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Spying on Your Competitors: 6 “Ethical” Tips

ethics on spyingThe moral or ethical issues on the subject of spying are a bit dodgy. On the extreme end, conducting industrial espionage may be illegal. Hiring someone from inside the enemy camp and transforming him or her into an industrial spy may violate all sorts of commercial and legal laws. It can be a constitutional violation, criminal, federal or whatnot.

But those days of finding a willing insider and turning them against an organisation, they’re long gone. Today, you can spy on your competitor—by yourself—without leaving your desk. Or your home, for that matter. You don’t have to hire someone from the enemy camp and offer him or her heaps of rewards to reveal the enemy secrets. The Internet has changed all that. In this era of digital revolution, a lot of online tools exist and are free for you to use.

Here are six tips to spying on your competitors, with the corresponding tools, of course.

1. Keywords

A lot will depend on keywords. Knowing the keywords your competitors use will give you a clue to what is driving their traffic and leads to their website. Most websites include the keywords in the coding of their pages.

Go to your competitor’s website and look at their pages’ source codes. To those who don’t know how to do this:

  1. For Chrome, click the browser’s menu, then go to ‘More Tools’ and click ‘View Source’. A new window will open showing your competitor’s website code.
  2. Find the word ‘keyword’. You should find the keywords with the tag, meta name=”keywords”.
  3. Analyse and compare it with your own site’s source code and see what you’re missing.

view source
2. Load Time

Examine the load time of your competitor’s website. There are plenty of tools that will give you this information. Here’s one that’s really reliable.

Useful tool: Google Pagespeed Insights

http://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

With this tool, you can analyse the loading speed of any website, including your competitors, on both platforms: desktop and mobile. Aside from analysing the loading time, this wonderful Web developer tool suggests how to improve site performance in terms of loading time.

It would not hurt to try inputting the URL of your own site. You might even learn how to improve the loading speed of your own website.

pagespeed insights

3. Indexed Pages

The more indexed pages, the better performance in Search Engine Results Page (SERP). To find out how many indexed pages your competitor has is to determine how many you should have to level out the playing field.

Useful tool: Google Query
site:[competitor URL]

indexed pages

4. Code Accuracy

To access your competitor’s technical skills is to see how solid their codes are. You can use a free Web service to do this.

Input the URL of your competitor and see how many errors their page shows. You can also use this on your page to improve your page’s code accuracy.

validation

5. Twitter Presence

Of course, you have to assess how strong are your competitors’ social media presence. Find out who’s tweeting about them.

topsy

6. Ads

One way of checking out your competitors’ ads is by using a free online service called Moat.com. See what your competitors’ ads look like.

moat

 

Conclusion

Knowing the enemy is half the battle. The knowledge you obtain about them will be your ticket to stay on top of your game, and conquer all competitors.

Like this article? Check out my other articles here.

Burberry: A Success Story Of Digital Transformation

burberry-logo

This British luxury fashion house is a $1.7 trillion valued business. Consumers from all over the world purchase 19 billion items of clothing each year – a third more than they bought 13 years ago – and women are disposing of four times the amount of clothes per year than they were in 1980.

The emergence of fast fashion (the low cost, mass-produced collections that mimic luxury fashion trends) which sold at giant retailers like Zara, Topshop and H&M have contributed to the fast moving customer’s attitude. Fashion style revolves in and out of stores and websites as quick as every three weeks. The surging popularity of fast fashion retailers has seen high-end designer labels, whose price point is often tenfold that of Zara, facing an uphill battle to stay relevant, engage customers and ultimately generate sales.

For consumers, one question remains: why pay $1500 for a trench coat when a replica is available in over 2000 Zara chain stores across the world for one tenth of the price?

However, despite the popularity of these ‘fast fashion’ stores, one luxury label has managed to dominate social media and bring their brand back from the edge of doom. Currently, we have Nike, Adidas, Converse and Burberry dominate social media. While it’s easy to understand how the sportswear labels have succeed (due to their widely accessible price point) and developed such a large cult following, the same reason can’t be applied to Burberry.

So how did it get there?

In 2006, Angela Ahrendts was brought in as CEO of Burberry, with the company seeking a complete revamp of its historic brand after seeing revenue increase by only 2 per cent per year. In the first year of her reign, Ahrendts placed 60 per cent of Burberry’s marketing budget into a digital strategy, which ultimately saw the brand triple its annual sales in five years.

The first move for Burberry was to refocus the brand on what set it apart – it was British and had a history that dated back 150 years to a single trench coat. These two features set the tone for every piece of marketing, seasonal collection, fashion show and story the brand would tell going forward.

Burberry is one of the few luxury brands that inherently understands the need to transform a brand into a diverse social platform in order to survive in a digital landscape. In 2009, Bespoke came to life. Basically, it is a platform where customers design personalised trench coats, customising them right down to the buttons. Later, Artofthetrench.com was launched – a photographic platform that celebrates the iconic item and the people who wear it while giving customers their 15 minutes of fame. Harnessing the growing popularity of fashion bloggers and street-style photographers saw the user-generated content on Burberry accumulate 2.5 million visits to date.

The most recent big move from the British powerhouse was to seamlessly integrate their online and offline experience. Off the back of this, Ahrendts and her team launched London’s flagship store in 2013. The Regent Street space was to be a physical manifestation of Burberry.com. With art, entertainment and storytelling at the core of the idea, the store opened donning a 38-square-metre screen that live-streams catwalk shows and viral social media campaigns, iPads and digital screens featuring the heritage of the brand and microchip clothing that can be scanned for a background of where the garment came from.

For the future, newly appointed Burberry CEO Christopher Bailey says, “Content drives the company as a leading fashion icon.” Thanks to Burberry’s success, it now seems all too obvious what luxury brands needed. Burberry World sells you the Burberry feeling.

Perhaps it’s time for Australian fashion labels to listen up. Start your own customised digital strategy today.

A Guide To Pricing For Our Projects

pricingPricing demands a lot of experience and perspective. It is perhaps one of the most difficult stages in every project. It cannot be just a business negotiation, for a major mistake in pricing often determines the success or the failure of any project.

There are many types of pricing, all of which involve time and scope: scope of the project and number of man-hours to do it. Even experienced business negotiators sometimes err in this very important and delicate decision. The important thing to remember is that every aspect of a project is variable, and can either be directly or indirectly dependent on each other.

Here are some pricing methods that can help you get pricing perspectives.

The Fixed Package

When the project has a fixed-price, both the client and the agency agree up front on the cost of the project. Usually, we arrive at the amount by estimating the number of man-hours necessary to complete the project and multiplying the figure by the hourly rate. The cost arrived at will be what the client will pay, regardless of the actual time spent.

The variable factor here is defining the scope of work. Clients’ objective is to get the most deliverables that they can get and they push hard for this while ours is to finish the project as fast as possible. Less time spent for us means greater profit.

But what if the client keeps on pushing for add-ons and other extra stuff, which may not be included in the original scope of the project? Clients tend to ask for such things. From a business perspective, it is their right. Unfortunately, sometimes the extra stuff they request can be unreasonable, in terms of additional man-hours. To prevent this, it is necessary to: (1) put a strict timeline on the project; and (2) define what’s included and not included in the project.

Since the project has a fixed price, we already know how much cash is coming in. And that will help us in pretty much defining what we are required to do. Again, it is necessary that at the beginning of the project, we define the actual scope and boundaries of the project and make it clear to the clients what they are getting for their money.

Hourly Rate

As the name suggests, hourly rate simply means we get paid by the hour. In our line of business, hourly pricing connotes that what’s really being paid is not so much as our deliverable but more our service and expertise. This means the work is finished when the client tells us.

Since clients pay by the hour, their tendency would be to question if what they are making us do is worth the money they are spending. So the hard decision of deciding what to do falls on the client. We, on the other hand, just work by our hourly rate. The longer and bigger the scope of the project, the more profits for us.

A big disadvantage to this method or pricing is we can only earn as much as our hourly rate dictates. To get more profits from clients, we need to increase our rate. Another problem with this method is that since the budget is normally not an issue for the client, they will not be in a hurry to complete the work.

If the project is delayed due to the clients’ inability to come up with decisions, then our work is interrupted and we lose money. Again, this must be defined clearly at the beginning of the project in order to avoid loss in terms of project delays.

Periodic Rates

This is similar to hourly rates but with a distinct difference. If we are being paid by the week or by the month, clients pay the same amount regardless if there is an actual work done in the project. The good side of this method is that most companies operate by weekly or monthly project deadlines. We, as contractors, are incorporated in the clients’ schedule. That simply means the clients include us in their working schedules. If clients don’t work on weekends, they will make sure we get enough work to do.

Working on the same page as the clients makes cost estimation easier. We are encouraged to work as efficiently as possible since our weekly or monthly rate is already covered.

Value of Work

Value pricing is perhaps the most difficult to establish. This is where lots of perspective and experience come into play. This is almost always a fixed price. The difference is that unlike in fixed package pricing, where the client pushes for more deliverables, the value pricing puts a price on every piece of work that the clients ask, limiting the clients’ options in making us perform works that are clearly not on the project scope.

All in all, the value pricing is perhaps the best method of pricing a project. It clearly defines what is to be done and what is not. By having a checklist of the tasks on hand, with corresponding prices for each, our work is clearly defined for us, with minimal loss as to the hours spent by the staff. This method allows us to properly delegate tasks to our employees who are best cut out for the project discussed.

In summation, pricing can be tricky. But with proper planning and perspective, we will be able to pin down the correct price for every work we do.

Remember: Pricing can determine the success and failure of every project so it is best to get it done proper at every start of the project.

Utilising Online Influencers To Build Your Own Personalised Audience Base

brand-influence

When advertising becomes a null effort, influence is offering another opportunity for business owners.

Nowadays, companies want audiences, no matter what kind of business they run, and one of the effective ways to connect with those audiences is by leveraging influence of their brands. With the popularity of social media, it’s becoming simpler for them to find and cooperate with talented influencers who create and share branded content for their products or services, and come with their own built-in audiences.

The truth is, if you like and trust someone’s opinion, you’re more likely to follow it. Influencers can have a huge effect on brand loyalty. Even if you’re creating high-quality content that’s worth sharing by yourself, it’s quite hard to attract attention based on the content’s quality alone, especially when it’s estimated that about 1.7 multibillion new pieces of online content enter the picture every day. A good piece of content could take two to five years to naturally gain a large audience, and most businesses don’t have that much time to wait. This is where influencers come into the picture.

Here is just one example: Popular Instagram users often team up with companies to create an image featuring a certain product, which then gets posted to the influencer’s feed and seen by thousands of followers. Photographer Nathan Michael has 77,000 followers on Instagram and has shared images tagging Negra Modelo USA, Pizza Hut, and Verizon. Each image gets about 1,500 likes. Other brands give an influencer full control of their feeds in an “Instagram takeover.” Guest Instagram users can post on a brand’s account throughout a day or week. Photographer Adam Senatori was one lucky guest Instagram user, as General Electric offered up a free trip to the GE Aviation facility and asked him to document the trip for his 879,000 followers.

Besides gaining a new audience, this strategy can increase the “cool factor” of a brand, especially when they focus on newer social networks like Vine. TWhen they partner with a well-known photographer or videographer, marketing suddenly becomes more subtle and less about advertising.

Influencers marketing isn’t just for B2C companies. B2B companies will also find that such partnership with industry leaders can be mutually beneficial as well. These influencers post relevant content on your platform weekly and share it with your followers. In turn, it drives new traffic to their site every day, and hopefully will lead to new customers.

1. Finding The Appropriate Influencers

social-media-influencers

Brands interested in playing this game must find the right influencers first. While there are newly created agencies that specialise in pairing influencers with brands and helpful sites like Traackr or Followerwonk, a lot of searching and a good feeling can provide the similar results.

The influencers in your industry are the ones with the most popular blogs and the most followers on social networks like Twitter and Pinterest. While the numbers are important, it’s also important to pay attention on the content’s quality as well. Decide if this influencer feels like the right partner. The person might has a lot of followers, but is he/she actually interacting with their community consistently? Does her voice fit with your brand? Will he/she be passionate about what you do? Even if you’re a small brand, you can significantly increase the size of a small audience by finding relatively small influencers. The good news is that an influencer with a following of twenty thousand or less may not cost you anything. They might be thrilled to get a free sample.

2. Forming a Strong Relationship

brand-influencers-relationship

Partnering with influencers takes a little bit of effort. One personalised email could be enough. Otherwise, it could take months to approach the desirable influencer. A great way to introduce yourself is to schedule an interview for an upcoming article or ask the person to speak at a company event.

Other strategies include organising an informal “influencer-only” event like a blogger breakfast for your product’s new launch. You can also compliment on the blog posts and retweets their content. If you’ve already worked with other influencers, you can utilise a “name dropping” technique.

Still, the best strategy is simple: Have a clear and comprehensive strategy before you speak to them. Invite the influencer to join the conversation and decide how this partnership can benefit the both of you. Set your goal: Do you want to increase brand awareness? Or sell a product? Or increase attendance for an event? Then decide how you can best reach this goal together. Is it content co-creation? Is it an event sponsorship? Is it an “Instagram takeover”? Think about these questions carefully.

3. Measuring Your Success

measure-your-success

There’s no doubt that influencers with a big number of followers will give a lot of positive contribution for your business. The question is,  did those followers convert?

In the future, you’re going to see consultants who are able to craft a much more personalised content strategy with smaller, more engaged audiences. Size doesn’t matter that much—the degree of activation matters. That’s where finding the first step comes back into play: finding the appropriate influencer. The number of followers an influencer has will be less important than the percentage of those followers who engage with your brand. Keep your eye on this metric and act upon it, as some influencers will perform better than others when it comes to your target audience. You just need to find the right one. The right influencers are respected by your audience due to their experience and track record, and they are often viewed by your audience as trusted advisors.

Top Ten Strategic Technology Trends for 2015

technology-strategy-trend

2014 will be over in a few days. Are you ready to deal with 2015?

A good, strategic technology trend is the one with potential for significant impact in the next three years. Factors that direct significant impact include a high potential for disruption to the business, the need for a major investment, or the risk of being late to adopt. These technology trends impact the brand’s long-term plans, programs and initiatives.

In short, the top trends for 2015 should encompass three big themes: a) the merging of the real and virtual worlds, b) the advent of intelligence in every sectors, and c) the technology impact of the digital business shift.

Without further ado, here is the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2015:

1. Computerised Process

As mobile devices continue to multiply, there is an increased focus on serving the needs of the mobile user in diverse contexts and environments, as opposed to focusing on devices alone. Phones and wearable devices are now part of an expanded computing environment that includes such things as consumer electronics and connected screens in the workplace and public space. Increasingly, it’s the overall environment that will need to adapt to the requirements of the mobile user. This will continue to raise significant management challenges for IT organisations as they lose control of user endpoint devices. It will also require increased attention to user experience design.

2. The Internet

The combination of data streams and services created by digitising everything creates four basic usage models:

  • Manage
  • Monetise
  • Operate
  • Extend

These four basic models can be applied to any of the four elements of Internets. Companies should not limit themselves to thinking that only the assets and machines has the potential to leverage these four models. For example, the pay-per-use model can be applied to assets, services, people, places and systems. Any type of industries can utilise these four models.

3. 3D Printing

The worldwide shipping for 3D printers are expected to grow 98% in 2015, followed by a doubling of unit shipments in 2016. 3D printing will reach a tipping point over the next three years as the market for relatively low-cost 3D printing devices continues to grow rapidly and industrial use expands significantly. New industrial, biomedical and consumer applications will continue to demonstrate that 3D printing is a real, viable and cost-effective means to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing.

4. Analytics

Analytics will take an important role as the volume of data generated by embedded systems increases and vast pools of structured and unstructured data from the inside and outside the company need to be properly analysed. Every app now needs to be an analytic app. Organisations need to manage how best to filter the huge amounts of data from social media and wearable devices, and then deliver exactly the right information to the right person, at the right time. Analytics will become deeply, but invisibly embedded everywhere. Big data remains an important enabler for this trend but the focus needs to shift to thinking about big questions and big answers first and big data second. The real value lies on the answers, not the data.

5. Context-Rich Systems

Ubiquitous embedded intelligence combined with pervasive analytics will drive the development of systems that are alert to their surroundings and able to respond appropriately. Context-aware security is an early application of this new capability, but others will emerge. By understanding the context of a user request, applications can not only adjust their security response but also adjust how information is delivered to the user, greatly simplifying an increasingly complex computing world.

6. Smart Machines

Deep analytics applied to an understanding of context provide the preconditions for a world of smart machines. This foundation combines with advanced algorithms that allow systems to understand their environment, learn for themselves, and act autonomously. Prototype autonomous vehicles, advanced robots, virtual personal assistants and smart advisors already exist and will evolve rapidly, bringing in a new age of machine helpers. The smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT.

7. Cloud Computing

The convergence of cloud and mobile computing will continue to promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device. Cloud computing is the new style of elastically scalable, self-service computing, and both internal applications and external applications will be built on this new style. While network and bandwidth costs may continue to favor apps that use the intelligence and storage of the client device effectively, coordination and management will be based in the cloud. In the near term, the focus for cloud/client will be on synchronising content and application state across multiple devices and addressing application portability across devices. Over time, applications will evolve to support simultaneous use of multiple devices. The second-screen phenomenon today focuses on coordinating television viewing with use of a mobile device. In the future, games and enterprise applications alike will use multiple screens and exploit wearables and other devices to deliver an enhanced experience.

8. Software-Defined Applications and Infrastructure

Agile programming of everything from applications to basic infrastructure is essential to enable organisations to deliver the flexibility required to make the digital business work. Software-defined networking, storage, data centers and security are maturing. Cloud services are software-configurable through API calls, and applications, too, increasingly have rich APIs to access their function and content programmatically. To deal with the rapidly changing demands of digital business and scale systems up/down rapidly, computing has to move away from static to dynamic models. Rules, models and code that can dynamically assemble and configure all of the elements needed from the network through the application are needed.

9. Web-Scale IT

Web-scale IT is a pattern of global-class computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting. More organisations will begin thinking, acting and building applications and infrastructure like Web giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook. Web-scale IT does not happen immediately, but will evolve over time as commercial hardware platforms embrace the new models and cloud-optimised and software-defined approaches reach mainstream. The first step toward the Web-scale IT future for many organisations should be DevOps — bringing development and operations together in a coordinated way to drive rapid, continuous incremental development of applications and services.

10. Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection

All roads to the digital future lead through security. However, in a digital business world, security cannot be a roadblock that stops all progress. Organisations will increasingly recognise that it is not possible to provide a 100 percent secured environment. Once organisations acknowledge that, they can begin to apply more-sophisticated risk assessment and mitigation tools. On the technical side, recognition that perimeter defense is inadequate and applications need to take a more active role in security gives rise to a new multifaceted approach. Security-aware application design, dynamic and static application security testing, and runtime application self-protection combined with active context-aware and adaptive access controls are all needed in today’s dangerous digital world. This will lead to new models of building security directly into applications. Perimeters and firewalls are no longer enough. Every app needs to be self-aware and self-protecting.

Ad Spending In Australia (November 2014)

australian-ad-spending-in-november-2014

Latest report stated that November revenue in advertising is the best for the last four years as outdoor and digital ads continue climbing up.

Cinema, digital and outdoor media contributed in the growth ad spend in November, with overall agency bookings increasing 3.8% compared with November 2013, according to the latest SMI figures. The total ad bookings via all major agency groups reached $757 million in November. The increasing has covered a 3% decline in October.

Cinema ad spending only has increased 22% year-on-year, with bookings reaching $6.1m.

Total digital bookings increased 12.7% to reach $148.6m. There was a 65% rise in social networking and it was the biggest increase across any channel. Mobile also saw a 38% bump while bookings to ad networks fell 16.5%. The total spend on TV fell marginally, down 0.3% year on year to $352.5m with the biggest slump in subscription TV down 5.1%. Metro TV saw a marginal increase of 0.2%.

Bookings made through agencies for outdoor ads increased 37.1% to reach $89m, while radio continued to rise, increasing 7.1% overall to make $52.5m, driven by regional stations, which increased 18.7% to reach $8.3m.

Newspapers and magazines continued their downward trajectory, with bookings for newspaper ads down 12.2% total, falling to $75m. Metropolitan newspapers saw the biggest decline falling 14.8% while the regional press held up slightly better falling 4.3%. Newspaper magazines were down 26%, while consumer mags fell 5.4% . Trade magazine bookings fell 5.9%. On the whole, the magazine segment dropped 10.5% to $27.5m.

Preparing Your Online Retail Plan For The Christmas Sales Season: A Complete Guide

Computer keyboard with Christmas keys

Put your best effort to take advantage of the Christmas sales season.

Every serious business owner needs to build a plan for the holiday sales season to get the best results. Every year, it’s better if you remind all of your potential customers to get ready for Christmas sales, but some have proven to leave it too late. Christmas is the uppermost retail period of the year and you will need to prepare ahead of time.

 

sales-increases-christmas-2013

The holiday buying season can regard for 20% to 40% of total sales revenue and as much as 80% of profit for some retailers. Specialty retailers that open for the holiday buying season rely on holiday buying for 100% of their business. Still, there are lots of issues to cover if you want to get the best results at Christmas. First, you need to do some business planning. One unique way to do it is by plan it backwards:

  • How long does it take you to pick, pack and ship?  You need to determine the last date for selling online and delivering by Christmas. Remember there may be backlogs in delivery so check with your shipping agent or Australia Post.
  • What is the maximum number of orders that you can handle each day and still get the deliveries out? If you are thinking ahead maybe you need additional staffs or part-time workers to help.
  • The stock you will need on hand
  • Content changes you need for your web store
  • Photos and new stock information from suppliers
  • Christmas promotions and sales
  • Christmas gift cards and gift wrapping materials

Make sure that you have enough hosting capacity and bandwidth to handle your requirements. If you are unsure about this matter, talk to your hosting service provider and they can help you reviewing your usage overall.

mobile-growth-australia-2012-2013

It is a good idea to clean up your store by clearing out old products that are no longer available. Be ready for the holiday business ahead. Expect to see more activity from mobile devices:

  • QR codes
  • Gift buyers
  • Price comparisons
  • Special offers
  • Shipping and delivery
  • Social media

Prepare your plan and strategy

It might be a good time to review your overall eCommerce strategy and to look at how you can develop a more successful online business. You can take some time to consider how you will deal with:

  • Content – fresh and up to date
  • Pricing & inventory – availability and competitive,
  • Logistics – shipping as a differentiation,
  • Service & support – be available longer hours leading up to Christmas
  • Payment & refund/returns – be proactive and offer after Christmas support,
  • Security – got your SSL and payments in order – consider PayPal
  • Marketing – look at your Adwords campaigns and budgets,
  • Social media – get started long before Christmas offer gift advice,Quick Response (QR) codes in printed media – bring people to your website from their smart phone.

Is your online store ready?

It is no use waiting until December to set up the store since you just won’t make it in time. If you have an existing store, then now is time to clean up old content and get rid of out of date product and stock information. Each year there are new fads, styles, colours and collections so be up to date and prepared to take advantage of the demand.

Preparation for mobile and QR codes

Quick Response (QR) codes take shoppers from printed media direct to your website and allow you to promote products and sell online. There are many services that allow you to create QR codes (just do a quick Google search) these codes are simple images that contain information like a URL that a mobile phone with a QR code app can read. You should have your website URL on all printed material and traditional advertisements. However, QR codes can turn static printed promotional materials into dynamic links to your online store and direct to your products and promotions.

Make sure you have adequate stock.

Getting the stock can be tricky the closer you get to Christmas so you need to know what you will need now. Buying stock early can have a negative cash flow effect on your business so look at the possibility of commitment with deliveries later.

Enable a safe payment process.

Do you have a safe checkout process setup like PayPal Express, now the leading Australian payment method, eWAY, SecurePay or Payment Express all safe Australian payment providers? Consumers will be more careful this Christmas and look for security when buying online. Add an SSL certificate to your webstore, as it will increase buyer confidence. Trust and security can help dramatically improve shopping basket conversions and reduce abandonment.

Think about promotions.

You can setup special Google AdWords Campaigns just for Christmas and help drive Christmas traffic to your store. Go talk to your SEM partner you will be competing with lots of other businesses for customer attention but we know that most online purchases with start with a search and around 70% of those will be via Google. The use of a well prepared and funded online search engine marketing campaign leading up to Christmas can be a good investment.

Learn from Click Frenzy.

Will your business be effected by the Click Frenzy campaign that starts on November 18th 2014? Click Frenzy drives consumers to search online and look for great deals. If you are part of Click Frenzy then you should be prepared early and ready to track activity. If you are not taking part you can still expect an increase in traffic online so setup some nice offers and promotions to take best advantage of the opportunity.

Use the price comparison portals.

Open an account and add products to price comparison portals to promote your products and special offers, hope it can drive qualified traffic to your webstore. For example, offer free shipping for purchases over a certain value. Offer free Christmas gift cards and gift wrapping. Discounts are less of a value proposition at Christmas for buyers.

Offer Christmas specials.

You can put up special Christmas only products that have special pre-Christmas offers. Gift buyers come in many different types and good quality novelty items sell well at Christmas.

Add Christmas keywords.

Make sure that you add the Christmas keywords to you Meta-keywords with plenty of time to get crawled by the search engines before Christmas. Also make sure that you add Christmas Gift category names and description text to match up with you keywords. But remember timing is important! How often does Google crawl your website homepage? For most online stores it might be every 5 – 10 days so to get your changed messages out there it is not instantly available. Now might be a good time to setup some web analytics and a Google Webmasters account.

Add products by price range.

Products are all important and you might think of price ranges for gifts so that you fit everyone’s budgets.

Enhance your product descriptions.

It is easy to go through some of your products that might great gifts and add “gift advice” information to the descriptions. You can make recommendations and also setup your cross-selling so that combinations can go together. Make it easy from people to see how your product might appeal and what other products might be complementary.

People buying gifts want ideas.

So give them some. Set up special categories like “Gifts for him”, “Gifts for Mum”, “Gifts for the dog”, “Take a chance gifts” and so on. Be inventive as you need to stand out in a crowd. Also consider setting up a product category based on price so that visitors to your store can quickly find products within a price range.

Preparing for your SEO strategy.

Don’t forget that Google might take time to crawl and index your new content so allow plenty of time and don’t wait till the last minute.

Gift wrapping and gift cards.

These can be easily added in the shopping basket so you might want to think about offering free gift wrapping and free gift delivery.

Multiple shipping addresses.

You can have multiple shipping addresses so your buyers can ship directly to an alternative address. Offer this service and make sure you get the gift there on time.

Free shipping at Christmas.

Free shipping can be a great incentive to buy online. If you are selling a product online you can structure an average shipping price into your costs. Then allow free shipping by Australia Post. You can time the shipping and delivery so that as you get closer to Christmas shipping is no longer free but maybe at a premium to ensure delivery. Don’t be greedy.

Delivery cut-off date for Christmas.

It is no use selling to a customer who expects pre-Christmas delivery if you cannot get the product delivered on time. So you need to tell your buyers what they can expect if they buy on the 24th December. Make sure that you provide specific advice regarding returns and refunds as you do not want to get stuck after Christmas. Talk to your shipping company. Make sure that you check with your logistics provider and find out what the shipping cut-off dates are for your location. Christmas Day 2014 is on Thursday so you can expect most deliveries to be done by Monday 22nd December.

Give your store a Christmas theme.

It is easy to setup a new style and change the colours and banners for Christmas. You can even start doing that right now and make that the live style later in the year. Set up a countdown to Christmas – it can be a easy as a little added text to your home page. Don’t go overboard.

Keep selling after Christmas.

After Christmas is a great time for specials and people on vacation like to shop around for bargains. So don’t think everything stops on December 25th. The smart store operators will be ready with the Boxing Day and New Year’s specials campaigns come December 26th.

Christmas is the most important retail selling time in the year and you need to be prepared to get the best results. Your online store needs to be complete and setup for Christmas as soon as possible and you need to start Christmas promotions early, the week before Christmas is too late.

Volkswagen “PoloTag” Social Media Test-Drive Campaign

Here is a social media ‘game’ from Volkswagen that offers its participants the promoted car. as the main prize.

It seems Volkswagen is going all out with its latest campaign. Introducing “PoloTag”, a real-time social media ‘game’ which challenges people to identify the new Polo around a specified route, tag it on Twitter and test drive it. It’s that simple.

The campaign will take six days, across three major cities in South Africa. The participant who drove it for the longest without being tagged will take the new Polo. This campaign is very creative indeed. It has two direct and unique advantages: 1) Creating some social buzz around the new car, and 2) Getting people to test drive the car. Here is the promotional video:

The Key To Successful Real-Time Marketing For B2B

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Online marketing activities in the B2C and B2B sectors are different because of both the clients’ personas and the customer journey specifications.

These differences have a big impact on how businesses develop their marketing and advertising strategies in the new digital realities, especially since the rise of smartphones and latest mobile technologies.

The rapid development of the global mobile industry, including the introduction of new mobile OS versions, fresh models of innovative smartphones and tablets, and people’s growing desire and ability to always be online has shaped the digital marketing sector in B2B within the past years. Thus, the importance of real-time marketing activities has shown magnificent growth not only in the B2C, but also in the B2B segment, forcing businesses in the latter category to reconsider and redefine their applied marketing tactics.

The Real-Time Marketing Activities You Need To Employ

There are some common, yet effective approaches to real-time marketing that can help B2B companies succeed with online acquisition and retention efforts. Some of these include:

1. Taking a real time marketing approach at special events

Unlike in the B2C niche, the use of real-time content distribution plays an important role in the B2B sector. However, one of the available options is to benefit from companies’ presence at various industry-specific events or conferences. You can shoot and share short videos – like interviews, reports or photo reels to provide insights at either the company booth or the conference area.

This tactic appears to be especially advantageous, if applied using innovative location-based technologies. In this respect, if a business applies iBeacon technologies, it becomes possible to share real-time photo/video content with event visitors, when they come closer to the booth.

2. The use of engaging visual elements

One potentially effective real-time marketing strategy for B2B companies is to shift their focus from large research reports, case studies, or whitepapers to more concise, visual and shareable content pieces. Infographic works perfectly in this case. The main goal is to reach customers and target clients on mobile.

In fact, this method turns out to be even more advantageous, if marketers display informative infographics to specific high-value audience segments, based on their tracked mobile behavior patterns.

3. Taking advantage from versatile and agile marketing techniques

The notion of real-time marketing in the B2B niche is closely linked to the use of various agile marketing activities, which include the set-up of automated responses to customers whenever client support/assistance managers are not available. Another way of becoming more agile is to implement modifiable navigation bars on mobile Web pages to display the most engaging content to viewers, based on their particular in-session activities. The described method enables businesses to provide a much more personalized user experience to their potential and existing clients.

Conclusion

Why is real-time marketing worth opting for?

As mentioned above, the rapid development of mobile technologies forces most B2B companies to invest more resources in their real-time marketing activities. This means they need to put much more time, money, and effort in reaching their target customers at the right place and time on their smartphones and tablets.

If executed properly, real-time marketing strategies can potentially open a wide range of opportunities to businesses, regardless of the industry field they are working in. In particular, it becomes much easier to increase customer engagement and retention levels; maintain and improve brand awareness, recognition, and reputation; substantially increase conversion rates and many other advantages.

Five Most Important Principles for Delivering Personalised Experiences

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Turn advanced personalisation solutions into real-time results.

Within this exclusive white paper, you will learn how to:

  • Step away from the extravagant promotion to control the real power of audience personalisation and go beyond reacting to a customer’s last visit. Instead, you will learn on how to proactively shape the current visit.
  • Study the five most important principles for delivering personalised solution around strategic business objectives.
  • Refocus away from the complex mechanics of personalisation by ensuring alignment with strategic business objectives and avoid troublesome solutions that fail to deliver results.
  • Ensure no two visitors will share the same experience with “automapping serendipity”.

Quoted on the document: “To enable this level of personalisation, the first question to ask is never how? It’s why? — and to what end?… Brands that start with why are far more likely to achieve strategic business objectives in the most time and cost-effective way possible.”

Click here to download PDF version of the white paper.