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Hi everyone!

I am a final year Marketing student at RMIT University

I would like to share my weekly thoughts on all things social media, digital marketing and the internet, including the pros and cons that come with it.

Make sure you subscribe to get weekly updates & leaves your thoughts and feelings in the comment down below- I would love to get your opinion on the topics.

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The web serving privacy issues on a platter

According to Tim Berners-Lee, “The goal of the Web is to serve humanity. We build it now so that those who come to it later will be able to create things that we cannot ourselves imagine”. However, in today’s digital age, that may not be the case.

In Jaron Lanier’s Ted Talk, he mentioned Norbert Weiner and his book; ‘The Human Use of Human Beings‘, where Weiner imagined creating a computer system gathering data from people and providing feedback to those in real time. Weiner thought of this as a global computer system where everyone would have devices on them at all times and be subject to a degree of behaviour modification, although mentioning that they couldn’t survive and it’s a futurist technological capability that’s infeasible. Yet, it’s our reality, and according to Jaron Lanier this is what we must undo in order to survive.

Access to the internet must be public and is available to all, which is fantastic. If someone couldn’t afford it- it would create an inequity. However, with the power of Google, technology and businesses, although it’s become a pull economy for consumers to decide whether to engage, it still raises issues. For now, let’s focus on users personal information and privacy issues in regard to the internet.

Is privacy a thing anymore?

Personal information is ‘information or an opinion about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable…’. 

So how much information does Google and social media platforms, such as Facebook, hold about you? According to Tim Berners-Lee, we’ve lost control of our data.

Let’s get back to basics. There is no single or conclusive definition of privacy however a right to privacy in the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 states that “everyone has the right to keep their lives private, and to not have their family, home or personal information interfered with”. If you’re thinking that signing up to Google or Facebook and giving your name and email to them isn’t invading your privacy…read on.

Google collects your data in order to target ads. In their privacy policy it is crystal clear that your information is being collected, however 94% of Australians do not read all privacy policies that apply to them.

In this day and age we are given ‘free’ content in exchange for personal data. Most of the time we give up our information, instead of tolling over the lengthy terms and conditions, and some aren’t concerned. 34% of the community are comfortable with the government sharing their personal information with other government agencies. However, only 10% are comfortable with businesses sharing their information with other organisations.

AI being a privacy leak?

Google Home, with its artificial intelligence system, can record all conversations once hearing a wake-up word or phrase like “Ok, Google”. In 2017, Google confirmed a bug in its Home Mini speaker allowing it to record users even when it was not activated. Amazon’s Alexa was also caught recording a private conversation and later sending it to a person in their contacts list, sparking controversy around AI and potential further issues.

It’s not only in the devices they produce but the search engine itself. Google knows where you’ve been, what you’ve searched-even if you’ve deleted it, the apps you use and even has a profile of you. Google even has access to your microphone and webcam. When signing up to a social media platform or needing the answer to a simple question leads to a collection of our personal data, is this a misuse of our personal information?

Here are some simple tricks to help keep your personal information and ensure maximum privacy:

  1. Check your social settings on who can gain access to your information – keep it between your close friends and on a minimum number of platforms
  2. Don’t use public platforms for private information– don’t upload personal and private information and photos on the internet. This can even include iCloud.
  3. Always review what you’re signing up to and check the privacy/information policy to know what you’re getting into
  4. Strengthen your login credentials and don’t write them down on your mobile device

Finishing with a question for you all & I would love to hear your thoughts below!

Do you believe as consumers in this digital age we have lost control of our privacy and personal information? Will there be barriers implemented and a balance between free content and personal data given in exchange?

IMC the road to success?

Integrated marketing communications (IMC), became prominent in the early 2000’s and is the process of managing the customer relationship to drive customer value.

The American Marketing Association defines IMC as “a concept of marketing communications planning that recognises the added value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communication disciplines…”.

IMC is about integrating marketing tools that, in essence, work in harmony and across multiple channels and platforms; offline and online. It’s vital that it reflects how the business operates and how consumers perceive the business. The 4C’s of IMC are:

  • Coherence: Logically connected; firmly stuck together
  • Consistency: Not self-contradictory; in agreement, harmony, accord
  • Continuity: Connected and consistent over time
  • Complementary communications: Producing a balanced whole; supportive communications

With the trend of mobile marketing and social media, the concept of ‘omnichannel marketing‘, is a shift that businesses are starting to move towards. It emphasises the importance of reach and interaction with customers across touchpoint in all channels, being a seamless process. This magnifies the important of the 4 C’s in ensuring your businesses message and image is consistent and integrated across all channels.

Where IMC began…

An original communication model was introduced by Schramm in 1954, saying that information is not valuable unless it is carefully put into words and conveyed to others. This model outlines encoding, message, media, noise and decoding, as a basic outline to conveying the businesses message.

In the ‘original’ approach to marketing communications, businesses sent their integrated message through controlled media forms such as radio, TV and print.With this shift in communication, it’s putting power in consumers hands. Communication is changing from a push to a pull situation- consumers can now decide whether to engage in a businesses marketing message due to the freedom of digital platforms. Through online platforms there is more of a ‘one-to-one’ compared to a ‘one-to-many’ and businesses are able to co-create brand content or make it personalised.

Dave Shaffey’s customer lifecycle

Dave Shaffey’s model of how consumer processes function, indicates the importance of marketing platforms reaching consumers, generating demand for your business and starting the process of positive purchase consideration and intent. This consumer lifecycle can help companies understand the new reality of IMC and to ensure we have customers contribution to help co-create the brand

Media Selection

Now, there is an increase in digital usage on laptop and mobile, with 74% of people using smartphones to access social media, compared to knowing and learning about brands on TV, Billboards, Newspaper and so on. Australia is on the forefront of spending money on digital marketing and growth is continuing to increase, even though it’s considered a recent addition. 53.2% of Australia’s advertising is on Digital channels with an increase of 7% for mobile marketing between 2017 and 2018.

There are numerous forms and channels to communicate to consumers on and through. In the digital age, Coulter & Starkis 2005 model doesn’t fit so well into media outlets most effective in todays society for businesses to implement. Social media platforms such and Facebook and Instagram are among the most popular, as well as Facebook ads, apps and PR for personal one-to-one communication.

So how do you implement an IMC structure?

Let’s go through a few key steps to implement a IMC structure into your business.

  1. Know your target market– this includes the demographic and psychographic. This is key in planning your messages and identifying the best communication channel
  2. Have a digital marketing strategy– Know the platform and market trends and what channels you’re going to advertise on
  3. Be clear and have a consistent look– Convey the same message across all channels
  4. Analytics and reporting– Data-driven marketing can help pin point your best channels and market. Also keep track of results and find out what’s working and why
  5. Content– Upload content that is relevant and in demand. Co-create with consumers as they have the power and don’t forget about personalisation

Do you think the IMC structure is relevant and vital in todays marketing for businesses? If so, which platforms and channels do you think are most important to advertise and is there anything marketers should pay attention to for their IMC?

Love to hear your thoughts in the comments !

How do you make your business known: SEO or SEM?

How many times do you go to search for something on Google each day?

It’s the norm to go onto Google for all your questions and queries. Where there’s is a question, there’s usually an answer- Google has you covered. Don’t worry if you feel like you do this all day every day. 1.17 billion other people use Google search and they have 75.74% of the desktop search engine market share.

We tend to forget that there are reasons why particular brands come up first in our search, and they tend to be exactly the one’s you’re after.

So what is SEO?

SEO, Search Engine Optimisation, is basically what the name implies. It helps platforms like Google determine your ranking in the unpaid section of search results, also known as ‘organic results‘.

Search engines work on three primary functions: Crawl, Index & Rank.

Crawling is the discovery process when search engines send out of a team of ‘robots’, known as crawlers. These crawlers find new and updated content, adding the URL that the content is on to a database and later retrieved when a user is seeking information that the URL is a match for.

Index is a database of all the content these ‘robots’ have discovered and deem good enough to give to searchers

Ranking or query processor occurs when someone performs a search, the search engine scours the index for relevant content and orders it in hope of finding the searcher’s query. In theory, the higher a website is ranked, the more relevant the search engine believes that site it to the search.

Your business can implement factors to help search engine ranking and according to Chaffey, Chadwick, Johnston & Mayer (2006), there is an order:

  1. Frequency of key phrases occurring in the text of a web page is a key factor in determining the position for a key phrase.
  2. The more quality links you have from good sites on your page, the better your ranking will be
  3. Title HTML tag– Keywords in the title tag of a web page that are also indicated in the HTML code, this is significant as words listed int he title and not just the body of text are more likely to be listed higher.
  4. Meta-tags are apart of the HTML file, imported by web page creators, which are read by a spider or robot. There aren’t accessible by users but are used by search engines to compile their index.
  5. Alternative graphic text – sites that use a lot of graphical material and/or plug-ins is less likely to be listed highly.

According to Moz, there are 7 steps to a successful SEO:

  1. Crawl accessibility so engines can read your website
  2. Compelling content that answers the searchers query
  3. Keyword optimised to attract searchers & engines
  4. Great user experience including a fast load speed and compelling UX
  5. Share-worthy content that earns links, citations and amplification
  6. Title, URL & description to draw high CTR in the rankings
  7. Snippet/schema markup to stand out in SERPs

If your site hasn’t been ‘crawled’ yet, it is unlikely to show up in a search. In order to effectively complete a search engine optimisation for your brand you need to make your brand stands out and make it consistently apparent over other alternatives.

What is SEM?

On the other hand, there is Search Engine Marketing (SEM). According to Website Magazine, (SEM) refers to paid-efforts to promote a website and increase visibility on search engines. It is mostly focused on pay-per-click (PPC). As you may have guessed, this means the business pays a fee each time a consumers clicks on an ad and is routed to their website.

By optimising your search engine Marketing strategy, you can attract those already interested in what you offer by understanding the person’s search intent. Google is able to pair its users with websites that will provide relevant answers, as long as Google knows your content and is aware of your website.

Graph 1: Cision PR Newswire: Which generation trusts what

Looking at Graph 1: Baby Boomers are more likely to click on an ad that mentions a familiar brand over a paid ad that’s at the top of the page. Millennials or Get X are willing to click on a paid ad as long as it answers a search query or is listed above other search results, meaning less scrolling is needed.

You want to appear in search results, drive traffic to your website and know your target audience in order to make both SEO and SEM beneficial and potentially chose which one you want to implement. You have to do your research and create valuable content for users to be successful, however, there are pros and cons to both. Lets quickly go over a few to understand which may be best for your business.

PROS & CONS

SEO PROS & CONS:

  • SEO gives lasting and continuous flow of free and targeted traffic. It is time-heavy but you don’t have to pay to have your website ranked or PPC.
  • With SEO, your brand will appear in the search results whenever a user searches for your targeted keywords in your text or headlines. The more you show up in the search results for your target keyword, the higher awareness of your brand.
  • Consumers trust Organic results, especially the older generations when conducting a search
  • If you don’t optimise your content to be relevant to consumer searches, your website is likely to not show up in the first page of searches which could be detrimental to website traffic.
  • Organic searches lose 25% of clicks on desktop and 55% on Mobile to PPC advertising
  • SEO is long-term optimisation tactic- not for quick sales and click through rate

SEM PROS & CONS:

  • SEM, due to being a paid search, appears in the top few results on Google’s page. This is a huge benefit as 75% of clicks go to the first page of search results.
  • You can create enticing ads that appear at the top of a search and is a consumers first point of contact
  • 75% of people say paid search ads make it easier to find information they’re after. SEM also allows for the business to control the results they want to achieve, as you can choose how your ad is shown and what it says, you can find what consumers search for and make them your target market as 26% click on a paid search because it mentioned a brand they’re familiar with
  • SEM can involve high costs and only last for the duration of an ad campaign.
  • If the ad isn’t relevant to what the consumer is searching, it is a waste of time and people will ignore the ads
  • depending on your product and therefore keywords you use in your ad, it can become more expensive the more popular your search is

We can see there are extensive benefits to both SEO and SEM. Now you’re stuck deciding which one is best your your business right? You don’t always have to choose one- it is possible to do both.

Businesses can use their PPC or SEM to understand consumer trends in their searches and understand the best target market. This could be your ‘research’ faze into the keywords and content you need to be creating. You can then present your company to Google as an ‘organic search’, now knowing the key words to drive and what content to feature based on consumer patterns, you won’t need to invest in PPC’s anymore. You can get the best of both worlds, with minimum costs in the long-term.

Would you choose SEO or SEM? Would you do both?

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Mobile Marketing showing a bright future or lack of privacy

Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 by Apple, the smartphone market and capabilities have grown drastically. These devices, along with its technology, has allowed for communication, e-commerce, mobile payments, interaction and more.

Kleiner Perkins 2018 Internet Trends: Smartphone shipments/growth

So what actually is Mobile marketing?

Formally, mobile marketing is two-way communication and promotion of what a business has to offer its customers using a mobile device or technology.

Mobile Marketing has evolved faster and on a much larger scale than we did and could have ever predicted. Online display marketing is growing faster than most other markets. There is a $62 billion business for online advertising and $17 billion business for online display marketing industry. Online advertising can be on the internet and through social media as some popular avenues. Online display marketing is more apparent through banner ads, click bait ads and sponsored ads on youtube clips etc.

76% of consumers own a laptop compared to 87% owning a smart phone or even 45% having access to internet-enabled TV, allowing consumers to be constantly connected.

Kleiner Perkins 2018 Internet Trends: Laptop vs Mobile usage

Due to the accessibility, Mobile payments has been a substantial area of the market that has thrived and allowed for multiple capabilities to help consumers and businesses. Over 75% of banks provide some kind of mobile banking capability; whether that be an app, online balance or transfers to another account and nearly 50% of smattered phone owners have used mobile banking in the last year. Customers may be time-sensitive and location sensitive, resulting in an inability to go into a bank branch for help, with the app making life easier.

78% of smartphone internet users are now using their phone while they’re shopping. This is being used to compare products when in store or scan barcodes to find the best price. This raises concerns for retailers due to consumers being able to access vast amounts of information but overall, we are better off if consumers are informed and therefore a powerful consumer.

Privacy issues?

Consumers in the digital age are able to access or be accessed at any time, anywhere. Mobile marketing does not discriminate. No matter what socio economic status, where you’re located or who you are; you have the ability to access mobile marekting and information like never before.

Business need to make sure they answer consumers wants and needs as well as making it a benefit to use their product, not a hassle. As consumers of such fast-paced, high consumption lives, we’re fortunate that we have so many platforms and technological capabilities available to make our lives easier.

However, due to changing technological advancements and capabilities, it facilitates businesses access to data on what consumers every move is and purchases to target specific marketing at the right time.

Over the past few years, reports have shown that your smart TV may be ‘listening in’ on what you’re saying. According to The Conversation Samsung’s new Smart TV’s are being programmed to listen to your every word and send the data to a third party cloud service. With the rise of the digital age there has been talk of ongoing privacy issues; but how concerned should we really be? 

Kaplan (2012) Classification of mobile marketing applications

Kaplan (2012) classified the mobile marketing application into four groups:

  1. Strangers: Low knowledge/push communication in that companies broadcast a general message to a large audience of mobile user; the given ultimately doesn’t know who has been reached.
  2. Groupies: Low knowledge/Pull communication in which customers give their contact information but do not identify themselves; the company doesn’t know the specifics about their clients
  3. Victims: High knowledge/push communication are companies that know their customers and send information without direct permission.
  4. Patrons: High knowledge/pull communication is where customers give permission to be contacted and provide in depth personal information, allows for one-to-one communication.

Businesses have the ability to send location and purchase based messages or adverts to consumers when accessing previous purchase data and trends. When we’re choosing to give our personal information to a company in exchange for information and updates, being patron, it’s ok. When companies are reaching out to millions of individuals based on data they have access to, as if they’re a number, being a stranger, is it ok? What’s the privacy limit?

Love to hear your thoughts down below!

Power of Words on a keyboard

Social media spreading the word

Although concepts of ‘digital marketing’ and ‘social media influencers’ have only recently been introduced, consumers have always loved to share their thoughts, opinions and interests. Word-of-mouth has driven conversation; at home or in public, whether it has a negative or positive reflection on the business.

With the rise of technology and communication capabilities, mobile phones have become more than just a communication device to connect family & friends. Smartphones help store our valuable information and memories from passwords to treasured photos of family and friends. It has become a tool to voice our opinions and watch businesses and consumers every move. Our mobile phone has become our ‘backbone’, an extension of ourselves; what would we do without it?

As outlined in Nielsen’s 2015 ‘Global Trust in Advertising report’, 83% of people surveyed would completely trust recommendations from friends and family.

With the arrival of interactive social media capabilities, the impact of word-of-mouth has evolved. This change has the ability to be a useful tool in developing brand loyalty and promoting companies products, if it’s in the right hands.

Due to the rise of social media influencers and celebrities, their opinion is highly regarded and anything that is communicated by them is likely to receive high attention. Looking at Berger’s (2013) 6 steps, sharing this information could be seen as gaining social currency for consumers; they’re passing on a message about a product or idea from someone regarded as higher than them, making them look good to those around them. This almost gives them ‘bragging rights’, a story to carry on in which they knew the information first and passed it along the chain.

Earlier this year, Kylie Jenner posted about no longer using Snapchat as of February 2018, dropping the companies share price dramatically losing US$1.3 billion. Thousands of followers receiving her message and following in her footsteps, re-tweeting her post and axing the platform from their home screen.

Through the reliance of word-of-mouth and reviews by family, friends or well known users on the web, companies need to be select and careful about how they advertise, who they advertise with and what message is passed onto fellow consumers; opinion based or paid.

The digital age and Word-Of-Mouth has allowed for the rise of influencers and everyday consumers to get their positive opinions voiced in seconds to potentially millions of followers. However, do you think this freedom of speech and ability for consumers to convey their perspective instantaeously could be detrimental to businesses? Therefore should it be controlled? if so, how?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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