The SEO Merry Go Round – You Just Can’t Afford To Get Off

As 2011 steams ahead, so too is Google with their algorithm changes and innovation. In a recent interview Amit Singhal, a Google software engineer, advised Google’s innovation cycle is accelerating and the search giant is just getting started on the next generation of search. And if new releases and plans for 2011 are anything to go by, search marketers are in for a bumpy ride.

This year to date we have already seen the farmer update, as well as Google hinting that soon to follow will be an algorithm change which will lessen the weight assigned to keyword domains.
So what is the implication of some of these changes, and what else is coming?

Google FarmerFarmer Update

The farmer update, which was released in February 2011, targets the many content farms that have sprung up in the past few years. Whilst content is king, Google’s aim is to deliver quality search results and content. On that basis content sites which contain a vast amount of low quality content have seen a dramatic decline in rankings and traffic.

Implication: Despite the effect the farmer update will have on article submission as a key form of link building – it also has several other ramifications. Websites which have created content for the sole basis of ranking could also be in trouble as this algorithm change isn’t just targeting content farms. Sites which contain a sizeable amount of low quality content created for search are also in the firing line and the impact can spread far beyond penalisation of these pages. Google has indicated overall site rankings could be impacted as a result of poor content so it’s time for SEOs to get with the times and produce content which is fit for users not just spiders.

For more details on the Farmer update click here.

Keyword Rich Domains Under Review

In a recent video on YouTube Matt Cutts stated; We have looked at the rankings and weights that we give to keyword domains and some people have complained that we are giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains. So we have been thinking about adjusting that mix a bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm, so that given 2 different domains it wouldn’t necessarily help you as much to have a domain name with a bunch of keywords in it.
Whilst Google is yet to adjust the algorithm there is no doubt that if Matt Cutts is talking about it, there is an algorithm change on its way.

Implication: This will be an interesting space to watch as Google will need to juggle how this impacts sites with keyword rich domains that are legitimate brands (not just created for the basis of ranking). Some experts believe Google may start by targeting hyphenated domains as this is a clear a signal of a spammy domain name.

Google Social Search Updates

Social Search StrategyInnovation and algorithm changes in the field of social search are high on the agenda for 2011. It has been widely publicised that social factors affect rankings and their influence is likely to increase overtime however Google is also pushing the envelope in the area of personalising results through social data. In February Google announced changes to search that will bring that will bring users more relevant, recommended results from their connections.

Implication: It is still very early days in the area of social search and there is no doubt Google has stumbled a few times and will continue to do so as they experiment. Like the impact of the farmer update, social factors will force SEO tactics to be more closely aligned with other online marketing strategies. In particular alignment across content and social media will have a significant impact on SEO outcomes in the months and years ahead.

What else do you think Google has in store in 2011?

Continue Reading

Online & Offline Marketing – The Perfect Couple… For A Break Up

Online and Offline Integration

As organizations are beefing up their digital strategies, one of the most challenging issues they will face it integration. As many marketing teams are divided by specialization delivering 1 consistent message can be difficult – particularly in larger organizations.

The importance of channel integration

Integration of your online and offline marketing is critical to maximize results. People no longer consider where a brand message is sourced. To them, they live their lives both online and offline without separation – it’s all just part of their everyday lives now, interwoven into one cohesive experience.

So if they online and offline activities are aligned and well coordinated effectiveness of each channel can deliver maximum impact.

Online and Offline IntegrationA case study on integration

The recent NAB break up campaign, is one great example of integration across online and offline channels.
Whether you like the campaign or not it does seem to be having the desired effect for the bank by getting consumers to switch. According to NAB, in the three-and-a-half weeks since launch the bank experienced a 20 per cent increase in new transaction account openings; a 50 per cent increase in credit card applications; a 45 per cent increase in home loan refinancing, and a 35 per cent increase in home loan inquiries. And whilst the promotional spend has been significant, campaign effectiveness is being maximized through a well planned and executed combination of online and offline activities.
Let’s take a closer look at how online and offline tactics are being utilized in combination to achieve campaign goals and to deliver a consistent message to the market.

A blended launch approach got tongues wagging

The campaign started on Twitter, carried over to print then involved a number of guerrilla marketing stunts, and subsequent release of online videos all in a matter of the first few days of the campaign. By combining engagement channels with those of reach and frequency for the initial launch, NAB captured the attention of audiences which fuelled conversation and buzz within the first few days. If social was used in isolation I doubt that NAB would have been able to gain momentum as quickly as they had by utilizing the integrated approach.

Maximising offline investment online

NAB has invested a significant amount of spend in offline advertising to reach the masses. The campaign has leveraged an array of media from billboards and outdoor, to TVC, radio and in-store promotion to gets its break up message into the market. Investment like this of course delivers strong brand awareness and hopefully some change in brand perception. However aside from this it also drives many consumers to act and this could occur offline in a branch or online.

As graph 1 suggests, Google trends depicts a significant increase in brand related search since NAB launched its campaign. And the bank is ensuring that the effort and value derived from its offline activity is not experiencing online leakage to other brands. Searches for NAB break up reveal paid search ads, which drive users directly to the branded content on a dedicated landing page. NAB has also added “break up” site links within its more general paid search campaigns to ensure consumers looking for campaign content can find it easily. Whilst this may sound obvious many brands fail to do this and a lot of the hard work and spend can be lost.

TVC & Online Video Combo

Online TVTraditional TVCs, which deliver good entertainment value, thrive in the online environment. As consumers discuss campaigns offline or even in social space users will migrate to platforms like YouTube to see what all of the fuss is about. Last year ANZ showed how additional reach and frequency can be had through leveraging TVC assets in the video space but with this campaign NAB went one better. NAB not only released TVCs on YouTube, they also created 50 break up videos for the campaign.

Combining these 2 mediums would deliver far more reach and frequency than adoption of 1 channel. TVCs with good entertainment value can create a pull effect for users to re-engage with the content online and as NAB has created additional branded content – this provides consumers with other digital assets to view and share with their network. In addition by providing access to TVCs and other video content online, NAB is also able to reach audiences who predominantly spend their time consuming media online.

Aside from the benefits detailed above, NAB has also adopted the same rationale to video based search as it has to text based search. Its unique campaign idea and media strategy has driven many to seek out the branded content on YouTube and to ensure brand leakage does not occur NAB has sponsored video’s on YouTube to appear when “break up” searches are conducted.

Continue Reading

5 Ways Local & Global Brands Are Using Foursquare

Foursquare Marketing

Locally and globally Foursquare is taking off. Whilst the platform is yet to go mainstream, its now 2.6 million users (reached in mid August) is rising fast and unlike when Facebook / Twitter growth begun – intelligent marketers are already starting to unleash the platform to achieve a range of marketing objectives. This article covers 4 different ways brands have used Foursquare locally and global to connect with their audience;

Wagamama RestaurantFoursquare For Retention: Wagamama’s (Local Example)

Wagamama is using the geo-location service to drive repeat patronage to its stores in the local market. Wagamama’s offers visitors instant offers such as a complementary soup with every main meal for every 5th check in to rewards its loyal consumers.

However it is not just repeat purchases that are giving Wagamama’s the edge. Through its marketing on Foursquare, Wagamama has access to range of real-time information about its customers including who has ‘checked in’ to its noodle bars, when they arrived, the male to female customer ratio and which times of day are more active for certain customers, who the most frequent visitors to the restaurant are etc. This provides Wagamama’s with a new level of insight into its consumers – as well as a mechanism to monitor satisfied or unsatisfied consumers.

Read more here: http://www.revium.com.au/articles/blog/using-foursquare-for-marketing/

Foursquare For PR Stunts: Microsoft (Local Example)

In June this year, Microsoft organised a mayor meet up in Sydney to promote the launch of their new Office 2010 product. 141 Foursquare users checked-in to Martin Place where the event was held. Whilst the number of individuals involved is relatively small this campaign created a buzz in the media as it was one of the first of its kind in Australia.
Read more here; http://mumbrella.com.au/141-turn-out-for-microsoft-mayor-swarm-as-vibe-gets-into-foursquare-too-28302

Foursquare For Upsell: Domino’s (UK Example)

In the UK, Domino’s credits much of its revenue growth to its investment in social media – namely Facebook and Foursquare. Domino’s launched a check-in promotion, which enabled consumers to receive a side dish when they spent £10 or more at a Domino’s store. Since it launched its ongoing Foursquare check-in promotion Domino’s have received 10,000 check-ins, 3,500 of which are unique.

Read more here: http://www.clickz.com/clickz/news/1725326/dominos-uk-uses-facebook-foursquare-drive-web-orders

Gap Foursquare EventFoursquare For Acquisition: Gap & Ann Taylor Discounts (US Example)

On the 14th of August 2010, Gap utilised foursquare to drive foot-traffic into selected stores. Titled the “The BlackMagic Event”, Gap offered patrons who checked into Foursquare a 25% discount off selected clothing. However this is not the only promotion of its kind other fashion retailers in the US have used Foursquare to drive both acquisition and retention. Ann Taylor offered 25% off to Foursquare mayors and 15% off to each customer on his or her fifth check-in. These deals are great for retailers because those Foursquare users’ friends would see that they’re checking in, giving the stores some exposure.

Read more here: http://thenextweb.com/location/2010/08/14/gap-running-25-off-promotion-today-for-facebook-twitter-and-foursquare-users/

Foursquare For Brand Engagement: Jimmy Choo & Barbie (UK & US Example)
Jimmy Choo the world renowned footwear brand launched a treasure hunt on the streets of London. Rather than utilise a discount style promotion, Jimmy Choo created a social game in the real world. Jimmy Choo utilised a pair of their sneakers as a Foursquare user and these shoes checked into venues around London and the first Foursquare user to find the sneakers at the latest location would win a pair of their own. And it seems that Barbie has now followed in Jimmy Choo’s footsteps. To coincide with the launch of the new video Barbie, Mattel has launched a Foursquare scavenger hunt across 4 US states – requiring participants to complete location based tasks to win 1 of 14 prizes.

Read more here: http://mashable.com/2010/04/27/foursquare-jimmy-choo/
Read more here: http://www.thedefectorsblog.com.au/communications/barbie-doll-foursquare

There are many other campaigns launched by brands around the world click here to find out more click here –
http://www.pathinteractive.com/blog/2010/06/top-ten-foursquare-campaigns/

Continue Reading

Are You a Little Channel Dependent?

Google Caffeine Update

In August 2009 it was reported that Webjet was cutting back on its paid search activity and was getting out of affiliate marketing because of its reliance on the channels. And whilst Webjet feels that its decision is also partly because of its brand maturity, I think this highlights an important consideration for brands in the online space – Is your online strategy too dependent on one online channel?

Google Caffeine UpdateChannel dependence is an issue that any online business should consider the ramifications of. Whilst Webjet has realised the potential issues before there have been serious consequences, other businesses have not been so lucky. A few years ago I stepped into an organisation operating in the classifieds sector that had a strong reliance on email marketing, so much so that it delivered 70% of their conversions. And tried as I might to change their mindset on singular channel reliance the powers at be were not bought in to increasing marketing spend to diversify. Only then, when site content dipped dramatically (which was the sole driver of the email program), did the organisation sit up and take note. The net effect resulted in a decline in site conversion of 30% in a 1 month period. Ouch!

And it seems in the world of the Google Behemoth that many businesses could be exposed to a similar issue. In a recent article in the Brisbane Times, Melbourne-based website publisher Joey Lee, who runs more than 15 websites, highlighted the impact a Google change had on his business in 2003. Mr Lee said “In 2003, with Google’s ‘Florida Update’ [a surprise new algorithm that dramatically changed search results and site listings] my traffic and revenue dropped 40 per cent.” So with a big Google update looming – Google Caffeine – could your online strategy be overexposed to organic search? Or with paid search inflation at spiralling out of control, can you business continue to compete in 12 months time?

The message here online marketers is simple. Whilst some online channels may appear to be more cost effective than others – consider the risks and costs associated with channel dependence, and channel proof your online strategy before your dealt a serious blow.

Continue Reading

Playing a Little Defence On The SEO Court

Google Spam Report, Defensive SEO

When developing and refining a search strategy, many SEOs focus on how to aggressively improve one’s own site rankings. But what many fail to do is consider playing defence when competitors are climbing the rankings at a rapid rate.

After managing the marketing function for a job site in what is considered a very competitive industry in the UK, I realised that it is rarely enough to rely on playing a purely offensive game because you may not get ahead if the other team is not playing by the rules.

And whilst the early days of SEO was rife with black hat SEO, it seems there are still many out there prepared to play the dangerous game of cat and mouse with Google to get ahead.

For those who therefore want to play a little “d” as part of their SEO strategy it is important to analyse the competitor sets strategies, to identify the more unsavoury tactics that may be deployed to outrank your site.

Here I will share 3 techniques that I have seen deployed by 3 different competitors that were in my competitive set.

Google Can Find Your Hidden text1. Hidden Text

This technique has been around for a long time but it still props up in various forms. In this particular instance the competing site hid text within the page making it invisible to the naked eye. However if you happened to click on a particular part of the page, the page would extend and the SEO copy would suddenly be revealed.

How can you spot it?

Compare content in the back end code with that on pages within a site. If the content is not visible on the site it could be hidden through the use of white text or by using a similar technique to the one that I have described above.

2. Excessive Link Buying;

Another prominent competitor in the space was engaging in excessive link buying to build artificial rank. Since 2008 Google has frowned upon the use of such a technique given its ease to build PageRank.

How to spot it?

Excessive link building is usually simplified through the use of a link broker. As a result the offending links usually adopt a similar format. Start by reviewing competitor sites utilising Yahoo Site Explorer. Look for links that appear on irrelevant or spammy sites. In addition look at how links appear on sites – are they in a similar format with the same anchor text and are there many of them?

3. Bogus Domains

Yet another competitor was using a technique whereby they registered a large number of domains to create bogus landing pages which were then hosted on different servers. These pages were created to target specific keywords and were used to point towards a master domain to make the site look popular by Google’s standards.

How to spot it?

This one can be a little more difficult to identify. Look for patterns in the types of domains pointing to the site, are they similar in nature? Are the pages just simple landing pages like doorway pages that link through to the master site? Do they provide the user with any value or do they simply look to be set up for the purpose of rankings?

Google Spam Report, Defensive SEOWhat to do about it?

The most important part to a defensive SEO strategy is to report an offending site to Google. Submit your case via the Google SPAM report form and Google will then review it which can lead to downgrading a sites PageRank, impact rankings or if severe can result in Google blacklisting the offending site from the SERPs.

Have you found a competing site that you think might not be playing by the rules? If so please email me at marketing@digitalmarketinglab.com.au and I would be happy to look at it for you.

 

Continue Reading

The Long & Short of It – Paid Search That Is

Google Adwords

Over the past few weeks there has been a floury of industry talk surrounding AdWords including Google’s immediate and long term plans. Now a staple part of the digital strategy diet – AdWords it seems that despite its success Google is continuing its innovation assault on paid search to keep buzz going and to give us new and exciting opportunities in the short, medium and long term.

So what are they are what is the verdict?

Short Term

Google opportunities is a new tab which has been beta tested in the US and is now being rolled out to Australia and the UK as the next stage of testing. The tool provides advertisers with additional ideas for keywords that could be targeting complete with search volumes., as well as budget suggestions.

Verdict?

I have taken it for a little test drive and I would have to say this hasn’t rocked my paid search world. The tool provides similar functionality to the old campaign optimiser tool however is a little less labour intensive providing suggestions for an entire campaign rather having to optimise each ad group one at a time. In addition it demonstrates how many additional clicks you could achieve if you increased your budget to a certain level. The big difference however is that this tool has a prominent position in the main navigation which provides Google with more opportunity to recommend campaign changes to increase advertiser spend. On a more positive note however I am led to believe that this is just the start of a larger set of new tools that will help advertisers streamline campaign management.

Google AdwordsMedium Term

Google knew the opportunity that video presented before many of us. Their purchase of YouTube and introduction of universal search demonstrated that Google was able to foresee how big the video opportunity would be and now they are taking it one step further. In the US Google is currently beta testing video ads in AdWords search results for the entertainment sector. The new AdWords feature remains in closed beta however Google intentions are clear.

Verdict?

This is definitely a good move for Google. The online advertising industry is far more dynamic than it was 5 years ago and Google knows it must move with the times and offer more interactive inventory to its standard search results . If organic search provides blended formats – why shouldn’t paid search? In addition as the next stage of the online advertising industry will be social advertising (whereby users can share advertising messages with friends) Google needs to provide more interactive ad units that will entice users to engage in such an activity. This is definitely just the beginning and I believe there will be a lot of innovation by Google in this area in the next 12 months.

Long Term

At a recent conference in the US, discussion focused on the long term possibilities of paid search. It is believed that eventually we will see a move away from a model of keyword targeting to a model whereby advertisers provide Google with a summary of product or service offering, pricing and product descriptions and it will do the rest. Whilst this is very early days, possibly at least 5 years away, such conclusions come at a time where keyword portfolio’s have been shown to be continually expanding from changes in search behaviour, making the optimisation process even more arduous. Thus Google knows to stay competitive it must make ease of use simpler for advertisers.

Verdict?

In principle something has to change as keyword portfolio management is becoming increasingly difficult. Obviously however until semantic search becomes a reality such a concept is not feasible. One thing though is for sure, given the rapid pace of digital, there is no doubt that in 5 years time paid search will take on a completely different form to maintain relevance in this dynamic space.
What do you think about the latest Google paid search innovations? Would like to know your thought.

Continue Reading

A Social Step Up For Customer Service In Oz

Twitter Strategy

For years marketers have debated the positive and negative impact word of mouth can have on a brand. Negative customer experiences and word of mouth offline has always been a concern, but fast forward to today’s day and age and very quickly a negative customer experience projected through social media channels can cause a PR disaster.
Unlike offline negative word of mouth a poor customer experience captured online is;
• Real Time – Customers do not have time to reassess the situation, venting their frustrations immediately without further thought
• A Digital Footprint – A bad customer service experience is retained online for others to view for years to come
• More Widespread – It is largely believed that consumers tell 7 or 8 people about a bad experience – but online such a broadcast could be cast to hundreds of contacts.

However despite all the draw backs, one of the big benefits of social media is that organisations can identify unsatisfied customer experiences and nip them in the bud. And if dealt with effectively these consumers may radiate their positive experience to their wider online network.
Thus as social media usage has exploded in Australia, some Australian organisations have taken the brave step into the social media customer service space. So whose doing it and what can we learn from some of the social media customer service case studies in Australia?

PANASONIC

Just last month, Panasonic Australia launched support services through both Twitter and Facebook to enable customers to log queries related to products such as Viera televisions and the new Limax Life camera.

 

Panasonic Twitter Strategy

Their approach

Through social platforms, Panasonic has been able to launch its new camera Lumix to enthusiasts and have proactively offered support, to new Lumix customers, which from a customer service perspective is quite forward thinking. In addition Panasonic have made it clear that their strategy will not just focus on one channel but rather support consumers across some of the most popular social media platforms in Australia . However how can Panasonic improve their customer service offering through social media?

The Facebook presence seems to be largely unattended to by its customer service staff. Whilst only a few customers have requested assistance, it seems their questions have either been answered via a direct message to the user or not at all. In the customer service sector obviously delivery is key so this is an important consideration for Panasonic.
In addition Panasonic could consider promoting their new customer service options via their site to encourage more consumers to ask questions because at this stage the service is experiencing some demand but not high volume of take up. Whilst a strategy of inviting more people into the social space to raise their customer service questions or complaints could be risky – it will enable Panasonic to meet changing customer needs as consumers can interact with the brand by their preferred method of communication.

OPTUS
Telecommunications is one industry that suffers from a high level of customer service complaints, therefore it is no wonder that both Optus and Telstra have invested in social media customer service. If you spend 10 minutes searching Twitter there is no wonder why such a strategy is important for both these brands – with many unsatisfied customers venting their anger, a social media customer service strategy is crucial to maintain at least some credibility in the market.

Their Approach

Optus seems to monitor its online Twitter presence very carefully and by doing so it seems they are in at least in some cases turning customer informants into advocates.
Whilst Optus is changing many customer experiences from negative to positive ones, one in particular stands out. In a recent article published in Marketing Magazine, it seems Optus has been able to turn around one #badoptus customer to a satisfied one, who told his 4,268 followers that;

“You may have seen some of my past #badoptus tweets. Thanks to Scott at @Optus social media response team I can now say thank you #goodoptus.”

But have Optus got it 100% right? As Optus only entered the space in the past 4 – 6 weeks, one of the biggest downfalls for their strategy would have to be timing – with so much bad consumer PR being posted online, Optus should have entered the space sooner to effectively manage its reputation and attend to consumers needs.

For Optus coverage may also be an issue. For any brand moving into the social media space it is important to not just to concentrate on the platform but rather consider where consumers are passionately expressing their views, whether it be social networking platforms, forums or even blogs to determine how the customer service strategy can most effectively reach the large pockets of consumer complaints and customer service issues.

For Optus Facebook is another area where consumers are passionately expressing their dissatisfaction about the brand by joining or creating “hate Optus” groups, and this is probably just the beginning. However despite the negative feedback on Facebook, for Optus Twitter may have been the most important channel to tackle first, as the brand had been inundated with negative PR.
Regardless of their approach, for those considering social media customer service it is important to monitor the web and determine where conversations and complaints are occurring about their brand before determining the best approach.

Business Brand Twitter Strategy

Overall despite some of the improvements that can be made I believe Panasonic, Optus and even Telstra should be applauded for taking the bold step into the social media space.

Got any other examples of Australian organisations who are using social media to improve customer service? If so add them below.

Continue Reading

Making It In The Digital World – Client Side

Digital Industry

Marketing teams are evolving, and whilst some organisations have been online for years, many are still in their infancy of embarking on an online strategy. As a result many marketing professionals are upgrading their knowledge from traditional marketing channels to cover digital areas such as search, social media and even onsite optimisation and usability.

But besides the multitude of technical knowledge required to be a talented client side digital marketer, what other skills and qualities do you need? Working client side for the past 4 years in digital, here are some of the key skills I think separate the online men from the boys – or the women from the girls for that matter.

Educator & Champion

In Australia, digital marketing is still an emerging area. Those up-skilling or who already have digital expertise, need to take on a wider role within their marketing department and across their organisation as an educator and champion of the discipline. Those who can successfully educate those surrounding them will find stakeholders are more bought into the strategy and concept of the online channel which provides the added support and investment needed to succeed online.

Educating and championing digital amongst peers and senior management however is not an easy task and requires persistence and a significant investment in time. But those that can effectively acquire and utilise this skill will find the road for implementing digital just that bit easier.


Networking

Online NetworkingWhilst developing strategic partnerships is not a new concept for some marketing professionals, digital marketing professionals will benefit from gaining thorough knowledge of how to build online relationships with bloggers, portals and other influencers in the community. Such relationships can spawn opportunities for cross promotion through online partnerships, co-creation of valuable content to deliver to users or third party endorsements such as those that can come from professional bloggers. Online networking used in this context in some ways can be the modern form of building relationships with the press, and if done right can therefore provide digital marketers with many new lucrative avenues to expand a digital strategy outside of the more obvious channels of search and email.

Resourcefulness & Entrepreneurial Spirit

Digital IndustryAs digital marketing is still a relatively new channel for many organisations, being resourceful and sometimes almost entrepreneurial is key. In many instances organisations will not heavily invest early on until a return is shown, thus digital marketers more so than other marketing professionals need to deliver results to secure a larger investment for the channel. Digital marketers must therefore consider where their marketing spend will net the largest return online to make sure that every dollar spent delivers a healthy CPA. Focusing on what you have got rather than what you haven’t is important as is looking for creative new ways to achieve objectives and leveraging the free and low cost tools available online.

Commitment

To be one of the best you truly have to love all things digital. The digital industry is a fast moving beast, one which holds enormous potential and is truly inspiring but one which you can lag behind in very quickly. The best client side digital marketers are those that not only have a commitment to continually deliver on business objectives, but ensure they are keeping up to date with the latest digital trends and new technologies. This knowledge is invaluable to drive new innovative strategies in the space and stay ahead of the curve.

Do you think there are any crucial skills or attributes client side marketers need to be the best in the digital industry? Add your comments below.

Continue Reading

It’s A Question of Digital Leadership

Digital Marketing Leaders

An interesting article was recently published on eTailToday.com.au which featured comments from Joe Dittmar, IBM Worldwide Executive for Websphere Commerce. In Dittmar’s opinion the next 2 years represents a pivotal time for eCommerce in Australia, but the market is falling short. And why? Dittmar revealed the current immaturity of the Australian online retail market was more about retailers failing to take the opportunities in front them.” And for me taking this opportunity boils down to an issue of digital leadership.

This is something I broached a few months ago in a post – detailing “Why Australian Organisations Don’t Do It”, however Dittmars recent comments has made me reflect and delve into this issue further.

Why is Australia Lacking Digital Leadership?

Digital Leadership Starts At Board Level

Senior Digital Marketing SpecialistRegardless of organisation size, digital leadership starts at the top. Whilst senior marketing professionals play a very significant role, it takes a strong personality with significant drive to change a mindset. Thus in most organisations, for digital to be truly effective, the strategy must be driven from the top and integrated with the organisations strategic direction. Unfortunately in Australia’s case, several large retailers still do not see the sizable opportunity that digital presents. Furthermore whilst others have made inroads on the digital front – their lack of intent to invest in the digital channel is a telling sign of their current success. The lack of buy-in particularly at executive level is still playing a significant role in hindering the Australian market and ultimately will see some retailers left behind.

Mid Level Digital Recruitment

Many organisations looking to invest in the digital arena for the first time, are looking to do so by hiring mid-weight or junior digital professionals. Whilst operationally these professionals will fill the immediate need, they fail to create a vision and lead an organisation into the digital future. In addition these individuals lack the breadth of digital knowledge that enables them to educate key stakeholders on the value of digital to an organisation. So whilst technical capability is paramount, individuals do not have the clout to lead organisational change, particularly early on in the digital journey.

The allure of abroad

It is a well known fact that Aussies love to travel and with many lucrative digital opportunities overseas, Australia loses its talent to overseas markets. In many markets such as the UK, talented client side digital talent is hard to come by and whilst the recession has paralysed marketing budgets, digital investment remains strong. With a lack of opportunity in the local market for senior talent to progress their career, those with solid skills do make the move – and still continue to do so despite the economy – which saps some of Australia’s best who will lead the revolution. I spoke to a prominent recruitment agency in the UK this week and one of their consultants advised me they have had more Aussies and Kiwis arrivals in July & August than they have had all year which demonstrates the drain of digital talent from Australian shores.

Will Digital Leadership Be Forced?

Digital Marketing LeadersSo the Australian market is ripe for the picking, and it is positive to see that some of the retailers are taking the big step and leading the way. Apart from the pure plays, brands such as Sportsgirl and now David Jones have really begun to embrace digital, but for others will digital leadership come to late or be forced? Internationally eyes are on Australia, brands who have succeeded in their home territory are looking to expand and Australia provides an ideal online landscape to do so – unsaturated and yet to be monetized. A lack of digital strategy could be commercial suicide – so now is the time for those at the top (both marketers and senior execs) to lead the digital charge and make the important digital decisions now not just for the short term but to secure a long and prosperous digital future.

Is your organisation suffering from digital leadership? Share your experience below.

Continue Reading

Life-streaming – It’s Blog Progression Not A Blog Procession?

Life Streaming Technology

There has been a lot of discussion in the past month about life-streaming – with many bidding farewell to blogging and moving into the world of life-streaming. But does life-streaming mark the death of the blog?

Fundamentally I believe life-streaming is not the death of a blog but rather the natural progression of blogging to become a more dynamic form of media evolving like many other digital channels in the world of web 2.0.

The definition of a blog is “a journal or diary that is posted on the Internet.” Whilst the definition of life-streaming is “…a time-ordered stream of documents that functions as a diary of your electronic life. These definitions demonstrate the common theme of a “diary”, so whilst life-streaming provides a more real time approach to traditional blogging, fundamentally the concept is the same.

So whilst the fundamental concept remains, blogs like other forms of media need to innovate to maintain relevance on the social web.

So how is life-streaming transforming blogging as we know it?

Facebook LiveFor 1, whilst the leading Blogger and WordPress platforms are integrating life-streaming elements into their existing platforms – it seems new platforms are increasing in popularity – one such example is http://posterous.com/. Platforms such as Posterous a simple process to upload data ( said to be as simple as sending an email) making it much easier for users to capture and upload their thoughts on the fly. This technology may lead to a change in the type of content becoming available ie more real time commentary on topics as they break and possibly shorter bursts of information rather than large content heavy posts (looks like I might be in trouble).

Secondly, life-streaming technology brings together information from a range of networks aggregating a users profile into one interface. This is one of the big draw cards of life-streaming as the technology streamlines online profiles to provide an online hub, and this is of benefit to bloggers. With your audience using an array of mediums such as Twitter, FriendFeed etc to find, comment and share thoughts , the value of their interaction with your content is not lost as this is aggregated into one lifestream. Lifestreaming also has the added benefit of pushing content out to all your various profiles online, simplifying management of the array of online properties one has.

As a result of the ease and aggregation we may see a much higher uptake of personal life-streams/blogs in Australia as users seek to simplify their social experience.

So the question should not be if bloggers should move away from blogging, but rather how they can leverage this progression in the blogging arena to build upon the success already achieved.
If you want to know more about life-streaming, I have included a number of links to posts I have found useful and provide interesting insight into this developing trend.

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2009/07/01/should-i-quit-blogging/
http://battractive.com/blog/2009/08/09/move-over-blogs-here-comes-lifestreaming/
http://www.slideshare.net/erinblaskie/lifestreaming-the-new-future-of-blogging

Are you thinking of moving onto a life-streaming platform? Do you think life-streaming will be the death of the blog? Please share your thoughts below – or on Twitter.

Continue Reading