CMOs and their teams are trying to determine the best way to create and measure customer engagement. As more customers connect via mobile and social channels this only adds to the complexity. Just as it took organizations time to learn how to leverage and manage websites, we are still learning how to leverage and manage these new channels. There’s no denying that social and mobile channels have become mainstream engagement vehicles that impact customer acquisition and retention. More of the marketing budgets are now being allocated to digital channels, taking these dollars from more traditional vehicles such as print advertising.
The IBM Global CMO Study of 1700 CMOs revealed that while top marketing executives recognize social media as an important channel for engaging customers, 80 percent or more of the CMOs surveyed said they still focus primarily on traditional sources of information like market research to help shape customer engagement and marketing strategies. Only 26 percent of CMOs track blogs, 42 percent monitor third-party reviews, and 48 percent reading consumer reviews to help shape their marketing strategies. A more recent study by PulsePoint earlier this year found that companies with an established extensive social media presence reported a return on investment that was more than four times that of companies with little or no social network engagement activity. Almost half of the 329 executives participating in the study said that the major impediment to social media campaigns was the lack of a standardized metric that can measure a return on investment. These studies serve to remind us that examining customer interactions across the channels in order to have a holistic picture is important. They also highlight that measuring isn’t the challenge; it is measuring the business value of social media that remains difficult.
In fact, there is no lack of data or metrics to track. As usual, the key challenge is selecting the right metrics and ones that are actionable. A key place to start is to determine what information actually indicates these stages of engagement that you can use to inform decision making. For example, how might you measure the quality and quantity of conversations started via social media channels and the conversion rate of these conversations to consideration behaviors, such as a particular type of inquiry. For example “liking” and “following” metrics may only reflect very early stages of engagement, such as contact or connection. Page views and click throughs provide insight into what captures interest and may also reflect early stage engagement behaviors. Ultimately you want to focus on social media metrics that help you understand how to impact the entire engagement cycle – from contact to conversation to consideration to consumption and eventually consumption and community. By adding these types of metrics, you can learn content and customer communication and interaction create both the most and best interaction and engagement.
Various studies over the years have examined the relationship between content relevancy and behavior. Almost everyone would agree with the statement that “content must be relevant.” But what is relevance? According to Wikipedia: “Relevance describes how pertinent, connected, or applicable something is to a given matter. A thing is relevant if it serves as a means to a given purpose. In the context of this discussion, the purpose of content is to positively impact customer or employee behavior, such as increasing purchase frequency, purchase velocity (time to purchase), likelihood to recommend, productivity, etc.
When we ask marketers and others how they measure content relevancy, we often hear, “we base it on response rate.” If the response rate meets the target, then we assume the content is relevant or vice versa. Clearly there is a relationship between relevancy and response. Intuitively we believe the more relevant the content the higher the response will be. But measuring response rate is not the best measure of relevancy. There are many factors that can affect response rate, such as time of year, personalization and incentives. Also, in today’s multi-channel environment we want to account for responses or interactions beyond what we might typically measure such as click thrus or downloads.
So, what is the best way to measure relevancy? There are a number of best-practice approaches to measuring relevancy, many of them are complex and require modeling. For example, information diagrams can bean excellent tool. But for marketers who are spread a bit thin and therefore need a simpler measure, the three step approach below ties interaction (behavior) with content:
Count every single piece of content you created this week (new web content, emails, articles, tweets, etc). We’ll call this C.
Count the collective number of interactions (opens, click thrus, downloads, likes, mentions, etc.) for all of your content this week from the intended target (you’ll need a way to only include intended targets in your count). We’ll call this I.
Divide total interactions by total content created – R = I/C
To illustrate the concept, let’s say you are interested in increasing conversations with a particular set of buyers and as a result this week you:
Posted a new white paper on a key issue in your industry to your website and your Facebook page.
Tweeted 3x about the new white papers
Distributed an email with a link to the new white paper to the appropriate audience
Published a summary of the white paper to 3 LinkedIn Groups
Held a webinar on the same key issue in your industry
Posted a recording of the webinar on your website, Slideshare and Facebook page
Held a tweet chat during the webinar
Tweeted the webinar recording 3x
Posted a blog on the topic to your blog
We’ll count this as 17 content activities.
For this very same content during the same week you had:
15 downloads of the white paper from your site
15 retweets of the white paper
15 Likes from your LinkedIn Groups and blog page
25 people who attended the webinar and participated in the tweet chat
15 retweets of the webinar
15 views of the recording on Slideshare
This counts as 100 total interactions. It’s both possible and likely that some of these interactions are from the same people engaging multiple times, and you may eventually want to account for this in your equation. But for starters, we can now create a content relevancy measure.
R= 100/17 = 5.88.
If we had only measured the response rate, we might have only counted the downloads and attendees, 40, so we might have had the following calculation
R = 40/17 = 2.35
The difference is significant. Over time, we can understand the relationship between the relevancy and the intended behavior, which in this example is increasing “conversations”. Tracking relevancy will enable you to :
Establish a benchmark
Set content relevancy performance targets
Model content relevancy for intended behavior