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Frankly my dear, I don’t gif a damn

We’re living in the age of visual communication. That’s a given. Where we might once have settled for a simple ‘thanks Geoff, see you tomorrow mate’, we now frantically scroll through clips of goats in sunglasses.

You see, the goat says it all. In fact, the goat says so much more!

Hilarious! Geoff will love that. Geoff loves goats…

…probably.

These snippets understand us. They get us. In ways, thousands and thousands and thousands of years of language never could. Go figure.

GIF (short for Graphics Interchange Format) is now a way of life. Incorporated GIF searches are a must for social media platforms, and in September 2018, Giphy, the world’s number one gif website, reported 300 million users a day. What’s more, according to a survey published in Time in 2017, nearly two-thirds of millennials felt that GIFs got across their feelings better than words.

Complex messages expressed in a matter of seconds, does it come as any surprise that we’re hooked? The convenience of it all is too tempting. Why use the many iterations of the English language when Homer Simpson backing slowly into a bush can say it that much better?

In an era of ‘I want it and I want it now’, the pace of the GIF fits into the pace of our times. They’re our new digital dialect. Your joy, your excitement, your sadness, your pain – encapsulated in one little clip. More than words, more than emojis, this is immediate storytelling – entertaining and accessible to everyone, no matter their background.

So, time to get animated?

Maybe. A lot of brands are already using GIFs in their marketing to boost engagement, using it across their social media channels, blog posts, email campaigns and more. Meaning GIFs are no longer merely a bit of bants over the group chat. They’re legitimate tools of engagement that can be used to target your audiences online, and make your business more relatable, more human.

‘It’s all about joining in and entertaining,’ says British journalist and novelist Justin Myers, aka The Guyliner, who has earned a reputation for using GIFs in his online dating columns, ‘they’re almost impossible to misread. A sarcastic tone in a tweet might be misconstrued, but a GIF of Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development rolling her eyes at what you just said doesn’t take the Enigma machine to decipher.’

Take heed, people are using GIFs to convey their own sense of identity, anchoring themselves to TV shows, movies, or even news clips. A short and sweet way of saying ‘hey, this is me’.

So, pay attention. Watch. Enjoy. Get to know your audience. Laugh with them. The conversation is visual.

Image result for obama mic drop gif

Don’t Get Suck in Your Ways

Late last month, we all woke to the news that Apple had dropped another big announcement. Personally, I was hoping they were finally making a battery that didn’t die every three hours. But no. In fact, their announcement turned out to be something much more interesting and thought-provoking.

The announcement was not about a product It was about the brand new services they are rolling out, specifically a news outlet, gaming service, content streaming and the Apple card.

Which is interesting because for so many of us we think about Apple as the creator of awesome (yet expensive) devices, not as a gaming platform. However, that is exactly what Apple want’s to change, and they are not alone.

 

Many of the world’s leading creators of much relied upon pieces of hardware are doing the exact same thing as Apple. Slightly shifting their focus away from the physical products, the toys, towards increasing the features and services that their toys can do. But, why?

Essentially, at its core, it’s because they want to keep us engaged and build a sense of loyalty amongst their customers. And, the way they are achieving this, is by attempting to move everything we do in the digital world into one account, that can be accessed on any of their devices.

One initial reaction to this, great, we are moving away from the days of having to remember several passwords and security questions. But after taking a deeper dive into the announcement and looking at it from a business perspective, it is also a means of boosting customer loyalty, which is at an all-time low.

In today’s environment, customers are notoriously disloyal. They’re always on the look for the latest and greatest products or services that are going to make their lives easy. Which is exactly what these tech giants are attempting to do.

 

Apple doesn’t want you to use your Mac to watch Game of Thrones on Netflix while scrolling the New Zealand Herald on your iPhone. Instead, they want you to watch Oprah’s new talk show while playing games in the Apple arcade. They want to convert you into a fully fledged Apple Fanboy. And, all their competitors are trying to convert you to their side.

While these global brands are playing on whole another level, there are a number of lessons that local businesses can take from their shift in focus.

First things first, we’re not saying products are dead. For businesses that classify themselves as product-based, they are your lifeblood. And, even for us service-based businesses, we still create and offer products. Like Apple, businesses need to keep evolving and looking to create new offerings. The question we are always asking our clients’ and talking about internally is: ‘what’s next?’

 

But how do you answer this? Is there even an answer to this question? For a starting point, look at the numbers. If you are collating the right data and presenting it in the right way, much of what you need to know about your customers is communicated by the data your business produces. The adage “You can’t improve what you can’t measure” comes to mind.

Collecting this data doesn’t require a massive budget or loads of resources like the big brands. It simply requires having the systems in place to collect and interpret your customers and markets data. And, in today’s digital landscape that is easy.

When we look at Apple, they obviously have sophisticated tools to collect data on their customers. Apple knows exactly how many people are using their devices, what they are doing, where they are and while collating all this, in a market that is reaching (or has reached) maturity, they saw growth slowing and understood the need to invent/react. That is exactly what you can do with smart digital platforms and an understanding of your customers.

For many businesses, it all starts with understanding what is in place, and what you need to get this understanding, both internally and externally. A website that has the functionality to follow visitor interaction. From there we are able to build out their online presence to better capture the behaviours and intentions of your target audience. With this insight, you are well positioned to make calculated decisions on your offerings.

 

We are lucky to live in a time where data and information are all around us. Literally, every one of your offerings or platforms produces tangible and useful data. Whether it’s your Facebook page or CRM, data is everywhere. For product-based businesses, this is especially true. Whether you are a full eCommerce store or brick and mortar.

With the right systems in place, you too have the ability to make calculated decisions, like Apple, about the future direction of your offerings.

Who Are You Surrounding Yourself With?

It’s no secret, you are only as good as the team of people you surround yourself with. In business, much like in sport, no one man can carry a team to success. So ask yourself, how do you build a successful team?

Over recent weeks I have found myself listening to a lot of podcasts and interviews from the controversial academic, Jordan Peterson. Now, he is well known for his brutal honesty and unwavering points of view on just about every social issues. One of the many issues he often finds himself debating is the whole ‘left vs. right’ issue and how he believes that in order for society to be prosperous and productive, there needs to be a fine balance between the different points of view.

Before we go any further, just to be sure, we’re not getting into a discussion about politics and the ‘left vs. right’, because that would require a whole magazine, but it has got me thinking about BBT and the different personalities that make up our close-knit team.

 

Coming from a sports background, I’m no stranger to operating as a member of a team and all the cliches that come with them, but looking at it now, those same ideas have carried over into BBT.

A team is a melting pot of different personalities, backgrounds, skill levels and experiences – they are wonderful things. I look around our office and no one is the same. We have alpha personalities, the quieter types, methodical thinkers, people who thrive when the going gets tough and an Australian… But, this melting pot of individuals has allowed us to grow into the agency we are now.

I’m sure we all understand the significance of building your team with a wide array of people. However, what is just as important as building a team with diverse personalities, is the processes and structures you put in place that allow everyone to thrive and utilise their individuality. Here are a few of the practices we implement that allow us to tap into our melting pot.

 

Before we are able to tap into these different personalities, we must create an open and supportive environment that encourages everyone to speak up and voice their opinions. For us, we are at our best when our team is collaborating and where no one person dominates. Sure there will be times where someone needs to take the lead but in most circumstances, everyone has an equal voice.

This is something that will need to come from you as the leader. You will need to actively encourage your team to share their thoughts and ideas. For us, we do this by having weekly meetings where we keep everyone in the loop on projects and what’s coming up. But more importantly, we’ve recently made these meetings less about the work, in order to open the floor up for people to share what they are seeing within the business. The result… we have taken a few massive strides forward and cleaned a few things up, which has allowed our entire team to thrive and focus on being productive instead of battling old processes.

 

Outside of building an environment that gives everyone an equal voice, look at the tools you use around your office, are they holding people back or facilitating productivity? If you find they are hindering your team’s ability to produce results, it is time to switch thing up. Whether you implement dedicated project management tools, such as Asana, or simply ask everyone to keep their calendars updated, try to keep everything as clean as possible to ensure there is no wasted movement due to poor organisation.

 

As we have grown, I have learnt that if BBT is to achieve anything, I need to empower my team to make decisions and trust their instincts. I talk to a lot of business owners about this point and it is something that we all grapple with. However, it is the key to achieving success. We need to remember that our team are the experts in their field, they understand more about front-end developing, Google Analytics or UI/UX design then we do, so we can’t stand in their way. By giving them the freedom to fly, it shows them you trust their abilities and that they have the power to create great things.

 

Lastly, get to know your team outside of the office setting. Remember not everything has to be deadlines and client meetings, get to know what makes them tick, their values and interests. This is not only a great way to show your team you appreciate them but you never know what secret talents you might uncover which could be useful down the line.

 

The people you surround yourself with and how you nurture them will largely determine how successful your business will become. Thus, as business leaders, we must take the time to build the team we need and then empower them to do great things. Because at the end of the day, our team will be the driving force behind our business’ success.

Make 2019 Your Most Productive Year Yet!

It’s that time of year, the post-holiday blues have come and gone, and business is in full swing. The machine is chugging along nicely and we are back to our normal go go go routine. But ask yourself, are you busy or productive?

While they may sound like the exact same thing, they’re not. In fact, they are two completely different things. Being productive is when you are actually doing meaningful work, kicking goals and ticking boxes as you push your business forward. On the other hand, ‘busy’ can mean just about anything.

As I talked about in last months M2, a lot of people throw the word busy around like it is something to be proud of, which it isn’t. When we’re ‘busy’ often time we are just chasing our own tails or trying to catch up on things that have fallen through the cracks.

To avoid getting caught up in this ‘busy’ trap and to set yourself up to achieve good, solid productive work, here are a few things that I fall back on.

Routine, structure and consistency

Three keywords: routine, structure and consistency. I believe they are the cornerstones of being productive and without them, you will be fighting a losing battle.

If you are anything like me, you’re a creature of habit that thrives off routine and structure. Get yourself into the practice of structuring your day in a manner that best suits your working habits. If you know you’re a morning person, schedule your most important tasks for the morning, smash it out and then see to the rest later.

However, the key to a routine is consistency. If you often break routine to go for lunch or check your emails, you will be right back at square one. They say 21-days makes a habit. So, if you are finding it hard to constantly stick to a schedule, challenge yourself for 21-days, I guarantee within a week you will never go back to your old ways.

Is it really worth your time?

Now as business leaders, our to-do list is never-ending, our inbox is always overflowing and someone is always wanting a second of our time. But, do all of these issues require your attention?

Chances are the answer is no. Not everything requires your direct involvement. While it is good to have visibility over what is happening in your business, figure out what is mission critical and what isn’t.

Hand it over

Now that you know what is worth your time and what isn’t, you can start to funnel responsibilities down the chain onto team members who may be better equipped to manage those issues.  

By having the confidence and trust in your key team members to hand over certain day-to-day tasks you’ll be killing two birds with one stone. One, you’ll be able to focus on revenue generating activities that’ll help grow the business. Two, the daily operations will be handled with a higher level of detail and consistency.

Have an agenda

Now, we’ve all been to those meetings where there is no structure and the conversation seems to dart from one place to another. In my experience, these are the meetings where nothing is achieved, they are a waste of time and costly.

To avoid this, get in the habit of distributing an editable meeting agenda to all parties involved. This will provide everyone with a clear outline of what is to be discussed, thus keeping you accountable to ensure everything is covered.

Resulting in no wasted movement and guaranteeing all parties leave with a clear understanding of what’s next.

Always be talking to each other

We’re living in a time where we are more connected than ever before. Between emails, instant messengers, texts, skype calls and any other communication methods you use, nothing should slip through the cracks. But, unfortunately, things do, briefs are misinterpreted, feedback is lacking and office Chinese whispers are common.

To counteract this we need to always be talking to one another, both digitally and face-to-face. In this digital world, nothing beats a good old chat. What can be explained in a short five-minute stand-up meeting, may require a 20-email long chain that requires people to backtrack and look for keywords just to find one sentence, waste of time!

By having regular chats, you will be ensuring everyone involved is on the same page and questions or concerns can be raised. Leaving everyone more time to spend on a project, instead of trying to read between the lines.

While the line between being busy and productive may be fuzzy, in reality, it is night and day. In our experience, these are generally the key areas where people are wasting their time being ‘busy’ when all it takes is a quick adjustment in your actions to become more productive.

Where Did 2018 Go?

Well, that escalated quickly… with about a week left in the 2018 calendar year, I think it’s only fitting to rock back in my seat and reflect on the year that BBT has had. And, honestly, what a year.

Every year, I feel it’s important to take a few moments to reflect and review the year that was. Looking beyond, the full-scale review of our financials, strategic and operational positions, I like to take a step back and really look at what BBT has become.

English author Terry Pratchett once said:

“If you don’t know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going.”

This year, 2018, was a hugely important year for us. It threw a number of curve balls, tried to chew us up and spit us out but we overcame all and are in a much better position because of it. While we have ticked off a number of major milestones, there is still plenty of work to be done and the team and I are already looking ahead to what the new year has in store. But, as Terry said, in order to move forward we must look back. So, let’s look back at an awesome year and celebrate some of our major achievements.

Our first award

Why not start with the most recent news? Over the weekend, Deloitte released their annual Technology Fast 500 Asia Pacific rankings. In the words of Deloitte, this is a list that celebrates and recognises 500 of the regions top companies who are transforming the way business is done. With a roster of companies from China, India, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, the list is jam-packed with innovative companies.

I am proud to say that BBT was named on the 2018 list. This is an amazing achievement, one that recognises all the team’s hard work and dedication to always striving for improvement, always pushing the envelope and never settling.

As a result of making this list, I can safely say that BBT is one of the fast-growing independent digital agencies in the entire region. Although this is a 2018 award, making this list is a reflection of everything we have achieved over the past four years. It is amazing to be a part of this list, but if you’re not first you’re last, and we look forward to challenging ourselves next year to climb even higher!

Being named a part of this list, is really the perfect way to cap off the year. However, there were a number of steps that we took throughout the year which lead to this achievement.

Moving out

Like most of us, there comes a time when you need to move out of mum and dads. In our case, we had outgrown our first home. We needed our own space, we needed to spread our wings and we definitely needed more room for activities.

So, we decided to pack up our bags, bundle together all our belongings and move out of 1 College Hill. Where did we move? Into a flash new space with heaps of room, a table tennis table and a rooftop bar, not bad you say? So where is this new office you ask…

1 Beaumont Street, literally right next door to our old home… All joking aside, our new office is the ideal space for us to take the next step in our journey. We are slowly making this space our own and when we are done with it, Google will be coming to steal our secrets.

We took our OE

Like all young, energetic and passionate Kiwis, we discovered a love for travel. 2018 was the year we took flight and expanded our reach into uncharted waters.

Like many, our first trip was across the ditch where we formed a tight relationship with several new clients up and down the east coast. With friends ranging from Cairns in the tropical north, down to busy Sydney and through to hipster central Melbourne. We’ve got some exciting adventures planned with our favourite Aussies but we also can’t wait to grow our network even further!

Once we got back from the land down under, we jumped on another plane and shot over to the big apple. We were lucky enough to do some fairly substantial work for a company based in the city so sweet they named it twice, New York.

While New Zealand will always be home, there is nothing like travelling, meeting new clients and starting new adventures. We are looking forward to seeing what new opportunities may open up in the new year.

Some fresh new faces

It’s safe to say that the growth we have experienced this year, wouldn’t have been possible without adding a few new faces. It’s amazing to think that four short years ago BBT was a two-man band and now we are a team of 23 spread across our two offices.

2018 saw us bring on eight new teams member. And while there has been learning curves, they have come in, put their heads down, bums up and got shit done!

 

Looking at 2018 as a whole, it feels like this was the year BBT grew up. This feeling has been echoed by many of our veterans and long-term clients, who believe this year was a massive step forward for BBT.

While there is still a lot to achieve and we will never settle, we do need to recognise that BBT is in the best position it has ever been in.

To all our awesome clients, thank you! You are the reason we are doing what we are doing and striving to be better!

So, let’s have a toast to 2018 and celebrate but let’s also look to the year ahead. We believe 2019 is going to be huuuuuge and we can’t wait!

I’ve Looked at Your Company and My First Impression is…

So, you’ve found the article, good to see. Chances are you found it one of two ways. Either you checked out our website and discovered the blog page or you click on the link we shared on social media. Either way, you probably saw the title and thought ‘what the heck does the title mean’.

So, what was your first thought?

Did you come through with the mentality of ‘don’t judge a book by its covers’ or did you judge us the moment you laid eyes on the first thing branded BBT? Let’s be honest, it was probably the latter.

The fact is, people are going to judge everything about your business from the first time they visit your website, read a blog and shake your hand. Rightly or wrongly, these judgements will form their assumptions about the results you can produce, your knowledge and so much more.

But what business owners need to understand is in this digital world, more often than not, first impressions are made anonymously, behind a screen. Which means every single branded platform or offering your company puts out there needs to be squeaky clean, accurate and engaging.

In saying that, how are we doing, you still with us?  

Now as a digital agency, we spend every day striving to improve our client’ digital image and voice, essentially their brand. Whether this is their website, social platforms, search rankings, you name it, if it’s digital we are working on it. So we know what we are talking about.

The idea of a brand is by no means a new one. In reality, the concept is as old as business itself. Although, what is a fairly new idea, is a business’ digital brand and reputation. With consumers being increasingly reliant on the digital space to find and engage with businesses, your digital brand is arguably your business’ most important asset.

But like all aspects of your business, building a solid and credible brand may take some time and elbow grease. However, this can’t be preserved as a burden. So, how you may ask…

Your new shop front

Long gone are the days of people wondering the streets, window shopping before making a purchase. Now people are doing this all online and instead of getting a small snippet from your shop front, they are now getting a full, comprehensive look under the hood. Everything they need to know about your business, products and services, or people is three clicks away. And, honestly, those three clicks may be enough to turn people away.

In fact, 75% of adults admit to making judgements about a companies credibility from their website. This means one thing, do everything you can to create a functional, easy to navigate and attractive website or else! You need to put potential customers at the forefront of any decision you make regarding your website. So, just think, where are your customers visiting from?

In this fast-paced and frantic rat race, we call life, it’s from the palm of their hands. Yep, on smartphones. This means, build your website with this in mind and cut out all the unnecessary pinching, zooming and unreadable print. With roughly 80% of consumers believing a website should perform just as good or even better on a mobile device.

Remember, your website is not for you, it is a revenue making tool that generally sits at the top of your sales funnel. So it isn’t a good look if your website is ugly, difficult and slow.

The social watering hole

You’ve got a Facebook account, maybe you’ve got a LinkedIn, but what do they say about your business? Or, maybe the more important question is, what are others saying!?

Today it feels like everyone is on social media, in New Zealand alone there are over 3.3 million Facebook users. Not bad for a country of just under 5 million. But social media is a double edge sword for most businesses. On one hand, it is an awesome space to connect and engage with customers and build a really strong brand and loyal following. On the other, you can’t hide anything and if something goes wrong or a few people publically complain, it can be ugly.

However, if you are able to actively manage and foster a strong following, it will potentially become your greatest branding tool. If your followers believe in you and stand behind you, they will not be quiet about it. Which will drive more traffic through to your page and onto your website.

The new main shopping strip

We mentioned before that customers are no longer walking down the street window shopping, this isn’t entirely true. We still love to window shop, it’s just the streets are now different.

Search engines are now the streets. And the main shopping strip is Google, which accounts for 72% of global searches. But you may be wondering, how does this affect my brand? Well, if you are ranked highly, or at least on the first page, you drastically increase your chances of being visited, with 92% of searchers picking businesses on the first page.

It’s not easy to get your rankings up there but it’s a fine balancing act between two key elements. Organic search, which is improved by using keywords throughout your website and getting the search engines to trust your platforms. And, paid, which is where you buy advertising space at the top of the search results. In order to get the most out of your search rankings, you will need to be strategic with how you manage the two.

Don’t muck around, your digital brand is impacted by everything you put on the world wide web, it may take a while to build but it only takes a second to ruin. So what are you waiting for starting putting steps in place to strengthen your brand and improve the digital natives first impressions of your business.

It’s Time to Transform!

Digital transformation and automation are currently extremely hot terms in the business world. However, unlike other buzzwords or industry fads, transformation and automation are here to stay and in reality, they will have a massive impact on the success of your business moving forward.

As the world moves into, what some are calling ‘the fourth industrial revolution’, businesses can no longer afford to live in the digital stone age. At the end of the day, businesses should be prepared to undergo some form of transformation to digitalise and automate aspects of their operations.

 

When I talk to client’s about transforming and automating, I often get asked why do they need to do it and what benefits it will bring their business. Most small businesses don’t realise just how simple it really is and how much it can improve their productivity, efficiency and ultimately their bottom-line.

In the world of the digital native, consumers are miles ahead of most Kiwi businesses. The modern day consumer has already undergone their digital transformation, and most businesses are playing catch-up.

Think about it, consumers are constantly looking for easier ways to consume and interact with their favourite brands. Whether it be online shopping, interacting and engaging on social media or downloading an app to be more informed or get from point A to B faster.

 

One of the best examples of digital transformation has occurred throughout the aviation industry, and one of the countries most loved brands is at the forefront. Think about the last time you flew with Air New Zealand, how many staff did you interact with? Chances are very few and in a limited capacity.

Digital technology has shifted the customer experience and can create an almost entirely automated process. There is no longer the need to be at an airport two hours before a domestic flight. We are now able to do everything on our smartphones, check-in, change details, upgrade, board and even order a coffee on the way there.

 

Ultimately, digital transformation boils down to integrating and adopting various digital technologies and programs to improve your current operations so you can provide more value to your customers.

The idea of updating your business’ tried and true practices with new digital technologies may have many business owners running for the door. But in reality, the best place to start is with the basic, time-consuming tasks that may be holding your staff back.

We tell all customers walking down this journey to look at for key areas; customer engagement, business operations, data collection and technology. When combined and leveraged properly, businesses are able to completely revolutionise the way they operate.

We are currently seeing a lot of Kiwi businesses beginning to understand and harness the power of these four pillars independently or in pairs. However, most are still not leveraging all four collectively.

What is the difference between an F1 supercar and the first car you owned (a Toyota Corolla maybe)? They both have an engine, 4 wheels and a steering wheel. The difference is, the F1 utilises the latest technologies and practices, all fine-tuned to perfection, which ensures the car performs to its absolute potential. Integrating technologies has the ability to do the same for your business.

 

Leveraging these digital means will give you the tools you need to build stronger and more meaningful customer relations, solve niggly issues either internally or externally and simplify and streamline your operations.

For most companies, the first place they turn when they start thinking about transformation is externally to their customers. We now have access to countless means of collecting relevant and reliable data from our websites, social platforms and search engines, which if used properly will produce tangible results that can be used to make better-informed decisions moving forward.

However, looking outward doesn’t have to be the first place you look. Shifting the needle can simply start with simplifying and automating your internal systems and processes. Whether you want to shift to a cloud-based infrastructure, internal work tracker and dashboard or internal communications. Automating your internal systems is all about freeing up your key staff, allowing them to focus on their core roles to maximise time undertaking tasks that make a difference to your business.

 

New Zealand businesses now have access to technology and data that has the power to create disruptive change, both internally and externally. As business owners and leaders, we are always looking for the next great innovation that can drive our big ideas and visions forward. We would be missing the greatest innovation if we didn’t capitalise on the tools available to us.

Can Bad Design Impact Your Bottom Line?

Take a second to think, what was the last website you visited or the last app you played around on? Now ask yourself, what was your impression of that platform? What was the functionality like, was the layout attractive and above all else was it easy to navigate and perform the task you wanted?

One last question, how did your experience on that platform make you feel about that brand?

I ask all that, to say this: in today’s digital rat race, a brand is so much more than a flash 3D logo, bright colours and engaging advertising messages.

It’s all well and good to draw people to your website or for them to download your app, but what will they get when they open it up? Hopefully, they will come across a user-friendly interface that not only facilitates the outcome they desire but also provides them with a good experience and a positive perception of your brand.

 

This is where the terms User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) come into their own. Ultimately, they are the principles that govern how online platforms are designed and they should form a massive part of the design and development of your platforms. So don’t forget them!

I bet, you’ve heard of Snapchat and their recent struggles? Snapchat is the photo messaging app that allows people to send photos and videos to friends. Most famous for their themed filters, most notably the dog filter. Don’t act like you haven’t used the dog filter before.

But that is a conversation for another time. Recently, Snapchat redesigned their entire platform, to much outrage. Stocks plummeted, usage hit an all-time low and they had to scramble to fix the issue.

Essentially, the company is in a world of hurt right now because of this ill-fated redesign.

 

Don’t fall victim to the same issue, it is vital your business considers their digital platforms an integral part of their brand. Digital brand reputation is a conversation we have with virtually all of our clients. For us, it’s a huge issue, and it can make or break a company.

The building blocks of a strong digital brand are your UX and UI. Basically, UX refers to the experience someone has while on your platforms. While UI refers to the interface that creates the experience. It’s important, that both of these principles are factored in at the earliest stages of any redesign or a rebranding.

Snapchats issues stemmed from a recent redesign of their app, which they believed people would love. But a Kardashian lead public backlash had other ideas. The updates were originally implemented in order to maximise the monetization of the app through increased advertising potential. However, because the app’s usage took a blow, the revenue from advertisers dried up.

 

Ultimately, UX and UI are a big deal because customers are more likely to engage with a brands digital platform if they like the feel of its interface and if it provides a positive and seamless experience.  

So as a business owner what should you do and how can you ensure you provide a positive online experience for your customers? We tell our clients, keep it simple! We’ve all experienced it, a website that is overcrowded with information (mostly useless and unhelpful), which makes it hard to find the information you want.

Consumers today, are visiting websites or apps because they want a solution to a problem, they don’t necessarily want you. That is why it’s important to make information and advice readily accessible. From there, they will be more likely to engage with you and seek your services to solve their problem.

Your UI should be attractive, simple and easy to navigate. It should also reflect the goals of the customer and of the business. As we mentioned, the goal for many customers is to seek information. Make this information easy to find and most of all straight to the point – don’t waffle. From there you can prompt action, in the form of CTA buttons or links to the next blog or ebook.

Another element of having an effective and simple UI is it will help your SEO ratings. The easier it is to find, the more people that’ll access it. Which will help you rocket up the SEO leaderboard.

 

We use Snapchat as an example because they are currently experiencing the effect of ill-fated decisions regarding their platforms UX/UI. Ultimately, if you take the time to understand the needs and wants of your clients before you design your online platforms, you’ll produce a much better product.

The fact is, we see it all the time and when potential clients come to us, it is one of the first things we talk about: what do your customers want and how can we provide that.

Your Reputation Precedes You

What is reputation to your business? It’s your lifeblood! In the modern digital world of Yelp reviews, movie critics and 5-star Uber ratings, managing your reputation and public image are more important than ever.

They can take decades to build and only take seconds to destroy or in the digital world, one click or one negative post that picks up a bit of steam. We’ve seen it time and time again, high-profile household names brought down by a gesture or practice that went viral, a few negative reviews or a controversial tweet.

But how much do we really know about building a good reputation in the digital age and how do we build it in this somewhat faceless business environment?

How much is your reputation worth?

Firstly, we’ve got to pinpoint exactly how much reputation is worth. Now, like other intangible variables, it can be hard to place a dollar value on.

It’s like trying to put a dollar value on Richie McCaw’s leadership or toughness. All we know is it’s extremely valuable and we suffer when it’s injured or absent.

In a recent survey conducted by leading global PR and communications firm Burson-Marsteller, 95% of CEOs believed that their business’ reputation plays a pivotal role in the success and profitability of their business. However, a tiny 19% had systems and procedures in place that could measure the value of their reputation.

In a world that is driven by data, it’s easier than ever to gather data that can quantify your brands’ reputation. Whether it’s scoping online reviews for keywords, gathering feedback from clients via AI algorithms or simply surveying your online platforms regularly, we have the tools to turn this intangible variable into tangible data.   

If it’s out there, it will be found

Take a second to consider your personal and business’ digital footprint. What is out there about you?

In the past, when reputation was spread through word-of-mouth, negative reviews or feedback could be washed over and forgotten. It may have taken some time but eventually, they would have been replaced.

However, as many people are beginning to realise, nothing goes away in the digital age. We constantly hear about it, a Facebook status or a negative news story published 10-years ago popping up to hinder future progress of a company or individual.

In the majority of cases, the first engagement prospective clients will have with your business will be online. Whether it’s 80% of customers choosing to view a brand or product online before committing to a sale, according to Market Track, or a potential lead or referred client checking your business out online before engaging your services.

As search engines continually seek to optimise our searches by developing algorithms that prioritising the most relevant information at the top of the page. Combined with the fact, the majority of search don’t go past the first page, you better hope the top results are positive customer reviews or value-adding content and not bad press or customer backlash!

How you can build a good reputation

Like all good things, building a good reputation takes time and effort. It’s always best to actively create and maintain the reputation you desire, instead of being reactive and trying to change people’s opinions. As they say, the best defence is an even better offence! Here are a few pieces of wisdom.

Build your digital footprint by publishing relevant and value-adding content across your digital platforms. The best way to do this is to release a regular blog. I’m not talking about a travel blog or a food diary but a blog that’ll provide the reader with real value. Whether it’s industry trends, awesome work you’ve done or team updates. Not only will this help your business be more personable but it’s also the golden ticket in the SEO world. Blogs that are littered with strategically placed keywords can help boost your business to the top of search engines. And as I said, it’s vital positive content is the first thing people see about you online.

Secondly, be honest and be yourself. In today’s society, people can smell a phoney gesture or a meaningless press release from a mile away. Be genuine in your content offering, be yourself. Every business has their own story and tone of voice, use this to your advantage!

Lastly, if you wouldn’t say it, don’t post it! As soon as you press the post or publish button, you’ve lost control of the content, it’s out there and there is no taking it back. Use the 30-minute rule, before you post anything. Write it and then schedule it for 30-minutes later. This will give you time to reevaluate. Don’t release anything in the heat of the moment!

Understand, that your reputation in today’s environment is more important than ever. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t Facebook. We can’t suffer a massive public scandal and then release a new dating app to get back in the good books (maybe one day).

Once your reputation is damaged it can be hard to bounce back. Be proactive in the management of your digital reputation as your reputation truly does precede you.

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Advertising

Two industries have amalgamated and what may not yet be the end of humanity, could be the future of advertising.

Last year, a London based firm launched the world’s first ever artificially intelligent poster campaign which displayed different ads depending on how people reacted to them.

By installing a camera on the posters, they could measure the reaction and engagement of the passersby based on their expression. The adverts changed according to the reaction they provoked. The Darwinian approach to advertising killed off advertisements that did not provoke reaction, and regenerated those that did.

AI has advanced profoundly in a year and now marketers will be able to analyse the most sophisticated tool, the human mind. Machine thinking can mimic how humans think as they delve into the needs, wants and behaviours of the consumer.

Programmatic advertising (search engine marketing) uses algorithms that analyse a visitor’s behavior allowing for real time campaign optimization. New Zealand ad agencies have been able categorize content in order to meet the changing desires of its digital readers. Now AI is able to perform a more accurate categorization of content so that it can be matched with the right reader.

It all lies in AI prediction abilities. Last month, Apple Chief Tim Cook, talked of AI being integrated into Siri and Mail, enhancing their ability to anticipate the consumers next sentence. This machine learning technology can understand the customer as individuals, who they are, what they like and their consumption habits. People are no longer targeted as a group but as an individual.

As well as brands gaining a deeper insight into customer behaviours for targeted advertising, advances in cognitive technology will be able to predict the consumer’s future habits. Conversion prediction is the estimated probability that a consumer will act in a certain way based on their previous habits. It is no longer a case of what ads work but what ad works for whom, at what time and following what behavior. Future behaviours can be predicted based on stirring emotions. Personalised and curated content can be delivered to a customer before they even know they need it.

CamFind allows users to take photos of any object and the visual search technology tells you what it is.  This has the potential to follow the course of semantic advertising in which databases could identify objects within sentences, read and understand grammatical relationships between those objects and then infer relationships between those objects that the computer hasn’t been overtly informed of yet. Marketers can target consumers based on image search as well as images on social media.

This becomes extremely relevant to advertising when it is applied to tagging and categorizing content. The data can also be reciprocated. A creative agency can upload a series of images and text and AI will be able to determine the target audience from the minutest detail.

Creatives can use AI’s machine learning to figure what campaigns work and what combinations they work best in. It has the potential to use algorithms to distribute money towards the most effective marketing campaigns. Entire campaigns can be researched, launched, targeted and evaluated all without the intervention of the human hand.

This is not the end of ad agencies in New Zealand, but a start to an exciting future. AI is more than just advances in data analytics. Businesses need to get on board and build intelligent systems that that will enable them assess a myriad of behaviours of millions of users.

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