Saturday, 5 July 2014

Module 5: My Squared Learnings

Squared means a lot of things. A digital know how. A social management concept. A bringing together of ideas for success. An understanding of all things digital. 

Google Squared means something unique to every student on the course. We've learnt everything from being T-shaped, to the importance of Video creation, to best practices on Content curation. I've learnt and strengthend my understanding of all things digital, ranging from Blogger to Youtube to Google Analytics. I take away an understanding of the digital path a consumer takes, from initial interest in your brand through the research, collaboration and finally to the buying stage of a service or product. Squared has helped develop my understanding of the digital landscape, but has also had additional benefits outside of the subject of digital and marketing. Confidence to try something new, confidence to challenge an existing idea, can it be done faster, more efficiently, can it offer better value for money? 

Having the ability to understand and stay afresh with changes digital brings to consumers and businesses alike will help me engage, nurture and work on opportunities I may have never found myself considering before. Putting this into practice will certainly be a challenge in itself; but one I'm looking forward to. I have been privileged to work with and even meet some fantastic people on my Squared journey, a journey that has brought together people from all business levels, from many different areas within businesses. This 'group-mind' and collaborative effort has resulted in amazing work being produced. Something that I will definitely take away with me for the future.

Our final module focused on the use of Infographics, a terminology used to describe 'beautiful data'. Data that has been presented in a way that captures the mind of the reader, that has a shareable aspect to, something that brings value to the consumer. Our team produced an infographic on 'The Impact of Digital on Education'. Once we've received our grading, stay tuned for the infographic itself, something I'll post publicly shortly after results have been issued. 

If you're considering the Squared Journey, just do it. You'll meet people you never expected to connect with, share ideas with like-minded people and achieve something you never may have thought was possible. Do you have what it takes to be Squared?

Module 4: An Insightful Analytical View of Data

Tools available online allow business and brands to understand the demographic of their visits down to the N'th degree. What % of male/female interactions did we have? Which countries visited our site? How long did they stay on our welcome page, then where did they go? How many visitors converted to buying customers?

Google Analytics has for many years led the path in data analytics and remains at the forefront of such technology. With the insertion of a small piece of HTML code into any given website, suddenly a dashboard comes to life, with more facts, figures and statistics than you can shake a stick at. But data itself is of no use with an analytical approach to its review, to find the trends emerging from the data. You can see that 500 visitors visited on Friday night, this was much more than normal, but where did they come from? Even better, 20% of these visitors lead to a sale, much higher than your day to day conversion rates from organic search results. Only when delving into the statistics do you find a positive review has been written about your brand from a national newspaper, referring readers to your brand! Fantastic. Having the ability to understand where your traffic has come from then allows you do develop relationships with other influential users, snowballing the positive effect seen previously into a rolling digital methodical approach, resulting in better conversions and further referrals.

Data itself is great. But without looking at the insights the data can provide, it can often be overwhelming. Analyse carefully, spot the trends, spot what works and develop on those trends accordingly, to better your position and help you learn from what you have already achieved. If something works - great, copy it, test it, evolve it. Fail to analyse your data and failing to learn from it will leave you tailing behind those that do.

Module 3: The Digital Marketing Mix & The Rise of The Consumer

Before the world of digital, consumers shopped with their feet. Literally. Shopping meant a drive into the nearest town, a browse around retail units dotted down the high street, followed by the treck home to unpack and unload everything. Not anymore. Consumers have become tech-savvy, and the needs of consumers has changed also. They have needs, needs that change based on the what they have the ability to do, or what they want to do. How has digital affected the requirements of the typical user?

They want to shop when they want to shop. No longer do they have to wait until 9am and doors to unlock. They can login online at 3am from a hammock in hawaii and order themselves the latest trending trainers. They want to involved, take part, be seen to be recognised by a brand. Social Media has finally helped bridged the communnication divide between company and consumer, helping both parties to communicate easily in a way that is convinient to the consumer. They want the best price, the ability to search across the internet in seconds for that special purchase and instantly compare who is best suited for their next buy. Pay as you go services have seen a massive rise in line with digital, allowing low cost monthly movie, music or e-book rental services to flourish, allowing consumers to do what they want, when they want. The creative and social side of consumers means they may want to share what they have bought, what they have seen or what they have recently read. The needs of consumers can be seen in every aspect of digital interaction.

To stay abreast with these evolving requirements means companies have to look to reach out in new ways, to stand out in the digital landscape already scattered with numerous online retailers. They have to help the consumer stay up to date, make transacting easy and allow the consumer to do more than they've even been able to before. Communicating with consumers through multiple channels should now be considered, reaching out to them on multiple social network channels, perhaps even tied in to traditional print media. Consumers want value for money, they want service and they want to transact on their terms. If a business wants to continue to trade well, they must evolve to meet these demands and transact on platforms familiar to their users.

Module 2: The Mobile Revolution and Technological Disruption

50 years ago, the thought of being able to check the prices of an item in your hand, in the 5 nearest shops around you would be just a dream. The ability to check the status of your upcoming flight on route to the airport, without calling the airport to check. Strange. Being able to lay outside in the park, drinking a chilled beverage, whilst ordering your monthly groceries and having them delivered straight to your front door. Unreal.

Mobile technology has progressed in such a way, modern society has adapted and evolved and incorporated the convenience of mobile technology in every day life. For the consumer, technology via the everyday mobile smart phone has allowed people to manage business from around the world, check the status of your latest online purchase or even view a live stream of the CCTV at home. Consumers no longer need to rely on manual methods to undertake everyday tasks, they can simply refer to the mobile phone for the answer.

As a result of this convenience factor, the ease of accessing information, mobile technology has affected real life businesses in many ways, both positive and negative. For example, Royal Mail, the UK standard for sending 'snail-mail' has seen a substantial drop in the number of letters delivered. Why? E-newsletters, E-Statements, E-mails have all but taken over and reduced the need for businesses to use paper to communicate with customers, reducing costs and increasing speed of delivering a message. On the flip-side, postal and delivery companies have seen a substantial increase in business in regards to package deliveries. As a result of convenience and being able to purchase almost any item online and have it delivered, the number of packages requiring delivery has increased through the likes of e-commerce, again accessible via the mobile handset and using mobile technology.

Mobile has changed the digital and physical landscape. To remain competitive, companies have to evolve and cater for the every increasing demand for mobile content. The fact is, a business can take it in its stride, develop mobile content, mobile solutions and provide convenience for a user. Alternatively, they can stand still, ignore the digital revolution and very soon, find themselves being ignored by a majority audience as a result. What will you do?