Joan Mulvihill’s response to Irish Independent article “Irish consumers to spend €20bn online by 2020 but strategy needed” please click here to read.
This is an interesting article. The stats are ones that have been touted for quite some time so there is nothing new there. What is interesting about this article is not what it says but rather what it does not say. There has been talk for ages now of a National Digital Strategy, which according to this article is “underway” and will be implemented in the “coming years”. And yet, it is not even this rather slow pace that is of interest to me. What interests me is the dearth of even headline ideas/concepts or indeed the nature of the ‘brave decisions’ that need to be made. My sense is that some of the strategy makers believe that supporting Irish retailers to have ecommerce websites is the answer to the problem. If only more Irish retailers would sell their products online then people wouldn’t shop from overseas anymore. I’m unconvinced.
The IIA has long supported Irish businesses developing their online sales proposition to enhance their relationship with their customers; through the provision of better value, better range and more choice. But that is not to say that every retailer should have their own site. Some need to take a more creative approach to channel management.
An understanding of consumer behaviour is required. Shoppers are not buying from Amazon or Net-A-Porter or ASOS because of the dearth of books, toys or clothes to buy from Irish retailers online. They are buying from Amazon, Net-a-Porter and ASOS because of their breadth of range, their pricing and ultimately free or comparatively low cost to ship. It costs less to have something delivered from Amazon than it does to park in town when I’m shopping. It definitely costs less to have something delivered from Amazon than it does to park in town, buy something and post it to New York to my godchild for her birthday. And so if I look online to Irish independent retailers, it is clear that they are hampered and disadvantaged by expensive shipping costs relative to the price of the item and short delivery times are a serious premium.
It is incredibly difficult for Irish retailers to compete. The National Digital Strategy element that deals with ecommerce has to encapsulate the infrastructure that supports ecommerce. And that infrastructure includes a lot more than quality broadband.
The size of the Irish market is small. Irish retailers’ capacity to reach scale and enjoy any economies of that scale requires vision for developing an international presence. We solicit the best tech companies in the world to set up in Ireland, many of whom provide online sales services. Is that the kernel of a solution? I want to support Irish independent retailers by ensuring they have the tools that they need to market their products/services but unless we sort out the infrastructure and the ambition for international retail then only a small number can achieve the scale needed to succeed. Perhaps our best bet for getting the Irish consumer to buy online from businesses in Ireland is to attract the ecommerce giants to HQ in Ireland. We’ve secured the tech companies that support them so why not secure them directly.
The strategy for achieving this would be predicated on having the best online sales specialists, fulfillment/operations planners, designers, digital advertisers and customer service operators based in Ireland with localised fulfillment centres overseas. We could incentive these businesses to operate through Ireland with a special online sales tax incentive and develop Ireland as an ecommerce hub for the sale of goods AND services online. Combined with the digital content strategy of the IDSC, ecommerce for digital content (books, music, film) in addition to the sale of physical goods might all be funnelled through Ireland as the uniquely placed global ecommerce hub.
This is what interests me. This article might not be revealing anything new or insightful but it stimulates thought. Creativity exists within the cracks.
The IIA in partnership with Irish Times Training are delighted to launch a brand new Diploma course in e-Commerce Management.
This Course covers everything you need to know to run a successful ecommerce business. Click here for more information.
Module 1: Planning your e-Commerce Customer Proposition
Lecturer: Ronan O’Brien of Zatori – The Costume Shop
Module 2: Business Planning
Lecturer: Fionan Dunne of CFO Services
Module 3: Effective Website Design
Lecturer: Gareth Dunlop of Fathom
Module 4: Driving Customer Traffic – PPC, SEO, Affiliate Marketing and E-Mail Marketing, Deals Management
Lecturer: Ronan O’Brien of Zatori
Module 5: Transaction Management
Lecturer: Bob Curran of Buy4Now
Module 6: eCommerce Customer Services: CRM – Relationships and Returns
Lecturer: Bob Curran of Buy4Now
Module 7: eCommerce Customer Services: Deliveries and Deadlines
Lecturer: Rory O’Connor of Scurri.com
Module 8: International e-Commerce: Translations & Transactions
Lecturer: Mark Rodgers of Cipherion Translations
Module 9: Metrics / Analytics
Lecturer : David Murphy of Amplify
Module 10: Content – Images and Copy
Lecturer: Fiona Ashe of FlasheForward Communications
Module 11: Mobile Commerce
Lecturer: Sian Gray, Mobile Marketing specialist (Nokia)
FREE Module : Breakfast Briefing Managing Customer Information: Your Legal Obligations as an eCommerce Manager from Gary Davies, Assistant Data Protection Commissioner
If you’ve got customer information on file you will need to know in what form and for how long you can store it. You will also need to know for what you may use it. You will need to be fully aware of your obligations as a retailer vis a vis Trading Standards etc.. This module is painful but necessary!
Here in IIA HQ we are very excited about a new event on our calendar for 2011. For the first time ever we are running an Internet Expo! It’s the first trade exhbition for the internet industry in Ireland and we are delighted to be partnering with Ireland’s premier exhibition company Irish Services Ltd. on this project. They know a truck load about exhibitions and I, for one, have learned lots from them.
I’ve worked on our own stand on a number of occasions at conferences all over the country and it’s something that I have always enjoyed and at which we achieved great results whether it be new members, new newsletter subscribers, referrals for our members or event registrations. I’ve always attended these conferences with a specific aim in mind, not least of these being exposure at a grassroots level. Much of the time I spend answering industry related queries where I can or as mentioned I refer the visitor to a member who might be able to help them. Every time we’ve taken a stand at conferences like this we have usually invited members along to join us.
Trade shows and expos can be big business not least of all in the states and I found stacks of videos on YouTube offering advice to the sales and business development teams who look after the stand on the day. To summarize them very swiftly it seems to be important to
- make sure exhibiting fits with your marketing and sales plan and
- once that’s decided it is essential to have an pre-, during and post-exhibition plan,
- have definite goals and activities,
- measure the team’s success and
- follow up on leads and connections developed at the exhibition (and that should be the really easy bit for all you geeks with your email marketing, eh?).
Many of the videos I came across give ideas for attracting more traffic (free coffee or other treats, discount vouchers on business cards, demos etc.); some of them talk about the success killers and there’s even a sample from an Association of Events Organisers training video with Jack Dee sharing some of their 30 Trade Show Secrets (and I thought the sellout Rick Spleen in Lead Balloon was based on fiction. Apparently not…!) This video is well worth a watch whether you’ve already booked your place at our Internet Expo or are thinking about it. And it’s funny too! You’ll also find other tips and tricks in the How To Secion of their Facetime website.
The video below is simple but I think this chap, Sam Manfer, sums up the experience of taking care of business at your company stand with five tips to make the most of your investment in an exhibition stand.
If you think you’d like to discuss the idea of exhibiting at this cool event get in touch with Roseanne or Vicki in the IIA offices today at 01 5424154 or firstname.lastname@example.org
While I was on leave* the IIA Online Marketing Working Group produced a series of guides to Online Marketing and they are well worth a look for the both the new business owner and the seasoned marketer. The guides are easy to read and to the point and I, for one, have a little refresher course planned.
Here’s a listing of what’s on offer from the Online Marketing Working Group:
- Content is Still King
This article provides you with the fundamental guidelines for writing for the web, enabling you to take control of your company’s online content and communicate your brand more effectively.
- Digital Marketing Strategy & Planning
A framework to help align and structure your digital marketing strategy and planning.
- Tips for eNewsletter Content
A guide to creating and writing great email newsletters.
- Tips for Video Content
How to create compelling & successful videos as part of your digital marketing strategy.
- Web Content Inverted Pyramid
Guidelines for writing for the web.
Check them out now in the Resources section of the IIA website. These resources are member only: if you would like to join and get immediate access to these resources please do!
If you find however that you are the type of learner who needs instruction an upcoming IIA event might be just the ticket for you. On 3 December the IIA in association with Irish Times Training are running Twitter and Facebook for Business. This day long seminar will help you learn how to build the visibility, reputation and profits of your business online using Facebook and Twitter. This seminar takes an in-depth look at case studies of Irish and global businesses using Facebook and Twitter effectively to enhance customer service, attract more business and boost bottom line profits. This seminar is being delivered by Krishna De who regularly shares Facebook tips on her blog.
*By the way I am full time again since Monday so don’t be a stranger!
Have I ever mentioned to you that I love my job here in the IIA? One of the things that I love about it is that I often get to some great events. We recently sponsored IIA Member Company Meetingbooker.com’s Hotel Website Marketing Conference and I would definitely count this as among the best that I attended this year. The speakers were all good and varied but mostly I thought it was very clear that they had done their research about the audience and were aware of the issues and processes effecting the hotel industry’s day to day work.
I live tweeted the event and hope that I shared some of the nuggets. However MeetingsBooker.com have made the slides not only from this conference but their other conferences in 2009 available via Slideshare.
This month’s Digital Digest went out this week. It’s just under a year now since we’ve been using the Newsweaver system and we are really happy with it. It was especially useful while we were organising Congress as we had different groups involved in different ways: speakers, shortlistees, demonstrators and, of course, delegates. It really helped smooth some of the processes of communicating important information about Congress.
So it is with dismay that I read in my Campaign Monitor ezine (and about 2 seconds later in an email from IIA Member Pixel Design – thank you very much!) that Microsoft are planning to go ahead with their plan to use “the crippled Word rendering engine to display HTML emails in Outlook 2010″ as Campaign Monitor and The Email Standards Project put it.
I think Microsoft are doing lots of great things and I love and use some of their products regularly and happily. But I also love my ezines. I’ve been writing ezines for about eight years now and trying to keep up to speed on what works and what doesn’t in email. I know that many of the beautiful email newsletters that we see today came about from painstaking developing and care for cross platform/ browser/ email client compatibility. Email marketing can be really effective but it has to be able to relate visually to everything else a company produces online. It must reinforce that relationship so that even if a subscriber signed up on your site a week, a month or more previously, they will instantly recognise your brand and style in their inbox no matter what email client they use. You can read another interesting perspective on this issue on Long Zheng’s Blog who points out that while Outlook 2010 may have problems there are other email clients that are equally questionable when it comes to HTML rendering. If you do any sort of communication with your clients via email you should care about this issue and if you use Twitter you should add your voice to the campaign at fixoutlook.org
And if you aren’t emailing your clients em… right. I don’t know what to say to you. Try this for starters maybe?
This week’s case study has been written by Joy Redmond, CEO of Flexitimers.
Karina Heavey is no ordinary marketer but a marketer who has recently harnessed social media to affect change and create a community of pro-active people not content to sit back and wait for the recession to go away.
In August 2008, Karina formed the 121 Business Network Ireland group on LinkedIn in response to her dissatisfaction with the business networks available at the time, having identified that there wasn’t an appropriate group focussing exclusively for members based in Ireland.
She didn’t actively promote or push the group until a turning point came in January 2009 when she was made redundant from a senior marketing position in SPSS. Although a highly competent and experienced marketing professional with a Masters from UCD, Karina prior to this had no online social media expertise or experience.
She felt there was both an opportunity to learn while giving something back and believed that if she brought people together, opportunities would arise for all. Soon she extended the brand to marketing with the intention of creating a community of people with an interest in marketing. Believing that the marketing associations valued the speakers at their events more than their individual members, Karina wanted her network to value and reward its members.
First on her to-do list was to proactively build the group membership on LinkedIn. To achieve this, she joined 50 marketing groups on LinkedIn, filtered the members by region (Ireland) and keyword (marketing) and arrived at a list of 600 prospects. Again her marketing know-how allowed her to write a compelling personal invitation that resulted in 350 registrations within one week. Karina personally approves every request for membership to ensure the group ethos is not diluted.
Knowing the difficulty in engaging discussion and networking online and the importance and power of personal relationships; the next task was to organise monthly face-to-face meet-ups where members could informally build relationships (not pitch), have fun and feel valued.
Her experience of event management came into play and after researching several city centre hotels, the Mint Bar in the Weston Hotel was chosen as the preferred venue for two reasons -its central location and their promise to provide a space free of charge every first Wednesday of the month. Again her marketing training taught her that consistency was key and so the “First Wednesday” club began. There were 25 attendees the first night in February and numbers have doubled month on month since with the same people returning and bringing more people and spreading the word.
The First Wednesday club is also marketed via her website/blog which provides interviews with marketers, round-ups of the First Wednesday club and competitions to encourage more interaction both online and offline. One interesting application merging both online and offline activity is the video reel of corporate logos representing the attendees of the First Wednesday Club.
Karina then created a Facebook page to extend the group’s reach where visitors are met with a Welcome video and members receive a welcome email that sets the rules, expectations and protocol for the group. There is a space entitled ‘Opportunities Exchange’ where members can promote/trade opportunities, jobs and business deals with the effect of minimising spam on the discussion board.
Karina is not content to limit the network to Dublin and has set up regional managers in Cork and in Limerick. The 121 Cork Network is going to launch that regions ‘First Wednesday Club’ next month and she’s seeing her memberships growing in Sligo, Kildare and Mayo.
A sense of fun and achievement, continuously improving and progressing an idea through its ongoing successful destinations while facilitating important social and business communications is what Karina perceives to be the key benefit of all this social media activity.
Karina herself has been rewarded for her efforts and has proactively raised her profile with an RTE interview live from bizcamp, a podcast interview on The Persuaders and a feature in The Sunday Tribune. What’s more, she has created her own opportunity by being recently hired as Digital Campaign Manager with IIA Member Company TradeDoubler, no easy feat for a marketer with little or no digital expertise less than six months ago and in an extremely difficult economy.
Karina has become a role model and inspiration to many and like her 121Marketing Network, proves that there are still opportunities out there and with positive drive and enthusiasm success still awaits those who create their own luck.
I’m going to be busy this week meeting business people at the Donegal Enterprise Board Enterprising Donegal Week on Tuesday and others at the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Enterprise Week on Wednesday. So this is just a quick (late night!) post to say if there are any members who would like to come and meet business people who are looking for advice on using all aspects of the internet in all kinds of business I would welcome your expertise at the IIA stand between 4pm and 6pm on Wednesday 25th March. All details via the link above. At a previous enterprise event I was asked questions about choosing web developers/ designers, email marketing, using social media for business, as well as more bizarre and thankfully expected questions about the IIA and the internet in general!
If you are a member of the IIA and you think you have half an hour to spare please email me at members at iia dot ie.
Damien Mulley is running another innovative competition to find the best Search Engine Optimiser in Ireland. The competition has become known as the Geansaí Gorm Competition. (although I think it is being spelt “geansai gorm” without the accent. I’m sayin nuttin! ) This phrase was chosen so as not to pollute the rankings of actual businesses because it was unlikely that there are many trying to sell geansaithe goirme online (bang goes the Spailpín Fánach’s line in blue jumpers…)
The competition runs until 3pm on December 1 2008 so if you are really good there is still time to get ranked in Google for geansai gorm. I’m really looking forward to seeing the resuls. I’ll be keen to see how much social media helps the winner or whether the purchasing of AdWords helped. I’ll keep you posted on the results.
Now I’m off to sell all the mentions above of geansai gorm to the contenders…
A guest post from Chris Byrne in Sensorpro about a new way to serve feedback surveys at conferences.
For the Irish Internet Association (IIA) Word of Mouse conference, we needed a slick way to get attendee feedback. As a survey vendor, it’s a simple task to deploy a survey with all the bells and whistles you would expect, like via email, popup, link, twitter post or embedded in a blog - but on this occasion we wanted something a little different. We wanted audience reaction in real-time without the expense and hassle of gizmos. So how about Bluetooth then? After all, many in the audience had a gizmo already – a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone (or cell phone, if you prefer!) Thanks to a snappy response from Shane at Mobanode we had our survey deployed on his Bluetooth box in minutes. As soon as we hit the “fire” button, the survey was deployed to 23 phones with just 1 rejection – not a shabby response rate! Roseanne from IIA was live twittering – so she had the twitter world peeking over her shoulder. Not only did this method garner dynamic feedback from the immediate audience – but also picked up twitter eavesdroppers with the browser link. If you want to try event feedback that is different, is relevant and a gizmo that actually works – then try this.