Tag Archives: 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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Holiday card selection underscores the importance of segmentation

Being a strategist, writing holiday cards is always a bit more complex for me than the average person.  I am driven to sort, segment and select:

  • Finding a card with a nativity scene for your most religious Christian friends
  • Sending an image of Jolly Ole St. Nick for kids and people who celebrate Christmas in a more secular fashion
  • Ensuring Jewish friends get a blue menorah and Hanukkah greetings (usually sent early, so as not to miss the holiday altogether)
  • Thinking I might need a Kwanzaa card, or at least one with a non-Judeo-Christian message
  • Offering Peace on Earth to those who categorize themselves as spiritual more than religious
  • Avoiding wishes for a Happy Healthy New Year to those with long-term health issues
  • Compromising with snowmen, snowflakes and other winter scenes for everyone else

This year’s round of holiday greeting segmentation got me thinking.  Do most marketers make this much effort to recognize different audiences and message to their needs?  Or do they send the marketing equivalent of a card that simply reads Happy Holidays – non-offensive, but also absent any insight or deep relevance to the recipient?

May I suggest a New Year’s Resolution for most marketers out there?    Take another look at your target audience and ask:  Who are they?  What drives them?  And how does my product/service align with what’s important to them?

It just might lead to a more segmented, personalized marketing plan; one that engages and motivates your target in new and powerful ways.

— Pam Alvord, EVP, Chief Brand Strategist

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Filed under advertising, Engagement

It’s Déjà vu all over again

As long as I have been in this business, I’ve heard the saying, “There are no new ideas, only old ones recycled.” I think we’re seeing that played out again with regard to test marketing. A staple of the direct marketing industry, it had fallen out of use by other marketing disciplines in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

When I started in the agency business, testing was a priority for a number of accounts that the agency handled.

I’ll throw out a few terms: “Little U.S.” and “As-It-Falls” (which one coworker thought referred to an actual market in the Midwest called “Acid Falls”). These referred to the methodologies we media folk used so that results from any test could be projected to a larger area, most often the entire U.S.

Test markets were selected based on their ability to replicate what the U.S. as a whole looked like. Additionally, they needed to be smaller in geographic scope so as to limit out-of-pocket cost. A few of the more popular test markets were Fort Wayne, Green Bay, and Tucson.

As the business moved into the ‘80s, testing seemed like an afterthought. One of the reasons may have been that the cost of production started to increase dramatically, and running expensive spots in small, inexpensive test markets may have thrown the media cost/production cost ratio out of whack. In any event, I can’t remember a single brand that I worked on during that time that did any testing.  And I find that interesting, given the primary reason for any test is to limit financial exposure.

Fast forward to the turn of the century and the spread of the Internet, and what’s back in style is the concept of testing, analyzing, and optimizing. An idea whose roots are firmly entrenched in the earlier days of advertising is making its way back in a big way. And that’s a good thing.

Testing should be an integral part of any plan. The more we learn, the better we are, and the better our clients are as a result.

The advent of the Internet has only strengthened the case for testing. As I said at the beginning, “There are no new ideas, only old ones recycled.” But a good idea always has a place.

— Dave Capano, EVP, Director of Media Services

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Filed under Compelling, Engagement, Measurement

Auditing your measurement will help you achieve success outside and inside your organization.

When was the last time you audited your marketing measurement program? We find that most marketers don’t do this enough. And when they do, they find they’ve run into obstacles at many critical data points during the evaluation process.

Why? I believe everyone’s intention to adequately measure the results of individual or collective programs starts out meaningful.  Who does not want to measure whether or not the marketing initiative actually yielded the desired result? But the difference we find is not in the intent, rather, it is in the delivery and integrity of the data.

Oftentimes, information has to come from sources outside the marketing department’s control. Like sales lead information. Or, the data from IT, which doesn’t exactly match up to a reportable statistic that verifies that the marketing initiative works. Thankfully, there are tools like Google Analytics that are able to inform the process such that it allows data gatherers to get reporting moving.  Often, though, it is only one step in the measurement chain.

Technology changes everything we do when it comes to the collection of relevant data. More sophisticated technologies can help a marketing group get a clear understanding of how the myriad of tools employed actually can connect to relevant activity.

Marketers must make auditing their measurement a priority. Not just for measuring the effectiveness of their campaign but for internal accountability and the promotion of marketing’s agenda. And because today’s executive team demands hard numbers.

Using business goals as a clear metric is key to success. Using softer measures often does not satisfy the folks upstairs. Making sure all are aligned to deliver data that suggests an investment in the marketing program was well worth it will ensure success when budget time comes around.

— Rena Kilgannon, Principal & CEO

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Drowning in data? Start with a clear strategy to effectively measure your marketing.

Analytics, Dashboards, Scorecards, ROI – these are some of today’s hottest marketing buzzwords, yet the industry still struggles to achieve true accountability.  It’s not that we don’t aspire to it:

  • Increased accountability is a key aspect of the ANA’s Marketers’ Constitution
  • 31 percent of respondents to the CMO Council State of Marketing Study indicated that they intend to improve marketing performance measurement in the next year
  • Another 32 percent of study respondents said they will also be looking to upgrade customer data integration and analytics.

Marketers are not suffering from a lack of information – we’re drowning in Google Analytics reports, Webtrends data, Social Media sentiment charts, Facebook friends, CPCs, and CTRs.  The issue is more a lack of actionable insights.  Just because something can be quantified, doesn’t mean it is valuable.

Data and analytics are only as good as the objectives that drive them.  Data without strategy is nothing more than the analytics equivalent of an Oscar-winning Sally Fields (You like me, you really like me, or as she actually said, You like me, right now, you really like me.)

Effective measurement must start with clearly stated, strategic marketing objectives.  Your plan will be even more actionable if those objectives are quantifiable, realistic, and aligned with business goals.  Most marketers would benefit from thinking in terms of KPIs – Key Performance Indicators – because the language itself demands an articulation of the performance that is expected as a result of the marketing efforts.

So, how can marketers achieve their accountability goals in 2011?

  • Focus on strategy before diving into the data
  • Don’t assume that the information is valuable just because it is a number
  • Identify and measure the path from engagement through conversion
  • Hold yourself accountable to real business results

And finally, heed the warning of the Cheshire Cat, who said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

— Pam Alvord, VP, Chief Strategist

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How engagement can fall short

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone; the world is changing. People are receiving up-to-the-minute information as news is happening, rather than wait for the 6 o’clock news. News stations (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News) report updates on their websites, and Facebook and Twitter posts have become the definition of “current” events. As technology continues to develop, advertising, too, must learn to reach audiences in new, compelling, and engaging ways.

The digital age is upon us, and with it comes more ways to reach audiences than ever before.  Today, audiences are targeted through social media sites, online banners, search engine optimization, and limited online TV commercials. Even though advertisers have many more venues to reach new customers than ever before, it’s a stretch for some of these media to have a discernable impact. But I came across one such campaign that was so compelling, I had to share it with everyone I could.

This campaign was intriguing, interactive, and engaging enough that I wanted to continue “playing” with it long after my first video finished. But after five minutes, could you tell me what the brand was? You may recognize the product and what it can do, but do you know the brand? (The answer is Tipp-Ex, a brand of correction fluid, owned by BIC, better known in Europe). While the concept of this campaign is incredibly strong, the execution fell just a bit short of turning an engaged audience into a new supply of consumers. And, after all, isn’t the end goal of advertising to sell products?

Here are three steps that Tipp-Ex missed that could have turned the compelling, engaging campaign into one with positive, measurable results:

  1. Continue using the product. Clearly, there are many videos that Tipp-Ex produced for this campaign. Allowing me to “use” the product in order to create a new blank would have had me interacting with the product directly. Repetition would have made me recall the brand next time I’m ordering supplies.
  2. A link to the website. There are more than 6.8 million views (at the time of this posting) to this video, but not a single clickable link to their site. Can you imagine what 6.8 million views would have looked like had they been allowed to visit a microsite or landing page? Then, Tipp-Ex would have had a targeted, active audience on THEIR site, and not just some YouTube link.
  3. A call to action. While I enjoyed interacting with the videos of this campaign, once I was done, I was done. The campaign did not provide an opportunity for me to further my involvement with the brand by offering a call to action. A simple coupon (on this yet-to-be-executed website) that could be printed and taken into any office supply retailer to be redeemed will have me asking for this brand by name next time I’m in need of correction tape.

With these three additional executions to the concept, uninterested Web surfers could have become interactive and engaged audiences and converted into measurable consumers, and perhaps loyal brand stewards.

— Jonathan Ginburg, Senior Account Executive

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Creative in the new age of measurement. It sure beats testing.

The digital age has added a new responsibility to the creative’s job. It used to be that we just had to be funny, smart, and on target. Now we have to be measurable, and we must create content with measurement in mind.

While this certainly sounds like an extra layer that can interfere with creating the best work possible, I’m actually for it when it’s employed correctly.  That’s right, a creative who’s for measurement.

Why in the heck would a creative embrace testing? Because now we can prove that the best creative is usually the most compelling and effective in the marketplace.

Back in the old days, creative measurement meant testing, and testing meant death by focus group. I’ve witnessed group dynamics ruin many perfectly good ideas.

Today, rather than spend their money on focus-group testing, a client can A/B test creative in the real world. And with the vastness of the digital space, clients can run with more than one idea and see which ones gain the most engagement.

Now, instead of reacting to what people say they will do in a monitored group situation, we actually know what they are doing and can react quickly with real-time information.

I see this as a boon for creative output and clients. Rather than argue about which creative is better, let’s put it to the test. I see this as an opportunity to produce more great work and prove its worth scientifically in the marketplace.

— Jimmy Gilmore, Senior Copywriter

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