digiCast – Social Shopping – Why It Will Take Off Down Under

Online Retailing

With social media cementing its position in our lives there is barely time for marketers to get their head around a new site/social channel before the next one is upon us.

Whilst social shopping is not a new concept it is yet to reach the mass adoption of other social media channels. However it seems that this is all set to change.

New to social shopping? What is it all about?

Social shopping websites/networks leverage the community and relationship aspects of social media to enable consumers to share, discuss and rate retail products.

Why will it take off now?

The online influence

Online retailing is just one of the booming digital sectors in Australia and whilst not all activity in this sector directly results in online sales – the influence of the internet in the decision making process cannot be ignored;

Research from the Australian Centre for Retail Studies (January 2008) showed that 50 per cent of Australian shoppers had researched their products online before heading into a store to complete their purchase.

Retail Search Behaviour

In addition many sectors are experiencing significant growth in search queries which depict the growing interest to research and or buy retail products online. So which sub-sectors are sparking interest on the web?

According to Google in a recent press release;
• Shopping-related queries were 22% higher in March 2009, compared with March 2008 Apparel-related queries were 34% higher in March 2009, compared with March 2008
• Queries for Clothing labels and designers were 29% higher in March 2009, compared with March 2008

Online Retail CustomersOnline Retail Spending Trends

If like most trends we are behind our US & UK counterparts, online shopping is set to grow in Australia. Online shopping comprises almost 7 per cent of all purchases in the British department store segment and 8 per cent in the US, IBISWorld figures show. In Australia, online shopping is worth less than 3 per cent of department store sales. However according to IBISWorld, online retailers will grow by 4.3 per cent per annum over the next five years, providing much-needed good news to the fashion industry.
Part of this trend is driven by the economic downturn which is driving more Australians to turn to the internet to source bargains through research and price comparisons rather than buying on impulse. However part of this is also driven by the increasing amount of time users spend online.

What sites are out there?

There are already many social shopping networks and bookmarking sites that are popping up. I have detailed some of the popular sites for you however this is becoming a popular space and there are many other alternatives;

Very popular on a global scale Kaboodle attracts more than 12 million visitors per month. Kaboodle is a social shopping network where users can discover new products and recommend items to their friends.

According to Alexa, Kaboodle sits within the top 1000 sites in Australia. 1.6% of their total monthly visitors are from Australia which equates to nearly 200,000 Australian visitors per month.

Online Shopping BookmarkerStyleFeeder

StyleFeeder is said to be more of a social bookmarking service for shopping to enable users to bookmark items of interest and gain ratings from their friends.

According to Forrester Style Feeder generates 1.2 million unique visitors per month, of which 1.8% are from Australia – representing approx 22,000 unique Australian visitors per month.


ThisNext positions its site as a shopcasting network to discover and broadcast a users interest in products. According to Alexa, Australian traffic to thisnext was approx 45,000 in September of 2008 and given the sites growth this number could be substantially higher.


Tribesmart is a social shopping community which has a strong emphasis on product reviews as well as offering the opportunity to gain user opinions and have discussion with tribes. Accordingly to Alexa Australians represent a total of 10.6% of the sites total traffic. In December 2008 the site only generated 42,000 unique visitors thus only 4,200 Australians visited – however I have listed it as one to watch given the portion of Australian users.

So what opportunities exist?

If you are managing an eCommerce site in Australia and are new to social shopping the first step is to start to observe community behaviour and interests to determine which site/s are best for your target audience.

These sites offer many benefits to marketers from more traditional online opportunities such as affiliate programs and online advertising, through to other benefits derived from social media platforms such as group development, ability to demonstrate specialist knowledge in niche product categories through Q&A type functions, product feedback gathering along with gaining market intelligence to identify future/upcoming trends.

If you have experimented with social shopping sites, or want to add an additional popular social shopping site for Australians why not share your thoughts below.

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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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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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A Closer Look At A Social Opportunity

Social Media Marketing

March has been dominated by Australian research reports suggesting that we Aussies have an obsession with social media.

Which sites are most popular?

According to Alexa, social media sites are dominating the top 100 Australian sites. In particular 20% of sites within the top 20, are of a social media kind.

Here is a summary of the results;
Facebook Position 3
YouTube Position 6
MySpace Position 11
Flickr Position 18
Bebo Position 21
Photobucket Position 32
Friendster Position 81
Twitter Position 89

A closer look

Social networking sites are definitely a winner with the Australian population. According to the Digital Life Survey one in every two Australians use social networking sites. In particular consumption is as high as 91% for those between the age of 15 – 19. In addition on average Australian’s are members of 2.7 different social networking sites which is above the world average of 2.5.

Facebook & MySpace continue to dominate the landscape with Facebook attracting 4,682,000 unique visitors in December 2008, compared with just 2,362,000 for MySpace. However investment in Australia by Friendster, shows dedication and aspirations for growth thus this is one to watch.

Twitter is also definitely a surprise – with all of the hype around the site it is surprising that it has only just snuck into the Top 100.

But I wouldn’t discount it just yet. From January to February 2009 Twitter’s Australian user base has grown by 100,000 (67%) moving it to the mainstream. Given this growth it is no doubt Twitter will have significant reach by years end.

Social Networking Sites 2009Are brands doing enough with social media?

An article recently published on the Sydney Morning Herald website stated that Corporate Australia must try harder to tap into social tools. However if you are new to social media this can be somewhat daunting.

Some words to the wise;

For those fairly new to social media, a good place to start is to listen. Traditional marketing is dominated by one way dialogue and Web 2.0 has opened the channels of communication BUT before engaging in conversation start by observing. Through observation an organisation can gauge the key theme’s emerging on both their brand and in the industry and also determine where online your brand is being discussed. From there you can map the type of content being discussed and the key sites being utilised to discuss your industry/brand. This will then allow you to create a strategy for areas which require the most attention or where you can create the biggest impact.

Not Just Another Channel

If you do wish to delve into social media marketing it is important to understand the different dynamics of this channel and not to simply use the channel to push marketing messages. The very nature of social media is the facilitation of conversations and relationships thus it is important to ensure there is mutual benefit derived for both parties.

Know what you are getting yourself into

It is important that organisations considering social media marketing, are prepared to invest time in this area. Social media marketing is not a short term strategy, it takes time to build trust and relationships with your target market and this is not usually gained overnight.

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Marketing in the Downturn – Part 1

Online Marketing

With Australia’s likelihood to ride out the global economic crises now looking bleak, the belts are tightening and marketers are starting to feel the pressure to deliver more results with fewer resources.

So just how can you get more from less? This is a 2 part series designed to provide online marketers and business owners with some food for thought to get more from less.

Part 1 features tips within the digital advertising and promotional space.

1. Changing The Advertising Model

Faced with a downturn, many organisations look to cut spending in areas that they see as “non essential”. One of the first areas to come under scrutiny is advertising. As however approximately 1/3 of companies cut their spending during a downturn, this is one of the best times to increase spending to win market share.

Stephen King, a pioneer in the area of online advertising found “businesses that cut their advertising expenditures in a recessionary period lose no less in terms of profitability than those who actually increase spending by an average of 10 per cent.” In other words, cutting advertising spend to increase short term profits doesn’t seem to work.

How can organisations leverage advertising in this climate to get more from less?

1) Negotiate Everything: Publishers will be feeling the pinch and will be looking to offload inventory. This is therefore the ideal time to be negotiating hard as rate card prices are slashed.
2) Pay For Response; Google is driving the demand from marketers to move to a pay per click/response model. If you need to ensure your spend is going to deliver results then seek out advertising solutions whose pricing is based on a response or options that guarantee some sort of return..

2. Anyone for Contra?

With businesses feeling the pinch, many companies will be looking for new opportunities to achieve their marketing and business objectives. Partnerships can open up new opportunities for promotion at a low cost. Identify firms that offer a service or goods that would complement yours and then approach the organisation to discuss promotional opportunities that can be exchanged – whether that be promoting the partner through your newsletter, a small ad on your site or any other opportunity you may be able to offer.

3. Web 2.0

Content MarketingThere are numerous free promotional channels on the internet which can be exploited – from social and professional networking sites, micro-blogging sites and business forums.

If your organisation is in the B2B sector consider how you can build your profile through the array of networking sites. Use LinkedIn’s Q&As section to build your/your business’ reputation in a given specialisation through answering questions. Or if you provide services to small businesses, there are an array of Australian forums dedicated to this segment – why not write an informative piece and post it on the relevant sites.

If you are in the B2C market, consider if your brand could benefit from providing regular updates via twitter. Sectors which are experiencing a strong following include;
• Publishing sites like SkyNews, News.com.au & TechWired all with nearly 400 followers,
• Not for profit sector like WWF (over 800 followers) & Amnesty International
• Travel and leisure segment like Tourism Queensland (734 followers) and STA Travel (177 followers)
• Education sector seem to be having some early success with RMIT having over 300 followers.

Alternatively you may feel that a blog can provide useful content to engage your prospects & existing consumers and also assist your SEO efforts. Best of all you can download free blogging software from both www.blogger.com & www.wordpress.org

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