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Where to Invest Your Digital Marketing Dollars

Whether you own a bricks and mortar or eCommerce business, a major brand or large corporation, businesses of all sizes can benefit from digital marketing.
We take a closer look at some of the digital marketing options to consider for your business and brand.
Email Marketing
Email marketing remains one of the most successful digital marketing platforms for converting leads to sales. Recent figures show for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI.
Successful email marketers personalise emails to their consumers, offering real value and content of interest to engage the reader and increase that all important click-through-rate. Targeting niche consumer groups by grouping mailing list recipients into certain demographics such as age, gender, and purchase or browsing history, your company can more accurately deliver the content your customers really want, rather than sending generic mass emails to an entire subscriber list. One recent study found 81% of online consumers are likely to make a purchase after receiving a personalised email.
Websites and Landing Pages
Regardless of your industry, your digital marketing strategy should include a website, and incorporate designated landing pages to promote key offerings. In today’s digital age, your website is often the customer’s first impression of your business. So it not only needs to look great, but your website should also offer an optimised user experience (UX) and feature a call to action (CTA). Integrating easy to use CTA buttons such as ‘learn more’, ‘book now’ or ‘join my mailing list’ encourages time-poor customers to act quickly and engage with your brand.
Landing pages and CTA’s do involve an element of trial and error, as results can vary among different industries, companies and customers. Don’t let this put you off though. Capturing web traffic data from your own website through measures like Google Analytics will provide valuable information about the visitors to your site, and their online behaviour. This allows you to further develop and customise your website to accommodate your customers’ needs and organically grow your ROI.
Content Marketing and Blogs
All too often we see businesses neglect blogs or content marketing, because they can’t see the connection between words and dollars.
Content marketing is an extremely powerful, and underestimated sales tool, capable of engaging, informing and entertaining readers while influencing their purchase decisions.
Surveys have found content marketing generates three times more leads than traditional outbound marketing, and costs 62% less. While digital marketers who prioritise blogging are 13 times more likely to realise a positive ROI.
Blogs and articles have the unique ability to market to a consumer, without making the reader feel like they’re being sold to. Content marketing allows businesses to position themselves as industry leaders, demonstrating their knowledge and skill in a practical manner instead of merely advertising products and services through a display ad.
Social Media
Social media can be used in a variety of ways to market your business, from simply increasing brand awareness and consumer engagement, to being the core driver of sales.
Mark Zuckerberg recently announced the milestone of two billion users on Facebook, making it by far the largest social media network in the world. And that trend is reflected closer to home too, with the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report revealing almost eight in 10 Australians now use social media, along with 47 per cent of small businesses, 49 per cent of medium sized businesses and 60 per cent of large businesses.
The report also revealed 64 per cent of Australians are more likely to trust brands that interact positively with customers on social media.
Although setting up a social media account is free, there are costs involved to maximise your page’s content, reach and engagement. You’ll need to consider how much you’d like to invest in a monthly advertising budget, and think about the time and costs involved in managing and monitoring the page, and planning and creating the content – which might include professional videos, photographs and copywriting.
You can measure the ROI by making use of built-in analytical capabilities that can provide valuable data on how people engage with your social media posts, including click through and conversion rates to your website and sales pages. Most businesses however are happy to measure their success by the growth of their followers and likes, as evidenced in the Sensis report.
When Twitter first emerged, it was famous for being the platform with the 140-character message limit. Since embracing more visual and video content, Twitter has relaxed the word count, but it’s still entirely appropriate for users on Twitter to share a brief text-only message – which isn’t suitable on any other social media platform. Twitter claims 85% of its users believe Promoted Accounts help them discover new businesses on Twitter, which is a promising statistic for businesses looking for consumers in the social media space.
Instagram is a predominantly visual medium, allowing businesses to showcase their products and personality on a digital global stage. More than 80% of Instagram users follow a business, and promoted products have the highest engagement rates of all content types.
With more than 467 million users, Linkedin is the biggest social referrer to corporate websites. The platform provides a targeted approach to digital marketing and professional networking, particularly for engaging the interest of potential investors and corporate employees. 
Podcasting
Podcasts are an innovative and influential marketing tool being increasingly used by a growing number of businesses globally. A study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Edison Research showed that 65% of listeners are likely to purchase a product after hearing about it on a podcast, suggesting consumers are receptive to advertisements delivered in the right context or environment. While podcasting has been around for more than 10 years, the number of podcast listeners is increasing. Listeners tuning into podcasts come from a wide range of backgrounds, ages and interests. Recent surveys have found at least 22% of younger podcast audiences tend to listen to more than 10 hours a week, whilst older audiences aged 55 and above tend to listen to around an hour or so in the same time frame. With this in mind, companies have the opportunity to develop podcasts that target and grow their niche audiences, in order to deliver a desirable ROI. And you don’t have to create your own podcast. Brands can enjoy the same benefits from exposure in collaboration with other podcasters.
Google Advertising
Advertising through Google’s image ads allows businesses to reach all new heights of consumer targeting and engagement. Google’s highly detailed analytical features allow brands to target specific customers based on their online habits, web browser history and search information.
So if, for example you sell jewellery, fashion or car accessories in an online store, and you advertise using Google’s image ads, you can entice leads to become return customers by having your product galleries display on their web browsers, embedded as a display ad on other websites. Perhaps they visited your online store and popped a few items in the cart but didn’t check out? You can give them a gentle reminder by displaying those same items in front of them while they’re reading the daily news.
While a cost per click (CPC) element applies to this form of marketing, using Google image ads returns a 31 per cent click through rate, higher than Google’s text based ads of 23 per cent. These types of ads are displayed across sites that consumers commonly use including Facebook and other websites on Google’s advertising network AdSense, allowing you to market your business on multiple platforms with a single digital campaign.
Ultimately, all of these digital marketing measures work to drive traffic to your website, and can be used alone or in unison to build a synchronised and multifaceted marketing strategy. Web analytics allow you to track results like web traffic and sales conversions, illustrating the link between your marketing platforms like social media or blogs, and making sales. And while there are no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to digital marketing, you can certainly consider these options as some of the most popular and successful platforms for marketing in 2017.

Time to Get (Digitally) Active!

Australian small business owners, we need to talk.
About what you may ask? Well, it’s a little awkward but there’s something I really need to tell you.
You need to be active online.
Don’t be mad. I know you have a million things to do. I know you think this internet thing is all too hard. And you probably know lots of people like you that who also think this online marketing is a waste of time.
Which makes them and, hate to say it, you wrong, deluded, misguided and completely out of touch. And that’s being nice.
The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that only 41.6% to 44.4% of SMEs have an online presence. That compares to 97% of large companies.
If you were smart – which you have to be to run a successful small business – you’d see this as an opportunity rather than a problem. On average, most of your competitors are missing out on building their brand, engaging with current and potential customers and positioning themselves as thought leaders.
And the good thing is that it doesn’t cost a fortune to get involved. In fact, with a little imagination and effort you can be online in no time.
So why am I going on about this? Your business has survived so far, what’s the rush? I always like to answer that by suggesting that you look at your own online behaviour. See how many of these sound ‘familiar’ to you: research restaurants, possible illnesses, movies, potential partners, latest celebrity news, check your bank balance, pay your bills and get a new employee.
Heck, it would be easier to list what we don’t do online than to list everything we do.
So isn’t it time to commission a new website, or to start regularly emailing your customers, or create a Facebook page? How about starting a blog and writing regular posts. And while you’re at it you’re only a few taps away on your smartphone from recording videos to post on YouTube. All of which will in all likelihood find itself to the internet’s big bopper.
Google is used by Australians 6 million times every day to search for goods, services and information. According to a Fleishman-Hillard study 89% of consumers search for information online before making a purchase. I’d wager that a fair few of your current or potential customers make up those numbers.
So I guess the final question is “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR????”
Being active online is simple but it’s not easy. It takes consistent work, dedication and focus. But think of the competitive advantage! And hard work? Pffftt, you’re not scared of hard work, right! For your sake you have to be in it. Run to your nearest computer or smartphone and start!
Now.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
Images Courtesy: www.unziptheweb.com, www.digitalbusiness.gov.au

Twitter’s Grand Design

So Twitter has been quite active recently. It’s what’s to be expected from a network of Twitter’s calibre; as a recently listed company they have quietly introduced a new profile pagedesign to a limited amount of users (a complement to an earlier redesign). As one of the top ten biggest social networks, it was only a matter of time before the little blue bird would make it into the stock exchange, thus constant updates are to be considered a necessity.
 
The new design has however been far too familiar for some users, as it’s quite similar to updates as seen on Facebook and/or Google+. Changes include:

        A larger profile photo and a wider header photo;
        Tweets are no longer arranged vertically, but scattered in a way resembling a news feed;
        A design focusing a lot more on images and video in general;

One might wonder where this is heading. Becoming more image-oriented is one way of taking on competitors like Instagram (and owner Facebook) head on, while changes to the timeline could be a way of making it more compatible with sponsored tweets. Ultimately; these recent updates has made Twitter a significantly competitive communication platform for marketing.

At the time of writing, it’s not sure whether or not all changes will be applicable, but it gets you thinking about the future of social media (in terms of this becoming generic interface) and its impact on the user experience. Competing social networks are moving towards similar end results – they want to connect people, they want users to share quality content, they want ad revenue and they want to be the social network user’s preference over their competitors. Piece of cake?
There are similar problems solved with similar solutions. Twitter started out allowing # and @ in posts, Facebook then followed suit as it’s a great way of connecting users with one another (consumer and brands). If an image oriented interface gives Twitter the opportunity to compete with Instagram, then that might be just what they needed to enhance the network’s functionality. If a profile page design works more effectively than others, then why change a winning concept?
Video is currently receiving a double golden thumbs up award for being the best communication medium, predicted to make out 50% of the total online consumption in 2014 and 69% in 2017 (according to a Cisco study cited by The Guardian). This would have us expect social networks to adapt accordingly. Will this result in a number of social media platforms looking pretty much the same? And how will they evolve from there? Either they fall back on their respective niches, or they merge into some kind of super network. We can make great things happen if we collaborate, or is that being overly optimistic?
What we see is the evolution of social media – the survival of the fittest. In China, social network RenRen took a swing at competitor Kaixin by buying the kaixin.com URL and use it in quite an unethical way. You’d like to think that this is an exception, but in the future we could be watching the ultimate showdown of the social media networks – a dirty fight to the death. Because at the end of the day, users don’t really care about the company providing the service or product. They want solutions to THEIR problems, and the one who provides these solutions will be the last one standing.
Twitter’s updates may have it looking more like its bigger competitors, but this is all part of evolution. In the end, it’s not about who has the sharpest teeth, it’s about who produces the best ideas – the best results.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
Image courtesy: dribbble.com, crave.cnet.co.uk

Behind The Curtain

Google is boldly going where few men have gone before – all in the name of social media
 
An interesting story is emerging from North Korea. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with rocket launches or tensions with South Korea. Rather, it centres on the visit currently being made to the ‘pariah state’ by Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt.
Although officially billed as a ‘private, humanitarian mission’, Schmidt’s travelling companion, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, said of the high-profile executive, ‘I’m sure he’s interested in some of the economic issues there, the social media aspect’.
Richardson declined to elaborate on what the ‘social media aspect’ might be, but it is tantalising to think that one of the world’s most secretive countries may stand on the verge of being ‘opened up’ (in a similar vein to Burma/Myanmar) and that social media may play a part in that.
Of course, this may simply be a question of Kim Jong Un and the other leaders in Pyongyang bowing to the inevitable – as even China has been powerless to stop the spread of social media, despite the lengthy ‘cat and mouse’ game its censors have played with Google.
It seems inconceivable that, in a country where the Internet is strictly regulated, the North Korean leadership would allow completely free and unfettered access to the World Wide Web or an uncensored social media landscape (although, as The Message has pointed out before, those ideals are arguably unattainable anywhere). Nevertheless, the country is certainly endeavouring to modernise its infrastructure by modernising farms and digitising factories, with Kim Jong Un recently delivering a keynote speech in which he cited expanding science and technology as a means for improving the country’s economy as a key goal for 2013.
Seen in that context, the visit from the man who oversaw Google’s expansion into a global Internet giant is certainly a timely one.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.

Sue-gle

Search engines like Google are now being legally recognised as publishers – and therefore liable for the content they display
Gone are the days of search engines playing the impartial observer. It seems every man and his dog is now out to sue Google, and with courts finding frequently in favour of the plaintiffs, the world’s biggest publisher is finally being viewed as such in the eyes of the law – and being held to answer for its content.
As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald last week, Australian man Michael Trkulja successfully sued Google and Yahoo for defamation because, after being the victim of a shooting in 2004, his name was linked on a number of high-ranking search results to underworld activity.
Specifically, Mr Trkulja’s name was connected with a Melbourne crime website (which no longer exists) and was also linked with Tony Mokbel, an alleged murderer and drug trafficker.
Mr Trkulja also won a similar case against Yahoo earlier this year (in which it was found that Yahoo was measurable by the same standards as any other publisher), with the search engine being ordered to pay him $225,000 in damages. The Supreme Court is yet to pass down a figure for damages in the Trkulja v Google case, but it would be logical to assume the figure could be even higher, given the engine’s wider reach.
Mr Trkulja isn’t the first person to successfully ‘Sue-gle’ (you heard it here first, folks).
As reported on The Message here, Bettina Wulff, the former first lady of Germany, had a rude shock when she discovered that Google’s autocomplete had created an entirely new and scandalous career for her resume. Typing Ms Wulff’s name into Google (which we did at the time of writing) returns the autocomplete suggestions ‘Bettina Wulff prostituierte’ and ‘Bettina Wulff escort’.

We’re also guessing that ‘Bettina Wulff Wallpapers’ isn’t referring to home décor.
Ms Wulff denies that any such profession is hidden in her past and has lodged a lawsuit against Google. For its part, the search giant denies that the autocomplete suggestions were its responsibility, as the site’s algorithm determines autocomplete based on the popularity of previous related searches.
In any case (no pun intended), the German non-prostitute is sure to be highly interested in the outcome of the legal case won by the Australian non-gangster.
As for Google, it may want to take a moment from defending all these lawsuits to have a look at what autocomplete is suggesting about it…

 
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Google pioneers underwater content

The search giant boldly goes where no online mapping service has gone before…
Google’s Street View has long made pretty compelling content. Whether you use it to get a clearer idea of a destination than any ordinary road atlas could give, or to take a trip down a virtual memory lane to show your kids the house you grew up in on the other side of the world, Street View provides the perfect combination of important information and timewasting opportunities.
So successful has it been that others have got in on the act, eager for their slice of the real-world-view pie. That Google has, so far, remained one step ahead of the competition owes much to its willingness to innovate. And innovations don’t come much more… well, innovative than taking your cameras underwater and providing Street View-type images of some of the world’s great coral reefs.
‘We want to be a comprehensive source for imagery that lets anyone explore anywhere,’ Jenifer Foulkes, Google’s ocean programme manager, told the BBC. ‘This is just the next step to take users underwater and give them the experience of an area that most people have not been to – seeing sea turtles, seeing manta rays, crazy pencil urchins and beautiful fish.’
But as well as being an effective PR exercise and showcase for Google’s ability to develop groundbreaking (and, indeed, ocean-breaking new technology), the underwater mapping serves an important purpose in recording these amazing, but threatened areas for future generations.
Among the reefs mapped is Australia’s own Great Barrier Reef, around Heron Island, Lady Elliot Island and Wilson Island – and it looks a little something like this…

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The content liability

Can the law keep up with the evolution of search, social media and online content?
Trolls have been all over the Australian news recently, with high-profile rugby league player Robbie Farah and television personality Charlotte Dawson feeling the spite of the anonymous hate-mongers.
As a result, the politicians are getting in on the act, with NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell publicly offering his support to Farah’s demand for tougher sentences for trolling, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard subsequently agreeing to meet the Wests Tigers ace to discuss the matter.
It remains to be seen whether Australia will go down the UK path of introducing new laws that force websites to reveal the IP address of anyone posted offensive material so they can be prosecuted. But even if that does happen, will those laws be effective in legislating a medium that is so fluid and constantly changing?
There are even profound implications for brands that employ social media and content marketing strategies. As The Message reported last month, a new ruling makes Australian companies responsible for the comments posted by others on their corporate social media sites. But such a ruling can only take into account the platforms that are available now, not the ones that will, inevitably, have developed in a few years (and probably superseded today’s offerings).
Are libel laws outdated in the online content age?
And now search engines are being held responsible for the potentially libellous nature of people’s search terms. In Germany, the wife of a former German president has included Google in a legal action to stop rumours about her private life.
As the BBC reports: ‘When the name Bettina Wulff is typed into Google’s search engine, suggested search terms include the words “prostitute” and “red light district”.’
The search giant is being issued the same cease-and-desist order that has successfully stopped traditional German media outlets publishing allegations (supposedly spread to damage Mrs Wullf’s husband Christian’s political career) that she was once employed as an escort.
Google argues that the auto-generated text simply reflects what others are already searching for online and so cannot be construed as libel on its behalf. And while it may seem ridiculous that a search engine with hundreds of millions of random users is as potentially culpable as a magazine that makes a conscious decision to publish certain allegations, the law does not agree.
Indeed, in March 2012 Google was ordered to disable the autocomplete function relating to search results for an unnamed Japanese man, who said his name was being associated with crimes he had not committed.
The growth of social media and the spread of online content has been enormously empowering for individuals. But should companies then be held liable for the choices those individuals make?
 
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From Panda to Penguin

What Google’s latest algorithm changes mean for content marketers and creators
Like the crazy but beautiful woman that keeps men guessing by refusing to let them get too comfortable in a relationship, Google has changed things once more, this time by releasing an algorithmic change – yep, another one – to their search product.
While some companies are still reeling from the changes brought in last year with ‘Panda’, it appears that the new version, known as ‘Penguin’, is just as ruthless in terms of penalising websites that don’t cut the search mustard. (It also seems that in the fight between what it has called ‘black hat and white hat SEO’, Google has decided that black-and-white animals are best suited to represent its battle.)
While Panda focused on the quality of written content and aimed to increase the overall relevance and user experience of websites, Penguin focuses on reducing link stuffing and keyword-heavy anchor text.
The Google explanation
Here’s an excerpt from Google’s blog post on the changes:
‘The opposite of “white hat” SEO is something called “black hat webspam” (we say “webspam” to distinguish it from email spam). In the pursuit of higher rankings or traffic, a few sites use techniques that don’t benefit users, where the intent is to look for shortcuts or loopholes that would rank pages higher than they deserve to be ranked. We see all sorts of webspam techniques every day, from keyword stuffing to link schemes that attempt to propel sites higher in rankings.
‘The goal of many of our ranking changes is to help searchers find sites that provide a great user experience and fulfill their information needs. We also want the “good guys” making great sites for users, not just algorithms, to see their effort rewarded. To that end we’ve launched Panda changes that successfully returned higher-quality sites in search results. And earlier this year we launched a page layout algorithm that reduces rankings for sites that don’t make much content available “above the fold.”
In the next few days, we’re launching an important algorithm change targeted at webspam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high-quality content. While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.’
What it means for content marketers and creators
Ironically, with every algorithmic change comes an onslaught of fluffy online articles trading in panic that offer advice on ‘The Ten Things You Can Do To Survive Google’s Algorithm Changes’.
But instead of offering bland, predictable advice on how brands and content marketers alike can avoid getting penalised, we will simply reiterate what we have been saying for years. Focus on the user experience. Focus on the content, making it engaging, enriching and worth reading rather than being inane nonsense stuffed with keywords. That way, the end result will take care of itself.
Treat informing, entertaining and enlightening consumers with the same importance as getting their money, and Google’s changes won’t impact negatively on your campaign at all. In fact, they’ll probably help your cause.
 
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From content to cars

Not content with dominating the online world, now Google seems determined to take over the real one
It’s a logical progression: build a search engine, make said search engine indispensible to just about everyone (and turn it into a cultural phenomenon into the bargain), keep tweaking the search criteria to ensure everyone – particularly content creators – continues to be reliant on you, diversify into other content-related fields (create a mapping system, buy the most popular video-sharing site and watch it go from strength to strength), attempt to put a young whippersnapper (let’s call it Facebook) in its place by creating your own social network, get mobile with the Android, do a few other cool things like creating ‘Terminator-style glasses’, causing a few privacy concerns and finally assuring your technical, technological and social pre-eminence and position as undisputed ruler of the 21st century by transforming the foremost industry of the 20th century and making cars. That drive by themselves. Without people.
Yep, in little more than a decade, Google has gone from content collation (or, as it put it at the time, organising ‘the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’) to cars, with the announcement that the US state of Nevada has issued Google with the world’s first licence to test self-driving cars on public roads.
The project has been around since 2010, when it was launched as a ‘technical experiment’ and featured a legally blind man behind the wheel. But it’s now being taken to the next level, complete with red number plates and an infinity symbol to show that this is the vehicle of the future.
Hey, who cares about privacy when you can make a car that drives itself, right? Or are we all about to be blinded by technology?

 
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Killing keywords

Is Google’s quest for smarter searching a good thing for content creators and marketers?
It seems Google is at it again. Just a couple of months after changing its search algorithm to enable users to ‘personalise’ their search (which critics like Twitter have argued unfairly promote Google+) comes the news that the search engine to rule them all is retooling its search machine ‘to go beyond recognising words in queries and begin understanding what it is people are asking for’.
According to Google fellow Amit Singhal, ‘right now our understanding is pretty darn limited… Ask us for the 10 deepest lakes in the US and we’ll give you decent results based on those keywords, but not necessarily because we understand what depth is or what a lake is.’
AFP reports that ‘Google is tapping into the virtual brain of a Freebase database of knowledge regarding what things are and how they relate to one another’ in a quest to evolve ‘semantic’ search capabilities rather than the traditional – and still current – method of the search engine recognising keywords and delivering links to websites that contain them.
‘Our vision for this knowledge graph [the Freebase database] is as a tool to aid the creation of more knowledge – an endless cycle of creativity and insight,’ says Singhal.
What it means for content marketers
It sounds like a laudable aim, but what will it mean for content creators – and, for that matter, content marketers?
As we know, SEO keywords are a currently a vital component in ensuring content is found. With semantic search, though, their importance is going to be greatly reduced – to the point of ultimately becoming irrelevant.
For creative types who dislike having to work certain words and phrases into their lovingly crafted copy, this may be a blessing. For others, though, it is likely to entail a new approach to content creation and content marketing.
The trick will be to create quality content that users want to find. In a way it represents a return to ‘old school’ marketing and underlines the importance of knowing your target audience and ensuring that you offer what they are looking for, rather than simply including a few keywords and hoping they find you.
Online content marketing is about to change. The question is: are you ready?
 
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