We are all about marketing, data, analysis, innovation and technology

Monday, August 20, 2012

Commonsense Approach to Integrating Social Media into Your Marketing Mix

In the course of getting a Social Media strategy up and running for any brand, a myriad of questions will undoubtedly arise.  Many marketers approach the Social Media channel timidly, for fear of making a mistake. 

Other marketers assume that since the cost of developing a Facebook page lacks a subscription fee, (Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts are free) that the social media channel is a kind of “throw away” and delegate the responsibility of establishing a social presence to a relatively junior member of their staff, and then just kind of forget about it.

Needless to say, both of these approaches fail to fully leverage the power that is inherent in the social media channel.  The power of the channel is, of course, the traffic.  With so many consumers spending so much time in social media, the traffic generated makes a compelling case that all businesses need to explore the social channel and define how it can work for them.  This isn’t to say that the answer will be apparent immediately, but, like the early days of the World Wide Web, there was a huge learning curve on the design and utilization of websites.  There is similarly a learning curve to leveraging social, and it requires a bit of common sense, and some ongoing attention.

Probably the most logical way to think about the social channel, and perhaps the most straightforward way to use it, is to think about it in the context of other marketing channels that you are using, and design your social activities to synergize with your other activities.  While this approach is logical, companies who employ a junior member of the marketing team to man the social media responsibilities alone, will probably not see adequate thought or effort into making sure each Facebook post, or Tweet has a clear purpose in the context overall marketing communication.

What follows is a set of commonsense rules to Integrating Social Media into your Marketing Mix.

Rule 1.  Align your Social Media editorial calendar with your promotional calendar.    
Most marketers are aware of the need to have a promotional calendar to manage key marketing related activities: media buys, product launches, management of inventory and fulfillment, but many fail to see that Social Media should be in part informed by these promotional activities as well.  Why? Because  the consumer expectation, in the Social Channel, is that there should be some recognition or knowledge from the channel that other activities or promotions are occurring.  Messaging upcoming events to consumers in social provides your most loyal consumers with the opportunity to be on the alert for a key event, and gives them the benefit of knowing about something ahead of less loyal consumers, thus rewarding their loyalty.  The benefit to the marketer is that when the promotional period does arrive, it will be more successful due to the advance messaging directly to those loyal fans and followers.

Rule 2. Establish the goals for the promotion and for the Social Channel.   
For each promotion a marketer typically develops a forecasted outcome of what the promotion will do.  The social channel is really no different.  What is different about social, is that, depending on how long you have been at it, and what tactics you have tried, there may be little baseline from which to gauge what a particular tactic will deliver.  Thus a marketer is in need of careful measurement, both in social, and across the entire online presence.

Rule 3.  Integrate social fully with all of your other marketing strategies.   
This may appear repetitive, but a full integration of social with other marketing strategies means:
  • In each email communication to consumers, Highlight your brand’s presence on Facebook, you give a consumer a chance to “Like” you in the email.  

  • On the brand’s website remind a consumer to like you on Facebook.  If there are sign up pages for coupons or other information, give a consumer a chance to connect with Facebook from your website.  Give consumers a chance to follow you on Twitter.  Be prepared to engage in a dialogue with them especially if they tweet to your handle directly.
  • On your Facebook page and Twitter page, provide your website URL.  If a Facebook post or a Tweet mentions an opportunity or offer at the website, include a link to the appropriate page to facilitate the traffic.
  • On print and broadcast campaigns indicate your presence in the social channel with the Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest logos. 
  • Include details about website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. on includes product packaging if possible.
  • Consider the value of a You Tube channel for your brand.  Videos provide high engagement and are among the most popular content on the web. 
In summary, a consumer will expect that all of the channels work together, and the messaging, and branding will be consistent no matter where they encounter your brand.  To encourage engagement with a brand, social media is an excellent way to foster loyalty among consumers.

Rule 4.  Read your results routinely, methodically, and comprehensively. 
Every marketer has Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that they read to assess the effectiveness of their tactics.  Success in social media is more than the number of “Likes” or the number of re-tweets.
Going back to the goals that you established for social, think about if over a particular promotional period whether the goal was to get likes on the Facebook page, or increase sales, or web traffic. 
If our goal is to get likes on Facebook, presumably the result can be read in the social KPIs, but the drive to get likes may have been in an email campaign.  To understand how the effort worked, we need to look at the email campaign that was facilitating the drive to Facebook, and the increase in likes coincident with the campaign.  

If we are using Twitter to increase sales, we will want to read the number of web visitors who were referred by our Tweets, and made purchases.  So the appropriate metrics here would be re-tweets, and the amount of traffic referred by Twitter.  In other words, since consumers are moving in and out of Facebook and Twitter, and between your website and Google, you need to be more expansive in your view of your KPIs especially when a campaign is in process.  Google Analytics makes it so easy to see these social referrals out of the box as the example report shows below.

Rule 5.  Organize results into a consolidated dashboard.   
It is not productive for every functional area to build a dashboard for the measurement of their own departmental goals.  Marketing is a team effort in the sense that a website, email campaign, social media, and offline efforts may all be handled by different groups.  It may be the case that not all of these groups are even organized under the marketing function.  If all marketing efforts are to be maximized then they must work together.  It is difficult for the efforts to synergize if each person only has visibility into their own component of the marketing communications.  That’s why a consolidated dashboard is a must.    A consolidated dashboard is an effective way for everyone to adopt a common vision for the business.  It shows the folks sending out emails how they influence web traffic, and how Facebook “likes” spike when all of the messaging is going on at the same time.  See the example below for a ficticious marketer of movies.

Rule 6.  Synthesize results and build knowledge.   
This seems really basic, but unfortunately as the new marketing communication strategy, many organizations are operating under the assumption that Social Media should be spontaneous, in-the-moment, unplanned, unfettered by other controls that are put in place for other forms of customer communication.  This is simply not true.  When you begin aligning all trends in a common dashboard, and the social media team begins studying the events that led to last week’s huge spike in likes, shares or retweets, the natural instinct should be to internalize the technique and try to replicate it.  A knowledge base should build to inform ongoing strategies.  This build of the knowledge base should develop into a process that allows for the social media manager to build on successes and expand communication strategies cautiously over time.  

Think of attributing each communication so a database can be built whereby you can assess the time of day, the call to action, the type of post, etc.  So that you can begin to read what your loyal followers are most responsive to.  In addition, begin to understand the cadence so you aren’t boring your fans with the same kinds of posts all the time.  

When you have developed your social media strategies, and are operating it with the care and discipline that is attendant to all other marketing communications, you will be in a position to dive deeper into the consumer relationships and even develop strategies to leverage influencers.  But before you can harness the influencers, make sure you have your infrastructure set up, a good dashboard, and a method to track the response based on the attributes of your communications.

I hope this commonsense approach has been helpful.  I am always happy to assist clients in getting their social campaigns on track.  Please feel free to contact me in the event I can help you.(Rhonda@drakedirect.com).

Rhonda Knehans Drake & Perry D. Drake

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Measuring Campaign Attribution...Where Are We?

Today our methodology of assigning campaign attribution is quite flawed. We have typically focused on last touch. According to two new studies by Forrester, agencies are getting more sophisticated and offering more services in this regard. Google and Adobe are also making it easier for us to apply proper campaign attribution. 

What is Attribution Modeling?  
It is realizing that is is not the simple diagram as shown below in Figure 1 which depicts "last touch" attribution modeling.
Figure 1:  Last Touch Attribution
But rather something more complex as that shown in Figure 2 which tries to understand the true customer journey and gives credit where credit is due.

Figure 2:  Linear Attribution Modeling
To do it right, we must give credit where credit is due.  All prior touches must get some percent of the credit.  How much depends on the attribution model you wish to employ.  

There are many types:
  • Last Touch
  • First Touch
  • Linear
  • Decay
  • Customized

Assuming we selected the correct attribution model above, there are still many other issues that exist making attribution modeling a challenge and imperfect.  These include:
  • Bringing off line and on line marketing efforts together into a single view of the customer journey
  • Understanding online behaviors across multiple devices
  • Understanding the true impact that online browsing behaviors have on off line purchasing
  • Cookie deletion by customers
  • Customers surfing in stealth mode 

We must realize that these obstacles will make it impossible to accurately conduct campaign attribution for the foreseeable future.  But that does not mean we can't do better.  We can.  We just need to be realistic as to what we can do and know that it will never be 100%.  Not even 90%.
Download a presentation I recently made at a large agency event this August on this very subject.

In this presentation I discuss what Google and Adobe are doing to help us better understand attribution.   I also highlight two totally free white papers from Forrester on their assessment of various agencies doing it right and in comparison to Google and Adobe.  You will not want to miss those. 

Highlights of the presentation includes:
  • What campaign attribution is
  • Types of attribution models used today and when to use each
  • Interactive vs cross channel attribution
  • Attribution challenges
  • The Google Analytics "Attribution Modeling Tool" and "Playbook"
  • How Adobe is helping us better understand attribution with the help of Genesis and Insight including several articles
  • "Social Assisted Conversions" in Google Analytics
  • Offline complexities
  • Case example for a movie club
  • Forrester attribution report links and highlights

Many great things happening right now.  Take a look and stay informed and involved.

I hope you enjoy the presentation.