SEO: How search engine optimisation has changed for the better
4Feb13

Search engine optimisation is a big part of my business. Its an area we can help clients improve quickly for long lasting results. Unfortunately its also a practice that is rampant with cowboys and snake oil salesmen, most of whom are still employing outdated SEO techniques that either don’t work or could even punish their clients.

In the last 18 months Google has has rolled out a series of updates to its search engine that have changed search engine optimisation for the better. Google increasingly rewards genuine high quality content and punishes cynical gaming of search. I’m happy to say that all my clients have benefited.

This excellent infographic from Fuzz One explains how search engine optimsation has changed in the last few years and how you can ensure your are generating Google-friendly content. Of course, my team and I would also be happy to guide your organisation towards better web marketing results if you’d like some assistance.

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Social media for customer service [Infographic]
21Jan13

Social media is ubiquitous now and for many organisations it has become an essential and effective marketing tool. But social media can also be highly effective as a customer service tool, something that relatively few organisations realise or utilise.

I have found from interactions with larger organisations that if you can fix an issue that a customer is having via social media you’ll find it’s one of the best marketing channels you’ve ever worked in. Leave them hanging, and you’ll find out the opposite is true.

This Infographic from ClickSoftware highlights compelling stats, for example, customers who engage with companies via social media spend 20%-40% more with those companies. So, how do you use social media when interacting with corporate brands or with your own customers?

Dollar Shave Club: a case study in retail industry interruption (and a very funny video)
14Jan13

My theme this year is “adapt or die”. Last week I explained 5 ways businesses must adapt in 2013 to survive and thrive. I am convinced that organisations must either commit to making significant changes to the way they do business or keep doing what they’ve been doing and try survive while their market share is steadily eroded by smarter, faster, more nimble competitors.

I’d now like to introduce you to one of those smarter, faster, more nimble competitors….Dollar Shave Club.

Here’s a start-up that launched in mid- 2011 and then relaunched in March 2012 and is already making a big splash in the exciting world of…..men’s razor blades. You know, that purchase you have to make at the grocery store once a month. Its been dominated for a century by Gillette and Schick. No other challenger comes close. Until now.

This video (which had had over 8 million views) is their main marketing tool and hilariously and effectively explains why you should stop buying blades at the grocery store and start buying from Dollar Shave Club. It’s pure genius. In 90 seconds they have skewered the industry leaders, entertained us and invited us to be part of their”club”.

A close look at their website is like a blueprint for online retail success:

  • the aforementioned video tells you everything you need to know…and its laugh-out-loud funny.
  • a prominent call-to-action “A great shave for a few bucks a month – DO IT”
  • a testimonial (which is fairly tongue-in-cheek)
  • a simple range of 3 packages to choose from
  • a simple and fun rewards program for sharing the Dollar Shave Club story, “Free blades for life”
  • a quick and easy payment gateway you’ll only ever need to visit once
  • Facebook sign-up option for membership
  • social media sharing

The whole site contains the same irreverent, “they’re just razor blades guys” style humour. Its fun, its compelling and it works a treat. I signed up within minutes and was actually excited when my blades arrived.

But the real genius is in the very simple proposition and business model.

The blades are made in South Korea and can be found under different brands in Pharmacies across the USA. They’re pretty good, not much more than that.

But Dollar Shave Club turns a traditional $15-20 grocery store expense into an easy $7 / per month subscription. They don’t just get the sale, they get your repeat business and a nice big database of customers.

Their product line is ridiculously small. Just 3 types of razor blades. By focusing in this way they maximise buying power and minimise overheads.

The Dollar Shave Club business model doesn’t rely on advanced computer algorithms and other amazing tech innovation like many startups we follow. It’s simply a business where the founder Michael Dubin looked at an industry and said he wanted to help men have fun with shopping online, because, “Women have all the fun [shopping online] with fashion, shoes, and accessories.”

By making shopping for blades easy, fun and more affordable they have seen explosive growth and have attracted an impressive $10.8 million in VC funding. For razor blades??!!

An old industry suddenly interrupted by a simple but new way  (subscription) of selling an existing product, executed extremely well. Hell, any of us could do that…couldn’t we?

 

5 ways your business MUST adapt in 2013 to survive and thrive
7Jan13

If you don’t adapt now, you’ll die.

Alarmist? I don’t think so. Scary? I hope so.

2013 is the year businesses need to draw a line in the sand. Either commit to making significant changes to the way you do business or keep doing what you have been doing and try survive while your market share is steadily eroded by smarter, faster, more nimble competitors.

The pace of change over the last decade or so has been blinding. It has caught many (most) industries off-guard with some only realising what happened once it was too late. Combine that with a troubled global economy that shows no real signs of improving any time soon and you have the perfect climate for massive disruption.

In Australia we are far from immune. Many Australian industries have been extremely slow to adapt as several studies have highlighted in recent times. As the warming glow of a record mining boom subsides the cracks in our economy will begin to show and uncompetitive, old-fashioned organisations will be the first to fall through.

Don’t think you will be affected? Think again. No industry is immune to the current pace of change. Your current competitors may not even be the ones to worry about. Right now dozens of startups are thinking of ways to revolutionise your industry and nibble away at your market.

Consider the these monumental changes that have taken place in the last decade or so. Then realise that its only the beginning. The magnitude of upcoming change will be even more stunning.

In 2013 you need to adapt or you’ll die. You need to rethink your offerings, your market, your size, your agility and your overheads.

Here are the 5 minimum steps you must address this year (if you haven’t already):

1. You MUST get a strong online presence.

Your crappy old website (if you even have one) with a list of products or services is no longer enough. You need to be found online easily by potential customers. You need to deliver the information they need as efficiently as possible. You need to offer solutions. If this isn’t on your to-do list in 2013 then you might as well give up now.

2. You MUST have a mobile website.

The mobile web is massive now and growing rapidly every year. Mobile devices now account for 13 percent of worldwide Internet traffic, up from 4 percent in 2010. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, at the very least, you have big problems and are already losing business. Ideally, you should have a mobile version of your site, which will have different requirements depending upon the nature of your business. The internet is going mobile, why aren’t you?

3. You MUST start looking for new revenue or marketing channels online.

Do you have a niche product or service that could potentially be exported anywhere? The future of your business could be in building a national or global market for just one of your products or services via an efficient online strategy rather than sticking to your current generalist approach in your current market. The barriers to entry are so low these days that you’d be crazy not to start testing and experimenting with sideline business opportunities which could potentially grow to become the main show. I did this with my own business a few years ago when we launched NLYZR.com as an online SEO tool, attracting a new international market as well as countless new Australian business opportunities.

4. You MUST start outsourcing.

Lean and mean is the new business mantra. Asset-heavy, full-time workforces are being replaced by asset-light freelanced workforces. By only hiring talent where and when you need it your organisation doesn’t just save on payroll, it saves on floorspace and all the employment “on-costs”. Even if your company hasn’t realised this yet the young, up and coming workforce has. Thanks to the Internet and increase in online social activity, endless new opportunities for young educated people are opening up. They realize that the traditional 9-to-5 is no longer their only career option.

Futurist Mark Pesce says, “That much connectivity in the economy creates this enormous capability for fluidity, and so jobs are going to start to become gigs and those are going to start to become tasks, and eventually we’re all just going to be doing a little bit here and a little bit there and it may not be until we get up in the morning and check the smartphone that we’re going to be knowing what we’re going to be doing that day.”

Outsourcing is more than Indian call centres for banks and telcos. There are a vast and growing number of functions you can currently outsource via sites such as Freelancer.com, oDesk, FlatPlanet and our own more locally-focussed option InsiderJobs. What functions can your company start outsourcing?

5. You MUST start cloud computing.

“The cloud” is a bit of a hackneyed and overused term these days but you can’t deny the efficiencies and cost-savings available by enabling a range of cloud-based applications. The options are endless, from large scale data storage and hosting through to smaller applications. Here are just some you should be considering:

  • Yammer for a secure, private social network for your company
  • Vend for point of sale software
  • Shoeboxed scans and organises your receipts, invoices and documents securely online
  • Deputy for timesheets and payroll

Honestly, the cloud options are endless. Integrating a range of these into your organisation will save time and money.

In 2013 you can attract new customers, grow new markets, lower your overheads and become more efficient….or you can keep doing what you have been doing and hope for the best. This combination of moving your marketing and sales online, outsourcing as many functions as possible and integrating more efficient cloud-based solutions are the basic steps to take to survive and hopefully thrive in this rapidly evolving economy.

[UPDATED Dec 2012] Internet Trends and the re-imagination of everything
6Dec12

“The magnitude of upcoming change will be stunning” – Mary Meeker

Stats guru and analyst Mary Meeker, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, has just published her latest report filled with amazingly useful data, the “2012 Internet Trends Year-End Update.”

Some highlights include:

  • 2.4 billion Internet users worldwide, a number that’s still growing eight percent yearly.
  • There are 1.1 billion smartphone subscribers worldwide — but that’s still just 17 percent of the global cellphone market.
  • 29 percent of adults in the U.S. now own either a tablet or an e-reader.
  • Mobile devices now account for 13 percent of worldwide Internet traffic, up from 4 percent in 2010.
  • Mobile app and advertising revenue has grown at an annual rate of 129 percent since 2008, and now tops $19 billion.
  • Mobile traffic app Waze has been adding users faster than all GPS makers combined have sold personal navigation units, and it’s been that way since the beginning of 2012.

Meeker’s spells out how these device and connectivity trends are leading to the complete re-imagination of everything from encyclopedias to money itself. And as slide 58 says….”the magnitude of upcoming change will be stunning – we are still in Spring training”.

 

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If you and your organisation are grappling with how to make the transition in this rapidly evolving digital economy I’d love to talk to you. My team and I specialise in helping businesses move steadily from traditional models to become modern marketers who flourish in this new global digital economy. You can see some of our services or contact me at craig@stickyads.com.au

What happens when Google closes a service – is this the end of FeedBurner?
6Dec12

Guest post by Rebecca Caroe, Feedblitz

Google’s business model has been to acquire services which they can integrate into their ecosystem and offer free of charge to users like you and me. One of their early acquisitions was an RSS to email service provider called FeedBurner.

It’s a handy tool, allowing bloggers to send out emails with the latest blog post updates automatically after they publish.

But now, Google appears to be slowly killing off FeedBurner’s services. Whether FeedBurner itself will cease to exist is anyones guess, as Google has given us no official word. However the future of the service is definitely becoming a concern in the minds of its users.

Since the service was acquired by Google in 2007, it has become a bit neglected. The most recent examples of this are:

  • On July 26th 2012 the FeedBurner Twitter account and blog were shut down.
  • In addition to this the Japan FeedBurner.jp domain name was lost or abandoned by Google at the end of July.
  • The metrics for all feeds were lost from September 19th when all feeds showed zero subscribers. And this outage lasted until September 24th.
  • And now they are shutting down the API as of the 20th October 2012.
  • And finally (for now) Adsense for feeds will also be shut down in December 2012.

Google has NOT said that they are shutting down FeedBurner, but the way they are slowly but surely killing off FeedBurner services has to set off alarm bells in the minds of users. Technology news website Techcrunch called it “The FeedBurner Deathwatch”.

What does this means for you?

If you use FeedBurner to distribute your blog to your readers, especially if you make money from your blog, then you need to have a contingency plan ready, because if the plug is pulled, you will lose both readers and money.

There are two obvious options open to you:

  1. Distribute your feed natively from your hosted domain
  2. Migrate to an alternative service provider

Dave Weiner (the man who invented RSS) has blogged about how to distribute your feed yourself, but if you are daunted by the techy instructions, don’t worry, there are alternatives.

Many prominent bloggers are already migrating their feeds and the FeedBurner discussion forums are busy with threads about how to cope with this new challenge.

If you are still using FeedBurner, don’t panic because it is still working; the statistics are back online. However, it’s good practice to back up your subscriber list from FeedBurner and start your RSS contingency planning now. Don’t get caught short.

——-

FeedBlitz is a premium alternative to FeedBurner.  Designed for bloggers and businesses who need reliable feed distribution, it comes with more features than FeedBurner, online support and also strong commendations from top bloggers who’ve recently moved their feeds.  Read the migration case studies here and here

Download the step by step guide to migrating your FeedBurner feed and try FeedBlitz free for 30 days!

 

Australia’s busiest ever online shopping day expected this Sunday
5Dec12

Via Australia Post

Australia Post opens 24/7 superstore to keep up with record online shopping and shipping demands

Australia’s leading online commerce enablers, eBay, PayPal and Australia Post are forecasting this Sunday 9 December to be the busiest online shopping day ever, with more online purchases predicted from Australian websites this December than in any other month of trade.

Approximately 2.3 million Australians are expected to visit eBay.com.au on this day alone – a 26 per cent increase over last year’s Busiest Online Shopping Day (11 December 2011).

Additional statistics for the Busiest Online Shopping Day (Sunday 9 December 2012): -

  • eBay expects 300,000 items to be sold on eBay.com.au on Sunday 9 December – 17% greater than last year’s busiest online shopping day.
  • PayPal predicts week commencing 3 December to be the busiest online shopping week Australia has ever seen.
  • Australia Post expects to deliver half a million more parcels across the country in the week following the Busiest Online Shopping day. Last year, Australia Post delivered an additional three million parcels in December alone.

To help address the spike in online shopping and shipping, Australia Post is also today announcing the launch of a new flagship superstore in Sydney CBD, which will help make the process of shipping products in time for Christmas much easier. Positioned adjacent to the Queen Victoria Building at 44 Market Street, it includes a 24/7 zone with self-service terminals, vending machine and parcel lockers so customers can pick up or send their Christmas parcels any time of the day. The superstore also features an online shopping zone with Apple Macs and iPads so customers can shop for their Christmas gifts online, in-store.

Deborah Sharkey, Vice President, eBay Australia said: “Despite positive online growth figures, we recognise that the retail industry is facing real challenges. Consumers are not spending more, they are spending differently. They are sending us a clear message that they want to shop online and mobile, alongside physical stores. The challenge for the modern retailer is to be everywhere the consumer is.”

“Retail has never been as simple for the consumer and more complex for the retailer. Leading service providers like eBay, PayPal and Australia Post are innovating at pace to provide elegant consumer solutions on behalf of the retail industry.”

Jeff Clementz, Managing Director, PayPal Australia said: “We are witnessing an increased growth in the number of Australian retailers who have opened their virtual store doors to receptive consumers. This year, consumers will be shopping across a mix of retail channels, from their tablets to their mobiles to in-store. Wherever they are shopping, consumers are looking for flexibility, convenience and security.”

Australia Post’s Executive General Manager Parcels and Express Services, Richard Umbers, said: “To make it easier for Australians to shop online and collect their parcels at a time that’s convenient for them we’ve installed new 24/7 parcel lockers in 49 locations across the country in time for Christmas. Customers can register for the free service today at www.auspost.com.au to have their online Christmas purchases delivered direct to a parcel locker location of their choice. We will be rolling out these lockers nationally over the coming year to a further 200 locations.

“More than 2,350 of our retail outlets are also open for extended Christmas hours during the week with the majority trading on Saturdays and more than 375 outlets also open on Sundays. We’re also delivering parcels on weekends to ensure people receive their items in time for Christmas Day.”

On Sunday 9th December 2012 on eBay.com.au:

  • An average of more than 200 items sold on eBay.com.au every minute
  • A piece of women’s clothing will be sold every 5 seconds
  • A DVD will be sold every 9 seconds
  • A piece of fashion jewellery will be sold every 12 seconds
  • A radio controlled toy will be sold every 30 seconds
  • A pair of women’s shoes will be sold every 40 seconds
  • A watch will be sold every 48 seconds

How to Create Email Marketing that Drives Conversions
3Dec12

Email is not a sexy topic and is often overlooked these days amongst trendier social network and display campaigns but there is still plenty of value and potential in well-managed email marketing. In fact, it is alive and well as a proven inbound marketing channel which converts strongly.

Here’s a great guide to creating an email marketing campaign that drives conversions from the team at Monetate. It is something I encourage my clients to do and part of the strategy we have employed in the launch and growth of InsiderJobs.

Intelligent Email Marketing that Drives ConversionsMonetate Marketing Infographics

The wheels are turning in Newcastle. All aboard the DiGiTal express.
28Nov12

Hunter DiGiTAlmost 18 months ago I posted My Plan for Creating an Innovative City. In it I reasoned that we needed two major breakthroughs to help Newcastle reposition itself as a centre for technology and innovation; high-speed broadband and the hosting of a major event along the lines of SxSW.

In the ensuing year and a half the wheels of progress have been turning and a passionate community of “agitators” has emerged to run with the theme. Things are starting to happen and it’s time for you to get involved.

Firstly, Gordon Whitehead launched Digital Newcastle, under the banner of The Lunaticks Society of Newcastle, in order to lobby and educate anyone who will listen. His energy and enthusiasm has been infectious.

Secondly, a taskforce called Hunter DiGiT was formed with a vision to establish the Hunter Region as a leading digital economy with a global reputation, by 2020. Their objectives are:

  • Online Participation: Encourage adoption of internet based technologies.
  •  Broadband Infrastructure: Attract commercial or government funded projects to provide world-class broadband infrastructure.
  • Digital Literacy and Skills: Encourage investment in technology education to equip the region’s transition to a digital economy.
  •  Social Inclusion: Increase digital literacy & broadband access for low income & disadvantaged groups.
  • Digital Industry: Support the growth of creative, digital and cultural sectors.
  • Reputation: Promote the regions digital and creative industry sectors and position the region as a place where talented people and start-ups want to live.
  •  Investment: Develop support networks to enable start-ups to access funds for growth.

This Friday 30 November, 2012 the vision starts to become reality as we mark the official launch of Hunter DiGiT with a special breakfast and day-long Expo.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • Technology Use in the Hunter 2012
  • Why embracing digital is important to our region
  • Telehealth
  • Gov 2.0 Looking to the Future
  • Legal matters in a digital age
  • Today’s New Business Model
  • How to market to the World

Speakers and panelists include:

Brendan Brooks President of Hunter DiGiT, Tim Owen, AM, MSS MP, Isabel Boniface – Microsoft, Anthea Bill – Hunter Valley Research Foundation, Gareth Berry – Unleashed, Craig Wilson – Sticky, Matt Crozier – Bang the Table, Anthony Scully – ABC, Jason Rumianek – Hunter Medicare Local, Roger Pryor, Roderick Smith – Evescourt Legal, Nick Bowditch – Facebook, Stephen Bourne - Business & Commercial Lawyer at Mananua Inc, Tim Holloway – Deputy, Marcus Westbury – Renew Australia, Damien Mahoney – Stackla, Gareth Berry – Unleashed, Nick Bartlett – GeoOP, Wayne Schmidt – Xero, Roger Gregg – Invitbox, Tim Holloway – Deputy HR

There will also be a range of businesses showcasing their innovative products and services. you’ll be surprised to learn how much talent and how many great little innovative companies are now in Newcastle. It’s going to be an exciting day.

The team behind Hunter DiGiT have worked tirelessly to put this together and kick-start the digital economy here in Newcastle. Their doing it not for profit but because they love this town and want to see innovation and technology prosper here.

Now its your turn to get on board. What do you have to do? Just turn up. The Expo is free to attend. Meet great local businesses, hear some informative presentations and discussions. Get involved.

The wheels are now turning. “All aboard!!!”

Facts and stats for online display advertising success
19Nov12

Online display advertising is a tricky area. So many eyeballs, so much potential but is the model going to succeed in the long-term for big players like Facebook and Google or are there new threats looming? This infographic from Prestige Marketing nicely summarizes the global online display market, it’s trends and it’s best performing sectors, and throws in some nice tips for your own online advertising success.


The Future Of Online Display Ads [Infographic]