leadership

Outgrow the CEO: Leadership at a cost?

This week we have seen Travis Kalanick resign from Uber after being pressured from 25% of shareholders (being the major VCs) with 40% of the voting rights. These investors have taken the drastic measure of pushing the CEO out to protect their investment.

 

Over 15 rounds of investment Uber has taken on $12Bn for a valuation of roughly $70Bn. Uber has gross bookings of $5Bn and net revenue is and of this Uber retains 25% of the fare. With $70Bn dollars in valuation at stake, these investors have a lot riding on the success of ride sharing. What led to this leadership change?

 

Being ambitious does not always make friends

In order to grow you need to take customers from somewhere. In doing so someone has to lose a customer, it is called competition. When a business as large as Uber grows as fast as Uber in so many markets (60 countries with car transport, food delivery and even competition for drivers) you are going to bump against a lot of resistance.

 

The incumbents don’t lead

We do not see the incumbents in any marketplace taking the initiative. It is always the ‘new kid on the block’ that has to bend or break the rules that govern how the game is played. Uber now operates in 82 countries and over 660 cities. They have faced resistance from taxi companies and regulators as they enter each city and there are now a number of examples that show how this tension can be navigated. Each hard fought by both sides, but all lead by Uber.

 

Set goals that stretch you

We are all about to do up our business plans for next financial year (or at least I hope you are). And in these we will outline hopes for where and how we will acquire new customers, and how many customers we will win. If we wish to lead our business to real change these goals need to be ambitious. Not just 5% here or there, this can be achieved through what you do and how you do it.

 

Look over the horizon

Goals in excess of 25 or even 50% require you to take your business in whole new directions and develop new ways of doing things. With the tools outlined in last week’s column, these tools exist for many businesses but you have to go looking for them. Uber is not playing to win the car transport market, they are playing to win transport in a driverless vehicle age.

 

People and culture matter

Much will be written about Travis and his time at the head of one of the world’s most iconic disruptors and now a household name. Much of that media will talk about sexual harassment claims and aggressive management, neither of which can be condoned. But while the style hasn’t been right, the business has done a lot of things well. A strong board, clear goals, strategic influence on policy and focused execution in cities it plays in.

 

But growth at any price is not the goal. Yes, the company has grown at an outlandish pace. But the reason the CEO has now been changed is that the leadership of people and the culture did not keep pace with the commercial growth, and that is just as important.

 

As a brand Uber has as many fans as it has detractors and the reaction from industry and the market alike is a great case study for change in all our industries.

 

Written by Mark Jones, Managing Director

digital marketing agency

How to survive working in a digital marketing agency

I work in a digital marketing agency.

That’s a common answer when you ask someone where they work nowadays. If they’re a millennial with multi-colored hair, a well-maintained beard, or  clothes that would look ridiculous on everyone else yet stylish on them, there’s two possibilities about their occupation: they’re either a barista or they work in digital.

People who don’t work in a digital marketing agency imagine workers there processing large amounts of information daily and caving under it. This is only half-true, but you need to know a few tricks to stay afloat.

 

Find your tools

There’s sites for marketing professionals where they can download software, or pay for programs that include the tools of the trade. The net is saturated with companies touting everything from scheduling software for social media to tools to find the right hashtags. You can play around to find what’s best for you. These, though, are our favourites in the YDS office:

Of course, there’s other things you need to survive in the office. A personal/work computer or device, a good old fashioned notebook and pens, and….

 

Lotsa caffeine

Caffeine is the go-to stimulant for most people on their morning commute. You’ll see workers around Brisbane toting coffee cups on their way to work each day, again during their lunch break, and once more at the three pm slump.

While coffee isn’t considered a ‘marketing tool’, it’s certainly an essential factor in giving the brain a bit of pep when the work hits hard and fast.

 

A good wifi connection

Nobody in a digital marketing agency would have a job without it. Any content marketer, creative strategist or SEO expert must stay connected, otherwise they can’t get anything done.

 

Having an eagle eye

Marketers must keep their finger ‘on the pulse’ so they can help their clients stay on top of new developments in their industry. This includes everything from news updates to competitor rankings.

 

Communicating

If you’re not talking, you need to reevaluate your strategy. Whether with clients or colleagues, an open line of communication is necessary to meet deadlines, outline strategies, and more.

Why we love Yoast for search engine optimisation

The market for search engine optimisation is saturated with tools, infographics, and software promising ‘top notch results’. It’s enough to make your head spin, and you haven’t even gotten around to writing SEO-friendly content yet. Yoast is a simple tool that delivers satisfying results that everyone can use.

We love Yoast because, for one, it’s FREE. There’s a premium version available, but when you’re starting out, the free version covers the basics you need. Plenty of search engine optimisation widgets charge through the nose for the right to download and install. Yoast is free to install and comes with enough features for those on a budget, or just starting out their website, to use.

Using it is just as simple. Each WordPress page has the Yoast dashboard located at the bottom of the page. To get accurate metrics, fill out your focus keyword and the algorithm will come back with results in seconds.

 

search engone optimisation

 

As you can see here, the widget is listing what needs improvement for better search engine optimisation. It might seem like a lot of information, but it’s broken up into a ‘traffic light system’ to reflect the severity of the issue. Red is ‘urgent’, yellow is ‘could be better’ and green is ‘best’. Writers should aim for a green light for a page that will perform well for the focus keyword.

Another reason to love Yoast? The results are written in plain English. Not everyone who installs the widget is a web developer or a content marketer. They don’t all know robot.txt or how meta tags work. Simple is sometimes better, and Yoast’s algorithm delivers results that anyone can understand. This includes bloggers who write as a hobby, or senior content marketers in  large companies.

Yoast is the most popular search engine optimisation widget in the world. Over four million websites, or 1.2% of all sites on the web, use it. The freemium version offers enough for beginner bloggers or novice website owners to improve their content for SEO. . The results are easy to understand with the traffic light system and user-friendly instructions to help the author make quick, effective fixes.

online marketing

Get more customers through online marketing

Potential customers are spending more time than ever on their phones, creating a boom in digital and online marketing. The problem is keeping up with it all. There are too many ways to explain for just one blog, but here’s at least three methods to get more business through online marketing.

 

Pretty website

People will judge a book based on its cover, despite the saying, and they’ll do the same thing online. They’ll judge whether your site is worth looking at based on initial appearances, and how long it takes to load. The widely-accepted time frame is three seconds. Your page should load in less than half that time Then…BAM, the visitor is faced with a homepage that makes them want to keep clicking.

Your website also must look good on mobile. This isn’t negotiable. After months of rumbling, Google is slowly rolling out its mobile-preferred indexing system. It will start looking at a website’s ranking determined on mobile results over desktop.

 

It’s MY business

Attracting local customers is a goal that any business has, and Google My Business helps you do just that. This is a free plugin that owners can use to make and update their business profile any time. You can LITERALLY put your business on the map by adding your address. When customers in your town use Google Maps to find a business (or just do a general search) a pin on your address will appear.

My Business includes dashboards for metrics like the number of clicks and phone calls. There’s also a review function so customers can leave a star rating and feedback. Making a Google My Business account will verify you exist and will help you show up on SERPs.

my business

 

Make connections

Or as we call them: links. When you write blog articles, you can link certain keywords and phrases to another website. Preferably, make a hyperlink to a website with authority (a high trust ranking and millions of visitors). Linking keywords to authority sites using those same words will boost your trust and index ranking.

Don’t forget to make internal links, either. Linking one article or page on your website to another about the same or a similar topic will also put a pep in those Googlebots’ step. They’ll see that your content is relevant and properly linked.

digital marketing workload

Staying on top of your digital marketing workload

Digital marketing is a fun place to work. You learn new things every day, see what the world is up (from your computer screen) to, and play with some of the latest software. News and innovations get released so fast, though, and it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here’s some ways to make sure your work doesn’t suffer.

 

Get scheduled

Your calendar is your lifeline. Digital marketing is fast-paced and you can’t miss an appointment or a deadline. Whether it’s on paper or on your Google Calendar, having a schedule will keep you honest and on-track. And if you couldn’t finish a task today? No drama, just shift it into a space the next day.

Social media software like Hootsuite has in-built calendars so you can plan posts in advance. It’s also a handy tracking tool for mentions of your client’s brands, seeing what your competitors are up to, and responding to comments on posts. Hootsuite supports YouTube, Facebook, and more.

 

Subscribe

News travels fast and gets old even faster. Smaller digital marketing businesses need to keep their ears to the ground (or their eyes on the screen) to keep up with developments. Subscribing to newsletters from authority sources is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse. Favourites around the Your Digital Solution office include Sprout, Buffer, and Hootsuite.

Make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of subscribing to every ‘relevant’ newsletter. Pick two or three that are relevant to your job. This is how you’ll know to read them.

 

Talk – a LOT

Strategy is about planning in advance. If a client has an idea for a promotion, listen to them and what they want, preferably a month or two in advance.

Team meetings aren’t dead, either. Touching base frequently, face-to-face, will get questions answered and strategies hashed out faster than doing it over email.

seo bike race

Don’t stop pedalling; the Tour de SEO

At Your Digital Solution, we use this analogy quite often. SEO is a bike race, and there are lots of riders racing to number one. When you enter the race, you start at the back and how you perform will advance you…or not.

 

When will I get to number one?

Well, it won’t happen overnight. When you get to first place, or first page, you must keep peddling to stay there. Once you stop, all your competitors will race right past you. That puts you back to where you started!

 

Words are key

Getting a good result includes narrowing down the keywords you want to get found for. Any list of keywords can include hundreds. Ideally, you want to narrow these down to twenty or even ten. Using these keywords correctly means you build a higher authority on Google. The little bots that crawl the site will look for the keywords in titles, URLs and in the body of text.

If you’re targeting a word or phrase that nobody else is using naturally your ranking will get higher, quicker. If you look at your competitors and what their SERPs are like, it will help you have a better idea of what keywords to buy. It’s common for competitors to buy phrases that are off by just one word or so. This way, when they build Google ads, their ads will show up on the competition’s page!  

 

Building trust

What are relationships without trust? With Google and with customers, using you SEO correctly will build up your site and your ranking with it. Trust is built in many ways. This includes high CTRs, good internal linking to relevant pages and avoiding black-hat SEO practices. 

Using black hat SEO techniques is common on the net. It’s like doping in a race; basically, cheating. Keyword stuffing and hidden links are common in a bid to boost rank.
SEO is a never-ending bike race that waits for no-one. Choosing your keywords effectively and paying to use them will get you found on the net one way or another. Don’t cheat, build up trust from making connections and above all; don’t cheat.

get found facebook

Get found with Facebook ads

Getting found online is a game where you should use all the tools you can to market yourself. With the rise of social media, the competition is fiercer than ever before. Facebook is one social site where businesses market themselves viciously to get found by potential customers and remind older ones of their existence. Facebook ads are easy to build, but how you build it will either attract a few customers…or A LOT.

 

Money

Big companies have thousands to millions of dollars to spend on advertising every year. Facebook ads are no different; you must pay to get found. The budget is up to you, whether you want a daily set up, pay per click or impressions made.

Your budget also depends on how much you’re willing to pay for actions taken; this includes click through rates and impressions made. If you’re confused about budgeting and how it works, Facebook Help Centre had this to say:

Remember: You’re not buying ads or the ability to show ads. You’re telling us how much you’re willing to spend on showing your ads to people in your target audience who can get the results you want.

 

Audience

Targeting will affect your budget and how much you’ll spend across your campaigns. Who do you want to reach? If you’re a health food service, you want to target those who like to go to the gym and eat “clean”. How old are they? What other interests do they have? You choose the parameters when you build your ad. These include language, location and gender among others.

Targeting, though, doesn’t mean going for the biggest number. What’s the point of showing the ad if nobody will buy the product? Getting found online means targeting effectively, and hopefully have customers coming back for more.

 

Appearance

This is the fun part! Facebook ads are flexible in how you can design them and there are heaps of layout options to choose from.

Just remember to keep it relevant. If you want to get found for health food, put a picture of the product in the ad. Don’t use something unrelated or confusing. There’s room for words in all the ads but usually it’s only to a set limit of characters. Use your words wisely to make an effective call-to-action. This is effective if you have specials/sales running or are offering discounts to first-time customers.

evergreen content trees

Keeping yourself relevant with evergreen content

Evergreen content gets its moniker from evergreen trees. These trees keep their appearance all year round, from summer to winter. Evergreen content stays relevant in the market it’s written for. It’s reliable and relevant no matter how much time passes.

 

How do I write evergreen content?

Start with your industry. What questions are people always asking? What results pop into Google when you type in a keyword? Think about the things you’ve learned in business, the questions you’ve asked. How did you find the answers to your problems? Evergreen content provides guidance and information that people can rely on and recommend to their friends. They’ll even revisit it from time to time.

 

But there is a catch

There are types of evergreen content that you can write and forget, and others that need trimming (like a hedge). Facts and stats are an example of this. Research and scientific findings change year after year. To keep your “authority” status it’s important to adjust what you’ve written to reflect changes in the facts you reference. A blog on history can change overnight when discoveries are made in the field that discredit or add to previous theories. 

 

There are plenty of evergreen formats to choose from

So many to list, only so much page space before you lose interest. Below, we list some popular evergreen formats you may have read or reread from time to time.

 

  • The best — of all time

The best video games, scientific discoveries, biscuit recipes and more. This format needs tending to depending on the niche.

 

  • How to —

Tested, true and found on websites everywhere. People need instructions, how-to guides give them. Adding your own personal experiences and how the how-to guide worked for you makes the list relatable and will encourage readers to try the same.

 

  • What does — mean?

Where complicated words or terms exist people will need to know what they mean. Because these terms don’t change quickly or at all, you can simply write and push “publish” without worrying about it going out of date.

 

  • Things you wish you knew before —

People make mistakes all the time and readers will search for advice before they try the same thing again. Building a guide around how to avoid a mistake, or even fix it, will build trust. Readers might visit your site again if the article helped them with their problem.

 

  • Titles of places, movies and objects  

This type of evergreen content is found on iMDB, Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes and other authority sites. Because tey have a high trust ranking and lots of traffic, they’re usually in the top five on SERPs. Titles and objects remain relevant no matter how much time passes.
Evergreen content remains relevant and trusted among audiences. People visit them for reliable information, and will revisit them if the advice/statistics/information offered to them helped with their problem. Put yourself into your audience’s shoes; what did you want to know, way back when?

seo techniques tips

SEO techniques to avoid

SEO is a hard game where some rules are openly disregarded. Sometimes people don’t know the rules at all and stuff up. Google penalises these “mistakes” and that leads to a drop in rank. This will have a “ripple effect”. For example, in 2014 Expedia got penalised for a link-buying scheme. Their share prices dropped by 4.5%, along with their ranking on SERPs. To avoid the same fate, here’s what NOT to do when you’re chasing a good SEO ranking.

 

Stuffing the keywords in

One of the dirty tricks made to look friendly for a search engine, not the people reading the website. Keyword stuffing is when you cram in your target words or phrases as much as possible in return for a better ranking. Google has long since moved to penalise this. You’ve been “stuffing” if you’ve written the same keyword or phrase over three times every one hundred words.

 

Hidden links

Having visible links from a few trusted sources is an excellent way to get a good ranking. Hidden links from lots of unrelated crummy ones, though, is a good way to lose your position. Blog writers and websites with low traffic aren’t above putting links in full stops and other punctuation marks.

 

White on white

This is another kind of keyword stuffing when you “hide” keywords on a background. Programmers do this by making the text and the background the same colour. They’d put in the words as many times as possible, often in tiny text. In the past, this was successful, until Google bots started crawling and realised the problem.

 

Forgetting your metas

Having keywords in your text and website is important but you get extra ranking power when they’re included in your metas. You’re now asking “what the heck are meta-whatsits?”

Meta keywords are in the HTML address on a webpage. You don’t see meta tags; they’re lined in the website’s code. These describe what your web page is about to the internet server, and the bots will crawl to check if the tags and keywords are related.

 

Level-up plagiarism

Never plagiarize; you’ll get caught, full stop. But when writer’s block hits (or just pure laziness), some website owners and bloggers aren’t above copying and pasting content from one site to their own. When this gets crawled, though, Google will find the exact same keywords and metas in two unrelated sites. The result of trying to manipulate content to get better results on SERPs is a penalty.

Growing your business with unhappy customers

A couple of weeks ago we spoke about Aussie innovation. Innovation comes about because someone is not happy, and they can see a better solution. So unhappy customers must see a better solution too, right?

Well read on because they do! After working with clients on finding their unhappy customer moments, we are finding that it leads to a blind spot you never knew you had, but unfortunately your customers knew all about it. Great news is you can then get on and fix it.

Find your blind spot

We have used the following thought starters to find blind spots to help our clients’ business’ grow. By making a group of unhappy customers happy, we have made the experience for all of their clients better.

Look for the “Friction”

Look for where customers get stuck, frustrated or they simply miss out on some benefit they expected.

1. STUCK: Customers get “stuck” in all sorts of ways. They are typically informational type issues and great spots where digital innovation can help. Approaches such as Six Sigma can help to identify how to improve perform here.

What to look for in your business; Depends on what customers are looking for. Where is your address to collect my order, when is my order arriving, are you open today or what time do you close, do you have this item in stock? This information has to be on your website, it must work on mobile, has to be correct and it has to be updated at public holidays.

2. FRUSTRATED: Points of frustration are where the promise we made to our clients in our marketing is too far removed from what we delivered. This can be in a product feature or in a service delivery. The promise can be made on the packaging or via our sales staff. And hey, we all over-promise at times, getting sales is hard, but overplaying our hand rarely leads to loyal customers (readers of last week’s column on branding should know this). And I think Aussies especially like to call out any BS they see in excess hype.

What to look for in your business; A great example is fast food photographs on the menu board, compared to what actually comes out! Take away their frustration by lending an ear, provide a feedback point such as a “service quality” email address or via social media to capture this sentiment and listen for how you are going.

3. UNMET EXPECTATIONS: Another common friction point is where we are not meeting customer expectations. The hardest thing with these expectations is they can be set by your competitors, and customers that shop around know about them, and they don’t necessarily tell you, they just disappear.

What to look for;  Failing to deliver fully on service promises can be hard for management to track. Ideally you run constant customer feedback surveys. These can be online or via tear sheets that go into delivered goods and services. The best companies do these for every customer interaction because they want to know and understand the problem for one customer today is a growth opportunity for many customers tomorrow.

Turn those frowns upside down

So start looking for the unhappy customers, not dodging them. Actively listen to their frustrations and as you turn those frowns upside down, you might send your revenue line up as well!

 Next week we will cover off how we consciously innovate around the opportunities we have uncovered.

 

Mark Jones is managing director of Your Digital Solution.

If you have a question for Mark, email streetsmarts@yourdigitalsolution.com.au

As first published in Townsville Bulletin, February 11, 2016 12:00am – Used with permission.