Search: Digital Future

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Moderating "Web Analytics & Actionable Insights" at Econsultancy's Digital Cream 2013.

Recently I had the pleasure of moderating the Web Analytics & Actionable Insights panel at Econsultancy's Digital Cream 2013 event in Singapore. In my opinion the Digital Cream event is one most prestigious and valuable events because it brings the top 150 digital marketing leaders across Asia together in one room to debate and share insights.

The Web Analytics and Actionable Insights panel featured lively debate around three key themes: 

Measurement is useless without strategy.

First, that there tends to be a focus on measuring digital metrics but this is usually quite disconnected from a marketing or business strategy. The key theme of that discussion thread is that if you don't have a strategy in place, you don't need analytics to measure your success. It's critical to understand your end goal, and what metrics are important for your brand before embarking on developing a digital dashboard and key metrics. 

Be mobile first.

Second, there was a discussion around evolving platform usage. In 2013 mobile web traffic is already at 28%, with a predication of over 50% of web traffic from 2014. This means that a web analytics plan needs to think broader than PC, and focus more strongly on measuring content and interactions on mobile devices and tablets.

Resourcing for Analytics into the future.

Third discussion point was about how to get started and what resources are needed. It was agreed that if you're new to Web Analytics, it makes sense to outsource this to an agency in the early days. However, as all businesses become fundamentally digital it's important to have Analytics as an internal function. The challenge though, is that right now this responsibility is given to an already overworked marketing team or marketing manager. So the big question is whether organisations will grow specific Web Analytics teams, or whether it needs to be decentralised and made a responsibility of all marketers? The consensus was everyone needs to understand Web Analytics but for Actionable Insights, this requires a higher level of skill and knowledge. These "strategic analysts" will be the "Chief Data Officers" of the future.

Saturday 23 November 2013

4 reasons why CEOs still don’t invest in digital marketing

This post originally appeared on the Firebrand Talent Blog.

There are thousands of research documents, millions of opinions, and the experience of almost everyone on the planet that digital is the new normal. Smartphone penetration is ridiculously high, with the passionate debate about Android vs. iOS and Samsung vs. Apple making headline news. There are over a billion people using Facebook, with hundreds of millions of people using Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vine, and other social networks. Google, Baidu, and Bing searches are a daily part of everyone’s every day lives, as well as critical to finding any information nowadays.

So, why are marketing managers struggling to spend even a small percentage of their media in digital? It’s big news when companies like P&G announce that they’re moving their digital spend to 35%. For me, the big question is whether this is enough? Consumers don’t spend 10%, 20%, or 35% of their time using digital devices and media, so what’s the bottleneck?

I believe there are four major reasons why CEOs and CMOs are struggling to invest in digital:

  1. CEOs don’t trust CMOs. This is the biggest contributor to why marketing budgets get cut and new initiatives don’t get off the ground. Marketing is not as clear cut as Sales. Sales have easy to understand metrics like sales, profit and market share. Marketing and Advertising deals in intangibles like brand, customer satisfaction, reach/awareness, and purchase intent. Too often, Marketing leaders don’t take the time to truly connect and engage with the CEO and other executive leaders. This has lead to the erosion of trust.
  2. Marketers rely too much on their media agency partners to spend their money. Media agencies are fantastic at optimising a media budget, but they have inherent bias towards certain media. TV is still top of mind for most media agency leaders due to its reach and ability to quickly launch a new product.Online video (the nearest digital equivalent) is far too fragmented and requires a deeper level of understanding of less understood elements like content marketing, YouTube (and YouTube celebrities), and Mobile marketing. Similarly, it’s easy to understand that print and OOH are going to get a brand a wide audience and boost awareness. What’s missing is the understanding thatconsumer behaviour has changed and people are expecting a different, deeper relationship with brands. A print ad will never change behaviour in the way a conversation with friends on social media can – digital is the only way to interactively engage consumers and build brand preference and true loyalty.
  3. True consumer digital usage is on platforms and devices, not in media. The focus has to be moving marketing budgets from media to production. Building a website is not a media spend. Creating an engaging mobile experience via an App is not a media spend. Engaging social media influencers and advocates is not a media spend. e-CRM is not media. For true digital engagement the focus needs to shift to capability building activities and “creating” things, not simply buying an empty space and filling it with an ad.
  4. CMOs don’t understand the value and ROI of social mediaMarketers understand that consumers are deeply engaged in platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but most haven’t figured out the right way to engage these consumers. Instead of listening to customers, understanding their passions and needs, then engaging in a open, honest and relevant discussion with them, it seems most brands simply want to relentlessly spam their fans/followers/connections with product info or useless trivia. In fact, in my experience, up to 45% of activity on a brand’s Facebook page is customer service-related (complaints, questions, etc.), so pumping out spammy product content in that kind of environment completely misses the mark. This all leads to the confusion around ROI. If CMOs don’t understand the best way to use social media, it’s going to be very unclear on how to measure its success.

Friday 5 July 2013

How to be an amazing digital marketer

This article first appeared on the Firebrand Talent blog.

Recently I’ve written about my perspective on the role of a modern CMO and have given tips on how to climb the corporate ladder if you’re a digital marketer. However, not everyone aspires to be a CMO. Many are eager to get into digital marketing and those already in the field want to become better, to be truly great digital marketers. One of the biggest challenges in digital marketing is about definition. What exactly is “digital” and what types of digital marketing practitioners are out there? 

I believe there are 5 key archetypes:
  • The Technologist is the tech geek. This is someone who is comfortable talking about website development builds, web hosting, e-commerce or other technology-heavy digital initiatives.
  • The Strategist is passionate about consumer behaviour. They want their marketing and % of media spend to match the massive amount of consumer time being spent online or using a mobile device. They live and breathe digital, but may come up short when it comes to deep operational insights or how to make it happen outside of a PowerPoint presentation.
  • The Specialist is the person who is a true expert in one particular field. The search marketing professional, the e-CRM expert or the mobile application developer. However, their deep subject matter expertise usually comes at the expense of broader experience in other forms of marketing.
  • The Media Maven is an expert in ad units and media placements. They understand the most popular websites, how to spend money efficiently with Google, Facebook, Yahoo! or Ad Networks. The best ‘Media Mavens’ also know what creative units work best in each platform.
  • The All Rounder is that rare individual who has done a lot of things in the digital world. They have probably built websites, engaged in social conversations, managed digital marketing campaigns, maybe done a bit of search marketing and are now passionate about all things mobile. A lot of people aspire to be ‘The All Rounder’ but very few walk the talk when it comes to do the various areas of digital marketing well.

So what makes a great digital marketer? In addition to having a solid grasp of marketing fundamentals, good presentation, and inter-personal skills, here are 7 tips for success:
  1. Don’t talk tech, talk business. This is a simple mistake I see so many marketers make. Talking about click-throughs, impressions or sentiment doesn’t mean anything to the CEO. If you can link your work to increased revenue, cost savings or higher levels of customer engagement/experience you’ll have the support of senior management.
  2. Try to be inherently social and mobile. The world is rapidly becoming about connected mobile devices. So focus all your efforts on truly understanding these platforms. Instead of building a website, focus on responsive design or building a mobile site first. For social, ensure every other form of digital marketing is inherently social. You can do this by adding social share buttons, opening up Apps or websites to comments, or integrating your work into social networks such as Facebook or Pinterest. More importantly, be social in your personal life – walk the talk! BlogTweet, Pin and interact with others online.
  3. Challenge what others tell you is possible in digital. Many forms of digital marketing are still evolving and there aren’t best practices built yet. There’s the potential for greatness in all forms of digital marketing. For example, no one even considered using YouTube for real-time (and wildly entertaining) conversations until Old Spice launched their legendary campaign for Old Spice Guy in 2010. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. But because things are changing so rapidly in digital, there is potential everywhere.
  4. Reimagine and reinvent the best of your past work. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you run a campaign or build a website. Go find out who’s already done a great job and build upon what they’ve done. Google have a wonderful process called Project re:brief where they review old campaigns and reimagine them for the 21st century (with a strong focus on social, mobile, search, YouTube video and digital activation). You can take the same idea with your previous work or the best work of others – relook at that last campaign, brainstorm how you could improve it and then make it happen.
  5. Deliberately open yourself up to criticism. Like the early point about being inherently social, it’s important to not just be good at digital marketing but take it to the next level by becoming a thought leader. I don’t suggest you do this to get famous, but to do this to put your ideas on the public stage for criticism, review and ultimately, improvement. You’re not great until you’ve been challenged and put to the test. If your ideas or work doesn’t stand up to criticism, you need to go back and continue learning.
  6. Read voraciously and continue learning. No one knows everything about digital marketing. and because of the pace of technology change, things are moving so quickly. It’s important to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the world of marketing. At least 5 – 10 hours a week of solid reading andnetworking is required to keep at the top of your game. Even more importantly, you need to seek out best practice examples and learn from others. For example, meet up with digital marketing leaders and other Fortune 500 brands, have lunch with your agency once a week or fortnight, or attend regular marketing events and seminars.
  7. Challenge yourself to master another part of digital marketing. Your ultimate goal should be to become ‘The All Rounder’ – a master of all digital marketing arts. So if you’re great at search marketing, branch out and immerse yourself in social media or e-CRM. Keep challenging yourself until you’ve been successful at everything.

Saturday 29 June 2013

The key skills needed to be a successful CMO

This article first appeared on the Firebrand Talent blog.

Recently I wrote a blog post on how a digital marketing executive can get to a Marketing Director or CMO role. It raised a lot of debate about whether a specialist in any form of marketing can make it to the top, as well as bringing into spotlight the key responsibilities and skills a CMO needs to be successful.
I strongly believe someone from any marketing specialisation (and in particular digital) can become a Marketing Director or CMO. In fact, many great CMOs have come from non-marketing backgrounds (such as Sales, Operations, and even Engineering). The secret lies in understanding the changing nature of what a CMO does, and the skills needed to be a successful modern Chief Marketing Officer.

So what does a CMO need to do to be successful? Here are the top skills needed for modern CMOs:

  1. It’s NOT about doing great advertising. Although a lot of external media and agencies benchmark brands on this one aspect of marketing. Ads are great, but it’s only a small aspect of the overall responsibilities of a modern CMO.
  2. There’s a need to manage a very large media investment wisely. Many organisations have marketing budgets in the millions of dollars and some big brands have massive budgets in the billions of dollars. Managing a million or even billion dollars in media expenses is a massive responsibility that is often outside the skill set of most marketers. It requires a very strong understanding of finance, investment management and building the right capability with media agency partners.
  3. A modern CMO needs to have a deep understanding of technology and how it affects customer behaviour. Programs like CRM, digital marketing, social media, e-commerce and lead generation all need strong guidance from Marketing. There’s even speculation that CMO and CIO roles will merge into a Chief Digital Officer role in the near future. Regardless, modern CMOs need to be experts in technology to be successful.
  4. The modern marketing function is about change management and building capability. Running marketing campaigns is not the role of a CMO. Building the right competence in your field marketing team at regional and local country is. Capabilities include the right level of product innovation, marketing research and insights, strong lead generation and sales framework, agency and partner management, media investment management, digital and technology systems, and of course, hiring and retaining the best people.
  5. Marketing needs to have a very strong link to the Sales organisation. In some brands, sales and marketing are managed by the same leader but in many others they are separate functions. The best CMOs link marketing metrics to sales or business metrics otherwise they run the risk of irrelevance.
  6. Be an inspirational leader. Inspire and support your team and in turn attract the best talent into your organisation.
  7. Have a deep understanding of the customer and be the “Chief Customer Officer” for your organisation. This is more than doing market research but truly putting the customer first and getting a deep understanding of how customers view your brand and products – every day.
There are many other traits and skills needed to be a great modern CMO, but if you are good at several of the key points above, you have a great chance to be a top CMO of the future. Good luck on your journey!

Thursday 27 June 2013

From digital marketing executive to CMO: 10 tips to get to the top

This blog post originally appeared on the Firebrand Talent blog.

If you want to be a CMO or Marketing Director at a big brand and currently work in social media or digital marketing, you’re probably not going to make it. The fact is, you’re in the wrong job. I am often asked for career advice or to mentor young professionals looking to make a name for themselves in the digital marketing world. Currently there aren’t many digital marketers or social media marketing professionals that have made it to the top levels of marketing at a major brand. While I strongly believe it’s possible (in fact, as digital becomes more mainstream, it’s becoming much more likely) to reach the top, there are a lot of misconceptions about digital and social that many don’t understand. Some of the challenges and issues include:

Social media is perceived as “operational”. It is something that is “executed” by (usually less experienced) specialists. Big Brands are looking to hire specialists who understand social media but the scope of these roles tends to fall in two areas
  • Community Management – This is increasingly about managing a pre-built editorial calendar, managing digital assets (images, videos, written posts, etc.) and moderating community comments.
  • Customer Service – As much as 40% of enquiries via social media platforms (specifically Facebook and Twitter) are customer-service related.
Digital marketing campaign management is too technical and siloed. Managing digital campaigns is very important but the skills needed tend to be either:
  • Technical – especially if you’re running digital display with media that is managed via real-time bidding, you are doing e-CRM with re-targeting and multi-variant testing, etc.).
  • Niche and often overly specialised. For example, Search Marketing professionals are now often responsible for both paid search/PPC and SEO, and to be great, require a number of years specialising in the craft.

So, if you are currently in a social media or digital marketing role, here’s 10 tips on how to break through to the top:
  1. A successful digital marketing function = change management. Digital marketing in large organisations is about building capability and making change. This includes tools, processes, ongoing education and executive level training. Your job should be to help make all marketers digital, not just a select few.
  2. Shift from operations to achieving results. I don’t mean hitting campaign targets or driving incremental sales. When I talk about results, I really mean achieving the “wow” factor. You see this in memorable digital work like Old Spice Guy’s ongoing social engagement, or more recently inSamsung’s “The Next Big Thing” work. These campaigns think big and achieve big. Do this, and you’ll be on the fast-track to success.
  3. Develop great presentation and communications skills. It doesn’t matter where you are in an organisation, if you can’t communicate or present well, you won’t get to the top.
  4. Stop talking about tactical digital metrics and start talking business objectives. Too many marketers get caught up in impressions, click-throughs and social media sentiment. CEOs don’t care about these things. They care about sales, market share, savings/efficiency and building great relationships with customers. Tactical metrics are important but they need to be clearly linked to business metrics.
  5. Be a thought leader. If you have deep subject matter expertise, share your knowledge. Consider presenting externally, talking to the media and blogging/writing. Even better, if you can help senior management understand how digital and social is impacting your customers, this is a big win.
  6. Lose that sense of entitlement. This is much more subjective but I often see those starting out in digital with inflated job titles (or even worse they are “ninjas” or “jedis”!) or overconfident because they know more about a particular niche skill than others. Be humble and patient. As you grow older and wiser you’ll realise that your previous big title or knowing how to grow a Facebook Fan or Twitter Follower base doesn’t entitle you to a Marketing Director job.
  7. Understand the broader marketing landscape. You might not want to hear it but TV advertising still dominates marketing. Never be a “digital vs. traditional” person. Be smart and learn how digital and social media works well with other forms of marketing in the media mix.
  8. Understand that your social networking ability does not equal actual networking ability. So much of working in a big brand is about building strong relationships and networking. Sadly, being great at social networking often limits your skills at face-to-face networking. Get out from behind the PC or off your mobile phone and learn the art of conversation.
  9. Understand both brand marketing and performance marketing. Unfortunately digital marketers tend to fall into one of two camps – driving brand engagement (through social marketing, online video, digital display, etc.) or focusing on sales (through search, e-CRM, affiliate marketing, etc.). CMOs need to understand both to be successful.
  10. Realise that eventually some other new technology will come along and it’ll shake things up. It’s been happening since the invention of the ink and quill. New technology enters the market and changes how people interact with each other. It’s inevitable and some radical shift will happen again soon. Please don’t look down upon your senior managers who have struggled with the introduction of the PC, Internet, tablet, social networking and smartphone (to name just a few). You’ll be in that same place soon, I guarantee it.

Saturday 16 February 2013

How People Really Use Mobile (& Mistakes Marketers Make)

I recently came across this fantastic article from the Harvard Business Review website, titled "How People Really Use Their Mobile". The link to the full preview article can be found here

For me, it's always been a challenge understanding how consumers really use their mobile device (whether it be a smartphone or tablet). This article gives great new insight into this - there are really seven key motivations for using a mobile device. More importantly, there's a clear contrast between how people are using their mobile device and the disconnect between what marketers are doing (in mobile advertising, in-apps brand engagement and mobile marketing).


To marketers, the prospect of reaching shoppers through their smartphones is tantalizing. But mobile doesn't always mean on the go. New data show that 68% of consumers' smartphone use happens at home. And users' most common activity is not shopping or socializing but engaging in what researchers at BBDO and AOL call "me time."

Seven primary motivations for people using their mobile device. 
The reasons consumers use smartphones can be broken down into the goals listed below, along with the average monthly minutes and percentage of interactions devoted to each.

Where Marketers Go Wrong.

Marketers often get it wrong when looking to either place ads in front of potential customers, or in understanding true user behavior.

Lesson number 1 for marketers - Making Bad Assumptions About App Use.
Apps can have more than one purpose. Facebook, for instance, can be used for socializing, self-expression, or discovery. And if you're using a shopping app to dream about what kind of couch or pizza you might order tomorrow, you're in "me time."

Lesson number 2 for marketers Failing to Connect with Users During "Me Time".

Mobile ads that consumers see during "me time" generally do poorly on effectiveness (as measured by the percentage of viewers who click on the ad, search for the product, recall the product, or make a purchase). That's because the majority of messages aren't relevant to the context, are easy to ignore, or get in the way.

You can find out more about this impressive research from the Harvard Business Review website here

Sunday 27 January 2013

Why I love Samsung and why Apple has lost its cool

Firstly, there are a few things I need to get out of the way. I work for Samsung. I joined in 2012 and I’m the Regional Marketing Director, looking after digital marketing and go-to-market initiatives in Asia (I wrote about my awesome new job at Samsung here). This is my personal perspective as a marketing leader working inside Samsung and paying particular attention to some of Samsung’s key competitors – including players like Apple, HTC, Nokia, and RIM/Blackberry. It’s in no way an official company statement, just my personal opinion.

So with that said, I’m immensely proud to work at Samsung. The company has become
the number 1 brand in Asia, and according to Interbrand’s global survey Samsung has rocketed to number 9 positionSamsung make amazing products that I use every day (my 55” SMART TV; my Galaxy SIII, etc.) and has revolutionary products on the horizon, such as the Ultra Definition TV and the Youm flexible displays that were showcased at CES 2013. The reason I love the brand is related to why I no longer like Apple. Sure, Apple still produce fantastic products. I’ve owned a Macbook Air, iPhone and iPad – as well as the ill-conceived Apple TV. Most of their products are great – so why is Apple losing its cool (as suggested by WSJ’s article: Has Apple lost its cool to Samsung?”) and what’s changed with Samsung?

I see it as three things:

1.   Attitude – Apple simply aren’t listening and don’t seem to care. Samsung do.

Apple think they know what you want, even when they’re wrong. As Forbes identified in their article “Five Dangerous Lessons To Learn From Steve Jobs” - Throughout his career, Steve Jobs famously eschewed market research and relied on his intuition. In a 1985 interview with Playboy, he said: “We built [the Mac] for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research.” Twelve years later, he told Business Week: “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

The problem with this approach is that you’re right – until you’re wrong. We’re now seeing that with iPhone 5. It was a disappointment.  Not because it wasn’t a good phone, but because our needs have moved on. People are demanding larger screens, new features and open access to new Apps and their own data/App ecosystem. We no longer live in a world where are needs are dictated to us. With the rise of social media and the obliteration of barriers between consumers and brands, this type of attitude is not acceptable.

2.   Apple are anti-social and shun media (traditional, PR and social media). This is an area Samsung have embraced with success.

From a marketing standpoint, it’s even more pronounced. For many years Apple have simply refused to engage with the media and to engage customers. Apple are one of the few major corporates that are completely anti-social. They have no Facebook presence, do not engage via Twitter or LinkedIn and certainly have not opened communication via Weibo or other social networks in China or in regional communities in other markets across the world. 

on the other hand have invested heavily into engaging with customers via social media. Using both in-house people and our agency partners Leo Burnett, Cheil Worldwide and Starcom, Samsung have put in place Community Management and social customer engagement in 47 countries. 

It also helps that social networks, such as Facebook, are now
generating some serious ROI for Samsung (in this case, for the launch of the Galaxy SIII).

Winning hearts and minds through marketing – Samsung are now simply better marketers than others in the consumer electronics category.

As identified in the Wall Street Journal article “Has Apple Lost It’s Cool To Samsung?”  Samsung’s “The Next Big Thing” campaign has struck a chord with consumers.

The campaign swayed consumers including Will Hernandez, an Apple iPhone owner who bought a Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone about three months ago after seeing Samsung's ads.
"If you see this stuff on TV enough, it gets you thinking," said Mr. Hernandez, a 34-year-old resident of Somerville, Mass., who adds that he likes how his Galaxy has a larger screen than the iPhone. "Now, when someone gives me an iPhone to look at a picture, it looks so tiny."  The marketing onslaught is helping Samsung widen the gap as the market leader. Samsung is estimated to have held 28% of the global smartphone market last year, up from 20% a year earlier, according to IHS iSuppli. Apple's share, meanwhile, isn't rising as quickly, moving to 20.5% in 2012 from 19% a year earlier.

There’s some great brand building, emotionally engaging stories that Samsung are creating. LeBron James’ day with Samsung Note II was a viral video sensation, with over 40 million views to-date. In Malaysia, Samsung have been working with local music artist Yuna, a collaboration that lead to
"Sparkle Project": 

This helped Samsung lead as one of the top 10 viral video brands in 2012 (even ahead of the great work Old Spice are doing). 


I realise that technology, particularly with brands like Samsung and Apple, is a passion of many people. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the three points above so please add your comments below.