4 Of The Best – Free Social Media Monitoring Tools

Social Search Strategy

For those of you starting to delve into the world of social media, you may be looking for some tools that will make the process of monitoring a little easier – without the large price tag. Whilst there are many high quality paid services, free options are very useful early on particularly if your organisation is unwilling to invest heavily into social media until a return is demonstrated.

This article details 4 tools that I think cut the mustard– and also lists a suite of other free tools which you may find useful. Whilst each tool provides some useful functionality they also have their draw backs. Thus marketers may want to use a combination of these tools to monitor their social media activities.

http://addictomatic.com/
Addict-o-maticWhat does it do? Enables users to create a customised dashboard of the latest topical issues in their industry as well as tracking brand conversations across social sites which range from Twitter / Digg & Delicious to Bloglines, Bing News and Google Blog search.
Good for; Dashboard interface makes it easy to gain a quick snapshot of brand references and conversations occurring about your industry on the web.
Not so good for; This tool doesn’t pick up all conversations containing site links but is a great for identifying topical industry issues “passion points” or keyword searches using “brand names”.

www.quarkbase.com
What does it do? Provides a quick snapshot of overall site characteristics from traffic to site ownership information. In particular this site provides a “social popularity overview” – detailing social bookmarks, inbound links from Wikipedia, latest tweets and related blog content on the web.
Good for; A useful quantitative overview of a sites performance across social platforms.
Not so good for; Viewing the content that has been bookmarked and by whom – the site does not provide the ability to drill down on the results.

www.howsociable.com
How Sociable WebsiteWhat does it do? Provides a simple way of measuring your brands social visibility on the web. The site crawls 22 social platforms from Facebook, to Twitter, Google Blogs, Flickr, Delicious and a range of others. Through the collation of results the brand is then allocated a score on the basis of visibility across the social web.
Good for; The site provides a quick benchmarking tool to compare your “brands visibility” across social platforms with competitors. It also provides a quantitative overview of your brand mentions as well as the ability to drill down results to access the results on each platform.
Not so good for: The brand visibility rating somewhat favours social networking video and image sites, and largely ignores social bookmarking / news sites with Delicious the only site considered as part of its visibility measurement portfolio.

www.samepoint.com
What does it do? Samepoint positions itself as a conversation search engine, tracking the social landscape. Samepoint indexes everything from groups, microblogs, social networks, reviews, wikis, documents, videos and more.
Good for; The site provides positive and negative sentiment measures for conversations and mentions across an array of social channels. In addition the site pinpoints the most recent conversations / activity for your brand.
Not so good for; The site has a large index across network platforms such as LinkedIn & Facebook as well as good coverage of FriendFeed and blogs, however the site seems to lack coverage of social bookmarking sites.

Apart from the above, there is an array of other tools available. Check out the video below:

Are there any free tools you have found useful to monitor social media activities? If so share them below

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5 Considerations For A Web Analytics Implementation

Site Resource and Tools

After managing 2 web analytics implementations, I am beginning to lose patience with the leading web analytics providers in the industry. Over-promising and under-delivering is not uncommon and it seems the many marketing professionals have had similar experiences.

So is it all worth it?

The answer is yes and no, as the value web analytics can offer depends on your organisations needs. If for instance your organisation is in need of basic website statistics such as visitor numbers, traffic sources stats and basic conversion data, then an expensive product is not worth the investment. As a free tool, the value of Google Analytics is hard to ignore and it is even giving the larger Web Analytics companies a run for their money. However for large organisations investing significantly within their online channel, then web analytics is an important investment.

Thus before you make the investment in web analytics, I have detailed 5 of my most important tips to make your implementation as smooth as possible.

Keep some money in the kitty

Complex analytics implementations never go to plan. Even if a detailed specification is created prior to implementation it is likely that during the implementation process, unforeseen issues will emerge. Common issues can include;
– tracking inconsistencies post code implementation
– unforeseen difficulties to integrating web analytics within your existing site architecture
– realisation that an important metric/report has been overlooked during the scoping phase
All of the above can stretch the scope of the project and incur additional costs thus ensure that you have put aside some additional cash to cover these costs.

Ask for the expert

Project Manager
To ensure your organisation benefits from industry best practice, request a technical consultant / project manager from the analytics provider who has experience in your sector. Although analytics providers are unable to provide you with competitor intelligence, they can provide insight into how to customise your implementation to provide you state of the art reporting for your sector, to get the most out of the investment in the product.

Negotiating Your Test Period

It is not uncommon for complex implementations to take several months to perfect reporting. In the meantime your organisation is usually shelling out the monthly subscription fee even though you do not have access to any accurate reporting that is of value. Thus it is important to ensure where possible that you negotiate a grace period to give your organisation enough time to get it up and running.

Don’t overlook the value adds

Sophisticated web analytics products have very powerful functionality however not all organisations are blessed with web analytics specialists to drive the value from their systems. As a result there are 2 key value added products that should be considered. The first is the various training modules offered by the organisations themselves. Whilst the second is the use of consultancy services which enables organisations to leverage specialist knowledge from the analytics provider to create more advanced reporting and solve additional business reporting needs.

Do Your Homework

Google Analytics– Request a trial log in to visually see how some of the reports are displayed – there are differences between platforms thus this will provide you with a very good picture of the pros and cons of each analytics interface.
– Build a requirements checklist and have the web analytics provider present an online demonstration of how their system will measure and report on key indicators within the reporting environment. Running through a simple checklist about the systems reporting capabilities is not enough, viewing the systems capabilities will ensure there are no surprises post implementation.

Not all web analytics products were created equal. Before your organisation decides on the most suitable web analytics product, it is very important to ensure that it is fit for purpose. Once implementation is complete, it is both costly and difficult to switch providers thus the investment of your time during the initial tender process is crucial to deliver a position final result. Some of key recommendations I would make are;

I hope these tips are useful for those considering a web trends implementation. If you have experience in implementations and have some additional tips, please add them below.

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It’s Time To Get Serious About Online Retailing in Australia

Online Retailing in Australia

With Australians spending more time online than ever, the cost of broadband falling and speed improving something big is going to happen. The digital industry and in particular online retailing is about to explode in Australia, but not before some of the big retailers get serious about the opportunity.

This article reviews 3 sub-sectors of online retailing – groceries, consumer electronics and fashion – to identify the true opportunity for these segments in Australia.

Groceries

Current State of Play;
According to Aus Food News approximately 5 per cent of Australians will purchase groceries and food online, making it the second least likely category – only ahead of furniture and homewares. Compare these figures to the UK, which is at 19%, and it is easy to see how far this segment is behind other global markets. What’s more in the UK, grocery shopping is now the largest online shopping sector – representing 31% of total online sales.

The opportunity
Whilst the portion of Australians purchasing groceries online is small, the opportunity is a lucrative one. However spending time on both Woolworths and Coles sites demonstrates some of the issues with the current online offerings. In particular delivery times of up to 4 hours, site loading times and the general user experience is hindering the growth of this market. And for the grocery market, usability will be a critical success factor. Those between the ages of 44 and 54 are the most likely group to purchase groceries online, with about 10 per cent willing to do so. However as this age group have not grown up with technology an interface that is simple to navigate is key.

Additional barriers which need to be considered are those pertaining to concerns over quality and freshness which is a deterrent for online grocery shopping. This is of particular importance for Woolworths whom prides itself on quality of produce.

Consumer Electronics

Consumer ElectronicsCurrent State of Play;
If there is one sector which should have smiles ear to ear about its online potential it is the consumer electronics sector. A survey by Deloitte found that 23% of Australian would buy consumer electronics online. In addition year on year growth in search volumes (refer below) for related categories demonstrate that consumers are spending an increasing amount of time searching for consumer electronics online.

Search Volumes
• Laptop-related queries were 54% higher in March 09, compared with March 08.
• Consumer Electronics-related queries were 54% higher in March 09, compared with March 08.
(Stats from Google, Mar 09)

The opportunity
Despite the statistics at least one big brand is yet to be convinced about the potential of the online channel. In a recent interview, JB Hi-Fi’s CEO stated that the online store only contributes 1% of total sales and this will not change anytime soon. Thus although there are many positive signs does this sector have potential if one of the largest players is not able to monetize the online channel?

The JB Hi-Fi example is one online store of many that will in the coming years not live up to expectations. This is not because the online channel is not a lucrative proposition but the online experience lacks strong execution to provide the user with a unique online value proposition and user experience.

In the current economic downturn, consumers more than ever are looking online to secure the best price for electronics thus now more than ever the consumer electronics sector should be experiencing growth online. However to be successful brands need to provide valuable content to allow consumers to compare and contrast prior to making the decisions and review their experience post purchase. Without this, these high involvement decisions will continue to drive consumers in-store or to competitor sites so they can obtain the information they desire to make decisions.

In addition, there is a growing global trend which sees many consumers put the item on-hold online and pick it up in store. This trend is one which could significantly benefit both consumers and the brand in the electronics sector. This strategy provides consumers with the reassurance they need instore before making the final transaction and enables brands to understand the true value driven through their online store.

Fashion

Current State of Play
In the UK, online clothing and fashion represents 21% of all online purchases and in the past year online sales have grown 17% despite the overall sectors decline. Closer to home though, statistics about size of market or consumers intent to buy online are more difficult to come by. If however Google search volumes combined with overseas success provide any indication about the market potential, the clothing and apparel segment is set for solid growth.

Online ShoppingAustralian Search Volumes
• Shopping-related queries were 22% higher in March 09, compared with March 08
• Apparel-related queries were 34% higher in March 09, compared with March 08
• Queries for Clothing labels and designers were 29% higher in March 09, compared with March 08
(Stats from Google, Mar 09)

The opportunity
For clothing labels to be successful online there are some hurdles that must be overcome and if done effectively, the organisations that do so could reap the rewards.
The big difficulty for online clothing retailers is the inability for consumers to touch or try on the product. To combat this one of the critical success factors is return policies to enable consumers to minimise the risk. However that said, some items should be easier to retail online than others. Items such as night ware or repeat purchase lingerie should benefit from the opportunity if the online experience is a good one. That said even in this category, some of the major retailers a missing a trick.

Above all else, my personal belief is that the potential of the Australian online retailing industry lies in the hands of the retailers themselves. Without a range of online stores from the larger/trusted brands across the online retailing segment, Australians are not empowered to shop online. So before organisations judge the true potential it is important that the appropriate investment is made in both the website and online promotion and that the critical success factors are clearly defined. Get this right and for most brands – online retailing will add another profitable channel to the existing bricks and mortar establishment.

Do you have an opinion on the opportunity of online retailing in Australia, if so please add your comment below.

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Online Ad Industry Stats & Forecasts

It is widely publicised that the Australian public are spending an increasing amount of time on the web, however the pace at which Australian organisations are turning to advertise on the web is still somewhat slow.

According to the IAB the Australian online advertising industry in 2008 achieved revenues of $1.7 billion and is expected to achieve $2 billion in 2009. However the Australian advertising industry as a whole is estimated to be worth approx $13 billion thus online advertising only represents 13% of entire spend, whilst TV still represents 30% of overall spend.

Despite the lower than expected investment in online advertising, the market is continuing to show growth whilst other sectors are experiencing decline in these more challenging economic times.

This article explores the current trends and my forecasts for the online advertising market;

Online Advertising Spend in Australia

Share of Market: 51.2% in Q1 2009

Key market statistics
• Analysis by Frost and Sullivan in late 2008 demonstrated that 75% of advertisers now spend more than 10% of total media spend on search related activities. This represents 10% growth in the past 12 months in Australia.
• Keyword sponsorship presents 51% of the total search spend, 30% is spent on directory advertising and 19% of is spent on contextual search.

Future Forecasts

Trend 1 – In-house Management
A survey in early 2009 revealed that fewer advertisers were satisfied with their returns from PPC. As the market will continue to expand, PPC costs will continue to rise and organisations will begin to seek ways to improve their return. This will result in a higher portion of organisations bringing their paid search function in house.

Trend 2 – Contextual Search Growth
The contextual search market will continue to grow as a result of key market drivers which are;
1) Google continues to grow its inventory and capabilities for its third party portfolio of sites providing a low cost alternative search product to increase audience reach
2) Organisations will continue to invest in CPC advertising models rather than CPM.

Display Advertising

Share of Market: 24.9% of the total online advertising spend in Australia.

CPC Display AdvertisingThe market in detail
The largest sectors consuming display advertising are; Finance, Computers & Communications and Motor Vehicles which comprise of 46 percent of the General Display spending.

The lack of investment from the retail sector online is clearly displayed in this category. In Australia retail is the largest advertising category representing 20% of all expenditure – however it does not feature prominently within the display category.

Future Forecasts

Trend 1 – CPC Display Advertising
Overall display advertising will have a bumpy road ahead. Overall display advertising will grow inline with online advertising growth however, it will retain a smaller portion of the market than currently held. Why? Advertisers seek to invest in online advertising that will deliver against financial metrics rather than soft measures. As a result of lower than expected growth and competition from Google’s contextual advertising product, some platform will emerge with a new CPC model.

Trend 2 – Social Advertising
In the coming years display advertising in Australia will evolve to incorporate social tools to allow greater interaction with ads and enable users to share them across the web improving reach and ROI.

Trend 3 – Social Networking Display Advertising
Display advertising across social networks will grow substantially over the coming years as brands attempt to tap into the social phenomenon.

Classifieds

Share of Market: 23.9% in Q1 2009.
Anticipated Future Growth of Market; The classifieds segment is anticipated to grow by 18% in both 2009 and 2010. This growth is mainly due to the continued shift from offline to online media in the real estate and automotive sectors. The recruitment classifieds market which represents 45% of the total market will experience decline in the coming years due to the decline in advertising caused by the recession.

The market in detail
• The fastest growing online classifieds sector in 2008 was real estate which experienced 38 percent growth.
• Automotive was the second fastest growing sector, increasing by 31 percent.
• General and personal online classifieds advertising, accounts for 10% of online classifieds, and will experience the slowest growth due to the relative maturity of these markets.

Future Forecasts
Trend 1 – Recruitment Sector Fragmentation & Evolution

The recruitment market is starting to experience fragmentation and this will gather pace over the coming years. In addition we will continue to see the introduction of vertical niche job sites. These trends will drive user uptake of aggregator sites to simplify the job hunting process.

In addition to the above recruitment advertising platforms and professional networking sites will evolve and hybrids will begin to become the norm. With this trend we could see a change in the revenue model of recruitment sites – which could involve candidate charges to access networks, or even pay per response models.

Mobile AdvertisingMobile Advertising

Share of Market: .5% of the total advertising market in Australia.
Value of Market: $7 million
Anticipated Future Growth: Mobile advertising is expected to surge to $20 million in 2009 and $250 million by 2013 according to Telyste.

Spend By Sector
In 2007, 50% of mobile advertising spend was concentrated among media and entertainment, banking, financial services and insurance industries, the report found.

Trend – Migration of Budgets
As penetration of the iPhone and Android continues in Australia, the most innovative sectors will invest in this channel – particularly those that can benefit from location based advertising. As a result we may see the migration of local search budgets to the mobile platform.

If you have any additional online advertising statistics or see any additional trends please share them below.

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