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

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

Tis the season to be IT Secure

Avoid the Grinch, Gremlins AND the Ghostbusters this Christmas

Did you know security risks double each year at Christmas? The primary reason is the hacker community know that you and your IT help are all about to go on holidays. They literally double their efforts to breach your security and have some fun while no one is home.

Take a few preparatory steps this week to reduce the chance that this happens to you and ease the pain if it does. And by ensuring the following three areas are clear you will be assured of a peaceful break.

The IT Grinch will steal your Christmas – don’t let him

Don’t let a major IT security issue steal your Christmas. Prepare ahead of time. Batten the hatches before you go away and be sure to return to work with all as you left it.

Two areas to check that will ensure your security is good to go are;

  1. Update your passwords
    1. Most security breaches are human in origin. Someone, somewhere has a password to get into your systems and they shouldn’t. This week why not update your passwords to key services and ensure only the people that should have access still do.
  2. Ensure you have back ups?
    1. Having a security breach is often not a question of if but when. And when it happens the next question is how long before we are back up and running.
    2. Ensure your website, databases, customer records and files are backed up off-premise.

Keep out the Gremlins – Whitelist friendly access

  • This means ONLY certain computers or devices are allowed to access your servers and network. In this way you can exclude and almost reduce to zero the chances of an unwelcome and unfriendly visitor.
  • If this is too hard, consider restricting admin or server rights to overseas traffic, just this will reduce the access to 99% of harmful efforts to access your systems.
    NOTE: Before you do be sure to check your network access is never routed via off shores services.

Know “Who ya gonna call” – not the Ghostbusters?

Now before everyone (including Elvis) leaves the building, have yourself a list drawn up of who you need to call inside or outside of your organisation in the event of an issue. In most businesses there are 3 to 4 key players who have the keys to most cabinets. You need to know how to reach them.

Simple advice is often the best

Now I know this advice is pretty basic, but every year we will get at least one client calling to get help on a system that we can’t get access to or can’t raise the people we need to help them get it fixed.

This year may not be your year to suffer at the hands of the Grinch, Ghostbusters or Gremlins – but if it you can send me my Christmas card thank you via this column!

Have a wonderful festive season, relax with your IT in good hands and we will see in the new year for more business marketing, technology and growth tips.


Mark Jones is managing director of Your Digital Solution.

If you have a question for Mark, email

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

Choosing keywords in competitive markets

WHERE we find a business operating in a mature segment against well-established competitors in their core (or obvious) keyword phrases, we may need to seek out Long Tail keywords that have higher value, but not necessarily the greatest volumes.

What this means is we begin to look for terms that are more obscure, but still relevant to the topic. The terms we start to look for are not searched for by users thousands of times, they may only be searched for by users 10 times per month. This means that to acquire traffic of any significant volume for the client we need to be managing and targeting a larger number of these keywords phrases.

For example if we are targeting search traffic for the phrase “family lawyer” we might find the cost per click for advertising is anywhere up to $100 or more. Given that almost half the traffic to our sample site bounces (returns to Google by the back button), this makes it almost $200 per user to simply have a look at our website. You can see this is going to get expensive very quickly, and Google loves that!

So instead we need to break down our family law business into segments, and if we find enough of them the ‘sum of these segments’ will provide sufficient volume to meet the level of inquiry we need. These might be Separation, Divorce, Child Custody, etc and within each of these categories we can look to find a myriad of lesser searched phrases, but the cost per click will now be below $10 and heading toward $5.

Another way to get outside the obvious, highly competed-for phrases is to go upstream or downstream. By this you need to think about what the searches might be for a user before or after your product and target them. For example, our Family Lawyer might target “relationship difficulties” or “counselling” prior to Divorce, as people might search for these before they feel they get to the end of the line with their relationship. But our family lawyer can still build some awareness at a far lower cost given lower competition.

By adopting these two approaches we can more economically test our traffic, and we are also confident that more targeted users will be closer to making an inquiry and more likely to convert.

In all SEO work be sure to adjust your site so the landing page (the page your link points to) for the content fits the new targeted phrases, and even your ads and navigation labels will want to be aligned to your target audiences. These all help your site to appeal to you various target segments.

Be sure to keep in mind the balance between core search terms and long tail search terms to ensure that your spread of phrases are giving you the volume of traffic that you require, and these users are converting into actual customers when they do get through to your website.

In this way you will be able to appeal to and capture enough traffic to your site despite significant competition.


Mark Jones is managing director of Your Digital Solution.

If you have a question for Mark, email

As first published in Townsville Bulletin, November 12, 2016 12:00am – Used with permission. To view the original article click below: 


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 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.

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