Archive | November, 2011

Australian Brands Branch-out to Chinese Social Media

Australian brands are seeking to establish a big presence on Chinese social media platforms according to Andrew Collins, director of online communications agency, Mailman. The Shanghai-headquartered company has recently opened an office in Melbourne due to an increasing demand among Australian brands looking to engage Chinese customers in Australia – and in China.

Mailman’s international clients include Citibank, American Airlines and Liverpool FC, with a growing Australian client base in the AFL and Victorian Government.

Commenting on the rise in Chinese social media campaigns, Andrew Collins said: “Australian brands are seeing the business benefits of engaging with customers on Facebook and Twitter and are now recognising the opportunity to do the same with their Chinese-speaking customer base on Q-zone and Weibo.

“With 235 million people on Chinese social media platforms, they are growing at a rate that surpasses many of their western equivalents – and in terms of scale they are among the most significant platforms in the world. More importantly, Chinese social media users interact and engage with brands much more than the users of Facebook or Twitter do,” Collins continued.

Recent statistics* state that almost 80 per cent of Chinese internet users believe a social media presence makes a brand more attractive and 81 per cent of Chinese youth check online comments before making a purchase decision.

“Most of the enquiries we get from Australia are from brand managers and digital marketers seeking advice on how to target the Chinese market. The first question is usually about which platforms they should use.

“The platforms are different and the language is different, but the rules of engagement are predominantly the same as what they’re used to with Facebook and Twitter,” said Collins.

Statistical snap-shot of Chinese social media:

There are currently 235 million social media users in China (a year on year growth of 33%):

  • Half are in their 20s
  • 34 per cent log in every single day
  • 27 per cent have created a profile on 5 or more sites
  • 87 per cent have ‘friended’ or follow brands
  • The number of registered users on QQ, the number one Chinese instant messenger site is 636 million – roughly as many as the world wide audience of Facebook
  • 481 million are registered on Q-zone (social network)
  • 70 million are registered on renren (social network)
  • 200+ million are registered on Sina Weibo (micro blog)
  • Facebook and Twitter do not exist in China

Andrew Collins said the biggest growth area is among brands that are targeting tourists or students from China: “The combined effect of a large Chinese population in Australia and the huge Chinese tourism and student market means Aussie brands can’t really ignore the opportunity to market to a high-volume and highly-engaged online audience,” Collins concluded.

According to ABS data, there are approximately 670,000 people of Chinese birth or descent living in Australia, in addition, Tourism Australia states the Chinese market was worth $3.26 billion in total expenditure in 2010 with the potential to grow to between $7.4 billion and $9 billion by 2020.

 

Nissan: Facebook Comp Result Looks Very Dodgy but Result Stands

Nissan has admitted the winner of a $20,000 car who is good friends with its social media coordinator that helped run the Facebook competition appears “dodgy”, but said it was standing by the result.
The Japanese car giant has finally broken its silence two days after being heavily criticised for awarding the Micra to Zac Martin, a digital strategist at George Patterson Y&R Melbourne who describes Simon Oboler, a customer experience channel coordinator at Nissan as his “BFF”.

Further doubt about the legitimacy of the competition came after a weekly winner of the ‘Micraspotting’ competition, Nina Igel, who received a $1,250 Nicola Finetti voucher also turned about to be a friend of Oboler.

PR storm engulfing the car company on Tuesday, after fans took to the Facebook site to voice their anger at the result with claims it was a “scam”.

In an email from a PR company, Nissan said: “Nissan Australia will not be making official comment or giving interviews, but will continue to engage in consumer dialogue in an open and transparent way via social media channels.”

On the company’s Micra Facebook page,a message has been posted detailing its position but maintaining there was no foul play involved with either of the winners.

It said: “Hi Everyone – we have been silent for the last 24 hours watching ourselves get bagged. As we knew we would be. We respect your right to express your opinions and contrary to the suggestions of some, we will not be shutting down this page or censoring in any way (unless anti-social).

“Here are some facts:
– There were numerous people working on the competition, including agency folks. The winner was independently verified by our agency.
– Some of the clues were changed last minute due to external third party availabilities.
– The average time taken to find the clues by the winner was over 2 hours. If the winner had inside info, it would have been much faster.
– The staff member in question brought to our attention that one of the leaders was in fact his friend a number of days before final results were known.

“That said, we know the result looks dodgy. We acknowledged this when we announced the winner. If it waddles and quacks, it must be a duck, right? Well, tell that to the Goose :-)

“We understand your displeasure. We are listening. Looking forward, we have some ideas on how to make our comps better. It will require your help. Watch this space. We will be back shortly…”

How to Test Your HTML Email Newsletter Before You Hit Send

So, you’ve come up with a HTML email design you’re happy with. Woo! Before you start mailing it out, you’re going to need to test it. There are so many email web apps and desktop clients out there with differing requirements, and ensuring that your newsletter looks great for the overwhelming majority of readers is incredibly important. I use a two-step testing processes that includes preliminary testing using a desktop client and a small test group, and final testing using your mailing list web app of choice, such as Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor.

Preliminary Testing

Although there are plenty of alternatives for sending your test emails, I found Thunderbird the easiest.

Once you have Thunderbird set up:

  1. Select and copy your HTML template to your clipboard.
  2. Create a new email in Thunderbird, then select and delete any signatures automatically included.
  3. Click inside the text area and go to Insert > HTML—a text box will pop up, allowing you to paste your HTML in.
  4. Hit “Insert” and you’ll be ready to send.

However you may not currently use Thunderbird as your default mail client, and indeed, may not wish to. If this is the case, consider creating a new Gmail account and using Gmail’s SMTP/?POP server settings to send your test mail from Thunderbird. This will keep your everyday email clean and separate from your testing mail.

You can also set up groups in Thunderbird (referred to as “Mailing Lists”) that enable you to send to a number of different addresses (and clients) from one address. For my own early testing stage, my group included:

  • my default Thunderbird account
  • a Gmail account
  • a Yahoo mail account
  • an MS Outlook 2007 account.

These certainly aren’t the only clients you might consider for early testing, but they gave us a reasonable snapshot of where we were at throughout the process.

Getting the Outlook 2007 test bed running was the most troublesome. I originally tried downloading the trial from Microsoft. Unfortunately, the installer then informed me it was happy to install Word, Access, PowerPoint, and every other app. Except Outlook 2007?—?which for unknown reasons was grayed out. Oh joy!

Eventually I tracked down and installed the full version. Again, to keep things clean, I set up a brand-??spanking new Gmail account, solely dedicated to receiving mail for Outlook 2007.

While it might be tempting to consider using a service such as Campaign Monitor to allow you to generate Outlook 2007 screenshots, the practicalities of tuning your HTML via an online service are questionable?—?you’ll need to do lots of tweaking and this will be slow and expensive.

The one really useful thing we did discover during this phase is that, like IE, Outlook does support conditional comments. While in many ways this is cold comfort, it at least allows you to remove items that have no chance of working in Outlook 2007 (such as forms and complex positioning CSS).

However, beware. This is dark magic, so use it with care?—?and not at all if you can help it.

Final Testing

Okay, so you have a template that appears to be behaving itself in your smaller test group. It’s probably time to bite the bullet and go to an email testing service. We’ve used Campaign Monitor but I know that MailChimp runs an excellent equivalent service too.

After uploading and importing your HTML, the Campaign Monitor service allows you to test your template in around 20 different mail clients?—?although at busy times some clients have been known to time out.

However, keep in mind that a single set of tests costs around $5.00 and can take up to an hour to generate, so you would want to be fairly confident your template was close to finished before starting this stage of testing. This is not a time for incremental tweaking. Read More…

Where Should You Post Your Status?

Sensis Boss Senses Book Closing

IT HAS long been just a matter of time before Telstra’s traditional white and yellow pages directories felt the full onslaught of the internet, and now it’s happened. At Telstra’s investor day briefing yesterday, chief executive David Thodey and chief financial officer John Stanhope revealed a sudden slide in Sensis’ revenue that will gut its earnings.

That bad news is, however, balanced by confirmation that on other fronts, Thodey is delivering. He was chosen to replace Sol Trujillo in May 2009 after telling the telco’s board that the group had completed a technology jump under Trujillo but needed to follow it up by becoming less complicated, more competitive with its pricing, and much more customer-centric.

The changes he has wrought are showing now, in revenue momentum in areas including mobile phones and broadband, and in productivity gains: and these are both adding enough to the bottom line to offset Sensis’ earnings dive.

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Thodey says Telstra’s revenue momentum was strong in the opening months of the current June year. Sales are being built in markets including mobiles and broadband without slashing profit margins, and despite Sensis’ dive, Telstra is holding guidance for low single-digit percentage growth in revenue and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.

That’s pretty impressive, because Sensis is in a hole and Sensis’ boss, Bruce Akhurst, looks to be a casualty. Sensis is no longer a direct Thodey report. It has been folded into a new business unit, digital media, that will also hold Telstra’s 50 per cent stake in Foxtel and BigPond, and be run by a new hiring, Rick Ellis, who has been headhunted from his role as chief executive of the New Zealand government broadcaster, TVNZ.

In the year to June this year, Telstra posted a 1.1 per cent rise in revenue to $25.3 billion, and a 12.4 per cent decline in earnings before interest and tax, from $6.5 billion to $5.7 billion. Earnings fell as revenue rose because Telstra invested in its restructuring, and also sacrificed profit margin to drive its market share up in key markets, including mobiles.

Within the result, Sensis was a significant element, even though the decline in the traditional directories business was under way: revenue fell by 6.4 per cent from $1.91 billion to $1.79 billion, and earnings before interest and tax fell by 14.7 per cent, from $1.02 billion to $871 million.

Under Akhurst, one of the people who was in the race to succeed Trujillo, Sensis re-oriented its advertising marketing towards digital media in March of this year. Sensis’ sales force is now working on iPads, and offering small and medium-sized businesses separate or bundled advertising packages covering the print directories and digital media. Supporting services such as web design are also offered.

Akhurst told analysts in March this year that he expected Sensis to post mid single-digit declines in revenue and high single-digit declines in earnings in 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 as it entrenched the new business model.

But the new emphasis on digital is accelerating the decline of the print directories. Customers are switching from print directories to digital alternatives that generate lower profit margins for Telstra. And the Sensis sales force has been tied up managing the migration of existing Sensis customers to the new model, resulting in below-budget sales to new customers, a crucial miss given that Sensis needs advertising volume growth to offset the lower profit margin it will get on digital platforms.

Based on Akhurst’s targets in March, Sensis should be on track this year to post a 5 per cent, $89 million decline in revenue this year. All of it would have been taken at the profit line, so earnings before interest and tax would have fallen by the same amount, or about 10 per cent, to about $782 million. Cost cuts would have clawed some back, producing Akhurst’s predicted high single-digit decline.

But Thodey and Stanhope said yesterday that Sensis’ revenue was now expected to fall by ”high teens”, and that Sensis was also copping margin compression – the outgrowth of customer migration from the print directories to lower-margin online Sensis products.

If revenue declines by 18 per cent, say, that will mean a fall of $322 million and Sensis’ earnings before interest and tax will be down by the same amount, a whopping 36 per cent decline to $549 million, barely half what the division earned in 2009-10.

There will be aggressive cost cuts to try to get some of that loss back, and Sensis has already laid off about 100 employees this month. Thodey has also said there will be a review of Sensis’ business plan.

Thodey knows, however, that in Sensis he is managing a business that is losing its rivers of gold and moving to a lower-margin environment. Before Trujillo arrived in 2005 there was speculation Sensis could be floated off for about $11 billion. Trujillo decided to keep it, but Thodey now says it will be sold if the price is right: the right price is now around $5 billion.

Still, there’s enough upside in Thodey’s reshaping of Telstra to cover Sensis’ retreat, at least for a while. Project New, the effort to simplify Telstra and make it more customer-centric, produced productivity benefits of $662 million in the latest year to June. Two- thirds of the gains came in the second half of the year, pointing to what project leader Robert Nason says will be much higher productivity gains this year. A second phase of Project New should repeat the dose in 2012-13.

Online Marketing Seen Key to Professional Svcs Firms

Professional services firms generating 40% or more of their leads online grow 4 times faster than those with no online leads, according to [pdf] a November 2011 study from Hinge Marketing. Data from “Online Marketing for Professional Services Firms” indicates that the median 2-year growth rate was highest (63.9%) among the firms surveyed generating 40-59% of their leads online, followed closely by those generating 80-100% of their leads online (60.7%). Firms that did not generate any leads online grew at a median rate of 15%. The study notes that given the potential of very large and very small firms to skew the results, median values were selected as the most stable measure of central tendency. Among the survey respondents, over 77.1% generated some new business leads online. 48.1% reported generating less than 20% of total leads online, while about 14.8% generated 40% or more.

Profitability Also Impacted

The percentage of leads generated online appears to also correlate with profitability. Firms that generated 80-100% of their leads online showed a median current profitability of 32.5% of revenue, ahead of profitability for those generating 60-79% and 40-59% of their leads online (30% and 25% of revenue respectively). Firms that did not generate any leads online showed profitability of 15%, just ahead of those with 1-19% of leads coming from online efforts (14%). According to Hinge insight, one explanation for increased profitability for those with higher percentage of online leads is that online marketing simply costs less than traditional marketing.

LinkedIn Most Commonly Used

LinkedIn and email marketing are the most widely used online techniques for online lead generation and recruiting among the professional services firms surveyed, ahead of search engine optimization (SEO), web analytics, and white papers and ebooks. Pay per click (PPC) and and banner ads appear at the bottom of the list, with a majority reporting no focus on these techniques. Among those reporting a heavy focus, email marketing and SEO are tops, while PPC and banner ads again have the least devoted users.

Blogging, SEO Prove Effective

Respondents reported that white papers and ebooks, SEO, blogging, email marketing and company newsletters were the most effective techniques for achieving their online lead generation and recruiting goals, while YouTube, PPC, and banner ads were the least effective. When dividing the respondents by growth rate, the data shows that high growth firms are far more focused on blogging and SEO than average growth firms, although they also show more focus on PPC and banner ads.

According to a November report from Webmarketing123, SEO has the biggest impact on lead generation goals, cited by 57.4% of B2B marketers and 41% of B2C marketers. By contrast, 24.8% of B2B respondents and 34.2% of B2C marketers said they derived the most impact on their lead generation goals from PPC activities.

Other Findings

  • More than two-thirds of the respondents to the Hinge Marketing survey do not currently outsource any part of their online marketing efforts, although roughly 1 in 8 outsource more than 40%.
  • About one-quarter of the firms attract 40% or more of their new hires online.
  • Management Consulting firms enjoy the highest median 2-year growth rate (45%) and are the leaders in median current profitability as percentage of revenue (25%).
  • Roughly two-thirds of the firms surveyed will increase their online marketing spend in the next 12 months.
  • The most common frequency of website updates among the firms surveyed is monthly (34.3%), followed by weekly (31.1%), and once a year or less (24.6%).
  • 43.9% of firms say direct emails are the primary way that web visitors contact them, followed by online contact forms (28.6%) and phone calls (24.1%).

About the Data: A total of 500 professional services firms completed the Hinge Marketing survey. They had an average staff size of 319 employees, and averaged $53.9 million in annual revenue.

Five Keys to the e-Store of the Future

The store of the future will allow consumers to shop the way they want to shop — when they want, where they want and how they want in a relevant, personalized way. Today, retailers cannot deliver on this vision due to legacy retail systems that are not nimble enough to keep up with the speed at which consumer technologies are evolving. The store of the future will eliminate this gap and achieve the “multichannel nirvana” long sought by retailers.

To get there, retailers will need to do five things:

1) Allow Relevant and Real-time to Become the Norms

Personalization is critical to the future of the store since shoppers will increasingly come to expect retailers to offer them what they want, not what the retailer wants. However, for the shopping experience to be truly personalized, it needs to be real-time and it needs to be relevant.

Specifically, real-time and relevant information about products, pricing, transaction history, inventory availability and status, loyalty program info and social graph and profile data must become the norm for both shoppers and in-store associates. Real-time means serving up data that is up to the second — not data that is a day old or even a few minutes old. Relevant means providing information that is intelligently filtered and served up in the context of where the shopper is in the cycle of interacting with the retailer’s brand.

2) Eliminate Channel Silos and Build on a Unified Technology Stack

Knocking down the walls that exist across different channels, particularly the one that exists between the two main systems in the retail ecosystem that drive commerce operations — legacy in-store systems and e-commerce — will be critical in building the store of the future. Organizational challenges are also a major obstacle, but are largely symptomatic of the technology divide. The store of the future will operate with truly integrated channels as well as be built on a unified technology stack, bringing together back-end and consumer- facing systems.

The e-commerce platform, with its natural connection to the online consumer who is increasingly shopping in physical stores, should become a natural platform for building this unified commerce management vision.

3) Build Intelligence into the System

The store of the future will be nimble and intelligent — able to adapt to shopper behavior with precision and speed. Retailers will need to build this concept into their retail operations, allowing for each channel to be optimized based on what the shopper is doing at the moment and expected to do in the future. Brick and mortar stores will be able to eliminate products that are not selling and replace them with those that are selling well or expected to sell well based on store intelligence — at the individual store level, and across stores.

They will also be able to allocate inventory smartly, making sure shelves are filled and customers are happy, as well as conduct promotions based on the new real-time and relevant norm. Online channels will be equally as intelligent and nimble, fulfilling shopper needs “in channel” as well as tying the online world to the physical world in the store.

4) Revolutionize the Consumer Experience in the Store

The key enabler of the store of the future is the engaging consumer experiences that retailers can offer in the store. Retailers not only need to ensure they are building engaging consumer experiences, but are revolutionizing the store with engaging consumer experiences — the new consumer expects it. Every retailer will have a mobile-optimized website, which will be an essential buying tool of shoppers. Retailers will need to find ways to utilize this key shopping tool effectively, such as for consumer-driven comparison shopping, experiential shopping such as the use of augmented reality, quicker checkout — including self-checkout — and for providing location-based offers and better customer service.

Retailers will also need to provide devices in the store, such as tablet kiosks, mobile point of sale (mPOS) devices, tablet clienteling and digital signage. These devices should solve real shopper challenges in innovative new ways, such as avoiding stock-outs by offering an “endless aisle” of in-store and online inventory, cutting down on the amount of time shoppers have to wait for in-store help, processing returns and refunds no matter where or how the product was originally purchased, and providing more intimate and personal one-on-one customer service between sales associates and shoppers. Read More…

B2B Marketers Still Unsure about Social Media Strategies

b2c-b2b

Firms need more tools and technology to measure success

Although they have been slower than their business-to-consumer counterparts to adopt social media strategies, business-to-business marketers are increasingly acknowledging the value of social media.

According to research from global consulting firm Accenture, almost two-thirds of B2B marketing executives view social media as an extremely important or a very important channel to interact with customers, partners and stakeholders. However, only 7% of the survey group felt that their organization was leveraging social media very heavily.

In addition, the Accenture survey showed that 9% of B2B marketers were not using social media at all. To that point, a study by Webmarketing123 compared social network activity among B2C and B2B brands and found that 12% of B2B marketers neglect social networks entirely, compared to only 2% of B2C marketers.

According to Kevin Quiring, North America CRM lead at Accenture, uncertainty may be the reason for ignoring social. “B2C marketers have been doing social media at scale for 3 to 5 years and have had a significant head start,” Quiring said. “Now B2B marketers have to learn the tough lessons about engaging in the dialogue and having to deal with the damage control that comes along with that—and that frightens them.”

B2B marketers told Accenture that technology, tools, metrics and collaboration could be useful to strengthen their social media programs. Nearly half of respondents said new tools and technology would make their social media efforts more effective, and 41% said improved measurement would be helpful. Almost as many B2B marketers said that cross-organizational collaboration would help make their social media programs successful.

One of the biggest barriers, though, is knowing where to start. Quiring recommended that B2B marketers begin developing social media strategies by looking at social holistically as a way to build better relationships with consumers. When marketers begin to give social a more defined role in acquiring, developing and retaining customers, Quiring said, “the opportunity to leverage social media beyond brand marketing then begins to emerge very quickly.”

10 Top Tools To Test Website Loading Time

twmg-website-designers-sydney

The time in which your website uploads is crucial not only for retaining your site visitors but also for improving your online website ranking. Each and every millisecond of loading time matters.

No matter how good your site is, people don’t have patience to wait even for minutes to see if your site is loading or not.

There are some really useful online Free tools for checking your website loading time that we have listed here. Besides telling you the loading time, some of these tools also gives you comparison facility to check your stats with your competitor and even tells what object (CSS, Flash, Heavy images, Frames, Javascript, Feeds etc to name a few) is stopping your website to load perfectly on desired time.

Pingdom Tools – Full page test

The Full Page Test loads a complete HTML page including all objects (images, CSS, JavaScripts, RSS, Flash and frames/iframes). It mimics the way a page is loaded in a web browser. The load time of all objects is shown visually with time bars.

More Information on Pingdom Tools – Full page test

OctaGate SiteTimer

OctaGate SiteTimer aims at web site developers that needs to get a birds eye view of their work.

More Information on OctaGate SiteTimer

Uptrends

The full page-test tool lets you test the load time and speed of a complete HTML page of your website, including all objects such as images, frames, CSS style sheets, Flash objects, RSS feeds and Javascript files.

More Information on Uptrends

Internet Supervision

Free Internet Web Server Monitoring Tool. Check how your site is getting loaded in different geographical areas.

More Information on Internet Supervision

Link Vendor

The website speedtester shows the duration of a given website. This value can be used for showing how long a website take to load and if it is better to optimize the website or change a (slow) ISP.

More Information on Link Vendor

Read More…

Does it Pay to Buy a Twitter Following?

twitter-headline

Last summer, media news and gossip website Gawker published a claim by an anonymous ex-staff member of Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich accusing the politician of hiring a social-media firm to inflate his Twitter following with fake accounts. Gingrich’s campaign denied the allegations, and the scandal died down relatively quickly, but not before shedding light on an under-the-radar tactic: purchasing Twitter followers. Just how easy is it to pad your account with paid followers? We headed to eBay to find out.

The Goal: buy random followers

After creating a Twitter account for an imaginary social-media consultant named Michael Kreznik, we logged on to eBay, where a search for Twitter followers yielded hundreds of results. We quickly engaged in a bidding war for 11,000 followers, at a starting price of $80. After the other buyer drove the price up to $180, we settled on a Buy It Now option promising 1,000 followers for $20.

The Result: Within two days, Kreznik had amassed the 1,000 followers, as promised. However, a closer look at their profiles revealed that most of the account holders had tweeted fewer than six times, and many of their bios included trite phrases, including “You’ll never feel true love if you can’t go through the pain.” In other words, we had bought dummy followers. The seller, whose eBay handle was michalrondos, declined to provide any details about his methods.

The Price Tag: $20 for 1,000 followers

The Goal: Buy An existing account with a built-in following

We headed back to eBay and clicked on another Buy It Now listing, this one offering an existing Twitter page with 3,700 followers for $35. After we paid for the page on PayPal, the seller sent the username and password to use, along with the e-mail linked to the account. We changed all the information, creating a new account holder for the page: Dave Stone, the imaginary founder and CEO of the Stone Agency, a social-media firm. Read More…