Monday, December 31, 2012

Making predictions for the year ahead

In my newer blog in The Drum website, I've made seven predictions for 2013:

My list comprises of the following:
  1. Site traffic will continue to increase
  2. The number and range of online retailers will grow
  3. Mobile e-commerce will continue to bloom
  4. Regional e-commerce will mature
  5. Average order value drops
  6. Multi-channel focus on the customer
  7. Attribution becomes more than a concept
From this list, it will be interesting to see which ones will actually come true and which will ones might not happen (or at least until 2014).

And all that remains of this year is for me to wish you a prosperous New Year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

7 reasons your content marketing is crap

There, I've said it and it's time to admit it. Basically a lot of the current hype around content marketing is crap and so are a load of blog posts about the subject.

Here's my thoughts on why a lot of efforts into the latest online marketing trend are going to be poor, very poor:

1. You have no content plan
Are you publishing content with no editorial calendar and therefore no schedule for seasonal changes? Good content begins with a good plan of what you're going to write and when you're going to publish it,

2. You have based everything around search engine optimisation
On-page optimisation of your content is one of the key focuses of SEO, however just writing content for the search engines (and not really for your readers) isn't the right way to get engaged readers

3. You're not encouraging sharing
So you're making it harder for your readers to post the URL to different social networks or to share content with their peers. Why exactly?

4. You're not linking off to other parts of your site
Part of your reason for writing content should be that it actually drives people around your site and triggers your other site KPI's. Have you got an eCommerce site and yet you're not linking off to products you feature in your blog?

5. You're not reading what you're writing.
The way to create a sustainable audience of any long term value is with the deployment of quality, original and engaging content. Like a chef who doesn't eat what they make, you need to write stuff that you believe in. which ultimately means you have to be the first consumer of your content.

6. You're not properly measuring what you're doing
How are you going to optimise your content if you don't actually collect data about what is working for you and what isn't? Ensure you have the right goals measured and that you get regular feedback on these.

7. You're not learning
Content marketing optimisation is a slow process of test and learn, where you not only have to spend effort producing content... you have to also gain insight into what is actually working. And then you have to actually tell yourself some home truths about what isn't!.

Friday, December 14, 2012

UK finance comparison sites are pretty optimised

Today I did a check on the top four finance aggregator sites to see how they compare with each other. The results were found using the Firebug and Google page speed plugins for Firefox (in case you wondered) and make for interesting reading...
Homepage weight: 539.1K
Number of items: 47
Page Speed Score: 82/100
Homepage weight: 488.9k
Number of items: 42
Page Speed Score: 84/100
Homepage weight: 339.9k
Number of items: 63
Page Speed Score: 88/100
Homepage weight: 800.4k
Number of items: 65
Page Speed Score: 87/100

It's good to see that as an industry matures and as companies within it fight for supremacy, they optimise their web presence in every way. The high page speed score shows they are all taking download / display time seriously, with perhaps only having a worrying page weight of over 800k

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Writing an ecommerce specific blog

Here on my blog I cover a range of topics, from digital strategy through to tactical online marketing things.
I like this range, as it means I'm able to dip in and out different subjects that take my fancy (or get my goat).

However I've now been asked to write a blog specifically on digital commerce for The Drum.

You can read my first post here:

My aim is to keep both blogs going, but to obviously focus my online retailing thoughts on the new platform.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The great content marketing discussion

An imaginary conversation…

Firstly what do you mean by the term content marketing?
The term has been increasing in its usage for the last year and  especially over the last few months… but content marketing is usually known as the use of content (such as text and imagery) across an organisation’s owned channels (website, social networking page, etc.) to get users to a site and build engagement.

Isn’t this search engine optimisation?
No, SEO is about optimising a site (code, configuration, links AND content) to get a higher placement in search engines. Although content markers do need to consider SEO factors such as keywords, they aren’t really bothered about how sites are set up or algorithms for ranking.

So how do you get traffic via content?
You build up user traffic by being useful and relevant to the reader. This therefore makes your content more sticky (readable) and social (sharable).

So content marketing is a sub-set of SEO?
Well, not really. Content marketing also deals with topics such as internal linking to other content around a site to encourage the user to complete a specific goal. For example: to purchase a product or to sign-up for a service. 

So it’s about writing link bait then!
It’s all about producing quality content, not rubbish articles that pander to the lowest common denominator and get instant traffic based on sensationalistic headlines. The modern web user is very savvy and they tune out things they are not interested in any more, it’s an attention economy out there.

Then it’s about getting eyeballs to look at your page?
Yes, that’s right, you should write good and free content, which then allows it to be shared so it can work harder and reach a bigger audience for your brand.

But isn’t that syndication?
No, however the content that is written can be syndicated out, such as via an RSS feed.

So what Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) should a Content Marketing person measure?
Although usual website metrics, such as visitors, visits and subsequent conversions should obviously be measured, one important measurement of content marketing success is repeat visits from the same visitor. You should be able to find this information in your website analytics package and further segment it by the content areas on your site. As a rough guide, the more users come back, the more they’re engaged.

But doesn’t this affect conversion rate for an eCommerce site?
Yes, repeat visitors could affect your ‘look to book’ ratio, because just increasing the number of ‘looks’ to your site will make your site look like it is less effective. It is therefore just as important to look at how your content pushes users to convert (book).

So how will this area evolve?
Content Marketing Optimisation (CMO) is not a term currently well known, but a lot of people jumping on the content marketing bandwagon right now will quickly be asked to justify their investment of time, 3rd party copywriting, etc. 
So just as SEO took a while to emerge as a longer-term disciple that observes, learns and improves the bottom line; so content marketing optimisation by using insight gleaned from analytics packages will tell website owners what content is working and what is not.