SEO is not the only way
Web 2.0 enables businesses to actively engage with customers and collaborate with them on product development, service enhancement and promotion. In terms of marketing, this drive towards user-created content means forming a direct link with the consumer and providing them with product news and information.
Increasingly it seems, businesses are relying solely on search engine optimisation techniques to market their products or services. Although this is an effective tool in making potential customers aware of your product, it neglects other online marketing methods.
As an internet marketing technique, SEO takes advantage of Web 2.0, improving website visibility through understanding how search engines work and what the user is looking for. SEO techniques look to modify HTML code and website content in order to increase results.
However, whilst increasing website visibility, SEO does not create a strong brand image or product reputation.
SEO and credibility
Chris Patheiger, Vice President, Business Development, Redux Media, believes that marketing companies or departments should not confuse SEO with credibility.
“With enough money, SEO can buy you visibility. But credibility is what drives actions (clickthroughs, purchases, etc.) – and that involves more than tagging pages,” says Patheiger.
One company based in Johannesburg, South Africa, lends credibility to Patheiger’s argument that SEO has its advantages and disadvantages. Marketing guru organisation Afridesign looks to broaden its Marketing 2.0 potential, through PPC campaigns, mobile marketing and social media websites. It has championed the cause of SEO in the past but feels its time to explore other avenues of visibility maximisation.
Established in 2000, Afridesign is a web design and development studio which also focuses specifically on mobile and online marketing. Debating the pros and cons of SEO for modern business, Laura Prall, Head of Online Marketing, Afridesign, agrees that SEO is an important technique in online marketing, not only for her company website, but also for its clients. However, she says that Afridesign is now looking at other options as the cost of relying on SEO is significant as well as limiting for her firm.
“As long as search engines are around, SEO will be an important part of online marketing,” says Prall. “Clients are familiar with these forms of online marketing having been around for some time. They are comfortable with the idea of investing money in SEO and paid search and are more likely to take these routes. Having said that, I strongly believe that social network sites such as Facebook are starting to give traditional search engine sites such as Google some competition.”
“It also makes sense that a business should be advertising and marketing itself where large volumes of people are going on the web every day, not just on search engines,” Prall adds.
Indeed, the nature of search engines are changing and evolving constantly, so unless a company has a dedicated member of staff monitoring SEO operations, then website traffic is at risk, especially if a business relies on this technique.
According to Afridesign, it is important to diversify operations and customise online marketing techniques which are specific to each individual business, utilising both SEO and social media channels.
“It is advisable that a website should have many different sources of traffic. I believe that there is no formula to be followed, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. However, businesses need to fomarketing 2.0rmulate their own online marketing strategies,” Prall says.
South Africa and social media
Convincing businesses to invest in other techniques can be a problem, as SEO is a familiar and proven technique. Afridesign believes the online community in South Africa, for example, remains in the dark when it comes to social media marketing (SMM) and mobile marketing. Although these techniques are being utilised by bigger brands with sizeable marketing budgets, “Mobile marketing and SMM are still relatively new and developing industries, it takes someone who is not afraid to take some risks, to embark on these forms of marketing,” Prall says.
Afridesign continues to develop its own marketing strategies by building a strong online reputation through a range of techniques. Through blogs, Facebook and Twitter, followers and potential customers are made aware of the services Afridesign offer. “We try to provide our followers with valuable, insightful information, as opposed to just marketing ourselves and our services. From time to time we may showcase some of the projects we have been involved with on these three platforms,” Prall points out.
In conclusion, one can safely say that although SEO is an excellent marketing tool, providing businesses with product visibility, it neglects credibility and requires continuous attention due to the constantly changing nature of search engines. Other marketing 2.0 techniques can prove very useful as social media marketing has proven in Afridesign’s case when it comes to reaching a large volume of people in one place every day. “Each product or service a business provides requires an individual marketing strategy, which would benefit massively from utilising a wide range of marketing 2.0 techniques,” Prall concludes.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”