Hosted by The Australian and Sensis in Sydney last Friday, the Digital Marketing Forum 2016 was a sell-out event with industry heavyweights sharing insights on e-commerce, social media utilisation and online ethics.
The panel discussion featured Naomi Shepherd, Head of Brand – Facebook & Instagram; Justin Dry, CEO & Founder – Vinomofo; Kate Morris, CEO & Founder – Adore Beauty; Dan Gregory, Brand Expert & Founder & CEO – The Impossible Institute and moderator Jackson Hewett, Commercial Editor - The Australian.
Sensis CEO, John Allan introduced the panel with findings from the 2016 Sensis e-Business Report, emphasising that online shopping has increased yet again.
“We have seen more activity in purchasing online than ever before. This year, 7/10 Australians made purchases online – a 10 point jump from last year,” said Mr Allan.
“While we are busy searching, purchasing and socialising online, there is a small or medium sized business seeking to reach us who wants us to purchase their goods and services. The digital revolution has levelled the playing field; businesses who get their online presence right will attract customers no matter their size.”
Mr Allan urged all SMBs to befriend their smartphones to tap into the commercial potential.
“With 78% of Australians owning a smart phone and 73% accessing the internet on it... ensure you take a mobile first approach and engage with your customers in an authentic way across the channels they use.”
Head of Brand Facebook & Instagram, Naomi Shepherd said that businesses should be thinking of mobile first as those people accessing the internet on their phones will also be viewing advertisements on them.
“When you create an advert, consider what it looks like on your mobile phone because that’s where people will be consuming it,” said Ms Shepherd.
When it comes to building a digital strategy, it became a battle amongst the panel of which is defined first – the ‘who’, ‘what’ or ‘why’.
CEO & Founder of Vinomofo, Justin Dry emphasised the importance of ‘why’ – knowing why your product or service is important and basing your online presence around how you can make that ‘why’ – or purpose - relevant to your customers.
“All we wanted was to democratise wine. That’s our ‘why’,” said Mr Dry.
Brand expert Dan Gregory honed in on the ‘who’ – who it is that businesses are focusing their efforts towards.
“You can tell a lot about how your business is growing by your customers. Research your competition; look at their social media pages and see what their customers are complaining about and turn that around,” said Mr Gregory.
Ms Shepherd disagreed: “I don’t think it’s any of those, I think it’s all about the ‘what’…In what ways can we use the channels available to us to connect with our customers?”
Ms Shepherd also spoke about how Facebook and Instagram tools make it easier for small and medium businesses to compete with big businesses with bigger budgets as they can tap into their audiences and use the customer service and creative tools to their advantage.
“Instagram is a platform (that gives you) the ability to take amazing imagery and videos and then add text and graphics and filters. Three or four years ago you would have been spending thousands in production,” Ms Shepherd said.
The panellists then discussed how data analysis gives valuable insights into customer behaviour and the effectiveness of online campaigns such as emails and social media.
“It’s easier to stand out these days as you can target potential users more accurately,” said Mr Dry.
CEO & Founder of Adore Beauty, Kate Morris agreed: “We have a saying: Trust in God, then everybody else brings data. Use Google Analytics. It’s free and it tells you all about your customer base and who you’re serving.”
Ms Shepherd also contributed to the discussion, stating that Facebook’s lookalike targeting feature allowed businesses to mirror their customer bases through in-house targeting.
“It’s the secret I want to let you in on – you can simply take all the information that you know about your existing customers and we will try and find people just like them to grow your customer base here in Australia. It’s about being able to target and advertise to anybody that you want to reach.”
When asked about Facebook’s organic reach function and its limited visibility compared to paid advertisements, Ms Shepherd replied: “It’s hard to get organic reach, so businesses need to work on a business strategy, not just a social media strategy, to reach their customers.”
The discussion wrapped up with a question about the ethics behind data use in digital marketing. All panellists were in agreeance that businesses should only use and trust platforms that take data security seriously.
“You should use platforms that take your customers’ data seriously and gives them options to find out why they are seeing content and can stop seeing it if they want,” said Ms Shepherd.
Here’s a snapshot of what the speakers had to say:
John Allan – Sensis
“Be clear about who you are and what you offer; ensure you take a mobile-first approach and engage with your customer in an authentic way.”
Kate Morris – Adore Beauty
“Trust in God, but everybody else has to bring data. Use data to understand your customers and their behaviour.”
Naomi Shepherd – Facebook & Instagram
“Punch above your weight and use social media customer service and creative tools to get an edge over big business.”
Justin Dry – Vinomofo
“Focus on authenticity and use advances in social media to your advantage.”
Dan Gregory – The Impossible Institute
“Target your customers carefully and don’t dehumanise them.”