Tag Archives: Online

The Digital Prairie – still up for grabs

I have recently completed a digital marketing audit for an SME in a fairly niche sector involving enterprise software. It has reminded me that the digital opportunity is still largely unknown in some sectors and first mover advantage exists for the brave and nimble. Although the main thrust was PPC and Natural Search performance, I also reviewed use of social media – partially toward better natural search results.

I looked at seven companies in the sector and evaluated their use of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia. The following table sets out what I found:

Top Level Audit findings

The difference between Company 6 and Company 1 is dramatic. Both are successful businesses but only one uses Social Media channels in a meaningful way. It is no surprise that Company 6 also has the best natural search performance and also engages with PPC – one of only two of the companies reviewed to do so.

Clearly not all buyers are engaged with digital marketing channels and so companies can still be successful without engaging in the space. All the companies I looked at had a website and although some were better than others I suspect all are supporting the sales cycle. However, it is clear that the Internet is becoming increasingly important in generating leads in the majority of sectors and so there is catching up to be done.

Trade between individuals, companies and even countries is as a result of networks, and networks exist both on and offline. Just because companies are not engaged with digital networks doesn’t mean they are disconnected entirely. However, throughout history human beings have migrated to faster, simpler, sexier means of communication and the social media channels reviewed above fit that criteria.




Will online sales benefit from high oil prices?

The Economist this week (The Economist July 12th 2008 ) reported that driving behaviour had changed as a result of higher fuel prices. Garages report that there has been a 5-10% drop in in fuel sales and this is as a result of fuel prices rising at their highest rate ever in June. The Economist also reports on data from Footfall, a research firm that tracks customer numbers, that indicates visits to out of town shops have fallen and at a higher rate than the drop in visits to town centres.The suggestion is that consumer behaviour is altering as a result of fuel price inflation.

At the same time Internet Retailing, an online retail website, reported increased sales to online grocery websites. Value retailers have experienced growth of between 30 to 40% in the four weeks to June 7th and visitor numbers for both Morrisons and Asda were up by more than 48% for the 3 months March to May 2008.

Meanwhile on June 30th 2008, ASOS, the UK’s largest online retail store attracting over 1 million visitors per week, were reported by Retail Exec, an online publication aimed at Retail Executives, to have achieved a 90% increase in revenues to £81 million and post pre-tax profits of £7.3 million up £3.4 million on last year.

I was asked to contribute to a book recently called “winners and losers in a troubled economy” and to offer my views on whether ‘online’ would be effected by an economic downturn. The answer to me is clear: Not if executives take on board the data available to them about changing consumer behaviour and the benefits the online channel offers. Having done so, they need to determine to make their online property best of breed.

Not everyone will do this of course and it is easy to predict that in 18 months time when the down turn is becoming a recovery there will be a number of high profile casualties that did not make the right investment decisions and were not able to maximise the opportunity that a down turn presented to their business.

We have all learned over the past decade or so, sometimes painfully, that the Internet is not the answer to all of our problems. However, where the case is dropping high street sales due to altering consumer behaviour as a direct result of high fuel prices there does seem to be a strong positive correlation and maybe this time, it is.