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.



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.

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.

Long Tail and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Time to get your math nerd on! Long Tail refers to a Power Law graph, which is a particular shape of data when describing the frequency of each event in a distribution. It has become widely adopted in SEO circles to explain the thinking needed when selecting the keywords you wish to target.

CAUTION: Using this thinking will reduce your cost per click and improve your conversion rates! ;o)

Where is it from?

It was originally popularised in the late 40’s by economists after the war to describe some of the market dynamics of the time. Typically you show demand/popularity across a number of variants/products. It can be used for sales volumes, plotting population of animal species, supply and demand or anything that takes your fancy.

How does it work?

It doesn’t work, quite so much as it is evidenced. And it is seen where a small number of an observed population account for a large portion of the activity.

For example if we recorded the colour of cars on the roads we would find white cars make up a large portion of the distribution, while yellow cars a lot less. Yellow cars would be in the long tail.

And in a market place like Google it is very effective at highlighting those terms that are hyper-competitive (in the head) and those that are less often searched for but similarly less competed for by other websites (in the tail).

How this might look when it comes to SEO is as follows;

Power Law graph used to describe SEO behaviour.

Power Law graph used to describe SEO behaviour.

How do we target Head Terms vs Tail Terms?

For sound SEO we need to target terms that are in all three areas – Head, Body and Tail.

The head terms are those that any competitive business needs to target, but are competitive as most businesses are targeting them. For these terms we often go stronger with SEO activities and aim to build organic rank, with some ‘top up’ of ad spend.

For the tail terms we find we can get high conversion from users who know what they are looking for and we might find costs per click are a lot lower (certainly relative to head terms). So we often find ourselves steering more of our ad spend into these terms for a solid return on investment.

And for Body Terms it is generally a 50/50 as to how hard you want to focus on them.

So what do I do about it?

As in all SEO and marketing this is a guiding principle. Every case is slightly different and how you define your market has a huge influence over the competitors and traffic you are targeting.

So do solid keyword research, target the areas of your business that are unique and try some new angles while measuring the outcomes and adjusting accordingly.

And if in doubt at all drop us a line, our team will only be too happy to help you amke the right choice or even do this work for your business.


Google changes of Feb 2016 have changed how we should compete

Are the Google changes to ad placements the “adpocolypse”* some feared?

In late February 2016, Google made the decision to kill off their right side pay per click (PPC) ads, which left many wondering how this would impact the performance of advertising with Google via Search Engine Marketing (SEM). To date the impact has not been extreme for the big players, but we are seeing that it might be affecting the small business owner more than many realise.

So what happened?

google search example

Click to see an example landing page here

The change saw the total number of ads that can appear in a desktop Google search reduced from eleven to seven, with a maximum of four ads at the top (see example image) and three at the bottom of the free, organic results.  This meant the first FREE ad was now coming after four PAID ad positions. Moving it down one spot probably doesn’t sound like a big deal. But what if you knew that fourth spot used to be free and it captured as much traffic as the last 3 positions on the search page combined? Not only that, your competitor can now pay to capture this traffic and take it away from you; a loss in real terms of 16.4% to make it back.

Let’s work through how this changes things…

Thanks to the great work by the team at http://www.analyticsseo.com/blog/seo-click-through-rate/ we can see the changes in action. Traditionally the list of results was something was as per the table below.

Table of Google clicks

The Percentage of “clicks” earned by the search ranking achieved on a search result page.

What is important here is the 4th position used to be FREE if you could optimise your website and content for the user search. This position resulted in 8.7% of traffic. Now that traffic belongs to Google to SELL to the highest bidder, quite likely your competitor. See the image below where the first ad for help with Google is from Bing, evenGoogle struggles with a competitor being the top bidder for advertising on Google!

Even Bing competes with Google

How ironic if you are Google!

This is even more important on mobile

Astute readers will have noted that on mobile even more traffic goes to the first few results. This is because on a smaller screen the organic search results are pushed even further down the page than ever before. On mobile we already see in many search categories, that only paid listings are visible above the fold. Not a bad trick if you are Google, as they own the majority of the mobile advertising market place. Well played Google.

So what can we take from this?

Small business owners up against a big brand have to fight harder and smarter. Big brands dominate the first three results due to familiarity with users who are in a rush and scanning for the first result that might solve their problem.

Smart marketers need to understand, monitor and test the impact of these changes to efficiently keep getting seen by their customers on Google and other online advertising platforms. As the difficulty and/or cost of one platform goes up, we all start to explore other avenues. In truth we should be doing this anyway.

Keep exploring and experimenting with your advertising spend and content marketing online. Think hard about how you pay to play in this new layout, where playing for free is getting more difficult. The big advertising platforms have to get bigger to meet shareholders’ demands, try to make sure it isn’t any more of your hard earned than it needs to be! And if in doubt seek expert help.

Mark Jones is Principal of Your Digital Solution, a Brisbane-based digital strategy agency. Mark contributes to various media outlets as a contributor on business strategy, marketing and technology. This article first appeared in the following group of newspapers in Mark’s weekly column:
Daily Mercury – Mackay, The Morning Bulletin – Rockhampton, The Observer – Gladstone, NewsMail – Bundaberg, Fraser Coast Chronicle, The Gympie Times, Sunshine Coast Daily, The Queensland Times, Warwick Daily News, The Northern Star – Northern Rivers, Daily Examiner – NSW North Coast, The Chronicle – Toowoomba.

Got a question, get in touch: mark@yourdigitalsolution.com.au

What you measure matters

What you measure matters!

Measuring the behaviour of your website users will lead to more profits. It is that important.

We have all heard that “what gets measured, gets managed”. In our physical operations their is often only financial data available. With digital tools we can now track customer behaviour, this is a powerful tool to tell us if we are becoming more or less appealing to more users. Today we will look at the three top metrics that can be your guide to staying on the right track to more profits.

Websites and mobile apps offer a range of benefits to your business. But the often overlooked advantage is the data they create. Data that allows you to KNOW what customers are responding positively to, rather than GUESS.

For a while I have followed the commentary of Aunash Kaushik, Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist (his real title). He is considered one of the world’s leading lights on what data leads to better business decisions for increased profits. And why not, he sits on top of the world’s biggest data capturing monolith. He should have a better perspective than most!

BOUNCE RATE: The number one metric to focus on is Bounce Rate. Bounce Rate is the percentage of single visits that leave your website from the landing page without going any further. The bounce rate indicates that the page the user has landed on, from an ad, email or another website link, is not relevant or not what they expected. This means the page has not clearly delivered on the expectation the user had for what they might find. And if you have paid for the user to take that link then this is clearly a bad situation.

If every link is a promise of what a user might find, then clearly the promise has not been met; not a good start in building a new relationship. It is rare to get a bounce rate below 20%, but a good goal is to achieve around 35%. Anything over 50% is something to actively work on reducing. To improve bounce rate review the ‘promise’ you make in your advertising and ensure that promise is clearly met with the first impressions of the landing page. Typically this means the call to action on the landing page must align with the promise of the link that got the user there. You might also find the traffic you are acquiring is low or no value and should be reviewed.

LOYALTY: The number of times the user visits within the given period. For a typical retailer it might be per month, for a service it might be visits within a week if the user is nearing an actual purchase. Loyal users are often past customers, or new ones planning to purchase. And any returning purchaser is more likely to be an advocate so the more of these you have, the better. If loyalty is low you may need to look at more content, connecting with other similar communities and making more regular updates to your online products.

RECENCY: This shows how quickly users are returning to your site between sessions. As this number builds we see users are more inclined to purchase or make enquiries and you find your website will convert far more strongly. To find Recency go to Behaviours in your Audience reports in Google Analytics and you can review New Vs Returning users, the Frequency & the Recency of users. All of which imply the Engagement you have with users and therefore the likelihood of them becoming a customer and in turn repeating purchases.

So go look at these measures for your website and monitor them weekly and monthly and in a few weeks you will be sure to start to see an improvement in the quality of traffic and likelihood of sales will rise.

Mark Jones is Principal of Your Digital Solution, a Brisbane-based digital strategy agency. Mark contributes to various media outlets as a contributor on business strategy, marketing and technology. This article first appeared in the following group of newspapers in Mark’s weekly column:
Daily Mercury – Mackay, The Morning Bulletin – Rockhampton, The Observer – Gladstone, NewsMail – Bundaberg, Fraser Coast Chronicle, The Gympie Times, Sunshine Coast Daily, The Queensland Times, Warwick Daily News, The Northern Star – Northern Rivers, Daily Examiner – NSW North Coast, The Chronicle – Toowoomba.

Got a question, get in touch: mark@yourdigitalsolution.com.au