Google is back on the acquisition trail, this time buying up Seattle-based start-up Wavii which specialises in “natural language processing”, a system in which computers interpret how a human communicates. Wavii differentiates its product offering by personalising users news feeds tailored to their chosen themes and interest. Wavii has seeked to customise their users content feeds based by their Facebook profile, but that could now all change.
Wavii also provides Google to establish the search organisation with a market leading "real time search" function to meet the growing global demand for the consumption of news and content. Real-time search has been a missing product of the Google port folio ever since the strategic alliance with Twitter came to an endin 2011 and in doing so provided Twitter with a unique proposition in establishing the social media platform as the platform of choice for users who wish to devour real time information tailored to their interests and news items.
Google's competitors have also been making movement too - Both Facebook and Yahoo have also added to their proposition in satisfying their own users requirements for "real time" information with the launch of Facebook Opengraph and Yahoo acquiring Summly - which allows the user to browse their tailored news items into a concise summary. Apple have also been making movement in real time information with developments to their Siri platform.
Real time new Agency
Wavii provides an opportunity for Google to launch their own real-time news agency - delivering real time news and content to it's users. It provides Google with a level of differentiation from more established and traditional news agencies that depend on a team of journalists and in meeting brand and editorial guidelines before a news piece is released through the wires, thus slowing the process down and lag time.
Google now has a real time alternative with Wavii as it provides a platform to get ground breaking news out to the masses through this partnership, meeting the growing demand for tailored content for a global audience keen to consume data.
Google has the perfect platform to accelerate the growth of Wavii by integrating this platform within Google+ to offer and real-time search function. Google+ is the fastest growing social media platform that also has the insight to tailor data, search trends and shopping habits around it's users.
For any digital marketing strategy or digital communications plan, having a set of objectives and clear strategy behind your plan is essential for the success of what you are looking to achieve. This post focuses on creating an actionable plan around retention, which by definition is maintaining or preserving your existing customer base loyal to your product offering. Retention should be at the heart of your digital strategy in maintaining and building communication with your existing customer base.
Know your audience
Before embarking on your retention strategy, understanding your audience is a key requirement to ensure the chosen retention tactics are in line with your existing customer base - so begin to build up a profile of the type of customer/s that interact with your brand. Retention is about engaging with your existing customer base, so you should already have a wealth of analytical insights on who your customers are, how they interact with your organisation and their purchase patterns.
Key insights to consider when analysing customer data include for a retention plan:
*Search marketing metrics – brand/non-brand search terms, referral sites, bounce rates (based product sections/items)
*Sales – Average Order Value, Repeat purchase rates, Geographical split (UK, rest of world), Most popular products sold, seasonal sales trends
*Channels of interaction with your brand – e.g. Affiliate, Social Media, Search (SEM), Email - and impact in driving existing sales revenues i.e.which channel is most profiable for the business
*Personas - To bring this existing data "to life", think about creating various personas of who your existing customer is. Types of Personas should be built based on the data you've collated such building an age profile, the channel they interact with, level of frequency in visiting your digital platform (website, mobile, app) and frequency of purchase. The Persona also helps the rest of your organisation who the customers are and helps you to get buy-in from across the organisation - for example, here are a few Persona examples for an online sports retailer:
Persona A: Steve is a 28 year old professional who is single and with a high disposable income. He has a keen interest in Football and supports a premiership football team. He likes to display his allegiance to his club by wearing the latest replica shirt as it is launched each new season. Steve is comfortable in ordering online and engaging with social media to keep up to date with the latest football news and football product launches through online forums and partakes in football games e.g. Fantasy Football.
Persona B: Clare and Rob are both 34 year old professionals who are married with two children. Both Children partake in Football lessons at school and are both avid Manchester United and Liverpool supporters, each having favourite footballers in Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard. They both like to show off to their friends with the latest club replica shirts and ask each year for the new football shirt from their parents.
What are the Objectives for your retention strategy?
By bringing together the background and situation of the organisation (Understanding your audience), this content should now provide you with a set of Objectives as to why there is a requirement for a retention plan. To ensure success and buy-in within your business, create your set of retention objectives around the SMART principle, for example:
a) Achieve 25% of existing customers to service their online account within 12 months. This would be defined such as: visiting the site, logging into their online account, making a repeat purchase as a few examples.
b) Drive 30% of existing customers to make a repeat purchase within 6 months through the website
Now begin to define how these objectives will be realised - by identifying which digital marketing tactics you plan to use as a retention technique in meeting the objective of the plan. The chosen tactics should be justified from the findings you uncovered in evaluating your existing customer and how they interact with your brand in section 1.
As an example, here are a list of digital techniques tailored for retention with defined retention measurements linked back to the Objectives laid out earlier in this post:
- Create and optimise content for your existing customer base in order for them to service their existing account through a content plan
- On page optimisation – key on page factors influence on rankings within SERPS so it's essential the content created has been optimised for visibility within search engines through best practise on page techiniques - think about the URL of the page, who the content page is for, heading & image tags as well as internal URLs and how would this page be found through the existing site architecture?
- Product descriptions - Each product on site should include relevant imagery and product information that is unique on site. Ensure the content is tailored to the defined audience from the creation of personas as mentioned in section 1
- Link building – Pro-actively target websites your existing user-base also use. From analysing your site referrers and most effective affiliate websites, this should provide you with a pool of prospects to launch a link building campaign to drive referrals to your site. Also consider your competitor sites - ensure you're providing a level of differentiation and ask the question how is my product offering unique and why would a website link to this content over a competitor?
- Creation of email templates - create and test out multiple email templates to your existing customer base and begin to monitor the effectiveness of your emails - look to segment your customer base and see which segment drives the best performance based on your retention measures e.g. repeat puchase
- Ensure the right email technology is in place - if you're using a 3rd party email software provider, does it provide you with the opportunity to create multiple email templates? the right metric reporting?
- Ensure email lists are data cleansed before commencing a campaign - have you removed and are up to date with existing customers who wish to be unsubscribed? Have you tested out your email success rate in hitting your customer inbox?
- Personalisation: Segmentation of your email audience by product or defined persona group
- Analyse your current database of Social Media followers/fans
- Create an Editorial content plan in place to drive timely content through SM channels - this should be based around the editorial plan mentioned under SEO in defining your content plan
- Ensure you've provided In house training for staff to use SM channels in communicating with customers - SM provides a timely and cost effective channel in providing a real-time customer service channel
- Evaluate current program on commission levels offered compared to competitor programs - are any of your competitor programs incentivising affiliates to drive existing customer purchase and if not, could this be an opportunity for your own channel?
- Analyse trends and performance of your existing affiliate program e.g. what % of sales driven through affiliates are from repeat customers?
- Segment affiliate sites by performance to date
- From your personas, commence a recruitment drive in driving more affiliate websites to sign up to the program that relate to your personas
With the chosen retention techniques in place, it's crucial to measure and monitor the effectiveness of each channel throughout the campaign, so consider setting specific KPI's for each channel. By setting KPI’s, this means each measure can be quantified and used as objectives and provide on-going measurement. The control phase of the report also provides insight into whether the overall objective of the campaign is being met within the set timeframe, e.g. 12 months.
KPI’s per retention channel
Here are a list of suggested retention measurements that could be considered.
- No. of Outbound links generated
- Traffic referral volume
- SERP position for keywords
- Pages viewed per visit
- % of brand & non-brand search terms generated
- No. of in-bound links generated
- No of email sent out
- Segment email lists by existing customers
- Click through rate to website
- Open rate of email campaign sent
- Repeat purchase rate through channel
- No of followers & fans
- Measure engagement through re-tweets, likes
- % of referral traffic through to website
- Volume of content pushed through SM (based on the content plan)
- No. of active affiliates
- Recruitment of new affiliate accounts
- % of total traffic to website
- Repeat purchase rate generated through affiliate channel
- Segmentation of affiliates by level of repeat purchase tomain site
Econsultancy (2012), reported that “attracting a new customer can cost up to five times as much as keeping an existing one”. The retention of the customer lifecycle is the most profitable one where the greatest level of relationship value is experienced so take time and ensure you have a defined strategy in place that listens and builds communication with your existing customer base.
Econsultancy, a digital marketing research and publishing consultancy released the The Modern Marketing Manifesto - a declaration to assist in re-aligning the marketing function of an organisation, merging the more classical traditional marketing skills with the rise in digital approaches within 12 components.
The 12 components are there to assist small/large organisations in what is defined as the modern marketer, the skillsets expected and the type of interaction and collaboration required to ensure the marketing function is focusing on the key areas - it's perhaps a map or set of intructions that should be made aware of within the team. The 12 components focus on: Strategy, Brand, Experience, Data, Digital, Personalisation, Technology, Creative, Content, Multi-Screen, Social & Commercial
I am going to suggest a number 13, which should relate to Skillset - The rise in digital marketing has created a wealth of opportunities in engaging with the customer and disrupting traditional organisational structures.
Introducing a Digital Marketing Framework
A recommended framework could be applied within any business that is looking to recruit and develop their digital marketing team, to make sure they are hiring for the right blend of skills. This was taken from a book called Inbound Marketing by Halligan & Shah, and is called theDARC framework.
- D - Hire Digital Citizens – People that can understand the online environment and can display a working knowledge. It is important your team and individuals can understand digital tactics and can display examples.
- A – Hire for Analytics – Understanding of digital trends and have a curious and analytical approach to what impacts product sales or why there has been an increase in traffic levels to a specific web page. They should also have a good understanding of spread-sheets and be able to interpret trends.
- R – Hire for Web Reach – They can display examples of how passionate they are on a subject area through promoting online, perhaps their hobby or interest through a blog, social media and can display examples of how they have increased traffic to their website or blog using SEO or paid search or retail products through affiliate marketing
- C – Hire Content Creators – The importance of good content on a website can be a key USP over your competition so look to hire someone with good writing skills and more importantly can write for the web to engage with users. The internet has removed the barriers to creating content, anyone can now create content and publish it to the world.
Amazon launched a new feature available for bloggers and news sites to download and feature on their platforms, a 'send to kindle' feature. The feature provides users the opportunity to save online articles and stories for later and view through their Kindle .
This is a savvy move by Amazon, providing the e-tailer with insights into their walled garden of Kindle users and a test-bed in providing key analytical trends in online user behaviour, key insights into how users engage with other websites, blogs and digital platforms and what content is sent to their kindle device. The recent acqusition by Amazon of Goodreads, a social book discovery website, will provide the e-tail giant with a wealth of insights into users personal reading lists.
Here are my thoughts on 5 key reasons on the launch of 'send to kindle'
1) Kindle adoption - An article in Bloomberg Business Week commented that e-books are now a multi-billion dollar industry for Amazon, with year on year growth up 70% (2011 v 2012). With the number of kindle versions available to purchase, adoption for this device is now mainstream and provides a real alternative to the traditional formats of digesting news stories.
2) The growth in social media now accounts for 23% of all time spent online in the UK according to a report by Econsultancy/Ofcom with nearly 10% of news sites' traffic originating from Facebook according to Hitwise. Social Media is becoming a test-bed for anaytics and online user behaviour and Amazon has the perfect platform in interacting and engaging with with this channel.
3) Analytics tool - A key driver is the analytics it will provide Amazon in what users are saving and sending to their kindle devices, helping to help build a profile of every Kindle user. Amazon already knows who owns what device (through registration) and who buys what products (through Kindle store past purchases), but it also can analyse your frequency of purchase, AOV, your interest in what publisher, preference of online news source, frequency of Kindle use and the location of user
What 'send to kindle' provides is real time interest in real time news, stories or comments found online by the user. And most importantly, it knows what other sites users are engaging with, helping Amazon fine tune their products and promotions tailored to your interests. Don't be surprised to see a digital personas created around "send to kindle" user groups (e.g. demographics, age, location, shopping habits, most popular websites viewed).
4) Affiliate sales - Opportunity to drive the Amazon affiliate program by creating partnerships with news/content sites that drive the highest engagement through 'send it kindle' - through analysis, Amazon can begin to segment the key influential websites that help drive engagement of the tool
5) Re-inventing the book publishing industry - In a previous post on my blog, I discussed how the new connected economy is moving us away from the industrial era and at the same time, innovative companies are standing up and re-defining how business was once done within certain industries. Amazon is a good example of one such company who has looked to re-define book publishing with the launch of Domino Project.
The beauty of the Domino Project is that it removes the barriers to entry for so many would-be book publishers - it creates innovation and creativity to lead rather than how you plan to fund the publishing of your book. All are published and can only be bought and read through your Kindle device. Compliment this with 'Send to kindle' and it offers a fantastic opportunity to crowd-source ideas and themes for new projects.
Back in 2012, I wrote a blog post, Time to create your own future - it referred to the gradual cultural change facing our global econonmy, in part due to the recent global recession but also moving away from the Industrial era and moving towards a more globally connected economy - it began to question how many more of us are beginning to change our working culture, how more of us are taking charge of our own destiny, or, even working for organisations, how you can change your mindset to make yourself more indispensible.
In the book Linchpin, Godin refers to a system used by corporations synonymous within the industrial era and a system that still exists today called PERL or Percentage of Easily Replaced Labourers - this phrase refers to how organisations treat their workforce and how easily replaced their workers could be. To make your workforce replaceable had it's benefits:
1) By stamping out creativity, initiative and taking risks, it flushed out your remarkable employees and rather focused on getting as much as your workforce to simply follow instructions, follow a map and not to question the status quo.
2) This in turn increased the company PERL and with it meant you could reduce the cost per employee i.e. the salary levels as everyone become ever more replaceable. Companies that followed this criteria frowned upon: Creativty, initiative and collaboration.
Take the retail industry where a popular "strategic approach" championed by some has been to sell products at the cheapest price possible. To ensure retailer X is selling at the lowest possible price means it needs to cut down as many running costs as possible and that means their workforce i.e. they are really not interested in recruiting creative employees - rather, employees that are easily replaceable and that are not indispensible.
The era of creativity
The realisation millions of people are waking up to as well as thousands of companies is that we now live in a new dawn of an inter-connected economy and globalisation - it is becoming easier and easier to find a cheaper way, a cheaper alternative to race to the bottom. A recent article by Forbes discussed ways in which you can look to recession-proof yourself, in other words tactics to follow to ensure you remain in demand and beneficial to your industry.
Forbes mentions that around 8.4 mn jobs in the US disappeared from Jan 2008 to December 2009. The report also highlighted that: "...a structural change in the workplace that will affect many Americans. While companies’ investments in technology in recent years have complemented the work done by problem-solving creative workers, tools like computers did not replace what they do. Technology expanded their reach. However, that was not the case for workers doing routine jobs that entail following rigid corporate instructions repeatedly. Computers and other tech tools began replacing some of the work they do."
In the field of digital marketing we are all competing on the same, global platform where your competitors are no longer ringfenced by what country you operate in but more on a global level. Gone are the days of having to employ web developers on fixed long term salaries, a quick browse on Elance and I can list my requirement for an iPhone App to be developed. Or wanting to user test my latest website, a usability test can be requested by posting this job on Mechanical Turk, or perhaps you have a presentation to do to your board of directors the next morning but don't have the time to complete it? easy, just outsource it to a design company who will return the finished presentation whilst you sleep.
The world of digital means we all have access to the same tools, tactics, resource and contacts - what sets us apart is how creative you decide to become and whether you decide to create your own map.
An interesting extract by Thomas Friedman, in his book "That Used to be Us" mentions this change in demand for creativity: “As globalization ion and the IT revolution continue to merge, expand, and advance, the more they will destroy the old categories of “developed” and “developing” countries. Going forward, the world increasingly will be divided between high imagination-enabling countries, which encourage and enable the imagination of their people, and low-imagination-enabling countries, which suppress or simply fail to develop their people’s creative capacities and abilities to spark new ideas"
So what is it to be?
Whether you're working for an organisation or freelance, the era of creativity provides the opportunity for us all to appraise our position and maybe change our thoughts and become more indispensible - we all now have access to the same tools, access to the same training and access to the same content - it's up to us to take the initiative and be in charge of our own destiny.
One of the most popular discussions in the world of digital marketing is: "What exactly are recruiters and employers looking for from today's digital marketing professional?"
I've blogged on this subject area a number of times in the past which you can read here and here, So to get a different perspective, I spoke with an exciting Manchester based start-up, Hiring Hub, who operate in the digital marketing recruitment sector - a sector that has grown exponentially due to the demands in specialist skills around digital as more and more companies begin to wake up to the benefits and opportunities digital provides to their organisation.
For this article, I wasn't interested in interviewing yet another, run of the mill digital recruitment company, I wanted to speak with a company that examplifies the traits an individual needs to provide to his/her company in order to stand out, so that's why I chose Hiring Hub a company founded by (another!) Simon Swan and is re-defining the way recruitment works by preparing to rip up the instruction manual and set out a new path to success, creating a niche all by itself.
As you'll find out in the interview below, these are all skills we should all be developing and providing to the organisation you work for or as a freelance consultant. So welcome to Danielle Whitehead from Hiring-Hub
"As my boss passed the desk he told me that he’d just forwarded me an email that was asking whether we would be able to provide an article for someone’s blog. Looking down at my mailbox I noticed that it was in fact true, I did have a new message, and it was from him. After reading it, however, I was extremely puzzled. I thought it was an elaborate joke. The message was from Simon Swan to Simon Swan, requesting Simon Swan to write some material for Simon Swan’s blog.
Now my boss, Simon, is quite prone to eccentricity, and I wouldn’t have put it passed him to make such a request of me. So imagine my surprise when he tells me that it’s not a joke, there just happens to be another Simon Swan in the world (scary thought ay).
The reason I’m telling you this story is that it is very relevant to the topic I’ve been asked to write about today: how can candidates make themselves stand out to employers? (No, I’m not suggesting that jobseekers target employers with the same name as them, but I am saying that this particular sequence of events sparked my interest.)
What do employers require in prospective employees?
Simon Swan, owner of this blog, works in the world of digital marketing, and he said that the desire for this article came from the fact that he gets quite a bit of feedback from recent graduates and people looking to move into the industry wanting to know what is expected from recruiters.
After having made the transition recently, and successfully, myself I can tell you exactly what they want.
What they said they were looking for at interview (ranked in order of importance):
•Above all, someone they can trust. Digital marketing often involves acting as the voice of the company online. Therefore employers have to like and trust your voice. Joining a start-up business also means that employers are under pressure to get the right person the first time round because hiring the wrong person can bust the business. So if you’re putting yourself forward for a job at a start-up you have to be extra-special and very trustworthy.
•Enthusiasm. Joining a start-up business means that you have to be a self-starter too. You have to be able to accept certain amounts of chaos and just get on with the job at hand with no loss of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is also an important catalyst for thinking up great ideas.
•Someone who is not afraid to say what they think. We run a disruptive business, and we want to make innovation a part of our company’s culture. We think disruptive employees are valuable. All employees at Hiring-Hub.com have to do a psychometric test as part of their recruitment process. It measures attitude. (See below.)
•Attitude. One of our most fervent beliefs as employers at Hiring-Hub.com is that we should hire for attitude. Attitude is more important than experience to us. As employers, experience is the one thing that we can give to employees, attitude isn’t. After all, how often do companies fire staff for not having the right attitude?
•Having said that, experience is still important. I think a lot of recent graduates get obsessed with the conundrum of: how can they actually get the experience that employers want if employers don’t give them the opportunity to gain it? Well, the trick is to not wait around for employers to give you the opportunity to learn. Instead, just go ahead and learn the skills you need for yourself. Particularly with digital marketing, there are so many online resources to learn from, and it’s easy to set up your own blog or website to put what you learn into practice. An employer will be super impressed that you took the initiative to do this.
•Self-taught. The ability to self-teach is highly desirable, especially in an industry that is continuously innovating. If you are able to keep picking up skills, without being prompted, then you will have no problem securing work in this industry. It is important to remember that you have to be able to contribute something to the company you are wishing to join. You have to be able to bring something valuable, or new, to the table. That quality makes you desirable.
•Be different. This ties into all of the above points, but still bares saying: dare to be different. Do you know how many dull CVs and cover letters employers get on a daily basis? 10 page resumes of waffle with no point. Your CV and cover letter need to make the employer think “YES PLEASE”... and if you’re looking to join a company as disruptive as mine you’ll need to make it punchy too.
•Thou shalt know that content is king. If you’re trying to get into digital marketing, or are an employer hiring staff within this area, then you ought to know that content is king. Content marketing is the buzz term du jour. Social media, blogging and interacting with people online, particularly in the age of Web 2.0, are must-have skills".
The new year historically marks a seasonal interest in many people looking for a change in career. Experian Hitwise reports that visits to job sites increased by 31% in the first week following the start of the new year, second only to fitness websites, that ever popular new years resolution.
2013 will see an increase in this number due to in part a surge in graduates still looking for a break-through in their chosen career. With less and less graduates opting to take a gap year at an all time low, applications for graduate jobs are conversely at an all time high. It’s been recorded that the number of graduates applying for each job has doubled since 2009 – so how can you differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd?
Digital channels provide the perfect platform for graduates to present their knowledge to prospective employees, Elance, the virtual internet marketplace for freelancers and freelance agencies predicts that in 2013, 1 in 4 university students will find themselves working in online. Access to people's personal profiles are available to everyone and it is becoming the first step for would-be employers or recruiters to check out what you have to offer and to also understand who you are, what you do and how your skills, personality and outlook could benefit their business.
So how can graduates ensure their online profile is maximising their career prospects? Here are 9 ways to maximise your online personal profile
LinkedIn – with over 175 million members worldwide, Linkedin is the social media platform of choice providing the largest professional network. treat it as the 21st century alternative to your age old paper CV with it also providing you with options to connect to colleagues, ask for recommendations on your work, join groups allowing you to stay up to date with latest niche industries and news
Start blogging – What better way to showcase your skills than writing your own content. Today, everyone is a journalist and everyone can get access to a platform to write content like wordpress – a perfect platform to perfect your online writing and creativity and vehicle to connect to other like-minded people whatever your subject area
Industry Forums – Engage with online forums that interest you as part of where you see your career going – Forum contributors are passionate, industry knowledge owners and this is a perfect platform to keep up to date with the latest trends and news as well as help you to engage and build a contact base
Twitter/Facebook – Refine your profile - The majority of us have a personal profile with one or both of these social media platforms but there are many ways to use both channels in a corporate way to engage with authority figures within your industy.
YouTube - How about creating your own video CV and showcase it on YouTube? It’s a platform even professional footballers have turned to in order to get their profile made aware within the transfer market – take previous Manchester United midfielder, Owen Hargreaves who used Youtube to prove his fitness to would-be football clubs
Work for an online start-up – Perhaps the best advice out there is to go and get some real life experience and go work for a start-up. It's all well and good getting your BA Hons degree but so has everyone else nowadays, anyone can recite what various marketing theorists "recommend" you do but that is not going to differentiate yourself. Personally, I'd rather employ someone who has gone out there, knucked down and worked in a small organisation
At an Interview – Should you be successful in making the interview stage but fall at the final hurdle, look for the positives..you have now a contact within the business you interviewed for so why not engage with them to see if there is any part time work you could do or at the very least, ask for some feedback on what areas you should perfect and refine. This type of feedback in invaluable to help contribute and refine your online profile.
CV – Make sure you are using the right keywords, structure your CV to the Job you’re looking for. Gone are the days where you submit a 2 sided A4 CV - in this digital age, you need to ensure you're CV and personal profile on industry social sites like LinkedIN refer to the specific keywords would be recruiters/employers are looking for. Take time out to research potential job ads and ensure you are promoting your profile using similar keywords and phrases.
and if all else fails....
Go Offline and...
Remember to include a call to action via your blog/website/social profile...
The FA will be celebrating their 150 year anniversary in 2013 and will be marking this milestone with a number of initiatives. Celebrations of the 150 years will also want to be shared and celebrated with England fans across the world and one creative way the FA should consider is how they plan to launch the 2013 England football shirt. For every England football fan, the one shirt launch that whets the appetite and succeeds in driving a national media frenzy is the launch of the England football shirt. Manufactured by Umbro since 1954 (and Admiral between 1974 - 1984), the brand will be relinquishing this flagship product to Nike
The launch of the new England shirt is an annual occurence, where the home shirt coincides with a non-tournament year and the away shirt on a tournament year (e.g. World Cup, European Championships). For the 150 year anniversary, it is up to Nike to take up the responsibility of ensuring a successful launch - But will the 150 years celebration in 2013 provide the platform to break from tradition and consider a more unique proposition rather than a price-led strategy?
Time to rethink the launch of the England football shirt
The recent influx of retailers entering the sports retail market (particularly online) has seen the focus shift from a shirt that once encapsulated good design, cutting edge technology and passion being dwarfed by what the lowest RRP is to sell the shirt. A quick browse on Google trends displays a concerning dip in the level of interest for the England shirt focusing on some of the most popular search terms associated with the launch of the shirt e.g. "England shirt", "new england shirt", new england football kit"
The graph above displays the peaks in search traffic which correspond to the annual shirt launch (Feb/March each year). Since 2006 (world cup year) there has been a gradual decline in search trends for the cluster of keywords (apart from a climb in 2009). So why is this?
The concern is more to do with the trend in the low-pricing of the product and with it, a decline in value and aspiration, or even association with the product. With the influx of retailers promoting the shirt the battle surrounds it's price. Not long after the official launch of the shirt, retailers were already discounting the product and into a price war:
It has culminated in a race to the bottom, where the pricing policy being your USP must only mean "how cheap can we go and offer the product to our customers" and with it, damaging the long term reputation and credibility of the national football shirt. The current recession has impacted the sales of official replica shirts with customers moving to purchase unofficial product due to a lower price point shopping at discount retailers. There is an increasing trend in customers preferring to shop for replica shirts through online discount retailers with no official accreditation. But there is another way...
Redefining and recreating the England Football Shirt Launch
Celebrating the 150 years of the FA is the perfect time for the Football Association to re-define and re-create the England shirt to appeal to its supporters. There has been a trend towards ethical and corporate social responsibility, positioning for retailers such as supporting charities through sales of products (Mintel, 2012). More brands are associating and aligning their values to more socially responsive and ethical drivers. Within the football replica market, the majority of competitors focus purely on pricing wars. By focusing on more social responsibility this provides a great opportunity to provide something back to the community and provide compelling story behind launch of the England shirt.
Examples of replica football shirt promotions
Aligning brands and product launches to a more socially responsive attitude is nothing new, and below are a few examples:
Subside Sports a company that prides itself on offering one of the largest collections of football shirts globally ran a promotion with the England shirt in 2009 where they ran a partnership with the Royal British Legion - for every England shirt sold through www.subsidesports.com a donation was made to the British Legion. Subside also printed a poppy on your England shirt and featured a British forces badge.
So there is another way - and perhaps Nike or even the FA could consider aligning together to provide a unique product launch where the England shirt launch provides something back to the nation? Sports manufacturer Puma did exactly this during the build up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa launched an Africa World Cup Unity Shirt -
In partnership with the United Nations, the shirt was worn by all African teams during the World Cup during a tournament game. to quote the press release -
"PUMA unveiled their key fundraising lever, the revolutionary new Africa Unity Kit –the world’s first ‘continental football kit’ designed to be worn by the 12 African football national teams that PUMA sponsors. These include the World Cup qualified teams Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Algeria who are headed to the Africa Cup of Nations’ with hosts Angola and the national teams of Egypt, Mozambique, Togo and Tunisia, as well as non-qualified federations of Senegal, Morocco and Namibia. Puma also sponsors some of the continent’s best players — Samuel Eto’o, Emmanuel Eboué and John Mensah. Profits from the sale of the shirts helped fund biodiversity programs in Africa.
So how about it FA and Nike - It's time to think differently - why not think a little more laterally and creatively when launching the next England football shirt? Why can't the England shirt launch associate a partnership with a charity? or to support national projects - not only is it giving something back, it's encapsulating the 150 years celebration with a socially responsive stance that England fans around the world could associate with.
Whilst Lands End to John O'Groats or LEJOG has become a popular route for cyclists, there have been numerous other modes of transport that have also completed the LEJOG route, notably and more interestingly by a supermarket trolley, scooter, horse drawn carriage, pushing a wheelbarrow, unicycle and the fastest of all, a Phantom jet Fighter. But another mode that can be added is to simply walk the route, and that is exactly what Mark Moxon did in 2003. In 1998 Mark returned from a three-year trip through around the globe and embarked on a series of walks which, apart from LEJOG, walked the length of the London Underground.
Background to Mark and his journey
Back in 2003 I walked from Land's End to John o'Groats, built a website about it, published a book on the subject and watched as more and more people discovered for themselves that walking across a kingdom is a life-changing experience. When I did my walk there was just one web page on the subject and one route book, but now, nearly ten years later, the LEJOG community is positively bouncing along.
If you're interested, check out www.landsendjohnogroats.info, where you can find enough to while away at least one rainy afternoon.
What was your first long-distance walk and how old were you?
I was a bit of a late starter when it came to long-distance walking, but when I got into it, I got into it big. My first proper long-distance walk was in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia when I was 25; I'd met a park ranger while exploring the Pinnacles Desert just north of Perth, and impressed that I'd chosen to explore the desert on foot instead of four-wheel-drive, he invited me on a walk he was planning for a month later, deep in the outback. He didn't manage to find anyone else to join us, so my first long-distance walk was a week-long romp through the most amazing Australian outback, in the company of an experienced park ranger. No wonder I got hooked; I've never looked back.
How many times have you completed the famous end to end?
Just the once – unlike cyclists, most LEJOG walkers (myself included) find that once is enough. That said, there are a few intrepid walkers who have done it both ways – LEJOG and JOGLE – and even if you follow the same route, apparently it feels quite different, as you're looking the other way the second time round. Still, that's not quite enough to make me want to tackle the 1111-mile return journey just yet...
How much training do you do before setting off or are you THAT good to not bother with any?!
Ha! No, I always train a bit, but with a walk as long as LEJOG, the best way to get fit enough to do it is to do it. Just don't bite off more than you can chew in the first few weeks, or it'll hurt!
For my LEJOG, I walked the London Loop with 4 litres of water in my day pack. That seemed to do the job...
Do you have a preferred route to take?
Having only done the walk once, I'm an expert on a thin strip of land from Land's End to John o'Groats, but I have no idea what most of the rest of the country is like, so having an opinion on alternative routes is rather difficult. That said, every LEJOG walker will have opinions on what (s)he liked or disliked on their walk, so for me I'd probably ditch the Cotswold Way in favour of the Severn Way, I'd probably skip a lot of the Pennine Way and head via the Lake District instead, and I'd head straight north from Edinburgh to Inverness rather than taking the long route via Glasgow, the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way. Not that I didn't like the route I took, but there's always room for improvement.
Roughly how many injuries have you had?
If you include blisters, countless. On the last day into John o'Groats, after 90 days on the road, I was still getting new blisters; I'm just unlucky, I guess. However, back in Devon I damaged my heel and had to rest up for 3 or 4 days in Okehampton while the swelling went down. I can highly recommend a few pints of Cornish Knocker as the best antidote to walking injuries. It's a miracle cure-all.
Most scenic part of the LEJOG trip?
For me, I loved the River Severn, but I've always loved river-walking. I know Scotland and the Pennines are classic British beauties, but give me rolling fields and gentle rivers every time.
What’s the hardest part of the trip
The mental challenge of getting up every morning for three months straight, and having to keep on putting one foot in front of the other. Walking is a delight, but even the cheeriest person has off days, and the only way to get through it is to put your head down and get on with it. Then again, it wouldn't be a challenge if it wasn't a challenge, so don't think I'm complaining!
Any recommendations on places to stay along the route?
B&Bs. I started off by camping whenever I could, but after my injury in Devon I ditched the camping equipment and stuck with B&Bs, and apart from a couple, they were all absolutely excellent. Pubs are often a bit crusty and hostels are obviously pretty basic, but B&Bs are brilliant, and those cooked breakfasts were absolutely key in getting me across the country. I hadn't really used many B&Bs before my walk, and I'm a convert.
Any favourite stop-overs?
My favourite was a small village in Pattingham, where the locals in the pub insisted I join them for too many beers. I narrowly escaped being dragged along to an all-night party, which would have scuppered my plans for the next day's walking, but even so I managed to cause a neighbourhood watch alert as me and my scraggly hair stomped back to my isolated B&B in the dark. It resulted in the locals searching the nearby barns for a drunk tramp whom they'd seen trespassing in the area, while all the time it was me. I felt quite flattered to be the centre of attention...
Apart from your walking boots, what other must have essential piece of equipment can you not live without when completing lejog?
Walking poles. My knees aren't the strongest in the world, but walking poles are a brilliant remedy. Yes, they make you look like a bit of a plonker, and I did get a bit tired of the good-natured jokes I'd get in the towns and villages about being a bit far off-piste, but without them i'm not sure my knees would have made it to John o'Groats, so I'm grateful.
Following on from the launch of Bantr v1 in 2011, Football's favorite social website has revealed an upgrade from it's initial launch and now provides a more enriched proposition to a global football / soccer audience. As well as catering for the online user, the game has now been adapted to be compatible with the growing usage of mobile with the roll out of an app on the iPhone. The new and improved onlnie Bantr environment is pitched as a mash-up of Twitter and Facebook-type social media applications bespoke in a football-supporter type environment. Applications include a timeline of football team comments from other supporters, number of followers of your club as well as the opportunity to rate your thoughts on the performance of the manager and players.
From it's initial launch, The UK start-up behind Bantr attracted 15,000 users to the beta testing, this provided a wealth of opportunities to fine tune and user test the game to a well defined target audience. From the extensive usability testing, Bantr delivers not only multi platform gaming but also is equipped to:
- attract a global audience to a global proposition
- allows fans to follow all the teams and matches they care about on one website and app
- aggregates opinion and votes in real-time to show true #FanOpinion on manager approval, player performance and key match incidents.
By adapting the proposition towards social media take-up, this provides Bantr with a USP in differentiating itself within the already competitive "football fan" market - According to IAB report through Econsultancy, 35% of sports fans agree they are more likely to have a positive opinion on sports related brands that they access via social platforms, suggesting Bantr is serving a recognised audience through social.
Secondly, it's necessary to create a global proposition especially when launching into the football sector as Mintel recently reported that the Premier League TV audience current balance only attracts 22% form the UK and Asia now accounting for 35% of the viewing audience and more importantly with the demand for real time updates and news, mobile may well become the platform of choice in meeting this real time demand for news - a perfect position for Bantr to capitalise.
As well as live feeds from matches in 15 global leagues, Bantr brings together fans to discuss and vote on the action and wider issues in the game.
Creating a Bantr account is simple - either by setting up a profile through your Facebook account or entering your email address and password. Once signing in has been completed and you've created your personal profile, you can then choose your favourite football club where you will be re-directed to the team landing page. As well as your chosen club you can also create a favourites list of football teams which you can follow too. Other tools include:
- Timeline - follow a timeline of other supporters of your team/s
- Customised feeds - not only following the Premier League, users can build their own customised feeds e.g. create your own network of clubs like Liverpool, Barca and Exeter City
- Live voting - discuss and vote on the major issues of the game being played in real time, as the game happens
- Competitions- Bantr now includes all 4 English leagues, SPL, FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League Europa and key other key domestic European leagues