Useful Australian Digital Stats – Q2

Australian Digital Trends Q2

Quarter 2 has been quieter on the Australian digital research and trends front but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been able to find some interesting statistics to share with you. I have compiled 15 of the most interesting Australian digital statistics released in Q2 of 2009. To view the 20 most interesting Australian digital statistics for Q1 click here.

Online Behaviour (General & Industry Specific)

A recent study by Monash’s Australian Centre for Retail Studies revealed 50% of Australian shoppers investigate their purchases online before going in store to make their purchase. –Dynamic Business

According to the ABS, Australian household internet consumption has increased 37 fold in 8 years

Australians aged 16 – 17 are spending 3.5 hours online per day – The Age

A new survey has revealed that 56% of Australian teenagers lie about themselves when they are online, with most teens faking their age – Full Story

According to Nielsen statistics, 87 per cent of Australians looking for real estate are using the web to find properties – News

Australians are among the biggest users of online banking in the world with more than 50 per cent of customers using internet banking at least once a week.

Social Media MarketingSocial Media

In the year to April, visits to social networking and forum sites increased by 16% in Australia, whilst visits to blogs dropped by 27.5% – Stuff

In Australia, there are 850,000 to 900,000 people on LinkedIn, and about 15 per cent of those are HR people or recruiters – News

Facebooks user base has hit over 6 million Australians – The Age

In June the MySpace subscriber base using their mobile to access the platform was revealed to be 340,000 strong in Australia – bandt

Australians are believed to be viewing 85 million MySpace pages per month via mobile phones, with each visit lasting between 11 and 15 minutes – bandt

Search

Since the launch of Bing, Microsoft’s search share in Australia has increased. Stats for the week finishing 4th July show Bing.com has 5.02% share, compared with 3.91% in late April – Hitwise

Head of Online at Google revealed in June some of the growth areas in search queries were – Accounting and tax-related search queries are 63 percent higher this year than last. Mobile queries are 82 percent higher this year than last. Office supplies searches are 36 percent higher in 2009. – Dynamic Business

Online Radio & TV

A report released in Apr 09, showed digital radio consumption had grown from 4.2 hours in 2007 to 4.9 hours in 2008 – Nielsen Online

According to Nielsen, 47% of metropolitan internet users have viewed TV content online or downloaded it, whilst 12% had done so frequently – Nielsen Online

Do you have any other interesting statistics to share on the Australian digital market? If so please share 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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Is Your Website Ready?

Web Distribution Channels

Many Australian retailers are beginning to realise the importance of the web as a distribution channel and lucrative revenue stream. Only a few organisations are currently benefiting from an early adopter advantage in the online marketplace whilst the masses are still in the starting blocks paralysed by their lack of website investment. Hitwise research confirmed this trend in August 2008 when it highlighted that in the Australian marketplace pure play online businesses are streaks ahead of the competition in the online space.

The Facts – Online Consumer Spending in Australia

If your organisation is yet to be convinced by the opportunity, the following statistics demonstrate the value of an online distribution channel;
– Australian shoppers spent an average of $1,097 buying products online in 2008, with the forecast for 2009 set to defy the offline recessionary trends.
– Despite the current economic conditions, online spending in Australia is set to increase by 12 percent in 2009.
– According to IBIS World, online retailing is forecasted to be $15.8 billion in Australia. In 2006, online retailing was $11 billion – which equates to 44% growth in 3 years.

Getting Ahead the CompetitionGetting Ahead of The Competition

If your organisation clearly understands the opportunity and is looking to seize the potential of the online channel, it is important that you are not only playing catch up. To be successful your organisation will need to build a presence that will outperform the influx of new competition that I believe is on the horizon in the next 12 months.

I have detailed 3 of the most important considerations below that I feel are pertinent for successful websites wishing to gain drive significant levels of revenue from the online channel over the coming years.

Portability

Portability relates to the ability for site users to take your content and move it into their own online environment. As the internet has evolved users are becoming accustom to the many social tools available to share content freely. Thus it is important for organisations to determine how their consumers and the brand can benefit from content portability. At a very basic level content can be made portable through social bookmarking or by offering code for videos or blog articles that users can embed into their own blog or online environment to share with their network. As a more advanced approach, sites may create widgets (that deliver content) which can be placed on users social network pages or start up pages ie iGoogle or PageFlakes. This type of strategy provides users with more frequent brand exposure and provides the opportunity for organisations to benefit from viral distribution of content through user networks.

Personalisation

With Australian consumers spending an increasing amount of time on the web and less time on corporate sites, personalisation of the web experience is of increasing importance.
Personalisation is not a new concept but its lack of deployment has left most sites with a static and unengaging experiences. The BBC.co.uk demonstrates outstanding innovation in this field enabling users to create their own personalised home page. As the site is built with widgets users can re-arrange it to inline with their “news preferences” thus users are served with the content they want to see – boosting interactivity and engagement on the site. Personalisation also extends to delivering tailored content based on a users onsite behaviour.
But personalisation does not need to be so elaborate, serving users with content or products based on a users profile, geographic location or prior transactional history is a step in the right direction for many static sites. In addition organisations can use basic cookies to remember previous search queries so users are not faced with repetitious tasks like continually specifying their search query. Sometimes these subtle differences can make a world of difference when it comes to improving the user experience.

Community & Collaboration

Web Community CollaborationThe web is now characterised by many communities working collaboratively to share and exchange ideas and solve problems – so why can’t users do the same on your site. In the retail space, consumers rely on other consumer experiences to drive decision making for purchases. Many sites lose significant levels of traffic as users go in search of knowledge and assistance provided by the many opinions and reviews online. As a result it is important for organisations to consider how the community and collaboration element can be built into site architecture.

Does this mean you need to build a forum or integrate review functionality into your site? Not necessarily, for example many travel websites have benefited from integrating reviews from TripAdvisor into their site rather than building their own. The benefit of doing so is that many of these brands will never have the rich content offered by a leader in the travel review market. Brands which can integrate community elements or build partnerships to deliver this to its users will be able to add a further dimension of engagement which is needed to compete in the web 2.0 space.

Do you have any additional trends that you wish to share, why not do so below.

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Improving Your User Experience With Onsite Search

Webs Search Onsite

With 11.8 million Australian searches conducted per month on Google, my guess is that users dependence on search engines is playing a major role in shaping our expectations for onsite search capabilities.

This is not to say that Google has created the optimal search function, on the contrary users still struggle to find what they are looking for. However there are some key learnings that we can take from Google to improve our onsite search capability which will be explored in this article. Along with this I have thrown in some others factors that are not always considered but can have a significant impact to improving onsite search.

What Google Has Taught Us

One of the key benefits of Google is its ability for users to conduct a search and results are returned instantly. This has made us a nation of impatient web users. Speed that rivals Google is of course unattainable for many but it is very important to benchmark processing speeds in your sector to ensure that your onsite search function is performing better than your competitors.

Speed Did you mean?

Spelling MistakeIt’s one thing for users to type in a spelling mistake, but it is another for your site not to recognise that mistake. Google has spent a lot of time looking at this exact issue. Matt Cutts indicated in a recent article that approximately 10% of user search queries contain a spelling mistake.

So you may be thinking this is an obvious consideration. I conducted a search on 10 of the top 100 Australian sites as listed by Alexa and only 7 out of 10 had optimised their site for this issue. Of those that hadn’t 2 of them gave me hints to improve my search by checking my spelling in fine print. If I miss this I may just assume that these sites didn’t have what I was looking for.

The above rationale may not only be applied to spelling mistakes but also for acronyms.

Simple But Advanced If Needed

Users search differently and whilst some users like a quick search function to easily identify information of interest, others want to start with a more targeted/advanced search.

Google’s own Matt Cutts stated in a blog post late last year that many users do in fact click on their advanced search function demonstrating the importance of it. However even Google sometimes gets it wrong with many of its users defecting from the advanced search landing page. So what can we learn from Google;

1) It is important that naming conventions for search are self explanatory – don’t confuse your users before they have even hit the results page.
2) Too many search options can over-complicate the search function for your users. If you already have an advanced search function on your site review which fields are rarely used as this many assist you to refine your advanced search function.

For full details on Google’s advanced search page testing click here; http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/11/art-of-field-study.html

Other Onsite Search Tips

Google is not of course an e-commerce site, so to model your onsite search solely based on what works for search engines may negatively impact your user experience. Some additional considerations for onsite search are;

Managing Expectations

If your site needs to offer several search criteria or you have a niche offering, your users may often be faced with no results. Rather than allow user to be served with no results consider deploying techniques which enable them to determine how their search selections before the user reaches the results page. Carsales.com.au does this for its users when the visitor is selecting their make and model. To deploy such a technique requires a structured dataset however the benefit to users could outweigh the additional work involved and could increase site conversion.

Onsite SearchNo Results – Expand My Search

There is nothing more frustrating than conducting a search to be presented with few or no choices. And no matter how many products your site has, obscure user searches will always be under-catered for. Domain.com.au solves this issue well – if I search for properties in an area and there are no results based on the maximum price I have specified, Domain will provide results in surrounding areas within my price bracket. This is one way of approaching it, whilst another alternative is to provide hints to users ie if you expand “X” criteria you will receive “Y” results.

Don’t Make Me Repeat My Query

If as a user I have to come back to your site on several occasions and perform the same search query then a shortcut to my previous search is going to save me time – seek.com.au does this perfectly. This kind of functionality is useful for recruitment sites, property sites and possibly car sales sites where a user is regularly returning during a given timeframe to a search for new listings in a particular area in the case of property, or for a certain type of car or role.

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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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