Various studies over the years have examined the relationship between content relevancy and behavior. Almost everyone would agree 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 influence 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; if response doesn’t meet the target, we assume it’s not relevant.
Clearly there is a relationship between relevance and response. Intuitively we believe that the more relevant the content, the higher the response will be. But measuring response rate is not the best measure of relevancy. Many factors 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-throughs or downloads.
So, what is the best way to measure relevancy?
The best-practice approaches for measuring relevancy are many, and many of them are complex and require modeling. For example, information diagrams are an excellent tool. But marketers, who are usually spread thin, need a simpler approach.
The following three steps provide a way to tie interaction (behavior) with content. It’s critical
that you have a good inventory of all your content and a way to define and count interactions, because once you do, you’ll be able to create a measure of relevancy.
The process and equation include the following:
1. Count every single piece of content you created this week (new Web content, emails,
articles, tweets, etc.). We’ll call this C.
2. Count the collective number of interactions (opens, click-throughs, downloads, likes,
mentions, etc.) for all of your content this week from the intended target (you’ll need to
have clear definitions for interactions and a way to only include intended targets in your
count). We’ll call this I.
3. Divide total interactions by total content created to determine Relevancy: R = I/C
To illustrate the concept, let’s say you are interested in increasing conversations with a particular set of buyers. As a result, this week you undertook the following content activities:
• Posted a new whitepaper on a key issue in your industry to your website and your
• Tweeted three times about the new whitepapers
• Distributed an email with a link to the new whitepaper to the appropriate audience
• Published a summary of the whitepaper to three 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 three times
• Posted a blog on the topic to your blog
We’ll count those as 17 content activities.
For that very same content, during the same week, you had the following interactions:
• 15 downloads of the whitepaper from your site
• 15 retweets of the whitepaper
• 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
That’s a total of 100 interactions. It’s likely that some of these interactions are from the same people engaging multiple times, and you may eventually want to account for that likelihood in your equation. But, for starters, we can now create a content relevancy measure:
R= 100/17 = 5.88.
Using the same information, had we measured only the response rate, we might have counted only the downloads and attendees—40 responses—so we might have had the following calculation:
R = 40/17 = 2.353
As you can see, the difference is significant.
By collecting the interaction data over time, we will be able to understand the relationship between the relevancy and the intended behavior, which in this example is increased “conversations.”
I strongly encourage you to consider relevancy as a key measure for your content marketing. By tracking relevancy, you will be able to not only set benchmarks and performance targets for your content but also model content relevancy for intended behavior.
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Lately, we have seen an increase in two requests from event organizers: send a customer to speak instead of you and/or speak for free. While made with the best of intentions, these requests are at the very least rude and at worst portray organizations as unprofessional. Why are these seemingly innocuous requests rude?
Mack Collier of The Viral Garden has articulated why it is wrong to ask experts to speak for free, saying that good speakers spend days creating material and preparing for a presentation. He estimated that he spends “anywhere from 15 to 30 hours preparing/rehearsing the presentation, and loses a minimum of one day due to travel, usually two days.” This is a big investment of time for anyone — and for experts, time is money. A good event organizer will not ask a speaker to speak for free and they will cover travel costs. Speakers understand the need to offset costs by giving speaking slots to sponsors. But sponsors are advertisers. Just because someone paid for a sponsorship doesn’t mean they have the expertise you need.
As someone who has organized numerous events, my goal is to secure speakers who provide the expertise participants will benefit from. The speaker’s expertise should be lending credibility and value to your event. Framing the event as a business development opportunity for the speaker is unprofessional; the reason to select speakers is for the value they bring to your program. A good speaker is not there to make a sales pitch; rather, to educate, entertain, and/or motivate the audience.
The second request is to substitute a customer as an expert. The underlying message is “you are good enough to do the work for a company but not good enough to speak at our event.” This request places the experts and their customers in a very difficult situation — who pays for the customer’s travel since many companies’ travel budgets have become restrictive, who prepares the presentation, who preps the customer since they are not experts, how do they handle Q&A’s, what if a company commitment comes up and they need to bail, and so on.
This kind of request often results in the experts paying travel for both the customer and
themselves, preparing the presentation since the customer doesn’t have the time or expertise, and having do a dive and catch when the customer has a last-minute schedule conflict. It also creates schedule challenges for dry runs, which can negatively impact the event attendees’ experience. It is easy to see that this particular request creates an enormous amount of work and additional costs for the experts and additional work for their customers with no payoff for either party.
In today’s environment, customers want to use their limited resources to reach their prospects and customers, to grow their businesses. Their time is money, too, and they want to invest where they will see the best return. If you want to be a better event organizer, stop making these two requests of the experts who can add tremendous value to your event.
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The Right Stuff, a 1979 book by Tom Wolfe, chronicled the sequence of events bridging the breaking of the sound barrier and the Mercury space expeditions. The book (and subsequent movie) explored why the Mercury astronauts accepted the danger of space flight, as well as the mental and physical skills required of them to do their job—in other words, the ”right stuff.”
Recent studies suggest the need for many marketing professionals to re‐skill and re-tool. Only about 5 percent of marketers surveyed in a recent CMO Council study are highly satisfied with their levels of accountability, operational visibility, and marketing output. Most see plenty of room for improvement.
So what skills and tools are needed for your organization to have the right stuff?
Regardless of company size and industry, marketing teams (whether a team of one or more) are under increased pressure to drive top‐line growth and profitable revenue. For many organizations this means acquiring new skills related to marketing performance measurement and management, analytics, benchmarking, and customer engagement. Let’s review these four specific skills every marketer should have under their belt:
• Metrics and performance target‐setting. With greater demand for marketing to be more accountable, solid metrics, performance target‐setting, measurement, and reporting skills are crucial. Participants in numerous studies comment on the importance of being able to set measurable goals and track results. These skills will be in vogue for a long time to come.
• Analytics. This is the ability to derive insights from data. If growing valuable customer relationships and being able to forecast sales from future marketing activities are important, then analytics ought to be on the top of your skills‐to‐acquired list.
• Benchmarking. This is the process of comparing what your company does to another that is widely considered to be an industry standard or best practice. The aforementioned CMO Council study indicated 58 percent of respondents have nominal or no benchmarking capabilities. If you don’t know what the standard is, how will you know what to strive for when it comes to such things as win/loss ratios, marketing key performance indicators, share of preference, product adoption rates, and so on? Benchmarks are essential to any organization that believes continuous improvement is critical to the pursuit of excellence.
• Customer experience management. If business exists to produce and serve a customer, and marketing’s job is to create, communicate, and deliver value to customers, then marketing is your organization’s ultimate steward of the customer experience. Marketers need to be sure they have the skills necessary to improve customer engagement and touch- point effectiveness. They also must respond to changes in the buying cycle and conduct voice‐of‐customer research in order to retain customers, create loyalty, and transform customers into advocates for the company.
Marketing operations refers to infrastructure — that is, the tools, systems, and processes in place to facilitate customer‐centricity. Forty‐four percent of the respondents in the CMO Council study are looking for way to lower costs and improve go‐to‐market efficiencies. For many organizations, achieving these operational efficiencies requires infrastructure changes and improvements.
With limited resources, where can you get the best bang for your buck? Here are four areas for investment consideration:
1. Operational process alignment. When was the last time you mapped your operational processes and verified marketing alignment with the sales, product, service, and other parts of the business? All of us get into routines and habits. Reviewing processes and updating them may be time consuming, but if you are looking for ways to reduce inefficiencies internally, this is a necessary step.
Many years ago, when I was in the semiconductor industry, we needed to find a way to reduce the time from order to delivery of product. It was just taking too long to get product to customers, and we didn’t know why. When we calculated the time it took for the individual steps of order placement, manufacturing, testing , assembly, and shipping, the time didn’t add up to what it actually took.
So we mapped the process, counting the time product was ”in‐transit,” whether physically or in some other way. Lo and behold, the in‐transit time was off the charts. The mapping process enabled us to identify the inefficiencies, label the white spaces, and put in new processes to reduce and even eliminate them.
2. Market/Business intelligence. There is an art and science to using external information for driving business strategy. Business intelligence applications enable the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of competitive, channel, product, and customer information to derive trends and insights. The value of having such a tool is that, when used properly, it enables you to begin conducting scenario analyses and anticipating the future. With the insights derived from business intelligence, there is the potential to anticipate the development of new markets, technological turning points, and how the competitor will react.
3. CRM. If the marketing organization is responsible for the relationship between the company and the customer, then it stands to reason the organization needs tools to facilitate this relationship. As you know, there are a range of CRM tools out there, so selecting the right one can be a daunting task. Even so, in today’s environment a company can’t afford to operate without a formal approach to customer relationship management. Of course, once you have the tool , the next biggest hurdle is using it.
4. Performance management. The ability to use analytics, reporting, and dashboards to assess marketing’s effectiveness, efficiency, financial contribution, and progress toward achieving pre-determined goals is performance management. In the end, marketing must demonstrate its value, which lies in how much you are “moving the needle.” This necessitates reporting on performance, impact, and ROI from the program level up.
Progress doesn’t come without missteps, misfires, and failures. Winners look for ways to overcome challenges and continuously improve. They seek outside help, new ideas, and new skills. While attending a Webinar, reading a book, or going to a conference helps, consider looking for ways that will enable the whole team to be on the same page at the same time. There are plenty of on-site and online programs offered by professional organizations and institutions, as well as by firms specializing in these areas.
In Wolfe’s story, the national heroes of the Mercury space program were not necessarily the truest and best. What they possessed was the right stuff, the skill and courage to ”push the outside of the envelope.” Does your marketing team have the right stuff?
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Sustainability. Green. Environmentally-friendly. However we refer to it, it is top of mind.Sustainability is about how your company and its products are affecting, and trying to achieve balance within the economic, social and environmental systems. This isn’t just an issue for the “big” companies. Regardless of size, every company and its leadership team needs to be exploring what green and sustainability means for the company and its products. Because strategic planning incorporates opportunity identification, risk management, talent development, and financial strategies, all of which fall within the domain of the C-suite, sustainability which affects all of these should be the concern of the company’s leadership team. Practical green and sustainable solutions can help reduce risk, meet compliance, and create market opportunities.
There are many ways for a company to integrate green into their strategic plan. For example in October of 2007, P&G announced a corporate strategy around three goals: developing and marketing $20 billion in sustainable innovation products; improving the environmental footprint in operations; and the social sustainability area of increasing the number of children in need that they reach. Fast forward 6 years-the results? $52 billion in sustainable product sales as of 2012, a 68% reduction of waste disposed, and over 400 million children helped that were in need.
Goals are good, but implementation is where the rubber meets the road. So how did they
accomplish surpass their goals set in 2007? P&G has a VP of Global Sustainability responsible for operationalizing each of these goals. Companies have found that this issue
is important enough to appoint someone as a champion of their sustainability initiative.
Green encompasses many factors. These factors can range from developing and manufacturing new green products, to looking at ways to make existing products more “green” by reducing their carbon footprint whether that’s in terms of the raw materials they source, the suppliers they use, how the product is packaged, the energy the company uses during production to the types of lights in the office. Whatever your approach, as you explore your company’s route to sustainability you should also discuss marketing the “green” aspects of your company to your customers
While being green is quite appealing, the journey takes time, investments, resources and commitment. You will want to establish performance targets and success metrics to help monitor the return on this investment. Is it worth the investment? The research suggests that it is. Sustainability is beginning to impact a company’s reputation. According to the firm, Conscientious Innovation, more than 70% of consumers link social responsibility to a company’s environmental behavior. Given the trend, sustainability in all its forms is becoming a necessary part of the way a successful company does business. And a recent study by Forrester revealed that 63% of US adults claim that they are concerned about the environment as a whole, and these concerns translate into spending changes. As this trend continues it will be important for every company to have a green marketing strategy designed to boost sales and increase loyalty. These two metrics – sales and loyalty – should be used to determine the success of your efforts and the return on your investment.
To get started you will want to create a roadmap to “sustainability” that identifies the strategies and tactics you will deploy.This roadmap should be integrated into your strategic, operational, and marketing plans. It might help to provide some examples of companies who have already embarked on the journey and what they are doing.
Steps every company can take:
1. Establish a Chief Sustainability Officer or a similar position to head your effort. For Mitsubishi, this is their President and CEO, Ken Kobayashi. When the CEO is the Chief Sustainability Officer, it signals the important of environmental and green considerations within the company. At P&G, Len Sauers serves as the Vice President of Global Sustainability.
2. Create a cross-functional team. Herman Miller has what they call an Environmental Quality Action Team (EQAT) which is composed on employees from across the company who address all the multiple components of the green strategy.
3. Assess your carbon footprint. The first thing the team should do is assess your current carbon footprint. The carbon footprint is a way to measure the impact your organization’s activities on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced. Every aspect of your carbon footprint needs to be inventoried from activities having to do with how the company uses energy or the quality of your customer database in order to reduce direct mail waste. For example, Gwen Migita, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility recently reported that at Harrah’s Entertainment, which operates 51 casinos worldwide, and significantly leverages direct-mail after a substantial database cleaning efforts was able to cut its mailings to the 40 million customers in its database, saving the company $3.5 million. Often one of easiest ways to start down the sustainability path is by focusing on how to reduce your environmental impact from the extraction of raw materials, the production of goods, the use of those goods and management of the resulting wastes.
4. Develop new opportunities: Reducing your carbon footprint is one side of the equation the other is developing new initiatives. These new initiatives can take the form of new products, which is what Home Depot is doing around their Eco Options products or be in the form of take back programs where companies will for example take toxic chemicals back. If new initiatives are not something you can tackle solo, consider looking for a partner or making an acquisition, which is what Clorox did by buying Burt’s Bees.
5. Integrate your strategy into your business. The best way to approach green is to look for ways to integrate it into what you already do. For example, Armstrong International, Inc., is looking a number of ways to modify what they do today. This includes exploring how to return hot condensate to be reused, installing double-pane windows and low-fluorescent lighting, using gas fired hot water heaters to heat their buildings, monitoring air quality in the welding area, reducing trash by 10 percent annually, increasing the amount of recycling, eliminating the use of Styrofoam cups, reducing storm/sewer water discharge, and saving carbon dioxide by replacing travel with videoconferencing.
6. Develop a Plan: The carbon footprint reduction is a good measure of progress but the ultimate goal is to have these investments result in cost savings and revenue growth. Trying to tackle everything can quickly become overwhelming. Apply the concept of Pareto analysis in your decision making. Select a limited number of things you can address that will produce the most significant overall effect – things that will increase sales, garner more customer and employee loyalty and the right return on investment. Develop the plan to address these items and how you are going to:
A) Communicate this plan and status internally.
B) Communicate this plan and your achievements to customers, prospects and other external stakeholders.
C) Measure and report on results.
This means your sustainability officer and the company’s marketing leadership will need to join forces. While the sustainability officer/department may be looking into the processes, practices and products that enable the company to become “more green” and manages the technical expertise; it is the marketing organization that is responsible for building and communicating the strategy. Your marketing organization needs to communicate how the end-user can be environmentally sustainable through the use of your products as well as the company’s progress with its sustainability initiatives.
7. Establish a company culture and align the business plan. All the best laid plans can go awry if the company’s business values and culture don’t support the effort. Part of the process will require you to set policy, implement changes, review successes and failures. Hold periodic sustainability milestone meetings to demonstrate your commitment, address issues, and measure progress. CEO Mike Duke of Wal-Mart takes this approach. Wal-Mart’s sustainability department runs lean with the focus on integrating sustainability into the overall business.
8. Measure and report results: Sustainability and green are new ways for a company to
demonstrate its social responsibility and serve as good community citizens. However, companies and organizations are in business to see a financial return. So where should you expect to see the results of your green investments and marketing initiatives? On the increase sales side your efforts should pay off in faster product adoption rates and an increase in the rate of growth in your category. And on the customer loyalty side of the equation, you should expect to see increases in share of wallet and referral rates. Using your performance today as your baseline, monitor the changes in these numbers as you ramp up your sustainability efforts and your promotion of these
efforts to track the degree of impact.
In summary, getting your customers to use your sustainable products to help them become more sustainable themselves achieves three key things. First, it boosts your sales and helps build stronger brand loyalty. And it helps your customers become more sustainable in return, creating a ripple effect making your efforts extend beyond just your company
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By: Laura Patterson, President
The amount of data being generated is expanding at rapid logarithmic rates. Every day, customers and consumers are creating quintillions of bytes of data due to the growing number of customer contact channels. Some sources suggest that 90% of the world’s customer data has been created and stored since 2010. The vast majority of this data is unstructured data.
It is not surprising, then, that study after study shows that the majority of marketers struggle with mining and analyzing this data in order to derive valuable insights and actionable intelligence. A recent report by EMC found that only 38% of business intelligence analysts and data scientists strongly agree that their company uses data to learn more about customers. As marketers we need to learn how to leverage and optimize this flood of data and incorporate it into customer models we can use to predict what customers want.
Many marketing questions require being able to perform robust analytics on this data. For example, understanding what mix of channels are driving sales for a particular product or in a particular customer set or what sequence of channels is most effective. These types of questions often require large sets of data, or what is being referred to as Big Data.
Big Data isn’t new; it’s just gone mainstream. A recent study found that almost half (49%) of US data aggregation leaders defined Big Data as an aggregate of all external and internal web-based data, others defined it as the mass amounts of internal information stored and managed by an enterprise (16%) or web-based data and content businesses used for their own operations (7%).
But 21% of respondents were unsure how to best define Big Data. IDC defines big data as: ‘a new generation of technologies and architectures, designed to economically extract value from very large volumes of a wide variety of data, by enabling high-velocity capture, discovery, and/or analysis.’
Big Data incorporates multiple data sets—customer data, competitive data, online data, offline data, and so forth—enabling a more holistic approach to business intelligence. Big data can include transactional data, warehoused data, metadata, and other data residing in extremely massive files. Mobile devices and social media solutions such as Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter are the newest data sources. Most companies use Big Data to monitor their own brand and that of their competitors. The use of “Big Data” has become increasingly important, especially for data-conscious marketers. Big Data is a valuable tool for marketing when it comes to strategy, product, and pricing decisions.
Big Data offers big insights and it also poses big challenges. A recent study by Connotate found the top challenge with Big Data was the time and manpower required to collect and analyze it. In addition, 44% found the sheer amount of data too overwhelming for businesses to properly leverage. As a result, many companies aren’t maximizing their use of Big Data.
The effort however associated with managing Big Data is more than worth it. The promise of Big Data is more precise information and insights, improved fidelity of information and the ability to respond more accurately and quickly to dynamic situations.
How to Handle Big Data
So while Big Data might seem a bit daunting, these steps will help you navigate using Big Data:
- Clarify the question. Before you start undertaking any data collection, have a clear understanding of the question(s) you are trying to answer. Using Big Data starts with knowing what you want to analyze. By knowing what you want to focus on, you will be better able to better determine what data you need. Some common questions asked are ’which customers are the most loyal’ and/or ‘which customers are most likely to buy X‘? Big Data is about looking beyond transactional information, such as a click-through data or website activity.
- Clarify how you want to use the data. Will you be using the data for your dashboard, to define a customer target set for a specific offer or to make program element decisions (creative, channel, frequency, etc.)?
- Think beyond the initial question. Invariably the answer to one question leads to more questions. If you’re not sure, hold a brainstorming session to explore all the ways the data could be used and potential questions the answers might prompt. Structure your data in a dynamic way to allow for quick manipulation or sharing. Aggregate data structures and data cubes aid with this step. Construct your data cubes so that
they contain elements and dimensions relevant to your questions.
- Identify data sources that need to be linked. Once you identify the question and how you want to use that data you will have insight into what data you need. To run analysis 3 against data you will need to consolidate and link it. More than likely you will need to collect the data from disparate data sources in order to create a clear, concise, and actionable format. It may be necessary to invest in some new tools so you can pull and analyze data from disparate locations, centers, and channels. These tools include massively parallel processing databases, data mining grids, distributed file systems, distributed databases, and scalable storage systems.
- Organize your data. Create a data inventory so you have a good understanding of all your data points.
- Create a mock version of your data output. This is a key step to helping you determine the data sets. It will also help you with thinking about how you will convert the results into a business story.
Smart marketers use the data to tell a story that will illuminate trends and issues, forecast potential outcomes, and identify opportunities for improvement or course adjustments. They use the data to gain big insights into customer wants and needs, market and competitive trends. Tackle Big Data and tap into big insights that enable you to take advantage of market opportunities, deliver an exceptional customer experience, and give your customers the right products when, where, and at the price they want.
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Are you investing more in social marketing this year? If so, you are among the many marketers making this same decision. EMarketer estimates that four out of five U.S. businesses with at least 100 employees will be marketing on social media this year, and U.S. ad spending on social networks is expected to reach over $3 billion.
How do you plan to measure the ROI of your investment? Many marketers use site traffic as their primary metric plus “soft” metrics such as counting fans and followers and positive buzz. But more and more companies are looking for social marketing metrics that pack a better business punch, such as in increase in the number and rate of conversions.
Unfortunately, a recent study by Alterian found that 80% of the 1,500 marketers who completed the survey do not have a good understanding of how online conversations are impacting their business. As usual, the bottom line is being able to measure the impact on, well, “the bottom line.”
What information do you need to measure the value of social marketing on the bottom line?
Understanding two key variables will help you learn whether your additional investments in social marketing are leading to incremental revenue opportunities:
1. The level of engagement with followers, advocates, influencers and readers.
2. The impact of engagement on acquiring new prospects and improving customer loyalty.
Both variables will require measurement and analytical capabilities. To measure the first element you will need to be able to monitor and understand the relevant social conversations.
The Alterian study found that fewer than one-third of marketers have a strong understanding of the social media conversations happening around their brand, and 31% have very little or no understanding at all. If you aren’t monitoring the conversations relevant to your product and companies, it’s time to begin.
And once you have the information, you will need analytical capabilities — another missing link. The Alterian study also revealed that many marketers still have limited analytical competency in general; about 39% of the 1500 respondents are using ad-hoc tools to measure social media conversations. If you’re investing in social marketing and counting on it making a difference, it is also time to identify and add the systems, skills, and processes necessary to monitor and measure engagement.
Hardly a week goes by when you don’t read or hear about social marketing or social media, the terms social marketing and social media are frequently used so it’s probably a good idea to define what we mean by these two terms.
Social marketing was “born” as a discipline in the 1970s. Philip Kotler & Gerald Zaltman, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, in 1971, used the term to describe the application of commercial marketing principles to health, social and quality of life issues.
Social marketing was defined as “seeking to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society.” It leverages the value that consumers/customers have in sharing between themselves and with the brand/manufacturer. It delivers a two-way communication link between the consumer/customer and the brand.
While social marketing was originally developed from the desire companies had to capitalize on commercial marketing techniques, it has evolved into a more integrative and comprehensive discipline that draws on a wide array of technology, from the traditional media to new media referred to as “social media.” These social media are comprised primarily of Internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information such as viral videos, blogs, online reviews, etc. to help the company build its business.
While your website provides customers and visitors with information about your company and its products and you use the Internet to enhance your reach through things such as pay per click, webinars, and search; social media is about leveraging relationships and networks. It complements other online and offline marketing initiatives. Social media and marketing doesn’t replace other media, just as radio didn’t replace newspaper and television didn’t replace radio. Rather, social media are another part of your multi-channel marketing efforts.
And as with any form of communication, people’s attention spans are short and they are easily and quickly distracted. Therefore, just like any other effort, a singular strike may not be enough. When you decide to leverage social media you need to deploy it consistently over time.
eMarketer estimates that social network ad spending will be $1.3 billion in 2009. As more and more companies invest resources into social media and marketing it’s natural to bring to question how to measure the value of this investment. As with any initiative, you can measure the impact of a social media effort only after you’ve determined the business outcome it supports and established performance-based objectives.
For example possible objectives could include increasing customer trial, improving brand advocacy/customer loyalty or increasing share of preference. Each of these objectives should be tied to a business outcome. For example increasing customer trial or share of preference may be tied to business outcomes around new customer acquisition or accelerating the rate of customer acquisition in order to impact revenue and market share.
The metrics you choose for your social media will be determined after you’ve established the business outcome that needs to be achieved and how the social media will support the corresponding marketing objective.
Just as with any communication channel you will want to have some way to create a measurement framework. One possible approach is to measure your social media similar to how you measure public relations (PR) using outputs, outcomes and business results as the basis of your framework.
Why choose a framework similar to one used for PR? If you review the purpose of each you can see they are actually kissing cousins.
Public relations is about attempting to favorably influence the impressions and attitudes of a target audience primarily through endorsements (published articles, reports, reviews, etc) by trusted, credible, objective third parties. Social media isn’t very far afield from this idea when you consider that social media is designed to impact engagement and affect influence through the participation and interaction of third party networks and communities. They both rely on perceived trusted and credible third parties over which you have very little control.
How do you use the outputs, outcomes and business results framework? First let’s define each category because each category measures something different:
1. Outputs – measure effectiveness and efficiency, such as was the campaign cost-effective in terms of the number of positive reviews produced by community influencers or the number of people engaged in a blog discussion on a topic related to your category that includes positive mentions of your company and its product.
The more quantitatively you can measure your social media the better. And its even better the closer those measurements relate to your business outcomes. How rapidly people in the network engage with you and respond to your “call to action” such as write a review, participate in the blog discussion, or forward something to a colleague can all be measured.
What you want to know is whether the social media efforts are having any incremental impact and if so how much so you can assess return on investment. Remember to keep the business outcome in mind, for example such as seeing an increase in the number of people “trialing” your product in order to increase the number of qualified leads in the pipeline and ultimately increase the number of “buyers”.
So even if the social media is producing a good return in terms of its specific metric, if it isn’t moving the needle on the business outcome, then more than likely you need to revisit your effort.