Got some questions regarding online marketing for 2013? Kevin Kevany interviews several leading crystal ball gazers on the rise of ‘effectiveness’, ‘responsive design’ AdWords Express, YouTube, email’s survival and a whole lot more.
December 21, 2012 is the day that the 5125 year-old Mayan calendar ends – but I think we can safely assume the world will carry on regardless. Nevertheless 2012 was largely a gloomy year for SMEs – the world worried about Europe, and consequently we achieved nothing, mostly. Then we waited for America to decide on a president.
But that exercise, at least, gave an insight into how digital-based marketing, in all its formats, can increasingly be focused on the end-game, once it is clearly defined: i.e. get elected.
So what does 2013 offer SME owner-managers in growing the sales to get us out of this universal funk? We asked those in the marketing-know whether ‘Christmas cheer’ might go a little further this year? Are we about to see the final stage in the marketers moving from being the pedlars of the latest fad to integrated service purveyors of the media-mix best-suited to the particular challenge?
Daniel Barnes, joint creative managing partner of Barnes, Catmur & Friends, a full-service, integrated advertising agency, takes the first rub of the crystal ball.
“Today’s marketers are under the same pressure that businesses are under. Do more, better, and preferably do it with less. The upshot of this is an emphasis on effectiveness above all.
“In 2013, this is one thing about the business you can safely predict isn’t going to change. The tricky part is that a marketer now has to deal with an ever-expanding set of options, with resources that certainly aren’t increasing.
How do you get around that?
“Our view is that after years of fragmentation into disconnected specialists, the traditional advertising agency model of a unified group of key services all under one roof is due for a comeback. Do clients really want to spend their time managing a host of competing players in order to get a campaign away? Or would they prefer to be getting on with their job? We suspect it is the latter.
“We also suspect that if you want a more effective sports team, they all have to be in the same jersey. While plenty of things will change in 2013, this is another thing that won’t,” says Barnes.
Email alive and well
As you search for yet another app for your smartphone/tablet, click onto your Facebook page and wonder whether your Twitter presence is really enhancing your company image, do you even remember where this all started: email marketing?
“Email is far from dead; in fact we’re seeing a bigger uptake now than ever,” says Glenn Edley, CEO of Spike, “sending emails that get read and acted on.
“After 10 years in the game, we’ve seen attitudes around email marketing shift: what we send is becoming more relevant, while people are being increasingly mindful of what they sign up to. We are ‘sending less, more often’. With so many messages bombarding consumers daily, there’s a need to be in front of them constantly, even if it’s just a simple brand reminder.
“Email, as a channel, is seldom compared to the likes of television or radio where messages get repeated a lot. Business owner/managers often say: ‘I don’t want to send too often and annoy my customers. But this perception is shifting as people understand the power of email to challenge that,” says Edley, who believes the ‘transformation of information sharing’ trend, which social media has generated, is echoed on the email ‘Forward’ function too.
He predicts a return to ‘old-school’ rules for business. “We’ll see business become more and more personal as people acknowledge the strength that email has for engagement. One-way communication is archaic: history. As people accept that, they become less afraid to put their names on the bottom of an email and ‘encourage’ replies.”
Spike believes 2013 will see more ‘integration’ – using a combination of e-commerce, point-of-sale and CRM systems – with email marketing providing the glue to bring it together on integrated-software. “Delivering clean data and the need for only one system; which, in turn, allows better visibility of people’s purchasing habits and more effective ROI measurements.”
Websites too could be thought to have developed an ‘uncool’ image since they stormed onto the marketing battleground a decade-plus back. Zeald has been the go-to company from back then. They too have evolved to maintain their status and today (and going forward) look to ‘Responsive Design’ to pull-all-the-levers/ push-all-the-buttons at the appropriate time.
“Done right,” says Evan Cooper, Zeald’s marketing team leader, “your website can be the most cost-effective ‘sales rep’ that you have ever hired, delivering your best sales presentation, every time, no matter what the hour or location. It can be turned into an incredibly powerful business tool, with the potential to generate massive amounts of qualified enquiries and sales.”
Like any dominant company in an important niche (8,612 clients over 11 years), Zeald has moved with the times and, more importantly, taken to helping their customers keep-up (or, allow them to hand over the responsibility to Zeald to achieve the maximum return, with the maximum possible cost-efficiency. This service is most valued in the SME sector, as social media and mobile platforms have swept to the fore.
“SMEs particularly need results immediately. There’s no extra budget to experiment,” says Cooper. “The question is not ‘Should I do mobile?’, but rather ‘Why don’t I have a mobile presence already?’
“Content provides meaning to the viewer. It requires human judgement to decide what actually matters most to a user and not automated pages. This means the designers and developers will need to choreograph, to a certain extent, what content goes where and what that content should do when viewed on certain devices.
“Over the past few years, more and more people and businesses are using mobile devices to browse the Internet, with more and more different types and sizes of devices coming online, so your website pages will need to look different depending upon what is displaying them.
“The best web designs are the ones that make things easy. It is about being user-friendly. It is web design that responds to the user as they arrive at the web page,” suggests Cooper.
“But, unlike previous methods for handling mobile designs, you don’t create a separate site for every type of mobile browser that you want to support. Responsive design simply looks at the features of the device viewing the page, and delivers the format appropriate for that device,” says Cooper, who believes 2013 will also see fewer attempts to impose solutions tailored for large companies onto Kiwi SMEs.
On the subject of website marketing, Henning Dorstewitz, Google’s B2B PR and public affairs chief for Australasia is brief and to-the-point: “Your readers need to look no further than AdWords Express. It’s our latest ad format for SMEs and it’s basically our search advertising tool AdWords ‘made super easy’ for smaller companies.”
If you need convincing further, Sam Corban, a licensed acupuncturist based in Westmere, Auckland, can provide it (see editor Glenn Baker’s interview with Google’s Tony Keusgen, in the Biz Tech section).
Google partner, Yellow, has probably been through the greatest transformation of all from a marketing perspective – from a passive provider of printed business directories to what it is today.
Yellow CEO, Chris Armistead, believes the revitalised and digitised company is in a unique position in that it has been talking to New Zealand businesses for decades.
“Everyone knows that people who are running their own businesses are time poor. And they’re experts in their craft – be it fixing cars or making cakes – but they’re not necessarily online experts. They know they need to be online but it can be overwhelming to try to understand how it works, let alone make it all happen. And who to trust?
“We can take care of it for them and offer a one-stop shop. SMEs come to us not just for print anymore, but to dive (or dip their toe) into the digital world, at a level that both suits them and they can afford.
“This can be as simple as a three-page website that’s boosted with video and search-engine marketing via Google Adwords, through our Google Premier SME partnership,” Armistead says.
As an example he points to Jason Pickles, Kiwi Locksmiths, an SME they set up with a Yellow combo, which included a website, video, and Google Adwords – as well as his standard print and online listings.
Pickles cautious approach had initially held the business back because of a lack of knowledge of what was involved. Which wouldn’t surprise digital marketing whiz and Pure SEO MD, Richard Conway, whose own website, naturally, ranks well and consequently receives a lot of enquiries from companies looking for more than just search engine optimisation (SEO) or search engine marketing (SEM).
“The client generally has two choices. Either, make a compromise and select a ‘digital agency’ – the problem with this is that often a digital agency will have one or two core competencies with other services ‘stuck on’ to keep the client under one roof.
“Or use our network of suppliers to obtain the best industry experts for each element of the project. Usually we will manage the process entirely, so there is one main point of contact and one billing company – much like selecting an agency, but ensuring you get the very best for each ‘silo’.”
The ‘Bridgestone Pink Cap Drive’ campaign, for example, was led by Pure SEO and has been a huge success, in the first week alone the Facebook reach increased by 3,554 percent; the ‘people talking about’ metric increased by 335 percent; and ‘likes’ increased by 13 percent. The campaign raised money and increased awareness of breast cancer.
Conway’s digital marketing predictions for 2013?
“The ones to watch are Pinterest and Google+. From a strategy perspective I believe that local SEO is going to prove to be very important in 2013; we have already seen the influence of local search on the search results with Google Places (Google+ Local).
“From a ‘low hanging fruits’ perspective, I think the big one to watch is YouTube. It is currently the world’s second largest search engine – however, a large proportion of New Zealand businesses ignore it completely. There are various options, such as advertising (paid inclusion like Google AdWords) or creating compelling content.
“The final thing to watch out for will be mobile – the explosion in the prevalence of mobile devices will start to dominate e-commerce and advertising strategy from 2013. There will be an increase in importance of mobile versions of websites and responsive websites.
“Mobile apps and mobile advertising are also going to increase exponentially in 2013,” Conway predicts.
Kevin Kevany is an Auckland-based freelance writer.
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Online marketing case study: NZ Tax Refunds
When NZ Tax Refunds launched in 2008, the specialist online tax refund company was a pioneer in the industry. For the past four years, the market leader has helped thousands of clients get their share of millions of dollars in overpaid taxes held by the IRD.
In early 2012, to stand out in a crowded marketplace (the company now has more than 35 online competitors) the company launched ‘WooHoo’, to differentiate their brand by appealing to the emotional aspect of getting a tax refund. A ‘WooHoo’ moment is when something unexpectedly great happens, like an unforeseen windfall from NZ Tax Refunds.
“This bold differentiation effort,” says Sandra Lukey of the Shine Group, “used in all traditional and online campaigns, created emotional engagement and drove business online. Since the launch of the campaign the company has experienced a 200-percent-plus increase in ‘unique visitors’ and a nearly equivalent rise in online customers, successfully completing the online application form.
“Search trends show that people are not only recalling the new brand device but also actively searching for it. ‘WooHoo’ is firmly linked to NZ Tax Refunds as a brand device that people connect with, remember and talk about. Most importantly, it helps drive traffic to their website which is, of course, vital for any successful online business.”