Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Doing Digital - Going Mobile

The Whole World’s Gone Global!

The late 20th and early 21st centuries were typified by fundamental changes in consumer behaviour and in markets. These were largely enabled by two significant technological advances; the Personal Computer and the Internet.

The first allowed users in business, and later the home, to access unrivalled computing power, without the restrictions and control of an IT department.

Secondly, during this period, the Internet evolved into a fully functional platform for global information exchange, communications and commerce.

Mobile technology represents the third wave of this technological tsunami and builds upon it. It puts significant, compact computer processing power literally in the hands of all of us, connecting everything together across the World Wide Web.

It is estimated that about 30% of the world’s 7 Billion population have access to the Internet, while globally there are about 5.8 billion mobile subscriptions. In the UK there are now more mobile devices than people! Imagine the potential that this level of technology penetration gives to marketers.

A striking feature of Mobile and Mobile Marketing is its ubiquity. Mobile devices are always connected and in contact. This allows consumers to access the functionality that they want, at the time, location and in the form in which they want it.

We are moving away from a world where media owners and marketers strive to get their message across just at the times and places of their choosing. Whether in advertising, news or entertainment, the consumer is now the final arbiter.

As consumers, we increasingly expect to be addressed and serviced as individuals, rather than just ‘one of the crowd’. We are conceptually moving from ‘one market of a million’ to ‘a million markets of one’.

A far cry from the days when Henry Ford offered his cars in ‘any color you want, as long as it’s black’!


In time, I believe that the mobile devices of today will evolve to become a kind of digital ‘Swiss army knife of the future. Imagine a device which; holds your money and id, captures or delivers media, communicates, navigates, scans, entertains, informs and educates.

Geo-location allows our Mobile device to be ‘aware’ of where it is and what is around it. With a device that goes everywhere with the consumer and which ‘knows’ where they are, there are many potential benefits for advertisers. Combining geo-targeted Mobile advertising with known customer data, for example from a web based CRM system, can provide highly relevant messaging which will add value to the recipient.

Delivered through a Concierge or PA application, services can be envisaged that advise the consumer of where to go and what to do, based on their location and predicted or specified preferences and tastes.

A further growth area will be in the case where the Mobile device acts as a ‘Social Object Controller’. With the development of web 3.0, more and more ‘inanimate’ objects will have web connectivity. These will include; cars, household appliances, games and media devices. In future, most of these will interact with, or be accessible and controllable from, the consumer’s Mobile device(s).

Consider a retail environment where your Mobile ‘knew’ where you were and could guide your shopping trip to nearby outlets and stores which stocked the items in which you were interested, alerted staff when you had arrived in the shop, performed a price-check and delivered personalised  offers, discounts and deals, uniquely tailored to you.

Imagine a world where your car not only had a sat-nav but would also generate active recommendations for restaurants, rest stops and places of interest en route, all based on your personal preferences and diary. When it became time for a vehicle service, the embedded Mobile device could notify the driver, contact the garage to inform them of areas for attention, and book the appointment. Bugatti Veyron technology today – in most vehicles in the future.

In a recent discussion with some of my students, these ideas raised some concerns about safety and security, with so much of a user’s personal information on one Mobile device. Today, with services such as Apple’s iCloud it is possible to remotely locate, lock or wipe a misplaced iPhone. Compare that with the nightmare of trying to contact all of the credit, debit and store card companies, after your purse or wallet is lost or stolen.

At present, many of these predictions may seem far-fetched or fanciful. In the past, many of us marvelled at the first ‘green screen’ PC’s, mobile phones the size and weight of a house-brick and even ‘Space Invaders’ or ‘Pong’ on the games machine in our local pub.

In future, the next generation of consumers will adopt and adapt to ubiquitous Mobile devices as an accepted and expected aspect of everyday life.

I, for one, can’t wait to join them!

Peter Rees DipM FCIM FRSA MCIPR MIDM, Chartered Marketer
City Digital Marketing Academy

Monday, 6 February 2012

EXCLUSIVE - e-interview with Dr. Dave Chaffey

After many months in the planning, I am delighted to post this EXCLUSIVE interview with stellar Digital Marketer Dr Dave Chaffey, to whom very many thanks!!

Dr Dave Chaffey is CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights (, a digital marketing advice site that helps businesses succeed online. He is author of 5 bestselling books on Ecommerce including Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice and has been recognised as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have shaped the future of Marketing. 

Question 1: Many companies and managers today are overwhelmed with all the hype around Digital Marketing. What practical advice would you give them, to help get started in this area?

Yes, I think many “rabbits in the headlights” moments with the growing pace of change and the speed at which the key players introduce new features. The great thing about digital marketing is that you can “dive in” and start small by creating a blog or Facebook page. The problem is, you’ll often then lurch to the next latest hype to see whether that helps. It’s currently Google+ and Pinterest for example, this time last year it was Quora. None of these will help build commercial growth if you don’t get the marketing fundamentals right.

At we're firm believers in a planned, structured approach to help make sure your online marketing activities are aligned with business objectives. Planning also really helps you prioritise on the areas you can have the biggest impact, maybe opportunities in tactics that competitors have ignored. It's also essential to get inside customers’ minds to see what they think, feel and do online and work out how that connects with your brand.

It’s crazy really, with how much is invested in digital media today, how few have a planned approach. We asked this question in a post about digital planning a couple of years ago and were not surprised to see that the majority have an ad-hoc approach. We repeated this informal poll again this year and found there was little change:

So, my practical advice is “don’t just jump in”, think about what you want to achieve and how you’re going to position yourself online, to differentiate yourself. A practical tip here, is to improve how you communicate your value proposition across your website and social outposts. If you’re an established brand this is less necessary, but if you’re starting out, it’s essential. 

See our advice on crafting an online value proposition (OVP).

Question 2: What place do Social Media tools have in the Digital Marketing Mix? Are they simply additional advertising channels or something more?

Sure, you can think of social media platforms as advertising channels, but as you know Peter, that’s completely missing the point. We had an interesting discussion of this topic on our LinkedIn Group just yesterday.

A student studying digital marketing was asking about the scope of social media and their relevance to marketing. The short definition from my book is that

"Social media encourage audience participation, interaction and sharing"

You can see that doesn’t sit at all well with advertising; we all know we don’t want to be advertised to when we’re socialising. That’s not to say that advertising on the social platforms doesn’t have value in raising awareness and connecting with advocates, far from it. But social media has an impact across the whole of digital marketing mix as you suggest.

Jen Law, one of our expert members expressed it better, saying “Social media is about conversations, community, connecting with personalities and building relationships. It is not just a broadcast channel or a sales and marketing tool”.

I think it’s interesting that in 2011-12 we are seeing company response to social media growing up and many now see it more broadly and are thinking how best to harness social media marketing across the business. We’re seeing companies talk about broader management of social media. In the same discussion, Paul Fennemore, a social media specialist, said:

A purist would say 'social media' is media. In this case Web2.0 interactive, real-time based media including: Video, Blogs, Wikis, Gaming, Photos, Music and so on.

However, social media has come to mean than this and is not a good term for what it represents, Social Media Marketing, Social Commerce, Social Business, Social Enterprise are better terms depending on the context.

Here, the CEO of Burberry talks about how fundamental social media are to the way they operate today:

Question 3: Today, consumers are exposed to a vast amount of data. How can marketers make it easier for them to find and hear what they need and filter out extraneous messages and information, from all the noise?

Analytics is a passion of mine thanks to my background as a scientist when I was studying in the 1980s. It’s one of the reasons why I was attracted to Internet marketing as it was known in the mid 1990s. It seemed to offer an opportunity to understand our customers much better and deliver relevance in our communications to help secure better business outcomes and ROI on our media investments. Yet, sadly I think most companies fail to filter out the noise.

There are certainly technical challenges with attributing influence to multiple media across complex customer journeys and how we use cookies to do this. I also think the web analytics systems as designed, are mostly designed “by geeks, for geeks” and they’re not structured around the questions that marketers ask – that’s why we’ve developed guides to step marketers through these questions on But the bigger problems are todo with the classic governance issues of people, process and systems. You need the right KPIs, dashboards tailored to your business and a regular review/action process. Out-of-the box, the analytics or social listening tools don’t give you this. Some big companies do get this right, here’s one example we covered:

 Question 4: What steps can companies take to measure and validate the returns that they get from their Digital Marketing investment?

To answer you’re question directly, I recommend these steps:

  1. Define value of outcomes on your site – setup goals in Google Analytics with values assigned to represent value.
  2. Put in place tracking of all media, on and offline, with consistent marketing source codes
  3. With this in place start using rarely used measures like revenue or goal value per visit and $Index value
  4. Understand, at a granular level which media including sites, search terms, placement and creative create value for you.
  5. Maximise value, prioritising the media with the best conversion rates and ROI.
  6. Understand more complex journeys through multichannel funnels so you are crediting assists earlier in the journey rather than just “last click wins”
  7. Find solutions to assess the value within social media marketing – 1 to 6 will help, but specialist tools are still needed!
If you want more detail on this, see an article I wrote for Brian Clifton , Show Me The Money, or buy Brian’s book on Google Analytics – this stuff matters! 

Question 5: As the Web evolves into the Cloud and becomes even more pervasive, what changes do you predict for Marketing, resulting from the growth of mobile and the ubiquitous connection of less animate objects?

A challenging question to end! Regardless of the cloud, I think many don’t have a good conception of the their creative assets and how to make them most effective. We still have this mental idea of creative placed on our site or an advertisers site we need to use to get our message across. In 2007, I think there was a lot of discussion of “atomisation” and I think this is a better way to think of creative assets today. 

My colleague, Dan Bosomworth on likes to call these “social objects” and they are the fundamental units  for effective content marketing today.  They are incredibly effective in some markets such as tech products and fashion. Companies like Hubspot, Eloqua in B2B, ASOS, Burberry in Fashion are masters in creating effective assets and campaigns around these which expand their reach and preference and link through to commercial goals. There are examples from many sectors though. 

For me a solid content marketing strategy is key to online success today and it’s fundamental to success in search, social, email marketing and conversion. It unifies brand communications in disparate channels. So if you don’t have a content strategy you’re falling behind.

We find discussions of the potential of mobile marketing are some of the most popular on our blog, whether this is about QR codes, mobile apps or effective mobile design. It certainly gives increased opportunities for connecting with consumers in a more personal way, but I can’t see examples where how a company deploys mobile marketing has transformed their brand in the way that content and social media have for some of the examples above. 

At some levels a mobile or tablet device is just an alternative to the desktop platformand gives a channel choice for similar content and experience. It doesn’t give so many brands so many new opportunities to engage. But I’d like to hear of more examples, particularly around proximity or location-based marketing with experiential marketing events.  This is where it can give companies an edge.

Looking further into the future, more objects will be web-enabled whether that’s cars, household items or people! PR Smith talked about this in our Emarketing Excellence book as earlier as 2001 about the Post-PC customer. 

We haven’t seen real progress in this area although the Verichip  was touted as an implantable RFID chip. Health and privacy concerns seemed to have stopped it and I’m not too sorry about that – I think we all need to unplug sometime! 

It will happen, but “not in my lifetime”.

Useful links and resources:

If readers of this post would like to learn more about digital marketing, we've created a framework on Smart Insights which can help marketers explore a topic without being reliant on Google or Wikipedia. 

Here are the starting points I'd recommend:

Our home page has a widget we developed based on the PRACE framework to explore over 200 digital marketing techniques 

For a quick scan of all techniques try our Best Practices review- grouped in 25 key marketing activities

We also have a Digital Marketing Strategy Guide and simplified marketing planning framework.

Find out more about our Ebooksand training courses.

Thank you Dr Chaffey!

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Friday, 9 December 2011

Twitter for the Tentative

 “I’m in the #bath”

Nothing generates more debate and exemplifies the perceived problems with Digital Marketing and Social Media than the high profile, often highly publicised, crumbs of consciousness emitted by ‘A’ and even ‘Z’ list celebrities, in 160 byte-sized bursts.

Welcome to the world of Twitter!

Before I try to explore the business areas where Digital Marketing and Social Media can make a very real contribution to professionally planned and managed marketing activities, it is worth recognising that vast numbers of people, for whatever reason, are actually interested in the day-to-day minutiae of celebrity lives. Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber have followers numbered in the tens of millions, larger even than the total populations of whole countries.

This has been labelled as ‘ambient intimacy’ and is an effective approach to build familiarity, favourability and interest for the ones being followed. These are all very recognisable and desirable outcomes for those with a background in or experience of PR.

Though it may be difficult for many to comprehend the underlying rationale for such a following, this reality could actually present a market opportunity, if these followers were to represent a significant target segment for your marketing and communications activities.

Think of Twitter as a subscription based news or information broadcasting service where its readers (Followers) can choose to subscribe and follow the articles (Tweets) of their specifically chosen authors. Each author has a unique name starting with an @ symbol.

Twitter was designed for compatibility with SMS text messaging, giving the well known 140 character limit for the content of a Tweet. What can you say in 160 characters? Not much admittedly, though some people try, with varying degrees of success!

Once you use Twitter, you will soon realise that most Tweets actually contain a link to a web page, typically shortened by one of the many tools available, to reduce a lengthy web address to fit within the 140 character limit. This link very quickly and dramatically increases the utility of a Tweet, directing the follower to a place where they can access extensive and interesting information, videos, music or whatever. Twitter is a wonderful tool for sharing news and commentary. 

Recent examples, related to the ‘Arab spring’, show just what a powerful system Twitter is for broadcasting breaking news, often in advance of the major media agencies. As with the BBC charter, used in this way, Twitter can be a powerful method to inform, educate as well as entertain.

How then can we sort through the tens of millions of Tweets to identify those in which we may be interested? - and how can we make sure that the Tweets we send can be found by those with whom we wish to communicate?  Twitter has an excellent and simple indexing technique called the ‘hashtag’. 

Putting the # symbol in a Tweet before a chosen keyword or words (e.g. #marketing) will add it to the Twitter global index. A subsequent search will find Tweets containing this hashtag. Read these Tweets and ‘Follow’ authors who interest you. You can quickly learn what people think about your company, your products and possibly you!

The top 10 ‘hot topics’ on Twitter are displayed and updated in real time on your screen, giving you an insight into the things that are being actively discussed. Although by default Tweets are public, it is possible to write directly and privately to other Twitter users. Just think of the possibilities for customer engagement, having identified those with strong positive or (maybe more importantly) negative views about your products and services. Now you can conduct market research in real time and on a global basis. 

Consider the opportunity that this presents to marketers.
Though it is not widely realised, it is common Twitter etiquette to follow back those that follow you. In this way it can be very quick to build a community or interest group clustered about a specific, product, service or organisation.

Once you have established such contacts, you can conduct brand and business based conversations with your current or potential customers. Satisfaction surveys, consumer input on new product developments and online sales promotions all become possible, much more quickly and at a fraction of the cost incurred using non digital techniques.

Twitter therefore provides a platform for indentifying audiences and market segments with specific interests and opinions. It allows us to develop contacts and build intimacy with them and engage in a meaningful two-way conversation, regarding those interests which we both share. We can now achieve all this, much more effectively and efficiently than has ever been possible in the past.

Of much greater value for marketers than the news that.....
“I’m in the #bath”.

Follow CDMA on Twitter @citydigital

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Confessions of a Serial Entrepreneur

I am delighted to post this e-interview with Sue Reeves, co-founder of the hugely successful 'Business Biscotti' business networking site and service.

Sue is a top marketer and serial entrepreneur.

I caught up with her and asked for some of her secrets for success.

Sue Reeves - Marketing Director 'Business Biscotti'

I am a serial entrepreneur. Having set up from scratch 5 businesses which have employed staff, had premises, traded profitably and then been sold successfully.  I now run 2 businesses!

I have also been a freelance photographer since February 2004. I have City and Guilds level 3 qualification,  in Photography as well as an HND in Hotel Management!

I am also the Marketing Director for Business Biscotti Ltd.

My new blog site for SuePIx goes live late November 2011.

Question 1: You have developed a lot of expertise as a ‘serial entrepreneur’ – what attracted you to this rather unusual approach to business life? What businesses have you developed?

I just like setting up new businesses and creating something from scratch.  My first business at the age of 24 was an Outside Catering business based in Stainland, Halifax, West Yorks.

I have run an import business (lowgrade recycled paper products), Printing and Graphic Design House, Web development Agency, Below the Line promotions business, Online Training, and now I run SuePix photography and Business Biscotti Ltd!

Question 2: To what extent has a marketing orientation helped in these ventures?

I have always been the marketing Director for each of the companies that I have run, and taken a very hands-on approach to marketing.  I believe that people buy products and services from people that they like.  With that in mind a marketing strategy needs to involve face to face enagagement with people.  The implementation of my marketing plans has always involved attending and running networking events.  The specific objective of attending these events has been to become the prefered supplier in that network for my product or service offering and moreover to build a NETWORK of trusted advocates of my services.  
In many instances I have been involved on committees to get profile and become noticed within the higher reaches of the networking organisation.  Being involved in charity work is also key to being accessable in a community.
The network that I have built over the last 25 years has been pivotal in securing business over the long term.
My current network is UK wide, as Business Biscotti becomes known and trusted as a National brand.  To reach these businesses requires time to be spent researching key players in certain organisations who can help to promote our brand.

Question 3: What advice would you give to others thinking of setting up new entrepreneurial business ventures?

You need to have very clear goals from the outset.  You don’t need a lot of money to set up in business – even today its possible to start on a low capital base.  I have never borrowed from the bank.  You need tenacity, and self belief.  You also require lots of energy and postivitity especially when setting up in a recession.  

I have set 3 businesses up in recession and it's the best time.  Costs are lower, and providing you market yourself effectively you will flourish.

Question 4: What is your view of the strengths and weaknesses with new ‘Digital Marketing’ techniques in business development?

Its easy to do – however you need a Strategy.  You also need clear guidelines on how to use social/digital media for your business.  Do something well and don’t try to take it all on. Employ a specialist – even part-time to do it for you.

Remember – digital marketing is a part of your Marketing Mix – its not the only marketing you need to do.

Moreover, be consistent in your messages, your delivery, your approach, the use of your digital channels.  Its also easy to get it very wrong.

Question 5: You latest venture ‘Business Biscotti’ seems to be growing enormously fast! To what do you attribute it’s huge success and where is it going?

Business Biscotti  -  is a Business Community experiencing exponential growth


Business Biscotti provides Free Business Networking, both offline and through an online Community Portal.

What makes Business Biscotti really different from any other networing organisation is that we are a COMMUNITY of business people.    Who meet to network in neighbourhood groups across the UK - and then continue to network online with others. 
And Its all FREE.  There is no membership fee, no committment to attend meetings, its flexible - you can turn up without booking in advance, for 1 hour or 2, and simple pay for your tea or coffee to the VENUE.  Its also open to anyone to attend, men and women, new to business and experienced entreprenuers of any profession (as long as its legal)!  
There are no speakers, no formalities and you can join the online community and never go to a meeting.  We have many people who are happy to interact online only.
Everyone in the organisation seems to give a small amount of their time to help one another in some way, whether thats by running a group, offering their business premises free for networking, or providing tips and advice to other members.
People are now building long last business relationships and these are manifesting in sales.  Someone posted yesterday    
" just ask me about doing business with Business Biscotti ---- I am snowed in!"  Peter Morris Pinewood Asset Finance (November 8th 2012) 
This is one example of many comments posted everyday in the community.
This community is growing daily without any advertising or PR -  purely from an exceptional Digital Marketing strategy. That is being implemented continuously.

The web site provides a dual function that:
  • Provides a community platform for those members wishing to continue networking online.  
  • It is a resource and information portal for members who wish to access information about all the events, meeting times, dates, directions etc.
Communication from Head Office to the membership is undertaken through 3 channels:
  • Website notices and information   
  • Monthly e-newsletter
  • Ambassadors who run each of the monthly group events
Currently Business Biscotti has an audience in excess of 20,000 members through the online membership and the 80 physical groups across the UK.

Where we are going
Growth will continue through the opening of more physical groups in targeted areas of the UK and the organic growth that brings to the online community.  

The business model for Business Biscotti does not rely on 'paid for' membership or sponsors.  In order to facilitate the growth of Business Biscotti, the directors have explored several options; including advertising, charging members to attend meetings and sponsorship. 

The most commercially sound option is from commercial sales.

We have identified that there is currently no vehicle on the internet that provides a comprehensive set of products and services aimed specifically at the SME market.

We conducted a survey of our community members to establish if this is something that they would use.  The overwhelming response was positive, and furthermore a significant number would welcome some sort of ‘buyers club’, where members could collaborate to achieve better pricing on products and services.

 Business Biscotti has grown organically – through a viral campaign via the physical groups and the online community.  Last month (October 2011) we had 30,000 uniquevisitors.

Its greatest strength is that people stay on the site for an average of 9 minures per visite and view an average of 6-7 pages each time.


Resources and links:

The new blog site for SuePix is now live at:

Follow us on Twitter @biscottier


How to open a Business Biscotti group

Reading Central Business Biscotti first birthday

Welcome to Wentworth Business Biscotti

Suepix wedding photogrpahy video