Online Retailing – Unfashionable Down Under

About a year ago I first broached the topic of the lack of digital investment by Australian retailers, and 1 year on it seems whilst we have progressed we are still falling further behind the digital 8 ball. This trend seems to ring true – particularly within the fashion sector whereby Australia is hemorrhaging online sales to overseas counterparts.

Online Australian Consumers Wont Wait For Fashion Retailers

Online Retail WebsiteAccording to stats released by the online retailers conference in Australia more than 45 per cent of all online retail sales are currently going offshore from Australia. This compares with just 14 per cent in 2005. And whilst fashion is not the only segment whereby Aussie retailers are missing out to overseas competition, it seems that international fashion retailers are actively pursuing Australian consumer $$$$ and are rubbing their hands together in the process.

According to a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald, several British and US retailers have exploited the lack of investment in eCommerce fashion in Oz. In April, the British online designer boutique Asos.com listed Australia as its fourth-strongest international market behind the US Denmark and France and Net-a-Porter also lists Australia as ”one of its biggest international markets”. Whilst America’s Revolveclothing.com says Australia is its third biggest market outside the US.
It therefore seems Australian consumers have a healthy appetite for buying fashion online and are going abroad because of the lack of choice in the local market.

Can Clothing Retailers Afford Not To Do It?

Many Australian fashion retailers are still yet to realise the value in online retailing, however there are a select few that have made an investment in the space and are deriving significant value from their online stores. Witchery, for example, lists its online store as its fourth most profitable outlet, out of 80 stores nationally. And Mimco, which is owned by Witchery Holdings, ranks its online store as its 10th most successful, with turnover of about $90,000 a month.

However it is not only profitability and revenue that is delivering value for brands. Online stores have provided brands such as Guess and Sportsgirl with the ability to reach out to consumers in cities and towns that are not close by to bricks and mortar outlets;

Simon Nankervis, Managing Director of busbrands which owns the rights to Guess in Australia said about 80% of the sales within the past week have been from areas where Guess does not operate a retail location, and he wants it to stay that way. “This is being done by consumers where there is no retail location, such as the Northern Territory, or like in other parts of Western Australia as we only have one store in Perth.”

The Threat Of Inaction

online fashion retailForrester Research predicts Australian online spending will grow to $32 billion by 2012, with further evidence to suggest that this could just be the beginning. Figures from IBISWorld show that online sales may eventually reach $75 billion as more retailers increase the efficiency and reliability of their online channels.

Fashion retailers need to realise that getting the right mix for success is not an easy task in the online world and fashion retailers need to be ramping up their online stores now to;

1) Gain a larger slice of the current consumer online fashion spend
2) Ensure that they are well established to capitalise on the future revenue opportunity which is presenting itself.
Inaction is not an option – if eCommerce and digital strategies do not become fashionable for Australian clothing retailers soon, the brands that do not move with the times maybe left behind like last seasons unpopular lines.
What are your thoughts on the lack of eCommerce investment by Australia’s fashion retailers?

Article References
www.smartcompany.com.au/retail/20100217-fashion-brand-guess-opens-web-store-in-bid-to-expand-retail-reach.html+online+fashion+retailing+australia&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au
http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/new-york-london-paris-prized-labels-just-a-click-away-20100515-v5j7.html
http://www.insideretailing.com.au/Latest/tabid/53/ID/8174/Aussie-retail-dollars-head-overseas.aspx

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SEO Roundtable / Conversation Cafe in Melbourne

SEO Marketing

If you currently working in an SEO role or in the digital space and are interested in joining a discussion about the state of the search market in Australia then this event could be for you. As one of the facilitators at the SEO roundtable in Melbourne being held by Internet Retailing, it would be great to see a range of client side and agency SEO / marketing professionals at the event!

Running for a 2 hour period (from 6 – 8pm), this event aims to bring people together to discuss the latest techniques being used to improve organic search results. If you are interested in coming along please visit the URL below.

Hope to see you there.

http://www.internetretailing.com.au/learn-about-seo.html

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To app or not to app?

When devising a strategy for the mobile space, marketers are faced with many questions but one of the questions on the tip of marketers tongues is should I invest in an iPhone application? With iPhone popularity at all time high in Australia, building an iPhone application seems to be a no brainer however before you jump into the app space here is some food for thought on the app market.

The facts about applications

Mobile appsOver the past few years iPhone developers have been busy developing iPhone applications and as a result more than 140,000 iPhone applications are now available from the Apple apps store and these have been downloaded over 3 billion times. In 2010 the onslaught of iPhone application development is only set to accelerate with more than 300,000 applications to be in the apps store by years end. And whilst application supply is high so is demand. In December 2009, app store users downloaded an average of 4.8 applications – ¼ of which are paid.

Considerations for app marketing

1. Not all apps are created equal

With this level of interest and activity it would seem at first glance that an iPhone application can be a very lucrative opportunity. Building an iPhone application however can be an expensive exercise therefore brands need to ensure that investment in the channel will deliver results . Similar to video not all applications are created equal, and with over 140,000 applications in the app store how is your branded app going to stand out from the crowd?

The BigOven application is one example of a successful app which received over 2 million downloads globally, however many struggle to get a few hundred downloads. Thus if you are considering to invest in an application there is a lot more to it than simply replicating your website to ensure you gain value from your investment. Consider how your app is going to get people talking, how app functionality can add value / augment the brand experience and how to leverage technology such as GPS to deliver a unique offering.

2. Consumers APPetite

Whilst cut through is difficult for any marketer, it doesn’t mean that application marketing cannot produce value. One of the key reasons organisations should consider investment in an application is that a portion of your audience will prefer to interact with your brand via an app whilst others prefer access via a mobile site. By failing to invest in an application, even if you have a mobile site, you maybe failing to appeal to a portion of your audience and this could be impact your mobile reach. Thus to make an informed decision brands need to understand their audience behaviour and mobile usage before making crucial mobile development decisions.

How new smartphones could revolutionise the application market.

SmartphonesiPhone’s popularity in Australia is hard to ignore but what many marketers may be unaware of is the battle brewing between iPhone and Android. Globally (according to AdMob), Google’s Android operating system has overtaken iPhones share in the smartphone market for the 1st time but will this occur locally? A recent survey I performed indicated users next mobile phone decision is strongly swayed towards iPhone, however there are other factors that could make the outcome of the next handset choice very different.

Android is working with a lot of the major carriers / handset manufacturers in Australia and globally to secure marketshare. Telstra is one that is launching its HTC desire, and to ensure a successful launch they have crowdsourced 26 social reviewers to blog on its launch. Also sitting on the android platform is Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X10, which arrived on the Vodafone and Three networks in May, whilst last month saw the launch of Motorola Dext on the Android platform as well.
So not only do marketers need to toss up the value of iPhone applications, they need to be consider if the application will be accessible via multiple app stores.

Operating System Share in US

 

What are your thoughts on application marketing? Have you had success with an iPhone strategy? If so share it below.

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9 Ways Australian Brands Are Leveraging Twitter In Different Ways

Twitter Campaign

Twitter SearchTwitter, within a few short years, has grown to be one of the leading social sites in Australia and the world. In Australia alone, Twitter receives more than 1.2 million unique visitors a month, providing a solid avenue for organisations to connect, engage and build relationships with new and existing consumers. However having a presence on Twitter is harder than just creating a profile and tweeting about how great your product is. Inspired by Brian Solis, 21 Twitter Tips , this article reviews how Australian organisations are adopting some of the different strategies he covers in his article.

If your brand is yet to have a Twitter profile hopefully this article provides you with some useful food for thought. Or if you have a profile but need to refine the strategy this article may provide clarity on the techniques that you could adopt to create a very useful and engaging Twitter experience in 140 characters.

Special Offers

Globally @DellOutlet has generated over $3 million in revenue through Twitter and Facebook via offers. Locally it seems that special offer strategies are one of the most popular tactics to use for a Twitter profile. @VirginBlue, @JetstarAirways and @tigerairwaysaus have established significant followings through their Twitter accounts. And it seems that it is paying off for at least some of them. In 2009 @JetstarAirways offered 1,000 seats for two cents – and sold out in hours (no wonder why). And in August, Jetstar announced a new route launch using Twitter with a “free seats” offer for its new Sydney-Melbourne services. As a result of its success Jetstar has announced a significant shift of its marketing budget towards social media in 2010.
However it is not just airlines that are leveraging the Twitter opportunity. EB Games currently has also adopted a similar approach by releasing special codes and discounts via their Twitter profile.

Word of Mouth Marketing

@Crust Pizza has been leveraging Twitter to spread the word about its pizza through its tweet promotion. Still running, this competition provides the opportunity for consumers to win free pizza on Friday by Tweeting – #CrustFreePizzaFriday. The competition is only open to Crust followers which I am sure has had a big impact on the growth of their number of followers which now stands at 2,530. Whilst quantifying the direct impact is difficult, the CEO of Crust is confident that the promotion has impacted their bottom line.

Customer Service

The Telco’s seem to be all over this one proactively seeking out unhappy customers and fielding direct client customer service issues. @VirginMobileAus is a great example of a brand monitoring the Twittersphere for unhappy customers and trying to right wrongs – see below.
eg @undisclosed Hiya, saw ur tweet RE: VM =( Is there anything I can do to sway ur impression? Pls DM, Thanks! =)

Crowdsourcing & FeedbackCrowdsourcing & Feedback

When Australia’s biggest realestate site re-launched their new platform they dedicated time to reviewing the feedback and actioning issues. And it seems they are not the only ones. Many Australian brands are reaching out to consumers to gauge feedback on websites including @WorldVisionAus @STATravel. However this is one strategy that I believe Australian brands could be using more of. Reaching out to a Twitter network for feedback on new offerings or crowdsourcing new ideas is a significant untapped resource and is a big opportunity for those in the online media / classifieds space as well as those in the fashion / retail space.

Information Networks

Information networks provide helpful alerts, notices and information to help followers avert problems or get up to the minute information. The obvious applications for such profiles include airlines and transport companies however few have taken advantage of this opportunity, however the AFL has. @AFL provides users with quarter by quarter updates on matches and tribunal results. In addition the AFL aggregates other club related information to keep footy fanatics completely up to date.

Employee Recruitment

Marketing to potential new staff through social media provides recruiters with a new way to seek referrals and applications for open positions at a lower cost and can enable brands to really reach out to brand advocates. Amongst other tweets, one of the core strategies for @WorldVisionAus is to do just that. Access their Twitter page and you will see recruitment is one of the core Twitter focuses.

Dedicated & Brand Channels

For some brands with multiple offerings, it is difficult to develop one dedicated profile and it also makes sense to establish exclusive channels or subchannels to share specific information and tap into a niche. @bigpondmovies & @bigpondmusic are examples of sub-brands adopting this kind of strategy. Although both are yet to build a significantly large following the profiles are tapping into niches to provide relevance and interact with users based on interest categories, which is a sensible strategy.

Aggregated Content & Topic Experts

Whilst this is a bit of a combination of Brian’s categories, it is one that has merit. Most organisations leverage Twitter to promote branded content and despite it being targeted and relevant there is a lot of value in aggregating and repackaging content on a particular topic / category of interest. @ABCnews is a good example of doing just this – it has adopted the branded channels strategy and combined it with aggregating content feeds from Twitter profiles to bring together a culmination of different views on the one topic. One good example of this is their @ABCnews/federal-parliament profile which aggregates content from Kevin Rudd, Joe Hockey, Malcolm Turnbull and a host of other MPs.

Supply Chain Relationships

Not only is Twitter providing ways to develop direct relationships with consumers, however it is also providing brands with the opportunity to connect with their distribution channel to ensure they are kept up to date with product updates as well as to motivate distributors and empower them to spread messages through their individual networks. Amway @amwayausnz is one such company doing just that. Mr Coldwell, Head of Operations stated in an article just yesterday that – the use of social media fitted well with the overall philosophy of the Amway group, which saw itself as a community builder as much as a retailer. Their Twitter strategy aims to reach out and recruit new distributors and communicate with existing ones – and with nearly 150 followers and plenty of interaction it seems that it is already making an impact.

If you are about to embark on a Twitter strategy I would highly recommend Brian Solis article – as it definitely provides a lot of avenues to consider before developing a Twitter strategy

Got any other examples you would like to share that fit into the categories above or Brian’s categories? If so please share them below (no doubt I have missed some great Australian organisations using Twitter in unique ways)

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How Offline Activity Presents Online Opportunity

Masterchef Australia

It is often said that retailers are yet to quantify the link between online browsing and offline purchases and it is these trends that are hindering investment in digital. However a similar relationship exists between offline activities and their ability to drive online visitors and conversions and I am not talking about in traditional offline campaigns.

Popular TV series like Masterchef are capturing audiences offline and their love and excitement of this show is being translate into online activity. However is your brand taking advantage of the hype?

How MasterChef Is Driving Online Activity

The latest series of Masterchef has taken Australia by storm with 1.69 million people tuning into the premier of the series. But it isn’t just this 1½ hour slot that people are tuning into daily. Search trends show that at present the terms “MasterChef” & “Master Chef” are attracting 400,000 searches per month online alone.

What is however interesting is when overlaying monthly trends with generic terms like recipes it is clear that increases in food related searches mirror that of searches for the Masterchef show. Combine this with a simple Twitter search for the term Masterchef and it is easy to see just how hooked Australians really are. However whilst this seems like an obvious trend, it seems few are translating this into their online strategy.

Translating Trends Into Traffic

Not every show on TV presents a MasterChef opportunity however following the trends could prove very lucrative online for many organisations who operate in a field related to the latest hit TV show.

At present I believe there is probably 2 or 3 opportunities going by the wayside – MasterChef being one of them. And whilst Coles seems to own the branding rights on MasterChef, there are still many online opportunities to take advantage of – particularly if you were one of Coles biggest rivals. One of the other notable opportunities would be Underbelly which had 2.2 million people tune in to its series premier. Such programs could drive searches and interest in Australian crimes movies and books which could prove particularly beneficial for brands such as Borders.

Online Tactics Not For The Faint Hearted

Online TVWhilst planning tactics and initiatives around popular shows is not a completely new, this is not only relevant to offline TV activity. The rise of social media has meant that real time search is becoming increasingly more important as consumers react to their surroundings and move online for instant information gratification related to shows or events or world news.

Earlier this year I covered this very topic in an article about real time search and highlighted how Amazon re-acted to Michael Jacksons demise – with a full micro-site and digital strategy up within hours of his death. As a result of their swift action Amazon had cashed in on the opportunity before their competitors had even considered how to leverage the opportunity.

To build strategies around “pop search & social media culture” is of course not an easy task and requires flexibility in systems, processes and also a change in mindset for planning and reacting to news and fads. However those that do will gain a distinct advantage over their competitors in the coming years and are more likely to gain an advantage over their competitors online.

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All a flutter about Twitter Promoted Tweets?

We have all heard the news, Twitter has launched a long awaited revenue/advertising model – Promoted Tweets. The first phase of trials have begun with a handful of brands that have embraced Twitter including Virgin America, Best Buys, Sony & Starbucks to name a few.

But is it the next Google Paid Search, or is everyone getting a flutter about nothing?

How do Promoted Tweets Work?

Without re-gurgitation all of the press circulating about the product, I will highlight some of the interesting innovations they claim to have made with their product (obviously as I have not tested it as an advertiser thus I cannot comment on this from first hand experience).

Promoted Tweets* Ads that form part of the conversation; Twitter’s ethos of building a great user experience has been at the centre of their strategy to date and they have used this to help guide their ad strategy. Rather than disrupt the user experience promoted tweets aim to naturally form part of the conversation. Twitter’s first step is to deliver promoted tweets at the top of search results however overtime Twitter plans to display “relevant Promoted Tweets in your timelines in a way that is useful to you.” – according to Biz Stone

* User Behaviour; Twitter’s promoted tweet system analyses user interaction to help determine whether or not to show these ads to the user moving forward. To quote Biz Stone;
We strongly believe that Promoted Tweets should be useful to you. We’ll attempt to measure whether the Tweets resonate with users and stop showing Promoted Tweets that don’t resonate. For it to resonate with a user they must reply to it, favorite it, or re-tweet it, if not the Promoted Tweet will disappear.

When is it occurring?

I have taken a quick poke around to catch a glimpse of when and how the ads are being triggered. I conducted several searches related to Starbucks and also Virgin America (that users might search on within Twitter) to gain an understanding of when they are featured. In particular however I want to highlight 2 of the outcomes of this experiment;

1. Coffee & Guns – Starbucks Promoted Tweets
One of the most topical issues for Starbucks at the moment is that related to people being allowed to carry guns within their stores. Their Facebook page features a lot of discussion around the topic as does Google news. This is obviously a very topical discussion as a search on Twitter will quickly reveal a lot of Twitter activity – however I note that the ad that is served by the new Promoted Tweets feature is irrelevant.

Twitter Ads

Another topical issue is that of Fairtrade coffee which when searched provides the same irrelevant ads.
This example whilst showing there is more work to do, does present a potential opportunity of the promoted tweet. Topical issues spread through social networks like wildfire. For brand who need to regain their voice in such circumstances like the “guns issue in starbucks” it could provide the platform to connect with their audience and the influencers.

The Verdict

It is obvious that the Twitter ad network is still in its infancy, although given that it has taken this long to develop a revenue model, I am sure the advertising industry was expecting something more exceptional. From the initial searching I conducted across not just Starbucks but other brands, it seems that at best these ads are relevant on a brand basis but not contextually targeted at all.

Unlike search advertising, Twitter’s new ad network has the potential to provide a very unique offering. Its underlying approach makes sense in a social environment ie factoring in user engagement and also attempting to integrate ads in the conversation rather than disrupt the user experience, however more work still needs to be done. In particular as real time search is increasing in size, a real time search strategy will become increasingly important for organisations.

At present 600 million Twitter searches are conducted every month and Twitter needs to provide brands with an opportunity to actively leverage this search volume in a useful way which does not currently exist (from what I have seen). They must do this however whilst building promoted tweets into the natural Twitter stream.

What are your thoughts on Twitters new advertising platform – would love to hear from others on this topic

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4 New Mobile, Video & Paid Search Tools & Innovations

Paid Search Marketing

Every day a new tool or innovation hits the market and sometimes it is difficult to keep up with them all. The performance advertising market, obviously dominated by Google, is one of the areas receiving a lot of attention and investment at present, thus I felt it appropriate to share some of the latest developments and new innovations in the sector in the past month alone.

1) Google Innovations Lab & Remarketing Tool

iAd Apple Mobile AdvertisingPaid search innovation for Google is increasing at a rapid pace as Facebook is set to nab $2 billion in advertising revenue from the search giant in the next 2 years. This combined with keyword inflation which is diminishing advertiser value is testing Google’s ability to continue to grow ad revenue. One way Google is attempting to drive innovation is through Google’s Innovations Lab. The lab provides a sneak peak into some of the new formats Google is offering, along with the ability to provide Google with feedback on the new formats. In particular one interesting new format is the Google remarketing tool – which allows advertisers to remarket to consumers by delivering tailored messages based on user onsite interaction.

For more information visit: http://www.google.com/ads/innovations/remarketing.html

2) Mobile Phone Application Targeting – Google & Apple

In February Google announced its new mobile app targeting in Australia, which allows advertisers to target specific mobile apps through their content network. However it seems that a not so likely competitor is set to take it to the search giant in the mobile advertising space. Apple is expected to launch its ad network on the 7th of April – likely to be termed iAd. At this stage it is unclear if the network will provide app advertising, or other ad formats on the iPhone however what is clear is that with mobile search and advertising still growing the battle to own the mobile advertising market is sure to be a battle of the titans.

3) YouTube In Video Display Ads

Although invideo ads were introduced onto the YouTube scene in 2007, YouTube has released a new tool through Google AdWords to allow advertisers to create animated invideo advertising that enables advertisers to target users invideo in a few simple steps. These ads can be targeting according to demographics, content categories or even placed at a video-by-video level. The ads appear for several seconds part way through a video and fade away if they’re not clicked on. With video usage sharply increasing there is no doubt that new services such as these will see high take up rates in video advertising in the year/s to come.

For more information visit http://www.youtube.com/t/ads_invideo

Adwords Sales FunnelGoogle Search Funnels;

The age old argument of click attribution seems to be over – well at least Google thinks it is. Google has launched a new tool for Google AdWords customers to enable advertisers to attribute value across the search funnel not just attribute the conversion to the final click. There is no doubt Google’s latest tool has been built to demonstrate value from broader more expensive keywords to increase revenues however there is some definite advertiser benefit in here as well.

AdWords Search Funnels provide a set of reports to describe the ad click and impression behavior on Google that leads to a conversion. Some of these reports include the first and last click analysis as well as assisted conversions. Search funnels is available through accessing the conversions tab in the reporting module of AdWords.

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2010 Australian Social Media Compendium

Social Media Strategy

Social media exploded in Australia in 2009, and steep upward growth trends have continued ever since. In 2009, I compiled my first social media statistics compendium to assist marketers and agencies convince key stakeholders that social media is not a fad and needs to be considered as part of the wider online strategy.

Over the past year a lot has changed in the social space, and thus I have again compiled an updated social media statistics file for some of the major networks and social media sites in Australia, as well as provided some insight on what we should expect from some of the major platforms in 2010.

Overall Australian Statistics & Usage Trends

Australia’s Social Media Audience; A recent Nielsen study found Australia’s social media audience is estimated at 9.9 million.

Social Media vs Search; According to Hitwise social media and search traffic is now neck and neck. In the week ending the 16th of January, social media was just .4% behind search as an online category in Australia.

Brand Interaction; According to Nielsen nearly 40% of online Australians are now interacting with companies via social networking sites, reinforcing notions that Australians are open to engaging with brands and companies online.

Mobile Social Media Nielsen’s social media 2010 report found that 26% of social networkers participated in mobile social networking in the past year. Younger consumers are the most likely to participate in social networking via mobile as 66% of mobile social networkers are under 35 years of age.

What Australian’s Are Doing In The Social Media Space

Photo SharingPhoto Sharing; 78% of Australian internet users sent or shared a photo in the past year and 74% sent or shared a link.

Wiki Use; Close to three quarters of Australian internet users (73%) read a wiki in the past year compared to 61 percent in 2008 and just 37 percent in 2007.

Online Video Consumers; 41% of Australian internet users have streamed or downloaded videos and 21% are doing so on a regular basis.

Online Reviews & Opinions; 86% of Australian’s online are looking to fellow internet users for opinions and information about products, services and brands.

Individual Network Statistics

LinkedIn
Audience
LinkedIn’s unique audience was approximately 970,000 in January, giving it an audience reach of 6.55%.

Time Spent Onsite
LinkedIn’s members spend about eight minutes onsite each month.

2010 Verdict
In 2009 LinkedIn had approximately 670,000 members and thus this network audience has grown by approximately 45% in Australia. I anticipate this audience to continue to grow as more and more professionals begin to network online to;
– Prospect for business
– Improve their career prospects and
– Seek professional advice and share knowledge.

Facebook

Facebook LiveAudience
75% of Australian Internet users (75%) have visited Facebook, whilst 59% have a Facebook profile.
In January 2010, Facebook achieved 8.6 million unique visitors

Time Spent Onsite
The average time spent on Facebook in a given month is 8:19 hours – seven and a half hours more than its closest rival site, YouTube.

Other Important Statistics 20% of Australians aged 55 or older had reported using Facebook. This trend is being driven by grandparents wishing to keep in touch with their grand children.

2010 Outlook
Over the past year Facebook has experienced phenomenal growth in Australia. In May 2009 Facebook had approximately 5 million users in Australia and a reach of 38% of online Australians. Growth and duration is difficult to forecast for the year ahead as it is difficult to determine how far we are away from reaching the social network ceiling in Australia. Over the coming year I anticipate monthly time on site may continue to increase as more and more people access Facebook via their smartphones (statistics show 36% of mobile users access Facebook daily via their phone). However one factor which may stunt monthly time on site growth is what I term “social fatigue”. I feel social fatigue is starting to emerge with longer term Facebook users. A good portion of the Australian Facebook audience who have had profiles for 3 – 4 years seem to be logging on very sporadically and keeping these users engaged is going to be one of the main factors which will impact further growth in both users and monthly site duration.

Twitter
Twitter StrategyAudience
In September 2009, Twitter users in Australia peaked at 1.6 million unique users and in January 2010 this dropped back to 1.2 million users

Time Spent Onsite;
Twitter users spent an average of 19 minutes each month using the micro blogging site

Growth
Twitter’s audience levels grew by more than 400% in 2009

Other Important Information
23% of Australians online read ‘tweets’ in the past year whilst 14% ‘followed’ companies or organisations via Twitter (up from 5% in 2008)

2010 Outlook
Many experts believe Twitter has hit its peak and will plateau. It seems this could very much be the case in Australia with it stagnating user base in the past 4 – 5 months. Integration of Twitter results into SERPs may breathe some life / traffic into it, as may new innovation however new location based services such as Foursquare and Gowalla may drive users to these new social environments and result in abandonment of the micro-blogging site – particularly for those who access it for personal use.

MySpace
Audience
2.1 million unique users in Australia in January 2010

Time Onsite
In October 2009, MySpace users spent a total of 39 minutes online

2010 Outlook
Over the past year MySpace user base has flattened in the Australian market and across the world. In March 2010 MySpace has announced that it plans to invest in a major redevelopment of its platform to rekindle user interest. With 120 million users worldwide – MySpace aims to grow its user base to 200 – 300 million users. Despite this after losing ground on Facebook globally MySpace has cut out a new niche for itself in the music space and it is this that will probably ensure it maintains a strong following however is not likely to gain marketshare over Facebook in Australia any time soon.

Here’s a video discussing why Australia leads in social media usage:

References

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/when-connection-becomes-an-obsession-20100301-pdn5.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatnews/7359341/Australia-is-social-networking-capital-of-the-world.html
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/linkedin-pushes-local-growth-social-networking/story-e6frgakx-1225835816746
http://www.nielsen-online.com/pr/i&t_video-feb10.pdf
http://www.nielsen-online.com/pr/social_media_report-mar10.pdf

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Agencies Offering Social Media – Who Do I Turn To?

We all know that social media is increasingly becoming an important part of the marketing mix and harnessing the power of this channel to show a return is on top of many marketing managers agenda.

As a digital marketer however I have begun to ask myself, if I am to build myself a successful strategy which type of agency do I turn to? With search agencies, digital agencies, PR agencies and even media agencies all vying for a piece of the action just who should marketers choose to help formulate and execute a strategy?

We know that social media cuts across an organisation so does this mean you need all types of agencies to bring together a successful strategy? This article explores the value and shortfalls of choosing one type of agency over another.

The search agency

Social Media StrategySearch experts threw their hat into the ring early in the piece as it is a great way to build inbound links through viral distribution of content. What concerns me however about putting your social strategy in the hands of a search agency is that social media is more than building links to your site. As engagement, interaction and dialogue is essential, you need to ask yourself, is my search agency able to effectively engage and interact with the audience. Past behaviour of many SEOs have shown a disregard for the user experience in favour of rankings and this is where the core problem lies. In addition as content is becoming a core part of any digital strategy are SEOs the best people to be producing this? Of course SEO is a crucial consideration BUT I have never allowed my internal SEO team to solely manage social media because of their narrow focus on rankings.

PR agency

The PR industry has been slower out of the blocks but now many will claim that social media naturally fits within the PR remit. Are they equipped? Traditional PR has always been in a more controlled environment which web 2.0 is clearly not. Many practitioners are of course adapting their approach to suit the new flow of communication however is it enough? PR professionals have the skills to bring that great newsworthy story to the table, but what is newsworthy for the media is not necessarily what is popular amongst the masses. The other key ingredient PR agencies bring is the ability to effectively manage PR disasters which we know have been common in Australia with Toyota being one of the more recent examples. But is this enough? I believe there are some inherent problems with the ownership of social media by PR agencies, and this became apparent with the iSpy Levi campaign. A particular agency didn’t understand digital, and measurement enough to effectively execute the campaign effectively and demonstrate ROI for the investment. For years PR has struggled with demonstrating the link between actions and sales and under the bright digital lights there is nowhere to hide.

Digital Agencies

And then there is the digital/traditional marketing agency. Agencies know that their repertoire of offerings need to include social media thus it is an add on service but the question remains what success have they had in the space. In general Australia has seen many traditional agencies move into the digital space and offer social media campaigns in an effort to use the client campaign as a testing ground, and some have failed dismally. What these agencies lack is crisis management skills which are usually bought to the table by PR professionals.

So what does this mean for your planning and execution of a social campaign? Well that depends on your objectives and the expertise your current agency brings to the table. Maybe it is a matter of using a social media consultant or maybe a combination of experts across different agencies. I believe the next 12 months will enable us to see just which style / mix of agencies is having most success in the space and it will demonstrate just where we as client side marketers should turn to for expertise.

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Coles vs Woolworths – Round 1 On The Digital Court

The 2 biggest supermarket chains in Australia have been battling it out for years. Over the past few years we have definitely seen Woolworths / Safeway go from strength to strength but digital may change this. Over the past year or so the supermarket chains have shown interest and investment in the channel, but just who is winning the digital war. This article puts the 2 head to head on the digital court to see who is winning the online grocery war.

Search Marketing

Whilst Woolworths seem to rank for some important terms in number 1 position, Coles seems to rank for a larger range of broad volume terms. In addition it seems that Coles is actively combining its organic search strategy with paid search activity to provide them with greater share of voice in the SERPs.

Coles 15 / Woolworths love

Onsite Experience

Coles Digital MarketingMy user experience on Woolworths was unpleasant from the get go. I tried to locate my suburb, by typing in my postcode but the suburb drop down remained empty. When I was finally able to find my suburb I landed on the online shopping home page. Amongst other elements, the page had a banner stating “Our Great Weekly Specials”, so I tried to click on it to check them out however the page didn’t go anywhere. Locating items was also not an easy task, with sub menu’s a little invisible initially. Overall a disappointing site, one that does not match Woolworth’s in-store experience.

The Coles online store proved far more enjoyable. The express shop is a great tool allowing consumers to type in what they are looking for and then the system returns relevant matches. This combined with the product navigation menu’s provide consumers with different ways to shop. The site’s navigation make it easy to locate products in various categories however my only gripe is that the specials sit at the bottom of the search results rather than at the top of the page. Grocery chains spend a lot of money trying to promote specials – why would they not want to promote them online to increase impulse purchases?

Coles 30 / Woolworths love

Mobile Marketing

Coles Online have delivered a great iPhone application to provide shoppers with the ability to create shopping lists to reference in-store, search for recipes on the move, and identify local in-store specials. What I like about the application is that Coles has not just replicated its site, but rather considered what shoppers need on the move. Coles still seem to be however serving up their regular site to my blackberry so there is still some work to do on this front (as their site didn’t work well on my handset) but at least the mobile strategy elements that they have delivered are to be commended.

Woolworths don’t have an app that I could find but I was able to access their mobile site. At first glance I was pleased to see a mobile site – until I clicked on local specials at which point it served up specials in NSW, as my location was set to the Town Hall in Sydney. After resetting my location the site served up more relevant information. Overall I still think Coles have a very slight advantage in this area (you could almost say the ball was on the line and the call could have gone either way.)

Coles 40 / Woolworths love

Social Media

Woolsworth Digital MarketingIf all of the above wasn’t enough, it also seems ColesOnline is providing customer service help and responding to general feedback via Twitter (positive and negative) and promoting their latest competitions. At present they have over 1000 followers and the discussion seems to be thriving so they are obviously seem making an impact.

Game Coles

With a fresh new brand and pleasant in-store experience, Woolworths have some work to catch up online. Although recent statistics suggest online sales for Woolworths have grown 40%+ I think their onsite experience is probably hindering higher volumes of sales. I anticipate that Woolworths is probably working on its site and digital strategy so it will be interesting to see if there are any interesting developments in this space.

One thing however is for sure the match is not over – there is still a lot of game time. As a Woolworths shopper I do hope to see them move quickly in the space to compete on a level playing field with Coles.

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