5 Ways to Navigate the Digital Landscape

The digital landscape is constantly changing. Make sure you're on top of the trends and shifts in online advertising, safely and positively for your brand. 

One of the biggest challenges for New Zealand businesses - whether it’s corporations or SMEs - is a fragmented media environment. This fragmentation - the explosive growth of social media and internet advertising leading a shift away from traditional marketing techniques and an audience that consumes content across multiple channels at any given time - has created a head spinning array of options for the modern day marketer. 

Having a digital presence is now more important than ever and knowing where to start, and how to start, is vital to the success of building your brand online. A powerful and effective online presence will connect you with key audiences, delivering the right message at the time and giving you the opportunity for an increasingly flexible and much shorter marketing to purchase loop. 

1) Understand the importance of e-commerce.

E-commerce is on a continuous upward trend among New Zealanders. Fifty-seven percent of Kiwis say they’re purchased an average of 11 items online in the past 12 months*. This is coupled with large growth in Internet usage, with an average of 3.3 million Kiwis online every week, spending 2.15 hours a day browsing**. 

A user friendly website is crucial to successful e-commerce. It will be a main touch point for your brand and with 68% of Kiwis researching products online~, optimising your position on search engines will be a powerful part of your strategy. 

Using analytics to gather data will help you shape and evolve your platform to better serve your audience. It’ll show you where they’re coming from, which products and pages they’re looking at, and will give you a clear idea of what’s happening across your platform. 

Used effectively e-commerce can be as powerful as a brick and mortar store on the high street. Increasingly, high priced consumer goods - such as travel and electronics - are becoming popular among online shoppers and the Internet has become a popular resource for consumers to research brands before purchase, meaning they see brands online before they see them in store. 

2)  Utilise Social Media

By its very nature social media is a conversation, a two way street. While giving your audience direct access to you, it gives you access to your audience. In real time you’re able to see and gauge how your consumers feel about your products, the experience you offer and how you can get them to work for you - advertising your product to their social circles online and offline, giving you the opportunity for valuable word of mouth advertising. 

Carefully pick the channels that will allow your brand to connect and to thrive, understand the difference between Instagram and Facebook. 

This is the simplest way to think about where your brand should be: If you’re a brand that’s in the moment, look to Twitter, if you’re a brand that’s heavily visual then Instagram could be the place for you or if your brand is about building communities look to Neighbourly or Facebook. 

 3) Understanding online advertising 

Gone are the days where you’d put a billboard on a main street and hope it reached your audience. Online advertising has given businesses the ability to speak to the people they want to speak to. You can now target an audience by demographic - age, income, hobbies - and their location with a plethora of advertising techniques; sponsored content, native advertising, display advertising and video. 

Being able to target an audience so specifically is an important aspect and benefit of online advertising. Across social media users offer up data about their true identities, interests and life events for free and it’s all data that can be used to target and reach your audience. 

Once you’ve chosen the best type of advertising for your brand the next step is ad scheduling and budget. Online advertising allows greater scheduling and budget control than traditional advertising across print, radio or TV. Whether you’re a corporate or an SME you have access to the full array of online advertising options, allowing you to utilise Google Adwords or advertising specific to social media platforms, and popular websites - such as Stuff.co.nz - regardless of the size of your budget. 

4) Be mobile friendly 

No other medium in the history of technology has been so personal, so powerful, or so disruptive to consumers’ day-to-day lives. Seventy percent of New Zealanders own a smartphone^^. Much like social media, mobile provides a constant touch point for your brand.

When considering a mobile strategy, key things to be aware of are: 

a) The capacity to load on different devices and browsers. A responsive web design that functions on mobile is the safety net between you and a bad experience - if someone can’t use your website the first time they visit, chances are they won’t be back. 

b) Your online store and check out process need to be effective and useful on mobile. 

C) Consider a custom mobile app. Ninety percent of time spent on mobile is spent on apps and last year, app usage surpassed TV as the medium people spend most of their time on^. 

5) The power of video content 

Video should be an integral part of your content marketing plan. It has a long shelf life and it’s exploding in popularity across desktop and mobile. Ten to fifteen second video pre-rolls are an effective way of advertising, they capture attention at the start of on-demand content.  

The diversity of video means it can go beyond it’s advertising capability and is useful for sharing content and as part of your distribution channels. It’s a powerful way of engaging your audience and leaving a lasting impression that will help put you as their top choice during the decision making process. 

Some pointers to consider: 

Have a goal and clear message in mind and ask yourself, what is your objective? 
Ideal video length for an advertisement is no more than 30 secs, as viewers recall only the first 10-15 secs of a video.

The first 5-10 secs are the crucial phase of your video content, make sure that this is impactful and will make viewers watch to the end.

Metrics - how will you measure engagement? - consider play rate (% of people who click play), watch rate (also known as engagement rate), Conversion rate (winning real business), Social Shares (number of times it's been shared on any given social media network)

Boyd Warren

Boyd Warren has been in the media industry for 13 years and has worked across most roles in newspaper and magazine sales. Prior to entering the media industry Boyd was an entrepreneur who pioneered several eCommerce and technology businesses. Boyd's media career developed alongside the growth of new digital channels and platforms; he is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable people in Fairfax Media's digital marketing team.

*Sources: Nielsen CMI Fused Q2 15 - Q1 16 June 16 TV/Online AP15+
**Sources: Nielsen NZ Media Trends 2015
^ Source: Flurry Netmarketshare Note US Jun 2015
^^ Source: NZ Business 2016
~ Source: Neilson.com The Why Behind The Online Buy