Interview with Dominic Byrne of Tyres4u: eCommerce and Digital Marketing

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Jul.8.13

Q: How did you get your start in digital marketing and e-commerce?

A: I sort of fell into it. I was working for an IT company when I moved into e-commerce.  I started out focusing on systems integration and ICT infrastructure solutions; I had been there for a number of years and was making the transition from sales into marketing, whilst at the same time studying a Masters of Business technology.

During this time I was providing a local area network solution to a new business that was a B2C model in the education industry. Due to my study and early adoptive interest in technology and marketing, I was giving the business some external advice when they asked me to come onboard and set up their marketing department.

It was a good time to get into digital marketing; it was the mid 90’s, right at the transition of web1.0 to web2.0. This is the time where SSL encryption and third party payment services for credit cards arrived on the scene. A period where online banking transactions came into mainstream and the big players like Amazon, Ebay and Google were revolutionizing the online world as we know it. It wasn’t until around 2007 that the Iphone and social media became part of the eCommerce model, so for me it was a great time to fall into digital marketing

Q: Tell me a bit about what you do now for Tyres4u?

A: My area has mainly been focusing on e-commerce and ensuring we go to market with an online competitive advantage and that it works. We’re actually a wholesale and retail company, meaning that there is a great deal of variety in my work. As well as focusing on online marketing, I’ve been working with technology automation, customer relationship management, knowledge management and enterprise level technology implementation. I’m doing a lot and it’s keeping me busy, but it’s really exciting.

Q: Why do you think Tyres4u has been so successful?

A: From a traditional perspective, the beauty for me is that they’ve been successful for so long. They’ve had profit increases for 25 years, year after year. I’m proud enough to say that the digital team can take credit for launching online into the tyre retail industry. The reason online has been so successful is the executive buy-in. Our CEO is really on-board with exploring technologies and embracing changes. He knows we have to take advantage of what’s out there. Without knowing anything about the technology world, he’s really given me the autonomy to make the right decisions and employ the right people. Support from executives is key. Innovation is another important factor – you’ve gotta make it work. You have to be prepared to fail. If you’re gonna fail, fail fast. Try different tactics and channels and see what works for you. You’ve just gotta have a real go at it!

Q: We’ve seen word of mouth marketing be one of the most effective forms of marketing – how have you been able to get the most from word of mouth marketing?

A: I think you definitely get the most out of WOMM – it’s the most effective form of marketing since trade first began – even before currency was around. You get the most out of WOMM by your customers having a positive experience. This is something I push. Whether it’s brick and mortar or digital, customer service is the key no matter what. We have a philosophy on my team: how can we make our customer’s life easier? You’ve got to get that right first – if you don’t have that right, then you’re just trying to put out fires. WOMM is more important than ever now as marketing has become focused on the customer experience at a personalization and localization level, with the intention for business to deliver a seamless multi-touchpoint experience. With all the new digital channels, WOMM is amplified, both positively and negatively, big time.

Q: What content marketing strategies have you seen work well?

A: There’s an example that jumps out at me right away. I was doing some research on whose doing it well and trying to find case studies in the market. I came across a company called CPA Australia – the reason it caught my eye is because accounting is essentially pretty boring, and tires are pretty boring – but everybody needs them! CPA did a really good comprehensive execution of strategy across all elements of their business. They really focused on video, an online portal, microsites, sources of quality info across multiple channels, and offered insights. They also had very senior level people get involved in their effort, including their CEO – he was tweeting, telling stories, offering expertise – I love that.

Q: What’s the number one mistake you’ve seen being made when it comes to content marketing strategy?

A: I think getting back to what I said previously – you’ve gotta look at everything from the perspective of the customer. Once they’re there on your radar, how can we hold their hand through the entire purchase funnel? I think the mistake is not looking at the big picture of the whole customer journey. The purchase funnel has completely been turned on its head due to the explosion of product choices and digital channels. You have to cater to that new customer. It’s getting it right from the ground up.

Q: What’s the number one tip you have for brands looking to listen better to their audience?

A: You have to listen to the entire journey, at every touchpoint.  Listen to trends and behavior, not just voices. Why are people coming to your site, why are they exiting in a certain way? Listen, and then respond. You have to listen to the negative as much as the positive. Turn those negatives into positives. Once you’re finding those positive stories, it’s about attempting to amplify that positive voice. Finding the right tools is also very important.

Q: What advice would you give to others starting out in this space?

A: I think the main piece of advice if that you have to have a passion for it. You have to be a natural innovator and early adopter. There’s so much going on, you just can’t keep up! The advances that are taking place blow me away. I personally can’t stay up to date – it’s just happening so fast. Therefore, you have to have a natural interest in where it’s all heading and become involved. It comes down to personal traits – positive attitude and enthusiasm, understanding your environment. You have to network and talk to people, even look for niche opportunities, there are quite a number of different roles now in the digital space, so you can be on the analytic side, data orientated, mobile, web development, search, display, multimedia, perhaps choose a role that’s a good fit with your personality. There are many opportunities in the digital space, it’s ripe with possibilities, progression is happening so fast you could go from zero to hero If you applied yourself, were disciplined and eager to learn.