Tag Archives: Marketing ROI

Surviving the Social Media Storm

It snowed in Atlanta this week.

To a native Atlantan, that statement deserves a line on its own. Once “Winter Weather Advisory” is heard, people flock to grocery stores to prepare for the worst. An innocent bystander unaware of how much snow was on the horizon may think that Atlanta was about to be hit with enough snow to collapse the Georgia Dome. Instead, we only got 5 inches. But again…

It snowed in Atlanta this week.

And I mention this because snow in Atlanta can be as foreign to Southerners as social media is to marketing executives with little experience online.

Grocery stores are mob scenes before it snows. People don’t know what they need or how much they need; they just know they want it. And the same can be said about social media. Many companies know about social media. They know they want to use it, but they don’t know what, or how, or why. Without a plan or a goal in mind, social media results will just fall flat.

Now that it’s 2011, more and more companies are finding the need to use social media. And yet, some still don’t know why.

My suggestion? Stop thinking about Social Media as MEDIA. It should really be called Online Interaction. Accounts are created to strengthen the communication with customers. Yet, companies are creating accounts without thinking of how to get the most benefit from it. A marketer would never say, “We need to be on TV,” without knowing what kind of ROI would justify spending that much money. Before jumping into the latest fad of Online Interaction, take a minute to map out the purpose for being online, be it to establish dialogue with those already engaged with the brand, or to provide customer service to those seeking it.

And, while trying to figure out the purpose, establish goals for what being online will accomplish. Is there a desire to have comments posted about what is posted? Will there be an opportunity to talk with the consumer in order to establish dialogue? If Web traffic is increased, what should these new visitors do on the company site that will result in a positive return for being online? Let this new online interaction be an open door to further the consumer experience.

Once the purpose and goals are set in place, share it with employees. Let employees talk about it on their own online accounts. If there is a strong purpose with clear goals in place, but poor promotion of the online existence, then results will be weak. This may sound silly, but an online interaction continuously feeds off of, just that, interaction online. And the more that fellow colleagues can develop, the better the results.

Establishing a strong presence online is an ongoing process. Companies cannot create an account and leave it, hoping that friends, followers, and fans will continue to build. This is done through a constant stream of discussion. Once that has been established on the big three (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube), explore new ways to connect with the audience. The age of Social Media is only 6-7 years old, so the “right” way for a soft-drink company may not be the best way for a shoe company. By experimenting with different sites (GoWalla, Digg, Flickr, Friendstr, Groupon, etc.) the online interaction may prove even more suitable than Facebook.

Social Media isn’t new, and is always changing. But having a plan, setting goals ahead of time, and letting fellow employees participate will increase the results of social media efforts. And it won’t feel like you’re scrapping around like we do down South due to winter storm warnings.

— Jonathan Ginburg, Sr. Account Executive

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Gut Is for Gamblers

It sure seems as if the days of developing creative and hoping that it breaks through, resonates with the target, and drives sales are over.  There is not a lot of appetite for statements like, “I think this is gonna work.”  Unless you can say, “I know this will work,” and back it up with some data, you run the risk of having your marketing programs killed and your budget diverted elsewhere within the company.

Marketing is being held to a higher standard, and rightfully so.  We are at the point where nearly every target interaction can be measured in some manner.  And if you’re like our clients, you need all the data you can get to prove that your programs are working, and justify future budgets… and maybe even your job!

But what about front-end analytics?  Sure, we always do our homework at the start of any assignment and try to learn everything we possibly can about the target and what they might respond to.  But is that enough?  What happened to the days of pretesting and being prepared to answer the question “Will this really work?”  I know… there’s never enough time or money to do it properly, and the creatives really hate it.

With every marketing dollar being scrutinized, improving your results by just a few percentage points can make a huge difference.  Sure, you can test lots of digital work on the fly, but what about print, direct, and broadcast?  Those media aren’t dead just yet!

It doesn’t have to be an elaborate, time-consuming process.  Here’s what I see as the seven keys to a successful pretest:

  1. Set specific goals and have a detailed analytics plan in place prior to implementation.
  2. Make sure all the core team members have bought in and are on the same page.
  3. Keep it simple – don’t test too many variables at one time.
  4. Understand the outside influences that can disrupt your test, and be prepared to mitigate them.
  5. Test a large enough sample to make good decisions and make sure the test group represents your target.
  6. Execute the plan – don’t let people redirect it in midstream.
  7. Commit to making changes based on what the results tell you.

So don’t be afraid of pretesting.  Embrace it.  Your future may depend on it!

– Stephen Weinstein, Director of Account Management

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Keeping Score

New York battled Chicago Sunday afternoon in a game for the ages.  There was an overflow of raving fans in the stadium and a worldwide television audience.  They played many hard-hitting minutes into overtime.

Kansas tipped against Kentucky in last week’s finals in front of students, alumni and fans from around the country.  Both teams played a great game to the final buzzer.

Jimmy and Timmy lined up at the start line on a playground packed with kids.  Both sprinted the distance all the way through the finish line and were met with a cacophony of cheers.

So, what’s missing from the New York/Chicago game?  How about the Kansas/Kentucky tilt?  And Jimmy and Timmy’s run against one another to schoolyard fame?

Who won and what was the score?!?  How much further would you read any of the above without those details, as well as supporting information?  What were the teams even playing?

The same is the case for marketing (or any other business, for that matter).  Why spend the time and money if you’re not going to evaluate the work by keeping score?  A scorecard should be an integral part of each and every campaign or project, and CMOs around the world are now making these analytics a priority.

After all, without details of the outcome, how do you know who won?

— Gary Sayers, V.P. Account Director

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Counterpoint from a Football Fan Who Is Also an Ad Guy…

I’ve been a die-hard fan of the Buffalo Bills since the age of five (no jokes, please).  I’ve been playing in multiple fantasy leagues for the past 17 years (I even played fantasy XFL for that one fateful season – no jokes, please).  I can beat pretty much anyone at Madden.  I’ve been to hundreds of games and numerous Super Bowls.  I love football.

I’ve been in the advertising industry since the day I left college.  I knew this was what I wanted to do for a living since the age of five.  I’ve worked in big agencies and small ones.  New York, and not New York.  I get a rush from solving client challenges and when a campaign succeeds.  I love advertising.

So, the Super Bowl should be the ultimate day for me.  The perfect blend of football and advertising… on the highest level.  Sadly, it isn’t.

Sure, the last two games were phenomenal.  But most aren’t that good.  In fact, the average margin of victory in the first 43 Super Bowl games was almost 15 points.

The commercials are the same way.  Most are disappointing.  Maybe one out of every 20 is a good one.  Don’t get me wrong – there have been some classic Super Bowl spots.  Everyone remembers Mean Joe Greene, 1984, Where’s The Beef, The Frogs, Monks, and the Jordan vs. Bird Showdown.  You don’t even have to say what brands these spots were for.  Everyone remembers.  But all of them ran at least 15 years ago!

Lately, the commercials have been terrible.  I can only think of four spots over the past 10 years that I truly thought were excellent spots (interestingly, all of them use one or more of the so-called keys to a memorable Super Bowl spot – humor, sex, violence, animals, or kids):

EDSHerding Cats (2000)

ReebokTerry Tate: Office Linebacker (2003)

E-TradeMoney out the Wazoo (2000) and Baby Talk (2008)

Sorry to say that I am anticipating another dud this Sunday.  For everyone’s sake, I hope I’m wrong.  The good news is that, either way, everyone will debate the highs, lows, and key plays of the game… and which ads were the best!

– Stephen Weinstein – Director of Account Management

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Time for a change?

It’s the end of the year, and the economy hasn’t rebounded to where consumers feel like there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. Forecasts for 2010 call for more of the same, at least in the first six months or so. Some feel it will take years to shake off the dust of this recession.

So what does a marketer do heading into 2010? Budgets are tight. Accountability, ROI, and metrics are the buzzwords that matter.

In 2009, only two media categories showed gains: internet display ads, up 7 percent, and freestanding inserts (FSIs), up 3.9 percent. I understand both being up, since they’re measurable in terms of returns. The internet also gives an advertiser the ability to change copy frequently to find out what’s working. However, last I looked, the click-through rate for internet display ads was hovering just under 0.1%. That’s one click (and only a click) for every 1,000 ads served (it doesn’t even take into account what the clicker does when he/she gets to the site). And can someone, anyone, tell me the last banner ad they remember? I hate to say it, but the internet is the SAFE way to advertise. And I never expected to say that.

Change is in the offing. But what does that change entail? It entails thinking differently and altering behavior. It entails a different mindset. If your results are flat, and I’ve heard that flat is the new up, then you probably need to change. Contrary to popular belief, flat is NOT up. Flat means you’re in the same spot. And the real metric that counts is sales. Engagement is fine as long as you can generate a sale from it. When was the last time you heard a salesperson say, “My engagements were up last month, but my sales were flat”?

There’s a saying that drastic times call for drastic measures. While some may feel that drastic change is necessary, I think that small, significant changes can have very dynamic effects on a marketer’s approach. Maybe it’s a shift from one medium to another or into a medium you’ve not used before. It may be a shift in how you schedule activity, or it might be a more tactical shift to supporting only very select trade shows or conferences.

In any event it’s a change in how you approach things. There’s a lot of opportunity out there. But we need to change focus if we are to truly see those opportunities. One of the effects of this recession has been a paralysis of sorts on a marketer’s ability to be bold. And these times call for bold action. The time for the “safe” approach is past. Safe gets you “flat.”

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Use ROI Scorecards to Ensure Success in Marketing High-Involvement Brands

During a recession everyone hops on the ROI bandwagon as marketing dollars are scarce. As soon as the good times return and the marketing floodgates open, most marketers slide it to the back burner. However, for high-involvement brands ROI analysis is mandatory – in good times and bad times. At Kilgannon, we use a scorecard to make ROI analysis relevant, easily understood, and actionable.

But let’s start with what we mean by a high-involvement brand (HIB). This is a brand that has a long sales cycle and the customer perceives some risk with the purchase. It is the opposite of a consumer packaged-goods impulse purchase. Because of the long sales cycle, marketing investments have a long gestation period, sometimes more than a year. It is highly risky for a marketer to wait until the end of a sales cycle to evaluate the marketing spend. This is why milestones are important — to make sure the marketing stays on track.

Our clients have told us that the scorecard we’ve created has proven to be invaluable. For HIBs, the scorecard is like a breadcrumb trail that leads from the marketing activity to the ultimate sale. This process enables a marketer to see the contributions of each phase of marketing activity. In the early stages of the sales cycle this involves measuring the effectiveness of building brand awareness and attitude.

In the middle stages of the sales cycle, customers are beginning to shop for information about the product. This stage is one of the key differences between HIBs and consumer packaged goods. Since HIBs entail more risk, customers go through a research phase where they shop and learn more about the product before making their purchase decision.

Obtaining metrics on product research activity and how it interacts with your brand is essential to understand your ROI. Web analytics, search results, store traffic, call activity, requests for information, and other lead generation metrics are examples of the type of information that fills the middle stages of the scorecard.

The final area encompasses the more traditional financial metrics, such as sales revenue, market share, share of wallet, and willingness to recommend.

By consolidating all these metrics into one scorecard and trending the results, a marketer can monitor his marketing activities in the short term, while achieving his sales goals in the long term. We encourage every marketer of HIBs to use a scorecard so they can be sure their spend is as efficient as possible.

Sample Scorecard for Widget, Inc.

Sample Scorecard for Widget, Inc.

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