Accessible Arabia Part 2 – Putting accessibility on the agenda

The following is a contributor post from Chris Rourke, MD of User Vision.

Accessible Arabia Part 2  – Putting accessibility on the agenda

Accessibility Enter IconIn Part 1 of this article we pointed out that whilst accessibility is important, it is often not part of the conversation between agencies and clients, and as a result it is often not built in to the resulting website.

In this concluding part we will briefly cover

  • Ways to get accessibility on the agenda for your organisation and in the Arab region
  • Some good examples of accessibility being implemented and
  • The best resources to learn more about web accessibility

Getting the accessibility ball rolling

The best way to start a programme to improve your site accessibility is to have a close look at the current state of your site’s accessibility.  Although web accessibility is closely tied in with the coding of your site, you do not need to be a coder or developer to start to detect some of the accessibility problems.

As demonstrated in the Part 1 article, there are some simple and useful tools that can help you assess your site’s accessibility.  My personal favourite is the WAVE tool from WEBAIM but other good ones are the Web accessibility Toolbar from Vision Australia, and there are others.

These can be used to find some of the “low hanging fruit” issues – the accessibility risks that can be picked up by an automatic programme or spider.  This will not find a full and complete set of issues but it will be a good start for finding things such as missing alt text, problems in forms, or poor colour contrast.  These can be presented in a easy, visual style and allow you to drill down to learn more about the nature of each problem and more importantly the steps needed to solve it.

Another good way to find accessibility problems is to test the site with people that have disabilities.  For instance this could include those with visual impairments or alternatively this could be physical or cognitive disabilities.  Although there will be some extra effort to arrange a short usability test with this audience, the benefit will be strong empirical evidence which really makes it clear where the main barriers lie.

Getting accessibility built into sites in the region

A few years ago we conducted a project for the government of Abu Dhabi that gave us a good insight into the state of web accessibility in the UAE and the region as a whole.  It showed that the standard of web accessibility in the Middle East is generally lower than in most other parts of the world, especially when comparing high profile sites such as government departments or large banks.

Why are these otherwise professional and high profile sites so inaccessible?

Are there users with disabilities that want to book their own flight, access eGovernment information or access information online?   Absolutely.

Is there a strong motivation for these organisations to improve the accessibility provisions on their sites?  Not really.

The situation can improve, but it needs more than guidelines in web accessibility which I will outline later.

The underlying problem is that there is no web accessibility “market” in the Middle East.  Areas where web accessibility has made better progress, such as in the UK, have largely benefitted from the push and pull forces of a market.

The web Accessibility “Market forces”

Web accessibility market image showing how people with disabilities can influence companies who then influence supplier agenciesThe market is quite simple and the critical elements of this are listed below, starting with the most important stakeholder – the users.

  • Disabled users need to be aware of their right to e-accessibility and demand it.  The need for digital accessibility and the benefits it brings should be raised by individuals and through disability-related organisations. Government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can support this effort.
  • Companies and organisations with websites need to hear of this demand and at the same time be made aware of the benefit of improving accessibility.  They then need to demand that it is built into the design and maintenance of their sites, whether that happens in-house or through external agencies.   Stipulating compliance with WCAG 2.0 or national guidelines will not solve the problem overnight, but it will focus the minds of supplier agencies.
  • Digital agencies need to see this as an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.  They can shout about how they can create accessible sites, but must be sure they can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.  They can build an accessibility competence in house or with specialist partners and raise the accessibility issue to their clients and keep it in the site development and maintenance plan.

These actions by these three key stakeholders will start the ball rolling and ideally create a “virtuous circle” of ever increasing accessibility online.

To a large degree this combination of increased awareness and pressure on other stakeholders in the market has driven the improvements in accessibility within the UK, and there is no reason why it could not occur in the Middle East.

Regional examples of web accessibility

Having pointed out some regional examples of poor accessibility it is only fair to give credit where things are being done right.  Perhaps the highest profile examples are those from the government of Qatar.  Qatar has set up a centre of excellence in web accessibility called MADA that has set itself the goal of making all the eGovernment channels in Qatar as accessible as possible.  As a result there is a high level of accessibility in the Qatar government websites.

For example on the Qatar government eServices Portal Hukoomi it is clear that accessibility has been addressed.  The image below shows the content area of the page assessed through the WAVE tool and there is good structural markup (Headings H1, H2, H3) and accurate alternative test on the images.

 Accessibility of Hukoomi demonstrated through good markup and use of alternative text

The same level of accessibility continues throughout the site, including the transactional areas with forms, a typical trouble spot for web accessibility.

Resources: Learning about web accessibility

One thing that is definitely NOT a reason for overlooking accessibility is a lack of guidance about how to create an accessible site.  There is plenty of great guidance out there, ranging from the official WCAG 2.0 guidelines  to slightly less formal from organisations such as the RNIB in the UK or WEBAIM in the US.

A final thought on web accessibility.  Its helps people use the web as it was intended, regardless of their disabilities.  In the long run, as we age and collect various impairments, every one of us could benefit from this.

 

About Chris Rourke

Chris Rourke  - CEO UservisionChris Rourke is the Managing Director of User Vision MENA, the Middle East’s leading user experience research and design agency.

With over 20 years’ experience in usability, accessibility and experience design, Chris has worked with leading brands in the region including Emirates Airline, Jumeirah Group, and the Government of Abu Dhabi, as well as many others in the UK and Europe.

He has led projects at all stages of the user-centred design life-cycle  from user needs research through to development of information architecture, usability testing and on-going user experience research.

Chris enjoys sharing his enthusiasm for user experience and provide training on user experience through Twofour54 and Econsultancy as well as in-house training courses.

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Recruiting successfully in the digital era

This excellent insight by recruitment professional Ariana Shahbazi looks at the opportunities for finding the right candidates for roles online, the candidates expectations of your brand and online experience and ultimately how to pull it all together in some very simple steps. It takes onboard some key digital principles and strategies (applied to recruitment specifically) and leveraging data and analytics to show you the opportunities and the risks. The following content is unedited and published as received.

Maybe Ariana, the next post could be from a candidates perspective? What makes individuals stand out in a highly competitive and increasingly noisy online space? What part does good old, first hand relationships play? What should we expect online profiles to achieve?

Enjoy!

Recruiting successfully in the digital era, by Ariana Shahbazi

I want you!Although we do see employers who still advertise jobs in regional newspapers, the majority realise that online is where the candidates are. After all, almost anyone under the age of 50 has at some point posted or applied to a job via a job board or LinkedIn.

Many companies we meet have tried to leverage the web for recruitment, but few succeed and finding quality employees remains one of the region’s biggest challenges. What are they doing wrong?

The recruitment mix

There is no silver bullet for finding and hiring the right people. Rather, it’s a mix of a few key elements: recruitment know-how, flexible technology and astute marketing.

Yes, marketing. It is actually one of the most overlooked aspects of recruitment.
You can have a great team of recruiters, powerful talent acquisition software and still get a lot of poor quality CVs. Maybe it’s because nobody knows you exist and even less people know you are hiring. Or maybe it’s because you are not sending out the right message to the individuals you are looking for. Either way, you need to examine this component of the mix more closely.

The online shopping analogy

In this digital age, it’s easy to reach a lot of different people in one go: marketing departments do it all the time. The key is to have a strategy and the tools to set it in motion. Think of recruitment as online shopping: you need to generate awareness of your product, engage potential customers on your website with compelling content, provide a good user experience and make sure they convert.

“Come out, wherever you are”

Look at all the places where potential applicants could be looking and advertise there. Get the attention of the right audience.

So if you are looking for an experienced individual who already has a job with the competitor, posting on a job board or participating in a career fair will probably not give you a very high return. However, targeted advertising on Linkedin and your own career site, posting on a professional forum where he/she might be looking or activating your employees’ networks will. Some employers do SEO and Adwords, others will use Facebook, it all depends on the target. Once you know who you are looking for and where to look for them, you roll out your candidate marketing plan and drive these people to your website.

Avoid the Bounce

What happens when candidates land on your website?

Simple, there are 4 things that a potential applicant can do:

  • Leave (the dreaded “Bounce”)
  • Apply (now or later)
  • Tell someone about a job
  • Subscribe to a job alert for future jobs

Here are some important tips to ensure the right people don’t bounce off your website:

Don’t send them to a website that says “send your CVs to recruiter@company.com”. That would be like doing an Adwords campaign and sending leads to a poorly designed website. Instead, put yourself in the shoes of the type of person you are looking for. Why would a top candidate send their valuable CV to a generic email address?

If you are thinking “We post vacancies on our website and have a little form with a CV-upload button, that should work,” think again. If Amazon had a list of books in alphabetical order and an “input your credit card number” form, what would happen? They would get a lot of “junk” transactions and discourage real buyers to complete their transaction. When applied to recruitment, this means you are making it far too easy for everyone to apply and you’re not making the process very relevant to the good candidates. And when you have too many applications, unless you have a sophisticated recruitment system, you will not be able to identify the good ones.

If you are serious about attracting top talent, show it. Get a proper career site where you actually promote what it’s like to be employed by your company. Use employee testimonials, talk about all the corporate events, show photos or a video of your company, talk about the benefits, show them what a great workplace your company is, and present a stream of job opportunities that are relevant to them. Remember, it’s like a shopping website: deliver compelling content. This is what ALL successful employers do.

Have a job alert functionality on your website. If you are an employed and experienced professional, you may go to the competitor’s career site once a year to check out opportunities. If you see no appropriate positions, you leave…unless you are encouraged to subscribe to a job alert. Ensure that all your vacancies pages are easy to share via email and social media.

Keep them engaged

Finally, when good individuals do apply, keep them engaged. Ask skill questions they can relate to, send an email when their application has been submitted, give them status updates, don’t make them feel like their CV has gone into an abyss. This and things like scheduling and conducting interviews are so easy to do online nowadays. There are so many good web-based solutions, employers really have no excuse. An organisation that masters all these digital tools will deliver a superior candidate experience and give top candidates a positive image of the company before they even walk through the door.

In a nutshell

The web is the best way to find candidates and build a talent database, regardless the geography and sector. However, it requires a very structured approach and the right tools, just like marketing and sales.

Unfortunately, most recruitment departments don’t have marketing expertise, nor do they have the time, because many still don’t have the proper tools to automatically screen and manage CVs – but that’s another problem. As for marketing departments, most don’t have recruitment on top of their priority list because they are too busy selling products and services. Add technology to the equation and you bring on further complexity because IT probably has a lot of other projects to handle.

Bringing these 3 functions together and making them work in tandem seems too challenging for the majority of organisations…yet digital recruitment cannot be successful without this. In the end, this is probably why so many companies still struggle to find the right people.

About the author:

ArianaAriana Shahbazi is the Marketing Communications Director at Cazar, the leading recruitment marketing and talent acquisition technology provider in the Middle East and Asia. She has 12 years of experience in the online space. At Cazar, she has the opportunity to see the impact digital marketing has on recruitment amongst top employers in the region. The company works with some of the biggest organisations in the Middle East, including Al Futtaim, Jumeirah Group, DP World and Alshaya. It helps organisations leverage technology and the web so they can autonomously recruit top talent when they need it. If you’d like to speak to her about how digital strategies and the right technology can help your recruitment function, email (Ariana@cazar.com) or connect  with her.

Editors Note: DigitalArabia provides the platform for any digital expert to have a go at creating original content, to share knowledge  and take part in the conversation. DigitalArabia (or associated parties) do not endorse any products or services supplied by the digital experts. If you would like to take part and share your expertise, please get in touch.

Accessible Arabia? Why accessibility matters online – Part 1

The following is a contributor post from Chris Rourke, MD of User Vision.

 “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”

— Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web

W3C Keys

Courtesy of W3C.org

Well, that was the intention at least.

The reality is very different, especially for most sites representing companies and organisations in the Arab world.  Every day thousands of people with disabilities are unable to take full advantage of the incredible information and services available on the web.

They find their online goals, whether for work or personal use, are difficult or impossible to perform.

Why? Because sites have not been developed with accessibility in mind and this problem is especially common in the Middle East.  Web accessibility is typically not high on the agenda for businesses online or the digital agencies they commission and the result is frustration and failure for thousands of people with disabilities.

Web accessibility is about enabling people who may need to use your site slightly differently than you might expect.  Some visitors might want to increase the text size with browser controls or navigate by tabbing rather than use a mouse.  Others may use assistive technology to navigate through voice commands, magnify the screen or hear the site content through a screen reader.  All of these will benefit from a site designed to allow these adaptations to be made so they can control their view and use of the site.    Essentially the site needs to meet the user half way by being coded in a way that allows user adaptations or assistive technologies to be used to improve the experience.

Why does accessibility matter? First of all it’s the right thing to do – the web has been incredibly empowering to all of us, and the intention is that a person’s disability should not prevent them from enjoying the benefits.  It also make good business sense, especially if you are in B2C or B2B commerce, it really does not make sense to exclude some of your target audience. Making your site accessible will help you avoid certain PR or legal risks and the fact that accessible sites display the best coding and mark-up means there is a strong correlation between good accessibility and search results.  Google likes accessible sites and rewards them for that fact in their search algorithm

Some examples of inaccessibility in action

What does an inaccessible site look like?  It depends since the degree of inaccessibility depends on the type of disability that the person has.  For instance poor colour contrast will affect a person with low vision but it would not affect someone that is completely blind and using a screen reader.

Fortunately there are several tools that can help you identify some, but not all, web accessibility issues on a site. They apply technical scans of a site, and therefore can help to identify only about half of the issues, but they are a good first step.

My personal favourite tool for such quick checks is the WAVE tool from WEBAIM since it clearly identifies the accessibility issues on a page and uses colour coding (and more accessible means!) to classify them.  It is easy to drill down into the issues and recommended solutions for each one too, making it a great educational tool.

In this image the WAVE tool has identified the quintessential accessibility issue – missing alternative text on images – on a large central government department website.

Alt=navigation icons with missing Alternative text

The impact of this is on a screen reader user who will be unable to hear what the button is for – and therefore cannot use the site.

Here for a regional airline it shows another common problem of form labels not being specifically associated with their form controls. This can affect those with visual or other disabilities since it will be unclear which label is associated with each form field.

Alt=form fields labels not associated to form controls

Searching through various sites in the Middle East region shows that problems such as these are common.

Causes of poor accessibility

Of course no one sets out to intentionally create inaccessible websites, so accessibility is much more an error of omission than commission.  It is often a side effect of a fundamental issue that is often forgotten by clients and the agencies developing websites:

It is not your website and not all site users are like you.

Accessibility is often not put on the design agenda at all in web design projects.  Broadly speaking there are three main stakeholders with a part to play in this:

  • Site owners who may not require web accessibility provisions in their web projects, for instance in their design brief to their agencies
  • Agencies who may not have in-house knowledge to build in accessibility to their sites; they may not have prioritised it during the design, or they fail to maintain focus on the site accessibility in the cut and thrust and compromise of site development.
  • Those that would benefit from better web accessibility who may not be aware of the potential for better web accessibility or they may not notify site owners of issues they encounter

There are additional factors as well such as whether web accessibility is in some way built into the national legal structures (such as the Equality Act in the UK, or the Section 508 guidelines in the US, which help to provide a legal basis for the web accessibility.

So we have identified a problem – what can we do about it?

In Part 2 of this Article, later this month, will cover

  • Ways to get accessibility on the agenda for your organisation and in the Arab region
  • Some good examples of accessibility being implemented and
  • The best resources to learn more about web accessibility

 

uservision_logo

In the meantime, you may wish to learn more about web accessibility at the UX breakfast briefing provided by User Vision on March 26th in Dubai Media City, where web accessibility will be the featured presentation.

 

 

About Chris Rourke

Chris Rourke  - CEO UservisionChris Rourke is the Managing Director of User Vision MENA, the Middle East’s leading user experience research and design agency.

With over 20 years’ experience in usability, accessibility and experience design, Chris has worked with leading brands in the region including Emirates Airline, Jumeirah Group, and the Government of Abu Dhabi, as well as many others in the UK and Europe.

He has led projects at all stages of the user-centred design life-cycle  from user needs research through to development of information architecture, usability testing and on-going user experience research.

Chris enjoys sharing his enthusiasm for user experience and provide training on user experience through Twofour54 and Econsultancy as well as in-house training courses.

Have brands really become publishers?

content-is-king

content-is-king

Thanks @waynedenner for another great post on the shifting nature of communications. The greatest asset for any communications strategy (and arguably the organisation) is the quality and unique nature of their content. Some of the farthest reaching publishers of content have been amateur enthusiasts or opportunists with laughing babies or others, seeing a gap in the market have maximised the opportunities of servicing content in different ways (thinking Huffington Post, Twitter among so many others). For non-publisher brand owners, content is what gets you SEO rankings, what differentiates you in the decision making stage, and great content and a crap product/service are more likely to sell online than a great product but with crap content… likewise, brand sites with great content (& UX!) will be a more lucrative source of consumer content than the publishers themselves. By being the authority on a subject area, it doesn’t  matter if you are a publisher or a brand, the user decides, seeds and shares!

Over to Waynes post….

This will be a short blog………..

Yes…. Just kidding.

On a more serious note the delivery of content has we previously have know
it has changed, the game has changed. The PR & Marketing Communication
powerhouses no longer control delivery of the message or how the message is
created – in a nutshell it’s created a lot of the time by the brand. Many brands
have been quick to realise by jumping on the content creation train it has helped
them offer more engaging ways to connect with their customers using a different
variety of channels and mediums, all of which have only been made, possible by
the Internet.

This step or change has become very important and as I see it and has opened
up a whole new level for brands to begin to try and build connections with
their audience at a more personal level. This will be the brands chance to re-
humanize advertising and make it become more social and join up the dots.
Now more than ever because of Social Media & Digital brands actually have to
care what people think, the consumer wherever they are in the world have a
voice. The content, which they create & publish, is spreadable on a global level
get it right and just think of the impact which it can have on your business.

This shift although it be massive is great because brands with products
and indeed those with services now have a global focus group and there all
connected just think what can be done with this consumer insight if harnest
correctly create and delivery better products and experiences for customers,
which will equal a more profitable business.

Now this all matters why? Because content is spreadable

Many reading this will be able to think of a number successful brands who have
already become publishers and been very successful at content creation however
those brands who have still not even entered the arena for them its going to
be hard because what we are increasingly finding is just with other areas of
Social Media content on there brand has already been created by the a new type
of publisher ‘The Customer’ the brands who have got stuck in early are those
brands who have been able to build connections with their users, re-connect
advertising messages and shape the face of the content which their consumer
wants to receive and content which the consumer is able to help spread on
behalf of the brand.

About Wayne Denner

digital_arabia_wayne_denner

Wayne Denner is a leading digital marketing professional and lecturer.

With over 14 years experience in traditional & digital marketing, Wayne has planned and developed successful campaigns for clients across the UK and Ireland, including Diageo, Carphone Warehouse, Specsavers,Drinkaware.co.uk, Orange, Armagh City & District Council, Invest NI, Newry & Mourne District Council and O2.

He has been at the forefront of the rapidly-changing digital marketing industry for over a decade and is an expert on emerging trends including social engagement, online reputation management, branding media, web 2.0 & e-commerce platforms.

Wayne also lectures on the Chartered Institute of Marketing program on Digital Marketing Essentials & Integrating Digital Media & Branding and is currently writing a book on the subject.

Follow him on Twitter @waynedenner

Why user generated content matters and why businesses need to encourage it.

digitalarabia-wispa

digitalarabia-wispa

Thank You @WayneDenner for this great post on the importance of businesses encouraging User Generated Content. This is an essential part of integrity based marketing and it can pay off-dividends for brands improving on products and services. So many case studies exist on how this has improved services and even brought back products from “beyond the product grave”. Wispa Anyone?

Everyday our web of influence changes, over the past 5 years we have seen a massive shift towards social conversations platforms like Facebook & Twitter have exploded and brought with them a whole word of new content – this content was not created by famous writer’s nor was it created or dreamed up by fluffy marketers it was created by regular people. But before we get into ‘why user generated content matters’ lets me clear on just what UGC actually is, oh and by the way UGC is becoming a major part of Search #Fact and before I forget businesses also have a small part to play in UGC.

We have developed into a society or a world that likes to share and by sharing I mean digitally share. UGC is content which we upload to a website or social media platform – examples of such content includes Audio, Photography, Video, Written & Reviews. Now its no secret that I am not a fan of mass marketing and I believe that nowadays we are subjected to so much more advertising messages coming from a variety of different channels that as businesses and marketers we really need to take a step back and look at what if any of the message is actually reaching the customer or is it being lost. It is generally now accepted that peer recommendations online are more likely to lead to a sales conversion and that the attachment or advocacy connected with user-generated content can indeed be a powerful tool to strengthen and grown your consumer base all of which matters in the competitive space of trying to win customers online.

digitalarabia-twitterbird

digitalarabia-twitterbird

Research carried out has shown that more than 8 in 10 say user-generated content from people they don’t know influences what they buy and indicates brand quality, while 51%* say it is actually more important than the opinions of their friends and family, and far more trustworthy than website content.

*Source Talking to Strangers Millennials trust people over brands Jan 2012*

Now for me as an online customer engagement fanatic the whole user generated content area excites me a lot. As I see it there is a massive opportunity for businesses especially the small ones of become big players if they can get it right and build advocacy via social media it can really boost their business. For me where many of the businesses fail is getting it right, they sit on the fence way to long, dip their toe in the water or put in a half ass effort. I’ve always found in the past with using social media you need to go all in, a bit like poker to see any of the benefits. The generation of this content for the businesses comes at very little cost although it is worth pointing out it can come with its problems and the negative downside to those businesses that under perform.

I’ve included some steps, which you can take to start the ball rolling, and encouraging the creation of user generated content among your customers.

  • Ask and encourage customers to post reviews and comments on their experience with your brand, business or service. Include links to trusted review sites.
  • User generated content websites such as Tripadvisor attract search engines visitors linking your site through UGC are contributing towards improving your ranking and increasing your visibility via the search engines.
  • UGC is easier grown if starts with the business, this is where the small part businesses play which I mentioned earlier in the blog comes into play – create content which connects with the needs of your customers.
  • Encourage Discussion – the reason social media has been so explosive is because of its discussion aspect – its created outside of ‘actual’ physical conversations a place people can talk, share experiences, ideas at the touch of a button. Within your business social space online encourage customers to suggest ideas, contribute towards the success of your business, and why not even ask for their opinion on your products or services and how you could improve on them.

By encouraging customers of your business to create UGC they are in fact contributing to your overall business marketing efforts as the research shows earlier in the blog 51% say UGC is actually more important than the opinions of their friends and family, and far more trustworthy than website content.

In a nutshell your customers the ‘Users’ want to generate the content so at all opportunities encourage this of course from time to time the content generated maybe not what you have wanted it to be but its how you manage the process which will have the biggest impact and create the most leads which will win you the business. By providing great customer service within and throughout your business will lead to content being generated about your business and be sure to reward and incentivize fans for creating good content.

About Wayne Denner

digital_arabia_wayne_denner

Wayne Denner is a leading digital marketing professional and lecturer.

With over 14 years experience in traditional & digital marketing, Wayne has planned and developed successful campaigns for clients across the UK and Ireland, including Diageo, Carphone Warehouse, Specsavers,Drinkaware.co.uk, Orange, Armagh City & District Council, Invest NI, Newry & Mourne District Council and O2.

He has been at the forefront of the rapidly-changing digital marketing industry for over a decade and is an expert on emerging trends including social engagement, online reputation management, branding media, web 2.0 & e-commerce platforms.

Wayne also lectures on the Chartered Institute of Marketing program on Digital Marketing Essentials & Integrating Digital Media & Branding and is currently writing a book on the subject.

Follow him on Twitter @waynedenner

Social Media and the Long Term Relationship – By Wayne Denner

 

Socialmedia Relationships- Whats their value?

Socialmedia Relationships- Whats their value?

Wayne Denner contributed this piece for DigitalArabia. Thanks Wayne for the excellent perspective on social and relationship building. So much of what you say is where many brands go wrong, particularly thinking that earned & owned media, such as social channels can be bought, sustainably. Even if advocates can be bought, they are never long lasting….

Shukran Wayne, and we look forward to many more!

Social Media and the Long Term Relationship – By Wayne Denner

Recently I did a quick audit on the pages which I liked on Facebook over the
past number of months and was surprised with some of my findings. Many of
the pages which I had in-fact ‘Liked’ I had done, without really much care; liking
them just for the sake of liking a page or perhaps because someone had sent me
an invite to do so. I suspect this has been the case for many of us. What was
even more interesting was the messages which these business page owners
have been sending out to me, their potential consumer. Mostly the same old
sales messages which had just washed over me. As our exposure to marketing
online increases via social networking channels, in particular Facebook, surely
it’s worth considering the effect, if any the message is having. Are businesses
engaging in this activity, experiencing any actual ROI?

If we step back in time, say 12 years ago, most of us should be able to remember
the Internet was a much different place in terms of digital marketing and online
advertising. Back then advertising such as banner advertisements and email
marketing were pretty much all we were exposed to.

Lets, for a second, take a look at email marketing and how for many of us,
our inboxes are being consumed by vast amounts of none relevant messages,
which we aren’t remotely interested in. For me, and I’m sure for many, the
sheer amount of junk mail received can be somewhat over whelming to say
the least, so much so, we select and delete without even opening. So let’s look
at long term relationship which businesses want with their clients. Are they
really happening? Are the messages and advertisements simply washing over
us? as they hit our inbox or display on screen. As marketers we are constantly
searching and seeking out new ways to create channels in which to target
consumers; but perhaps it’s a step back which is needed to really look at the
message which we are sending to our customers, standing in their shoes and
looking with their eyes.

Just as with our interactions offline we need to learn to forge and build
relationships with our customers online for our campaigns to really be effective.

Building relationships with customers is the crucial and critical component
which needs to be at the core of every campaign. This takes time, time to
research and learn what your customer wants, listening first is key.
Those brands, businesses that build relationships with their followers, fans or
within their community are the ones who stand to benefit.

I come across way too many businesses that see Social Media and Digital
Marketing as a quick fix towards marketing efforts. For most businesses there
is no real gain in Social Media in the short term but those businesses that stick
with it, build relationships and engage with their followers, fans or community
online will see a real boost in their bottom line. As a businesses when a person
likes your page engage with them as you would a real customer, take time to get
to know them, listen to them and personalise your relationship. Following these
steps should make the purchase pattern happen a lot easier as apposed to hitting
them up with an offer or a discount as soon as they like your page.

Let’s be clear ‘Long Term Relationships built either offline or online equal Long
Term Business and Returning Customers’.

About Wayne Denner

digital_arabia_wayne_denner

digital_arabia_wayne_denner

Wayne Denner is a leading digital marketing professional and lecturer.

With over 14 years experience in traditional & digital marketing, Wayne has planned and developed successful campaigns for clients across the UK and Ireland, including Diageo, Carphone Warehouse, Specsavers, Drinkaware.co.uk, Orange, Armagh City & District Council, Invest NI, Newry & Mourne District Council and O2.

He has been at the forefront of the rapidly-changing digital marketing industry for over a decade and is an expert on emerging trends including social engagement, online reputation management, branding media, web 2.0 & e-commerce platforms.

Wayne also lectures on the Chartered Institute of Marketing program on Digital Marketing Essentials & Integrating Digital Media & Branding and is currently writing a book on the subject.

Follow him on Twitter @waynedenner