Rich Clark Marketing

Opinions from Rich Clark one of the UK's leading Marketing Professionals


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The Internet Landscape

NetImperative.com published a number of latest stats on internet usage this week.  But what does it all mean?

Rise and Fall of the Internet

So you probably thought that everybody that wanted to use the internet at home probably already has access.  Well according to the latest numbers from Nielsen (featured on NetImperative) there is still room for growth in major markets.  The US and UK saw significant growth, 10.4% and 3.1% respectively.    There was also growth of over 1% in Australia, Italy and Germany with more modest growths in Japan and Brazil.  Most startling isn’t the fact that some markets have continued to grow, more that some major markets have declined, including France, Spain iPhone 3GSand Switzerland. 

Whilst I don’t think the numbers should be read in pure black and white terms, it does demonstrate the issues of using data on such a small time frame and not looking at longer term trends.  The data was based only on May 09 Vs June 09.  If you were to read this on face value, it would seem USA is leading the way on the internet whilst some mainland European counties are turning their backs on the Internet, which obviously isn’t true.  I am not 100% certain but I can’t imagine the numbers Nielsen uses takes into account convergance and the growing move towards accessing the internet on mobile devices such as the Apple iPhone or the HTC Google phone.  This is also set to continue with newer style netbooks with mobile broadband capability built-in.

Top Social Networking Channels

So Facebook are the kings of social networking.  That is the widely held view and judging from the Hitwise numbers featured in NetImperative show that it represents 47% of all UK visits to social networking sites.  Interestingly Bebo has twice the traffic of Twitter and MySpace.  Another dark horseSocial Media Pic that many people completely ignore is Yahoo!Answers with 1.19% of all traffic. 

Whilst these numbers prove that Facebook cannot be ignored by marketeers, it does demonstrate the next tier isn’t as obvious and clear cut as many think.  All Marketeers should look at their target segments and choose which channel best suits their needs.  They should also consider what they have to offer each network and create firm reasons for being involved.  Despite Bebo‘s claims within their advertising sales packages, I doubt they are as big in the 25+ market as they would lead you to believe.  You must therefore determine if you have anything to offer a younger audience and if you brand belongs.

Top UK Online Retailers

Once again on NetImperative they list the Top 50 Online Retailers within the UK (listed at the foot of this post).  The list published in conjunction with IMRG and using Hitwise data is based purely on visits.   The list is fine as a benchmark but to label its output Top 50 Online retailers is somewhat over the top.  The numbers fail to recognise usability, conversion, online SoV or the obvious benchmark of turnover and profit.  If all these factors were incorporated, I am sure there would be some differing positions and maybe even some change of faces in the Top 50.

Withstanding the rationale of creating the list, the top 10 is made up predominantly of names you would consider when talking about Top 10.  Amazon (1st and 5th), Argos, Play.com, Next, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Thomson, Expedia and EasyJet.  OK so the final few wouldn’t be in my list of Top 10 online retailers.  Despite this list IMRG claim a massive rise in spend online, largely driven by the fashion sector (none of whom really appear at the top of the list, with the exception of Next and M&S)

The most interesting element of the top 10 is that all are recognised brands.   This shows that Internet Marketeers also need to recognise the importance of brand and cannot base every business decision purely on immediate ROI or DM metrics.

Top 50 Online Retailers List  – August 2009

Source: NetImperative

1 Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/
2 Argos http://www.argos.co.uk/
3 Play.com http://www.play.com/
4 Next http://www.next.co.uk/
5 Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/
6 Marks & Spencer http://www.marksandspencer.com/
7 Tesco.com http://www.tesco.com/
8 Thomson Holidays http://www.thomson.co.uk/
9 Expedia.co.uk http://www.expedia.co.uk/
10 easyJet http://www.easyjet.co.uk/
11 Apple Computer http://www.apple.com/
12 Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com/
13 ASOS http://www.asos.com/
14 Tesco Direct http://www.direct.tesco.com/
15 lastminute.com http://www.lastminute.com/
16 Thomas Cook http://www.thomascook.com/
17 B&Q http://www.diy.com/
18 John Lewis http://www.johnlewis.com/
19 Debenhams http://www.debenhams.com/
20 Littlewoods http://www.littlewoods.com/
21 HMV.co.uk http://www.hmv.co.uk/
22 River Island http://www.riverisland.com/
23 Currys http://www.currys.co.uk/
24 Ticketmaster UK http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/
25 Topshop http://www.topshop.co.uk/
26 Odeon Cinemas http://www.odeon.co.uk/
27 New Look http://www.newlook.co.uk/
28 LOVEFiLM http://www.lovefilm.com/
29 O2 Shop http://www.shop.o2.co.uk/
30 Cineworld Cinemas http://www.cineworld.co.uk/
31 TravelRepublic.co.uk http://www.travelrepublic.co.uk/
32 Comet UK http://www.comet.co.uk/
33 Vue Entertainment http://www.myvue.com/
34 The TrainLine http://www.thetrainline.com/
35 British Airways http://www.britishairways.com/
36 ASDA http://www.asda.co.uk/
37 First Choice http://www.firstchoice.co.uk/
38 Dell EMEA http://www.euro.dell.com/
39 Halfords http://www.halfords.com/
40 Screwfix Direct http://www.screwfix.com/
41 PC World http://www.pcworld.co.uk/
42 GAME http://www.shop.game.net/
43 IKEA http://www.ikea.com/
44 Travelodge UK http://www.travelodge.co.uk/
45 Homebase http://www.homebase.co.uk/
46 Sainsbury’s http://www.sainsburys.com/
47 Boots http://www.boots.com/
48 ASDA Direct http://direct.asda.com
49 The Orange Shop http://www.shop.orange.co.uk/
50 QVCUK.com http://www.qvcuk.com/
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Attention Planning – Social Media

Attention Planning

There is always a mass of hyperbole surrounding social media and branding.  This can be due to lack of understanding, the fact that few hard measures are put in place or just the fact it is in the interests of some marketeers to keep the mystique around these subjects.  Whilst both areas may not be as simple to analyse as an immediate ROI from a PPC campaign, or coupon redemption through DM, there are ways to measure their impact and effectiveness.

This post looks very simply at some of the methods of measuring social media campaigns and in a way, branding campaigns online in general.

Social Media sites

Desirability

This is the section that traditional ATL or brand advertisers would call consideration.  Essentially it is the measure to ascertain if people actually like your brand or not.  Traditional advertisers will run surveys, perform focus groups or take a spurious number from a third party research house.  However, these are sometimes the route of the reason why we never truly know the impact of our activity.  How many times have you been asked to take part in ‘research’ and declined the opportunity.

There is a (relatively) quantifiable way of doing this online.  Tapping into the social media cloud around your brand, you can see how people view your brand, both positively and negatively.  This can be done through buzz metrics (reputation management) which effectively analyses all the commentary your brand receives through social media channels.

Awareness

The central point for any brand has to be has your target audience seen the brand and are they aware of it?  These are important (although not necessarily critical) questions to answer prior to your campaign, as it is easier to raise awareness if there is existing rapport.  As users become increasingly sophisticated and engaged with your brand, campaign materials will be spoken about, distributed by users and eventually searched on.  Again as a brand you need to extract these conversations, it not only allows you to evaluate awareness, it also allows you to understand impact and perception.

A great example of a campaign that has generated large levels of awareness is ComparetheMeerkat.  The TV ad aired and created a stir.  A microsite was available that was then promoted via the majority of online channels, social and other.

Compare the meerkat

Frequency

The old rule of traditional advertising was developed in the 1970s by Krugman.  He stated that you need to expose your target to your message three times. What? Why? and the payoff.  Essentially this still rings true.  Potentially even more relevant in social media.

Be aware when developing campaigns or activity for your brand you need to have a sufficient campaign base and content to maintain users engagement and buy-in.  Users aren’t willing to see and review the same content on a regular basis, they are even less likely to be interested in distributing this to their friends.

Engagement

This is quite simply how deeply entrenched your brand is within the consumers’ minds.  How often are you referenced in blogs, on forums or other social media platforms.  This is how many times are you commented on, how long were the conversation strings and were the messages postive or negative.  The ultimate and potentially more difficult to measure is did the activity spark other activities.  A great example of this in action can be found on YouTube, where users in the YouTube community post video responses.

Pay-off

With more media becoming available at an accelerated pace both online, in print and on broadcast media with the advent of digital TV and Radio, users attention is becoming more and more difficult to obtain.  Key measures to see if you have grabbed the attention are simple methods such as click-throughs, UVs and repeat visits.  This indicates your content is engaging enough to offer users some form of pay-off.

Another measure (depending on your content) is time spent interacting.  Generally in brand building (social) campaigns the longer users spend on site, the better.

Spread

Traction is key here.  As an advertiser you can only target certain media channels, it would be impossible to target all possible channels.  Therefore organic spread is a great measure of success.  Your campaign needs to spread from mailbox to mailbox if it is to progress.  Perhaps more importantly does the campaign spread from social network to social network?  Another great track is to see if your campaign gets bookmarked on social bookmarking sites such as Digg or Stumble.

Reach

Remember you need to track your campaign.  Remember review how many people have seen your campaign and are they in your target audience?  Reach is important and the more people that see your campaign the better.  However it would be better to sacrifice some numbers in order to maximise your reach within your target audience.

Summary

Whilst none of the points raised in this post are as complex as rocket science, they may seem obvious, many organisations forget these principals when placing their brands in social media.

They often believe just because they are established brands or are well known, they deserve their place in people’s everyday social networks.  If that was the case the job of the Internet Marketeer would be a very simple one.  However, social media has made the landscape more complex.  You must have a reason for being in social media and above all track what you are doing.

To enable this, you need to set out some clear objectives that can be measured.  In my opinion I would also suggest employing a reputation management specialise.  Somebody along the lines of Market Sentinel that could also analyse the benefits of all your activity on SEO and overall marketing efforts.


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Obama Winning The Social Way

OK, so I’m not really a fan of posting blog entries that are little more than links to other areas of the web.

On this occassion I think it is OK to make an exception.  Have a look at the presentation on how Obama used the internet and more specifically social media to help him win the presidential race.

http://www.slideshare.net/socialmedia8/case-study-the-barack-obama-strategy?type=powerpoint


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Integration Vs Imitation

One of the biggest areas of discussion between client-side traditional advertising professionals and their digital counterparts is campaign integration.

Brand police are obviously very sensitive and protective towards their brands.  They want to ensure consistency and maintain control.  Admiral qualities.

However, quite often their digital counterparts are passed on assets and told to make them work.  The digital teams are fully aware of their channels and generally understand what works and what doesn’t via the internet.

This isn’t a new debate.  Its just the mediums have changed.  The same discussions have and still happen on how to integrate TV with PoS and press.  However as those channels are more established the rules of engagement are generally well understood by marketeers and advertisers.

This isn’t the case with digital.  Traditional advertisers still need to be educated.  However the same discussion applies.  We are talking campaign ‘integration not imitation’.  Whilst millions may have been spent on TV ads or on sponsorship properties, there is no reason why you shouldn’t tweak the messages slightly for the channel.  You need to recognise the difference in mindset of the recipients of the message within each channel.

For arguments sake, a TV ad can be a very broadcast tool as you are trying to hit as many people as possible in a ‘sit-back’ medium.  However, text on an e-mail to your customer base may get the message across in a consistent way (follow same tone of voice, promote the same message, potentially use the same font) – however you know these people are engaged with your brand and you can talk with them on a more personal note.  This rule can be exaggerated again by using social networking as an example.  The text in your corporate brochure or on your press ad is very important and make take a serious tone – however you wouldn’t want to copy that on your Facebook page.

For me you have to ensure consistency is in place, campaign integration.  The look and feel need to be similar, the emotional output is similar and overall the message is the same.  However it doesn’t need to be identical, campaign imitation.  It doesn’t matter if the words are slightly different.  It doesn’t matter if the image is different due to the context as long as the overall brand isn’t effected.

Traditional advertisers need to step up and learn digital.  Digital advertisers need to push back on this and explain their rationale, but also explain the benefits this approach can have on the brand, rather than being precious about the channel.


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First Post

I am Richard Clark, a Marketing Professional with a few years experience now (without giving my age away – it is double digits).  So this is my new attempt at creating, maintaining and updating a blog.

I have made a couple of forays in the past, however have lacked the time and inclination to make it work.  Hopefully this time will be different. 

With the current economic climate marketing professionals are faced with new challenges they have never faced.  Marketing is not exempt from feeling the pain, online marketing/advertising was considered the only place to be unaffected due to the transparency and ease of tracking.  Is this exemption a given right or do we have to work for it?  The simple truth is we have to make the medium work harder and generate the results we need for ourselves, our organisations and our customers.

In addition, the internet has become mainstream.  Even new sites or channels that were previously the preserve of internet geeks or early adopters are become mass adoption and available to the masses at a much more accelerated pace than previously.  This is potentially best illustrated by the recent rise of Twitter.

However, internet marketing and/or advertising still faces the same challenges whatever the economic state or evolving media.  We must hit the KPIs set out for us and obey or set best practice.

I hope you find my blog informative and potentially enjoyable.  If there are any topics you would like me to cover, please feel free to let me know.  Alternatively if you would like to post a guest blog, just let me know.