Five Digital Marketing Tools You’ll Meet in Heaven & B2B Advice from René Power

Last night René Power joined David Edmundson-Bird and this years Digital Marketing Communication Management Students at Manchester Metropolitan University to talk about the five most important digital marketing tools.

The Five Key Digital Marketing Tools

  • Your Website
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  • PPC (Pay Per Click Marketing)
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing

Your Website

Whilst a lot was discuss over the evening one of the key takeaways for the evening is that whatever else you are doing online, every business needs to have a website at the minimum as the core hub for all online activity. Whilst this may seem obvious its important to remember that your site is about what your customers want and not just what you want. It was mentioned that the age of boring corporate sites is past (or at least it should be!) with bold sites like Apple representing the future of web design as well as more responsive sites for mobile.

SEO

The next key element of any digital marketers arsenal was said to be search engine optimisation to help your website actually get found. A short poll showed that despite the room being filled with marketers over 90% of people still click on organic results before checking out the adverts. René recommended staying away from black hat SEO (spammy and unnattural link building) especially with Google’s recent penguin and panda updates hitting digital marketers hard. Instead marketers should focus on building links through guest posts, social media connections, great content, organic recommendations and a hint of PR.

PPC (& Paid Promotion)

Pay Per Click or PPC was also discussed as being a key tool, especially at times when your company is launching a new product, releasing a whitepaper, or needs to generate extra website traffic based around an event. Although Google obviously claimed the first mention, social networks got a mention here as well with Facebook PPC and LinkedIn being a viable option depending on the product and audience that you are targeting.

Content Marketing

You really got a feel that the section on content marketing could have taken up an event of its own and René’s passion for it clearly shows in his blog posts on Smart Insights and his own blog. Content Marketing allows you to build credibility with your audience, especially when publishing frequently around key topics even if it feels like you occasionally cover the same ground. As long as you focus on creating great content that is useful or entertaining then there was lots of potential for it to help grow any business. The types of content mentioned included blog posts, whitepapers, and slideshows and Hubspot was an example given of a software company doing content marketing really well.

Email Marketing

The last area discussed was database and email marketing although René was keen to point out it was about more than just getting the email. Seth Godin’s book Permission Marketingwas recommended as a great introduction to the way that he thinks about email marketing and much of digital marketing itself. Rather than just getting the optin you need to focus on “turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers” as the subtitle of the book suggests.

Moving Forward With Digital Marketing

It almost goes without saying that the above tools are important for every online marketer, but it’s always really interesting to hear from the perspective of a more experienced marketer. You may also wonder where social media itself comes into all of the above and it was discussed that this was left out of the session on purpose due to a future event being held for the class of DMCM1213. A short Q&A session held after the main presentation touched on how you bring everything together and also how elements of responsive web design and mobile marketing are changing things.

Unfortunately I had to make an early escape but after connecting with René on Twitter I managed to squeeze in a few more questions relating to B2B marketing as this is one of his main specialities as well as the topic of his forthcoming book. You can check out the full Twitter Q&A below…

Overall this was a very well presented event and René Power proved to be both friendly and helpful. If you ever get a chance to see his speak in person, or perhaps check out his new book I would highly recommend it! And if you just want to know more about B2B digital marketing then make sure you check out  his slideshow below…

 

Get My New Bitcoin WordPress Plugin For Free

bitmate 150x150 Get My New Bitcoin WordPress Plugin For FreeYou may or may not have heard of a relatively new digital currency called Bitcoin. It is a protocol generated using the cryptographic skills of some of the smartest minds around. Most importantly it is also decentralised and not controlled by any one country or organisation so it is a genuinely free market. You can think of it as currency for the P2P/Digital generation.

I’ve been tracking the Bitcoin currency since about June of last year and in April this year its value shot up and suddenly people all over the world began getting very interested in it. There are now countless articles singing its praises on sites like ForbesEntrepreneurWired and even mainstream media like CNN and theBBC. Bitcoin is finally starting to get the respect and adoption that is needed for mainstream trading.

It was around this time that I decided I was ready to accept Bitcoins as payment within my business so I began looking for a WordPress plugin that would let me accept Bitcoin. Unfortunately there was nothing more than a few payments systems strung together awkwardly so I had to sign up for a Bitcoin merchant account with a company called BitPay.

Realising the potential I also got to work straight away on a Bitcoin WordPress plugin that would let people accept Bitcoin payments without having to sign up for a Bitcoin merchant account. After all why should you need to get approval to accept a decentralised currency?! I’m not against BitPay in any way but I am for having options.

Since then things have come along leaps and bounds and the Bitcoin payment plugin for WordPress should be ready to launch in about a week. However I wanted to do a little extra for the Bitcoin community so I also released a Bitcoin plugin for WordPress that allows anyone to accept Bitcoin donations from their posts. Every author on your site can set their own unique Bitcoin address in their user profile and a donation button gets added to the bottom of their posts (great way to incentivise guest bloggers too!)

Finally the plugin was accepted into the WordPress repository this week. The link you need to download it and more information are available on the official release site here:

http://bitmate.net/author-donations/

I hope you enjoy using it and if you haven’t yet started with Bitcoin then this could be your opportunity to get started without any extra investment. If you like it, I’d love it if you could rate it 5 stars in the WordPress repository or help spread the word with a Tweet or Facebook mention!

How to Block 0845 Numbers on a Samsung Galaxy

Having a business listing in Google Places can be great in aiding discovery for customers and SEO purposes but it can also open the door for a lot of unethical and unwanted commercial calling. Even if your business isn’t listed you might find that your phone number has been “acquired” elsewhere and you are getting a few too many calls about PPI claims, targeted sales and shirt surveys etc.

Finally I’d had enough and decided that the whole 0845 had to go. Everyone important to speak with is in already in my address book or using a standard British Mobile/Landline so I went to set up. I noticed there weren’t any immediately visible tutorials so I had a tinker and decided to share how its done in case others had the same urge.

How To Block 0845 Numbers On Your Samsung Galaxy Phone 

1. Bring up the Phone screen.

wpid ENIMAGE1370348834641 How to Block 0845 Numbers on a Samsung Galaxy

2. Hit the options button and select Call Settings.

wpid ENIMAGE1370348729570 How to Block 0845 Numbers on a Samsung Galaxy

3. Enter the Call Rejection sub-menu.

wpid Screenshot 2013 06 04 12 36 11 How to Block 0845 Numbers on a Samsung Galaxy

4. Tap the Auto Reject List option.

wpid Screenshot 2013 06 04 12 36 51 How to Block 0845 Numbers on a Samsung Galaxy

5. Hit the Create button.

wpid Screenshot 2013 06 04 12 37 37 How to Block 0845 Numbers on a Samsung Galaxy

6. Enter 0845 in the Number field and select Starts With as the match criteria.

wpid Screenshot 2013 06 04 13 41 37 How to Block 0845 Numbers on a Samsung Galaxy

7. Enjoy the new absence of junk calls and follow the same process for any new number combinations that may become an issue.

wpid Screenshot 2013 06 04 12 38 05 How to Block 0845 Numbers on a Samsung Galaxy

You can also block specific numbers if you want to be a little more precise but it seems just as easy to block the lot unless you know you receive official calls from some 0845 numbers (a few banks and phone companies use these legitimately). Hope you’ve found this helpful!

Bonus Tip: Save money calling these types of numbers and more at SayNoTo0870.com

10 Year WordPress Anniversary

Happy 10th Birthday #WordPress! Or is it an anniversary?

thanks for awesome wordpress 10 Year WordPress Anniversary

If you use WordPress for business or even just keep a personal blog but and you have the chance to attend a WordPress Meetup they really are a great way to start getting involved with the community and I’m sure there will be a lot of cool people out today!

Themes from The Next Web Conference 2013 – #TNW2013

The Next Web Conference held annually in Amsterdam (although branching out later in the year) is one of the biggest European gathering of entrepreneurial minds and start-ups in the tech scene. This year was no different and there were appearances from many famous & soon-to-be famous techpreneurs, some really interesting new startups and even an appearance from Willem-Alexander, the new King of The Netherlands.

It kicked off with a bang and The Next Web Conference co-founder @Boris explained how there is never a set theme for the conference but rather themes tend to emerge from the featured presenters. Whilst there is still no official word on what the themes of the conference were, several became apparent to me throughout the keynotes and I will touch on these throughout…

Seven Key Themes from The Next Web Conference 2013

Quantified Self Movement & Wearable Devices

There is a lot of talk about how wearable computing will allow for frictionless data collection to build up a knowledge base around personal data. This has already been seen on a smaller scale with devices such as the Nike Fuel Band and the little known Memoto however with devices such as Google Glass and the rumoured Apple iWatch hitting the consumer market over the next year there is set to be an explosion in the popularity of wearable computer devices and as many as 100 million wearable devices sold annually by 2016. It is predicted that soon data chips and sensors will be so cheap that the cost of including them in a product becomes effectively zero, meaning you may find them in many more consumer goods than you might expect as they become like the LED clocks put into pretty much every electrical device and all white goods in the 80s and 90s.

Human/Machine Partnerships for Decision Making

Whilst artificial intelligence isn’t quite at the stage that it can be fully trusted to offer the informed judgement of a human, it can still rapidly collect lots of information and present it in a useful way so that users can interact and make the final call. In some cases these devices are expected to learn from our input in a similar fashion to the way that you can select default computer applications and settings. This should allow for much more efficient use of the deluge of data that is being collected by so many devices.

The Loyalty Revolution & Data Driven Marketing

As businesses start to collect more data about their users and integrate their various data sources there will be much more known about he consumer automatically. If you frequent visit a coffee shop in London and then you fly to New York and get a coffee in the same brand of coffee shop, they will be able to know that you are a regular customer and potentially even learn about your preferences and cater to them. This can be especially powerful in big-ticket service offerings however it will soon easily be utilised by everyone down to the new brand with just two stores.

The Power of Social Media

An important shift to understand about consumers is that your highest spending customers are no longer necessarily the most important for long-term business success. Often times your most vocal customers can have a bigger impact on your bottom line so if you can ensure that you go the extra mile in your service and then amplify their output. This trend may lead to social media CRMs that link customer data with publicly available social information so you can effectively track mentions of a brand. As an example some wineries already offer users on Instagram a more visual tour than those who are simply there for the wine tasting.

The Evolution of Social Publishing

Within the world of online publishing brands like The Huffington Post are starting to realise that the social element is just as important as the premium content. For that reason comments appear front and centre to get full attention and encourage interaction even as users engage with the content. This emphasises the need for live updating pages that don’t refresh for every interaction especially where content such as video is being presented.

Exploiting the Media Game

Ryan Holiday spoke of how easy it is to abuse the media desire for information by using sites such as HARO to get mentions in the press. In many cases it could even prove to be more beneficial than a traditional press release by acting as a Trojan horse for product advertising. To take advantage of the system you should create a story that generate fear, anger or excitement and most importantly that actually features your product as part of the story to ensure its inclusion. The media are hungry and don’t have time for fact checking in many cases. However on the other side of the equation it is important to consider whether we actually want things like this to be possible and whether we should be doing more to present and protect transparent journalism that isn’t simply based on pageviews and ad impressions.

DiSSS: A Framework for Accelerated Learning

This is Tim Ferriss’s model for accelerated learning and becoming world-class in almost anything you want to achieve. It’s important to note that he classes being world class as being within the top 5% of people in a field. This means of any 100 people trying something you would perform within the top 5, however you would still potentially suck if going up against a real professional in a field sitting within the top 1%. When applied to business this model and its weakness suggests if you are going to hit a market where you are still learning it’s important to adopt a blue ocean strategy or hit a niche market if you want to gain prominence and become a leader within your market.

Deconstruct – Take out all obstacles for first five sessions of starting anything new to give yourself the biggest chance of developing a habit.
Selection – Keep in mind the pareto principle ak.a. the 80/20 rule and attempt to focus on the 20% of things that will give you the biggest/fastest results. You can even completely remove certain elements to simplify the process.
Sequencing – If you don’t have to learn skills in a certain sequence then try to play around with the order, just because you are taught in a certain sequence doesn’t make it the right one.  / Remove elements
Stakes – If you really want to succeed with something then you need to fully commit with accountability in place. Hold money with a friend or use services like Stickk to encourage long-term commitment.

A final note…

Many of the themes discussed at The Next Web Conference 2013 seem to tie into the idea of a Converged Web where data on the web is structured and integrates seamlessly with various devices, analytics platforms and personalised portals. Another way to think of this can be seen in this tweet…

 

A Photographic Journey Through The Next Web Conference 2013

Visual Notes from The Next Web Conference 2013

A nice touch throughout the conference were these visual notes projected onto the main screen of the stage after every keynote summarising the discussions. I got a few photos however this slideshow from the creator is a little more comprehensive.

The Converged Web: The Internet’s Next Wave?

the converged web The Converged Web: The Internet’s Next Wave?Whilst browsing the blog of John Saddington, an entrepreneur I recently backed on Kickstarter and co-creator of the Standard Theme, I came across an interesting question. His post described the history of the Internet in waves and pondered what the fifth wave might be…

The history of the internet can be summed up easily into four different stages, or waves:

  1. Directory
  2. Search
  3. Social
  4. Mobile

First it is important to set the situation in which we find ourselves. In recent years the leading platforms have developed powerful APIs, HTML5 has brought advanced capabilities to the standard browser, cloud computing and SaaS have begun to replace traditional software, and websites are beginning to add microdata behind the scenes to categorise and structure content within a webpage. When combined with the fact that many consumers are now using the Internet across multiple devices throughout the day including; desktops. laptops, mobile, TVs and with wearable devices, such as the smart watch andGoogle Glass, set to explode there is a lot of fragmentation and standardisation occurring simultaneously.

Whilst I definitely don’t have all the answers I think that these factors will mean that the next wave will be something that I call The Converged Web. Just as content management systems like WordPress allowed publishers to hold a central database of all the content and unique information whilst allowing themes and front end systems to control the output, The Converged Web is based upon people controlling their unique digital identities on the web that can connect with a multitude of services no matter what device they are accessed from and the final output is optimised appropriately for the access device. As interaction is linked to a core digital identity the experience becomes persistent allowing people to jump from device to device and slip in exactly where they left off.

There will inevitably be privacy and security hurdles to cross as consumers adapt to using a single identity across multiple services and products. However the seeds have already been planted with the likes of Facebook and the open graphintegrations using a single accountable identity, services like DropBox and Evernote mirroring the thoughts and files of  millions of people around the globe and even databases where consumers are paying to host DNA data.

One topic that gets a lot more attention now than a true converged web is that of augmented reality (AR), however another possibility is that AR and wearable computing could actually act as the catalysts for the converged web as people realise that focusing on a single platform, device, or solution in isolation is no longer recommend or even feasible in some cases.

The Converged Web is a big step and there will undoubtedly be a lot of competition for controlling the devices and identity systems that hook into this converged web. The level of inter-connectivity and standardisation that will be required will likely mean that the winner(s) will likely be someone who already has strengths in managing identities but for consumer acceptance it is likely there will be some level of competition and openness in the standards.

For an entrepreneur approaching the converged web I can imagine opportunities in creating unique ways of presenting and manipulating data and content from mixed sources, smart behavioural advertising and security/privacy solutions for enterprise and general consumers to protect data amongst others.

I’d love to hear other opinions on The Converged Web; How long till it gets here (if it arrives at all!)? Who do you think will come out on top? Who will lose out? Where are the opportunities? Or perhaps you expect something entirely different?

NFC Lifehack: Tracking Your Offline Personal Expenses With An NFC Wallet

Whilst recently working on a mobile marketing research paper I ended up drinking all too much coffee and ordering a box ofNFC tags from RapidNFC in the early hours of one morning. Today, almost a month to the day after first putting them to use in my dissertation I have found a use to actually start integrating them with my life. So without further ado; the first of these nifty NFC tricks is my very own…

NFC Wallet Expense Tracker

NFC Enabled Wallet NFC Lifehack: Tracking Your Offline Personal Expenses With An NFC Wallet

Now unfortunately this thing isn’t magic enough to simply detect the money that the money has left however it does provide a simple way for me to scan my wallet with my phone and easily input expenses on the go. The NFC tag sits snugly inside a back sleeve and initial tests with my Samsung S3 have shown that it can even scan when the tag is inside the wallet.

So what happens when you scan the NFC tag I hear you ask…

Well right now it takes the phone to a very crude form created using Google Forms (shown below) that allows me to input the essential data whilst Google date and timestamps the inputs for me when I hit ‘Submit’ and that is all it takes. From here a spreadsheet is generated behind the scenes that allows for reviewing and manipulating the data at a later time on my laptop or pretty much any web device.

LifeTracker NFC Lifehack: Tracking Your Offline Personal Expenses With An NFC Wallet

Over time as I’m spending real money, with the tag as a constant reminder to input my expenses, I expect to build a full profile of exactly what I spend that is also categorised for easier analysis. With a few custom formulas I can see how much I’ve spent in total, I can break it down to the last day, week, month or year and can even narrow it down to see how much I’m spending in each category so if something seems to be going overboard I can keep note.

The Future of the NFC Wallet Expense Tracker

I put this together for myself and I’m sure as I use it more I’ll come up with some more interesting ways to use it. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t occur to me after making this that there might actually be interest in a commercial version of something like this however for now, it is just me and my money management :)

The First NFC Enabled Dissertation on Mobile Marketing

mobile marketing dissertation The First NFC Enabled Dissertation on Mobile Marketing

So that is the title I hope to have claimed with my latest project! Over the past few weeks and months I’ve been locked away at university researching Mobile Marketing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Late one night whilst browsing the NFC research I discovered that NFC tags were relatively cheap and in my caffeine induced state I decided that regardless of the results of my research results I was going to create the first NFC enabled dissertation linked to the mobile web.

What does NFC mean? NFC (Near Field Communications) is a technology that has been around for a while and is starting to pick up steam with mobile marketers as it allows small bits of data such as web URLs and contact details to be transferred just by swiping the mobile device over an NFC tag which can be as small as a sticker.

Unfortunately the results of my research were that NFC is far too early for the majority of brands to pick up although there arealready some companies doing fun stuff with it. Consider my NFC enabled mobile marketing dissertation my contribution to its development as a communications channel.

In fact the results showed that it was the mobile web that was having the biggest impact in the small business world, more so than traditional mobile channels such as SMS which might surprise some. Whilst I won’t make you endure the full dissertation at over 100 pages including appendices and far too much academic talk, I got permission to share the executive summary so if you’re interested in taking a peek you can find it here (or on the other side of the QR Code/NFC tag if you got your hands on a hard copy!).

12,000 words later the beast is done and its time to take my findings out in to the wild. If all goes to plan I’ll be publishing more research on mobile and digital marketing in general in the near future so make sure you bookmark this blog or follow me onTwitter or Google+.