Category: Digital Strategy

When the data breaks

Digital Strategy0 Comments

As a digital marketer, I’ve been raised to love data and I do. The ability to make decisions based on real-time evidence is one of the most empowering and liberating things to happen to me as a marketer. But as we trust so much of our decision making to what the numbers are saying, ostensibly to identify and take advantage of previously-missed opportunities, do we run the risk of becoming over reliant on the data?

The holy grail of marketing communications is to serve your customers with timely, relevant, targeted communications. The volume of data that we are now able to capture, track and analyse about our customers means that you no know what they’re interested in, what they’ve bought and the what time they are most likely to buy it. In fact, this is part of the strategy behind the success of several online retailers like Vinomofo and Amazon. But what happens when the data breaks? What happens when what you’re collecting is no longer accurate?

As an example, and not just because I mentioned Vinomofo 25 words ago, let’s use wine. When I first visit the site, I’m only interested in one varietal, let’s say Pinot Noir. I only click on links to Pinot Noir and that’s the only thing I ever buy. The wine retailer correctly assumes I only like Pinot Noir and stops sending me emails with any other offer and prioritises Pinot Noir when I’m on the website. But what if I go our to dinner one night and try an amazing Shiraz and suddenly want to buy Shiraz? All the emails I’m receiving still only spruik Pinots and since the website thinks that’s all I like, I never see the Shiraz deals so I think I need to go somewhere else to buy wines.

As marketers, we must avoid only just going by what the data tells. Here’s a couple of ways to avoid this happening:

When the data breaks

Give the option to fix

As the screenshot from Amazon shows, give your visitors a chance to fix the recommendation so you can continually learn as their tastes evolve.

Balanced observed with stated behaviour

Open up your customer profiles and allow customers to self-select what they are interested in rather than just relying on the data. While you can begin just by observing on-site behaviour, you can send a follow-up survey to confirm that what you’re collecting is accurate and ask if there’s anything else they’re interest in.

Don’t hide other offers

While you should tailor your communications to prioritise what the data tells you they are most interested in, don’t hide the rest either. Make other products and categories easy to find if their preferences change and they know you don’t just do one thing and there’s a whole lot more to you.

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You are not Thom Yorke

Digital Strategy0 Comments

thom-yorke

Photo Credit: Silvio Tanaka via Compfight cc

Just because Radiohead say “pay what you want” for their album and millions gobble it up doesn’t mean it will do the same for you.

Just because Thom Yorke pulls all his (solo) music from Spotify because he doesn’t think the system is fair to new artists doesn’t mean you should follow suit (ironic given his band along with Nine Inch Nails were two of the main acts instrumental in creating the perception digital downloads had less value than a CD or LP).

While there is definitely truth to the fact that musicians have swapped physical media/analogue dollars for digital streaming cents, it doesn’t mean that there is no benefit to your brand.

If, like Thom Yorke, you have millions of fans following your every move, then removing your music from Spotify will barely register as a blip. Your fans will still find a way to listen to your music and will clamour for tickets next time you’re playing in their town.

But if you are nothing like Thom Yorke, then you need to think about how best to get your product – your music – into the market and leverage every opportunity to get it there. True, your Spotify royalties may not amount to more than a few dollars a quarter, but how much were you making before this?

As the saying goes, your mileage will vary. It’s up to you to decide what’s best for your b(r)and, not blindly hop on the bandwagon just because someone famous says it’s right.

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Welcome To The Centralised Web

Digital Strategy6 Comments

The number of industry stats that get published every week is truly remarkable, but two in particular released in the last few weeks really made me sit up and take notice:

  • Smartphone and tablet sales are continuing to grow as PC sales decline [1]
  • Google and Facebook account for over 70% of mobile advertising revenue [2]

As a long-time citizen of the web, I fell in love with the Internet precisely because unlike the traditional media that it would go on to fundamentally disrupt, it grew from the premise that it is open and decentralised. Anyone could access the network and establish a presence.

It struck me then, that those two stats – particularly when taken together – are a clear signal that things are not like what they once were. While the web is still vast, expansive and continuing to grow, for many users their entire online experience revolves around just two web properties: Facebook and Google.

Facebook users check the smartphone app an average of 14 times a day, while Google handles over 4 billion search queries a day. Not being on Facebook can be seen as either a badge of honour, or being horribly out of the loop (but mostly the latter). I’ve long contended that as we continue to share more and more of our digital selves on Facebook, the gravitational pull of Zuckberg’s network will grow exponentially making it increasingly harder to leave. While in the case of Google, we have simply outsourced our memory while simultaneously gaining access to the entirety of our digitised knowledge.

Add to this the impending demise of Google Reader (and by extension RSS which gave us the ability to consume what we want, where we wanted), the pervasiveness of Android devices (750 million and counting) and the recent launch of Facebook Home, there will soon be no escaping either of these two online behemoths anytime you’re connected – which is already close to ‘always’, especially with Google Glass on the way.

Why the aforementioned mobile ad spend is important is that where the dollars are spent is where innovation and content will follow. Publishers and developers who still primarily look to ad-supported as their monetisation strategy will by default seek to develop closer and closer ties with the networks that control the ad dollars.

The unavoidable truth is that in a post-PC world, Facebook and Google will command our attention more than ever. When two companies have effectively become our gateway to the rest of the Internet, we run the serious risk as marketers of turning it into something bland and derivative as we rinse, recycle and repeat ideas we’ve seen work elsewhere in order to get a higher search rankings, likes, +1′s or shares.

Let’s hope we don’t.

i-will-follow-the-rules

 

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5 Marketing Podcasts to Get You Smarter in 2012

Digital Strategy, Marketing, Social Media2 Comments

As marketing and technology moves closer and closer, and branding and advertising can change literally overnight, the big challenge facing most marketers is how to stay relevant.

Podcasts are one of my favourite ways to keep track of everything that happens in the industry. The debates and contrasting points of view that often ensue help me learn and understand topics in more depth than simply reading an industry rag such as Mashable.

So without further adieu, here are my pick of podcasts you should be listening to if you’re serious about making smarter marketing decisions this year:

  1. The Beancast
    Hosted by the golden voiced Bob Knorpp, The Beancast is a weekly roundtable with some of the brightest marketing minds in North America discussing the latest trends and issues affecting marketers today. Every episode is around an hour long but the debate and discussion is worth it.
  2. Six Pixels of Separation
    Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a huge fan of Mitch Joel and his blog Six Pixels of Separation, and his podcast of the same name is no exception. Geared toward senior marketers and executives, each week he interviews business and creative thought leaders such as Avinash Kaushik and Jonathan Salem Baskin giving unparalleled insight into a diverse range of topics.
    If you do subscribe, keep your ears out for the occasional Media Hacks episode with regular hackers Mitch, Chris Brogan, Julien Smith, Christopher S. Penn, C.C. Chapman and Hugh Mcguire.
  3. Marketing Over Coffee
    Hosted by John Wall and Christopher S. Penn this incredibly popular podcast is essential listening for anyone looking for actionable marketing advice. I’m yet to listen to an episode that hasn’t given me something useful to make me better at my job.
  4. Across the Sound
    I’m totally cheating here, but this deserves it’s own entry. Another SPOS spin-off in a “two for the price of one” kinda way, this is a monthly discussion/debate between Mitch Joel and Joseph Jaffe – two of the industry’s heaviest hitters – riffing on the business, cultural and social impact of digital and social media.
  5. Communication Junction
    ***Shameless plug alert***
    Now coming into our second year, this regular discussion between Sarah Thomas, Jason Neave and myself covers digital marketing, PR and social media in Australia and is the only Adelaide marketing podcast we know of.

So there you have it, head on over to iTunes or use your favourite podcast client and start upping your marketing IQ.

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Can Brands Take A Holiday From Social Media?

Digital Strategy, Social Media4 Comments

As a social media strategist, I often preach the importance of consistency. After all, how can you hope to build a relationship with your audience if you hardly ever post or disappear for days or weeks?

But with many businesses about to shutdown for the year (if they haven’t already), it begs the questions: can brands take a holiday from social media?

The short answer is yes, but with a few caveats:

  1. Set expectations early
    Let your followers know in advance that you will be closed so that they have time to ask any burning questions before you leave. You can even schedule a few posts over the holidays – e.g. “Happy New Year!” – with a note letting people know when you’re back. People are generally understanding, and don’t expect you to be on call 24hrs unless of course that’s your business.
  2. Check in periodically
    It’s advisable to log in every now and then (daily, if possible)  if  to check the pulse of your community. In an era where an issue can flare up on social media in the blink of an eye, you must still be vigilant. Consider turning on notifications and giving them a cursory once over. Mentally file what isn’t critical and time sensitive as “to do later” and investigate any potential issues straight away.
  3. Have a crisis management plan
    If something does go wrong, make sure you’ve got a plan in place to deal with it. Nominate someone with the requisite knowledge and experience to deal with an emergency as the primary contact on social media. You DO NOT want a Nestle on your hands and you can’t afford to leave it until you come back.
  4. Do as your business does
    If your workplace shuts down, it’s much easier to take a break from your regular posting schedule. But if you work somewhere like retail which remains open throughout or where your customers may need to contact you urgently, then it’s important that you are also present. Going back to the issue of consistency, you need to be there when your customers need you, not just when you want to be.But most importantly…
  5. Keep your ears open
    One of the side effects of our rapidly growing connectivity is that the line between personal and private time is now more blurred than ever. In this always on environment, companies have no excuse for neglecting their customers particularly as their customers now expect brands to interact with them on their terms. With that in mind, if your business allows it, you can take a break from proactively engaging and stimulating conversation with your community without risk of them forgetting about you provided you are still keeping track of the conversation and are ready to address any major concerns.

Community management is emotional and stressful, that’s why to avoid burnout take the time these holidays – if you can – to get off the posting schedule and rest, reflect and recharge for next year. This will be better in the long run for your company, your community and most importantly, for you.

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