Are you a Digital Strategist or just a wannabe Online Marketer?

With the surge in popularity of online retail adoption, and online software-as-a-service, the buzz of digital marketing has peaked considerably in the last couple of years. And as with anything that gains popularity every man and his dog are claiming to be digital marketing experts and digital strategist. In this article I will outline why there is an influx of so called online marketing experts and how to differentiate between a real digital strategist from a wannabe online marketer.  A great example of a website that does digital marketing in real estate very well is RealestateMY .

It’s a known fact that information about digital marketing is all over the internet, and if someone were to read everything they would surely go insane from the sheer mass of information overload.

But because of this everybody from your high school drop out, to the 30 year marketing veteran are claiming to be experts in the field of digital marketing. They are using an arsenal of buzz words including seo, social media, mocial and BIG data without have any experience in them except for having read an article about it on mashable (no offence to mashable, they have an awesome blog).

To be a real digital strategist in this day and age, you have to have done more than just read a couple of articles online. Digital marketing is an evolving beast, and the best way to progress up the digital marketing ladder is through trial and error.

Experience and accomplishments are key to being a real digital strategist that has applied a digital strategy, got their hands dirty, and produced a result. Whether good or bad it is still an experience that can be learnt from. This is where you separate the boys from the men.

 

From my experience a good digital strategist would have:

  •  Used data from analytics to understand user behaviour, and used insights from this data to make informed decisions about optimisation.
  • Optimised revenue channels by testing, measuring and scaling strategies that have worked positively.
  • Built business process around the experiences and insights from executing different digital strategies.
  • Have experience with many different tools and technology and have integrated solutions together for overall performance enhancement.
  • Be entrenched in the data and be able to report of all the important metrics that are important for business growth.

The problem with finding good talent these days, is that its hard to differentiate between the real digital strategist and the wannabe online marketers. When searching for your next digital marketing hire, ask about their experience and accomplishments, rather than how much they know about digital marketing.

No matter how  much someone has read about digital marketing, or how many years of traditional marketing experience they have, nothing in any article will ever prepare an individual to be a great digital strategist.

True digital strategist are produced from a variety of experiences and accomplishments, whether it being from experimenting with digital channels or analysing trends in data.

But is saying this everyone needs some place to start, and my advice is to selectively read good articles from accomplish digital strategist and get your hands dirty by experimenting with different strategies with the aim of accomplishing something.

 

Integrating Marketing Channels For Enhanced Multi Channel Marketing

 

 

In the past integrating traditional marketing channels has been a pretty difficult task and companies big and small would manage their marketing channels in isolation, creating silos in their marketing departments.

Thanks to the emergence of new digital channels it has become much easier to integrate marketing channels for multi channel and cross channel marketing.

Here are 3 simple reasons why organisations should integrate their marketing channels to compliment each other, rather than manage each channel in isolation.

 

Consumers will interact with more than one marketing channel before they decide to make a purchase.

These days with so many marketing channels easily available to consumers, a customer would interact with multiple marketing channels before actually making a purchase.

Typically before a customer would actually make a buying decision, they would have seen a print ad in a magazine, searched for a product on Google, clicked on a banner ad on a blog, or had a product recommended to them on facebook.

For brands that use a variety of marketing channels, it is very common to have specialised people or teams managing these different marketing channels. But to convey a clear message to the customer, it is important that all these different departments work together and are on the same page.  It is alright for different marketing channels to have different tones, but it is important for them to have the same voice.

 

Integrating marketing channels to test, measure, and amplify!

Compared to traditional marketing channels, digital marketing channels are a lot easier and quicker to test, measure and amplify.

A good example is using SEM (search engine marketing) like Google Adwords to test different advertising promotions.  By A/B split testing two ads with different promotions, you can determine which promotion is most appealing to customers before using it for other channels.

Another good example of testing advertising copy is through emails marketing. You can send out an EDM (electronic direct mail) to your subscriber list, and split test different advertising copy or design visuals. The variation with the best results (opens, clicks & conversions etc) will determine the winning ad copy.

Once you have tested and measured the results, the next step is to amplify the winning selections onto more traditional marketing channels, like print and television.

 

Leveraging marketing channels off each other = double the effectiveness.

The real value in integrating marketing channels is so they can leverage off each other and become more effective then they would be, just operating in isolation.

A simple example is leveraging social media with email marketing. Getting new fans on a new facebook page or twitter account can prove challenging at the start. But if your business has been operational for a while, and you have an existing subscription list of customers that you regularly email, you can leverage off your subscription list by emailing your list and asking your members to join your facebook.

You can also provide them with a share-to-social option to allow them share it with all their friends. Having your customers as fans on your facebook page, will double marketing effectiveness and increase traffic, because of the viral nature of social media networks.

This works in vice versa as well; you can easily build your email subscriber list from your facebook page, by offering incentives to fans for signing up using facebook applications.

 

Conclusion

Ive only outlined a few examples here, but there are many more ways you can integrate marketing channels together for better results. As long as communication between departments are good, and everyone is measuring the correct metrics and working toward the same goals, marketing channels can be easily integrated with each other to produce more effective results.

The importance of having a good SEO person in your company

A couple of months ago I attended the annual Bruce Clay training in Sydney. Now being an SEO for the last 5 years, I’ve heard about Bruce Clay a lot and hes one of the 4 guys I follow in SEO, the other 3 being Rand Fishkin, Matt Cutts and Danny Sullivan. So being at the training was abit of a dream come true.

The training was quite pricy, but I was keen on what I could learn and also keen on meeting other SEOs that were at the event to gather their thoughts about the current SEO climate with pandas and penguins jumping all around.

The training went well, and Bruce Clay definitely knows a lot about SEO. From the training I realised that Bruce Clay really understands the algorithm rather than just speculating like most  “SEO experts” do.

Ben Liau - Bruce Clay
Ben Liau - Bruce Clay

 

As an SEO of over 5 years, I still learned alot and got quite a few great tips, and had my curly questions answered by Bruce Clay.

I was also surprised at the attendance at the training, a real mix bag of professionals including, big brands, big agencies, small seo specialist and pure play online retailers.

From chatting with many attendees, and listening to answers about questions from them, it ironically turns out most big agencies don’t know that much about SEO. This is followed by the big brands who basically work with these agencies. ( I don’t mean all of them, just speaking in general). The attendees that I came across that really know SEO were the pure play online retailers and some of the niche SEO specialists.

And another thing that was evidently clear, was that marketing people weren’t friends with IT people in many large companies. Also not surprisingly big brands and agencies work in silos, which seems to have been the case for many years now.

I think there are a few challenges SEOs in big brands face:

1. You have to act as a middle man between stake holders and agencies without learning that much SEO in the process.

2. You have to jump through many hoops to get anything done.

3. You have to work with people from other departments that don’t really want to work with you (IT Department).

Its does seems quite challenging being an SEO in that situation. But one thing big brands should do, is trust their digital marketing managers, and not put them through hoops every time they need something changed or something new implemented. The digital marketing industry is every changing, and if it going to take months to implement something new, big brands will miss the boat on the best time to execute.

I think the best strategy for big brands are to hire digital marketing experts who have had the experience of making smaller brands successful. These are the people who have fought for ROI without having much resources to use. When a person makes something out of nothing, thats when they become truly skilled at what they do, and become thought leaders in their space. These are the people who really know digital marketing and are passionate about it.

Also a good SEO must have a mix of skills. They must understand marketing to manage stake holders, and know how websites work, and abit of coding would be beneficial. They must also understand  IT infrastructure, to be able to talk to and build relationships with the IT department.

Another major quality an SEO must have is the ability to analyse data. There is no point getting an SEO that can just write content and link build, at the end of the day they will need to be able to analyse the data and make strategic decisions before they start optimising the site.

In saying all that finding a good SEO person is not easy. Im lucky, I know a hand full of SEOs that have those very skills. So if you are looking for a good SEO let me know and id be happy to pass on the contacts.

Happy Optimising people.

2012 Online Marketing Conferences And Expos In Australia

Hi everyone,

Here is a current list of online marketing conferences in Australia for 2012.

Australian Marketing Conferences in 2012 Date Location
Online Marketing Summit 2012 13-15 February 2012 Sydney
Schmart Marketing Conference 21-February-2012 Melbourne
Schmart Marketing Conference 23-February-2012 Sydney
Istrategy 21-22 February 2012 Sydney
Ad Tech 14-15 March 2012 Sydney
Ad Tech 28-29 March 2012 Melbourne
Ecommerce & Payments World 30-April-2012 Melbourne
Content Management World 01-May-2012 Melbourne
Cloud Computing World 02-May-2012 Melbourne
Digital Advertising World 30 April – 1 May 2012 Melbourne
Internet Show Melbourne 30 April – 1 May 2012 Melbourne
Social Media World 30 April – 1 May 2012 Melbourne
CEBIT Expo 22-24 May 2012 Sydney
Cebit Web Forward 22-24 May 2012 Sydney
Online Retailer & Ecommerce Conference 17-18 July 2012 Sydney

 

I will keep updating this list as new conferences get announced. So stay tuned!

Feel free to leave a comment if i have left any relevant conferences out, or if you would like more information about each conference, please let me know.


My first speaking opportunity at the Online Retailer Conference

I know its been just over a month since the online retailer conference, but I would like to share my very first speaking experience at the online retailer conference that was held in Sydney on the 26th September 2011.

We arrived in beautiful Sydney at 8am Monday morning for the social media summit, which was the pre conference event day. I had woken up at 3.30am in the same morning as our flight was in Avalon, Victoria which was 1.5 hours drive from where I lived.

As you can imagine the morning started pretty fuzzy. We got to our hotel and checked in, before quickly getting to the Sydney exhibition centre as we were running abit late.

When we got there we had already missed half of the keynote given by Dave Haber from ice.com . But the rest of the presentation was great, and it was good to get an inside look at how ice.com run their social media department. Then we had Nick Lansley from Tesco, who looked like he had just run a marathon prior to coming up on stage. Nick shared some pretty insightful stuff about mobile, also touching on great innovations in some of the Asian countries.

During the break I had a good chat to Dave Haber, about their social media resourcing, as I was looking to grow the moooo marketing team. He mentioned that having someone assist with social media is great, but it was best to ease them into the role, and give them more responsibility as they progress, but also still manage and monitor the metrics from a higher level. At ice.com, Dave runs all the social media marketing with Lauren who helps with the content. Its pretty amazing for just a 2 person team, to pull off such great social media campaigns.

Next we were broken up into 2 tracts mobile and social media. The first social media marketing track looked great, but ended up quite boring. I then moved over to the mobile track, which was Craig Sulliven, who was an ace and a real gun with testing, and definitely great value with insights. I then went to more of the social media track but again, the presentations were not as good.

At the breaks, we had networking sessions and I did meet some interesting people and it was a great day for networking. That night we went over our presentation and were making many tweaks, so it was still very much a work in progress.

The next day, which was the 1st official day of the main conference, the rest of my team rocked up. The 1st day keynote speakers were great, Yona from beyondtherack.com, gave us insight on how they got started and the hurdles they faced when starting, which was very inspirational. Tyler Hoffman from Google, as expected just pushed googles new products.

Gabby from catchoftheday.com.au was quite amusing, doing his usually controversial trolling, while the others were pretty average. We then broke up into the 5 tracks, I moved quite a bit between tracks from stuff on SEO, to SEM to email marketing to website usability. 1 standout was an american guy from Silverpop who gave us some good insights on email marketing and mobile.

After the conference it was time for the ORIAS, we were nominated for 2 awards, best pure play and best use of technology. We lost both to surf stitch . The ORIAS was good, with Vince Sorrenti doing a stand up skit for us, he was pretty funny. Food was just ok. I ended up with chicken while the 2 people next to me at steak, which was quite annoying. Big winners for the night were: style tread, appliances online, dick smith, and surf stitch. After the long day, and night, we went back to the hotel for another practice presentation session, but decided that we were too tired and would do it in the morning. Next morning it was D day for our presentation. We did a final rehearsal, and saved the keynote presentation on a thumb drive to give to Kylie.

The keynotes for the 2nd day were great, with the ex Wallmart SVP, and a great presentation from Jon Kamaluddin from asos.com. The 2nd day of the conference seemed a little better than the 1st day with quite a few stand out presentations including one on website usability from Josh Himwish from diapers.com, and another good one session on split testing from Craig Sullivan.

And then it was our turn to present. This was my very first time in front of such a big crowd and to say I was nervous was an understatement. I walked in and sat next to Mike my co speaker. I asked him if he was ready, and he said he was kinda nervous. So it was time for our big talk, and we were already 5 mins late because of technical issues. I was quite confidant until everyone started coming in and we had a full house, which what I was not expecting.

When I got on stage to start, I was hit with a wall of nervousness. And my co-speaker accidentally stuffed up our initial introductions so I didn’t get a chance to say it was my 1st time and to excuse my nervousness. So basically I was stuck to having to talk for around 15 mins consistently, while all I wanted to do was run off stage. Again it was my first ever time in front of so many people, but I thought to myself, it is now or never. I so just did it. And with all eyes looking at me, I pushed forward.

It didn’t go the way I had practiced, my tones were all wrong, but I didn’t give up I just kept going, trying my best to engage the crowd. As it came to Mikes turn to speak, I could see he was quite nervous, he started going for it, but I think due to the time limit was rushing.Mike started just reading as much as he could, he even went over his spot and started reading over mine. Finally it was wrap up time and I wrapped up to finish things off. At the end I apologised for the nervousness and told them to contact me if they had questions.

On the way out there were a few people who asked for my card which was nice, and a few others smiled at me before they left which was encouraging, I also got some positive twitter mentions which really made my day. Metal note first thing to do is join toast masters to improve my presentation skills. By next year I should be all ready for more speaking events.

A big thanks to the online retailer team for giving me the opportunity.

Utilizing Web Analytics For More Than Just Marketing

Web Analytics, when set up and segmented correctly, can provide critical data across entire organizations.  Are you taking more from your numbers than just marketing results?

I got reading some comments posted on Avinash Kaushik’s blog (5 + 4 Actionable Tips To Kick Web Data Analysis Up A Notch, Or Two

Read more: http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2010/07/actionable-tips-web-data-metrics-analysis.html#ixzz0vBPW59Xg), and it really got me thinking about how I perceive web analytics as far as scope and need.

I think I’ve been pigeon holing analytics usefulness to determining the value of an AdWords campaign, or that of a Twitter conversation, or our SEO efforts.  At the end of the day, web analytics can be useful to an entire organization.  Let’s have a look:

Using Web Analytics to Gauge Customer Service Load

Every once in a while, your organization might sell a bum product.  It just happens.  We can expect then that we’re going to get bombarded with inquiries as to how to fix the product, install the product, or return the product (GASP!).

Customer Service and Web AnalyticsPerhaps it might be wise to set up a segment of folks that searched for that product on your website, or maybe got into your FAQ section and looked at data regarding the product.  Over time, we’ll be able to see trends, perhaps timelines from point of purchase to failure, or maybe as simple as understanding how many of your customers are struggling with the product in one way or another.

Then, we can pull in external data from Facebook or Twitter, and see if the overall reaction to it is negative.

Do you need to beef up your call center this weekend?  Do you need to send out a letter (remember those?) or email to people who have bought the product recently?

Even if we don’t have a specific product we need to be concerned about, we can still gauge trends in views of our FAQ’s, Return Policy pages, or Contact Us forms.  We can gain insight into what our Call Centers, electronic customer service, or shipping and receiving departments might be experiencing in the coming weeks.

Web Analytics and the IT Department

….or, in many cases, your IT guy.

As businesses grow, websites grow.  Infrastructure grows.  And overhead grows.  Perhaps we can use a combination of our own web analytics and some external sources to help our IT departments prepare for an onslaught of seasonal web traffic.  Or an increased demand for a video or PDF download.

If you’ve been tracking your website for several years, you’ll understand some of the seasonality of your products.  You can share this data with accounting, purchasing, IT and others to help prepare them for increased workload, purchasing requests, or cash flow.  (Yeah… maybe even less cash flow, depending…)

But if you’re website is new, or you just installed web analytics recently, you don’t have access to that.

Enter Google Insights.

table.gadget{background-position:0%;background:transparent none;border-collapse:collapse;border:0;clear:none;float:none;font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;height:auto;letter-spacing:normal;line-height:normal;margin:0;padding:0;text-indent:0;text-transform:none;top:auto;vertical-align:middle;white-space:normal;width:auto;word-spacing:normal;}table.gadget span.title a:hover,table.gadget span.title a:visited,table.gadget span.title a:active,table.gadget span.title{font-size:12px;color:#0000cc}table.gadget span.powered a:hover,table.gadget span.powered a:visited,table.gadget span.powered a:active,table.gadget span.powered{font-size:10px;color:#0000cc}

Google Insights for Search
Gadgets powered by Google

Google Insights offers a historical look at searches over time.  Enter your search term (Widgets, in our case.  All imaginary companies sell some kind of widget.), and Google will let you know it’s popularity (scaled against ALL searches) and it’s hot times of year.

Key things to consider:

  1. Is your product set rising or waning in the eyes of searchers?
  2. Do your products have a seasonality that you aren’t taking advantage of?
  3. Add some colors/sizes to your Insight queries.  Are you carrying the right ones?

That will help everyone, from purchasing to IT.  We get to use GOOD data in order to forecast.

Takeaways

I hope we learn to utilize our data to forecast more than just sales.  While sales are the lifeblood of any organization, the backbone (customer service and operations) requires our support as well.

As I mentioned in my comment on Avinash’s blog, marketers effect EVERY aspect of an organization.  By looking deeper into the numbers, we can recognize that impact, and be better internal customers.