Wednesday 22 March 2017

Time to get crafty about being searchable online

Crafters, artists and designers need to link with suppliers and retailers

Yenza, made by a number of craft groups in eThekwini
Arts, crafts and design have huge potential as sustainable income generators across South Africa but in order for this to happen in a meaningful way, our crafters, artists and designers need to be searchable, particularly through mapping services, or products will not be known.

Sustainability, like an African pot, sits on three legs. If you only care about people and planet, without due care for profit, true sustainability is not possible.

Invariably, we ask how can an enterprise do social good, but he reverse question also needs ot be asked - how can what is socially good become an enterprise?

It is popular to talk of finding new models of doing business, of the need for hybrid skill sets and of the importance of change agents.

The reality is, however, that those drawn to the business world do not readily make the transition into the non-profit world, and vice versa.

The profit and non-profit secots require different skills, partiuclarly in relation to business and marketing. Often, fledgling community-based craft organisations whose capacity has been developed by the non-profit sector attemtp income generation through selling "expensive uglies with a tender story".

The market for non-funcitonal handmade products is extremely limited and typically high-end apart from the usual tourist curios. Businesses need to understand what sells before they produce good; in the high-end, commission-only Persian carpet industry, the loom is only strung once the carpet is sold.

Community Foundaitons are relatively new to South Africa and although like others in the non-profit sector, they must fund-raise, they are also grant-makers.

The question that the eThekwini Community Foundation has been asking is: How can crafters take a product to market without any marketing budget? To answer this, we drew together a diverse group of people from the profit, non-profit, academic and government sphere. The interesting initial answer has been: data and mapping.

The world is searching on digital platforms, partiuclarly mobiel phones, for products. In the five largest European economies, 50 percent of internet users access maps online and 35 percent of smartphone users do so through their handsets. In South Africa, home to 60 million cellphones, 65 percent of Google searchers over a weekend come through cellphones.

Unless our crafters, artists and designers are searchable, their products will not be known. On our mobile- first continent, the need for better mapping and mobile go hand-in-hand. However, such mapping or geo-services are considered and intermediate good - they are not valuable in themselves, but enable consumers to engage in other activities.

Yet the economic benefit of such geo-services is high, for at the least they provide a platform which enables transactions to take place.

Mapping goes beyond and immediate benefit of knowing who, where and what; information is needed for us to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources such as the ilala palm, which is harvested from the wild, is slow-growing and increasingly under threat by a burgeoning trade in Zulu hand-woven baskets. such information can help stimulate conservation agriculture and specialisation of skills in that weavers should not also have to harvest hte palms, and procuess them through dying them different colours using other natural resources.

Competition is beneficial for consumers and it increases choice for the producers of high-quality goods.

No enterprise can afford to make decisions that are not data-driven. Data is needed to stimulate our arts, crafts and design creative communities. We must map our artists, crafters and designers, know who they are, where they can be found, what their products are, where these products can be bought, the type, nature and variety of items available, price and quality.

A geo-coded craft database can bring crafters, suppliers of raw materials and retailers into the same virtual space for the first time in this country.

First published on August 24 2014 in the Saturday Star Marketing and Media pages

The Rise of the Social Analyst

Interview with Jordan Enright-Schulz of Adobe

The Rise of the Social Analyst

Adobe Analytics bring out a range of products which enable a sophisticated understanding of your digital data, much of which is currently – and increasingly -  social.

The question that was put to Jordan Enright-Schulz, Product Manager of Adobe Social had to do with the bottom-line, the ROI of having a social analyst on board, particularly within the South African market.

But to put the need for social analysis in perspective, a recent US-based research report by the Social Media Examiner indicated that 88% of marketers surveyed want to know how to measure their social ROI.

While 97% of those marketers said they were embarking on some kind of social media, and 68% said that they did analyse their social media activities, 91% still said they wanted to know what tactics are most effective and a mere 37% said they were able to measure ROI on their efforts.

Historically, social media has been seen as a customer retention exercise, and the fact that most report using it to develop loyal fans (72%) and gain marketplace intelligence (71%) indicates its utility in this regard. At the same time, most intriguingly, the top two benefits seen were increasing exposure (92%) and increasing traffic (88%) – both of which are traditionally related to search marketing. 

So while search marketing has traditionally related to customer acquisition and social marketing to retention, the fact that so many people are sharing links within social media means that these lines are increasingly blurred.
Within South Africa, we have a number of challenges, many relating to connectivity, particularly in a highly price-sensitive market. So, while 41% of the population have some kind of access to internet, only 26% have mobile broadband, and as Justin McCarthy of TBWA points out, the “Obstacle majeure = connectivity".

At the same time, however, working off the premise that, strategically, one needs to plan ahead and look to the future, it is evident that this is a growth market, and certainly Adobe Analytics are interested in South Africa for precisely this reason and mobile in particular is seen as an untapped market.

As Enright-Schulz pointed out, it is evident that social is not paid search, it is not a down-funnel conversion tactic, and it is not new for people to have a common topic of discussion, however, the ability to track what is said over a variety of social media platforms is new, and it is quite apparent that if you are a large company interacting on multiple social media platforms, you need to implement an automated monitoring and media management system that can measure every link you publish and enable you to integrate all this data into one system, together with other measures. Hence, Adobe Social generates social data, automates the process of campaign tracking, enables the analyst to sift through the data, make recommendations, and effectively complete the cycle of collaboration.

For companies that are utilising social media, analysis of this data is key, but questions arise as to who to employ to ensure an adequate ROI, what to look for when making such a hire and whether you undertake such analysis in-house or via a third-party provider. After all, since another recent survey by Forrester Research discovered that while 93% of executives believe digital will disrupt their business in the next year, only 15% think they have the people and skills needed to execute a digital strategy.   

While these suites of software enable you to do the analysis in-house, giving rise to commentators talking about disintermediation, the reality is, analysis is a specialist skill-set. Hence, if analysing your digital data properly is going to become a key differentiator in terms of being able to claim your share of voice in a digital world full of endless content, do you really have that set of skills in-house? how do you find or train someone? or is there always a place for an independent, third-party verifier/s who at the very least, won't share the same biases you do (in terms of the well-known issue of confirmation bias)?

Obviously, a large part of that question will be answered in terms of size of your business and the extent to which your business is dependent on internet marketing. If you are extremely large, you have the budget to throw at business innovation, and dare not be left behind; if you are small and niche, particularly if you have a highly distributed audience (let’s say, like Black Milk) and all your transactions run off the internet, then it is self-evident you need to undertake proper analysis, and probably again bring it in-house.

Enright-Schulz commented that, in the United States, publishers such as Conde Nast have a separate team of people, in-house, who look after their social media, including analytics; this includes a social media manager who looks after each brand, and side-by-side, they run social analysis teams which report through to the marketing and insights department. So while the social manager of Wired, for instance, needs to ensure that what is broadcast is true to the brand voice, the social analyst is able to give insights into which pieces resonated most and with which audiences on what platforms and where. The business model of a publisher is relatively straight-forward in terms of monetising the site and ensuring the maximum number of clicks which relate directly back to your primary web property; for other clients, the business model is not quite as straightforward.

As Enright-Schulz pointed out though, what matters hugely is that, “What you are doing in social absolutely has to align with what the business stands for”.
In other words, your social analyst must truly understand your business. The kind of sophisticated understandings and insights you are requiring in this field mean you don’t simply look for a data nerd, but for someone who truly understands the dynamics and mechanics of social and who has an advanced understanding of analytics, particularly marketing analytics driving your business imperatives. She said there is a natural entry point into digital from those who have worked in database and direct marketing, and many in the US have made this particular transition or addition (since it is clear that the more you can relate the online world to the offline world, the more effective your marketing will be). 
Within the US, while some marketers are still unclear about ROI and social, there are some companies that are clearly defining their ROI in terms of social media, people are being held accountable in terms of their performance in this regard, and there is a clear rise of the social analyst operating within this digital marketing niche. Adobe itself has a social centre of excellence, staffed by social analysts, whose job it is to enable specific products, and again, while you may have someone who looks after the entire range, many are assigned to a single product only.

But while some companies are looking for loyalty and engagement through their social media presence, with a focus on high-value, repeat customers only, others, with a broader reach, would look to see measurements around brand awareness increase.

In other words, on the one hand,  it’s complicated given the multiplicity of various platforms and the fact that you can reach differing audiences with a variety of content in this platforms, on the other hand, it all becomes very simple if you know what your key business imperatives are, and set up your monitoring and reports accordingly.

Kathryn Kure
Data Myna
Tel: +27 (0)31 7645094
Mobile: +27(0)83 252 0992

About Kathryn Kure:

Classically trained at the HSRC in human sciences research and analysis, Kathryn loves to provide practical solutions to real-world problems, particularly if these are at the intersection of  technology, people and marketing. She particularly enjoys analysing what factors hinder or facilitate people in decision-making processes, and what practical implications these has for marketers.  

As an applied researcher who loves bleeding-edge technologies, she has often touted new technologies (and was, for instance, one of the first to use GIS for marketing analyses) and has worked both in marketing research and as a marketer in business innovation. Most recently, she translated her findings on SEO from analysing her blogs using Profile Analytics into success in social media and has over 52 000 followers on Google Plus and over 3.8 views. 

About Data Myna:

Over and above the obvious riff on 'data mining',  the Indian Myna is highly articulate, curious, adaptable, innovative and successfully out-competes other birds in its niche, which Data Myna argues is precisely what you want from your marketing intelligence.

Winning Brands Will Own Customer Journeys

Winning Brands Will Own Customer Journeys

Neil Vose, recent import from London to start-up Quirk in Durban, was asked how South African digital agencies differ from their peers internationally.

He is impressed by the depth of talent in South Africa, but says that companies need to consider digital as more than just an add-on. It’s not about web-site design and marketing a Facebook page, but understanding it’s a new economy with new challenges:

“Your digital strategy should solve business problems. It’s not about the tools; these are freely available, what is needed is to instil a culture of exploration and ideation”.

Neil believes both clients and agencies need to change. Clients need the agencies to demonstrate their expertise and commitment, from investing in heavy-weights on the creative side who can produce big-hitting content pieces, to ensuring they have great data analysis capabilities – which must include team-members who  understand consumer behaviour as well as digital data and analytics.

Companies need to think big, in terms of step-change, and ensure their products and services will still have resonance to customers in the future. However, in South Africa, there’s a sense that the bottom-line is currently healthy, so what’s the issue?

The problem is, new digital and content platforms are driving structural industry change. The iPod and iTunes fundamentally changed the music industry; AirBnB is eating the lunch of the big hotel groups; Uber is transforming taxi services. Companies must anticipate that disruptive new entrants will be able to undermine their current business model, and therefore, must seek to strategise and innovate now.  

Neil’s sense of urgency is palpable: “The business revolution is sooner than we think. Companies need a clear articulation of what digital means to them, their employees and customers. Companies need to set the vision, set the road map, and cascade from there. Marketing is only one aspect of the strategy, it’s not just about demand generation but also about customer service, fulfilment, distribution, and the employee value proposition, amongst others. There need to be key milestones to deciding on a future investment or not. Above all, companies need to be clear about : What are we really selling? How can we engage with people more effectively on a more frequent basis to ensure brand loyalty? While  digital and content can enable ongoing positive relationships with customers, agencies need to go beyond that and become true partners in this process.”

The problem is that this requires a cultural business shift, but at the same time peoples’ behaviours are already changing, driven largely by digital.  With South Africa on the brink of a far greater smartphone penetration, and with a large, young population, companies need to become ready for the future and have a plan. Embracing digital is not about making incremental changes, but about fundamental step-change.

Of course companies must have pride in their current products, but they must also be unafraid to test and learn, be prepared to attain a different level of insight through immersive experiences, and be willing to explore, in detail, what customers need by engaging directly with their journeys. Although strategy must be led by the customer experience, any decisions must be backed up by hard-core data.  Finally, brands need to focus on transformation through understanding that currently, products and services are not evolving in an incremental manner, but that revolutionary step-change is occurring.

As in London, South African agencies need to be given a proper mandate with sufficient time and enough money to make it happen so they can invest in creating small, specialist, but highly diverse mixes of people with the right skill-sets, from technologists, sociologists, psychologists, writers and marketers to economists. These teams must be tasked with coming up with new products and innovations based on an intimate, granular understanding of the customer journey.

Neil hasn’t come across many companies in South Africa undertaking many different trials of different concepts, then scaling the most successful. Instead, many of the new agencies in South Africa sell packages such as social media services, or inexpensive,  agile web-building, or content creation. There’s nothing wrong with what they are doing, but digital strategy can’t be about a one-off project, but about truly understanding the customer journey. So, it’s not just about using a social tool like BrandsEye, which is fantastic, but which talks to the here-and-now, and is used tactically, but over and above that, to ask big questions relating to what the big change opportunities are.

Neil would look to see agencies employing discrete, small, targeted budgets – especially with mobile budgets, learning from them what works and doesn’t, and only then take these to scale.  Walmart and Marks and Spencer, for instance,have created Innovation Labs that are stand-alone with a profit-and-loss.

 In terms of the mistakes he sees South Africans make, he feels that, “People get carried away by fads. Whether it’s Facebook, Snapchat, Wechat, Whatsapp or MXit – using any or all of them may be good from a tactical perspective, but what is the strategic intent? South Africans are investing piecemeal in digital, and not asking themselves: What is the business driver for digital investment?”

He also feels that there needs to be more collaboration within the sector: “The future lies in partnering – recognising where good people are and what they do and where you need to partner with them” and he feels strongly that South Africans could work together more effectively at a sector-wide level. In fact, partners can extend to the customers themselves, HSBC’s Innovation Lab is firmly focused on customers.

While South Africans are providing great value in terms of demand generation, storytelling, brand perception and ensuring share of voice and sales, where the digital space needs to move is to value creation and an increasing focus on what services will be driven by digital – ecommerce, biometrics in retail banking, call in services. The key question must be: “How do we create ongoing value for brands and businesses through digital services?”

Brands want to work with agencies that will help them build a sustainable business; that’s the other revolution, sustainability is important and it’s not just about the sale any more. Of course, sales are necessary, but not sufficient - we have to look to the future, to what are the right products and services, going forward. There is a huge opportunity for both great product creation and developing great services. Digital agencies must think holistically, in terms of what drives human interaction. Marketing has always been a combination of art and science, but we are increasingly seeing hard-core human behavioural science being brought into the mix. Those brands that learn how to own customer journeys will remain or become tomorrow’s winning brands.

Originally published at The Marketing Site.

Copyright and Her Limits Go to the Creative Commons

Copyright and Her Limits Go to the Creative Commons A Play in Two Parts   by Kathryn Kure     This work is licensed under Attribution 4.0 I...