At Ark Advance, we value strategic partnership and empowering organisations. As a Corporate Patron of the Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland Arts Festival in 2020, we have a strong relationship in the heart of our community that continues to evolve with empowerment at its core. 

Now in its fifth consecutive year, this partnership has helped the Festival to begin expanding its internal capacity, while Ark Advance takes on the role of mentor through all elements of digital marketing.

A celebration of arts and minds 

A globally recognised celebration of art and culture held in New Zealand’s largest city, the 12th annual Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland Arts Festival is happening from 11–29 March 2020.

The Festival, which has attracted more than two million visitors to date, is a place for ambitious ideas by storytellers, provocateurs and creators. It reflects our contemporary, cosmopolitan city with its many communities, challenging artists and audiences to be bold and take a risk. 

Through the work of artists of Aotearoa and across the world, the Festival aims to unify, enlighten and inspire the people of Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau and our many visitors. 

Playing to our strengths

This is an exciting strategic partnership that allows Auckland Arts Festival to build its in-house capabilities, while still maintaining best practice guidance from a company at the top of its game.

According to Ark Advance General Manager Chris Price, “These kind of strategic partnerships are what we seek out when working alongside an organisation. It’s a win-win for both sides. We can coach clients to be more efficient in their digital strategy and over time our role changes, from being hands on to taking a step back. It’s like parenting and it is very rewarding to work alongside an organisation that can adopt this model so effectively and recognise the value it has.” 

“Auckland Arts Festival completely understands this strategic partnership. Since we began working together in 2015 we have totally customised our approach to suit their requirements and it’s a great example of how the arts and digital marketing can effectively collaborate. Communication is central to this and the ongoing support to achieve shared goals.”

Auckland Arts Festival Director of Marketing Thierry Pannetier agrees. “We are pleased to join forces again with Ark.Advance for our 2020 festival, this being our fifth consecutive year,” he says. “During this time, we have gone from strength to strength and have learned many of the key elements of digital marketing from these leaders in the field. It’s been a fantastic way to take on more ownership while still having them at the ready to guide us on our journey. 

“We look forward to the festival ahead and an ongoing relationship well into the future.”

With you on your journey

Ark Advance provides high-performance digital advertising solutions for growing New Zealand businesses, working together to give you as much (or as little) control as you desire. 

To find out where we could take you, get in touch today.

The success of sites like Amazon and TripAdvisor has led more and more of us to seek the insight of customer reviews before buying. This trend is spreading fast, and throughout industries not previously known for their online presence.

Gaining a provable business reputation using customer reviews can make the difference between success and failure in some industries. And yet, few companies make the relatively small investment required to achieve it.

If service is your strength, prove it

Let’s say you are in a field not normally known for customer reviews. What’s your current point of difference against your competitors? Most businesses would prefer not to compete on price, so you’re probably aiming to offer a clearly superior product and/or exceptional service.

So you advertise. You say you are good, and that your team provides great service, but what proof can you offer, and where? One or two testimonials on your website may help… but what about 5,000 credible online reviews that back this up?

The fact is that we only experience service when we actually buy, so positive endorsements by customers could arguably be the most powerful support for your proposition.

If you don’t ask, you’re less likely to get

There are ways to ask your customers for a review following a purchase, and at Ark Advance we help our clients set up the system that best suits their market (e.g. Trustpilot or Google Reviews).

People generally like sharing their opinions, but they want it to be easy. While statistics have shown over decades that consumers share more bad service stories than good ones, this balance can be tipped by politely and proactively prompting your happy customers to share their thoughts.

Whatever tool you use to collect your reviews, ensure that you make it:

The ability to give as much or as little feedback as they want is key. Some people just want to give a star rating, others will leave a short comment, while still others want to fill that comment box to the maximum number of characters. A stepped approach is best to capture all the information on offer.

Regardless of whether the feedback is good or bad, your customer has done you a favour. Showing your appreciation will help them feel good about the overall experience.

Obviously, nothing raises suspicion faster than the deletion of less favourable reviews. Although not ideal, a problem raised by your customer in public is a chance to show that you can fix it quickly and graciously.

The beauty of setting up a tool on your own site (rather than relying on third party platforms) is that once a few customers have left their thoughts, others are more likely to follow suit. In sites with well-established feedback forums, there can even be something of a club among loyal customers, which can then be a focus in marketing for repeat business.

The cost to set up a review tool within your website are relatively minor. However, few businesses make the investment; perhaps because they fear it, or still think it’s not the right fit for their sector.

If you back your team and your product, then why not gain the advantage by collecting reviews and displaying them to your potential future customer? This collection of data could be the thing that makes you stand out against the rest.

This blog has been provided by a guest writer, Murray Fulton. Murray is an Advantage Business Director, Partner and Business Advisor who is passionate about helping SME business owners achieve their goals, and has worked with SME clients since 2005. In this article he shares some of his experiences working with clients who wish to grow their business.

One of the most regular requests I have had, and continue to receive from my clients is the following question: “How do I fund the growth that I want in my business?” closely followed by “How do I take my team along with me so that we are all growing the business?”

Here are some key pointers that as a business owner you need to consider and execute to achieve a successful business growth target.

Read more from Murray on www.murrayfulton.co.nz 
If you would like to get in touch with him, email mfulton@advantagebusiness.co.nz or call 021-900-001

Every quarter we ask our customers the same two questions:

· Firstly “how likely are you to refer us” on a scale of 1 to 10 ( 10 being every opportunity I have )
· And next, please add any other non-compulsory comment in the free text field.

We then put the answers through a formula derived from Net Promoter Score. You may already use this in your business; if not, here’s a link that tells you how it works. You calculate your final score by adding up all those who give you a 9 or 10 as a percentage of your total respondents. From this you then deduct – as a percentage – those who scored you 6 or below. So if 40% gave you either 9 or 10 and 10% gave you 6 or below, your Net Promoter Score would be 30%.
The theory is that a wide range of businesses ask the same “how likely are you to refer” question, so you can benchmark your results against those of others. For instance, for New Zealand businesses – courtesy of Customer Monitor – we see:

· University of Auckland +18%
· Total Professional Services +11%
· Dentist / Doctor +14%
· Banking +12%
· Insurance -10%

This quarter we achieved +60%. It’s a great score, and your comments provided an interesting list of ideas for how we can improve even further. Thank you to everyone who took part.

Winner of the $200 restaurant voucher: Alan Singam from Les Mills New Zealand. The next survey will be in June.

Four years ago, when Thierry Pannetier joined the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) as head of marketing, Ark Advance was already on board. But, he says, “it was immediately apparent that they were a wonderful partner for all things digital”.

At that time, digital marketing was still in its infancy: a bit of a novelty in contrast to the crucial position it holds in any marketing strategy today. Initially, Thierry used Ark Advance’s expertise to help with the monthly NZSO e-newsletter and to understand the figures behind it. Now, four years in, Ark Advance does so much work with the NZSO that Thierry considers them more of a partner than a consultant.

“They’re like a digital partner for us. They help us master the digital world and hold our hands with all things digital,” he says. “We don’t have the resources in-house to keep abreast of all the changes that are taking place in the digital world, so we rely on Ark Advance. Their help and expertise has allowed us to be early Arts adopters of various technology, such as QR codes, display ads and Remarketing.”

The NZSO is making great progress online across a wide range of initiatives, including web, video and mobile. As a result, Ark Advance has worked with them on a range of things, including Google Alerts, SEO management, EDM analysis (understanding the data of the e-newsletters), managing Adword campaigns, Facebook Remarketing, analysing information and deciphering meaningful data, and general online marketing strategic direction.

The NZSO have given Ark Advance KPIs around their click rates, which Thierry says have been steadily increasing for them.

“We find Chris and the team very approachable. We have them on a retainer, which is a cost-effective way of getting access to their advice,” explains Thierry. “We have a good relationship with Chris – I get the feeling that he understands what the NZSO brand is about, so the personal touch is there.”

Whenever Air New Zealand wanted to send an email campaign out to their database a few years ago, it always involved engaging with four or five external suppliers. It was time-consuming, clunky and, of course, expensive. In 2011 they decided to streamline the process by bringing it in-house.

They selected a dedicated internal team, chose an email deployment platform called Responsys, and then started the search for a local company to help with the technical side of using it. Fly Buys, an Air NZ partner, suggested Ark Advance, the agency they use for their email campaigns. Two years on, Air NZ and Ark Advance are achieving great things says Nicky Ward, who heads up the dedicated in-house team in her role as Planning Manager of Direct Customer Communication, Customer Strategy and Analytics.

The airline company sends anywhere from 15 to 20 email campaigns a month to over 800,000 people. The campaigns are a mixture of retail (sales and promotions, such as flight deals to Australia) and loyalty-based ones, which include personalised Airpoints statements and engagement communications. Essentially, Air NZ comes up with the content and look of the email, Ark Advance codes their artwork to create an HTML file (the technical bit) and then uses the deployment platform Responsys to send it. Ark Advance also keeps an eye on email deliverability, ensuring the email content renders the same and gives a good viewing and customer experience no matter what device you use to open it, from your desktop PC to your tablet to your mobile phone.

Nicky says, “Since taking our email campaigns in-house and working with Ark Advance, the number of campaigns we’re deployed and the range of campaigns has increased. We can now provide relevant and personalised communications to our customers. Our return on investment has improved due to the cost efficiencies we’ve had from bringing it in-house, using Responsys and working with Ark Advance.

“I’d recommend Ark Advance to other businesses because they are experts on producing and deploying email campaigns, particularly using the Responsys platform. We’ve been impressed with their ability to help us implement a wide range of different campaign requests. They are smaller than some other agencies, which means they’re flexible, speedy and responsive to our changing business demands – it’s a real bonus.”

When Terry Roper acquired finance company Cash Relief five months ago, he immediately knew he needed to get his head around its online presence – where site visitors were coming from, where they dropped off and what improvements needed to be made to help visitors accomplish what they had set out to do. And, like all businesses, it was a priority to increase web traffic to the site. The previous business owner had a business relationship with Ark Advance, so Terry stuck with Chris and his team – and is pleased he did: “After a couple of months, we found the work they were doing was providing a noticeable benefit and we are still using their service,” he reports.

That noticeable benefit includes an increase of almost 100% in micro conversions, which translated to a 75% increase in macro conversions. In layman’s terms? They’re 75% up in business compared to five months ago, a good portion of which is new business, says Terry.

As well as devising successful Adword campaigns and advising where to make changes for a more successful online strategy, Ark Advance have also prepared content for the www.cashrelief.co.nz site to really drive SEO.

“Because Ark Advance has skilled people and an excellent understanding of Google, they were able to advise how best to configure our website to achieve growth in business,” explains Terry. “We operate in a very competitive market and the best tools are needed to make sure we gain ground on our competitors. Ark Advance is able to deliver the tools we need to improve our performance in the market.”

For Terry, it’s Ark Advance’s knowledge and efficiency that have impressed him: “Ark Advance is a nimble and focused organisation that can really help.”


We pride ourselves on offering a service that cuts through the electronic payment jargon and delivers results in the simplest way possible. Working with Permission has been a very similar experience for us. They deliver an easy-to-understand methodology that cleverly bypasses the confusion so common in online marketing. It’s a comprehensive end-to-end solution. I’d recommend anyone who is looking for a simple way to solve the complex problem that is online marketing to give them a call.

Roger Yibo Wang
Managing Director – Flo2Cash Limited

Flo2Cash is a credit card and direct debit electronic payment provider based in Albany on Auckland’s North Shore. It operates within an industry category littered with technical jargon and convoluted processes. Thankfully, due to some locally developed nimble technology, the Flo2Cash team is able to slash through all this and enable their clients to enjoy a very simple ‘one-stop shop’ approach to using electronic payment methods.

They contacted Permission in early 2010 with a desire to substantially increase the number of sales leads coming from their website. Up to then things had been going reasonably well, but the lead volume was low and needed work. This, coupled with the growing amount of positive customer feedback the business was receiving, convinced them that it was time to break out of any ‘best kept secret’ category they may be in.

To start things off, Permission took the Flo2Cash team through a comprehensive website review process. The outcomes of this work highlighted their relative strengths, ripe for further leverage, and conversely the gaps that needed additional work. A series of programs was suggested and subsequently agreed upon to enable them to gain and eventually surpass their competitors in the online space.

The first job off the rank was to improve the level of reporting from the analytics tools running across the Flo2Cash website. Once complete, this allowed the team to accurately track the effectiveness of any alterations Permission would roll out later.

Google was the next point of focus, specifically improving its ability to rank Flo2Cash website pages for keywords specific to their industry. Researching which keywords were worth ranking for was the first job. These choices were then matched against the existing pages on the Flo2Cash website and, where there were none, new pages were created. These were then optimised to improve their keyword relevance. Permission then embarked on a comprehensive article writing and distribution strategy to help improve the quality and volume of inbound links to the site.

Within a month the results started to flow through. The custom-built Google ranking and traffic volume reports revealed traffic gains of over 50% as the site was re-indexed and the rankings moved upwards.

Increasing numbers of searchers were now seeing the business listed in their Google results screen and were clicking through, wanting to start a conversation with a prospective electronic payment supplier. And so, with this traffic-building work well underway, the attention of the two teams moved to the website and to improving its ability to convert all this new traffic into new leads.

As it would happen, the start of this stage coincided with Permission becoming a customer of Flo2Cash. We had been using a traditional credit card processing solution for a number of years and were looking for something with a few more smarts and a few less fees. Flo2Cash was an obvious solution.

This allowed Permission to see the obvious gaps in what prospects were told online compared with what was experienced later as a customer. So both teams sat down and reworked the design of the home page and the order in which content was displayed. The Flo2Cash service comes with some very valuable and unique benefits and, while not exactly hidden, they required more prominence on the main pages of the site. In a similar way, the growing level of social proof the service enjoyed with its lengthening list of customers was made more obvious across the revised layouts.

During this stage, the teams also looked at the number and types of lead conversion options prospects could chose from on the website. At the start there was just one, which was suited to those who were a fair way down the sales decision-making process. So the teams worked on adding more that were better suited to those in the early stages of researching their options.

Once in, these changes made the website work harder at converting the traffic it received. And, with the climbing rate of traffic from Google, the site’s lead volume began to noticeably pick up. From here on it was all about tuning things to get the most from the solution. This involves ongoing work to tweak the site’s ‘conversion-inducing’ content coupled with the implementation of a range of tactics to steadily move the site higher in its search rankings.

We believe we have the right staff, products, selection and service standards for our market but when it came to online – while we were doing OK – we knew we could achieve at a higher level. Working with Permission has helped us in a number of different areas understand what that next level is and how to get there in simple, understandable and practical ways.

– Steve Preston – Managing Director – Choice Catering Equipment

Sometimes clients engage Permission to help them improve on the success they have already achieved. This was the case when the team at Choice Catering Equipment came to Permission as a referral from their then web developer who had built their e-commerce-enabled website.

They arrived with the single task of improving the effectiveness of their Google AdWords advertising. This type of traffic had already proven itself with its positive ‘order converting’ traffic. Now they wanted to engage some specialist campaign management resource to build on their work to date.

To start with, Permission completed a comprehensive review of their AdWords account. This work generated a comprehensive list of optimizing suggestions. One of these was to increase the negative keywords the account was using. (Negative keywords are those that can sneak in between good keywords and, by doing so, make them unsuitable. For instance, the keyword “second hand” when you are bidding on “gas ovens” and you only sell new products.)

By reviewing previous AdWords reports, the Permission team could see that there were a sizable number of clicks coming from keyword phrases that included negative-style terms. This was resulting in wasted clicks that were churning through a sizable proportion of the monthly AdWords budget.

To fix this, both teams reviewed historical reports from months of click data and produced a long list of keywords that were in future to be categorised as negative and, as such, would not be responsible for showing future ads for the incorrect search phrases. This list was then uploaded into the Choice AdWords account – effectively doubling their previous negative keyword list. (This list has continued to grow each month as more negative terms have been added as Permission continues to trawl through the company’s click reports looking for instances of any new negative words.)

The team at Choice enjoyed two benefits from this work being completed. The first was the obvious saving of wasted click cost on these non-relevant keywords. The second was more subtle and related to the positive way in which Google views and consequently provides a bid pricing advantage (reduced cost) to advertisers who have above-average click-through rates for their ads. (The click-through rate is defined as the percentage of searchers that see your ad out of the total number that click on it). The long list of negative keywords now ensured that their ads were more likely to be shown only for relevant searchers and thus were being clicked more frequently during the periods they were shown, which increased their click-through rate.

So, with these paid advertising costs now under better management, Permission was then asked to turn its focus towards the organic traffic the site received from Google and present some suggestions. This traffic source represented a sizable chunk of the total visitor count. The structure and design of the website was helping things here. Fortunately, it had been built in such a way that made it relatively easy for Google to properly index for the vast range of product terms the business supplied.

Permission began its hunt for improvements by embarking on a process of extensive keyword research. As a result of this they located a selection of keywords that had a high search volume but a comparatively low ranking for the Choice website. A few of these required immediate work and Permission presented a series of straightforward alterations that rectified the issue and moved the rankings upwards from where they were struggling previously.

The Google Analytics website reporting application was being used to track the outcomes of all the changes during this period. And, while it provided some good general information that was ideal in guiding the early changes the site required, it lacked specific e-commerce sales detail that was necessary to track the effectiveness of the more subtle site changes required in the future. Permission had experience with configuring Analytics to work this way on sites it already managed and it worked with Choice and their web development team to ensure the necessary tracking changes were made and successfully implemented.

“Our relationship with Permission goes back a long way because it works. They offer both a dependable service for online campaign management and a challenging perspective to help guide our strategy online.”

– Reece Zondag CEO Les Mills New Zealand

Les Mills New Zealand started working with Permission back in November 2004. They initially contacted the company looking for some advice on further developing a project they had running to automatically communicate with members via email. A previous solution had come across some unexpected problems and some independent advice was now required to find a new vendor and assist in getting the project back on track.

Permission was engaged and assisted with the selection of a new supplier. Work then followed to help support the project implementation and the post-go-live phase. This project was successfully completed and the solution is still working well and in operation today.

Subsequent to the success of this engagement, Permission was asked to provide advice and support on the supply of services for the ongoing ad hoc member email communication process. To start with, a ‘member get member’ campaign was chosen to trial Permission’s capabilities. Permission provided consulting on the strategy of the campaign, the design of the email and the necessary deployment services to successfully deliver the campaign.

All went well and later on in 2005 a regular member email communication strategy was settled upon and the highly successful Les Mills member newsletter was released. Initially called BodyLines, this campaign has passed through various iterations as the Les Mills brand developed. Throughout all this, it has continued to be one of the most actively read email newsletter campaigns that Permission manages.

Permission’s involvement with the company then moved from email to the highly popular website: www. lesmills.co.nz. This was re-launched mid-way through 2007 and Permission was tasked with installing and configuring Google Analytics to improve the site’s reporting capabilities. Les Mills head office staff were then trained by Permission on the use of the tool and are still supported in its use.

After running Google Analytics on the site for a few months it was noted that the site’s search engine rankings, while good, could do with some improvement. Permission was called upon to provide advice in this area too. They worked with the site’s web developer and the marketing manager at the time, making the necessary content structure changes, which produced a significant increase in rankings and subsequent search engine traffic.

Throughout this website work, email distribution carried on for both member and prospect communications. The content design and creation was supplied by a selection of suppliers – with Permission being able to accept creative input in a range of formats, converting all of these into an ISP – and email-friendly format.

As the growth in digital communications increased so did the marketing team at Les Mills to support its production and management. Permission was tasked with provided coaching support to these new staff, so much so that they took a more active role in managing their own Google AdWords campaign and ongoing Google Analytics reporting.

To provide some strategic balance to all this highly tactical work, Permission and the Les Mills marketing team meet on a quarterly and annual basis to a) review overall progress and b) map out the strategic focus points for the period ahead.