Bloggers Club NZ website

Interview with Jenene Crossan, NZ Girl

Jenene has an enviable track record as an internet entrepreneur.

Bloggers Club NZ website

Bloggers Club NZ website

What made you pick the internet

The first part was to be young enough – when I first went into this space I was a teen, it was a natural part of where things were going.  For years I’ve used the descriptor if you’re on the ski field and you see kids fly past at 100km an hour and you’re just trying to stay upright.

When you’re young enough you don’t worry about falling over and that applies to business too.

I have a natural gut instinct around consumers, and I’m passionately curious about this space.  I spend a lot of time thinking about it.

Tell us about NZ Girl

We launched in 1999 there was nothing else in that space – there were corporates dallying with the idea of corporate websites, Google was in its first year and social media hadn’t happened.  We were taking advertising orders by fax.  That meant we got to see the full evolution of everything.  We led the pack to say where it was going – we didn’t know better we just gave it a go.

We found an audience who were interested in the space naturally, alongside that the business attracted people who needed to speak to that audience and used us as their guide to use the internet to talk to them.

I developed other businesses to do research, strategy and guidance too off the back of that.

We started as an online magazine and it’s now a social mag with the content written by the audience, curated by us and it’s now a bloggers club.  We manage 400 bloggers and offer content marketing services through that.

What do you think about Native advertising?

It’s been an interesting evolution – the digital advertising world is in a worse state now that 5 years ago and I credit that to the agencies getting involved.  We had direct relations with the clients and created cool platforms.  The agencies commoditised it and it became very CPM driven and more recently CPC driven and that bastardised the whole offering and the whole platform.  It’s hard for publishers to give advertisers the environment to get relationships with consumers when they’re trying to rely on click throughs immediately at a certain $ value.

We said it’s madness to use CPM as a measure of success for a campaign and we have always been about integration and it hasn’t been embraced by agencies because it’s too hard for them to do.

Integration must be creatively led – e.g. J&J have new skincare product – they tell us who its aimed at and we do research into the audience and what they think about it, we recommend angles, and we come up with the creative concepts of ways to talk about it which might be editorial, blogger content, advertorial, competitions, sampling, ways to purchase.  All sorts of things.  For Gilette we chucked 2 tonnes of sand and put on a beach volleyball contest… it’s a 360 experiential view.

it’s mostly technically led and on the site.  We have done apps, games, treasure hunts.

What’s the future for online advertising and agencies?

The recession didn’t help but if you look at the very large agencies – their model is being able to provide a better price than everyone else- they have to cut deals and so they cut out people and will only work with a certain number of suppliers or publishers.  They are metric-driven and pit people against each other.

We were being missed out on schedules for brands we’ve worked with for a decade and it was because our CPM wasn’t low enough.  We lost out to sites with no integration or technology.  This was madness.  So we said “stuff it”.  We no longer charge for display advertising – we are not prepared to be measured by a CPM metric.

If you do content marketing with us, integrated campaigns with us and we give the display advertising for free.

We do still deal with agencies, Rochelle has had to turn round and tell them that that’s not how we work.  We refuse to be measured in this way and here are our arguments and we get left off the schedule because of this.  We need to get brands to the other side of this – to get measures – that’s not how consumers buy they build relationships and want recommendations.

The female consumer is driven by what others tell her about how to get things and where to find them.  It doesn’t work in a metric driven way.  They are such magpies – so excited about the next big thing e.g. Facebook – they invested in it because it’s free, organic reach is stuffed and now they have to pay for sponsored and promoted posts.  This even more supports the theory that you need others talking about your brand.

How can brands take advantage of this?

To be successful in this landscape, you need to introduce people naturally to your brand and they can easily talk about it if they want to do so.  The model in bloggers club is subscription driven – brands pay us to work out how to create conversation – bloggers are paid by us but it’s not specifically by the brand.  This is the Church and State separation that’s required.

We get a variety of bloggers – nutrition and fitness, parenting and all sorts of stuff, art and drawing, sketch bloggers too.  It’s really cool. UGC was never going to go away – it gives folks a reason to continuously get involved and social allows them to spread the voice.

Commericalising it gives problems to some people – great content but no ida of audience development.  And others who can’t make their content look professional enough to make it marketable. We have a template-driven format that they can use.  So clients see what’s being written about them and they can then take it and share across their networks.  This allows the individual to have a voice – this is never going to go away now that we’ve found our voices.

Internship at Creative Agency Secrets

My time as “The Intern”

My name is Johan Ericson and I’m a marketing student from Sweden. I’ve just completed a three-month internship at Creative Agency Secrets and feel that in a short space of time I’ve learned a lot. Aside from having the benefit of getting to know the people and work environment at CAS, I got to experience how a marketing agency works in the real world. With a broad range of daily activities and interesting one off tasks, I quickly found myself dealing with actual work for actual clients. Some of the skills I have developed during my time at Creative Agency Secrets:

  • Blogging: One of the first things I did as a intern was to start a blog, “The Intern“. Through this assignment I learned how to use WordPress as well as learning to write and when to publish my content.
  •  Social Media: Having managed multiple Social Media accounts for clients across a range of mediums in Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).  I’ve learnt some of the theory behind Social Media (what to post, when to post etc) as well as some of the technological tricks you can use to drive traffic back to your website. Learning both the theoretical and technological aspects of Social Media have helped develop my skillset and increased my competence in this area.
  • Google Analytics: During my time, I’ve learnt how website success can be measured. I’ve learnt about the importance of reducing bounce rate, and how the information gained from analytics helps make websites better for both the user and the administrator.
  • Client Meetings: After spending time with clients and planning and preparing for meetings, not only has my level of comfort increased in these situations but I also have gained a greater understanding of the needs and pressures potential clients have which allows us to help them better.
  • Marketing Tools: During my time with Creative Agency Secrets, I’ve learnt to use many different marketing tools. This has allowed me to better help clients and broaden the range of skills and services I can now offer.

During the brief time I spent at Creative Agency Secrets I feel I’ve learnt a lot and gained a well-rounded experience. I’ve developed my skillset and have a better understanding to real life marketing which will help me to take the next step forward in my career.

What’s the advantage of FeedBlitz over Mailchimp?

We got this question from an SEO agency who works on a client and thought that our answer might be useful to others.  These services are mass email sending programs – each has different features and applications.

Creative Agency Secrets uses FeedBlitz…..

  • Firstly because they did RSS to email first before others offered the service.
  • Secondly they were a client for a couple of years – we did a lot of copywriting for them.
  • Thirdly they do not require double opt-in for new list imports (AWeber does).
  • Fourthly they enable an autoresponder to end and then you can migrate people onto a mailing list from the autoresponder (so lists mutually build)
  • Fifthly they allow you to pick a random subscriber for prize draws (very cute)

Downsides of FeedBlitz

Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor do most of these same features.  I like the templates in these services better than FeedBlitz’ options.
I also like the mail-as-many-times-as-you-like during a month with FeedBlitz where you pay once and just mail.  Whereas Campaign Monitor charges $5 plus every time.  But depending on your list size and mailing frequency other services may give you a better price.
You can import a list but FeedBlitz insists on mailing the people and checking they know you’ve added them to a list before you can send messages to them.  It has high anti standards.
It doesn’t make creating and managing a large number of lists easy. This is because it’s principally a publishing/sharing platform not a mass email service.
Happy to amplify further or give readers a guided tour inside the services we use most and some of the cute nice-to-have features like who your social media influencers are.

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