into everyone for a number of years. Australia’s smartphone penetration is #2 in the world (77% in 2013 as per SMS Global study).  More searches are done on a mobile device than PC and ‘search’ is the most frequently used shopping tool for mobile consumers (according to a Google USA study).

So any business that hasn’t yet thought of a way to embrace a mobile-optimised web presence – or any other mobile-friendly tactic – then it’s definitely time to act! Put at the top of your list. Let me know if you need some help with this.

Accelerate digital-based innovation.

Now is the time to start embracing not only change, but the method of making change happen.  A recent report by Accenture details the benefits that accrue to companies that actively innovate to add value. Their key findings contains one element that successful innovators are doing: “Incorporate digital as part of the customer experience.”

Breakdown your whole go-to-market plan and identify touchpoints that can be strengthened by applying a degree of digitisation. This can be either customer-facing or an internal communications/workflow solution.

Accenture: Rewriting The innovation Playbook

Social selling.

This is a relatively new concept so if you’re unfamiliar with it’s premise: social selling is when salespeople use social media to connect directly with their prospects. There is much more it than simply connecting, as the idea is that salespeople use social media as a means to establish a relationship that  might lead to a future sale.

Social selling is a B2B marketing strategy that mostly occurs online using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Slideshare, Pinterest and YouTube. The premise is that a salesperson publishes content of interest to his/her prospects, who will then follow/like/share that content.  Over time the salesperson and prospect develop closer ties, including meeting in person, that may lead to a sale.

Read more about this strategy in this Forbes article. Better still, ask me for some advice.

Programmatic media buying.

Digital advertising is now dominated by programmatic media buying.  Proponents laud its ability to efficiently display an advertisement to the right audience at the right time and in the most measurable context.  It has been primarily for large advertisers but the scale of programmatic means that even small ones can use the platforms.

This Digiday article looks at 5 key charts to explain the big growth in programmatic. Then allocate some ad budget and give programmatic a go. It’s so highly measureable that you’ll know if it’s working soon enough.

Customer experience improvements.

As Lee Tonitto, CEO of the Australian Marketing Institute says, “A good CMO is chronically obsessed with the customer.” Lee goes on to say in the MediaScope article predictions for 2017, “Organisations must undergo radical shifts in their structures to align themselves with how customers act in a new world obsessed with digital experiences. This starts with the CMO closely collaborating with the CIO, and building from there.”

If you’re going to improve something, you need to know a baseline to grow from. In terms of CX, that requires a forensic examination of the pathway to purchase. And beyond. A great way to achieve this is to conduct a customer journey mapping exercise. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.

Make smarter use of Facebook and Google.

How’s this for a staggering stat: “In the first quarter of 2016, 85 cents of every new dollar spent in online advertising will go to Google or Facebook” (NYT 13 Dec 2016).  These two online brands now dominate the online advertising landscape so much that they must be part of every marketer’s plans for 2017.

Whether it’s Facebook Ads or Google Adwords, use a specialist agency to ensure you are getting the most value from the ad budget spent with them. And if you need help choosing a digital agency – ask me for advice.

Data capture and usage.

If you’re not collecting data about your prospects and customers, then you’re already behind the eightball. If you’re collecting data but have no strategy for how to effectively use it in marketing communications, then you’re only doing half the job.

To manage data effectively you need a good CRM, a customer segmentation strategy, and a publishing platform that leverages the data sets being captured through online interactions, social media connections, search results, real life transactions, and post-sales interactions.

Read my blog post about leveraging the ‘Data Funnel’ and contact me for more thoughts on how you can improve your data strategy.

Which strategy or tactic should be included? Add your comments below.

* Sorry…I know everyone hates acronyms. Hopefully it’s a useful one 🙂

P.S. When I came up with this idea, I didn’t realise the phrase was the title of a novel by Italian author Primo Levi, published in 1982. Read more about the book. The book inspired American alternative rock band Incubus to use the title for its 7th album, released in July 2011.

 

 

 


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Websites that disrupt or transform

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No longer is a website simply considered the virtual ‘front door’ to a business. Now it’s the more than likely to be the whole house, given that so many businesses are digital-only. This evolution in website development has had two side effects.

Firstly, pure play digital companies are reinventing, and in some cases disrupting, the role and functionality of websites. Uber and Instagram’s websites are secondary to their mobile apps which is where all customer interactions occur. The Netflix website need not be visited again after you sign up. In the future I expect that websites associated with the Internet of Things, such as internet connected fridges, will be change the game again.

Secondly, traditional businesses are realising they need to transform their web presence to stay relevant to an increasingly web-savvy audience. Coca-Cola pioneered the shift to a content-led website. GE and IBM have followed similar strategies of reinventing their websites to focus on publishing engaging, story-driven content. And Simple is an example of how banking is being disrupted.

Understanding how these factors are influencing website development is a fascinating debate. For my take on the issues, here are 5 principles for creating a website that is disruptive and/or transformational.

1. Start with the customer

The fundamental goal of a website is to motivate people to visit regularly (or when they need to), purchase items or services, or interact with the content. No matter what the goal, the common denominator is the customer or prospect staring at the screen thinking “what can I do here that’s of interest to me?”.

So you need to find out everything possible about this mythical person. About his/her behaviour and attitudes. Analyse and understand the online and offline pathways to your website and how they relate to each other. Know what device your customers use to research and find you online – and why. Don’t ignore what you learn about people’s motivations to visit your website – and don’t forget the ease at which a customer can click a link and be taken away, perhaps never to return.

Steve Jobs nailed it when he said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience, and then work backwards to the technology.” In this video Steve gives an inspiring speech to explain how he applies this concept at Apple. Finally, if there was any doubt about this principle, U.S. and U.K customer satisfaction data indicates that companies with highly satisfied customers are perform better on stock markets and create more shareholder value. Facebook is a perfect example of the relationship between customer and investor satisfaction: its ACSI rose from 61 in 2012 to 75 in 2015 whilst over this period it’s stock price nearly doubled.

2. Brand is the ‘customer experience’

Building and sustaining a brand image is not reliant on mega-buck advertising campaigns any more. Declining traditional media audiences, coupled with ubiquitous access to digital media, has effectively killed the ‘golden goose’ that fueled the advertising industry gravy train.

New and emerging brands are creating their brand through superior online experiences. Established brands are playing catch up  – some doing it really well as described in point 1, although many are failing miserably – or simply not trying.

Disruptive business models put the customer at the centre of their offering. Uber is the poster-child for this principle. The more seamless the experience, the greater the brand image and customer satisfaction. This means a website must be designed and function so it is true to what your business sells, what it stands for, and how it operates.

3. Keep it simple

This was one of Steve Jobs’ obsessions. But he warned that “Simple can be harder than complex.” He over-achieved with the innovative products he created (think iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc.) and this shines through in the Apple website that is a testament to his philosophy of simple design, functionality and usability.

To apply this guideline, heed the words of writer Ann Voskamp who said “Simplicity is ultimately a matter of focus.” So choose what you’re selling (not always an obvious answer), be clear about why you’re better than the competition, and find a clever way to simply tell your audience this.

4. Don’t let technology get in the way

The best websites make it easy to extract (information), transact, interact or contact. They are built from the ground up with these user goals in mind, and ruthlessly eschew elements that may distract from the desired outcome. Recent trends that demonstrate these principles are responsive design, large photo backgrounds, flat colours, elongated scrolling and CSS opacity providing translucency or transparency.

A modern technique to ensure your web presence isn’t overwhelmed by technical ‘wizardry’ is to follow a user-centered design approach. This provides a framework to build an online experience around the customer’s needs, rather than the more common iterative design cyclical approach of prototype/test/refine.

5. Your website is no longer the ultimate destination

Once upon a time, before social media and mobile apps, a website was about the only online place to find out about a company’s products and services. (Actually that was less than 10 years ago!)

In the future (i.e. the day after you read this) people will visit company/brand/product/retailer websites less frequently. Instead they will find out what they need to know through other means such as search engines, review website like Product Review, mobile app like Yelp, social platform like Facebook/Instagram/YouTube/Pinterest/etc., or one of hundreds of other online services that satisfy our need for information, entertainment and commerce.

So don’t expect your website to be the only ‘star’ in your online galaxy. Design it to complement – not compete with – all your other online channels. Learn what your customers need when they go online, satisfy that need, and they will find their way to you one way or another.

If your organisation needs to redevelop its website (and whose doesn’t?), contact marketingbytes for an initial discussion to find out how we can assist with the strategic planning, technology selection and resourcing required to implement.


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Anatomy of a digital marketing campaign

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OVER my career I have planned and produced a wide variety of digital marketing campaigns. One certainty is that it’s not getting any simpler.

In an attempt to demystify the process of creating a digital-led communications campaign, I have developed a 5 Stage overview from planning to implementation to measurement. This post summarises each discipline/tactic, basically in chronological order, although this will vary depending on the complexity of the campaign elements.

[Note:  I have not included offline marketing processes, however there are some key digital decisions that enhance integration between the two disciplines.]

Stage 1 – Brief

The marketing brief must align with the overall business objectives.  Audience profile, budget and timing are also imperative elements of the brief.

The brief will inform the creative development process, leading to ideas that will be communicated to an audience through multi-channel digital strategies.

digi_mktg_ball

Stage 2 – Planning

The content of the campaign messaging must be reviewed and, in effect, cleared for use across ALL  digital platforms that will be utilised in the campaign.

Search terms
A successful online marketing campaign starts with choosing the right terminology so you optimise SEO (organic) to minimise SEM (paid). Develop a strategy based on SEO-friendly content, judicious use of paid search terms, and don’t underestimate the importance of social media to support SEO. Check out sites like Google Trends, Google AdWordsBing Trends or Twitter Search to learn about relevant search terms’ popularity.

Keywords
Build a Keyword & Key Brand/Product Messaging matrix. Prioritise the matrix and ensure it is followed by everyone who is writing copy for the campaign’s online and printed material.

Short URL
Sometimes called a vanity URL, this is very useful for print media (ads, brochures, posters, etc.) where you want people to easily remember the URL. A number of options are available:
– create a landing page within the main website with a URL like ‘www.yourdomain.com.au/campaigntheme’;
– create a stand-alone microsite with a new domain name based on the campaign theme; or
– register a new domain name based on the campaign theme and redirect the URL to a landing page within your main website.

Hashtag (#)
Over the past few years the humble hashtag has become the marketing weapon-of-choice for major advertisers. They’re now used liberally on TV, posters, sports ground signage, and social media where they originated. Search multiple platforms to see if your chosen hashtag is available, using tools like TagBoard. The main ‘trap’ to watch out for is who else is either using that hashtag now, or might over the time period of your campaign. Acronyms are especially susceptible to have multiple meanings. Another hashtag ‘trap’ is the unwitting blending of letters when multiple words run together, creating a completely different meaning to the original campaign theme (for bad examples see this Guardian article).

Social media
Review existing SM channels and consider if new ones can be launched via the campaign (of course they must continue to be used after the campaign is over). A high level SM planning document should identify the audiences and related social network/s, and how the the Brand/Product Messaging matrix will drive the publishing cycle and content.

Stage 3 – Content

Landing page
Further to the discussion above re SEO and short URL, the landing page is the ‘destination’ for all digital marketing call-to-action (CTA) elements. People will arrive here after they have clicked an online ad, a link in an email, a social media post, read it in a brochure or on a poster. What is written and shown here must present the brand/product information in the most engaging way. It must also take the CTA to the next logical step – a buy/checkout option, download a report, request a sales call, or subscribe to an eNewsletter.

Email
Ideally your business has a regular eNewsletter with a substantial subscriber database. Include the campaign message/s within the existing eNewsletter template, or create a bespoke email to promote the campaign. Use the exact same campaign keywords/terminology in the email as that used on the web, in social media posts and search marketing.

Blog
Not every business has a blog, as it requires significant time and effort to publish consistently and professionally. For those that do blog, it can be an ideal ‘launch pad’ for a campaign. The selected keywords and brand/product messages must be written into the copy, also links to the landing page/website, as these are what search engines will be looking for. Blogs should also include ‘rich media’ like video, audio and photographs as these are known to encourage reader sharing.

Social media
Preparing a social media publishing and content calendar will optimise the use of these channels. Ideally it should include video and visual content to accompany written posts/updates, as these are proven to receive much higher rates of user engagement and sharing.

Video
The success of video to support digital marketing initiatives has grown significantly in the past few years. The variety of ways to use video makes it such a flexible tool for digital marketers: ‘how to’ videos are amongst the most searched on YouTube; crowd-sourced videos make for some amazing and entertaining films; and authoritative speakers filmed at a conference (or to camera) are highly valued by audiences.

Online ads
There are many options to use paid online media to reach an audience.  Dependant on budget and campaign messaging, a professional marketer can identify appropriate online media to reach a business’ prospects. An excellent resource is MediaScope, a comprehensive directory for marketers and agencies to find the right media for their needs.

Stage 4 – Channels

Owned/earned

Website
This is where all the action will be when customers come looking for information, to buy your product/service, to subscribe/download/engage/etc. Ensure it is optimised so people can find what they are looking for quickly and do what they want to do easily.

Microsite
If the campaign requires a microsite, ensure it is designed to complement the brand identity and the main website. It can harm your brand image if a microsite has a completely different look & feel to the brand’s other digital assets. Launching a microsite also means starting your organic search performance from scratch- this can inhibit the campaign’s early results. Thus ensure SEO-friendly keywords/metadata and optimise the home page user experience.

eNewsletter
Include campaign messages  within an existing eNewsletter or send a custom message to an established email subscriber database (opt-in permissions permitting). Purchasing a 3rd party email list is a tactic that is becoming much harder to get satisfactory results given the improved performance of spam/junk email filters and firewalls.

Blog
A well-subscribed blog is the place to start a conversation around the campaign theme. Don’t sit on the fence, invite audience discussion, and that will encourage sharing. Link to the blog post from all your social channels plus from the website/microsite. Where appropriate find related blogs to contribute your point-of-view in conversations that can lead back to your own blog/website.

Social media
There is a huge array of content marketing that can be implemented via SM. I won’t go into the many strategies and tactics of using your own presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc., suffice to say they are powerful platforms to reach existing and new customers when used to their maximum potential.

Mobile app
Building a new mobile/tablet app is a big investment in time, money and resources. If this solution meets the brief then it will need a fully scoped plan to design, test and launch – and regularly maintain content and functionality!

Paid

Online ads
The budget for online advertising will determine the scope for buying media space in relevant online media. Keep in mind the click-through-rate (CTR) of banner advertising is very low (in the 0.1%-0.4% range) and due to their abundance, banner ads are basically ignored (called ‘banner blindness’). However there are design and placement strategies that can deliver suitable returns on investment.

Search (SEM)
SEM is a pay-per-click (PPC) model with a bidding (auction) process. Two key factors determine if your paid ad appears in Google search results: your maximum CPC bid and Quality Score (QS) – the latter is a key metric to determine how relevant your ad is to the user and good SEO practices impacts your QS. Check out Google Adwords site for more info. Engaging a professional search marketer is recommended to ensure your SEM investment returns positive results.

Social media
New audiences may be reachable via paid advertising on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Buying that reach is not a simple prospect, and is best considered when budgets and resources allow proper planning to ensure a successful investment.

3rd party apps
Advertisers can now reach customers through mobile (or in-app) advertising. This is a new medium with the potential to reach niche targets like gamers or fitness fanatics. A detailed explanation of mobile advertising can be read on this Wikipedia page.

Stage 5 – Analytics

Google Analytics (GA)
GA has become the default product for measuring website traffic, behaviours and technology. For the casual user GA provides valuable high level data. For the power user the data provides deep insights into your digital marketing performance. Setting up a campaign to be tracked using GA code is a key element in the production phase, and a job best left to an expert. Google regularly improve/change the functionality and design of the GA interface so it pays to engage someone who is proficient with the tools that Google provide for free.

CMS Analytics
Many content management systems (CMS) have their own analytics service to track and report website performance. In some cases this will provide more useful data and better reporting functions than GA, especially if the website is integrated with other internal systems like CRM and eCommerce.

Email Analytics
Sending emails is one of the most measurable digital marketing tactics. Whichever email system is used will come with an analytics function that provides all essential data to measure the responses to sent emails. Set benchmarks and test different creative solutions to continually improve your email performance.

Advertising Analytics
Online advertising can be measured at both the source (ie. the media owner) using the media owner’s analytics software, and the inbound destination (usually the website) using Google/CMS Analytics. Confusion can arise when data differs between systems, however the best policy is to compare ‘apples with apples’.  Google provides a good overview here showing how to set up the tracking codes for online advertising.

CRM Reports
There are some powerful CRM systems that can report on customers that visit your website then transact with your company. Data that identifies who buys what is always going to be the most valuable to a business; this is especially critical for an eCommerce business that must deliver online after-sales service, customer loyalty programs, and a continuously improving customer experience.

The digital marketing eco-system is actually far more complex than I have attempted to describe here. Due to the proliferation of ‘owned’ media channels, business owners would be excused for thinking that customers can be reached at an ever decreasing cost. Even the management consultant, educator, and author Peter F Drucker said, “The new information technology, Internet and e-mail, have practically eliminated the physical costs of communications”.

However intangible costs have moved in the opposite direction – in skilled personnel, in software, in services.

My advice: plan, test, measure, learn; re-plan, re-test, re-measure, re-learn; and so on. Marketing has become an iterative process.

 


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The new CIO – that’s Chief Innovation Officer

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Recently I tweeted about Life Insurer TAL appointing a Chief Innovation and Disruption Officer, a new position that reports to the CEO. My comment was that this is a “sign o’ the times”. Tweet re TAL

To check I wasn’t too far behind the curve on this one, I searched Google News for ‘Chief Innovation Officer’ and only found (about) 474 results. So I was about right, that this isn’t a huge news story – yet. A quick check of Google Ngram shows that the phrase only began appearing in published books from 1989, however it has had a dramatic growth in appearances up to 2008 [see chart below].

This got me thinking – why are large companies appointing C-suite executives to literally ‘disrupt’ the status quo? In the old days (say pre-2005), all senior executives were expected to be innovative in their approach. No matter whether they were the CIO, the CMO, or even the humble CFO. Have senior executives been so focused on short-term delivery and performance that they haven’t had time to innovate?

It’s a rhetorical question as of course there’s been oodles of innovation going on for decades. Just not with a ‘Chief Innovation Officer’ lurking in the background to claim the credit for some new packaging, new flavour, new distribution strategy, or better way to deliver a service.

I believe the answer can be found in one word: digital.  The rise of ‘digital’ is a game changer that is forcing large organisations to think and act far quicker than old organisational ecosystems allowed for. In some cases to think and act like a start-up. And to use the customer data at their fingertips to frequently adjust their go-to-market tactics. This is the terrain the Chief Innovation Officers will mostly find themselves playing in. So it’s fair to say that since 2006 we have moved from questioning the value of such a position – “Should companies have a Chief Innovation Officer?” – to Forbes proclaiming it’s a must-have role in their 2009 article titled “You Need A Chief Innovation Officer“.

Google cino search

A recent US blog post, under the headline “All hail the chief innovation officer!“, commented that “These offices are so new – and well, innovative – that no definition yet exists for the goals and type of work they are meant to do.” So what will CIOs do and how will they be measured, and most interestingly how will they get along with their C-Suite colleagues who thought innovation was part of their remit too? As the saying goes, “watch this space”. One last thought. To avoid confusing the original CIO (who oversees ‘information’) with the new CIO (who oversees ‘innovation’), perhaps we should refer to the latter as the CINO? Other suggestions welcome.


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