Friday, June 28, 2013

Sydney Commercial Photography - Superannuation and Investments

Sometimes marketing isn't always about creating viral social media campaigns. Formulating strategy, creating content and advertising campaigns is part of my role as a marketing manager but the truly creative element of my career lies in being a Sydney commercial photographer - photography and visual storytelling being a huge passion of mine.

"Living Life to the Full" by Sydney commercial photographer Markham Lane
It's a great pleasure to be asked to perform the commercial photography side of a campaign's production schedule, as well as being the marketing guy helping those brands develop strategies for their campaign. The benefit to me is that I get to travel, be creative and see the project through from beginning to end. The benefit to the client is a reduced cost for campaign development and comfort in knowing the project has less hand-off points - reducing turnaround times and the associated costs, including loss of revenues that come with that.

Here's a brief case study of a typical process. An investment and insurance company with a number of managed funds services, including superannuation and annuities are looking to attract younger investors who might be thinking about their retirement years in a brochure to be sent out to some of their customer base. I was asked to come for a preliminary meeting to discuss concepts.

The subsequent brief that came after that meeting required a retired couple had to be seen "living life to the full" and a connection had to be made at the experiential level to illicit an emotional response in the eyes of the audience. We decided that a photo shoot of a retired couple experiencing the V8 Fastway Track at the Eastern Creek Raceway was a thrilling, adrenalin pumping experience that could be easily shot.

And let me tell you, when those engines started to roar, the expressions on the faces of this retired couple really said it all.

Copyrighting was done with the key messages being signed-off by the client before the subsequent brochure was designed, with another sign-off by the client prior to printing. The whole process was managed in-house, with boxes of brochures and envelopes being delivered to the client, so that they could manage the postal process themselves.

The response in the first week generated hundreds of calls and I'm told that the client is very happy with the end results.

If you're thinking about your next marketing campaign, hiring a Sydney commercial photographer who knows how to capture the emotion of the moment while also assisting with brainstorming your advertising concept, the why not contact Markham Lane at for an initial consultation? Call him on +61414446660 or email

All images Copyright 2013 Markham Lane / Quaetapo Media Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Creating Social Media ROI

We've heard it all too often, CEO's are frustrated that social media doesn't have a sustainable business model and they're struggling to find the Return on Investment (ROI) for developing platforms. But perhaps the perspective of social media as a platform needs to change? helping you find the ROI within social media networks.

For years, I've been focussed on building digital channels and creating marketing strategies that drive traffic into those channels. The secret to success from a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) perspective has always rested in the creation of original content that satisfies the needs of the target market.

Content marketing requires a distribution network to advertise the release of that new content and this can be achieved via email to subscribers, partners and affiliates, through site optimisation, blogging and also through social media networks. That's right, social media is a distribution network for your original content. It's not a channel that sits in isolation to your other digital assets, it drives traffic to those assets.

So how do we find the ROI from social media?

1. Define the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Measure Them

In order to hold any marketing channel accountable, there must be a framework of metrics that can be tracked, compared to, benchmarked and analyzed over time.  Websites and mobile sites are no different.

Of course, every business is unique and the way each business markets themselves is going to have a different set of parameters for defining success but the tried and tested benchmarks for site performance is based on traffic - where it came from, what they were interested in, how long they stayed for and whether that traffic managed to convert on the page goal and monetise.

Google Analytics goes a long way to provide reporting on these numbers but some companies go further in exporting these statistics into software that amalgamates site traffic with customer, prospect and (social media) audience relationship. This approach helps businesses determine necessary adjustments to their overall business model to improve upon channel marketing goals, as the empirical data provides insights in a complete loop of customer lifecycle management.

2. Define the Social Media Indicators and Improve Upon Them

Like print advertising, radio or TV, social media is just another platform to communicate your brand message. The only difference being that the audience is in control of what information is consumed and they directly influence their immediate network with what they think about it.

It’s this factor alone that makes the argument that every digital business must produce compelling, engaging and entertaining original content to satisfy the needs of their target market. That’s the only way to get your audience to become the distribution network of your brand messages.

When looking to assign accountability to social campaigns, the first step is to define KPIs and measure against them.  I call them them the EPI’s. They are:

        E. Engagement vs Reach
Engagement refers to the number of people who actually interacted with your post and this figure is the benchmark to how successful your post was. Time of your post, the content it contained and how relevant it was in the minds of your audience all play a factor here.

Reach refers to the impressions that social channels provide to a campaign, addressing the greatest value of social media marketing: tapping into the power of the network to market to previously unreachable prospects.  In addition, the Reach through social channels increases a brand’s credibility, as new consumers are touched by social campaigns, so too their friends or other connections on the social platform see those connections. For example, a consumer seeing a friend recommend a brand as a result of a social campaign has a much greater impact than seeing a static ad from the brand on the social page.

        P. Performance - Monetization or Conversion
Performance of your social program must contain a subset of outcomes that are predefined, in order to convert traffic or monetize from it, using a subtle call to action approach at the conclusion of the content you’re seeding. Subscriptions to email lists, product purchases, signing up as a Facebook fan or downloading a free trial are all examples of calls to action.

In order to measure monetary contributions to business goals, a value must be assigned to the call to action for the social campaign, with conversions being tracked. A valuable call to action is sometimes not a sale. In fact, it could be motivating users to generate content to be added to the next social campaign.

        I. Sharing Behavior of Influencers
Influencers (a.k.a. advocates for your brand) are essential to maximizing the viral impact of your social media campaign. In order to leverage them properly, you need to determine the level of engagement between an influencer and the members within their social graph.

Yet, not all influencers are created equal. Some are brilliant at sharing a message but don't engage with their peers. Others don't generate much buzz but their peers take their advice.  Understanding who your influencers are within your audience and customer base is critical to optimizing program performance. There are a number of Influence Marketing tools that help to define, rank and engage with your influencers, such as Kred and Klout.

The combination of these three EPI’s (Engagement, Performance and Influence) provides clear program success criteria and can be weighted based on a program’s objectives.  In the case of an awareness campaign, a marketer may place more weight on reach and sharing activity.  In the case of a direct response program, the opposite weighting could be applied.

3. Creating Predictable Results

When searching for potential Influencers to share a brand message in your social media campaign, the number of friends a person has on Facebook or the number of followers they have on Twitter is important, but it’s not the most important factor. The real key to producing a predictable campaign is accurate targeting.

The most successful campaign targeting begins within a CRM database, where deep insights into your customers are available.  Accountable marketing campaigns need to be predictable, and predictability can only be driven in social media once you have identified your most engaged customers and who among those are willing to advocate on your behalf.

4. Providing Incentives to Foster Viral Activity

You may have read my previous blog post on how to create a viral social media campaign. Viral activity from a set of Influencers needs to be encouraged in-order to create predictable results. Equally important, is the need to influence social participation within the campaign.  Incentivized sharing provides this level of predictability as well as an opportunity to throttle activity.

The key message here is about rewarding customers for their behavior. Airlines, hotels, financial institutions and even coffee shops consistently reward customers for their loyalty. The same principle can be applied in your social media campaign, with bi-directional incentives built into the program. Reward the influencer for inviting friends to participate in a social campaign and then reward the influencer’s friends for acting on the viral invitation.

In other words, both the brand advocate and the advocate’s friend are treated like VIP’s.

Programs that include bi-directional incentives perform better than those that rely solely on altruistic motivation for sharing activity. Being transparent about the incentivized offers, the integrity of the channel is maintained while staying in control of performance measurement EPI's like engagement, reach, performance and influence.

Social media as a distribution network for your original content leads to more traffic to your digital platform. Should your business need review of your digital marketing strategies, author +Markham Lane can be contacted on +61-414-446-660 to provide these services. See the website for more information.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Building Viral Social Media Campaigns

Every day social media marketing stories are launched and published on various social networks but the most successful campaigns are the one's that "go viral" and repeatedly get shared by your followers with their friends and followers. And that begs the question; "Is there a way to influence the outcome and get your post shared again and again"? The short answer is YES but not many businesses focus on this aspect. It's called social media influence marketing.

You can read a definition of influencer marketing on Wikipedia but for the purposes of social media marketing, it's about understanding who has the greatest influence within your networks, building a relationship with them over time and seeking their assistance in the formulation and dissemination of your campaign posts. And if you get the relationship right (online and also offline) you may be able to turn these key influencers into your greatest brand ambassadors.

There are websites that attempt to help you understand your level of influence and those of your social media networks but many marketing people don't like being "ranked" or scored down to a single number. I don't think it's something to be afraid of - to me it's just a tool within the marketing arsenal. 

The current top two influence marketing scoring systems being used today are Klout which measures your network and personal influence and Kred which also measures and scores the success of your influence within vertical marketplaces based on the campaigns that you produce. Once we understand who has the greatest influence, we can ask them for assistance in sharing the campaign posts - thus avoiding paying for placement ads on the social network to promote your story.

It's the obvious cost benefit that drives a good marketing person towards influence marketing activity - because sometimes, a zero-cost (organic) approach to your marketing effort is what is required. I've been using both scoring systems for about two years now and I'm personally ranked in the top 10% of all influencers online. Scores rise and fall as your campaign intensity rises and falls.

I recently conducted an organic social media marketing campaign for a client. Trent Ellis was desperate to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres TV Show when it comes to Australia and they had a competition to find an underwear model - asking people to send in photos of themselves in their underwear. It was called the #EllenUndies campaign.

After building the photo (content) and posting it on the Ellen website and Facebook page, as well as on my own social networking pages, twelve major influencers within my network were asked if they might be able to share the image with their networks, to help the photo go viral. Within 48 hours, and after spending not one cent, the photo had been shared a total of 65 times, with an audience reach of well over 75,000 and thousands of stories being created. It even got picked up by digital media outlets.

We're yet to see if the #Trent4Ellen campaign is yet to result in a positive outcome for Trent but for a campaign that didn't spend any money to promote it, everyone is very happy at the outcomes already achieved. 

If you're looking for some assistance in your next social media marketing campaign, contact +Markham Lane  via Google+ or else call him directly on +61414446660 - he's located in Sydney, Australia.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Integrated Digital Marketing 2013

Where are we headed and what are the digital challenges facing brands and the industry in 2013? On reviewing efforts from the previous year, we notice that search engine marketing continued to be developed with the integration of social media elements, including the integration of public relations campaigns for link building and the measurement of social media campaigns within Google Analytics. This trend is set to continue. In 2013 it looks like the proliferation of social media integrated digital products and services will continue to expand, with Search Marketing Integration (SMI) reaching into all elements of the marketing mix.

In late 2011 it became obvious, in Australia at least, that mobile smartphone penetration was leading the world and in 2012, developing web sites that were optimised for mobile browsing became the must-do project for marketing departments. Distracted by social media and the potential that lay within the mobile apps marketplace, 2012 became a catch-up year for those who didn't see this coming. Using your thumb to browse, watch, comment, purchase and share forced companies to look at what information was really important and what was the real goal of each landing page. This will go down as the year that truly brought the mobile revolution to the fingertips of every business.

Gone are the days that people asked the question, "are you online?" In 2012, it became the must-have item. Felt most acutely in the retail market sector, corporate advertisers took a holistic approach, dominating on search engines with content marketing campaigns that were woven into the fabric of their search optimised web and mobile sites. Seeding original content across multiple social networks, the question became "where is our audience" and "do we want the audience on this platform"?

Analysis of big data metrics put the science back into marketing departments that had been swamped with questions from CEO's across the country on "where is the return on our social media investment"? Social engagement, performance and interaction metrics closed the loop on quantitative data to determine digital marketing strategies and platform developments, as well as communications messages that were appealing to audiences.

Social media continued to put the audience in the driver's seat. Felt most acutely in the media industry, radio stations were slammed in Australia for communications that went against the tide of social acceptability, putting public relations (as well as customer services) into the social mix. The counterpoint were mobile apps from TV stations complete with social integration, driving terabytes of interactive data within seconds of programs going to air, creating an instant feedback loop on what was popular, liked or otherwise.

With the advent of Google+ and the various updates to the search engine algorithm (Penguin and Panda) public relations campaigns to build back links into web portals replaced the outsourced (to India) model that had precipitated in previous years. Companies that took the lead to build audiences on the fastest growing social media network of 2012 recognised the synergy that was created by providing audiences with quality content, leading to more +1's and it's correlation to improve SEO rankings. Video and images lead the content charge.

Small to medium businesses who can't afford to spend heavily on developing their digital assets and who did not have expertise in-house to keep up with the rate of change, focussed on external peer-to-peer networking, while dabbling in Social Media Marketing (SMM) mostly through Facebook and to a lesser extent on LinkedIn. When Google+ came along, many complained about "social media exhaustion" and opted not to follow their lead.

In the new economy, I firmly believe that every digital asset must set a strong foundation of search marketing in-order to generate qualified leads online. It appears that in some cases, the proliferation of social media disruptor technology has shifted focus away from the number one most reliable source of potential sales. Be that at their own peril. Search and social marketing initiatives must both be addressed to get the traffic to come and convert - audiences are looking for social proof when they arrive at their search result.

"Social proof of performance continues to influence audiences to convert them online."
+Markham Lane is available to help your company with an integrated digital marketing strategy that harnesses the power of search engine, social media and content marketing platforms. If you want to grow audience engagement, improve performance metrics and increase interactivity, contact him in Sydney on +61-414-446-660 for an obligation free initial appraisal.