Popeil, Meet Zuckerberg1 Feb, 2012 By: Patrick Cauley Response
The niche direct response industry that paved the way for modern Web analytics by building an entire business model on accountable advertising must now re-examine the merits of throwing messages up against a wall in hopes that something will stick.
If one out of every five minutes spent online was spent on social media, would that change your perspective on its relevance as a marketing medium to your target audience? Well, according to a recent study released by comScore, not only is that figure true, but social networking is now the No. 1 most popular online activity worldwide.
Any marketer’s strategy is to invest dollars in their message where there are eyeballs and reach. Thus, with its validity and prominence undeniable, direct response marketers now grapple with how to measure social media’s impact on their campaign’s success.
“Your customers, your competitors and your prospects are out there and they’re talking about your brand whether you like it or not. If you’re not representing yourself by moderating or commanding the conversation, then somebody else is,” says Chad Warren, senior manager of product marketing for Adobe Digital Marketing Suite. He contends that social technology has solidified access to people and relationships that businesses and brands previously just didn’t have access to.
“Customers now have reach that used to only be attainable by brands through large ad buys. If you can get a customer to advocate on your behalf, not only are you getting a personal recommendation that’s potentially visible by millions, but also your customers are creating customers. If you’re capturing at least a portion of that conversation out there on the social Web and you can do it in a positive way, you can create much more dramatic impact than you could through a traditional TV buy or complement a traditional ad buy significantly,” Warren says.
According to a recent study by the CMO Council, while 52 percent of marketers reported they believe their brands have enjoyed greater influence thanks to their presence in social networks, only 17 percent said that social media is fully meshed, aligned and integrated into the overall marketing mix, proving marketers clearly see a need for improvement in the space.
“Social is no longer really optional. Consumers expect the brands and retailers they want to engage with to be there and have a presence. It’s almost more of a red flag if they’re not there. You don’t want to be left behind, so you have to start figuring out how this fits into your marketing mix. There’s that adage of no time like the present — but that doesn’t mean go in blindly,” says Shawn Myers, senior manager of product marketing for Responsys.
So what’s a direct response marketer’s first step? Obviously establishing your presence in social media is step one. From there, leveraging the social capabilities of your existing channels that you’re already using to communicate with your customer is a great way to test the waters.
“You can very easily enable your customers to re-share content from your E-mail newsletter or add inclusions in E-mails such as ‘Like us on Facebook,’ or ‘share this content to your social network.’ Those are very effective means for companies to really take that existing marketing and allow the social networks of the customers that are passionate about their brand to really act as an advocate or an extension of their marketing organizations,” says Myers.
Myers also argues that enabling customers to re-share content is a great way to track and see what messaging your customers are actually engaged with and interested in. “We design campaigns thoughtfully and then test and optimize them continuously,” he says.
“Social’s ROI challenge is driven by where we’re at with it as a marketing channel,” says Myers. But once again, all signs continue to point to its growing dominance. In fact, users 55 and older represent the fastest growing segment in social networking usage, according to comScore, dispelling the myth that social media is only for the young.
Yet often it still seems like a difficult decision for some marketers to make a social investment. “It’s all about ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ and things of that nature — and while we inherently believe that’s important, it isn’t traditional ROI justification. There’s still the challenge of making the business case for social,” says Myers.
However, it’s not necessarily social media independently that is clouding the ROI picture. “We’re measuring ROI across all your other channels too, so now we’re able to look at an entire marketing mix and make decisions not just in social media isolation, but how do I place my adjustments in social media versus those in virtually any other channel that I operate in?” says Warren.
Marketers seem to be in the middle of a shift right now from a channel-centric view of measurement to a more campaign-centric view of measurement as clearly actions in any channel of a multichannel campaign could have a domino effect on revenue and brand image.
The media marketplace has become so fragmented and multichannel-dependent that 42 percent of marketers rated their integrated efforts as excellent or very good, versus just 25 percent in 2008, according to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). In addition, almost 30 percent of companies now have job titles specific to integrated marketing, further validating this shift.
“The view is shifting from what is the ROI of social, to what is the ROI of the campaign? People looking at the social channel now are trying to identify and engage with the social influencers — the people who are deeply engaged with your brand and want to share your content with their social network in a way that’s beneficial to you. That to me is an ROI-type activity — identifying those people. But as marketers, it’s no longer just about identifying those social influencers, but how to build a campaign for them?” says Myers.
He couldn’t be more on target with social influencers. For example, just 5 percent of users create 75 percent of the content on Twitter. Are you properly influencing the 5 percent that are making all that noise?
The irony of measuring social media impact is that it’s a lot like trying to measure real-life social status — much of it is relative, opinion based and can change in an instant. However, both Adobe and Linksys offer dynamic, analytical tools that help marketers specifically measure how high they climb on the social media ladder.
“People have been measuring social’s engagement and influence by things like number of ‘likes’ and number of shares, the channel-specific metrics of that nature; and we help people measure those,” says Myers. Linksys investigates how social content trends over time and if it’s being shared effectively. “We can measure the revenue directly coming from social postings,” he adds.
The Responsys Interact Suite provides marketers with a powerful, comprehensive set of integrated applications to design, define, execute, manage and refine campaigns across all key digital interactive channels — E-mail, mobile, social and the Web. Responsys provides powerful share-with-your-network links, social-specific and cross-channel campaigns, as well as fully integrated reporting and analysis capabilities.
“Through our platform, we have tracking technologies that allow us to measure, in the case of a retailer, the direct dollars. So we can say, ‘Through these purchases, we can associate with these particular activities and these particular channels,’ and using that to really say, ‘Well social as a component of the overall picture did deliver on a positive ROI,’’’ says Myers.
By the same token, the Adobe Digital Marketing Suite is a collection of Web analytics and website optimization products that provide insight into the performance of online marketing initiatives, empowering marketers to make informed decisions to help ensure the success of online marketing programs. The two main components Warren touched on were Adobe SiteCatalyst and Adobe SocialAnalytics.
Adobe SiteCatalyst helps marketers identify the most profitable paths through a website, segmenting traffic to spot high-value Web visitors, determining where visitors are navigating away from the site, and identifying critical success metrics.
Adobe SocialAnalytics connects social media to business results by capturing conversations happening on social networks and in online communities and correlating their impact with key business metrics such as revenue and brand value. It also directly measures the interactions businesses have with their customers in social media, including how Facebook posts drive site visitors and purchase behavior.
Utilizing the two programs together, Warren explains how marketers are now not only able to understand the flow of traffic to and from social networks and websites and the specific behaviors or purchases they drive, but also the ability to listen to the conversation about your brand independent of your efforts on social networks — such as a customer tweeting about a positive experience with a brand, and then being able to understand the whole picture of how that social conversation is trending and impacting business performance.
Warner Music Group used Adobe SocialAnalytics to prove the impact of social engagement with recording artist Bruno Mars. The digital media team was able to see when, for example, tweets the artist sent from his phone himself would spike traffic to his website. Mars’ Amy Winehouse tribute during the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) inspired 170,000 social media mentions — and that social media spike was echoed the following day with a 159-percent increase in visits to the artist’s website and a 302-percent increase in orders, providing Warner Music Group invaluable insight on correlations between social media engagement and sales.
“A traditional brand advertiser that would be investing a lot in DRTV would be interested in Adobe SocialAnalytics because they’d be able to look at their investment in specific TV spots they ran and then look at the degree of social media buzz around that spot and around their brand related to that spot; but then also how did that drive downstream purchase behavior?” says Warren.
Jordan Sullivan of Charleston, S.C.-based boutique social media agency Cliq Social Media uses more accessible tracking methods. “There are really a few angles of tracking ROI. The first is just by reading the sort of response you get to posts, and learning about your audience — what they like and what they want to hear from you,” she says. Using Facebook Insights for her client Waboba, Sullivan helps measure the ROI of its social efforts by constantly tracking, adjusting and amending its social media based on what’s working.
“You might find that at a certain part of the day, your page is more active during after-school hours because your main audience is ages 13-17,” Sullivan says. “Facebook Insights helps you define your demographic to know who your ‘Likes’ are and where they came from — for instance, your Website, Facebook search, friend referrals, etc. Also, some weeks may be slower, like during holidays or for Waboba, when spring fever hits. Those few days can dramatically affect your numbers. So context plays a role.”
To actually track ROI, Sullivan contends that Google Analytics can be more effective than analyzing Facebook Insights. “If you have a promotion or campaign that you are communicating via Facebook and Twitter, then look at your Google Analytics to see where the traffic is coming from to your website. Or calculate how many people used the coupon code that you exclusively promoted via social media. All of these elements work together to help you define your voice, audience, and your results when evaluating your social ROI,” she says.
Return on No Investment?
One phenomenon of social media is the fact that marketers can actually achieve a positive return without actually investing much, if anything at all. While the Snuggie is the most famous DR product to gain viral notoriety, recent products like Forever Lazy and Free Flexor have reached well over 1 million views on YouTube, inspiring lampoons on TV shows like “Chelsea Lately” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” However, the marketers behind these products have the last laugh because as they’ve embraced social media, they’ve gained monumental brand awareness within popular culture — leading to increased awareness and ROI they otherwise wouldn’t enjoy.
While there’s no magic riddle that can completely solve the social ROI puzzle, Myers contends it’s about automating the optimization over time and being a smart marketer. “People can’t be blind and throw money at it and hope for the best. Being quantitative, measuring results and improving on results is the key,” he says.
In the end, smart marketers always invest money where they know they’re able to reach their customer. With all signs pointing to social media, even if the metrics aren’t at an industry standard, why not test and optimize content and offers within social? After all, when it comes to social status, you’re either head honcho or always playing catch up.