Online Retail Conference & eCommerce Expo

The Online Retail Conference & eCommerce Expo is a 3 day event that brings the Australasian industry together, showcasing the latest in eCommerce technology, digital marketing and retailing solutions. Hailed as the largest omni- retailing expo in the Southern Hemisphere, this event will be featuring over 95 expert speakers and 5 international specialists to help introduce, educate and share ideas on how success can be achieved in today’s digital ecosystem that is the online retailing and eCommerce industry.

 

 

World Marketing & Sales Forum

BEE & WOBI are proud to present the first edition of the World Marketing & Sales Forum on the 12th and 13th of November 2014 at Melbourne Town Hall. Business Executive Education (BEE) own the rights to hold the WOBI (World of Business Ideas) events in the Asia-Pacific region. BEE has successfully launched the World Business Forum Sydney which was in May 2014.

The World Marketing & Sales Forum has been established for over 10 years globally. It has previously been held as an annual event in the following countries: Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil and Mexico. Globally, the World Marketing & Sales Forum is known for starting new trends, being at the forefront of innovative ideas and exploring new possibilities in sales and marketing.

Speakers for this year’s event include:

  • Philip Kotler: Philip is the author of more than 50 books, including the bestseller Marketing Management, regarded as the bible of marketing in nearly every business school on the planet. Kotler has received many awards for his contribution to marketing and management. In 2005, he was considered the world’s fourth most influential management guru by the Financial Times, and in 2008 The Wall Street Journal ranked him as the sixth most influential person in the business world. He is a Professor at the Kellogg School of Management and advises companies such as General Electric, IBM, AT&T and Merck.
  • Martin Lindstrom:Martin is one of the world’s leading experts on neuromarketing, the discipline that explores the subconscious behaviour of the consumer. A Top brand consultant, bestselling author, global reference on neuromarketing and one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the world” in 2009, Martin understands the biology of consumer desire. The results of an exhaustive investigation of what drives consumers to buy, his book Buyology turned into a bestseller and one of the top five best marketing books according to the Wall Street Journal. His latest work, Brandwashed, reveals how brands are manipulating us to buy their products.
  • Charlene Li:Author of bestselling books Groundswell and Open Leadership, Li is one of the 50 most influential people in Silicon Valley and an authority on social media. Li is an independent thought leader and analyst who understands how the profound implications of social media are changing the way we do business, from marketing to leadership to strategy. Founder of the research-based advisory firm Altimeter Group, Li puts these new social concepts into actionable strategy helping companies and industries leverage disruption to their advantage.
  • Martha Rogers:Recognised for the past decade as one of the world’s leading experts on customer-based business strategies and growing customer value. Martha Rogers is a founding partner of Peppers & Rogers Group, the world’s leading customer-focused management consulting firm with offices all over the world. AT&T, Unilever, NTT, Winthertur and Grupo Santander are just some clients of an impressive list that includes many Fortune 500 companies.
  • Jeff Thull: One of today’s most distinguished sales and marketing strategists, Jeff is the President & CEO of the Prime Resource Group consultancy. At the forefront of the rapidly developing field of complex sales, Jeff created the model ‘Diagnostic Business Development’ in order to help companies drive sales and retain clients. He has advised some of the most important companies in the world including Shell, 3M, Microsoft, Siemens and IBM.
  • Mark Ritson: Mark Ritson is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Melbourne Business School. He has a PhD in Marketing from Lancaster University and has been a faculty member at some of the world’s leading business schools teaching brand management on the MBA programs at London Business School, MIT Sloan, the University of Minnesota and Melbourne Business School.
Promo Planning for Pros: Sample Promotional Plan Template

Promo Planning for Pros: Sample Promotional Plan Template

What exactly is a promotional plan, I hear you ask? Well, in its simplest form, a promotional plan should work hand-in-hand with your overarching marketing plan to set out the promotional strategies, tools, tactics and resources that you need to accomplish your goals. The main point of difference is that a promotional plan focuses on the promotional activities (like giveaways, advertising and events) that you intend to implement. A marketing plan is much broader and includes elements such as pricing, positioning and distribution channels.

A promotional plan is a vital tool for business owners and managers in planning a successful product launch or expansion into new, emerging markets. It helps make your vision a reality. Take it from us; if you spend a little bit of time planning your approach to promotions, then your results will be tenfold. To give you a leg up, we’ve put together a sample promotional plan template of sorts.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Step 1 – Work out who it is you’re targeting

Identify exactly who your intended customers are. Do you want to target existing customers, or similar customers in a new city, or a new group of customers in the same city? Make sure your market segments are precise. It’s far too difficult to target everyone, so narrow the field. If this step is proving challenging, try working through a SWOT analysis. The main reason for identifying your target market is that it’s much easier to design a promotion for a specific audience.

Step 2 – Set your objectives

Possibly the most important step. It’s also the most difficult. Work out exactly what it is you want to achieve for each of the target markets identified in step one of our sample promotional plan template. Make your objectives brief and measurable. That way you can evaluate them once your promotional plan is implemented. A strong objective would be ‘Increase sales from existing customers by 10% over 12 months’. Going with something like, ‘get more market share’, not so strong.

Step 3 – Identify the tactics you need to implement to achieve your objectives

Tactics are really just a fancy name for the promotional activities you intend to implement. Tactics might include e-marketing campaigns, special offers, free postage, social media stunts, affiliate programs, radio and television advertisements, launch events and giveaways.

Step 4 – Implementation

Get those promotional tactics (and sales) cranking! Do whatever it is you have decided will yield the best results, will achieve your objectives, will crush your competitors. This is usually the most time consuming part of the promotional plan.

Step 5 – Evaluate

There is absolutely no point in implementing a whizz-bang promotional plan with all the bells and whistles, if you don’t know whether it worked. Do the sums. Have you increased sales by 10%? Follow up with customers. Are they happy? Implement a customer satisfaction survey. If you’ve driven sales through an AdWords campaign, then work out the click through and conversion rates. You need to understand which elements worked and which didn’t. That way, you can improve upon problem areas next time.

 

Thanks to Sally for sharing her sample promotional plan template and we hope that it helps you in preparing your own.

 

 

Case Study: SMS Gateway Nurtures Sales

So you don’t think your online sign up process needs SMS gateway support?

Take the case of one our clients in the energy comparison business, who has given us permission to use their experience with our SMS gateway as a case study. For this article we will refer to them as ‘Energy-Comparator X.’

An involved online sign-up process needed some SMS problem solving.

The gas and electricity comparison market is a high volume, low margin game. Timely acquisition is key to yielding big returns; and a high cancelation and drop-offs can be extremely costly on profits.

Here’s a quick overview of the process involved to switch a customer from one energy retailer to another:

  1. Customer enters address details into comparator site.
  2. Comparison engine provides product offers in area.
  3. Customer chooses product offer and accepts terms and conditions.
  4. Customer service agent rings to verify the customer’s authority to ‘switch’ account.
  5. Comparator sends customer data to new energy provider.
  6. Customer is officially ‘switched’, and comparator gets paid for the sale.

Energy-Comparator X had a problem. Cancelation and customer drop off was eating into profit.

Switching an energy customer requires coordination of marketing, onsite sales messaging, customer service and old fashioned data entry. This process had 6 major links in the chain to sign up, and one major failing point.

One core part of the sign up process is to verify the customer’s identity in order to switch the household’s electricity account. A customer service agent would have to ring the customer to authenticate they are not being fraudulent. This was all well and good for online sales made 9 to 6pm, but a decent majority of sales were still left waiting in the air un-finalised out of business hours. This was identified as a major failing point in the process, and a major contributor to cancelations and drop offs.

A humble SMS gateway solution

Enter an SMS gateway into the mix. A few simple lines of code integrating the CRM and sms gateway, and now a customer signing up out of hours receives an instant SMS, with a reference number and code. Entering that code would then authenticate the sale immediately, and send the sale data to new energy provider instantly.

This simple solution had 2 major positive effects.

  1. It reduced cancelation and drop offs, by speeding up the processing time of the sale, and keeping customers informed of the status of their order.
  2. Reduce customer service agent time on phones, chasing customers to verify sales, ultimately this saved hundreds of man hours.

So what was the outcome?

SMS Gateway Table

The SMS gateway solution was implemented in early July 2012. Over a 6 month period, cancelation rate was reduced by 5%, which increased sales revenue significantly. The increased sales revenue combined with the customer service labour hours saved, amounted to approximately an extra $65,000 of profit for a 6 month period. For a business of less than 20 Employees, that was a significant sum of money, for what as a relatively simple function to implement.

In closing

We may be biased, but there is probably a creative and useful way an SMS gateway can improve your customer sign-up or purchases processes, no matter what industry you are in. The numbers in the case of Energy Comparator X speak for themselves, an SMS to keep customers informed and engaged in the process, kept them in the loop and therefore less likely to cancel. Setting up the automation for this service took no more than a few man hours, and amounted to a significant profit increase.

Thanks to Agus for sharing this interesting case study on using an SMS gateway.

 

 

Core Marketing Concepts Refresher: The Value Chain

Core Marketing Concepts Refresher: The Value Chain

Are you one of those people that have been lumped with marketing duties (even though you are a bona-fide IT nerd)? Or, perhaps you finished your marketing degree way back when Twitter was something only birds could do. Whatever the case may be, we all need to brush-up on our book learning from time-to-time. Believe it or not, some of this stuffy theoretical jargon can help guide day-to-day hands-on marketing tasks. So (for your reading pleasure), today we bring you the first instalment of a dummies guide to core marketing concepts: the Value Chain.

The Value Chain

Michael Porter (a leading professor at Harvard Business School, particularly in the area of company strategy) is the main proponent of Value Chain concept. The objective of the Value Chain concept is to find ways to create more value for your customer. According to Porter’s model, a company is simply a synthesis of activities performed to design, produce, market, deliver and support its product(s). I bet you’re thinking that sounds fairly obvious, aren’t you? Told you. But wait, there’s more.

The Value Chain identifies nine strategically relevant activities that create value or cost for a company. There are five primary activities and four support activities:

  • Primary activities: inbound logistics; operations or converting materials into final products, such as manufacturing; outbound logistics or shipping of final products; marketing and sales; and service.
  • Support activities: procurement, technology development, human resources and general infrastructure like management and finance and legal departments.

To create more value for customers (and thereby increase sales and profits) companies need to analyse its costs and performance in each of the value-creating activities (both primary and support) outlined above and find ways to improve each area.

There is a multitude of ways to do this. Unfortunately, we can’t give you a one-size-fits-all outline of ways to improve your value-creating actives. Improvements need to be tailor-made to suit your company, your industry of operation, your brand.

What we can do is provide some hints on where to start. First of all, you should be looking at ways to streamline process, improve efficiencies and reduce expenditure. So, start with some competitor analysis. Estimate what the costs of your competitors are and benchmark against them. Are you spending too much on manufacturing and not enough on R&D? If so, make a change. Otherwise, your competitors will be releasing brand new products and you’ll be left for dead.

Study the best-in-class practices of the world’ best companies. Often, there might be no need to reinvent the wheel. You might be able to use a pick-n-mix approach to your value-creating activity improvement; simply implement the best parts of other company’s programs (without completely ripping-off other people’s intellectual property – we don’t want any law suits on our hands here).

It is also important to keep in mind that a company’s success depends not only on how well each department performs, but also on how well the company coordinates departmental activities to conduct core business processes. Think about the following core processes. How many different departments are involved in each?

In the new-offering realisation process (which includes researching, developing and launching new products quickly within budget), the R&D department will be heavily involved, as will manufacturing, warehousing, logistics, marketing and finance and sales and human resources and legal and IT. In the customer acquisition process (defining new target markets and prospecting for companies), the marketing, finance and sales teams will need to work together. In the fulfilment management process (receiving and approving orders, shipping goods on time and collecting payment), the manufacturing, procurement, logistics and finance teams will be heavily involved.

A company needs to be a well-oiled machine, with all departments working together to create value for customers, thereby increasing sales and profit.

Marketing.com.au would like to thank Sally for sharing with us Part 1 of this great series of Core Marketing Concept Refreshers. Stay tuned for Part 2!

 

 

Measuring The ROI Of Your SEO Campaign

Hi everyone, my name is Mike van der Heijden and I work as a Senior Business Analyst at SEO Works, an Australian based SEO services provider with offices throughout Australia.

I have been invited to be a regular contributor to Marketing.com.au on everything and anything in the wonderful world of online marketing.

Today’s article discusses the various reports/information you should be requesting from your SEO professional or potential SEO company to ensure that you’re making the right investment with the right company. As I like to say, search engine optimisation professionals shouldn’t work for you, they should work with you.

Even in this day and age there are still people (and companies) who are unsure about Search Engine Optimisation, and rightly so! SEO companies and professionals have been wrongly educating the general public on how to measure the success of a campaign. For years clients have been told that the success of a search engine optimisation campaign can be measured by traffic and rankings!

Enter The Rankings & Traffic Metrics

If you have ever engaged a Search Engine Optimisation company/professional, you undoubtedly have seen a “ranking report” and a “traffic report”. I won’t go into the details of each as the level of detail of these reports vary from company to company, but generally are an overview of traffic of your website (perhaps broken up by source e.g. PPC, Organic, Direct etc.) and the rankings of a list of keywords.

Let me ask you a question, after your investment in SEO and seeing a ranking report and/or general traffic report have you gotten the feeling that what you (or the SEO Company) were doing was increasing your bottom line? Did those rankings directly relate to your increase in traffic and more importantly, increase in revenue?

Didn’t think so! If you are serious about your business, you need to be serious about the KPIs you set for your SEO firm, you need to know what to look at and in some cases request from your search firm.

Overall Campaign Metrics

I will explain 4 overall metrics to measure your websites performance by. By no means are they simple factors to influence and in some cases SEO companies might not be solely responsible for influencing these factors, however, each of these lends elements to be improved by a solid SEO campaign.

1. Revenue

Are you tracking the amount of revenue that is created by your website? If you’re running an e-commerce website have you set up e-commerce tracking properly? If you’re a service provider are you tracking the amount of people contacting you? And have you attached a value to these conversions?

This is the number one mistake businesses make. If you are not tracking any type of conversion, talk to your SEO Company on getting this set up as soon as possible, because only then can you start measuring the money your website makes you, and in term, your SEO Company delivers you.

Ask your SEO Company what they are doing overall to drive an increase in revenue, this should align properly with your business goals and needs.

2. Conversion Rate

Simply put, your conversion rate is the total number of goal achievements divided by the number of visits to your website.

E.g. if at the end of the month you received 1,000 visits to your website, and 100 conversions/sales were made, that would mean a conversion rate of 10%.

Because a website can have multiple “goal achievements” set up you should be measuring the conversion rates for all your goals.

Ask your SEO Company for monthly updates on your conversion rates and what they are doing to improve the conversion rates on your website.

3. Leads / Sales

As discussed in the Conversion Rate section, you want to have an overall report of total leads/sales/conversions that were made on your website.

Generally these reports will show the overall statistics for conversions on your website, broken down by the source of the visits (be it direct, referral, paid or organic).

4. Cost per Acquisition

Possibly the most important metric, after having figured out all of the above, is the cost per acquisition. How much are you paying in order to attract sales/leads/conversions?

Typically, this should be as easy as taking the amount you are investing in your Search Engine Optimisation campaign and dividing that by the amount of sales/leads/conversions driven through organic search.

When you first start with your SEO Company, this should be set as a benchmark, and the company should strive to improve (read, lower the Cost per Acquisition) over time.

Measuring ROI on Keyword Clusters

Firstly, let me introduce the term “Keyword Clusters”. Keyword Clusters are, in a nutshell, keywords that relate and incorporate a main keyword within.

For example: The keyword “Sydney Hotels” would have a cluster of keywords that contain either the phrase “Sydney Hotels” or contain “Sydney” and “Hotels”.

Sydney Hotels, Sydney Luxury Hotels, Best Sydney Hotels, Hotels in Sydney etc.

The reason for measuring activity on a “cluster” is to take away focus of one particular keyword, because ranking for 1 keyword could mean ranking for endless variations of that keyword.

Clusters aren’t evident in normal keyword ranking reports and therefore you might be missing out on tracking keywords that provide you revenue rather than just search volume.

1. Sales Per Keyword Cluster

Now that we understand the meaning of a keyword cluster, it is important to find out how many sales your website is making from these keyword clusters. It could very well be that a low search volume cluster is producing more sales for you than a high volume keyword cluster (which is often the case).

Ask your SEO Company for a breakdown of keyword clusters and the amount of sales/leads/conversions generated for that keyword cluster. This will give you a good insight into what keyword clusters you (and your SEO Company) should be focusing on.

2. Conversion Rate Per Keyword Cluster

Naturally, the next step is to work out what your conversion rate is per keyword cluster. It’s one thing to see a low search volume cluster producing more sales/leads, but it is also important to know what ratio of people searching for those clusters are actually converting.

3. Cost Per Acquisition for a Keyword Cluster

Last but not least, figure out what your cost per acquisition is per keyword cluster. It could very well be that the cluster producing the most leads is also the most costly (in terms of SEO investment and time taken to rank particular keywords).

A Few Extra Tips

  1. When engaging/interviewing potential SEO companies, make sure you request them to do an audit of your current state of affairs. Give them (read only) access to your analytics in order for them to do a proper analysis of where your website currently stands.
  2. Whilst interviewing your potential candidates, ask them what they think are reasonable goals and milestones to set for your campaign and how long they will take to achieve those results. If they return with an answer anywhere near “That’s hard to say/SEO is a difficult process/We can’t be sure” I say, run for the hills.
  3. Ask for recent successes/experience with other clients in or similar to your niche, more than likely they will have worked with a client who has been in a similar situation to you.

In closing, Search Engine Optimisation isn’t the black voodoo some companies make it out to be. As long as you’re well aware of the information that is out there and the information that you can request from your SEO Company there is no longer any reason for you to be “wasting” money or getting yourself caught in endless contracts.

 

❄ How To Avoid Losing Sales This Festive Season ❄

Are you sitting down? Yes, Christmas will be here in just 40 days! While retailers eagerly await for the dollars to start rolling in, they should be wary of overseas competitors getting in early for their slice of the pie.

Tim Beverage from Responsys kindly got in touch with us to share his advice for retailers in the upcoming festive season. He reminds us that the deadline that is looming for online Christmas sales. Tim advises Aussie retailers to get their campaigns launched ASAP by next week as there will be a significant proportion of sales occurring online with USA sales for Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Aussie retailers don’t want to miss out on the action!

Tim shared with us his eight golden rules for a successful 2012 festive season and they are: (more…)

How to Get the Best Results from Your PR Agency

So, you’ve decided that your brand needs a helping hand to get cut-through in today’s cut-throat consumer driven market. You’re set with the advertising campaign but a bit unsure on what PR even is, let alone what its benefits are. Isn’t it all just spin? Don’t today’s marketing savvy consumers see through PR fluff these days?

This is exactly the attitude that a switched on PR agency will dispel immediately. Good PR can boost your sales, increase your own profile (or that of your company’s) within the industry and enhance consumer brand awareness. If you approach PR with the right attitude (and know a little about it), it will become an essential element of your brand’s marketing mix.

When it comes to PR, and getting the most out of those monthly retainer fees, the most important thing to remember is: stories do not write themselves. Your PR agency should be able to come up with a few story angles and even organise a few promo events to generate coverage in the social pages. But, if you have nothing interesting to say about your brand, then what do you expect journalists to pen stories about? Unfortunately, PR agencies cannot manufacture stories from thin air. Newspaper column inches are highly sort after (and highly expensive if you are paying for them in advertising dollars); journalists will not give them away for fluff.

The key is to brief your PR agency thoroughly. Make sure they know what’s going on in your business. Make sure they understand your products. Make sure they know who your target audience is. Make sure they meet all your key staff. And, most importantly, make sure they know what is on the horizon for your business. Believe it or not, magazines often work up to three months in advance. So, if you want coverage in Cosmo for that new line of lipstick you are releasing in November, you had better have your PR agency hounding the journos in August.

If you are the face of the business, get media trained. There is nothing more frustrating for a journalist than going to the trouble of setting up an interview, doing background research and organising a photographer only to find that the subject is a dud. A dud doesn’t know what their key messages are, what they are trying to sell or what attitude they want to get across. If this is the case, chances are your interview will be boring (and go unpublished) or, even worse, you will do more harm than good to your brand.

Make sure you help give your PR agency the tools they need to do a good job. One of the most important tools for a PR agency is high resolution, print ready images. If a journalist is interested in running a story (based on one of your PR agency’s media releases), one of the first requests will be for an image to accompany it. So, if your PR agency wants to set up a product photo shoot or even a photo shoot to get some headshots of your key employees, this is not to create extra work for you. This is to ensure bigger, better exposure for your brand.

Be prepared to invest some of your time in the PR exercise. While your PR agency will be able to work autonomously for the majority of time, they will need your input. They will need approvals on media releases. They might need you to give an interview to a journalist. They might even need you to attend a photo shoot. Most of all, they will want to meet face-to-face on a regular basis; it’s the easiest way to find out what’s happening in your business.

Make sure you don’t set unreasonable (or simply unattainable) goals for your PR agency. PR is a long-term investment. It won’t happen overnight. You won’t be on television tomorrow. Journalists received hundreds of media releases every day. It will take time for them to get to yours. But a good PR agency will make sure that they do get to yours. If PR is used as a long-term marketing tool, journalists will inevitably start to approach you for stories and information. You might become their preferred industry expert to quote in stories. They might start asking you for product information (rather than receiving it unsolicited from your PR agency).

Employing a PR agency to raise the profile your brand should be one of the most beneficial marketing strategies you employee. If you follow the tips above, your relationship with your PR agency should flourish, alongside consumer awareness of your brand.

Marketing.com.au would like to thank Sally for taking the time to share this great advice.