You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
Sneeze and you may have missed it.
The Click Frenzy frenzy came and went in a matter of days, yet in that time it managed to reach the consciousness of some 20% of online Australians! That’s quite an achievement.
Their PR machine had triggered something in Australia’s uber-price-sensitive media which led to an incredible amount of coverage in the days leading up to the sale – it really did become a frenzy.
Even before the site ran into capacity issues on their woefully inadequate servers, their business model meant they would only ever make moderate returns. Choosing an all-up-front fixed-fee suggested they doubted the results they could yield for their retail partners preferring instead to cover their costs and hope for a modest return.
All in all, they clearly had no idea how ready the Australian market was for Click Frenzy!
Click Frenzy founder Grant Arnott explained in a rare and touching mia culpa that 300k visitors was their top traffic estimate, so the 1.6m visitors they actually saw blew their infrastructure wide open. To be fair, I think only a handful of sites around the world would cope gracefully with 1.6m concurrent users! The fact is the 7pm launch time was a big part of the problem, internet infrastructure hates concurrency!
Aside from the access issues suffered by many hundreds of thousands of bargain hungry shoppers, many found their way to the registered retailers and boy did they spend!
One retailer example I was shown paid less than $3,000 to participate but yielded over $80,000 in sales. An equivalent Group Buying offer would have cost the business $24 – 30k in commissions! A pretty good outcome for the retailer!
The chart below from Quantium shows the direct impact on participating retailers versus non-participating retailers.
160 retailers of varying sizes participated, and Click Frenzy probably netted an average of 3 – 5k upfront from each, meaning 480 – 800k in Gross Revenue. Not bad, however had they chosen to take a booking fee plus a moderate trailing commission, they would have netted anywhere from $800k ($1k upfront, 5% commission on $80k Average) to $2.4m ($1k upfront, 15% commission on $100k average)!
All credit is due to the Click Frenzy team, they were swept along by a frenzy of their own making albeit they we flattened in the stampede. Better luck next year.
After bottoming out during the past few months, the fortunes of some Group Buying businesses seem to be on the up, albeit a significant number have collapsed or been acquired in the past six months and the outlook remains grave for many more!
The fact that the sector’s nose is slightly up is in part due to the weeding out of weaker and often less scrupulous competitors who often served only to undermine the reputation of the sector as a whole.
In fact out of the 50 largest Group Buying businesses assessed in April, only 29 remain intact just 6 months on. And given only 10% (5) of those businesses were acquired that supports the view that smaller Group Buying businesses are of limited real value. In such a crowded and undifferentiated market lifesaving investment is tricky too given a lack of brand equity, good will or asset strength (off the shelf web sites are common and subscriber base overlap with top-tier competitors is often well over 70%) resulting in the collapse of underperforming and debt laden Group Buying businesses.
A quick browse through the sites of the 29 still standing uncovered indicators of pending doom for some.
Here are the choking canaries of the Group Buying world:
Group Buying remains a $1bn future industry in Australia, regardless if that industry seemed to lose its way and stall when it was only half way there. Regaining lost momentum will be down to the leading players showing the way once again with a combination of brilliant marketing and a commitment to helping consumers discover great business products.
The strongest already have their playbook (Living Social, Cudo and Ourdeal) and will extend their positions in the coming 6 months through a focus on back-to-basics Group Buying offers like quality restaurants, high value vacation offers and utility products such as Cudo’s Meat Merchant.
Although I suspect another 15 from April’s top 50 will be gone by April 2013, leaving only a dozen or so standing, I think I already know who they are, I wonder if they do?
So we all want our time online to be a more private affair, but find it impossible to wade through the policies and figure out what’s what? Further, even if you had the time to read them, would anyone but a Privacy Specialist understand them, and worse, be willing to forgo the benefits brought by Facebook and Google in an effort to maintain some sort of online anonymity? I suspect not in each case.
It’s hard to see how to solve this issue.
Over time I worry that the role of government will be to reign in on the issue if left unsolved, which would be a bad outcome for all.
This post was written by Boris Gefter – freelance Acquisition Guru and consultant to 57 Signals.
Jumping right in, here are my three favourite GA features (and there are many!)
A humble servant of GA’s ability to capture and store url parameters. It is surprising how many people do not know that this functionality exists! The standard user will be used to viewing the “Traffic Sources Overview” report, but when you want to know what campaign, keyword, ad or placement on which network and partner has resulted in a sale, coding your own unique URLs could not be easier. Then, when it comes to retrieving this information, you can rely on your friend ‘Custom Reporting’….
2. Custom Reporting:
The humble tab that sits atop the interface is the key to unlocking analytics glory. For those that know and love pivot tables and data cubes, GA has a gift for you. For those that are new to looking at dimensions and metrics, they key is not to be intimidated by the blank canvas. Start playing around, adding metrics (things that are measurable) such as time on page or conversion rate (if you have ecommerce tracking enabled) is really easy. Dimensions (what describes the data) can be configured to retrieve information that you coded into the Google URL builder in step two, by adding “Source” and “medium” alongside the metrics you are interested in.
As an example, say you wanted to find out how successful your google adwords campaigns are (which you had already coded with the url tool, as seen above), you can simply add source as one of your dimensions and the relevant metrics such as visits and number of transactions as shown in this example. Then, you can filter by the source code which you coded in your URL tool.
The key, is figuring out what question you want to answer first, and then what sort of information will help you answer that question, then validating any data using common sense!
3. Conversion Segments/The Repunzel Report:
What if I told you that you were potentially losing out on more than 50% of your revenue by under-investing in a particular form of advertising. Wouldn’t that be valuable? This is where the “Conversion Segments” or “The Repunzel Report” as I have dubbed it (due to the fact that it is hidden in the top left corner of the analytics tower) becomes extremely valuable.
First let me assist the budding princes willing to use this report. You need to have ecommerce tracking enabled and implemented correctly on your site, then you can make your way into the conversions tab>multi-channel funnels>top conversion paths, then navigate to the top left section of the page to find conversion segments. Simple, right?
Now that you have found it, you can filter the potential traffic sources by first and last interaction. Whilst, the philosophy of attribution can be a prickly one, I like to refer to reports such as these to understand where advertising money is going and how much impact it is having.
What you can see from the example below is that paid advertising on a “last touch” basis, is reporting $140k+ worth of revenue, whereas on a “first touch” basis (where the value of the transaction is attributed to the first channel that brought the customer to the site in a default 30 day window) there is over $220K+ worth of revenue to be had. Now imagine that you are only spending $100K on advertising, thinking that it is only bringing in $140K, when, if you look at your conversions through the “first touch” lens, you can see that there is potentially more value to be had from your advertising dollar!
I often like using first touch attribution to model the efficacy of acquisition channels because it is simple, and usually rather effective. This model can become complicated by things like remarketing and more diverse marketing channel portfolios. But, hopefully, this report will, at the very least get you thinking about the complexity of multichannel advertising interactions and spark a discussion about what is the right approach for your company in modelling and tracking conversions.
As much as I love diving into data and exploring new features of GA, I am always weary of tempering my enthusiasm to extract findings with solid statistics, common sense and other analytics tools (where possible). Having noted this, it is very easy to become intimidated with analytics tools and software. Which is why, often there is no substitute for simply getting your hands dirty with what tools like GA have to offer. I hope this post helps to make some of the less accessible features of GA more manageable.
It’s rare that a great product would win without the support of great service, so why then are the two so quick to grow apart?
The problem, I think, is success.
Scale and its associated economies support the development of a product but rarely do they support the development of the accompanying services. There are exceptions, of course, but not many; McDonalds is one, Apple another, Sadly I’m at a loss to think of a third.
It’s worth noting of course that Apple and McDonalds are are notable exceptions to the rule, albeit for vastly different reasons. McDonalds is a very, very large franchisor, and the “product” being sold does not come in a bun, the product is the Franchise. The Franchisee buys a proven recipe for fast food and efficient service. If McDonalds didn’t have control of the entire McD’s ecosystem through a tightly wound Franchise Agreement it would be impossible to maintain its brand of high-margin consistency that allows it to continue selling to franchisees at a premium.
Apple, on the other hand, is all about brand, and that brand extends through the product supply chain to the lifestyle, which includes the process of purchasing and ownership. Prior to Apple seizing control of its supply chain the service part was delivered by 3rd parties, now it is a powerful pillar in the house of Apple.
When a typical business grows, investment is poured into improvements in the production process, reducing the cost of goods and improving margins. The same can’t be said for service, great service at scale is costly, and returns to scale are minimal. In addition, training great service to new staff takes time, so the gap between product uptake and service delivery can grow rapidly if the growth was sudden and unforseen.
Improved margins are seductive, investments in service are not, and so the conflict begins.
As a business owner, you can get ahead. At a minimum there should be a record kept of a consistent service KPI such as Net Promoter that can serve as an early indicator of customer sentiment taking a turn for the worst. Where growth is happening at the expense of service the growth should be arrested until the issue is identified and resolved, hard as it may be to do so.
Positioning your entire business as a product is smart, have a McDonalds-like operating manual with detailed descriptions of service procedures and quality standards, or emulate Apple by asserting service as a key part of your brand, then live it with every touch-point!
To favour growth at the expense of service is a short term win, the positive sentiment that propelled growth in the first place is already evaporating, allow that to continue and chances are your brand will never recover.
Group Buying helped good businesses access revenues that had previously eluded them, improving utilisation, buoying their P&L and promising a sustainable new revenue stream from this exciting new consumer channel.
But now that the sector has waned and desperate Group Buying businesses have become fixated on stack ‘em high sell ‘em low product chuff – those once buoyed businesses are left feeling a little queasy.
Just one of the problems they face stems from prepayment, one of the headline benefits touted by most group buying companies (including me).
Although quick access to cash is manna from heaven for most business owners, prepayment has left behind a tequila-like side effect.
The problem is this. A top priority for all online businesses should be around Funnel Conversion, i.e. the ability for the business to convert leads into dollars, however in a world of prepayment, conversion becomes somewhat unimportant. In fact, if breakage (unused vouchers) is a profitable exercise for the merchant, higher conversion may actually mean lower short term profits.
Now that Group Buying is providing an ever declining proportion of revenues, many online businesses that signed up to breakeven or lossmaking campaigns in order to grow their subscriber base, now find they are unable to monetize that base due to poor site performance, especially in the area of conversion.
Faced with lower than expected revenues, these companies often head back to Group Buying to find that like-for-like offers work only half as well as they did before. Now the business is in a pickle, the drug is half as effective, risk its brand by doing twice as much? Surely you know your drug dealer is never your friend?
The key is to get the fundamentals of your businesses working right before looking to Group Buying or any type of Marketing for that matter. Ensure that the purchase funnel is converting 60% or more of the people who hit “Buy Now”, that your Subscription Channel is effective, and your email strategy is delivering appropriate Open, Click and Purchase rates.
When cloaked by the shiny veneer of Group Buying dollars your site performance will look a whole lot better than it really is. Time to sober up, shake off that hangover and see if your bedfellow looks as good as you remember.
I met with Business Spectator’s Alan Kohler and recorded an interview for Qantas inflight Radio in June. I was flattered to be invited to the show, the interview is now available below.
A link to the file is here.
Alan was particularly interested in a topic I have spoken about on a number of occasions, the slow but steady adoption of the internet by all but the most tech-resistant and the impact that shift is having on traditional commerce.
Now that over 3/4 of the Australian population have a connection to the web, businesses of all types are finding that their typical customer is spending an increasing amount of time online and can be reached there quite cheaply for Brand building as well as ecommerce.
Two other significant factors beyond the amount of people online are – the nature of connectivity, i.e. fast connection speeds are no longer the preserve of early adopters – and that almost all internet users are willing to shop online, with only 5% of internet users showing concern about online security.
The shift towards fast access speeds has been so rapid that in 5 short years the issue of access for all has all but disappeared. Mobile internet use has also accelerated with many online businesses signalling that 10% or more of page impressions are from mobile devices and mobile transactions are catching up fast.
Where the online activities of the older demographics were once limited to banking and email, this is no longer the case. Over 20% of the discount shopping audience is 60+ suggesting that older folks enjoy the process of shopping online even if they don’t have to.
I think it’s fair to say that not being online in 2012 is akin to not having a mobile phone, at some point it looks a bit weird!
Meanwhile, as the Internet population has swelled to include your parents and most their friends, technology has evolved that enables Advertisers to single out their target customer and provide a customised offer on the fly – further extending the economic advantage of online commerce.
For the first ten years of the web the economic engine that powered its growth was display advertising (And subscription Porn but that’s another post!), publishers funded their growth by making money from page impressions – a refit of the existing TV and Magazine advertising model. In 2000 Google started selling ads in a new way – through search keywords which provided advertisers with a way to talk to customers based on what they were looking for, rather than what they had already found.
Now the model is shifting again, more people and more data means that publishers are now making an increasing portion of revenues from who you are, rather than just your location on the web. publishers can connect advertisers with their target Market with reasonable precision using browser tags. No longer are marketers confused about which half of their dollars are wasted, in the new world of the Internet, they spend half as much and almost none is wasted.
The rapid shift towards a more personal web has occurred in the past couple of years and the pace of change is accelerating. It was only 5 years ago that Facebook emerged as a public service, touching a Billion or so lives since.
The amount of change we see in the next 5 years will be as dramatic as the last 5, with an even greater emphasis on devices, mobility, personalisation and online commerce, bring on 2017!
The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science released a study showing the relationship between Facebook fan pages brand engagement – concluding that Brands should lower their expectations of Fan Page performance.
Facebook Fan Pages include Facebook’s own PTAT (People Talking About This) metric, and that metric was the basis for the study. PTAT as stated is somewhat misleading though given the act of Liking a Brand is included in PTAT.
Once the researchers had removed the impact of the initial Like, they found that only 0.5% of Fans actually engaged with the brand via Facebook on a weekly basis*
In isolation, this seems like an extraordinarily low number, and should cause the majority of Brands investing time and money growing their fan base to rethink. In fact, only 10% of the brands sampled reached 1% engagement, and this was consistent across all categories and included a number of “Passion Brands”.
The engagement value of 0.5% weekly engagement should be used as the baseline when evaluating the return of investment in building a Facebook Fan page, chances are the size of a Brand’s Facebook Fan Page does more for the ego of the Brand stewards than it does for the bottom line!
*Data reproduced from Admap with permission.
As part of the "Get Schmart" 2012 Marketing Conference Billy Tucker, owner of data consultancy 57 Signals, believes that email will increasingly become a redundant form of communication in the retail world. Despite the incredible penetration of email in our society Billy believes that the under twenties demographic are increasingly using social media as their preferred platform of communication. As he puts it "
Group Buying works for a reason, regardless of the service woes plaguing the industry (which have been driven by a combination of greed and inexperience, not the model itself) the principles behind Group Buying are sound. Over the next few posts, I will explain the key mechanics and position them in a series of non-Group Buying contexts.
This is the first of six posts I will write that describe those mechanics.
FOCUS ATTENTION ON ONLY A FEW OFFERS
Limiting promotional efforts to only 1 – 3 featured offers enhances the perception of those offers and likely uptake, minimising “noise” around those offers will further spotlight the chosen few. Featuring multiple offers on the other hand dilutes the “WOW” and runs the risk of Paradox of Choice effects.
Most email platforms will support controlled tests, such as sending one control group an EDM with multiple offers, one with the three best offers and one EDM with only a single “hero” offer.
Assuming the control conditions are sound, the likely outcome is that the Hero and “three best offers” EDMs will each provide a click through rate that is greater than the “multiple offers” EDM even though the multiple offers email included the featured offers from the other tests.
Most transactional websites share a common shortcoming, leaving a significant amount of value up-tapped. The Thank You page is seen as a simple confirmatory page, there to provide certainty to the customer that what they think just happened, just happened. But the Thank You Page is a comma, not a full stop.
You have battled hard to win the customer, fought to provide the right product at the right price, and you have lost many along the way. But once a transaction is complete, you’re done, there’s a tick in the box and the user begins again, <close window>, <new tab>.
But your customer is, at that moment, your biggest advocate – you are in the Golden Window. Your Advocate is brimming with delight at the purchase of that holiday, auction item, or e-book, so why stop now?
Immediately post transaction is the right time to harness their advocacy, and here are six ways to get value from the Thank You Page:
[check out RockLive in Australia and the many other agencies emerging in this space]
The average age of an Australian internet user is growing fast; catering for this shift is increasingly important.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 79% of Australians over the age of 15 are online – meaning adoption is way past the Early Adopter phase (According to the Diffusion of Innovations curve) and well into the Late Majority – at 84% adoption only the Laggards are yet to join!
In terms of age profile, 96% of 18 – 24 Year Olds are already online, so new audience growth will mostly come from older age segments in the coming years. In the past two years, 55 – 64’s joined the web at almost twice the rate of their younger counterparts.
This new older audience presents an interesting opportunity, by nature they are more considered and loyal (and/or resistant to change), and have an appealing cash pile at their disposal.
Winning the over 55’s is hard though, often they rely on personal recommendations and will Trial only after careful consideration, but they are worth the effort.
So here are six tips for appealing to an older user:
The Group Buying Industry in Australia has suffered some reputational damage through the conduct of some less than responsible industry players, in fact many Merchants and Customers tell us at Cudo that Group Buying sometimes resembles the wild west with shonky Group Buying startups offering dubious discounts on even more dubious experiences. This has to stop. Group Buying now represents a $500m industry in Australia and supports well over 1,000 employees. This is why at Cudo we felt compelled to act.
The Group Buying Industry Code of Conduct is being jointly announced today by AIMIA and ADMA and is an essential step towards ensuring a minimum standard of transparency and service from the participating Group Buying businesses and was called for by Cudo back in June of this year.
Although the long standing Cudo Satisfaction Guarantee means we are fully compliant with the Code from day one, we are delighted to be a founding signatory along with a small number of Leading Group Buying business, and hope that the majority of Group Buying businesses in Australia shape up and sign up to the Code.
As the CEO of a Group Buying business in the nascent and burgeoning category it was critical that I had a very clear view of marketing effectiveness, with Audience Engagement being the key indicator. There were a number of sources available to the team that purported to provide reliable Audience measurement and insights however I only depended on two to provide an accurate view, Omniture and Nielsen.
Alternative sources included Hitwise, Google Analytics and Alexa – Google Analytics is cheap/free but pretty unreliable and Alexa provides a Relative view only. Hitwise is the worst of the bunch though given their data collection methodology means it doesn’t represent the broader online population and worse still, it doesn’t necessarily reflect human activity!
Here are the two main issues with Hitwise data:
1. Hitwise does not measure individuals – it measures traffic.
This effectively means you could hit your website with bot traffic to boost your numbers and it would show as traffic in Hitwise. Nielsen Australia removed 50% of GroupOn Australia’s traffic in March because that traffic consisted largely of unsolicited clicks, meaning popups that appear as you close scurrilous ads (Congratulations, you have won $1,000,000!!!!!) – those clicks are still counted in Hitwise.
2. Hitwise doesn’t include key ISPs
Hitwise harvest data from partnering ISP’s, however Australia’s two largest ISP’s BigPond and Optus don’t participate. This is major a concern as a large proportion of internet users (about 58%) are not reflected in their data. This is a particular problem for a business like Cudo given its mainstream audience, and mainstream Australia do not typically use fringe ISPs.
Nielsen was recently selected as the official measurement partner of the Australian IAB, in their press release they said:
With the endorsement of Nielsen Online Ratings, IAB Australia is identifying people-based metrics, as opposed to browser-based, as the best and preferred online audience measurement system for the Australian online advertising industry.
This is the nub of the problem. TechCrunch called it out almost two years ago.
At Cudo we didn’t care about browsers for obvious reasons, we cared about people, they still do, like the 1,000,000 plus Australians who go to cudo.com.au each and every month, I couldn’t give a monkeys how many Bots swing by!
Cudo set another new benchmark for the competitive group buying category today when exactly six months after launching it announced achieving $1 Million revenue in just 48 hours with an accommodation offer for the Outrigger Koh Samui Resort in Thailand.
The Outrigger deal went on to make $1.5M in sales overall, making it the highest grossing group buying deal in Australia to date. The high value deal offered consumers five nights at the new Outrigger Koh Samui Resort for $792, 74% less than the regular price of $3,000.
The Outrigger resort opened its doors on 1st February 2010 and ran the Cudo deal as a way to build recognition and demand quickly –through its above the line advertising across the Channel Nine network, ninemsn and its extensive member base. Cudo’s unique marketing offering has proven a huge success for the resort, with more than 10,000 room nights sold in less than four days – with no cash marketing outlay required.
Commenting on the success of their partnership with Cudo, Pieter van der Hoeven, Director of Sales & Marketing – Asia Pacific for Outrigger Hotels & Resorts said: “Cudo.com.au has delivered spectacular results for the Outrigger Koh Samui Resort and Spa, which only opened on February 1. The results from the short-term Cudo campaign have
dramatically exceeded Outrigger’s expectations.”
“The benefits to the property will be long-term, especially when our Australian guests return home and tell their family and friends about the services and facilities at the resort and the many attractions of Koh Samui.”
This is a record single-deal revenue for Cudo, Australia’s number one group buying site, which attracted more than 900,000 unique visitors in January. However, Cudo CEO Billy Tucker says this is a mark of things to come as the category’s value and breadth continues to increase.
Billy Tucker said, “While group buying deals have traditionally sat at a lower price point, the success of this offer confirms that if there’s a good saving to made, regardless of cost, the Cudo audience will buy it”
“This offer demonstrates that our members are very savvy indeed and more than willing to spend in the $1,000 range on an amazing offer. This was re-enforced when we sold almost 700 Silky Oaks Lodge offers at $969. Cudo brought accommodation to the Group Buying category and has continued to excel with great offers on these high end escapes. Previous outstanding Cudo deals include Voyages, Kingfisher Bay and O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. Cudo offers a huge opportunity for premium businesses wanting to attract new clientele.”
“Cudo attracts the very best partner businesses and as a result we have the best members. It’s a winning formula that enables us to provide a wide variety of offers which in turn keeps our member-base interested and growing. Aussies have come to expect more from Cudo and we continue to deliver it.”
At Cudo we made a decision to do things differently.
Until Cudo came along, Group Buying business were based on the following core principles:
Long term this approach is seriously flawed.
Database-driven Group Buying is a race to zero. Competing primarily on database size means a group buying company is vulnerable to being undercut on commission (revenue share) by competitors with similarly sized or smaller bases. We are already seeing a significant reduction in share from 4 of the top 5 Group Buying business in Australia (Scoopon as little of 10%, Spreets <30%, Jumponit <40%, ourdeal <30%) . Only Cudo is holding share at 50% on each and every offer (averaging 49.6% revenue share to date).
Another key flaw in the database-driven approach and a common complaint from Merchants around the world is that the average voucher buyer looks more like a bargain hunter than the Merchant’s target customer, meaning less strategic value for the merchant, making the overall category less attractive to Merchants over time.
Cudo is not database-driven. By promoting the Merchant and their Offer on TV and through ninemsn – Australia’s largest portal – Cudo provides a fresh new audience to each offer, resulting in around 30% or more of the vouchers being sold to new Cudo customers who came to Cudo specifically to trial that Merchant’s offer.
That said, Cudo has a market leading audience too, both in terms of its member base (more than 500,000 members)and it’s regular visitors, ranked number 1 with 788k visitors in December by Nielsen NetView. We also lead the market when Net Revenue is measured, a critical, long term measure of a businesses’ sustainability. And lastly, and most importantly, we lead the market in Merchant satisfaction, driving the best outcomes for Merchants every day!
At Cudo we have created a new approach to Group Buying, at least two of our key competitors have recognised this and have begun adjusting their model, let’s hope it’s not too late for them, it’s hard to pull-up from a race to zero!