Lessons in building business dashboards

In business, I have learnt the incredible value of building dashboards that eliminate unnecessary data (ruthlessly) and focus only on imperative and useful stats that help you make informed decisions quickly.  In my average week, I refer to two central dashboards. One the shows the health of my business and the other that track my key priorities (which change every few months). The help me progress my business, weather the storms and build a company I’m proud of.  My critical lessons in creating these have been: 1) It should not be hard or timeconsuming to find and update the stats – otherwise, it will fail in a matter of weeks 2) The whole team should agree to the outputs you measure – this helps create buy-in and track accountability. 3) Track what you need to track – never track everything you can (this will drive you insane) 4) If it can’t help you make a decision – get rid of it. So imagine how happy I am to see how we have been able to do this for our clients in our new digital dashboards. None of the clutter, nothing siloed, and meaningful data stories that help them make decisions. Today I got to see the digital dash for Digitlab, yes, we finally got round to creating one for ourselves. Such a great tool. Proud of the team who put this together. 

DigitLab recognised in KZN as a Top 100 Business

On the evening of 22 June, KZN’s premier businesses gathered to support and promote the province’s top companies and entrepreneurs. The Standard Bank KwaZulu-Natal Top Business Awards have firmly established themselves as a highlight in the KwaZulu-Natal business calendar. This year the awards once again celebrated successful companies and organisations in KwaZulu-Natal. The awards event provides an excellent opportunity for all business sectors to meet, be inspired and showcase their achievements to their peers. Each of the award categories celebrates and recognises business and organisational success across economic sectors in both the private and public arenas. The awards evening also saw the launch of the next annual edition of the KZN Top Business and Top Leaders Portfolio. The portfolio is an online portal to KwaZulu-Natal’s top businesses, organisations, municipalities and government departments. The website also includes a profile of the province, as well as insight into successful governance and the economy. It also highlights current investment possibilities in the province and provides regular news updates. KwaZulu-Natal offers you great opportunities for growth, expansion, trade and investment. Digital marketing agency DigitLab is proud to have been included in this Top Business Portfolio for 2018 and to have their CEO, Mike Saunders, highlighted as one of the province’s top leaders in the KZN Leaders Portfolio. “It has always been part of our vision to build a significant business on KZN soil and we will continue to chase our dream of building an international digital agency with its head office in Durban,” says...

Artificial intelligence is cool, market intelligence is cooler

There’s a big race in marketing to drive artificial intelligence into their channels and consumer facing products. Especially with rise of chatbots, which has become the perfect interface to speak to an AI product. Marketers should be looking carefully at AI but new technologies are providing value in even better corners of the marketing spectrum. The one area that I think will add the most value to marketers is in market intelligence. Over the past few years marketers have gained the ability to check and measure many more data points than ever before. Primarily, marketers measure these within their channel planning structures. Measuring the success of each marketing channel in detail. It’s a massive benefit and a big opportunity for business to understand each channel better. The evolution of marketing data Today we’re seeing new tools on the market like Linkbundle and Tableau that are helping marketers converge their data points together, beyond the silos of their channels. In simple terms, technology is opening the door for marketing teams to understand their marketing efforts at a much higher level than just channel specific metrics. This is an important step for marketers because channel specific metrics are limiting the value of these metrics. Think about it like this: Your customer attends your event where you’re promoting a product. Some consumers purchase the product at the event and that’s easy to measure, but others who don’t by share the event in social networks and chat groups, these conversations lead to foot traffic...

Improving the relationship between data analysts and marketers

Data analysts and marketers historically have not needed to work closely together… today, that has changed. Data analysts have become some of the most valuable people in your marketing team as they can help brands understand consumer motives faster, build intuitive interfaces and trigger customer actions, all by using data effectively. In our last Digital Swarm event we discussed the need for marketers and agencies to build relationships with the data analysts in our business. Most marketing teams don’t yet have full-time analysts employed, so they are reliant on their business analysts to fill the gap in their team. Initially we see marketers focusing on mission critical exercises to build marketing competencies that drive innovation and consumer centricity. A few of these mission critical aspects are discussed here, but are summarised as: Collecting consumer information Consumer information is vast and comes in various forms. Market research companies present deep insight into consumers through reports, catalogues and online systems. This information is a combination of data driven insight and qualitative assessment. While it may be difficult to drive this into our data infrastructure, marketers will benefit from being able to make this information available to their wider stakeholder network. Aggregating siloed data Every marketer is measuring every aspect of the marketing plan, but very rarely are they able to break these reporting techniques out of their respective silos and see the data together. New start-up technologies are starting to answer these questions and we are seeing some products become available that...

How Data Helps Marketers Be More Innovative

Is it possible that marketers are out there raving about how data is the future, yet secretly hiding behind ‘data complexity’? All signs point to yes, and this is because they have not yet found out how to harness data in their marketing initiatives just yet. In essence, we believe in the impact of data but aren’t sure how it fits into our world yet. It’s more of a futurist idea than a real value-add today. As marketers, we’re in the business of behaviour change and The Fogg Behavior Model shows that three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation; Ability; and Trigger. When a behaviour change does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing. So, how can data equip us in each of these elements? Motivation: Every BIG IDEA in marketing is entered around key consumer insight, the motivating factor for change. It speaks to the heart of people and it the central reason for the success of an idea. The trouble is that it takes time to identify the key insights and build creative ideas around them. In today’s world of instant consumers, we are facing a challenge as marketers to understand customer insights and consumer shifts quicker than ever before. Managing data stores and accessing consumer and business data efficiently will make it possible for marketers and agencies to understand their consumers faster. I’d say real-time here, but that’s a pipe dream that doesn’t work in reality. It’s possible...

How to Innovate Faster in Marketing

It was Steve Jobs who coined the phrase, “Computers are like a bicycle for our minds”; suggesting that much like a bicycle, computers would help people move quicker to the destination once you apply effort. Jobs saw the computer as an enhancer to human capacity instead of a replacement. I have a similar belief that digital technology helps us enhance human potential in business instead of replacing it. In marketing, especially, we see that strong digital foundations and understanding helps marketers improve quicker, innovate smarter and understand customers deeper. When we look at digital, we segment it into pieces from primary technologies, social, mobile, data and The Internet of Things. In this article, I want to explore a simple question: how will data infrastructures help marketers become more innovative and agile? Almost every single marketer would agree that being able to innovate faster is an incredible competitive advantage in business. The trick is learning how to do this, and how to gear our marketing team correctly to achieve it. When it comes to data, we can learn from the IT industry and see how innovative businesses use IT infrastructures as a means to innovate. According to McKinsey, a two-speed system architecture is valuable in becoming more innovative and agile. This implies a fast-speed, customer-centric front end (speed of innovation) running alongside a slow-speed, transaction-focused legacy back end (speed of operation). For software-release cycles and deployment mechanisms, the customer-facing part should be modular, to enable quick deployment of new software by...

Be Brave: Differentiate with Digital

Digital presents a powerful opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves against competitors. We’ve all heard the stories of great digital projects and wonder how we could create the same traction for our own brands. In our quest to thrust our brands into the digital era, we have found it to be more difficult than we initially anticipated. The trouble is, brands who are unsure of the value of digital choose a copycat approach to digital marketing. They hear of something that worked for someone else and copy it. Choosing to copy others rather than create new opportunities results in a saturated market of ‘the same old’ digital tactics. We see it all over the place, in social media, as brands and agencies adopt the same ideas over and over again. Even in the mobile apps market, brands are too quick to jump in fast and end up with smaller and smaller returns from their online efforts. We need to make the copycat approach public enemy number one! The copycat approach comes when: Brands aren’t sure of who they are Brands are chasing speed to market over innovation Brands are afraid of failure It’s become my experience that brands who succeed in digital know who they are, they make sure their digital ideas match their overall strategy and they are brave. They’re even a little crazy, in a good way! So, it seems fairly practical that we could apply a simple process to getting out of a copycat approach and I’d...

Effective Influencer Marketing

Essentially, through any influencer marketing project, your brand is hoping to piggyback on a relationship that another has already built up with your ideal target market. And much like how someone wouldn’t introduce you to their friends in a good light unless they already had some sort of good relationship with you – it makes sense that you first have to build up the connection with an influencer on a brand to person level before you can hope to be introduced authentically to their audience. So basically it’s not going to be enough to simply identify who you’d like to work with and then throw product and money at them. If you really want their opinion of your brand to be honestly positive, and not just a sponsored advert, then you need to approach this interaction for what it is – building a relationship as strong as the one between the influencer and their audience. Step 1: Identify To identify the influencers whom you wish to build a relationship with, you first need to identify your ideal target audience: Who do you want to be speaking to? How old are they? What are their interests? What are their online behaviours like – which social platforms are they on? Which part of the consumer journey would you like them to influence? Once you find your target audience, then it’s actually pretty simple to find your influencers – they will be the ones that your target market are already avidly listening to,...

User journeys are broken

Fifty digital enthusiasts tucked themselves into a trendy venue in Durban to discuss ‘Design Thinking’ and ‘User Experience’ at our latest edition of Digital Swarm. During the evening we discussed the importance of the digital journey. We found that the journey isn’t about point A and point B – the bit between points A and B was where we needed to focus. Now, this isn’t rocket science but it starts to get a lot more complicated when we acknowledge that if point B is our chosen end point for a customer, then there are many different Point A’s to consider. We also need to acknowledge that most businesses have multiple point B’s that will help them successfully reach their goals. For example: Jon might travel blissfully from point A to B exactly the way you planned – he made the purchase and even shared that he bought your product with his community. However, Thandi clicks on Jon’s link and arrives at your site halfway between point A and B. She doesn’t have all the information she needs, she is excited about the product, but doesn’t know how to get the information she needs to execute her purchase. As marketers we very often spend hours and hours planning for Jon’s journey and get excited when the stats show us we are getting many people joining Jon’s walk with your brand. However, we don’t often consider Thandi, she becomes lost in the stats, telling us what went wrong, she joins our bounce...

Why social media and radio are best friends

Birds of a feather flock together. The old saying rings very true when it comes to media channels that drive social interaction instead of one way broadcasting. Media channels that have a ‘live’ mechanism to them are inherently channels that can entice and engage its fans/viewers/listeners in a very personal and social manner. I would agree with the sentiment that radio is social. Let me rephrase this, good radio is social. It uses talk shows, open’s the lines up for conversations with listeners and is a great medium to connect with people in a personal manner. Social media does the same, arguably with a bit more longevity to the conversations taking place. Through online conversations, that are the catalyst for opening up engagement with followers, social media touches its followers in a very unique and personal fashion. Social media and radio are two peas in a pod. Social, engaging and exciting. In my experience, when two social people get together the party just gets bigger and better. The same is true with campaigns, shows and conversations that utilize both radio and social media management to meet people. How to best optimise radio and social media Use the live nature of radio to build fanfare Everyone likes a bit of fanfare. It excites us and makes us interested in getting involved in something. The problem is that it normally dies down quickly. Radio is a great medium to create fanfare for its listeners. I would suggest coupling your radio campaign with...

Social Media principles from The Green Apron Book

I recently came across the Starbucks Green Apron book and read through their 5 principles for turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. I found it very interesting that the 5 principles can be applied directly to a social media campaign or strategy. The Green Apron Book is a booklet that Starbucks gives its baristas.  It outlines Starbucks mission: “To provide an uplifting experience that enriches people’s daily lives,” along with 5 Principles for doing exactly that: Be Welcoming: Offer everyone a sense of belonging. Be Genuine: Connect, discover, respond. Be Knowledgeable: Love what you do. Share it with others. Be Considerate: Take care of yourself, each other, and the environment. Be Involved: In the store, in the company, and in the community. The principles promote that good business and great customer experiences come out of a personal connection between people. Social media management relies on this principle as fundamental to your social media strategy. Without being personal and considerate you will struggle to build community. Community is the centerpiece of your social media strategy, everything said and done by people inside your community will shape and define how your community evolves. By applying principles like the one’s outline here you can be sure that your community online and offline will grow and evolve into a very valuable business proposition. Yes, this does mean that you need to allocate resources (mainly people) to manage the social media engagement for you business. Automation will just create a flat community with no energy...

How valuable is your website in B2B purchasing decisions?

The invention of social media and blogging has left a big question unanswered in the online marketing realms. Just how valuable is a company website in business to business purchasing decisions? Well it seems that they are very valuable but not neccessarily influential in in the three stages of purchasing. This information comes from the Buyershpere report which I believe shows great insight into the platforms neccessary to create business to business sales leads from the internet. A Summary: How important is your company website? When looking at buying business services there are three stages of the purchase that have been identified: Identifying and defining the need Indentifying potential suppliers Final selection of the supplier In all three stages a company’s website was the primary channel used to gather information, even more than web searches. In stage one industry press, word of mouth and events were next in line as channels used to identify and define the need for the purchase. The company website in this case has the opportunity to establish brand, share product details and specifications and add value to the different purchase stages. the interesting fact that rose oot of the study though was that the company website had very little influence on the conclusion of each stage. The effect of social media on business to business purchasing decisions It’s all about influence! Every stage of the purchase cycle revealed that  social media channels and word of mouth were the primary influential channels that influenced the decisions...

New Keynote on Social Media – Consumer 2.0

I am happy to announce that almost a years worth of ideas and concepts are neatly wrapped up in my latest keynote presentation. Consumer 2.0 The past ten years have seen the world move closer and closer to a digital existence. The boomer generation confidently lead to way by integrating our lives with electronic banking, business intranets and cellular phones while Generation X and Y have continued the journey into blogging, instant messaging and social media. This digital life has not replaced the real “person to person” lifestyle but rather enhanced life to be more convenient and dynamic. Electronic banking opened the door to convenient banking and social media made relationships easier to manage. Does this mean that everyone is moving to using these new technologies? In our experience no, instead people are adapting to those technologies that matter to them. This has lead to a more complex consumer who is using various communication tools in their own way. Making it more difficult to engage with the consumer – regardless of their generation, income level or intelligence. The level of a consumers digital savvy will depend on how and when you could connect with your consumers and whether they will appreciate your presence or not. At the end of the day you have four questions that need answering: How does this influence the way we do business? How has this changed the consumer? How does this influence your reputation or brand? What do we do now? Consumer 2.0 is a...

Mike Saunders and Barrie Bramley talk about Social Media

I spent last week in Johannesburg and had a chance to chat to Barry Bramley about social media in South Africa. Barry has since put our conversation down on a podcast which captures a few clear points about social media management. Bearing in mind alot of the content here is just my opinion but we looked some case studies, why social media is important, how I launched my consultancy, the most important asset to social media and B2B marketing online. You can download/listen the podcast here

5 Fudamentals of a Good Internet Marketing Strategy

A good internet marketing strategy will include these five fundamental elements: Marketing Research Marketing research needs to take place before the campaign begins and continuously thoughout the campaign activation process. If the correct metrics are not in place you are in danger of creating the wrong kind of return. Even worse, you may not generate any return on your campaign. Facebook has done a very good job in providing its Facebook Insights on pages created in Facebook. These metrics can provide valuable information to the campaign and its return. A Willingness to Change All this research is available all the time. Some of it is even available in real-time. My suggestion when building your marketing strategy would be to identify your marketing decision maker and make sure that they are integrally involved in the strategy. You can make changes to your internet marketing campaign almost instantly, why not take advantage of this flexibility and make sure that your team is ready and willing to make quick decisions to activate intuitive marketing ideas as soon as possible. Clear Project Management There is nothing worse than a strategy activation where the team involved in carrying out the campaign are unsure of their responsibilities. Put someone in charge of making sure that all the task happen at the right time and make sure that everyone is clear about their responsibilities. Internet maketing campaigns often have alot of small but vitally important tasks that need to take place and these can easily fall through...

Whose on Twitter in South Africa

I am very happy to see South Africans producing great social media research. Fuseware recently released a report about Twitter in South Africa and I thought I would share a small piece with you. According to the report your top users of Twitter are: Designers Students Engineers Entrepreneurs Artists Writers Photographers DJ’s Managers Journalists Consultants It would seem then that if you are looking for intelligent, young and creative individuals then Twitter may be where you can find them. Makes me wonder why recruitment agencies are not on Twitter in force. You can download the entire report here: http://www.fuseware.net/reports/sa-twitter-2010/ Well done to Mike and the guys at Fuseware for putting this report together

Marketing Warwick Junction

Today we launched a website with a simple aim to sell tours around The Markets of Warwick. Warwick Junction lies on the edge of the Durban’s inner-city and is the primary public transport interchange in the city. On an average day the area accommodates 460 000 commuters, and at least 6000 street vendors. Given the confluence of rail, taxi and bus transport, this area has always been a natural market for street vendors. The Markets of Warwick includes between 5000 and 8000 vendors trading in 9 distinct markets. Currently this is the only informally structured market in a public space of this magnitude, and thus establishes itself as the single most authentic African market that South Africa has to offer. I was intrigued by the business and enjoyed working on this project because they seem to have found a niche in tourism that I have not seen yet. The tourism element is only a small part af a great vision for the founding company Asiye Etafuleni. I would encourage you to check this out and learn a bit more about the project. Even book a tour around the market (for a mere 50 bucks!). A note on strategy On a strategy side, due to time constraints, a full internet marketing campaign will be put into affect at a later stage. So the initial efforts were best spent in creating a simple, easy to use website that drove people to booking tours. The website also shows additional information for those looking...

Is Facebook getting bigger than Google?

A few weeks ago I wrote on the Ideat blog that Facebook had the potentional to become the King of the Internet. This was highlighted by the fact the Facebook had been the most visited website in the US a week or two earlier.More recently Facebook has become the most popular searched brand in the US. What has become more interesting is that in South Africa 82% of the online population are on Facebook and 74% of the population are actively involved in social networking.  In March we also saw the launch of Google real-time search in South Africa, which brings social media updates into Google. There are also develoments, made by google, that mean you have better search potential in Google if more people are following you on twitter. What is taking place is a fundamental shift in the way people use the internet. People are choosing to network, search, discuss, aggregate and understand the internet through social networks, of which Facebook is the largest. This has meant that Google has had to go to the social networks to get the information that people are intesteted in. So the question: Is Facebook getting bigger than Google? What about in a South African context? What do you think?

Five tips to beating social media overload

Yesterday I was emailed over facebook by a follower of this blog. I still get a kick when people touch base and tell me that they actually read everything I write up here. The gentleman that emailed (lets call him Frank) wanted to know how to do social media management and still have a life afterwards. Frank has stumbled accross a very important element of social media that is often under-rated. Social media is addictive and time consuming. Especially if you are marketing through social media. This only gives us a better reason to be ‘wasting or time‘ on our favourite network. If you want to make sure you optimise your time on networks like Facebook and Twitter here are a few tips that may help: Give yourself a time frame to spend in social media and stick to it. After your time is up – Close the web browser/programme. Use a Twitter Client. This helps because twitter clients are designed in such a way that you can tailor the information you recieve from twitter. This means you get less distracted. Twitter clients are now starting to offer Facebook, Linkedin and Ping.fm integration. Have a social media free day – Every now and then, spend a day away from social media. This helps in many ways, but the most important one for me is clarity. When I leave social media for a day, I start thinking about the marketing exercises that really work. Don’t flog a dead horse – If...

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