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A few months ago, I started exploring the key need-to-knows of beacons, whilst also considering cost-effective solutions for small businesses.

For all the marketing press coverage I studied then however, there appeared to be little on the actual practicalities. I guess, the not-so-sexy part of beacon marketing, critical nonetheless.

Specifically, what I wanted to know: are all suppliers equal? How easy are beacons to set up and manage? Do they suck a lot time and resource to integrate and maintain? And where does the data go?

And so, I decided to approach one of the technology providers to explore that facet a bit more.

The key take-outs from our conversations as well as findings from my latest research and DIY experiment are summed up here in B&T magazine. I hope you find them useful and look forward to hearing about your first-hand experience or any additional tips you may have for us!

If your industry contacts and friends have a keen interest in next-gen digital plays, they are most likely in Austin right now for the annual pilgrimage to the SXSW Interactive Festival, keeping you abreast with a constant stream of #SXSW photos and posts of all sorts.

SXSW is exciting stuff for sure, with a particular focus on our digital future. For the rest of us who are stuck in Sydney however, there is exciting stuff happening too – less future-facing and, say, more focused on the “here and now”.

I give you Content Marketing World Sydney, now in its third year and in full swing as of tomorrow for the next 3 days.

CMY Sydney seeks to inspire and guide Australian marketers, agencies and publishers alike, as well as address some of their immediate questions and hurdles with their content marketing approach.

IMO, it is also a great opportunity to reflect on what we aren’t still getting quite right, and how we compare with other parts of the world.

Finally, it’s worth clarifying that for the purpose of this piece, our focus is owned content.

How I came to learn about some disturbing facts

CMY Sydney first came to my attention as I was attending Joe Pullizi’s webinar on Epic Content Marketing: The 5 Essentials Marketers Need to Follow in 2015.

Pullizi is the founder of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) – the producer of CMW Sydney –, a subject-matter expert and one of the speakers at CMW this year.

The insights gained from his webinar at the time, combined with the latest research from the CMI and ADMA, had helped me steer the strategic conversations I was having with a client in the right direction.

Specifically, as I was listening to Pullizi’s own experiences working with marketers and going through the research in detail, I discovered some unsettling facts about questionable yet widespread content marketing practices.

First, we learn that 9 out of 10 Australian marketers are using content tactics. Great. However, less than 3 out of 10 are having some kind of success with it. Disappointing.

Then, we discover that 46% of marketers are using a verbal-only strategy – just imagine how effective this approach would be in a large organization with a CMO, Corporate Affairs and Social Media teams etc. all meant to work hand in hand to the same strategic roadmap… enough said. In others words, nearly half of Australian marketers are winging it and hoping for the best their content tactics stick and deliver tangible business outcomes.

Not surprisingly, the research goes on to say that those marketers (only 37%), who do invest time and resource on developing and documenting their content marketing strategy are more effective in nearly all aspects.

Having a documented strategy *and* adhering to it is even better one might say. Yet only 4 out of 10 follow their content marketing strategy very closely i.e. share it with the right teams, review it and optimize it regularly etc. I guess this would largely depend on who owns it and champions it in the organization: only 39% admits to having a dedicated content marketing group – a key part of the problem in my view.

How Australian marketers compare with their British counterparts

Following these discoveries, I was curious to know: are content marketers in other parts of the world behaving any differently?

For this exercise, I thought I would pick the UK – one of the leading and most advanced markets when it comes to digital marketing, with content marketing a fast-growing component of it. So surely they know better, right?

8 of out 10 British marketers use content marketing and 4 out of 10 say they are effective. So marginally more effective.

When it comes to documenting their strategy and following it, alas you will be pleased (or sorry) to hear they aren’t faring much better: 51% are using a verbal only strategy (vs 46% in Australia) and only 44% of those who have it documented follow it very closely (vs 40%).

So all in all, a sorry state of affair on the strategic front on either side of the world. Yet a great opportunity for independent experts and agency types to offer to help and lead!

There are of course a number of underlying issues that explain the situation client-side. The lack of in-house specialist talent or dedicated champion are two that come to mind, and these are instances where external content experts can supplement marketers effectively. They can help in a number of valuable ways – at strategic level or across the full plan-create-test-learn cycle, for short or long periods of time.

For more on these and other fascinating insights, check out the Content Marketing in Australia 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report.

Have you ever wondered what a beacon looks like? I have and I have seen a few.

They are small enough they can sit in the palm of your hand, be stuck to a wall inside a store or inside an outdoor panel at a bus shelter without anyone noticing.

By Jonathan Nalder from Kilcoy, Australia (beacons by jnxyz.education) [CC-BY-2.0]

They first came to the world’s attention 12 months ago with the launch of Apple’s iBeacons in the US. This launch was closely followed by another defining milestone: the Regent Street project in the UK, a first of its kind now in full swing.

Soon after, as I was talking to two outdoor media owners, they were telling me about their plans to bring the technology to the Australian market – both understandably racing to be the first in market given its huge potential for highly-targeted mobile marketing.

Plenty has been written since on how the technology works and its marketing possibilities. For my part, I am genuinely excited about its many benefits. Yet there are some drawbacks to be mindful of also.

In this post, I specifically seek to answer the following questions:

What do you need for the technology to work?

What are the marketing applications?

Is beacon marketing for every consumer and every brand?

As a marketer, why should consider investing into beacon marketing?

And what key considerations do you need to be mindful of?

Happy reading! And as always, I welcome your thoughts, in particular any insights gained from first-hand experience or best-in-class case studies you may have come across.

What do you need for the technology to work?

As a brand – you need a native smartphone app programmed to react to one or more beacons.

As a consumer – a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, with a beacon-enabled brand app installed on it. Push notifications and location detection must also be activated on the app.

Assuming these conditions are met, as soon as one of your app users/customers is within range of your beacon(s), they will get tracked and a personalized message triggered and displayed on their mobile screen in the form of a notification, CTA or an event.

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What are the marketing applications?

The possibilities are endless. Their quality and effectiveness however are largely dependent on the sophistication of your data-driven marketing capabilities and their level of integration with your mobile ecosystem.

Two of the most advanced examples I’ve come across are the Regent Street and Slyde Beacon-enabled shopping apps. Key functionality typically includes the ability to identify a customer nearby and offer them customized promotions as they walk past a store, automatically check them into said store upon entry, mobile redemption of e-coupons and in the case of Slyde a touchless payment experience.

In terms of user experience, here are a couple of scenarios:

On a hot summer day, as you walk past an outdoor poster you may get prompted to redeem a discount on a can of Coke in a nearby Woolies, conveniently located within meters of the panel.

Another example, as you return in-store, and get near an aisle that carries your favourite brand of cereals, the store may invite you through its app to redeem a promo on that very product to incentivize repeat purchase. It may not be on your shopping list that day, but when prompted (or even better, reminded that you might be soon out of stock) you may decide to be tempted.

These are just some of many possible retail applications, and the more customer data is leveraged at the individual level (e.g. product preferences, frequency of product purchase, average basket spend etc.), the more relevant and effective the message.

Beacons may also be used in other physical environments (e.g. airport lounges, museums, cinemas, at home etc.) and to offer any number of value-add services on-site, not just retail offers.

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Is beacon marketing for every consumer and every brand?

77% of Australians over 13 are now smartphone users (source: The Digital Australia: State of the Nation 2014 report). And with Bluetooth adoption on the rise, it’s safe to say we are looking at a large audience across age groups.

Within that pool however, phone usage varies greatly. From your teenage daughter to your mum and your grandad, digital literacy and mobile user behaviours (e.g. what they use their phone for, where and when, frequency etc.) aren’t quite the same and so bound to impact on receptivity levels to your mobile marketing.

Critically also, mobile phones are our most personal digital devices. Hence how and when you choose to intrude on this very private space (once you are granted access) will make or break your relationship pretty much.

So to answer our question, all mobile consumers can benefit from it as long as you make time to know them – and know them well – and engage accordingly.

In terms of which categories are likely to benefit the most from beacons, retailers are by far at the top of the list – from your local grocer’s to your favourite fashion retailer or department store to name a few. But not just. I would also argue that any brand with a loyal following, a solid mobile presence and data integration strategy stands to benefit from it.

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As a marketer, why should you consider investing into beacon marketing?

Assuming you already have a suitable app in market (e.g. a shopping, loyalty or customer service app) with a sizeable user base, are in the process of building one or considering investing into one:

#1 – Beacons make it possible to deliver personalised mobile communications at the right time and at the right place to the right person – based on the customer’s location at its most basic, on their purchase history and shopping preferences also (when the latter are known) at its best.

#2 – They are a source of valuable customer data and insights: user data is collected at every interaction (such as store visits, dwell time, conversions); that data may in turn be used to build a meaningful and mutually rewarding relationship.

#3 – For bricks-and-mortar shops, beacons are simply a great way to drive footfall whilst allowing them also to compete with online retailers on delivering a personalised user experience offline. 

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What do you need to be mindful of?

#1 – Your opt-in acquisition strategy and ability to deliver on your customer value proposition are both critical.

For this type of marketing to be successful, you need to maximise opt-ins within your mobile user base. This requires you to think long and hard about the benefits and rewards you are going to offer in return for opting in to receive your beacon-enabled communications.

Those benefits and rewards (including their level of personalisation) must be of real value to the user for them to accept to trade off their privacy. And then, you actually must deliver on your promise. Failing that they won’t let you in in the first instance, or you will risk losing them and generating negative WOM.

#2 – The more integrated your CRM and data capabilities, the more effective your beacon marketing.

At its simplest, beacon marketing doesn’t require a fully integrated multi-channel CRM and data strategy. Tactical use cases can be as simple as driving in-store purchases on a seasonal product (e.g. sunscreen or ice cream on a hot day) amongst app users browsing nearby.

To realize its full potential however, it requires the ability to identify app users as individuals, with their online and offline interactions, purchase history and shopping preferences reconciled and accessed in real time for an optimal personalisation of the experience.

The reality is that most marketers are yet to achieve that single customer view and it may take a few years before they do. With this in mind, a staged approach towards achieving an integrated customer profile is most likely the best avenue, with a CRM and technology roadmap clearly setting out your capability improvement goals over a period of time.

#3 – Beware of the lack of legislation about what you can and cannot do.

The lack of legislation governing the use of beacon technology in Australia was flagged to me recently as a potential risk by an industry peer, and I have to agree.

On one hand, the absence of a legal framework is liberating for marketers – Amazon knows this too well as it picked an unregulated market, India, for the launch of its drone deliveries.

On the other hand, the lack of regulations may lead to an unbridled use of the beacon technology, which could antagonize consumers with marketers intruding excessively with their user experience.

So until such a time when we have guidelines in place, common sense must prevail. Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes. Think: what would you think or do if you were to receive that message at that time and place? Focus groups, customer surveys and other forms of consumer research should help validate your approach also.

All in all –

When their application is carefully researched and planned, with the personalisation (hence the relevancy) of the message maximised, beacons can take your relationship marketing to another level. Fact.

They can be an effective way of driving sales but also building loyalty and WOM amongst your existing customer base through the messaging of timely contextual value adds.

If misused however, they could lose you loyal customers faster than you think. That is a fact also.

Have you started using beacons for your clients or own marketing purposes? Don’t be shy, let us know of your wins and learnings also.

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I am a big fan of Target as a marketer and of Missoni as a fashionista, and so when the two came together this month to launch their Missoni for Target collection Down Under, I just had to shop it! And also reflect upon my own personal customer journey from start to finish – that’s just the marketing geek in me :)

A lot of thought visibly went into the design of the campaign, and although it wasn’t plain sailing through and through, most of the journey was pleasant enough – and the collection items all great fashion staples!

Amongst the defining moments of the much-publicized launch were a 24-hour site crash and a full-on social medial crisis (as seen in the screenshots below. Notice the escalating tone as hours go by…) – both of which we can learn a lot from. But fear not, there were some good times too!

IMG_1830 IMG_1836

To find out more about all the fun you’ve missed, things they got right and things that could have gone better from a consumer perspective, check out my detailed account here on LinkedIn.

If you too were part of this Aussie fashion moment, I’d love to hear how it went for you and what you would have liked to see.

A few weeks ago I was delighted to find out that the international event, Social Media Week, had launched in Australia – finally.

I am just astounded that it has taken five long years for this conference to reach our beautiful shores. After all, I have always thought of Australia as one of the most active social media hubs in the world.

Just to put that thought into perspective, here are a few stats that speak for themselves (source: January 2014 Australia Social Indicators from We Are Social):

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And according to Social Media News, Facebook and YouTube are topping the charts of our all-time favourite social networks, each accounting for over half of the population (58% and 56% respectively). That’s a lot of us – and so about time that we kicked off our very own Social Media Week Down Under.

Aside from the official calendar, local businesses were also encouraged to host their own event in support of SMW, to show and share the love about all things social and help champion best practice. I went to the one hosted by advertising agency The Works Sydney: Over Anxious, Over Shared; Over Social, Under the Microscope – How Aussies Really Use Social Media.

I was both amused and inspired by some of the insights the panel shared with us that evening. Essentially, it appears that social media has a tendency to bring out the worst in people – from self-loathing to selfitis and many shades in between. I tell you all about it here in B&T.

If you were lucky enough to make it to any of the other talks, I would love to hear from you; let us know the highlights here and for the globetrotters amongst you, how you felt it compared to Social Media Week held in other cities.

Oh and you may want to think twice about posting that selfie next time :-)

4 years from now mobile video consumption will become mainstream Cisco tells us.

The multinational predicts that two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2017.

In other words, consuming video content on your smartphone or tablet will become as mundane as watching TV or sending a SMS.

Come to think about it, 2017 is not that far off.  This made me consider my own current mobile usage behaviour:

How often do I watch videos on my phone or tablet these days? Twice a week on average I would say and mostly YouTube videos.

And do I watch more video content on these devices now than I did a year ago? Absolutely – and upgrading from a multimedia phone to a smartphone certainly helped.

By extension, it also made me wonder how close Cisco’s forecast was to becoming a reality for my fellow Australians. Well, according to the latest research, 2017 is a lot closer than one might think:

According to eMarketer, 64% of the 25-34 year-olds in Australia are already watching video on their mobile phones and tablets, followed by 61% of the 35-49 year-olds and 36% of the 18-24 year-olds.

For these age groups, mobile phone is the most popular platform for viewing video content (87%), with tablet a close second (74%).

Additionally, 53% of Aussie smartphone users admit to viewing mobile video several times a week with 18% of those once a day (honourable yet worth noting that there is still room for growth as Americans remain ahead of the pack with 31% of them watching mobile video at least once a day) – Source: Nielsen’s The Mobile Consumer: a global snapshot, Feb.2013.

Combine all of this with a smartphone penetration of 73% in the 15 to 65 age group predicted to reach a whopping 93% in 2018, a tablet penetration forecast to increase to a no less impressive 80% from 49% (source: Frost and Sullivan’s Australian Mobile Device Usage Trends study), ever increasing mobile data allowances, faster networks, bigger and higher res screens, content quality on the rise, suddenly it is easy to see how quickly Cisco’s forecast will come to realize Down Under.

And naturally, with more of us consuming mobile video content by the day, marketers the world over are taking notice and starting to invest serious ad dollars on video ads as a new and effective way of reaching and engaging their audiences. Video is indeed one of the fastest growing digital ad formats, with its stickiness and engagement rate alleged to be superior to other digital formats.

Some parts of the world are embracing the video format more quickly than others however – with the US leading the charge yet again and Australia far behind in comparison.

Whilst the mobile advertising market in Australia is the fastest growing component of the digital sector (its $ value grew by 190% YOY in FY13), it is still only 5% of the total search and display spend – well behind the US and UK who report mobile as being 10% and 9% of spend respectively (source: IAB’s Mobile Trends Report, September 2013).

The first time I reported on the gap between Australian advertisers’ uptake of mobile and their audience’s mobile consumption was in January 2013.

9 months on the issue remains.

Here is to Australian marketers getting serious about all things mobile before 2017 – if not before the end of the year.

Related articles

I have just read about Qantas latest promo event in the heart of Sydney CBD.

I happened to be walking past Customs House that day and picked up one of the leaflets handed out at the tent where the sand sculptures (v.beautiful BTW) were exhibited.

The promo includes a Facebook competition which you can enter only if you are a fan of the brand.

Check out the lealfet below:

photo (3)

The first thing that’s requested of you to be able to enter the competition is to like their Facebook page.

In other words: Give me your like (and with it the opportunity to broadcast 24/7 to your newsfeed) and I will give you the remote possibility of winning something.

This one line made me want to unlike that Facebook page instantly. Yet this has become common practice amongst advertisers.

To make it worse, the next step requires you to grant permission to an app that will post 24/7 to your timeline. So both timeline and newsfeed are now taken over (slightly intrusive to put it mildly).

In my view, the act of giving a like to a brand should be a genuine act of advocacy for it to generate *enduring* value for the brand (be it awareness, WOM, sales etc) – not obtained via some form of disguised blackmail.

There’s got to be a better way to win over non-fans. Take my personal data for the prize draw and then give me time to get to know you before I get to like you. And if you insist I like you instantly, then give me something back instantly too. It’s called instant reward or instant gratification. Coca Cola did this brilliantly with their Share a Coke campaign – Just zoom in on the picture below:

share a coke

The Share a Coke Facebook page lets you share a song with your friends. Simply and with no catch. (And big thanks to my colleague & mate Kate for sharing this great example with us. Simply and with no catch also :)

Coca Cola Australia has close to 1 million likes (and 60M globally) vs 310,000 for Qantas (globally…) – what does that tell us? That Coca Cola unlike Qantas know a thing or two about social media and how to interact with their audience.

They are not desperately crying out for your Like for a start:

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Unlike Qantas:

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Further, you can unlike a page as fast as you like it (or after entering the said competition). And thank God (or Facebook) for that.

Lastly, I have just come across some telling stats from Pew Research Center’s latest survey that just reinforce how damaging the “like me please” approach is – with irrelevant content being the #3 reason for US Facebook users taking a break from the social network. No wonder – if I am forced to like most advertisers out there to be able to enter an online promo, then I will be taking a break soon too.

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