When you flick through your favorite search, social media, and content marketing blogs, you probably don’t see many articles about Australia. With a population of just 22 million, web consumption below the global average, and e-commerce penetration that lags behind leading markets, we can’t quite claim to be at the center of the digital universe.
But as we look to 2013, that could be about to change. Those of us who work in the content marketing space “Down Under” are seeing some great opportunities for local and international brands to drive awareness, engagement, and leads with the right content strategy. Recent signals from the government, consumers, and the business community all suggest a really positive outlook for digital content.
So, as 2013 begins, here are three reasons why Australia should be on your content marketing radar this year:
Newer, quicker infrastructure
The Australian government is ploughing $30 billion in public money into a major project to upgrade the country’s broadband infrastructure. The National Broadband Network (NBN) is not without its critics, but it represents a clear statement of intent from policymakers, bringing high-speed internet to 93 percent of the population by 2021.
If the rollout is successful, it will help change the way Australia does business, creating some great opportunities for content marketers in the process. This is, after all, a vast yet sparsely-populated country. Australia is twice as big as India in terms of land mass, but has just 2 percent of India’s population. Fast, reliable internet will make the country smaller, making it easier for businesses based in Sydney to find and sell to customers 4,000 kilometers away in Perth.
Mobile connectivity is also improving. Telstra, Australia’s largest telco, expects its super-fast 4G network to cover two-thirds of the population by the middle of next year. Quicker connections mean easier access to social media, apps, and websites on the go, which will create more opportunities to reach potential customers with targeted content strategies.
Spending more time and money online
As our infrastructure improves, Australia’s consumers are already on the move, spending more of their time and money online. If we take social media as an example, they are signing up, logging on, and engaging.
Australians are among the world’s heaviest users of Facebook, when it comes to monthly dwell time. And when they’re on Facebook, they don’t just use it to share pictures of what they got up to on the weekend — they’re also consuming branded content. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of Aussies between the ages of 18 and 24 have “liked” a Facebook brand page (according to Exact Target). If someone “likes” your brand page, they are more likely to buy from you and more likely to recommend you to their friends, which makes a strong case for building a presence on Facebook and other relevant social platforms.
When it comes to online dollars, the Australian market has real growth potential. Right now, e-commerce claims a relatively small percentage of overall retail sales. But as Aussies who have grown up with smartphones, Google, and Twitter start to earn more money, that looks certain to change. Year-on-year, online spending is showing growth at 14 percent in Australia and could be worth $27 billion to the economy by 2016 (according to PwC / Frost & Sullivan).
Australia versus the rest of the world
The big challenge for Australian brands is to make sure they benefit from this growth. While Aussies are a patriotic bunch, it will take more than simply being Australian-owned to win their business, as foreign competitors lure them away with their modern, user-friendly websites and low prices. According to recent figures, 75 percent of Aussies who shop online use foreign websites and 45 percent of total online spending goes overseas (PwC / Frost & Sullivan), which suggests local businesses have some catching up to do.
Content marketing has a big role to play in helping them close the gap. Whether it’s unique product descriptions to drive traffic to the most relevant pages on their sites, how-to videos to target customers earlier in the purchase process, or customized infographics to grow their social media presence, the right content strategy can help Aussie companies compete with overseas alternatives.
Some Australian business owners want the government to protect them from foreign, web-based competition and see the internet as a threat rather than an opportunity. But over the past year, some major brands have been raising their digital game, making big investments in their websites to ensure domestic offerings meet the rising expectations of Aussie consumers.
Harvey Norman, one of the country’s largest retailers, is expecting big things from its website, predicting $1 billion in annual turnover from online sales by 2016. David Jones, a department store chain, has just finished a major overhaul of its virtual storefront, investing in hi-res images and video and dramatically increasing its product range. It hopes its efforts will help to increase the value of its web sales from 1 percent to 10 percent of total revenue in the coming years. And Coles, one of Australia’s two dominant supermarket groups, saw revenue from its e-commerce site double last year, bringing in the equivalent of five brick-and-mortar stores.
As these and other Australian businesses channel more of their budgets toward digital, content marketers will be there to help them develop websites that are easy to find and engaging to use, social profiles that are relevant and regularly updated, and email campaigns that are varied and compelling. This is going to be an exciting place to be in 2013.
Want to find out more reasons why Australia is an up-and-coming region for content marketing excellence? Get first-hand info by attending Content Marketing World Sydney, March 4-6, 2013.
Image courtesy of Castleford Media