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It occurred to me that amongst the Econsultancy blog team we certainly have our favourite companies as far as digital ambition and execution are concerned.
So I'm simply going to round up some companies that have done good things on this front and see if our readers get annoyed by any omissions or, indeed, inclusions.
So, here are 18 digital trailblazers. A lot of them are involved solely in ecommerce but not all of them.
N.B. I've deliberately excluded agencies and what I think of as tech companies, though that distinction is a little difficult to make in some areas.
How do you create content that gets heard from within the maelstrom of online media?
Well, consumers are looking for trusted and credible sources of information. Partnering with influencers who already have the ear of a community can be a way to create trusted content and get it shared by the right people.
Do download the report to read in full, but first I thought I'd pick out my favourite tips.
The stats we've seen this week continue a trend for the past year.
There's lots about advertising, lots about mobile and plenty about where the two collide. Other highlights include the dreaded 'millenials' and their economic outlook and some interesting insight into the state of mobile in MENA specifically.
As always, if these stats don't sate your hunger, head on over to the insights and data in our Internet Statistics Compendium
Customer experience is about relevancy.
Many providers of services are finding that generational relevancy is a new factor they need to consider and one that likely requires a good deal of investment.
It's not prudent to avoid investment and hope that being a second or third mover will keep your digitally-demanding customers just sweet enough.
The fact is, if you improve the customer experience without even changing the service you provide, customers will be happier. They'll think they're getting more for their money and they are.
I'll give an example. First UK Bus introduced mobile ticketing in spring 2014. There's an mticket app on which tickets can be bought, stored and activated. For those of you not in the regions of the UK, these buses were often cash only (smart cards, similar to London's Oyster, are yet to be rolled out).
Here's why this mticketing works and why more companies should be moving sooner.
I've kept this list simple and it's a fairly accurate idea of what I use day-to-day.
I didn't use any of these tools when I started working on the Econsultancy blog. I'm still not an advanced content creator but I do have some small tricks up my sleeve.
Take a look at this list of tools to aid you in your image, video and text travails.
Manchester City is at the forefront of digital in the footballing world.
What City does very well in this new iPad app is to create an experience that's about football (duh!) and content and is enjoyable to use. It befits the sport and should please the fan.
Plenty of rival apps don't allow you to watch highlights (without paying) and don't put enough effort into editorial, preferring to concentrate on monetisation.
Let's take a closer look at the City App.
The clunk is nothing to do with being clunky.
A clunk is, as defined by Ashley Friedlein, a door clunk, a design detail within the user experience that lends a user satisfaction. It could be called a micro-interaction. The clunk is feedback, it's often skeuomorphic.
I had fun using the few apps on my iPhone 4S to find some features that embody the clunk. Some of them are pretty simple but see what you think and please add your own.
NB: I'm aware that my header image is a door closer (designed to avoid the clunk).
What is travel?
Airbnb is certainly trying to define it, with the message that inclusion and community make for memorable experiences. We shouldn't stand for standard, the homogeneity of a hotel chain.
The internet in general is encouraging a fightback again corporate globalisation (though perhaps these are simply our death throes?), with everything from homespun craft available through Etsy and crowdsourced cycle routes on Strava.
I watched John Kearns perform recently (a storytelling comic that won the Edinburgh Comedy Award) and he had one line designed to show how much he wanted to return to a more personal world.
He spoke about seeing tourists in the more garish areas of London promoted by guidebooks, such as Picadilly Circus, and how he wanted to talk to each of them and tell them about the really niche and beautiful parts of London, often tucked in neighbourhoods that tourists never make it to.
I'm getting to the point here. lastminute.com has produced a lovely piece of content designed to show parts of London that only the discerning have discovered*. It's called 100 Things in London and it's a nice bit of content marketing.
Let's take a look and I'll attempt to point out why it should go well.
Ecommerce continues to grow, increasing by around 10%, 2013 to 2014.
Part of this growth is due to the continuing emergence of APAC, specifically China. This has created what PayPal calls 'new spice routes' with countries trading cross-border when it comes to ecommerce.
I've done a bit of a literature review to bring myself up to speed on how international ecommerce is changing. I hope you find it informative.
A great customer experience is defined by its relevance and timely availability to the customer.
I've been reading Jay Baer's treaty on the topic (Winning Hearts in Real-Time), the first in a series extravagantly titled 'Masters of CX'.
What sticks out is the importance of mobile. Indeed, Econsultancy's Skills of the Modern Marketer report, compiled from interviews and an online survey, shows respondents to value CX and mobile as the most important broad and hard skills respectively (incidentally, if you fancy assessing your own digital skills, try sitting our Digital Skills Index test).
I thought I'd highlight some of Jay's thoughts on what makes great CX and include a few examples. Let us know what you think.
Once upon a time, the success of an article was judged by how interesting it was to read.
Of course, front page splashes, naked girls and free giveaways had an impact on print sales, but so, too, did regular columnists of quality and serialised work.
Essentially, serving your audience was thought to be important and publications often had agendas that went some way to determining their output.
I think this is still the case with print media, but one can't ignore the fact that print is receding. As it does, news and media online is to some extent being depoliticised as social media allows any publisher to reach an extended audience. Reaching large audiences is important for driving up the cost of advertising inventory.
Don't get me wrong, the sophistication of the internet is a good thing. It's no longer acceptable or, more pertinently, advantageous to massively keyword-stuff your editorial or add the terms 'porn' and 'XXX' to your title tags.
Ad technology, too, is getting better at allowing advertisers to understand revenue associated with campaigns across platforms. But the fact remains that many believe advertising needs to break away from the religion of the impression.
If it continues, it's going to become increasingly difficult to find subcultures. Parody and the parodied will be indistinguishable.
So, what can stop clickbait?