Online marketing allows the marketer an unprecedented insight into the dynamics of their users and prospects. Traditional media channels simply cannot provide anything like the objective intelligence provided by online tools.
Virtually every online platform, from your website, email system, blog, right through to FaceBook, all have analytic capabilities that provide detailed user insights. Traditional marketing is like a 'Black Box' - you put money and creative in one end and hope that some results pop out the other side. If they don't we make judgment calls and changes based on gut-feel or past experience, but it's really flying blind.
With the powerful insights provided by online platforms we can make judgment calls based on fact. OK we may not interpret the data correctly every time, but it's more of a science that the art of 'Black Box' marketing. Changes can be monitored, measured and evaluated based on further insights provided by the tools.
The following graphic illustrates the point.
Independent Hamilton brand marketing agency Bold Horizon, has been announced as the new sponsor of the National Contemporary Art Award, hosted annually by Waikato Museum.
The award, which has become renowned for the challenging and often thought provoking entries it attracts, will now be known as the Bold Horizon National Contemporary Art Award, and continues to boast a prize of $15,000 for the winner.
"Our brand philosophy and tagline is 'we see what others don't', which has a close fit with the contemporary art award, where artworks often challenge people to look beyond their own perceptions and to see things from a fresh and alternate perspective", said Bold Horizon CEO, Wayne Attwell.
Waikato Museum director, Kate Vusoniwailala said that the announcement of the new sponsor marked the beginning of a new chapter for the award. "We are delighted to welcome Bold Horizon as the new sponsor. They are an ideal partner as their values are closely aligned with the values of the award; innovative, forward-thinking and pushing the boundaries", she said.
Being involved as the major sponsor of a creative award that is already a leading event on the country's art calendar is timely, as Bold Horizon continues to extend its own presence beyond the Waikato and into other regions.
"Bold Horizon will be working alongside the Museum team to develop a promotional campaign strategy and graphic material", said Mr. Attwell. "Our online expertise will be put to good use as we help Waikato Museum develop an online presence for the award, which is expected to extend the geographic reach to include a wider international audience", he added.
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Guest blog by Jason Dawson, Association of Local Government Information Management
We all know that social media has changed the way in which we work, do business and socialise. But has your local city, district or regional council embraced social media?
With growing expectations on councils to engage, work openly, be more accountable and move faster on issues, social media provides an ideal platform for local government to deliver results and services.
Despite the low cost and clear advantages to Councils, a recently commissioned survey by the Association of Local Government Information Management (ALGIM) on Council websites and online services found the use of social media by Councils is still low. Of the 71 Councils which completed the survey, only 24 Councils use Facebook, 17 are on Twitter and 15 utilise YouTube. There was an even lower take-up of other social networking tools like LinkedIn, Flickr, MySpace and Bebo.
In April 2010, the biennial ‘Kiwis Count’ survey of New Zealanders' satisfaction with their public services was released by the State Services Commission. The result gave another compelling reason for councils to use social media, with 81% of people surveyed preferring the internet to carry out transactions with public services
But times are changing. There are successful examples of councils around the country that have embraced social media and have added it to their communication and consultation toolbox.
I work for the Northland Regional Council where we have been actively using social media for the last 12 months. We use Twitter for delivering public notices, environmental data, civil defence warnings, job vacancies and event information. We also tweet live during Council meetings.
Our use of Twitter has given us the greatest success. For example, we used our Twitter account to post confirmation that no tsunami had been generated from an earthquake in Vanuatu on 8 October 2009. This tweet provided a link to the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management’s website which achieved 1298 clicks, 196 shares on Facebook and 186 comments.
We use FaceBook for campaigns such as Northland 2011 (our regional Rugby World Cup countdown), have a company profile on LinkedIn, and use Ning for some of our communities of interest. And there are many others councils which are embracing social media, rather than ignoring it.
Central Hawke’s Bay District Council was one of the first councils to use Twitter (@chbcouncil), and as at 1 June 2010, 13 councils are now tweeting – from Rodney District (@RodneyDCouncil) in the north to Queenstown-Lakes District (@QLDCComs) in the south. You can find out whether your council is using Twitter through the list: http://twitter.com/NRCexpress/nzcouncils
Successful uses of Facebook within local government include Environment Waikato’s ‘Hamilton Halo’ which promotes reporting of native birds within Hamilton City and Tasman District Council’s ‘Waimea Inlet’ project to encourage community action for this important estuary. Both of these are centred around a community page to generate support for a topic or cause, with ‘official’ council pages used by a few like Wanganui District Council, New Plymouth District Council and Palmerston North City Council.
Libraries were early adopters in councils with the use of blogs, like the Christchurch City Council Libraries blog and the Auckland City Council Library blogs which both provide extensive commentary on a number of interesting and relevant topics.
Rick Cooper, Mayor of Taupo District, is active on Twitter (@RickCooperTaupo) and recently asked his community to vote for a webcam in the Council Chambers for meetings and events. Video streaming or podcasting of council meetings has been available in Canada, United States and the United Kingdom for a few years.
With the local government elections in October 2010, it will be interesting to see if current Mayors and Councillors, as well as potential candidates, will use social media to create conversations with their respective communities. The challenge to all of us is will we join the conversation or choose to ignore it.
Jason Dawson is General Manager - Community Relations Manager at the Northland Regional Council and manages the Council’s social media channels. He is also on the Executive Board for the Association of Local Government Information Management (ALGIM), co-convenes its annual Web Symposium and oversees an annual audit and survey of NZ local government websites.
The latest “CEO on TV” escapade sees Paul Reynolds, CEO of Telecom NZ begging New Zealand to give his once-mighty monopoly a 2nd chance (referring to the oft-broke XT mobile network).
It reminds me of the TV advert that Cadbury aired last year, when their CEO Mathew Oldham appeared on TV in a pathetic plea to our emotions.
Just like in the Cadbury recovery effort, Telecom is also trying to entice lost customers back by ‘bribing’ them with a free trail (Cadbury gave away lots of free Dairy Milk slabs, presumably because no-one wanted to buy them!)
I wonder if BP could use the same free trial strategy to win back lost customers due to their clumsy and secretive handling (or lack thereof) of the big oil slick. Could we expect a voucher for a free tank of BP Ultimate 98?
I think I’m starting to figure out why CEO’s of big corporates earn such big salaries – they have to ditch all of their personal integrity and mojo to cover up for the almighty stuff-ups by their beloved companies…sad.
But back to Telecom. I remember the good old days when they had a grand monopoly in the NZ telecoms market and that most esteemed Waikato lass Theresa Gattung had the helm. She and her board were so bloody defiant in the face of the local loop unbundling and less than subtly threatened to withhold investment into new infrastructure if they didn’t get their way. Thanks goodness the powers that be took a firm line and didn’t buckle to the spoilt child.
So today in 2010 we have Telecom on it’s knees, appealing to the Kiwi ‘give us a break mate’ soft spot to allow them back into the market. I wonder if we would have seen ‘the lanky one’ on his knees on TV after the XT Network debacle, had they still held a monopoly. Thanks goodness for healthy competition and an even playing field.
Having run an ISP (Internet Service Provider) back in the dial-up days when Telecom ruled the roost, I don’t think I could bring myself to use their network. I’m with Vodafone, but to be honest, they aren’t much better.
Post by Wayne Attwell
I’ve been watching the growing furore about BP and their oil spill on some of the social media sites and it’s interesting to see how the consumer call for boycotts are creating a groundswell of popular support. At this stage there are several FaceBook and blog sites devoted to this with membership/following growing daily.
There is also a 'Boycott BP' channel running on YouTube with some vociferous commentary.
It will be interesting to see how far the social media consumer can push in terms of influencing this corporate behemoth. You will recall how a consumer backlash against Cadbury forced them to backtrack on the introduction of palm oil into their milk chocolate product.
I just wonder whether enough popular support can be generated via social media to force a player such as BP into changing the way they do business. Perhaps this may be a bit of a litmus test of the power consumers have recently acquired through social media that enable them to influence the outcome of brands.
Interestingly, not only is there a call for a consumer boycott on BP fuel, but on all products and brands owned by BP, including Wild Bean coffee. If the boycott call gathers enough strength, it could do some real damage to BP’s retail counter sales for fuel as well as coffee, a strong revenue and profit contributor to store sales.
Perhaps there is a good opportunity for the likes of Starbucks to generate some positive exposure by promoting their Fair Trade and eco clean coffee as a more socially palatable alternative to BP’s ‘tainted’ Wild Bean blend. Whittakers Chocolate did just that against Cadbury and won some serious market share for their brand.
Post by Wayne Attwell
I was invited last week by NZTE to run a training session about online marketing to a group of potential exporters in Wellington. At the airport I noticed that the Air New Zealand Koru branding on the tails of several aircraft was embarrassingly inconsistent.
Considering that most large corporates have brand guides that match the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, it amazed me that a key brand element such as aircraft tails had been so carelessly executed. Check out these examples…
No doubt Air New Zealand has spent millions of dollars on their branding, but this is careless. Maybe I’m just being anal, but you’re either doing it right or you’re doing it wrong.
What will be interesting is to see if anyone at Air New Zealand is tracking what is being said about their brand online, and whether they will even see this post.
Guest post by Bron Taplin - Graphic Designer
I tend to fall in love with particular brands; and remain a loyal, if not fanatic fan. The brands I most admire are those that have set themselves apart on quality, innovation and most importantly for me presentation. A well-designed brand that puts its best foot forward in advertising and marketing enhances the enjoyment of purchasing and using a companies product or services.
I had an experience the other day that highlighted to me how easy it can be for a business owner to slip up and undermine the integrity of their brand perception, even if on a small scale.
This particular day, I received an email from a brand I hold in high regard, so much so that I even have a piece of their packaging sitting on my desk as inspiration. Of course my interest was peaked when this email arrived and I clicked into it straightaway. Once opened I paused momentarily as I considered the word document attached. I was a little taken aback that the email from this well-known international brand was not an HTML template - even if the email was sent by a local franchisee. Curiosity overtook caution and I eagerly clicked to open the attachment. I know I blinked a few times when I viewed the document; I just hadn't expected what I was confronted with. Ok, admittedly I'm a graphic designer, so I am probably a bit more critical - but I was really amazed at the flyer sent to me and how in no way it represented the brand I admired. I wondered how other people viewing this document felt? Inspired to buy? I’m not so sure.
The author of the email had the right idea in utilising his database to send a well-timed campaign aimed to maximize Mothers Day sales. And I empathise with business owners today, as its challenging enough to meet the day to day demands of running a business, let alone needing to put on that marketing hat and create a compelling promotion to entice your customers to buy. But the message this company was sending didn’t represent the reputation the brand had built based on its quality design and craftsmanship. There was no logo anywhere on the document, no product suggestions to help me see how purchasing their product could solve my Mothers Day gift dilemma, and no tempting images enticing me to buy.
When it comes to marketing you absolutely should dazzle and delight your customers - good design and brand unity is of utmost importance, your customers expect it - and deserve it. Your customers have invested and are loyal to your brand and shouldn’t be let down.
So what are the most basic ingredients needed to send the right message to your customers - one that will keep them interested in your brand, or even better reaching for that credit card? At the very least use your logo; it’s a no-brainer. Keep the design of all your media consistent – with colour, font and layout. This helps to build recognition and trust with customers. It’s really important to use images of your product to help customers visualise how they could be used. Content wise, always add value, how could your product be useful or solve a problem for your customer?
If you don't feel you have the necessary marketing expertise, it’s worth utilising the skills of a good design or advertising agency. Effective design doesn't have to cost the earth; a well-designed email template can be used again and again, and gives you the flexibility to focus on coming up with quality content while knowing that you are not diluting the brand identity your company has worked hard to build up.
So what about the company that sent me the dreaded flyer? I immediately emailed through my unsolicited feedback, and offered my services. The company was open to my approach, and who knows – a new business relationship may come of it. I would certainly relish the opportunity to work with a brand that I love.
Email marketing generates results
The value of regular blog posting, and as a result, fresh content being generated for your site cannot be overemphasized.
The past weeks have been really hectic at Bold Horizon and I just have not been able to devote adequate time to my usual 2-3 posts each week (I’ve also neglected my Twitter and FaceBook profiles). The result of the slowdown in fresh content became evident to me when we published a guest post yesterday.
It usually takes Google around 3-5 minutes to index our posts, but yesterday it took several hours. This reflects the fact that due to less fresh content being generated for our site, the Google bots have slowed their visit rate…not a good thing.
If we never added any further content to our website, it’s likely that before long the bots will almost stop visiting. After all, why would they bother if there’s nothing new to index. So often we see the long term effect of stale site content when we talk to potential, new clients that built their sites a few years back and have added nothing fresh to it since the original build. They slip further and further down the Google search rankings.
Four or five years ago you could perhaps get away with a slowly changing site, but in today’s overcrowded and competitive web space, fresh content is king. So the long and the short of it is, don’t neglect your website content. Find the time to update it or write your blog posts, or you may just pay the price.
Guest post by Hariet Waffenschmidt - International E-Marketing Manager at the University of Waikato
I feel that video as a online marketing tactic is hugely underutilised in New Zealand mostly because there is the perception out there that producing video content is an expensive undertaking for small and medium sized businesses without much ROI. On the other hand, businesses put a lot of effort and money into optimising their websites in order to improve their rankings.
Fact is that optimised online video is one of the “easiest” ways to increase your company’s organic Google ranking (and that of other major search engines too).
You have probably noticed that search engines started to display “blended search” results where various types of results – i.e. videos, images, news stories, maps etc – are merged with traditional Web results.
Forrester research found that videos stand about a 50 times better chance of appearing on the first page of results than any given text page in the index and almost every video Google blends into its search results comes from YouTube.
In my role as international e-marketing manager at the University of Waikato, I have experimented a fair bit with online video, starting out by simply uploading student video profiles onto YouTube without paying too much attention to the title, description, tags etc. Only recently I started optimising every video’s meta data and have noticed an immediate improvement in our YouTube result rankings for selected keywords.
Relevant video content also has a good chance of being embedded by other video directories, Blogs or related websites and hence drives natural search-engine ranking, particularly inbound links. This happened to one of our latest videos with the title “Surf lesson in Raglan – study in New Zealand at Waikato University” which was picked up by a directory. “How to…” videos are particularly popular on YouTube and have a lot of views.
Now a couple of ideas on how you can optimize your videos:
• Host your video on YouTube (seeing that Google seems to pick them up most) and also embed them on your website and Blog
• Optimise the title of your YouTube video: this is most important for your search ability; do a thorough keyword research analysis (i.e. YouTube & Google keyword tools).
• Optimise the description of your YouTube video: needs to compliment the title and can be an extension of it that encourages the video to be watched. Also add relevant urls (ideally optimised landing pages).
• Optimise the tags of your YouTube video: tags are the keywords. Use only a few of the most relevant keywords that match the total video’s meta data.
• Share your video: submit your video onto multiple platforms (i.e. with “Tubemogul”) and related directories Tubemogul is a free video distribution service that deploys your videos to the top video and social networking sites (i.e. YouTube, Facebook, Bing, Yahoo Video etc) and also provides powerful analytics on who, what, and how videos are being viewed.
So, don’t be afraid of using video as an online marketing tool. It can be a very cost effective way to boost your visibility – all you really need is a handy cam or even a web cam will do in some cases. And who knows, one of your videos might just go viral!
According to online research data recently published by HubSpot, the quantity of Google indexed pages on a website has a direct correlation with the volume of sales leads.
Most SME’s would consider a site with 60 to 120 pages to be quite large, and not many would have over 300 indexed pages. An ecommerce site may have many more pages, but if those are dynamically generated from a database, they are unlikely to be indexed because they may not have permanent page URL’s.
So if HubSpot’s research shows a quantum leap in inbound sales leads when a site has over 300 indexed pages, how on earth do we create this number of pages without bloating the site and making navigation unmanageable?
Blogging is one of the most effective ways to build indexable content and still maintain the integrity of your site. It enables you to write content on a wide range of subjects that are related to your industry, product or company, adding informational value, indexable content and a reason for people to revisit your site regularly. By targeting your blog posts against relevant keywords and optimising them for Google indexing, you have the ability to really ramp up sales leads.
Blogging is one of the fastest growing sectors of the social media world, with blog usage predicted to double in 2010. Statistics reveal that sites with blogs generate 55% more visitor traffic and it increases Twitter reach significantly. The following chart shows how companies that blog have an average of over 350 Twitter followers compared to an average of 200 followers for non-blogging companies.