Simon Swan Digital Marketing & LEJOG Cyclist


SOSTAC Digital Marketing Guide: Objectives

2.0 Situation Analysis

Using the SOSTAC framework (created in the 1990's by writer and speaker PR Smith), stage 2 of your digital marketing planning framework is focusing on the Objective of your strategy. Stage 1 looked at the situation analysis which provided an overview for your organisation, specifically: who you are, what you do and how you interact and trade online by addressing internal and external factors impacting your business.

To help create your objectives, I recommend you use two guides to help to create both measureable and realistic goals to achieve for your digital marketing strategy, focusing on the 5 S's and ensuring you make each objective SMART.

The 5 S's refer to: Sell, Serve, Speak, Save and Sizzle - in more detail, check out this post by Smart Insights where they define the 5 S's relating to online fashion retailer, ASOS. From defining your objective as relating to the 5 S's, to make it measurable, it is important to turn each objective into a SMART objective, which is defined as:

Specific - Are you focusing enough on a specific issue or challenge within the organisation? 

Measureable - How do you plan to assess the performance? Will it be monitored through quantitative or qualitative analysis for example?

Actionable - Will it assist in improving performance if achieved?

Relevant - Is the issue to be addressed within the domain of the digital marketing team? 

Time-Related - Have you set a specific time period?

In digital marketing, there are a number of different SMART objectives that can be set for example, lead generation, acquisition or engagement or retention. For example, if we revisit the retailer we used to create the Situation Analysis, we can create the following objectives that have been created to follow the SMART formula:

Objective 1) Engagement: –   Achieve 50% of existing customers to service their online account by July 2015.

Objective 2) Acquisition: –  Increase brand visibility within from April 2014 through to July 11th 2015. To be measured through Google analytics.

Objective 3) Engagement: –Increase email frequency from one email per quarter to one email per week from May 1st 2014 through to July 2014. 

You have now created a series of SMART objectives which tie into the situation analysis defined in the previous post. In the next section, Strategy, we will look into how the objectives will be achieved within the defined time period that feeds into the SOSTAC digital marketing plan


Digital strategy – How to create an uncontested market place

A number of well recognised brands have disappeared over the last few years such as Blockbuster, Woolworths, Compaq, Republic and Jessops - all recognised brands who at one stage were market leaders. So what's the common thread of these well-established traditional retailers not managing to re-invent themselves as a digital brand?

  • "Dont find customers for your products, find products for your customers" - putting the customer at the centre of the conversation by interacting, engaging and using their feedback to steer new opportunities to satisfy and delight users (e.g. Threadless, Apple, 37Signals). The removal of the "us v them" mentality and building one to one communication with their customers through the use of social media.
  • Digital disruption - Start-ups who were prepared to take on the big brands and re-invent traditional markets by eliminating running costs, reducing value chains and doing with out bureaucratic systems and red tape that hinder large corporations in reacting to a new competitor - here's a great video of a small start-up re-writing the rules for bicycle industry

Moving traditional companies to embrace the digital age requires a cultural shift within an organisation and what your brand stands for to a digital audience. Where brand loyalty was once a successful ingredient towards brand survival, this has been replaced by an impatient digital audience expecting to be delighted by brands that create remarkable products and services and they frankly don't care if the brand is well establised or not.

So how can brands re-position their proposition in a digital world? What differentiates their product or service? And are they listening to their audience?

Blue Ocean Strategy

Brands need to consider embracing the Blue Ocean strategy which is defined as creating an untapped market place. Created by W. Chan. Kim and Renee Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy suggests an organisation should look to create a new demand in an uncontested market space. The opposite to the Blue Ocean is the Red Ocean, which is where the existing competition is fighting it out for market share with one another as explained below.


Source - Adapted from:

By creating an uncontested market space, a Blue Ocean provides you with the opportunity to create a new demand for your product or service from an untapped customer base and at the same time delight your existing customers. To put this into context, here are two brands that have successfully introduced this strategy, Starbucks and Threadless. 

Example 1:  Starbucks -  The largest coffee house in the world, was operating in a highly competitive market place and needed to re-define its proposition to its consumer base.

By turning the idea of  having a cup of coffee into a "way of life" by  redefining how customers can enjoy a Starbucks experience through the coffee shop environment, introducing music and wi-fi in a relaxed setting the company established a new market space which other coffee chains ignored (or are now trying to replicate). 

Below is a value curve which helps to create an uncontested market place (blue ocean). The curve lists the common factors competitors all compete on (ranking these from low to high importance):


Source - Adapted from:

Traditionally, the key factors coffee chains compete on are namely: price, quality, availability & location of the stores. Starbucks saw the opportunity to create new factors  that none of its competitors were doing which were:

  • Variety - It's not just about coffee, Starbucks have introduced a number of different products and drinks that cater for a wider audience which can be enjoyed in a social setting where customers can read, relax and socialise
  • Customer Service - Starbucks focused on recruiting employees that were well trained and benefited directly from the organisations success thereby delighting cutomers
  • Brand Aspiration - Accelerated Starbucks to become a global brand that created an aspirational brand which customers wanted to experience and became a "day-out" experience in meeting friends.

As you can see, variety, customer service and Brand aspiration were not factors considered by the competition, hence providing Starbucks with a route to differentiation and regard these factors as highly valued to the organisation.

Example 2 - Threadless

In the digital  landscape, Blue Ocean has a significant part to play in providing brands to re-think their proposition and re-consider their value to the end user. It helps to provide a platform to engage with your customers and to re-appraise where the competition is currently residing (red ocean) and where the opportunity is to create an uncontested market place. A company that's done exactly this in the competitive T-shirt market is Threadless

Threadless put their customers at the centre of their planning and it's proven to be their USP in creating an uncontested market. If we create a value curve for the T-shirt market, the key factors every organisation competes on are generally: Product Range, Product Size, Price Point, Delivery, Screen Printing & Digital Marketing channels



Competitors have been put into one generic category and are listed in blue. Due to the competitive nature of the sector, price-point for many is where the competition is and is seen as highly important.

Likewise with Starbucks, Threadless saw an opportunity to create new factors in delivering an uncontested market place.

Community - By interacting with their userbase they set about creating an online community which is at the heart of the organisation and at the same time, has resurrected the idea of Brand loyalty through introducing crowdsourcing as a key principle by following some simple principles:

  • All T-shirt designs are created by the Threadless online community. Anyone can design a T-shirt and submit for approval. to understand what should go into production, new designs are then put to a public vote where users can vote if they would buy the design or not
  • The designer who has their work printed onto T-shirts then receives a cash reward - thereby incentivising the artist wiht the brand.
  • It's a perfect example of the famous phrase: "Dont find customers for your products, find products for your customers" .

Partnerships - Promoting the value with global organisations to assist in making a difference such as their work with UNICEF

Blue Ocean provides a digital strategy to completely re-define how an organisation is positioned and defined in any market by thinking more laterally and re-appraising how to differentiate the organisation from the competition to open up and create new markets.

Ok, to do this does require a cultural shift, perhaps a change in focus and a willingness to re-appraise how your business interacts with customers (e.g. are they at the centre of your planning and are you listening to them?) Digital is re-writing how business is done, who succeeds and who doesn't and how agile an organisation is in the face of new entrants to a market. It sounds to me by creating an uncontested market place, where your business can define and own seems a logical step to make.

Thank you for taking the time to read my Digital Marketing Blog. I hope you've found it interesting and feel free to post your thoughts and comments. Find more of my digital marketing blog posts here


SOSTAC digital marketing guide: Situation Analysis

1.0 Situation Analysis

Using the SOSTAC framework (created in the 1990's by writer and speaker PR Smith), stage 1 of implementing this digital marketing planning framework is setting out the situation analysis. The situation should provide an overview of your organisation - who you are, what you do and how you interact and trade online by addressing internal and external factors impacting the business.

This section should be painting a picture of your organisation and to do this, consider using some of the following methods to bring this section to life:

  1. Who your digital customers currently are (how do they interact with the brand, the platform/s used, demographic breakdown.
  2. SWOT analysis - what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the whole organisation
  3. Competitor analysis - who are your competitors? How do they compete? e.g. price, product, customer service, reputation, what are their key differentiators?
  4. Digital channels landscape i.e. list out all the various digital channels used and success of each for your organisation - what's performing well or not?   

Below I've gone into a bit more detail for a few of these areas:

1.1       Digital Customers

An analysis of who your digital audience is should be defined in a section within 1.0 - this is essential to ensure you're providing a clear picture of existing customers and who you are looking to also target. If you're operating in a competitive environment, consider including what your online value proposition (OVP) is should you have one? For example, how do you envision your organisation to differentiate itself from the competition? To help define your organisations OVP, David Chaffey recommends the 6Cs of customer motivation framework.

1.2       Customers Personas

Creating customer personas helps brings to life who your existing customers are and what their motivations are. Persona creation also helps to get buy-in across your organisation in helping to paint a picture and bring to life your customer profiles. To create a series of personas, a majority of this work can be completed by extracting existing data through your CRM system and analytics and then build on this to create a profile picture of your existing customers.

For an e-commerce retailer, information you could consider extracting from your CRM could include:

  • Male/Female Split – What is the percentage split?
  • Age profiling – Average age as well as being able to develop categories of age groupings
  • Location/Address details – Percentage of customers who reside in the UK as well as overseas
  • Purchase history – Build up a clearer picture on historical purchases, average order value, trends in brand loyalty, products ordered by size
  • Method of purchase (e.g. credit card, debit card, cheque)
  • Route to purchase – Were purchases made through  a search engine, email newsletter, affiliate website, direct from site or through the call centre, i.e. Mixed-mode
  • Frequency/Recency - Frequency of purchase?

Based on this data, the next stage is to turn this data into more of a personality that your organisation can relate to. For example, I've created 2 x personas based for an online sports retailer:

Persona A:

Steve is a 28 yr old professional, renting in London, 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 support for his football club by every year, buying the clubs latest replica shirt online.

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. As the World Cup provides the chance to showcase international replica shirts, this provides Company X with the chance to engage with Steve to make an additional purchase of an international replica shirt as well as purchasing his favourite club shirt.


Steve has been reading the latest new stories regarding the World Cup through his favourite football blog site, Steve notices has an exclusive promotion to order any World Cup football shirt of your choice from Company X and save 10% by clicking on a link to Steve clicks on the link and arrives at Company X which brings up a list of World Cup shirts available to order displaying the exclusive 10% discount promotion. Steve chooses the shirt of his choice in his preferred shirt size and completes a transaction using his credit card.

Persona B:

Clare is a 33 yr old professional who is in a relationship. She likes to keep up with the latest fashion trends and is comfortable in ordering at her favourite online shops e.g. Her boyfriend is a keen football fan who likes to keep up with football fashion by purchasing the latest football replica shirts of his favourite team. Clare may engage with the hype of the World Cup 2014 and this could provide an opportunity to for her to make and purchase at Company X for her boyfriend and the International team they choose to support during the tournament.


Clare has received an email from one of her preferred online retailers, . The email includes a cross marketing promotion to Company X, where you can order your World cup shirt by quoting a promotional code. Clare thinks this would make a great gift for her partner and decides to click through to - She is unsure of the team and shirt to order so decides to phone the order helpline and take advantage of mixed-mode buying. Clare explains her situation over the phone to the sales consultant and duly places her order over the phone for the football shirt.

1.3 SWOT analysis

It's worth considering creating a SWOT analysis of your organisation, thinking laterally by embracing all depts rather than just focusing on the digital marketing dept. Not only will it provide a better picture in the organisation as a whole but also provides you with the opportunity to interview and build relationships across the organisation.

Strengths: Weaknesses:
Opportunities:  Threats

You have now created the situation of your organisation and built a picture of Strengths and Weaknesses as well as who and what your product or service appeals to. In the next section, Objectives, we will look into where we want to go by introducing some objectives that feeds into your SOSTAC digital marketing plan


Simon Swan


SOSTAC – a Digital Marketing Planning Guide

A preferred and popular digital marketing framework is the SOSTAC planning model, voted 3rd most popular marketing model by the CIM. Previously I have written blog posts on creating a framework geared for your retention strategy or acquisition strategy but SOSTAC is a framework to help define your over-arching digital activity.

Created in the 1990's by writer and speaker PR Smith, the SOSTAC framework has built an authoritative reputation as the framework of choice for both multi-national and start-up organisations across the world. For digital marketing, it's a framework that has stood the test of time mainly due to the simplicity and actionable insights it offers to an organisation. SOSTAC covers six key areas:

1.0 - Situation analysis - Where are we now? Where is the organisation in the current market-place?

2.0 - Objectives - Where do we want to go and move the organisation towards? SMART objectives will be introduced to provide a more realistic timeframe and motivation in meeting the objective/s

3.0 - Strategy - How are we planning to get to the end goal? How do we plan to fulfil and meet the objectives mentioned?

4.0 - Tactics - This links into Strategy section answering the question what tactics will be used to meet the overall strategy e.g. the digital marketing channels to be used and how they will be used.

5.0 - Action - How we plan to put all the activities to work - this summarises the actual work e.g. how each digital channel will be implemented, who in the team will be doing what and how this will be delivered within a specific timeframe

6.0 - Control - How we plan to measure, monitor and manage the campaign and what will success look like (relating back to the Objectives section). Each tactic will be included here to explain how each toolset will be controlled.

In a series of six blog posts, I plan to provide an overview of the 6 sections of the framework for you to follow and use for your own digital marketing plan.



UK Government launch new Initiative to support Britain’s High Street

Good to see the Government's innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board launch a new  project by announcing an £8 million initiative designed to "re-invigorate UK high streets" . The premise of the competition is to explore new ideas and concepts to help revitalise Britain's high streets by embracing new technologies to assist with driving footfall back onto high streets.

According to Innovate UK, the competition is looking for creative and collaborative ideas to explore new approaches to retailing, service provision, logistics and travel management such as:

  • new technologies that combine both physical and virtual shopping to create a hybrid ‘clicks and bricks' high street 
  • a ‘networked' high street that matches people's time and skills against local needs 
  • applications that connect a system's users (consumers, tourists, businesses, local authorities) in ways that are simple to use, secure and sustainable 
  • new kinds of data use – methods for capturing intelligence about a city's high street (for example travel, parking, footfall, spend patterns, geographic distribution of business types, socio- economic analysis of consumers) 
  • new or improved methods of retailing and service provision that enhance consumer experience through targeted deals, easier travel options and streamlined/integrated information provision and social media. 

There are a number of opportunities where technology could easily be  integrated within the high street and a number of initiatives have successfully launched such as Amazon's Click & Collect. Usability or multivariate testing is another well known digital activity that should be explored utilising the high street.

At a time when the rise in digital continues to accelerate through multiple platforms in order to reach your audience (Website, Mobile, Apps). According to a recent Econsultancy report on usability, this activity has been stalling:

  • Only 55% of companies are currently conducting any user experience testing
  • 73% of companies "plan" to carry out user experience testing within the next 12 months with 49% planning to invest more in UX testing over the next year
  • Assumptions are the killer - too many companies are still relying on personal opinions within the organisation rather than investing in UX 
  • Lack of budget and resource time are the main reasons given for poor take-up of user experience testing
  • Companies see improving mobile user experience as a high priority - but few are conducting testing
  • 61% of companies with a turnover of less than £10mn have no dedicated in-house user experience staff



UX testing is involving your end customer to trial, test-out and feedback concerns or problems encountered when using your digital product/service - this could be anything from completing a task e.g. complete purchase or navigating a website.  It has been reported that 45% of companies are not completing any UX testing of their digital projects.

It's a concerning trend that UX is still not recognised as one of the foundations for any successful digital organisation needing to build their digital reputation and wanting to engage and build a connection with a user audience. It seems as though resource, accessibility and Industry knowledge seem to be the fundamental issues that entwine the 6 factors from this UX report together.

Can the High Street assist UX roll-out?

Britain's high street has been at the centre of the doom merchants attention throughout the recession and I blogged about how digital marketing could support Britain's high streets focusing on a mix of different digital tactics, to be used as a stimulus to inject revenue opportunities into our high street shops.  You can find more of the same thoughts here and here.

With this in mind, here are 6 reasons why Opticians could provide the perfect opportunity to provide user testing within their stores:

1) Audience - Opticians are attracting a captive audience that is in their store for issues around eyesight, perhaps offering an incentive whilst waiting for their appointment to complete a User Experience project 

2) Equipment - Opticians provide a specific service to their audience with specific equipment and facilities already in place that would provide the opportunity to include UX facilities

3) Footfall - Recruiting members of the public to partake in user testing can prove to be an obstacle - by expanding UX onto the high street provides an opportunity to make use of existing footfall being driven into Opticians by offering an incentive to complete UX activity

4) Lack of budget and resource was a key reason for poor take up within digital organisations. This opportunity provides opticians with a unique selling point and to help facilitate the opportunity to expand in user testing

5)  Monetise Collaboration - strategic and commercial opportunities to collaborate with digital marketing organisations to sponsor the roll out of user testing environments within stores.

 6) Demographic by footfall - The mix of clientele through  an opticians door provides the opportunity for a variety of different UX projects to be rolled out for different audience profiles based on personas.

This could be a perfect opportunity for a nationwide opticians chain to capitalise on a first mover advantage and diversify in providing user experience facilities within their nationwide chain? How about it?



How to safely share the road with cars

In a perfect world, we'd all be riding off-road trails, far from vehicle traffic. Unfortunately, many of us are stuck riding on city streets. Not all is lost. Some of the most interesting sites are along densely populated roadways. The trick is, knowing how to ride safely. I've received a number of emails from readers of my LEJOG and London To Paris posts on how to cycle safely on the many busy roads you have to encounter when completing these cycle challenges so here are a few things to remember when riding with cars:

  1. Just because the road has a designated bike lane, doesn't mean drivers recognize it. As cycling becomes more popular worldwide, drivers are getting savvier about sharing the road. Yet, we still have a long way to go. Exposed, poorly marked “bike lanes” can be dangerous -- particularly for new cyclists – as cars sometimes veer into the bike-way and then blame the cyclist. Stay vigilant or avoid  these roads all together.




Image copyright credit: Zebra Lane Blockers.

 2. Hug the shoulder, but mind the glass. Riding in the city can feel like walking a tight rope. You want to stay relatively close to the curb so that drivers don't have to swerve to avoid hitting you. At the same time, be wary of glass, staples, and other sharp debris, which tends to show up close to the curb and can cause flats – and sometimes accidents – almost immediately. Cycling through Glasgow on day 10 of LEJOG was one of the toughest, mainly due to the ever growing number of potholes that seem to litter Glasgow roads as we meandered our way through the city.

3. Ride straight and stay off the sidewalks. New cyclists tend to be hyper-aware of each potential interference and swill swerve to make sure they're not in the way. Don't fall into that trap – look straight ahead and own the road. If you're constantly weaving, drivers can't predict where you will go next and that makes them nervous. Likewise, cycling on the sidewalk might seem safer, but it actually increases your chances of getting hit because drivers won't see you coming off the curb. Plus, you can hit a pedestrian or force them onto the road.

4. Dress appropriately and use a night light Bright colors are always a good choice when riding city streets – you want to stay as noticeable as possible. This is particularly true at night when the odds of getting into an accident increase dramatically. Putting a street light on the front and back of your bike is also helpful. It's worth considering staying as visible as possible when cycling through the more scenic areas of the UK cycling through the Lake District and it's quaint and picturesque villages where the lanes narrow and the hedgerows surround you.

5. Residential roads are always the safest. Roads marked 32 Kilometers per hour or under are safer for cycling. Generally speaking, drivers traveling through low-speed, residential roads are already on the lookout for children at play and other interferences.

6. Mind the intersections and use hand signals. Many cycle accidents happen in intersections. That's because drivers will decide to turn without checking for cyclists that come from behind. When approaching an intersection, slow down and look over your shoulder for turning cars. Always remember to put a hand out, before turning, to signal your move to approaching vehicle traffic. Ensuring your using the appropriate hand signals should also be considered when you're cycling in a pelaton to ensure each of you know what manoeuvre you're about to take!

7. Mind parked cars. Street parking is also a hazard. A good number of accidents happen because someone getting out of a parked car opens the door on an unsuspecting cyclists. Thankfully, more lanes are being set up contraflow so parked vehicles face oncoming bikers.

Even with all these precautions in mind, the safest streets are still the ones with intentional, well-protected cycle tracks. The London Cycle Campaign's Love London, Go Dutch!  helped bring full redesigns to some of the city's most dangerous roadways including Royal College Street in Camden County. The project used a new, inexpensive invention called Zebra Lane Blockers (“armadillos”) to add bike lane protection without taking up more space.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my LEJOG Blog. I hope you've found it interesting and feel free to post your thoughts and comments. Once again, thank you for visiting Simon's LEJOG blog

About the Author

Dana Henry is a writer and editor in Philadelphia who focuses on emerging business and technology. She currently works as a Content Strategist and blogger for the Traffic Safety Store.



Digital Marketing Strategy – Building a set of retention techniques

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. Seperate to this post, I've also created a plan on creating your digital marketing strategy for acquisition purposes which can be found here

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.

know your audience

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


Retention Tactics

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


Social media

Social Media

  • 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

Affiliate Marketing

  • 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


Monitor performance

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


Social Media

  • 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)


Affiliate Marketing

  • 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.





Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday- eBook Review

Author Ryan Holiday lifts the lid on a sweeping new culture, Growth Hacker Marketing, hitting the marketing depts of the smallest to the largest blue-chip organisations, calling for a re-position and re-think of how traditional marketing departments operate. According to Google Trends, the rise in searches associated with this new skillset is on the rise and it's here to stay:


So why has Growth Hacking become a key disrupter in how present and future organisations operate?  I think it's two-fold:

1) Goodbye Industrial economy, Hello connected economy:

The era of the Industrial Revolution and how many organisations (and their cultures) operate is in a steep decline. In its place is the connected economy which has provided the stimulus for collaboration and the initiative to  tear down what were "barriers to enter markets" and the destruction of monopolies (e.g. music industry, book publishing).

2) Impact of the Global Recession: 

The realisation millions of people and thousands of companies are waking up to in this new era is that we now live in a new dawn of an inter-connected, global economy. It's becoming easier to find a cheaper way, a cheaper alternative to race to the bottom. According to business magazine, Forbes: "around 8.4 mn jobs in the US disappeared from Jan 2008 to December 2009" - due to employees lacking digital skills or there simply was not the opportunities or requirement for traditional skills within companies. This is further emphasised in the book, Graceful “Modern society is based on a modern idea: get the work done by replaceable cogs, by individuals programmed to do what they’re told, follow instructions and work cheap. The attraction of this system is evident by how easily ordinary organisations replace ordinary employees”.

 Growth Hacker Marketing Overview


 Holiday sets the scene by providing an overview of organisational culture and the waking up to the connected economy, listing a number of successful organisations that have embraced this way of work (Dropbox, Mailbox, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) with a number of fascinating in depth case studies through-out the book.

The book is divided into 4 key areas: Product Market Fit, Finding Your Growth Hack, Going Viral & Retention & Optimisation 

Step 1 - Product Market Fit (PMF)

PMF is the moment when the product and its customers are in perfect sync with each other. And the best way to get to this end goal is by starting with a minimum viable product and improving on it based on feedback - don't be afraid to launch the product and to learn from your audience on ways to improve its value, embrace the fear.

In a by-gone era products were the responsibility of the product or business development team but PMF calls on the marketing team to now be a central component in the development and refinement of product creation and launch through listening to your audience e.g. setting up a blog, creating usability testing, conducting interviews - engage with your audience, learn from them.

Step 2 - Finding Your Growth Hack

Know your audience - this is essential to make your audience aware of the product/service you're launching. The understanding of who your audience is, how they interact through digital and make them aware of your business - these are the key attributes required. You are looking to pull your customers in through a cheap, effective and unique way. Take Dropbox for example: To launch the product the founders crafted a demo video to explain how to use the service. But rather than hire an expensive production company, Dropbox filmed the video themselves and knew where to post the video (i.e. where their prospective audience would be) by posting it on Digg, Slashdot and Reddit.

Step 3 - Going Viral

Growth Hacking is about launching your product as cheap as possible in a unique and differentiated way to your competitors and spreading virally is a central component to this i.e. you are relaying on your users to help spread the word. Everyone wants to launch the next viral ad to spread their product or service but are you making it easy for your product/service to be spread and more importantly, is it even worth talking about?

Dropbox built one of the most effective and most viral referral programs of the start-up world - the offer it put together was for its users who would receive 500 megabytes of free space for every friend they invited and got to sign up. By introducing this offer, sign-ups to Dropbox increased by 60% with more than 2.8mn direct invites a month.

Step 4 - Retention & Optimisation

In traditional marketing, it is the marketer to bring in the leads and potential customers. In the world of growth hacking marketing it's the marketers responsibility to retain, understand and interact with your potential and converted customer through the use of analytics.

Rather than throwing more  and more money at external lead generation, the focus is on internal optimisation i.e. where can you increase your conversion to sale rate by 5%, how can you increase your click through rate from an email campaign? The role of the growth hacker is to optimise incoming traffic and focus on retention.


Growth Hacking - It's here to stay

This is  a book I would definitely recommend to anyone either working for a corporate or working by themselves, it's a book that resonates perfectly with the connected, digital economy we are all operating in and more importantly provides you with a four step guide in the key attributes to consider. As author Thomas Friedman stated in his book,  "The World Is Flat", "...around the year 2000 we entered a whole new era - Globalization 3.0 - which is shrinking the world from a size small to a size tiny and flattening the playing field at the same time" Friedman goes onto refer to Globalization 1.0 as "countries globalizing" and the dynamic force in Globalization 2.0 was "companies globalizing", the dynamic force in Globalization 3.0 is the"new found power for individuals to collaborate and compete globally". And this is why Growth Hacking is here to stay








London To Paris Cycle Essential Tips

Essential  Tips For Cycling From London To Paris

As well as cycling Lands End to John O'Groats (LEJOG), another particularly popular cycling activity for long distance cyclists is cycling from London, all the way to Paris. Now this appears to be a very daunting challenge, however, proper preparation and a reasonable amount of fitness will help you to accomplish this challenge with the least amount of problems. We also highly recommend that you ride with a companion for both safety and company.


1. Pack the Proper Equipment

Packing the proper equipment means including only what is necessary and leaving out items which have no particularly important use. Remember, you are on a bike and how comfortably you can pedal will be affected by the total weight of your bike. Here is a good list of important items that you can start with:

Personal Items

  • Passport
  • Phone charger
  • Adequate clothing for the number of days you will be traveling (clothing should also be appropriate to the prevailing weather conditions)
  • Money, along with spare change in both Euros and GBP
  • French ER number
  • EU health card


Essential Bike Equipment

  • 2 spare inner tubes
  • 3 spare tyres
  • Puncture repair kit
  • Tyre levers
  • Spanner
  • Extra bike chain
  • Compass or GPS
  • Pump
  • Route Map
  • High visibility front and rear bike lights


First Aid Equipment

  • Sterile bandages and dressings
  • Cold compress
  • Heat packs
  • Rehydration formula
  • Steri-strips
  • Scissors
  • Pain killers and antipyretics
  • Eye drops
  • Plaster


2. Proper Route Planning

Obviously this is an essential part of your journey as you have to know your way from London to Paris. Pick out the best routes for your own purposes. A GPS and/or a compass are also an indispensable tool if this is your first time and you are not familiar with the route.



3. Stay Dry as Much as Possible

Comfort is a big factor in making your trip a pleasant experience, and staying dry is one aspect of comfort. We all know how fickle English weather can be so make sure to bring cycling rain wear, no matter what the weather forecasts say. It would also be a good idea to attach mudguards to the front and rear of your bike to keep you and your bike clean.


4. Take Adequate Breaks and Stops

A trip from London to Paris is not a race so it is appropriate to take adequate breaks and stops. This allows you to check your map, inspect your bike, take on water and food, as well as enjoy the sights. It also helps to ensure that you do not tire yourself out too much during the trip.



5. Bring Adequate Amounts of Food of Water

Avoid thinking that food is readily available on the road. You don’t know when your hunger pangs or thirst will strike while pedaling, so it is best if you take your own food and water with you. Remember, food and water are the fuel the will help you to accomplish your journey.

6. Practice Regular Bike Maintenance before the Trip

Have your bike properly inspected by a qualified bike mechanic before a trip to ensure that it is in condition for a very long ride. In addition, learn some of the more important basics yourself such as changing a tyre, repairing an inner tube puncture, and repairing a bicycle chain, as there is a big risk of these happening during your journey. It would also be helpful to have an English – French dictionary should you be caught with mechanical problems on the French side of your trip.

7. Always Ride in a Group

There is a margin of safety in numbers and it is a wise idea to travel in a group. It also breaks the monotony of cycling on your own.

8. Remember to Pack Properly

Invest in some light weight panniers for your bike. This helps to relieve your shoulders of weight from the backpack, and allows you to carry more and heavier items with you comfortably.



9. Bring Chamois Cream for that Sore Bum

Apply chamois cream on your cycling pads before a trip, and apply again as needed. This helps to prevent or relieve sore bums, which is pretty much inevitable on very long rides such as this.

10. Practice Proper Group Communication

Always practice proper group communication to relay important information quickly and accurately. Pass messages forwards and back to make sure the group knows what is happening during the ride. Also, make sure that the person you are relaying a message to can hear and understand you. In addition, provide clear signals when approaching junctions, and always remember to point or call out debris and road obstructions to the cyclist behind you.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my LEJOG Blog. I hope you've found it interesting and feel free to post your thoughts and comments. Once again, thank you for visiting Simon's LEJOG blog


Hans Navarra is a licensed physician and avid sport writer. He is a mountain bike enthusiast and regularly writes for the Land Rover Mountain Bikes blog, among many other cycling-related websites.



5 Reasons to become a T-shaped Digital Marketer

Digital marketing requires marketers to broaden their skill-sets and embrace all digital channels that can reach and engage with their audience. This wider embrace of digital skills has been defined as T-Shaped Marketing, which refers to: a marketer that has knowledge covering a wide range of digital tactics and has in depth knowledge in 1 or maybe 2 specific areas.

Two recent example posts have really nailed the importance of T-shaped marketing and both included some great infographics to bring this definition to life.

Example 1 - I first came across this phrase from a great post by Mike Tekula of Distilled entitled: Building a T-Shaped Web Marketing Skill Set - Mike went into detail on  the growing importance of SEO as a web marketing function and how the breadth of SEO now encompasses so many specific functions to assist in creating a successful strategy and team.

Example 2 - Rand Fishkin of Moz  continued this line of thought and the growing importance of having a T-shaped marketing skillset has within as well as highlighting the breadth of skills covered by a marketer as displayed in the below graphic



The Digital Marketing Landscape

Take a browse of the Econsultancy UK Statistics for July 2013  which weighs in at 865 pages (UK edition) and covers the latest trends and market insights for the digital mix such as: digital advertising, affiliate marketing, analytics, blogging, search, content marketing, video, audio, mobile, apps email marketing, search marketing and social media. I have not even entertained the granularity of each of these tactics and the various strategic components each one requires to ensure a successful campaign. As an exmple for SEO - take a look at the graphic above and the various tactics to consider within just this one specialism.

Can you really embrace and adapt to become a T-shaped marketer?  By understanding who your audience is, where they interact with your product or service and researching your analytics will provide you with a foundation as to what areas of digital  you should look to develop your skills within and identify which of these tactics you plan to focus on an in depth knowledge.

Go work for a Start-up

In a previous post, I mention the importance of working for start-ups within my own personal journey in developing  my digital marketing skills. You'll find yourself in the front line - getting your hands dirty in managing and developing an affiliate program whilst at the same time, budgeting for a PPC campaign and then helping out your buyers in creating optimised product descriptions for your website and then creating dashboards within Google analytics to  monitor and measure performance.

You'll develop skills in start-ups that you would never learn studying for 4 years to complete an MBA.  The start-up organisation should be on your career path at some stage if you truly want to become a T-shaped marketer

5 Reasons to become a T-shaped Digital Marketer

1 - Organisational Integration - As digital marketing matures as an industry, marketers are realising the importance and value in integrating their digital channels together.A recent survey by Econsultancy reported that nearly 90% of respondents describe integration as "necessary and inevitable". A T-shaped marketer provides the vision and knowledge to an organisation in understanding a number of different digital channels during the integration for the organisation to make the right decisions.

2 - Know your audience - According to Decibel Insight- 15% of website owners base decisions on gut feeling rather than analytics - the role of analytics is becoming ever more important within digital organisations to base decisions on influencing strategy so acquiring a wide skill-set in embracing a variety of digital tactics will become ever more important to organisations as well as how to interpret the streams of analytics data and turning this into actionable insights

3 - Technical/Marketing - The organisational silos of a technical dept and a marketing depts are becoming increasingly blurred, and rightly so. The importance of technical in how to implement changes to a website/mobile that embraces the need to interact with your customer and assist in a search strategy should be inter-twined within both technical and marketing objectives. Likewise, it's incorrect to think a digital marketer does not need to understand the technical architecture of a mobile or website or how to create a product feed for their affiliate channel.

4 - Digital knowledge - One of the key attributes of a T-Shaped marketer is the breadth of knowledge acquired across digital tactics - it provides and brings to the table an element of creativity within your organisation e.g. Bringing search marketing knowledge to your team of developers or analytics insights to share this key industry insights to your colleagues.

5 - Think and act like a start- up - You need to put yourself in the mindset that it's a never ending journey of learning, testing and trialling new tactics. There is a requirement to keep yourself up to date with the latest digital trends and tactics that can be used within the context of your organisation or industry sector. Remember there is nothing wrong in being a jack of all trades as this brilliant article explains, especially in the digital world.