Deeper digital knowledge is fast becoming a business essential.
It amazes me when I see traditional reporters gob-smacked at the price Facebook recently paid for WhatsApp. How can an App become so valuable in such a short period of time? It isn’t even a household name. The $21-billion deal certainly raised some eyebrows, but the story here isn’t how expensive the deal was, it is why are we are still paying for voice and SMS services. A SMS in raw cost to a mobile phone carrier, represents a fraction of a cent, yet some carriers still charge hundreds of times that, even when bundled in deals. When I was studying 2 decades ago, we were certain data was the only thing carriers were going to charge for in the future. I’m shocked this hasn’t happened yet. But the WhatsApp deal certainly shows us that we, well 450 million of us, would much rather piggy-back our own Wifi or data plan, than pay for MMS and SMS.
As data becomes the currency of choice for service providers, pushed by not only WhatsApp and SnapChat, but also disruptive digital businesses like NetFlix and even further mumblings around commercialising ‘distributed channels’, which are all underground at the moment like The Pirate Bay. It shows there isn’t just a fine line between what consumers want from their digital services, that line is actually microscopic for the users, (for example sending a short message to each other), but enormous in terms of functionality and monetisiation.
It doesn’t stop at Apps or content either. Every digital channel is being elevated in this rise of the ‘bit’. While so much has happened recently, we are only at the beginning of the changes about to take place. The new business success model in the omnipresent marketplace is shaping up to be an epic one.
I don’t feel many businesses are ready for the oncoming change either. The gap sits between marketing, sales and IT. It is the new (CDO) Chief Digital Officer for large organisations, but do they have the team aligned to support them? For smaller organisations or departments of larger organisations, the will is there in their new social media managers et. al, but the seasoned knowledge about business acumen is far from ideal. Worst of all their confidence when it comes to actual digital fundamentals like algorithms, database schema or integrated software, far outweighs actual knowledge.
While things are still travelling along, often with disgruntled pessimism, there is still progress, even if the companies are simply learning what not to do. At the same time, real opportunities are quickly being capitalised by digital immigrants. They are continually lifting the bar of entry for competition.
There is so much change in our agency &Mine, we are watching briefs turn into re-briefs right after we meet clients – as our initial comments are “Are you sure you want that? That may have worked in 2013, but this is 2014… “. It sounds egotistical, but it is the sort of rapid change happening on the global communications level, and it is starting to affect every single business. Our advice is stay well ahead of the digital revolution. So here are 5 big reasons to get deeply digital this year:
SEO. SEO is no longer what you think it is.Don’t ask “Can you get us to the first page on Google?” This is no longer about a company ‘doing your SEO’ for you. You, or your team, now need to be integrally involved in ‘content marketing’. And content marketing isn’t just the domain of savvy SEO copywriters. You’ll need wide strategy to land on authoritative websites which already rank well to boost your website ranking. Think big digital magazines and news sites. Oh and by the way, since Google’s last update there are now hundreds of thousands of offshore SEO business either tanking their clients SEO with old-practice or being herded into fake social media content profiles. Unlike the SEO farms, this has no commercial foundation.
Social Media. Do you think this is for your kids and celebrities showing off? In a way yes, but the social media audience is becoming so universally adopted, with billions of users across all ages and demographics, that your potential clients, B2C and B2B are using it to communicate now. This is all about social proof, the same accreditation you’ve achieved with word of mouth, but persistent online, like having a never-ending testimonial and feedback stream to improve your business.
Advertising. Start digital advertising, no matter how small and figure out what your current cost per acquisition (CPA) is for a new client or sale. Pick one or preferably more platforms that sell cost per click (don’t buy impressions they are near worthless). The smartest companies have CPA figured out for a range of channels and ad-groups. They are also constantly optimizing their websites and funnel pages using split testing to improve CPA. We’ve seen companies start with CPAs of thousands of dollars selling products worth a fraction of that. Then in time, implementing a range of strategies, not just changes to the click buying, which is all you typically get from click agencies eg. Sensis or Reach Local re-buying Google Adwords, we’ve improved many CPAs to allow companies to start profiting again from their advertising immediately (as well as the long term return customer benefits).
Webware. Or Software as a Service (Saas) is everything in the bucket of online web software, CRM, accounting packages like XERO, ERP, Logistics, scheduling, HR and more. We are now online a lot, at home at work, in front of the television, even emailing at traffic lights. Companies who can adapt traditional software integrating or completely migrating web-based software are far more agile than their competitors. Unless you have a computer software degree though, don’t listen to the salesman. Either ‘try before you buy’ (difficult with the more a platform does) or get an external agency like ours to review your business, team and software processes.
Mobile. Don’t buy into the notion that responsive design is enough. Smartphones and their users require a complete, simple and basic approach to the presentation of your services and products online. Otherwise it doesn’t cause frustration, it simply causes bounce rate. Done right, positive mobile results can show you how to simplify your responsive desktop to tablet website or even what your business needs are in terms of Apps.
Be careful of the digital ‘danger-zone’.I love these words (the song is now stuck in my head) -Mad Max is the perfect analogy of the savage digital wastelands – who do you trust? How do you survive? It is tough to get the mix right on all of the above, especially with realistic post GFC budgets. The good news is no one has all the answers figured out. But if you don’t soon, you’ll find your stable, historic business model evaporating.
Done well, this should be affordable, opening up disruptive opportunities and growth. Done poorly you’ll continue to be frustrated by fluffy promises. A business owner once said to me, “I believe you believe what you are saying; you need to make me believe it”. A salesman can sell you something but unless you understand what you are buying, it will continually fall below expectations.
The ‘Chief Digital Officer’ is the next hot executive title, says Gartner. They’re not wrong, but if you can’t afford another board member or senior exec, you and your team need to embrace a lot more of digital. Find ways to develop more skills internally and in the meantime get started on the tips above. Good luck!