Online marketing planning case study

chessMy blog so far has been a place for me to share things that I find interesting as well as helpful tips and information that I’ll often refer back to myself. It’s almost like having a personal set of bookmarks that are accessible everywhere I go without having to use any bespoke service.

However, a friend has asked me for some advice regarding their newly launched online business and since I happen to work predominantly in the online / media / marketing world, I thought this blog is as good a place as any to write up my suggestions.

Although I’ve intentionally kept the name of the company anonymous, the principles behind maximising online opportunities for an online retailer apply can be applied by anyone.

The background

The company my friend works for is a niche SME online retailer that has decided to branch out in to a new range of products (home accessories and home gifts) outside of its existing offering (beauty products). Rather than expand the existing successful brand, a new separate entity has been created. A good, well designed web site has been constructed; an expansive range of over 400 niche products has been selected and available from launch at competitive prices; and some initial social media activities have been undertaken. So far, so good – they’re sounding like they’re doing a lot of the right things – but what can they do to take things to the next level?

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Email Marketing Bounces

emailBeing a marketer today almost certainly means you must have more than a passing familiarity with the digital world; and one of the cornerstones of digital marketing, is the trusty email marketing mailshot. I’ll leave the process of managing your database, segmentation and targeting to other blogs and posts, because this post is going to focus on those things that every marketer hates – email marketing bounces. Effectively, a bounced marketing email is an unsuccessful email that is being returned to the send because it was undeliverable for one reason or another.

However, the story doesn’t stop there, because there are different types of bounced email and understanding what each one is will help future campaigns, as well as providing a more thorough understanding of the customer database and enabling a degree of data cleansing to take place – which will ultimately lead to more effective email marketing in the future.

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Social media tracking tools

It’s often useful to find out what’s being said about particular topics or news stories – and fortunately, there are a range of tools to help take some of the grunt work out of this labour intensive task. So, rather than having to visit each individual site, forum or blog that might contain information that you want to read, use some of these tools instead.

I’ve put together a selection of some of the tools I’ve come across and used previously, as well as a quick summary of some alternative options – including some paid-for applications. If you have others that aren’t mentioned here, please leave a comment and share your experiences. Thanks!

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Can the Free Web Site model work?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now… and I’m wondering whether the Free Web Site model can really work. It was an advert in today’s Crain’s Manchester that got me thinking. It was an all-inclusive single price package for web site design, logo design and SEO work – all for the bargain price of £999. In my opinion, that seems a little steep…

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What’s the difference between slander and libel?

It’s one of those terms that are often used interchangeably, but really, they mean different things.

It’s therefore important to understand the difference between the two.

The key difference relates to the form in which the defamatory matter is published.

Libel relates to a written or otherwise published, public defamation of someone or something.

Slander, on the other hand, relates to the spoken false defamation of a person or entity, and can also include gestures or sign language.

The main difference is that the publication of the offending material is fleeting in nature.

Online surveys and online questionnaires

Online surveys and online questionnaires are an increasingly popular way of surveying customers, potential customers, web site visitors, clients, employees, etc. – pretty much anyone in fact. However, knowing the best way to go about conducting these isn’t always straightforward.

Besides the problems that any researcher needs to consider – such as sample size, sampling methodology (probability, non-probability, random, simple sampling, etc.), quantitative vs qualitative – there are lots of approaches that need to be considered. I may yet write an article or two about this, but the purpose of this post is to consider the online survey tools that are available.

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Social media statistics

There are all sorts of facts and figures flying around concerning social media and, on the surface of it, the numbers are quite significant:


  • Over 18m active Facebook users in the UK
  • 50% of users return to the site on a daily basis 
  • The average user visits twice a day 
  • The average visit length is 25 minutes


  • It is now the UK’s 2nd biggest search engine 
  • An outstanding 15m unique visits clocked up every month
  • Every minute, 15 hours of YouTube video is uploaded


  • Estimated 6 million users 
  • Subscriber base is 63% male
  • Largest age demographic is 35-44 year olds 
  • 14% are considered as ‘stable career’ types
  • A quarter of users are high earners


  • Over 2.5 million users in the UK 
  • This is growing at an estimated 80,000 per month 
  • 60 million users worldwide
  • Spans 200 countries 
  • Average user age 41

It has also been reported that spend on social media marketing will reach $3.1 billion by 2014.

Clearly it’s an important (new) media channel, but developing a suitable strategy to engage with these users requires a different mindset altogether from the traditional marketing approaches that have been used over the years.

The question is, how should a strategy be developed that integrates with current activities, aligns with business objectives and delivers tangible or quantifiable returns on investment? That’s the key – and that’s what I plan on addressing in subsequent posts.

What is Social Media?

The phrase ‘social media’ is a broad concept, incorporating many different formats; including tools and services such as: social networking sites, blogs and micro-blogs, podcasts, professional networking sites, and online video. Collectively, they’re often referred to as Web 2.0 technologies.

This phrase “Web 2.0” is closely associated with Tim O’Reilly, after he used it in a 2004 conference. It broadly relates to the second generation of Internet-based services.

The 1st phase or generation of sites, were typically static sites or web pages that had minimal interaction between the visitor, other visitors and the site. This second generation of web sites are much more dynamic, allowing for individual content generation, sharing information, participation in online discussions and conversations, and web sites that can generate new pages and content automatically, on the fly.

I plan on expanding on this initial explanation of Social Media in my subsequent posts, building up a small knowledgebase and publishing guides about what services are out there and how they can best be utilised.

Free printing / artwork templates

I’ve found a good resource that I use regularly to source artwork  or printing templates for some design work that I carry out.

The site is affiliated with one of the low cost printing companies I use – Stress Free Print – and you can get to it HERE.

The site, Tom the Printer, includes various templates and sizes for the following generic designs:

  • Flat Leaflets / Flyers
  • Folded Leaflets / Flyers
  • Presentation Folders
  • Stationery
  • Business Cards
  • Greetings Cards
  • Tent Cards

Paying for online content

There’s a really interesting discussion going on right now about whether newspapers can actually start charging for the digital distribution of their content. There’s an article on the BBC web site that I read today (link HERE) – and it includes an ongoing discussion about whether people really believe it’s achievable. 

As a marketer and someone interested in developing an online (hopefully profitable) presence, I have to believe it’s possible to monetize the web in some form – but I believe it’s unrealistic in this age of distributed reporting, aggregated news and instant updates that can be shared with the world, to expect someone to pay for content that is available in almost identical format elsewhere on or offline.  

The reason I think it’s not going to be enforceable universally is that there’s never going to be agreement between the media organisations. It’s the old prisoner’s dilemma, everyone saying that they’re going to be charging a fee to access the news, but then one breaks from the ranks to steal a competitive advantage – resulting in an endless circle of competitive retaliation.

What I do think is more achievable, is another service I read about recently that encourages micro payments. In the same way that organisations such as Amazon have benefited from targeting a huge population with an incredibly diverse product range – addressing the long tail of retailing – then micro payments that could be distributed to providers from a shared pot of funds could be exactly the solution that everyone is looking for. The site’s currently in beta (sign up for more info HERE) and is being developed by one of the Pirate Bay’s co-founders, Peter Sunde.