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Digital Strategy

Quantifying Digital ROI

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Quantifying Digital ROI

Measuring return on investment (ROI) for digital projects and programs of work continues to be a challenge for many organisations. What happens when as a digital leader you are convinced of the merits of an investment but you can't create a compelling ROI driven business case?

In a recent paper, Capgemini highlighted the challenges in quantifying the impact of digital transformation. These measurement difficulties have a material impact on funding projects since most CFOs are hardwired to divert organisational funding to initiatives that can clearly be measured. 

The solution may well be using a blend of art and science in creating business cases. This is particularly the case in instances where traditional metrics such a ROI do not capture the full gambit of impacts of digital investments. 

One of the key challenges in measuring the impact of digital activities is the traditional organisational silos that are influenced by digital technologies. Business functions such as marketing, IT, customer service and operations could all be effected, however many organisations don't have an organisational wide methodology to assess these investments. Recent Capgemini research indicated that only 19% of companies have cross functional steering committees at a corporate level that manage and foster digital investments.

Another challenge is the lack of translators between digital teams and CxOs. The nomenclature of digital activities can be bewildering in the boardroom (sentiment analysis, multivariate testing or a private trading desk anyone?). Conversely, CFO Research Services recently found that common finance metrics used to evaluate technology investments are not commonly understood across the organisation. As a result, objectives and outcomes are getting lost in translation with both parties evaluating the same initiative but through different lenses. 

So how can organisations measure digital initiatives?  Capgemini provides a 3 faceted model based on the different investment types:

  • Maintenance/ Business As Usual investments (BAU) - these are a pre- requisite for the business and are needed to keep the business running (eg ongoing maintenance activities for the website). This is ordinarily the largest component of budgets and expected goals for these activities are clear upfront. As such, it makes sense to use a traditional project methodology and metrics of time, cost and quality. 
  • Transformative - transformative investments have an explicit mandate of supporting an organisational wide digital transformation. Examples include investments in core platforms or services to support advancements in digital customer experience. In most cases they are cost intensive with widely distributed benefits. 
  • Emerging investments - emerging investments require iterative assessments and are best managed venture capitalist style. Generally, investments in these areas are where technologies are rapidly evolving and ROI will be speculative. The lack of historical benchmarks requires an incubator approach where small investments are made in a variety of ideas allowing them to rapidly iterate and prove their worth. Those that show value should be nurtured and piloted within the organisation on a limited release basis to build a business case and associated KPIs whilst those that don't show merit should be shut down.   A blend of art and science is needed in creating these business cases since there is a risk in identifying the right time to evaluate ROI - too early will kill a good idea while too late will result in sunk investment costs.


Any of these investment decisions should be made with a consistent methodology and guidelines. Capgemini provide a simple digital investments evaluation toolkit in their full research paper. A critical component of the investment methodology should be the evaluation of the investment decision via a central digital steering committee running across traditional silos and aligned around the company vision. According to the Capgemini research, this is still missing in over 60% of businesses where there is no centralised function to prioritise and fund digital initiatives. 

So in summary, we need translators to bridge the current gap in the digital dialogue in the boardroom, a consistent digital initiative evaluation framework and the faith to act like a venture capital backed start up to incubate and pilot ideas.
 


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Streamlining Charity Donations

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Streamlining Charity Donations

We love to support charities and good causes with Australians donating over $2.5 billion every year. The latest figures from the Australian Tax Office show that Australians each give an average of $461 to charities annually.

There are several converging trends making the activity of raising donations more difficult including customers transitioning to cashless transactions and overall donation fatigue. Personally, I despair when I see the effort and cost that a number of charities incur in printing and distributing marketing collateral with debatable effectiveness. 

There is a real opportunity to streamline charity donations and make donating frictionless for consumers. Two of my favourite recent examples follow:


Common Pence - Donating Leftover STORED Value

Developed by a UK designer, Common Pence enables commuters to put their excess subway credit to good use by sending it to charity rather than it expiring or being returned to transport companies. The system is simple - commuters hold up their Oyster travel pass, contactless bank card or NFC enabled smartphone and make a small donation of GBP 0.50. Holding a travel card against the panel for an extended time will drain it of all leftover credit. Funds are delivered to a charity which is rotated every month. The Common Pence panels can be wall hung or even handheld to allow effective face to face fundraising.

SnapDonate - Donate By Scanning A Logo

SnapDonate wants to keep impulse giving alive in an increasingly cashless society and is making it easier to give by letting people donate to any charity by simply scanning the charity's logo whenever they see it. Using image recognition technology and a database of over 13,000 UK charity organisations, users can just point their smartphone camera at a charity logo, confirm the correct charity and pick a donation amount between GBP 2 and GBP 50 to automatically send the money. The service leverages their relationship with JustGiving to enable the donations and the app works even when offline.

Donating to a good cause is something that everyone feels good about. What other ways are there to make it easier for consumers to give their leftover change to good causes? What other industries could frictionless transactions be applied to?


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Cats Are The New Classifieds

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Cats Are The New Classifieds


As first noted by media pundit and journalism professor Jeff Jarvis, it seems that just as classifieds once provided the baseline revenue for print newspapers, cat memes are now providing the eyeballs funding modern news sites.

Printed classified ads of course have since been disintermediated by Craigslist, Gumtree, Realestate.com.au and Carsales. Research indicates that Cragislist alone cost newspapers in the US $5.4 Billion from 2000-2007. This, combined with broader changes in the digital advertising landscape have been linked to increased newspaper subscription prices, decreased display advertising rates and required changes in how newspapers have executed their digital strategies.

The latest estimates suggest that Buzzfeed currently has around 150 million unique visitors per month and is tracking towards $120 Million in annual revenue. Buzzfeed derives three quarters of their traffic from social sites (which requires lots of fresh content to stay at the top of news feeds). They have approximately 200 editorial staff publishing 400 articles per day. Whilst they are well known for their cat memes and 'Top x' articles, they also generate meaningful longform content such as www.buzzfeed.com/bigstories.

So previously, the listing for your garage sale or used car funded investigative journalism and now the advertising revenue from cat memes and native advertising is funding the creation of quality articles.

This trend towards popular content supporting more meaningful work isn't unique to Buzzfeed as highlighted by The Chaser team on their Media Circus program with consumer insights on the most read articles on news.com.au.  See their take on it below:

So is this a new funding model that we should all accept for quality content to be created or is it a sign of the continued decline in quality journalism? 

Time will tell...


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Getting Personal - Online Product Personalisation

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Getting Personal - Online Product Personalisation

We’re all individuals...
— Crowd in Life of Brian - Monty Python

Whether you're taking customisation, personalisation, bespoke creations or a tailored solution, there is a considered shift from mass market to unique products. Customers no longer want to keep up with the Joneses, individuality rules and owning something unique is a talking point. This trend explains the surge in niche and one off products and services - enter the world of niches and personalisation.

Chris Anderson identified this trend in his ground breaking book The Long Tail "we equate mass market with quality and demand, which in fact it often just represents familiarity, savvy advertising and broad if somewhat shallow appeal. What do we really want? We're only just discovering, but clearly starts with more".

Online tools now provide a range of capabilities only dreamed of previously with personalised creations now possible in everything from phones to jewellery and bikes to shoes. Here are my top picks of the online personalisation leaders.

Tiny Me

A range of personalised, custom made kids toys, books, puzzles, clothes and decals. Tiny Me was started by 3 dads - with 14 kids between them! 

Shoes Of Prey

The style leaders in personalisation, Shoes of Prey was founded in 2009 and provides a 3D designer for customers to choose the shape and heel height from 12 core styles, then choose materials from soft leathers, genuine snakeskin, fishskin or vegan leathers. They custom make, ship worldwide in 4 weeks and provide 365 day returns.

Original Stitch 

This San Francisco based start-up allows customers to choose from 300 base patterns, 12 button colours, 6 collar styles, inner collar colours and add monograms all in a simple interface.

Motomaker

Customise your Motorola Android phone by choosing the front, back, trim, case and engraving. Options include finishes such as leather and timber, right down to the colour of your wall charging plug. You can then preview in 3D before placing your order.

Trek Cycles Project One

Trek encourages customers not to settle for anyone else’s bike. Each Trek Project One bike is hand built and allows you to choose your model, components, styling and fit from thousands of options.

Emma & Roe

The personalised charm builder from Emma & Roe allows customers to start with pre-built designs styled by experts or to create their own designs from a range of over 800 charms.

There are challenges around how personalisation and custom designs can scale and ensuring that personalisation options are usable and kept simple. Customers want choice and can be paralysed into not making a decision and therefore not purchasing if it all gets too hard.

What are other great personalisation examples that you've seen? What would you like to personalise that you can't yet?


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The Importance Of Brands

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The Importance Of Brands

The latest podcast from Freakonomics asks (and answers) some interesting questions about the importance of brands.

The episode centres on research from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which looked at how subject matter experts tend to buy cheaper, store brand items like aspirin or kitchen staples (flour, sugar etc). The hypothesis is that these experts (Doctors or cooks in these instances) know enough to know that the store brand items are just as good as the more expensive name brands.

It raises some interesting questions about what is advertising and branding and why companies expend so much effort on it. Is it about informing consumers to help make good decisions or more nefarious with the intention to confuse and bewilder? Listen to find out… 




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How Retailers Are Transforming the eCommerce Marketplace

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How Retailers Are Transforming the eCommerce Marketplace

A joint initiative of Australia’s digital industry peak body, AIMIA, and the Australian Centre for Retail Studies at Monash University, the research aims to give retailers and digital media professionals an independent benchmark by which to assess their own business priorities and opportunities in the online space. 


Whilst no silver bullet strategy exists the are some pleasingly trends identified that will help to increase transformation of the eCommerce and digital space.

Key trends identified by the report include:

  • Online retailing remains a small part of the overall retail landscape, accounting for 5% of global retail spending in 2013. Online retailing is an increasingly important component of the modern marketing mix. 
  • "It's not omnichannel it's just retail". Omnichannel has passed the tipping point and is just normal retail business practice now.  Customers are driving these expectations and retailers understand that there is no on size fits all approach. 
  • Millennial consumers with their always on connectivity are driving expectations and providing opportunities with real time media and new technologies. 
  • The store should be central to an omnichannel execution. Stores have the ability to engage customers in tactile ways, stimulate senses and stir emotions. 
  • There is a strong sales growth linkage to the personalisation of offers and integrating customer information to a single source.
  • Retailers see management and analysis of available data,  keeping up with the pace of change, and targeting the right potential customers among the key future challenges for the next 12 months. 


Opportuntiies for retailers:

  • Opportunities for non standardised products ( I.e. Games and consumer electronics to increasing ther share of the online retail spend mix as customers continue to expert these retailers to offer comparible services. 
  • Depending on the brand, opportunities exist around new technology and media such a real time targeting and tools to target changing millennial consumer expectations. 
  • Challenges around targeting customers and analysis of available data can be addressed in a staggered methodical approach, presenting opportunity for differentiation and optimisation. 
  • Email is still an under utilised marketing tool with significant improvement opportunities in the area of automated and triggered campaigns as well as customer and lifestyle segmentation. 

You can download the full AIMIA Research Findings now. 



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The Future Of Work - What Will It Look Like?

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The Future Of Work - What Will It Look Like?

The Deal recently had an interesting interview with author and Direct Marketing Hall of Famer Seth Godin.  Seth outlined some of his thoughts about the post industrial revolution and the changing nature of work.

Work is a new concept, only 500 years old. Four or five hundred years ago, you were a farmer, or you worked for royalty, or you worked in the family business. The idea that you would go to a building and do what you were told by a stranger... Let’s call that the industrial parenthesis because it is going away again, and more and more people are going to find an income from creating other sorts of value in other sorts of less reliable ways that hopefully come with more satisfaction.
— Seth Godin

He focuses on the trends towards more entrepreneurial working concepts and thinking of work as a series of projects rather than a life long event.

Being in a project life is very different from being in a job life. I have embraced the project life... and more and more people will go there, but it will never be as stable and consistent as the industrial age was. So if we measure it by that ruler we will be disappointed.
— Seth Godin

Fortune observed this trend where they noted that 35% of workers in the United States are freelance, temporary, part-time or contractors and that figure is expected to rise to 40-50%. The next generation of workers are expected to change jobs at least 10 times before the age of 40. At the same time entrepreneurial work is thriving with around half a million solo businesses created last year.

Godin rightly notes that this is a big change in the way we teach, value self worth and measure success.

Our school system hasn’t trained anyone for this way of life and the other thing, the way we pay for things and the way we interact, aren’t organised around this way of being...
— Seth Godin

The trend is clear, while workers are becoming more and more mobile, creative and entrepreneurial, traditional organisations are becoming less and less appealing. This raises questions around how talent is grown and encouraged within organisations, as well as how leaders will need to adapt. How will these trends impact how you work or your business?


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2014 Interactive Minds Digital Summit

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2014 Interactive Minds Digital Summit

The second Interactive Minds Digital Summit was held recently at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. The event didn’t disappoint with around 300 digital marketers in attendance, an international keynote speaker, 15 local and interstate speakers, networking and a nationally trending Twitter hashtag.

The keynote, Sara Shikhman had interesting insights and practical experience in creating a rapidly growing online pureplay that rents ‘handsome & talented men on demand’ (certainly a unique business for most of the audience). There was some great topics and coverage on current trends of content marketing, personalisation, data strategies and collaborative consumption. For me, the highlight was gathering and networking with the broader Brisbane digital marketing community.

Again, Rob Hudson did an amazing job as Chairman on the day with his unique insights, humour and an air horn. Great job to everyone involved at Interactive Minds – I’m looking forward to the 2015 Summit!

Here are the overall themes and my highlights from the Twitterverse:


Everyone wants to be a Pizza Mogul and among the advocates earning $5,000 a week by sharing amazing pizza creations...


Some great content lessons from Lisa Carroll from CPA Australia about how they're changing perceptions of Accountants...


Don't forget the basics with site relaunches... Test, Test, Test!


Apparently personalisation is more important than privacy...


Joel from Shoes Of Prey provided some great insights into their campaign execution framework - the 'Gut Sandwich'...


My pick for best selfie on the day - Event Founder Louisa & Chairman Rob...


Proof that beards are awesome in 2014...


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Miami Bound - 2014 Demandware xChange

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Miami Bound - 2014 Demandware xChange

Demandware recently held it’s fourth annual xChange conference in Miami, a gathering of over 900 clients, partners and Demandware experts to talk all things eCommerce and online.

My highlights of the conference included:

  • New York Times best-selling author Malcom Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point, Outliers and David and Goliath) recounting stories of overcoming obstacles to reshape the way we think about the world around us.
  • The omnichannel keynote from Andy Laudato of Peir 1 Imports around their integration of instore and online, nicely summarised by eConsultancy. 

Michael Hill was shortlisted for the inaugural Demandware Pacesetter Award (recognising organisations that have driven innovation and business results) and I was invited to present a summary of our online success since relaunching our eCommerce platform and websites.

The Pacesetter Award finalists were:

  • Crocs - a leading footwear lifestyle brand for men, women and children, recognised for integrating compelling digital experiences into its stores and the development of innovative online holiday promotions.
  • Scotch & Soda - a Netherlands based fashion retailer who rapidly implemented 13 eCommerce sites around the globe in 14 weeks. These sites support 73 countries, six languages and six currencies.
  • Michael Hill - a speciality jewellery retailer with over 290 stores in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, recognised for creating a superb online customer experience that compliments the in-store experience, including shoppable video, personalisation, social integration, rich content and more.

We were fortunate to be awarded the 2014 Pacesetter Award. Two key innovations were seen as standouts in contributing to Michael Hill’s success: 

  • Build your own charm bracelet online - Michael Hill wanted to replicate the unique in-store experience of building a custom charm bracelet online. We built a custom user interface that allows customers to select all of the components of their charm bracelet, drag and drop them into place and see the finished product before completing their order.
  • Shoppable videos: To create a better consumer experience, Michael Hill uses video to showcase their brand and products online. Customers are able to experience immersive video, click on related product information and purchase, all from within the video. 

You can see my full presentation below:



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