As reported recently in the NZ Herald, new research commissioned by NZ On Air has highlighted the further dramatic growth in reach of the various online video/AV media channels. 

While this is not a new trend, the Where Are The Audiences? study – conducted by research agency Glasshouse Consulting – does shine a helpful light on Kiwis and our viewing habits, especially where digital marketing is concerned.

The ever-expanding reach of digital

The growth in share of digital channels comes as no surprise, given the all-but-constant presence of connected devices in our lives. Increased device processing power, more intuitive apps, improved high-speed/WiFi connectivity and lower costs have all contributed to audiences’ willingness to stream video content. Peripheral devices like the Google Chromecast, used to broadcast content streaming on a computer or mobile device to a TV, have also made more viewing formats available to more people.

Importantly, the survey covers social media as well as paid TV streaming services like Netflix and Lightbox. Primarily social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram now not only host their own video content, but also provide a funnel into more specifically video-focused sites like YouTube. 

In fact, YouTube is now the most popular channel, site or station or channel among Kiwis, with 51% of all viewers in this country watching daily. (TV1 came in second with a very impressive 44%.) This YouTube figure covers all video content viewed on the site, from short clips to full-length TV episodes.

What’s the catch?

The important distinction when considering online viewing habits is between pay-TV content like Netflix, and free platforms like YouTube and other social channels. While pay-TV channels are growing in popularity, they tend to be ad-free as part of their value proposition.

The opposite is true of social media. With the exception of YouTube Premium, which is not wildly popular compared to the behemoth free version, social media channels are built on the premise of being free to users, while offering advertising space to generate revenue. In this sense, they could be considered to be replacing traditional free-to-air TV. 

How do I make the most of this?

Where digital marketing leaves traditional TV behind, of course, is in the targeting. 

While the free-to-air TV audience is in fact sitting stable (at 35% of total viewers watching daily), offering some perceived ongoing value, ads broadcast on these channels can only be tracked in broadest audience categories. 

By contrast, digital video ads (shorter and often cheaper to produce than a standard TVC) can be far more targeted towards specific groups of customer. By using the demographic tools of each social media site, plus the ubiquitous Google Distribution Network, you can reach specific groups according to an ever widening set of factors like age, gender, location, interests or even cultural group. And on top of reaching a growing number of traditional TV-watching audiences, you can also be seen by social media users whenever they check Facebook, read their email or watch a quick viral clip on YouTube. 

So how do you put your best foot forward with video content as a small business? This we will cover in our next blog, with some expert tips on both planning and execution. 

In the meantime, to get the more out of your digital advertising dollar, get in touch with Ark Advance today.

I once travelled to Hamilton, hitching a ride with a friend who had a very strange way to navigate. She was OK leaving Auckland but once over the Bombay Hills, her method was to follow people who she “thought” were on their way to Hamilton. I was new to NZ, so was no help. Needless to say, it took us a while. 

Now, in the age of Google Maps, it’s a completely different story. We’d just load the destination and in seconds, a route would be plotted with our expected arrival time. All that’s left is for us to turn the music down enough to follow the robotic voice directions and boom – the Tron, here we come.

Going beyond guesswork

Most people buy their digital marketing with the same approach as my wayward friend. That is, aimlessly following people who they think are taking them along the right route. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a navigation system that directed your advertising spend to company profits with the same certainty as Google Maps? 

Last month, we used such a system to help a customer make the same profit in one month from their digital marketing as they did for the whole of the previous year. Now of course, your results may vary, and there are times that profits are super hard to find – but it’s still a better option than just following and hoping. 

Homing in on Destination Profit

Below is your (very summarised) guide on how to get an improved navigational toolkit for yourself.

First up, you need to activate your digital marketing version of a navigation tool: Google Analytics. Think of this as your Google Maps for online marketing. It sits on your website, capturing enough data to fill a virtual truck and trailer and then some. How many visitors your site gets, where they came from, what they looked at and for how long – plus much more.

Next, you need to set your destination. This is where the majority gets it wrong. Although my wayward navigator friend was looking to follow someone to Hamilton, that was not our final destination – we needed a specific office, four floors up in a building on the main street. Arriving in that fair river city was close, but not the end goal.

Similarly, in online marketing parlance, while you are going to be mildly interested in configuring your Google Analytics account to capture the quote request or phone call, that’s not the end. The end goal is when the person behind the quote or the call actually decides to purchase from you, and your company profits.

Once you have this feeding back into your digital marketing mapping, then you can summon some techno magic (with the help of our digital wizards at ARK Advance) and feed it into your digital advertising tools as well. Now your investment in advertising is tuned towards the activities that make you more money, and way from those that don’t. Dollar by dollar you move closer to reaching your final destination – maximum profits.

Keen to find your most direct route to profit growth? Give us a call today.

As you probably know by now, each of your potential customers is absolutely unique… just like everybody else! Before you come along with your online ad, they will each have their own particular awareness of your field, and existing level of demand (which may be nil) for your service.

This can make budgeting for digital advertising an extra tricky process. There are potential weightings across all the main platforms, and the measurements involved can seem complex to start with. For example, perhaps somewhat counter-intuitively, working towards affording a higher cost per click is desirable. (See our earlier post, which explains this in more detail.)

Fortunately, ARK Advance has developed visual tools to help apply your own business parameters, and guide you to a sound, logic-based decision.

The ARK cone

“The Ark Cone”

The first tool is the ARK cone, which breaks down your audience into segments that you can target specifically using ad platform metrics.  The amount of traffic within each segment increases as you work down.  

At the top are those potential customers classified as highest in intent through their prior website behaviour. They have visited your website and taken steps to indicate that they are ready to make a purchase.

Next down the list is those who have engaged in actual search activity for your service recently, and then those who have prior search behaviour on the same or a similar topic in the past.

Further down again, we have the “look alike” or people similar to the customer contacts you have already, and then those you can target by their demographic details (age group, sex, location and so forth). The bottom segment is “interest targeting”, where the audience just has to have shown interest, however passive, in your field at some point. 

Each of these segments can be found across the main advertising platforms available.  

These classifications are important not only from a targeting perspective but also from a conversion rate and cost basis.  For instance the average conversion rate for each segment is likely to be higher the more “intent” they have displayed. This means that in theory you can afford to spend more per click on some groups than others..

It also means that when reaching out to the lower intent levels like “interest targeting”, you’ll want to keep your cost per click low – but also get smart about your messaging. This group can’t be relied upon to already know the benefits of what you’re selling, so you’ll be looking to set the stage for them by capturing their imagination and piquing further interest.

 The ARK slider

“The Ark Slider”

The companion to the ARK cone, the ARK slider is graded similarly to indicate how much you should spend per click at each level.

Let’s say you’re a service business hiring out golf equipment. If you are able to remarket to past visitors to your site, who partially filled out their order form, those clicks are worth most to you in their conversion potential. That would take our slider up into the top deep blue zone.

By contrast, if you’re reaching out to both men and women aged 18-75 around New Zealand who have at some stage indicated, say, an interest in golf – this is a wide net and you will not be expecting the same conversion rate per click.

This takes our slider down into the white zone, so you’ll be looking to minimise your spend while making your message as intriguing as possible.  (More on targeted messaging in our next issue!)

 When you have a good grip on your marketing fundamentals, these tools can be your guide to forming an integrated digital marketing strategy to enable you to buy clicks with confidence to enable you to profitably grow your company.  

We at ARK Advance are here to help. Call us today if you would like more help with the Cone or Slider and how it relates to your business.  This is what we do, it is our passion and we can be your extra pair of expert hands – giving you more time to do what you do best.

Canvas Factory’s mission is to make photo printing easy and affordable for everyone. The business believes shoppers should be able to buy cheap canvas prints without sacrificing quality and craftsmanship.

But in such a competitive industry, it is imperative for a company like Canvas Factory to be able to hold trust at all levels and all stages of the buying journey. That’s why Canvas Factory started collecting reviews with Trustpilot.

Their focus on customer satisfaction has helped their Australian team achieve an amazing 9.4/10 rating on Trustpilot, from over 2,600 reviews.

To better understand how the business uses reviews to increase customer confidence and boost marketing efforts, we spoke with Tim Daley, Founder and Managing Director at Canvas Factory.

How Canvas Factory uses Trustpilot to build trust

When Canvas Factory started exploring review solutions, they were looking for two things: a licensed Google Review partner to gain more visibility via Seller Ratings and Rich Snippets, and a platform that would be recognised globally.

Working with Trustpilot has allowed Canvas Factory to get more visibility earlier in the journey. Having reviews displayed right on SERPs (search engine results pages) means customers who plan to purchase a product will be provided with as much information and user-generated content as possible, before they’ve even landed on the website.

In addition to displaying reviews on search, Canvas Factory also showcases its Trustpilot rating and customer reviews at every stage of the journey. The website’s homepage and product pages all include reviews in order to boost customer confidence and reduce scepticism throughout the journey.

Canvas Factory’s homepage

One of Canvas Factory’s product pages

The company also chose to add the Trustpilot trust mark in their customers’ shopping carts. This helps reduce cart abandonment and generally increases conversions.

Customer reviews front and center on Canvas Factory’s checkout page

Canvas Factory understands how important it is to showcase their reputation on social channels too. Today, 59% of consumers visit the brand’s social media account(s) once a week or more before making a purchase, and 87% of consumers trust an ad more if it has a Trustpilot logo or rating.

Tim explains:

“Sharing and posting reviews is key to amplifying trust signals to Canvas Factory’s current and future customers. The Trustpilot platform has been used to visually share reviews across the site, post reviews on social media, for broad based advertising and also to integrate reviews into email campaigns. This increases the brand’s visibility and offers consumers a chance to create dialogue, while placing the brand and products into their purchase behaviours.”

Why engaging with customers helps Canvas Factory grow as a business

Canvas Factory chose Trustpilot as a review platform because of its openness. The business really believes it is essential for all customers to be able to give and share feedback, both positive or negative. Collecting honest feedback allows Canvas Factory to gather consumer insights, identify areas of developments, and engage with existing customers.

The team communicates with customers through Trustpilot reviews: Canvas Factory tries to keep all customers happy and satisfied by addressing issues quickly, as today, 95% of unhappy customers return if the business resolves the issue efficiently.

Example of negative review

“Both the marketing and customer service teams use Trustpilot as a director indicator of how the brand is doing in being consistent with its values, character, and culture,” says Tim.

“Trust is such an important brand asset for us. It supports product and service improvements along with growth and revenue, and allows us to deliver a seamless customer experience.”

“The Trustpilot team have worked closely with us throughout the process, from strategy through to implementation, to ensure that we achieve success with our review strategy. This has been done through regular business reviews, strategy meetings, and A/B testing guidance to ensure that the platform delivers solutions driving results.”

As Canvas Factory continues to grow and improve, they’ll use Trustpilot reviews to continually improve their service, demonstrate their value to new, potential, and existing customers as well as boost sales and revenue.

If you’d like to learn more about what Trustpilot can do for your business, you can get in touch with us here.

Department store tycoon John Wanamaker, who died in 1922, once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

Of course he didn’t. Unlike you and me, Mr Wanamaker didn’t have the benefit of online marketing.

But before we get too smug, let’s remember one important point. While online marketing is far more measurable than the methods Mr Wanamaker had at his disposal, it still has its limits.

For example, if someone makes a purchase after first spotting a service online, it’s difficult – if not sometimes impossible – to attribute that sale to online marketing.

Said another way, measurement systems fail when the sale occurs face-to-face rather than browser-to-web page.  And face to face is how most service businesses operate.

So what’s a service-oriented business owner to do?

They could do worse than talk to us. Ark Advance now offers new tracking technology that solves this age-old problem and finally closes the loop between online activity and actual sales.

For the first time, we can link your advertising activity directly to your CRM system and allow the two to talk to each other.

For example, let’s say we create a sales lead for you on Day 1. As per normal, this enters your CRM system telling you what campaign it came from and the search terms that were used.

For 30 days, that information sits within your CRM, waiting patiently like an heir to the throne for its day to come.

On Day 30 the lead picks up the phone and does business with you. You pop a bottle of champagne (this step is optional). Then you update your CRM system to record an accepted quote and the revenue involved.

Then our technology kicks in, linking the sale back to your Google Analytics account so you can attribute the revenue directly to the campaign that created the lead in the first place.

You don’t have to do a thing. It’s all technology driven.

And now, for the first time, you can automatically measure the effectiveness of your online marketing in driving face-to-face sales. Even when days, weeks or months have lapsed between the online lead and the face-to-face sale.

And, unlike poor Mr Wanamaker*, you can then tweak your advertising spend so that any wastage is minimal.

To find out how you can close the loop on your marketing, get in touch and we’ll be thrilled to talk you through it.

* Don’t feel too sorry for “poor” Mr Wanamaker. He died with a personal fortune of $1.5 billion in today’s money.

A couple of years ago I wrote about a Google tool called Life Events, which interprets people’s search activity to anticipate what they’re likely to do in the near future.

When you think about it, that’s a bit of a superhero power to own. Marketers love to know what people are doing right now. Knowing what they’ll do soon is like taking that ability and dialling it up by a factor of 10. It means you can get the jump on your competition by connecting with those customers before anyone else does, but without investing months or years of relationship building to make the sale.

In 2017, when Life Events was still in nappies, the range of life events (eg, moving home, buying a car) that it could predict from people’s online behaviour was limited. Since then, like any healthy child does, it’s grown bigger and more able.

In the process, it’s become especially useful to any marketer who sells into the home.

Life stages that Live Events can now alert you to include:

If you’re wondering how big a deal this is, the short answer is it’s a really big deal. Traditional marketing targets demographics – millennials, baby boomers, and so on. But that model’s becoming more outdated thanks to tools like Life Events, which use machine learning to predict what people will do in the near future based on what they’re doing now (or just did).

In the words of one blog writer, if you’re still targeting millennials, you might as well be targeting buyers by their star sign. “Consumers going through life events are much more likely to have similar purchase needs than consumers that are merely in the same age, gender or income demographic,” said research company Networked Insights.

Sonos, a company known for pretty cool home sound systems, saw these results from life events targeting:

If you market products for the home – anything from cat food to high-end electronics – and are considering spending money on search advertising, stop now. Your competitors are doing that already, and all you’ll achieve is being listed alongside them in search results. That’s not bad – but you may be able to do much better.

Talk to us about Life Events. It may be a great way to get a serious edge on your competition and boost sales by identifying people just before they’re ready to open their wallets – at a time when your competitors are still ignoring them, the poor fools.

Online marketing has changed the world, especially for the small to medium business.

Being able to target your goods or services specifically and directly to your customers has revolutionised advertising and they way people do business.

Are you a lawyer specialising in immigration? Boom, a simple Google search of “immigration lawyer” will allow local people to find you. People know what they want and you have done the work to ensure you’re easy to find.

But what if immigration is just part of what you do? What if you also help immigrants find their first job in the country too? An immigration lawyer isn’t the first place someone would look when searching for a job.

What do you do if people aren’t looking for your services, even though they might be interested in them? How do you reach people online when they’re not specifically looking for something?

Discover your ‘unreachables’

By conducting extensive market research into your customer’s and client’s personas, you can build up a profile of what they need or what they might be interested in. These people are your ‘unreachables’ – the group that are part of your market, but have remained out of your grasp so far.

If you already offer these services or products, then ask yourself why your unreachables don’t know/want your product. Are you on the right platform for them? Are you appealing to the right demographic? Who do they go to instead of you?

Laser guided marketing

Once you figure out who your unreachables are, you’ll be able to target them online.

Targeted Google Ads can use factors such as age, geographical location, gender, relationship status, interests, education and prior search activity to zero in on the people you are trying to attract.

So to go back to our immigration lawyer example, if you want to appeal to those who have just arrived in the country and are looking for a job, then single, 18 -35 year olds with a post-graduate education who are searching terms that fit their specific needs.

Understand your audience

In a perfect world, we would have all the money we need to market to each and every potential client or customer. Unfortunately, the real world isn’t like that – we need to pick and choose where we spend our marketing budget.

The best way to get value for money and to attract new customers is to know your audience. As you develop a closer relationship with them, you may begin to recognise similar customers who could also benefit from your service or product. That’s when your business starts to grow.

Attracting new customers is the lifeblood of any company, and finding ways to sell yourself to people who otherwise wouldn’t consider you is an essential part of marketing.

Ark Advance can help you reach new clients who you would have been otherwise hidden from via this type of targeted marketing. Contact us today for more information on how this could work for you and your business.

Vive la difference – even if it’s a tiny one.

So after a lot of hard work, your website is on the first page of Google’s search results.
Congratulations, it’s not a simple task. The problem now is that it is surrounded by your competitors. Will it stand out?

Online marketing is a unique beast. The internet can sometimes be the only time you’ll find your name sitting right alongside that of your competitors.

In the pre-search engine days, we wouldn’t have to explicitly state why we’re different, just what we do and how we do it. Now anyone searching our product or service is faced with a list of companies which present themselves as doing all the same thing.

Why it’s so difficult in today’s world

We live in an age of product and pricing parity, especially for small / medium businesses. There’s no longer a unique selling point for many companies – there are simply too many competitors doing the same thing.

You sell scented candles online? Well there’s a 99% chance your competitors sell the exact same candles. You offer a carpet cleaning service? Well there’s no reason why your vacuum does a better job than anyone else’s.

With a level playing field for everyone, it’s up to you to find the difference when it comes to your business, even if it’s a tiny one.

Ok, you and your competitors sell the same scented candles, but when it comes to packaging aesthetics, you can’t be beat. And sure, any cleaning company will do a good job, but do the others offer carpet shampoo that’s guaranteed safe for pets?

The little things will make a difference to your business, but it’s up to you to find them, focus on them, and then leverage them in your marketing.

Three ways to differentiate

So how do you stand out from the crowd? What makes your website the one a customer should click on? Depending on what your business does, there are three points of differentiation to consider.

Product differentiation

This is the general area that most B2B marketers and consumer marketers spend the majority of their time and dollars. Simply having a better product than your competitors means you will stand out. This may take the form of the latest features, technology, performance, or efficacy.

It sounds easy, but everyone’s trying to make their product the best on the market, and even if you do manage it, your competitors will probably just copy you, so you need to let everyone know you’re the original and best.

Service differentiation

Outstanding service isn’t just doing what you promised, it’s going above and beyond what you promised. This includes all the aspects behind the scenes too, from training to ease of ordering. Showing potential customers why your service is better than your competitors can take the form of outstanding testimonials or 5-star Google reviews. People need to see the results of your service, not just your promise that you’re better than everyone else.

Relationship differentiation

There’s no point talking about how you pride yourself on your customer service – every business claims this. No one says, “Our customer service isn’t great, but our product is pretty good!”
Customers will return to you again and again if they feel valued. Taking responsibility for you clients’ overall experience will bring its own rewards, and the little things that you do which others don’t will go along way to your success.

Find Your X Factor

Whatever you choose for your point (s) of differentiation they must be both clear and easy to understand. If you can’t explain why your different from your competitors in a simple sentence, then you need to rethink your sales pitch.

Remember, there are ten results on Google’s front page, not even including the ads. The reason you’re different from the rest must be there for everyone to see, relate to and then hopefully, act upon. Good luck.

Everyone loves making a sale, right? Well, pretty much everyone reading this blog does.

As for me, I’ve built a business around helping you do that. For all the different things Ark Advance does – help you climb up the search rankings, make it easier for visitors to take action on your website, increase the effectiveness of your AdWords campaigns – it all points in one direction. Sell more.

So what I’m about to say may sound like heresy. But stick with me as I explain myself.

Here goes. Trying to close the sale, whether directly or by generating leads, may be doing you more harm than good. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is back off a little.

I know that flies in the face of some sales philosophies. Power closing, the art of pushing through objections and resistance to a final sale, has its share of successful proponents.

But the best sales people, in my view, recognise that a successful sale is more than someone buying something. It includes the buyer being satisfied with their decision, and feeling happy about the pathway they took to get there.

How does that relate to you? Well, let’s say you have a landing page that’s all sell, sell, sell. Features and benefits are there in big, bold type, and the Buy Now or Submit button is not only a bright, garish colour, but it also flashes on and off like a neon sign outside a cabaret.

And let’s say that landing page really has been working for you. It’s been selling like crazy or generating more leads than you dreamed possible. Why on earth would you mess with a winning formula like that?

To answer that, let me tell you about a client who come to us recently from another agency.  They were used to pushing traffic onto the kind of landing page I just described (admittedly, I exaggerated a bit, but you get the drift). We said, “while your landing page is delivering results, we suspect you could do better – and do it without undermining your brand.”

That client boldly allowed us to create an alternative landing page that wasn’t designed to sell directly. Instead, it encouraged visitors to have a wander around the website, a bit like someone browsing in a store, checking out the merchandise. The risk was that once people had finished browsing, they’d simply wander out the door, without having bought anything or even given their contact details.

But that didn’t happen. What did happen was a 50%+ increase in lead conversions and a big reduction in cost per lead.  

How come? Simply because people often need more time or information or both before they feel comfortable committing. If they’re a website visitor, that means the opportunity to interact with your website – to “wander around the store” – first. Not always, but sometimes.

It’s worth testing. Worst case scenario, you build engagement, reduce bounce rates and increase time spent on your site – much like a good sales person asking questions and listening to the answers does.

And the best case scenario? Well, who wouldn’t love a 50%+ increase in lead conversions?  

If you’re a Go grand master, you may not like Artificial Intelligence right now. Not since the Google-designed AlphaGo trounced the world’s top player, Ki Jie, by 3 games to nil earlier this year. That came after it handed out a 4-1 beating to another top ranked player, Lee Sedol, in 2016.

Or maybe you will. The matches, while not good for the human ego, demonstrated something far more interesting and useful than that a powerful computer can out-think a puny human brain. I mean, that’s no longer news for anyone, right?

What they also demonstrated was that well-designed computing can also find whole new ways of seeing and thinking about problems. During the matches, AlphaGo played a number of moves that, to an expert, were obviously weak, or even bad. Except they turned out to be really strong moves.

And they were moves that a strong player wouldn’t even consider.

Now think about that. Mostly in business – mostly in life, in fact – we look for solutions in the same places we have in the past. While we may not know what the best solution to a problem is, at least we know where to look for it.

But AI is teaching us that that assumption could be totally wrong. And that has serious implications for Google Adwords.

See, most of the work you and we do in Adwords is based on refining what we already know. It’s a good approach: start with what seems sensible based on fundamental principles, test it, refine it based on results, test that, refine some more, and so on. If nothing else, it pretty much guarantees incremental gains over time.

But what if what we already know is only a fraction of what’s possible? “There are huge variations in a Go game,” said one expert after the Sedol/AlphaGo match. “We can’t even read 1% of them.”

Google is taking this result very seriously. It’s now seeing itself as an Artificial Intelligence company and transforming the way it delivers the right advertising to the right device for the right prospect. Its systems are learning (and it’s time to stop using quotation marks when we talk about machines learning) what approaches are likely to deliver the best results.

What are the implications for you (and for Ark Advance, for that matter!).

One important implication is that to take advantage of AI, you need to allow for a period of learning.  This will take as long as the amount of lessons your data can provide.   For example a website using AI to optimise its advertising to deliver phone calls will learn faster if the site delivers 1000 a week compared to 10.  

The old adage “garbage in/garbage out” can now be updated to “insufficient data prevents meaningful results” (with apologies to Isaac Asimov). Many Kiwi companies fall down in this area, and if you’re among them, you’ll want to chat with us about how we can help you build volume where currently none exists.  

A second implication is that we humans – Ark Advance included – will have to get used to not being the smartest “machines” on the block. But that doesn’t mean we’re not needed. AI can and does outperform us on many fronts, but humans are still needed to manage the technology and to ask the right questions in the first place.

The lesson here? The future belongs to those who embrace AI without fear, and with a willingness to learn what it does and doesn’t offer. That applies to website optimisation companies and their clients as much as anyone else. Yes, it’s confronting, but it’s exciting too.

Ready?