Friday, March 29, 2013

Jessops back online

To accompany the relaunch of the company and re-opening of two stores... Camera retailer Jessops is back in business online

It is good to see the phoenix arise from the ashes of the collapse of the company earlier this year. The site was a feature-rich online experience and I hope it continues to be a leader in the digital industry.

Good luck it is good to have you back.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What's the value of a single link?

Today I'm carrying out an experiment, to see what the value of a single link from my blog to a client site is actually worth.

Mactaggart & Mickel Homes

Having posted the link in this blog post, the aim is for me to measure:
  1. How quickly a hyperlink to the site is recognised by the popular search engines
  2. The direct traffic this delivers
  3. The potential impact upon organic placements (if any)
I will post on any findings I undercover (if they are allowed in the public domain)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Why the role of CDO is needed

In a posting on eConsultancy this week, Ashley Friedlein provided his thoughts on Why a Chief Digital Officer is a bad idea. This article basically stated that a CDO wasn't needed in the modern board room.

Having written on this blog about the role the Chief Digital Officer should have, I thought I would disagree with Ashley's opinions. However, despite the (obvious linkbait) headline, I found myself partly in agreement with the post.

You see, we are living in a time of tremendous technical change, where digital technology has moved on significantly in just one employee generation. This means that there are still very few career digital people on the boards of major organisations... but this is gradually changing and one day all members of the C-suite will be 'digital natives' and have grown up with online.

Until then, the role of CDO is needed, but as a transformation role.

One alternative approach that might work for some major organisations... is to take on a Digital Non-Exec Director. This would be someone who has the full compliment of online skills, to see the company leaders through this evolutionary period. This would have the benefit of integrating a CDO-type person into the organisation, without the need to restructure the board.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Are you optimising your Digital ecosystem?

Digital technologies are not just for online marketing purposes or for providing your customers with the ability to conduct online transactions. They are there to enable the entire organisation to benefit from: better communications, faster supply chains, improved staff training, assessment & retention and help improve a number of other line-of-business tasks that either make money or save time.

In short, your entire business ecosystem should be complimented by online technologies and processes. This then creates a new type of organisation, one that fully utilises a digital ecosystem.

So what does this digital ecosystem look like? Well this depends on your business and the way it operates. However, there are a few common themes that are pretty generic to any organisation, usually based around typical business lines and support functions. 

Here I've recreated an old diagram I used to have, that gives a representation of a business and the different key departments within it. I've then indicated the main functions (of the left side) where online can then help and enhance the ecosystem.

The aim is therefore for any digital strategy to integrate into these key areas and optimise the business processes, data flows or customer engagement in whatever way possible.

Hopefully I will have time to improve on this diagram in future postings...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Social Media and the 'me too' society

We live is a wonderful world, full of fun and great experiences. But look again and you'll see a profound lack of originality. Creatures mimic other creatures, fashion copies fashion and artists emulate other artists in an effort to show their skills. And the same could reasonably be said about the online industry... where words like 'best practice' and 'conventions' are typically uttered by us all. When what we really mean is... "This is what everyone else does, says or thinks; so we're gonna do the same".
Sound familiar?

Perhaps the online problem is exacerbated by social media. Do social networks like Twitter and Facebook encourage the herd mentality and actually stifle original thinking?  Quite possibly.

Social Media has been described as the ultimate echo chamber, a place where thoughts uttered are repeated (or retweeted) and bounced around until some become folklore and even cited as fact.
I see it with my own eyes all the time when posts are 'curated' (In other words: stolen, passed off as someone else's or just made to look like the poster has found the work & shared it... rather than simply removing the name or Twitter handle of the originator).

It seems that in the 'me too' society, nobody wants to be left out and everyone wants to claim the credit for everything. And quite frankly... This gets my goat. Social Media has a lot going for it, it's able to be a great source of original thought and innovative ideas. It's just a shame that so many people act like virtual sheep on sites like Twitter. Perhaps that's why they call it 'following' after all.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nobody sets out to read ‘content’ online

It seems that everyone is panning for virtual gold in the Content Marketing sector like it's San Francisco in the 1850's. Taking a look at Google Trends for Search, the term "Content Marketing" is currently reaching a feverish peak... somewhat helped perhaps by Google recently clamping down on paid-for advertorial links

It seems that content is having a bit of a Renaissance right now (deservedly so) and the pendulum has swung back away from "design first, content later" to "content first, design later".

But here's my revelation... Most normal people when they use the web don't start by thinking "My, I must consume some content", instead they want to:
  • Read opinions
  • Gain insight
  • Chuckle at rants
  • Understand products
  • Learn from ‘how to’ guides
  • Take a peek at useful information
  • Compare reviews
  • Watch news
  • Hear another person tell stories
  • plus many other combinations of the above and more.
So prior to setting out to "do some content marketing" and before considering: search engines, your 'tone of voice guidelines', the design of the page and even your boss or client's feedback... Think about the most important person. Your reader.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Further metrics of content marketing success

In one of my recent posts (here) I provided three important metrics for understanding the value of your content marketing efforts: bounce rate, pages per visit and returning visitors. Furthermore I said I believed that although these three figures are each individually important, when combined they are potentially even more useful.

However, there was a couple of metrics I did not include:
  1. Sharing:
    It is possible to measure the use of social sharing functionality in several ways, including: the metrics provided by applications such as addthis / sharethis / etc. that usually come with their own built-in analytics or by tagging actions that integrate with your website analytics.
  2. Conversions from links
    Within your website analytics package you should be able to track users from links within your content pages all the way through to them completing their required goals. This gives you another indication of the value of the content you are producing and how it is directly affecting your bottom line (note: it is even possible to tag each link with it's own specific identifier).
Have I missed any others?

You may also want to read my previous post on Content: Found, read, shared and measured, a useful way to categorise your content marketing activity.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

MP's tweet shows effect of social media

Tonight during the 'Red Nose Day" (a TV charity event that raises money for UK and African causes) Fiona Mactaggart (@fionamacmp) the Conservative MP for Slough tweeted the following message:
" I will give £1.00 to Comic relief for every retweet of this message before 9pm"

Come 9pm the total re tweets of her message totalled 14,268 in number.

Now some people have criticised Ms Mactaggart for blatantly buying RT's whilst others have praised her altruism.
Either way, it looks like she is going to stick to her pledge and write a cheque out for the full amount.

Friday, March 15, 2013

You're not focusing on digital retention? Why?

So, even in these austere times... Companies still seem to be focusing more on customer acquisition than retention.

Perhaps it's because retaining customers is seen as less interesting and 'glamourous' than the various customer acquisition processes and tools out there. Or maybe it's because the tools and techniques for retaining customers have now reached a decent level of maturity (e.g. Email is usually the main eCRM tool and best practice around: creative, delivery and measurement are all understood pretty well).

Either way, I think there needs to be a shift in the marketing priorities of a lot of companies and away from acquisition. The race to be top of Google via PPC and SEO techniques can put a big dent in marketing budgets. These £'s spent might be palatable now... but maybe not when compared with the pence to retain customers.

Please note that I'm not completely advocating a radical diversion of all your marketing budget across to retention activites. What I am suggesting however is that if it costs many times as much to get a new visitor compared to getting back an existing one... That companies should balance their marketing spend accordingly.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Why I am not getting into Content Marketing

I think the term Content Marketing has definately become the latest buzzword of the last 6 months or so. Used and abused by digital marketers and consultants it is this season's "social media", "web2.0" or "information superhighway" and it will stay dominant until 'Semantic Web' or some other equally fancy term hits the digital mainstream soon enough.
Note: The only contender for it's crown of hype right now is 'big data'.

I think I've previously given the subject a fairly good coverage on this blog. I've written up a good explanation of what Content Marketing is & isn't, given examples of when it's crap, described how to optimise it and even gone into detail on how to measure it. However, when I also look back at posts on this blog from several years ago, I find I've covered the subject, but I've just not called it by that specific term.

From optimising press releases for social media in August 2010, through to considerations for making your content more portable in April 2008 (my, that does seem a long time ago).

So I'm going to make a bold statement.

 I'm definately not getting into Content Marketing because it's now the latest and greatest thing to be into...

.... as it seems I've already been into Content Marketing for almost half a decade.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Measuring your Content Marketing efforts

In my recent post on Content Marketing confusion I described how I thought one of the most important KPI's for the optimisation of content is the number of returning visitors to your site. You should easily be able to measure this figure using your website analytics package (such as Google Analytics, which even has a specific report for this purpose: Audience >; Behaviour > New vs. Returning ).

But l thought it might be worthwhile to take a bit of time to dig into this subject further. So I've pulled together some other important metrics for Content Marketing that I think are beneficial and how to measure them.

Bounce rate:
This metric is the percentage of all visitors who come to your site and only view one page, in other words they bounce straight off. Usually it is a positive sign if you have a low bounce rate, indicating that a higher percentage of people go on to view subsequent pages... a sign of engagement with your content.
Note: I sometimes exclude paid marketing (e.g. PPC) from this statistic, as paid traffic usually drives people to pages deep into a site to carry out specific functionality.

Pages per visit:
Again an indication of site enagement this metric is quite useful and is sometimes quoted alongside bounce rate. However care should be taken to factor in the site's user experience... for example if content is purposely split across several pages (such as to optimise advertising opportunities) then this figure will be comparatively high.

Returning visitors:
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the returning visitors figure gives a site owner a good idea of how interested visitors have previously been (e.g. interested enough to come back). However combining this visitor information with the previous two measures (bounce and pages per visit) does provide a better idea of the 'stickiness' of site content and also potential issues. For example: calculating the number of pages seen by return visitors, identifying new visitors who don't bounce and finding those pages that have a high bounce rate even for visitors who come back can each start to paint a picture of where to focus your content marking effort in the future.

Monday, March 11, 2013

What exactly is a good Klout score?

I've recently had my Klout score drop a couple of points. Apparently I'm now only valued at 59, whereas only a few weeks ago this was at 61.

But be honest, I've no idea what this means... Is 59 good, bad or middle- of-the-road?

For those that don't know, Klout is one of several services that tries to gives you a value of your online (and primarily your social media ) influence. There was even some mutterings in the past that these sorts of metrics would be used by potential employers to short-list candidates for specific roles.*
However, in my opinion it doesn't seem to actually be a measure of anything valuable.

Firstly, how am I to compare two different people, with different roles, but with the same score? And secondly, I've never blogged more, built up more followers on Twitter or had more traffic to my company website than in the last few weeks... And yet I've had a 3-4% drop in my digital influence dished out.

I hardly think I'll worry if my score drops further.

* In my experience, most companies looking to hire social media savvy staff haven't a clue how to measure their modern market impact.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

CMO vs CIO : the battle for data

"In the future, wars will be fought over water" is a phrase you hear quite a lot these days. And it might well be true... As important global resources become more scarce and as rulers realise exactly what matters (in this case, the health of their population).

However, in the boardrooms across the world, there may well be a number of battles. But this time fought over something very important to both technologists and marketers. Data. More precisely, customer & user data, along with any associated information that helps the organisation function / sell / behave better. Consequently, there is a scenario that is looking increasingly likely, the showdown between the Chief Marketing Officer (AKA the marketing director) and the Chief Information Officer.

Its my belief that as data relating to the customer grows and becomes more and more useful (along with the ability to model and then predict future likely behaviour) these two company board members are the two most likely to both stand up and stake their claim to its ongoing ownership. Customer transactions in branches / stores / premises, their online browsing history, their engagement across social media channels and their contact preferences will be like water to these roles.

However, this doesn't necessarily have to be the case. And not just because I'm advocating peace and love in the exec suite, but for a different reason... It has been a prediction of mine for a while now, that the roles of the CMO and the CIO will evolve and in some cases merge, quite possibly around the need to have a single point of data ownership.

This could therefore give rise to a new role seated around the walnut table of major organisations, the CDO. But not the 'Chief Digital Officer' that I have already mentioned a couple of times on this blog, but that of the Chief Data Officer.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The UK Digital & eCommerce Talent Marketplace

Rupert Jupp, Director at Princedale Partners the digital headhunters & talent advisors, has sent me his first quarterly review of the UK's eCommerce and Multi-channel retail recruitment market... and it makes for an interesting read.
Rupert claims that the sector has already got off to a great start in 2013, with the appointment of senior digital roles in companies such as: Debenhams, Selfridges, Argos, SkyScanner, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Asos and Bodyshop. Jupp even starts his review with the bold claim "There can be few other sectors where the war for both experienced and young talent is so competitive."
So this year is looking positive for those in the UK digital marketplace. It also seems that business stakeholders are becoming increasingly aware of the objectives and goals for these senior digital hires. I hope so, although from my recent experiences... there is still a long way to go until we have compete understanding and appreciation of these roles.
BTW: Good luck to Rupert in his new venture, which can be found at

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The marketing value chain

In a presentation I have recently, I cited the phrase from a McKinsey article a couple of years back
"if marketing has one goal, it is to reach consumers at the moments that most influence their decisions"
This is a fairly broad statement to make and on reflection it sounds like it comes from a psychologist and not a technology driven marketing perspective. However, if marketing is to be efficient in it's delivery, it needs to understand where it sits in the decision making process and ultimately what its goal is... to drive further revenue (and therefore business value).

Below is a diagram I have used fairly often to simply show the marketing value chain:

Although it is a pretty obvious process (and typically used in the context of digital marketing) it does tend to focus the role that marketing of any sort should have:
  1. To create the relevant traffic (store visitors, website clicks, etc.) that creates the greatest number of prospects
    Note: Relevancy can mean anything from a greater propensity to buy through to more profitable ones.
  2. So that these people then go on to convert (online, this is typically called a 'goal' and can be anything from an online purchase to a downloaded brochure)
  3. So that this then creates business value for the organisation.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The digital path to purchase

The path to purchase is dead, long live the path to purchase.

Today's shoppers now have a number of tools at their fingertips to help them chose which products to buy and consumer technology has been the facilitator of this.

Research from Google Analytics has found that over a two-day period customers now interact with a brand 4.3 times before making a purchase. Furthermore the average U.S. shopper now interfaces with a total of 10.4 traditional and online media sources prior to purchasing. That's a lot of browsing before buying (or looking before booking, if you're in an industry such as online travel).
Furthermore, according to further research by Google, online customers are now making the majority of their purchasing decision before engaging with a sales representative,

There's no doubt that the traditional way that shoppers purchase has now evolved and the marketing to these people has changed with it. However a lot of the ideas that the more technology-savvy shopper marketing agency might suggest to a client (e.g. QR codes and online store check-ins via FourSquare or Facebook Places) just don't make the impact required... and therefore turn out to be expensive experiments.

My view is that optimising shopper engagement across the path to purchase needs an integrated approach, one that pulls together: marketing, useful functionality, content and online retailing... then measured and learned from. Without this, brands and their agencies will continue to just experiment.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Digital Shopper Marketing - the new influence

The world of retail is now multi-channel and customers now shop across a number of different devices, at times of day to suit them and in different ways to how they used to (convenience vs. cost, etc.).
The area of Shopper Marketing, which originally looked mainly at things such as the in-store path to purchase has now started to merge with the eCommerce / multi-channel retail and even online marketing. This has formed the relatively new discipline of Digital Shopper Marketing.

Here's my take on this:
  1. Brands, by placing themselves between the channels of influence and the point of retail (e.g. the store), can affect the buying decisions of the customer
  2. A lot of customers now use the Internet to inform their buying decisions (e.g.recommendation and comparison sites, social media, brand micro-sites, etc.)
  3. The digital influence doesn't just happen at home and in-front of a static PC these days. Users search sites at work, they have laptops when on the move, they use tablets in bed and over half of the UK population now has a smartphone.
So how can brands disrupt a consumer and get the maximum affect? Well this depends a lot on what consumers you are targetting, their shopping preferences and the mix of marketing that is required.
For example, a particular segment (let's call them "shopper savvy mums") are more interested in ways to:
  • Saving: Using vouchers to make the family budget stretch that little bit further
  • Sharing: Commenting and gaining opion via Social Media
  • Sampling: Trying new or improved products to optimise spend and overall family well-being
The secret for digital shopper marketing suppliers is to find out what works for their client's target audience. And I''ll leave you to find out how to do this for yoursleves.