6 Reasons To Invest in Social Media?

Social media investment

I recently viewed an article where a prominent commercial professional advised brands against diving into the social media space as sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter have yet to demonstrate their value to marketers.

To add to this there are still many who fail to recognise the importance of social media, brushing it off to be no more than a fad. However those who do not recognise the shift in user behaviour on the web may be missing many potential opportunities to connect with customers in ways not previously possible.

So what are the reasons brands should invest in social media?

1. Market Research / Product Innovation

Ever heard of Dell’s Idea Storm Community? Dell has created one of the most successful platforms to gather customer feedback and generate new ideas. The community has been so popular that Dell has implemented 317 ideas from the nearly 12,000 ideas generated. Dell’s Idea Storm is just one way to gather such research and feedback for innovation.

Is this opportunity just reserved for big brands? Not necessarily – if you have a group of Facebook, or a number of followers on Twitter this can be an ideal start to connect, gain feedback and share ideas with those who have some attachment to your brand.

Customer Complaining2. Customer Complaints Management

Social media extends past your marketing department. Try typing “CBA customer” into Twitter Search. This will reveal many complaints about poor customer service, however CBA are taking note – “>view the turnaround in a customers experience after an irate customer posted their frustrations on the micro-blogging site. Again is this just for big brands? Reputation management is key for organisations of all sizes, particularly if you operate in a category that is regularly discussed by individuals within communities online can be very influential online. Start by identifying which sites your customers are using to discuss topics related to your organisation or industry and keep a close eye on any complaints which occur so you can act quickly.

3. SEO

Social media can provide significant benefits for your search marketing strategy – which is why so many SEO agencies are branching out into social media. External linking of the social kind, where content is shared across the internet onto social bookmarking sites/twitter and then re-posted onto third party blogs, contribute to inbound links (note most social bookmarking sites do not provide link juice, they act as a source to distribute and promote content to blog owners who re-publish and link back to the original source). It is believed in the future Google will value “real popularity” over artificial popularity currently gained through link submission.

4. Lead Generation

Social media is not just a channel for B2C. Lead sourcing through social media can provide organisations with;
1) A socially acceptable way to connect with professionals for mutual benefit
2) Provide signals related to buying intentions and buyer needs

LinkedIn provides an ideal forum to share expertise with potential customers who are looking for a new supplier or have a need for a product. It is however important to approach these opportunities with a considered approach depending on what the user is seeking. If they are seeking advice the hard sell may not win them over – it is usually your experience and advice which opens up new opportunities, on the other hand they may be upfront in their request for suppliers to come forward in which case go for it.

Visitor Engagement5. Engagement

With web users spending more time on social media sites and less time on corporate websites, the social media space provides a new platform to engage with your users. Provide visitors with ways to engage with your brand in their own environment. Make content portable and easy to share through bookmarking, RSS or even with widgets. Don’t get caught into the trap of feeling that web users must visit your site to interact with your brand. Yes it is more difficult to measure but don’t dictate to your users how they must interact with your brand as there are many other alternatives they can choose from.

6. Awareness, Brand Recognition & Visitors

Twitter is one channel that has already proved its worth to many websites. Hitwise in the UK found 1 in 5 visits to entertainment sites in February were from Twitter. Twitter is also said to be driving 7% of total traffic to blogs (my blog alone obtains 15% of its visitors from Twitter). Its viral effect results in useful content to be distributed across the web. Does this mean you should start posting links to all your products onto Twitter? Unlikely – if you can deliver users with some compelling / insightful information on social networks like Twitter or social bookmarking sites it can assist you to reach a segment of your audience. Through providing valuable content you can also position your brand as an expert or specialist in a given niche. This may not result in immediate sales but can move you into the decision set for future purchase decisions.

Yes it is time consuming but so is SEO
Yes it is not yet easily measurable as standard measures and tools are not as mature as we want them to be – but neither is offline activities
Yes there are not as many case study/best practice examples to follow – but here lies the opportunity.

If you have any additional reasons for marketers to move into the social media space please share them below.

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Your Business Case For Search – Aussie Trends & Statistics

Social Networking Trends

Whether you are starting out in search, have an existing strategy you want to expand or are trying to sell search marketing to your clients, a good business case is essential. Australian statistics and trends to do this are essential but often difficult and very time consuming to come by.

I know that scouring the internet to find this information is not effective use of your time so I have done it for you. In this latest post I have also included some commentary on what impact these statistics have on your search strategy.

Search Market Share in Australia

1) Google – 91%
2) Ninemsn / Live – 3.9%
3) Yahoo – 3.15%
(Source: Hitwise Australia, April 09)

What does this mean? It is obvious that your SEO efforts should concentrate on ranking in Google, however do not discount Ninemsn & Yahoo for PPC as they can be a good low cost/competition channel for PPC advertising.

Searches Per Month
ComScore data released in September 2008 demonstrates how Australians search volume compares to our AsiaPacific counterparts. Every month nearly 10,000,000 Australian searches are conducted, which is 115 searches per user – the highest in the entire Asia Pacific region. This demonstrates the dependence Australians have on search engines as a gateway to the internet.

Search Growth
Many brands have still been slow to adopt Digital and continue to plough marketing expenditure into offline activities. Australians increasing reliance on search engines to research purchase decisions is evident in the growth in search volume overall and across key sectors.

Key Statistics Overall

Australian research by Outrider Australia released in December 2009 showed 80% of consumers use online research to inform their purchase decision.

Whilst Google announced January 2008 to January 2009 experienced a 20% growth in overall search traffic in Australia.

Sectors in Detail

Travel PlanningFinancial Services
Online Research Dependence;
45% of insurance purchases, and 44% of finance decisions are researched online.
12 month increase in Search Volume;
– 74% increase in banks and financial services (Nov 07 – Nov 08)
– 24% rise in credit card searches (Dec 07 – Dec 08)

Travel
Online Research Dependence;
Of those researching a travel decision 79% used online channels to do so.
12 month increase in Search Volume; 37% increase in travel related searches (Dec 07 – Dec 08)

Retail
Online Research Dependence;
Monash’s Australian Centre for Retail Studies has found that 50 per cent of Australian shoppers research their retail purchases online before they get to the store to buy.

Automotive
Online Research Dependence;
46% of potential car buyers head to the internet to conduct research related to their purchase decisions.
12 month increase in Search Volume “Automotive deals” achieved a 24% increase in search traffic (Dec 07 – Dec 08)

Real Estate
Online Research Dependence;
Nielsen online research in 2008 demonstrated just under 9 in 10 property buyers head to the internet for research & 85% for renters.
12 month increase in Search Volume: 41% increase in real estate related search volumes (Dec 07 – Dec 08)

Keyword Searches

At what stage of the purchase cycle are users searching;
Outrider Australia research showed overall search engines are used throughout the consumer research process with 27% conducting keyword searches midway through, and 9% search just prior to purchase.

In addition, research also found that the majority of those using a search engine first conducted a generic (or unbranded) keyword search.

What does this mean? It demonstrates the need to be within the users decision set early on, as searches diminish closer to purchase. It is important to rank for the 2 and 3 phrase terms not just those in the long tail – as longer tail terms are usually within the latter phases of the search cycle. The research also demonstrates the need for big brands to ensure that they are within the decision set – as relying on awareness alone will not guarantee a sale.

Click Share In Australia it is believed that approximately 18% of clicks go to paid search, whilst 82% goes to natural search. Enough said about why both PPC & SEO are important to be used in combination.

It’s in the long-tail Identifying Australian statistics for growth in search length has been difficult thus US statistics are detailed below. Industry experts have indicated that Australia is following the global trend of users adopting longer search terms to source the information they are looking for.

What does this mean? The long tail growth demonstrates the need for an integrated PPC & SEO program. Some organisations adopt an either/or approach however the 2 strategies should work in combination. It is too costly to optimise your site for all long tail search terms thus it is important to adopt a comprehensive PPC strategy.

Browser Searching

Browser SearchWeb users are adopting the Google search box as a browser and this is evident in the top global searches for 2008, all of which were brand names.

The top global search terms for the year of 2008 were;
myspace
craigslist
ebay
youtube and
myspace.com

What does this mean? As users become lazier it is important that you are bidding on your own brand to ensure you are not losing traffic to competitors. Whilst organisations can not bid on trademark brand names, they can bid on non trademarked brand names and other brand related terms.

Search Types

Local Searches Are Now 12% of All Searches,
According to a study by ComScore, local searches are growing at a faster pace than regular Web searches. Year over year, local search volume grew by 58% (vs. 21% for regular search) for a total of 15.7 billion searches. This represents 12% of all searches at the top 5 search portals.”

What does this mean? Is your site optimised for local search? Is your site submitted to the Google Local business centre. Local search will continue to increase as the adoption of mobile internet grows. Google is heavily investing in serving users with local results – demonstrated by its latest change in local maps which serves users information based on IPs so it is important that you understand local search and adapt your site/content accordingly.

If you have any other market information to share please do so by commenting below.

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Spotlight on Australian Digital Careers

With all the talk of recession, marketing departments are having to become more accountable and resourceful. Many experts believe this already is and will further escalate the need for Australian businesses to invest in digital marketing, as their uptake to date has been slower than many other major economies.

But what impact if any will this anticipated shift in media have on the demand for Digital professionals?

As late as November last year, Marketing Magazine confirmed that Digital salaries were going from strength to strength, as organisations struggle to source qualified Digital professionals.

But have things changed in the past 5 months?

I interviewed Jeff Estok from Digital Search Specialists “MitchelLake” to get the low down on the Digital recruitment market in Australia as is stands.

Teresa Sperti; What impact has the current economic climate had on recruitment of Digital Marketing professionals?

Digital Blog TrendsJeff Estok; There is no doubt that digital marketing is under pressure due to the financial crisis, though not to the same extent as traditional advertising. Some companies have a headcount freeze in place, and are not replacing staff, whilst others are slower to hire or utilising contract labour.

This means that there are fewer jobs available and more candidates seeking positions than at this time last year.

Teresa Sperti; What trends are you witnessing on the agency and client side?

Jeff Estok; On the Agency side, we are seeing re-bundling and an attempt to increase the breadth of digital talent. A decade ago when the digital revolution began, most Agencies were happy to buy or set up stand-alone digital offerings, but are shifting back to an integrated offering. We have interest from a few Agency groups at present who are seeking to acquire mid-size digital Agencies and integrate them in an attempt to provide clients with end-to-end solutions.

On the client side, there seems to be a degree of candidate dissatisfaction with their organisations’ failure to fully embrace digital.

Teresa Sperti; What trends are you witnessing at the various career stages of Digital professionals?

Jeff Estok; The hardest positions to fill tend to be the more junior and senior positions.

The junior positions are tough because of the salary expectations of people with 2-5 years’ experience. For Junior positions it is important for Digital marketing professionals to understand that as the market matures there is more competition and salaries are becoming more aligned with traditional marketing roles.

In terms of senior level positions, the difficulty is that the job specs are so tight that very few candidates exist that fulfil all the requirements.

Digital creative talent is another area where there appears to be a shortfall, with Agencies having us perform UK searches for new talent.

Teresa Sperti; What trends are you seeing on the Digital salaries front?

Jeff Estok; There is no doubt that in some areas, digital salaries have ‘normalised’. Gone are the days where an employee could demand a $20,000 pay increase for year-on-year performance, particularly in the oversaturated, mid-level positions.

Senior level salaries appear to have held, but once again, due to tight specs and few suitable candidates, the laws of supply-and-demand come into play.

Digital MarketerJeff’s final advice to marketers is:

First, make sure you understand what quite a few Agencies don’t yet—that the communications landscape has changed from ‘commercials’ to ‘content’, and from ‘push’ to ‘pull’, so your content must be relevant and engaging, or consumers will not pull it through.

Going digital also begins a ‘conversation’ between the brand and the consumer. Make sure you are committed to this new paradigm, that you are adequately resourced to facilitate this, and that this strategy is embraced and endorsed by senior management, so that it will survive your eventual departure. Enduring Brands outlast changes of Brand Managers.

About Jeff Estok & MitchelLake

Jeff Estok is a past Managing Director of the Ad Agency Clemenger BBDO and is Partner – Media/Advertising for digital search specialists MitchelLake.

If you are looking to recruit digital marketing professionals in Australia, please visit MitchelLake or phone 02 8292 9100. You can also follow MitchelLake on Twitter.

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10 Site Intelligence Tips

Website Marketing Tips

More from less is the order of the day. Whilst many marketers feel we have to spend more to make more – we have at our peril many free resources to gather site intelligence which can improve usability, the user experience and ultimately conversions – here is our top 10 tips.

On-Site Search – Finding the Diamonds in The Rough

Analyse your on-site search data focussing on;

1) What products people are looking for that your company doesn’t provide. Is this a new product opportunity?
2) Look for common misspellings and ensure your search engine is optimised to return results with the correct spelling
3) What information are users finding difficult to locate on your site – how can you make it more prominent?

Gathering Insight

Feedback Button4) Site Surveys – An underutilised resource – site surveys can provide insight into key areas of concern for users through exit surveys
5) Customer Service – Talk to the customer service team. What common issues are expressed about your site through customer service calls?
6) Feedback Button – Capture users frustrations as they happen – ensure your site has a prominent feedback button at important stages – ie during the booking process / search processes
7) Get on the phone – Have your users just completed your booking process? Call them to discuss how they found the site
8) Scour the internet; Constructive criticism is across the web on review sites and social media sites – find the core frustrations of your user base and start a conversation with them

Onsite Stats – The numbers don’t lie

9) Time on Site – A basic measurement but a very useful one. Time on site is a powerful measure if used in conjunction with other reports. Time on site is useful to determine if users are engaging with key areas on your site or to determine which site pages are visited for an extended period of time that shouldn’t be. If there is a problem use this information to investigate why this is happening – the feedback button could provide the clues.

Bounce Rates – Another basic measure – but study your bounce rates – find which channel/page combinations are not effectively converting – then look at how this can be improved.

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Google Content Network – Why Its Now All That

If you have used PPC for a while, chances are you have dabbled in the past with the “content network/placement” with little success. If so you are not alone.

In the past the Google Content network provided limited campaign control, lack of advertising format options and a large but somewhat hit and miss mix of sites which left marketers with another under performing Ad Network.

Over the past few years Google has invested significant efforts into this network particularly through acquisition of partner sites to now offer an array of ad formats and new advertising alternatives which will provide other advertising networks a run for their money.

Digital Marketing Lab has reviewed the Google placement network to bring you the Pro’s & Cons of the new and improved Google network.

Pros

Media Placement & Format Options
Ad Placement

The Google network is not limited to text based advertising.

Google has been working extremely hard to get advertisers to offer various advertising formats. Australian sites such as TheAge, Sydney Morning Herald & The Brisbane Times are just some of the sites which are offering image and video advertising opportunities.

With the rise of rich media, Google has been quick to ensure it has dynamic ad inventory to provide advertisers with the flexibility to choose the most appropriate format for their message. Google’s acquisition of video giant YouTube has also opened up a plethora of opportunities for video content sponsorship and in video branding.

The growing popularity of other online media has also lead Google to innovate by offering;
– Feed Placements
– In Game Placements
– Mobile Placements

Small Fish in Big Pond

Never before could small businesses dream of advertising with some of the majors and even if they did they would be facing high CPMs. Google’s network allows cost per click advertising in various formats and for all budgets making it accessible to advertisers of all sizes.

Cons

Positioning
Ad Positioning

Ad positioning may still be an issue on the network with some of the prime inventory sold through other networks / through internal media sales teams thus it is difficult to ensure effective placement.

Big Budgets – Big Losers

For big advertisers who can command significant reductions in rate cards, the CPA/CPC may not be as favourable on the Google network and the reporting may not be to the depth required to effectively manage these campaigns.

Niche Advertising

For niche advertisers the content network may not provide the depth of inventory needed by the advertiser – resulting in low impression rates/visitors and lack of sites to project the message.

What’s next

With social networks providing competition for Google through behavioural advertising, Google just announced its new behavioural targeting product. In mid March the internet giant announced its beta testing of behavioural advertising. Google is able to offer behavioural advertising through utilising cookies to track web users across its content network.

For more details on Google’s behavioural targeting click here http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/making-ads-more-interesting.html

The verdict

Google is definitely shaping up to provide a strong advertising network, in its pursuit for internet domination. The content network is definitely worth further investigation by brands in Australia to determine its application as part of an advertising strategy. I would continue to watch this space as I am sure there is much more to come from Google.

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Google’s Marketing Toolbox – 20 Free (OR Nearly Free) Google Marketing Products

Blogger Website

In their quest to dominate our entire internet experience, it is no wonder that Google wants to be a 1 stop shop for marketers – given that we pay the bills.

Digital Marketing Lab has summarised the Google tools that we know are out there for marketers to use. If we have missed any please add them below.

Site Resources & Tools

Site Resource and ToolsGoogle Analyticswww.google.com/analytics/

Google Analytics provides a complete website analysis tool to track site performance. Over the years Google has built on the basics to provide a sophisticated web analytics tools which offers conversion analysis, site overlay analysis, custom reporting creation tools and benchmarking along with all of the standard reporting metrics to measure site performance.

Website Optimiserwww.google.com/websiteoptimizer

Website optimizer provides a tool to conduct A/B and multi-variant testing on your website to improve conversion of landing pages. The website optimiser has been built with in-depth but visual/easy to read reporting to make informed decisions based on tests results.

Google Site Searchhttp://www.google.com/sitesearch/

Google site search provides web owners with the ability to create a simple onsite search function to enable users to search onsite content. This is one of the Google products which incurs a charge – however pricing starts from as low as $100 per year.

Google Custom Searchhttp://www.google.com/coop/cse/

Google custom search is a more sophisticated search function which enables websites to aggregate search results from a variety of other sites/sources. This function is free however search results will also appear with paid ads included, however for a fee of $100 per year search results will appear with no ads.

Google Maps Site ResourceGoogle Mapswww.code.google.com/apis/maps/

The Google API for Google Maps allows organisations to plug Google Maps into their websites. The API allows you to customise maps to feature a range of content/information to enhance your users experience.

Google AdSensehttps://www.google.com/adsense

Google AdSense enables website owners to publish relevant advertising content on sites and earn revenue from Google by doing so. The sites added to AdSense are part of the Google Content Network.

Search Tools

Google Toolbarwww.toolbar.google.com/

The Google Toolbar is a browser application which displays the PageRank of the particular page a user is viewing on a site.

Google Webmaster Toolwww.google.com/webmasters/tools/

The Google Webmaster Tool provides you with the ability to view detailed information as to see how Google perceives your site to be performing. The kind of data available includes site errors, top performing keywords your site is ranking for in SERPs and actual positions, internal/external linking data, along with the ability to upload an XML site map.

Google Trend Site ResourceGoogle Trendswww.google.com/trends

Google Trends provides “hot trends” for the top 100 terms searched in the US (so not that useful for Aussies) but it can also provide trends for particular websites across the world. With the tool you can view the growth of Twitter over the past few years and identify similar sites in that category which can lead to new marketing opportunities.

Google Keyword Researchhttps://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

The Google Adwords Keyword Tool provides you with a keyword research tool for both SEO and PPC campaign research. The tool provides keyword volumes for the previous month, plus graphical representation of keyword traffic over the past 12 months.

Google Insights – www.google.com/insights/search

Google Insights provides a tool to gauge keyword trends, determine where the search volumes are more/less prevalent across a given country, the type of content search being conducted ie image / video, local etc and a host of other information.

AdWords Editorwww.google.com/intl/en/adwordseditor/

Whilst the Google AdWords program is a paid resource, the AdWords editor provides an offline campaign tool which makes the creation of PPC campaigns, light work. Once completed the data can be uploaded into your Google AdWords account.

Social Media Tools

Blogger WebsiteBloggerwww.blogger.com

Bought by Google in 2003, Blogger is one of the leading free blogging tools on the market. Blogger provides the ability to upload everything from text to images and videos and even the ability to blog via your mobile phone.

Google Alertswww.google.com/alerts

Google Alerts provides an email alert service based on a query or topic. The alert service can be utilised to identify online reputation issues, track community discussions and even track competitor activity.

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Top 20 Most Interesting Australian Digital Statistics For 2009 So Far

Search Engine Marketing

Trying to locate Australian specific internet usage and user behaviour trends is often difficult. With a lot of new research circulating the web, Digital Marketing Lab has summarised the top 20 most interesting Australian Digital trends/stats which have been recorded in the first quarter of 2009. If you have any others that we have missed please feel free to add them.

Online Behaviour

1. Aussies spend a total of 16.1 hours per week on the internet – Nielsen Online
2. Australians now spend one-third of their leisure time online – The Digital World, Digital Life Survey
3. Australian internet users are ditching desktop computers in favour of wireless technology with laptop ownership jumping from 49% to 63% by the end of 2008 – Nielsen Online.
4. Australians who shopped online in February 2009 spent an average of $760 compared to the global average of $3160. – The Digital World, Digital Life Survey

Search Marketing

Search Engine Marketing5. Top 3 search terms in Google at present are find a job, how to write a resume and how to survive the recession – AustralianIT
6. Google Australia search volumes have risen 20% from January 2008 to January 2009 – Search Engine Room
7. Google’s Marketshare reached 89.6% in February 2009 with Yahoo at 2% – Hitwise Australia
8. Australian search success is 71.1 per cent in February of 2009 from 70.1 per cent in February of 2008. Search success is measured by if a user goes to conduct another search straight after visiting the page from search results. – AustralianIT

Mobile Marketing

9. 97 per cent of Australians surveyed used their mobile phone for more than just voice. – m.Net Corporation
10. 31 per cent of Australian mobile users have used their mobile phone to make a purchase like movie tickets – m.Net Corporation
11. Mobile advertising growth is poised to treble in 2009 with Telsyte forecasting that mobile advertising spend will grow to $20 million this year – Digital Media

Social Media

Social Media Marketing12. 1 in 2 Aussies are now using a social network – The Digital World, Digital Life Survey
13. On average Australians are registered with 2.7 social networks – .2 higher than the global average of memberships on social networking sites – The Digital World, Digital Life Survey
14. Australian Twitter Subscribers Reached 250,000 in February 2009, up from 149,000 in January – Ninemsn
15. 7.5 million Australians visited consumer-generated media websites in January 2009, up 17 per cent on 2008. This compares to 8.3 million Australian visitors to the news/information mainstream media that month. – Nielsen Online
16. More than 5 million (1/4 of Aust popn) visited Facebook in January (up 100 per cent on 2008) & 2.4 million MySpace (-17 per cent) – Nielsen Online
17. Many Australians (83%) are aware of virtual worlds such as SecondLife., but only 26% have viewed or contributed to these sites – The Digital World, Digital Life Survey
18. 2.3 million Australians visited blogger blogs which is up 21% on 2008 – Nielsen Online
19. CGC has become a mainstream activity for Australian internet users with 57% admitting to publishing opinions online – Nielsen Online CGM Report
20. One in three (36%) Australians have friends or contacts that they met online with whom they regularly communicate demonstrating the impact of Web 2.0 on online relationships – The Digital World, Digital Life Survey

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Launch of Digital Marketing Lab’s “How To” SEO Guide

SEO Guide ProductDigital Marketing Lab is pleased to announce the launch of its first how to guide, in what we hope to be a series of practical guides for Australian marketers.

The 50 page guide has been written by an Australian marketer for marketers. It delivers a practical in-depth overview to assist beginners to intermediate level SEO marketers with a non technical way to learn about organic search.

The guide is priced at $25 + GST. However Australian client side marketers who complete our 5 minute SEO survey will receive $10 off.

If you are interested in purchasing the guide, marketing@digitalmarketinglab.com.au. Payment methods include direct deposit or paypal.

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