Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Metrics, metrics everywhere and not a fan in sight!

A little overwhelmed with all the social media metrics being thrown around lately?  Me too.  Having a more traditional slant than most digital marketers today, I really like having something concrete on which to hang my metrics hat.  That said, I am willing to stretch and grow as it relates to measuring digital and social media metrics.

As I have said in the past, I am all about ROI when it comes to metrics…specifically, a ROI based on profit, not just revenue.  In the social world, the “tail” for the sales cycle is much longer, so measuring other things while you are on the path to a sale is key. 

So what should you be measuring with respect to your digital and social media marketing spend?  It depends on your business, but here are three of my favorite interim measurements that you should be watching:

  • Engagement Score (ES):  Evaluating your engagement score is a bit more involved than some of the other measurements I am suggesting, but it can be done even by a novice.  The key is to determine what should go into your engagement score.   Specifically, you need to spend time thinking about what an engaged prospect or customer looks like for your business and craft a measurement that fits these criteria.    I would also use a weighted score when crafting the score so that I give more weight to some criteria than others.  But hey, that’s just me.
  • Brand Perception Lift:  Finally, back to market research!  Another great way to tell if your social media and digital marketing efforts are working is through consistently measuring your brand perception (and awareness) among your current and prospect customers.  This will give you an idea of the lift you are getting from the resources you are putting into your online marketing efforts.
  • Leads Generated:  As I said before, it will take time for your digital efforts to bear fruit.  However, your efforts should be getting prospective customers into the pipeline and further and further down the purchase funnel.  If your efforts aren’t getting people converted from a prospect to a real lead, then you should re-evaluate your digital/social media marketing resource allocation.

The two main “old school” measurements of online marketing I use are:

  • Qualified Reach or Qualified Visits—in traditional advertising, we have long used the word reach to describe the amount of people that should be viewing our advertising.  But, past that, we can’t really tell if the message got through the clutter or if the “reached” person actually did anything as a result of our ad.  In the digital age, we have evolved to measuring qualified reach, which is a metric that combines the number of individuals reached by the online advertising/marketing with the number of users that have performed a desired interaction.
  • Clickthrough rates:  In the digital world, this is the “tried and true” method.  This gives you a one-to-one measurement for dollars spent and prospects generated.  The only problem with this metric is that it doesn’t measure intent to purchase or even interest necessarily.  So it is important to measure, but it can’t be the only thing you measure.

So what are U.S. Marketers using to measure interactive marketing performance?  According to a study recently conducted by Chief Marketer (reported through eMarketer), its:  clickthroughs (59%), traffic to websites (53%), lead generation (43%) and page views (38%).   Where did my beloved ROI fall?  It was all the way down at 6th place with just 32% saying it was a measure they used to evaluate interactive marketing efforts.  Oh, and brand lift?  It is measured by just one-in-four (25%).

Measuring the success of your traditional and digital marketing efforts can be long and arduous…but worth it.  How are you measuring your success?

Happy Marketing!

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U.S. Small Business Outlook…

Building and running a successful business is difficult period. Add in a weak economy and woe is the business owner, small businesses in particular.

That said, I am happy to see that even though times have been tough, small businesses are keeping a stiff upper lip. According to a new survey conducted by EMPLOYERS®, America’s small business insurance specialist® (through ORC/Inforgraphics), almost half of small business decision-makers (46%) feel that the U.S. Economic Outlook will be better this year than last— a significant improvement compared to 25% measured when they did the study in Dec. 2008.  And, 41% of small business decision-makers expect their revenue to grow this year over 2010 levels.

While the survey showed a ray of hope glimmering in the eyes of small business decision-makers, it did show some lingering pessimism. Specifically:

  • 69% of small business decision-makers say that some worry about their business keeps them up at night.
    •  The most often reported worries were: the economy, figuring out how they can grow/maintain their business, operating expenses and rising fuel prices.51% of small business decision-makers believe it will be more than 12 months before their sales revenues return to pre-recession levels.
  • 49% of small business decision-makers say it will be more than six months before they begin hiring again.

Here’s how they did the study: The study commissioned by EMPLOYERS surveyed 501 owners or managers of small businesses with 1-99 full-time employees. Data was collected through telephone interviews during the period February 23 – March 1, 2011 at the 95 percent confidence level.  The survey was conducted by ORC International, an Infogroup company through their Small Business CARAVAN.

That’s how the average small business owner is feeling…what about you?  Are you bullish or bearish about the U.S. Economic Outlook in 2011?

Happy Marketing!

You Stink But I Love You Anyway…the Loyalty Ladder

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One thing that never ceases to amaze me are customers who continue to patronize a company even though the company is not providing the service and/or value that should warrant the loyalty. While we can’t discount the masochists out there… I think there is a very simple, but very important answer, and it has to do with the various rungs on the Loyalty Ladder.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s, we were all about measuring customer satisfaction. Then one day, someone got the bright idea that we should be measuring loyalty (usually in the form of willingness to recommend). At the turn of the century (wow am I that old?), we started using the Net Promoter Score (NPS)…which is a kissing cousin of loyalty, but goes a bit further. What should we be measuring? I think it depends…there is a lot of merit to NPS, but I like other types of measurements as well.

How do I categorize customers so that I really understand how likely they are to continue to buy from me? I put people on the rungs of what I call the Loyalty Ladder (shown in bulleted form).

• Raving Fans—these are folks that are giving me the highest scores possible on my survey. They are also going to recommend me every chance they get and will be willing to pay more for me (because I am just that good). I try to get everyone into this bucket but hey I am human…

• Always Done It That Way—these are folks that buy from you out of habit. To them , you are like the comfy blanket (or binky) that they had as a child. This type of loyalty is good, but not entirely loyal.

• I Have No Place to Go—these are the folks that feel trapped, but don’t spend a lot of time looking for alternatives. For example, cable companies had a lot of loyal customers before consumers were aware and understood the service provided by DirectTv and Dish Network. So what happened? Once these two companies (and others like them) became mainstream…these once loyal customers were not so loyal.

• Asleep at the Switch—these are the people that are using you and don’t even know that you are providing the service. They have no loyalty to you but they started your service some time back and forgot to turn it off.

• I Have a Coupon—consumers switching to you for discounts and other couponing are not necessarily going to stay with you. If they switched to you for a discount, they can easily go in the other direction (a competitor) the next time they need your product/service. For these folks, you need to add value beyond the coupon.

So why is this so important? When defending and/or attempting to increase your customer base, you need to know where your customers and prospects are on this loyalty ladder (for lon-term success that is).

Where are your customers on the loyalty ladder?

Happy marketing!

Expressions more important than impressions?

I was reading a Harvard Business Review article, Coca-Cola Marketing Shifts from Impressions to Expressions by Joe Tripodi and really loved it.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, the main point of the article is a need for companies to go from focusing on impressions to focusing on expressions. And, by expression they mean any level of engagement with a brand’s content by a consumer or constituent. It could be a comment, a “like,” uploading a photo or video or passing content onto their networks.

So what can expressions do for you than impressions can’t? Well first you should think of impressions as building brand awareness. Brand awareness is great as it can get you into the consideration set. That being said, impressions are much less connected than expressions to the next level in the purchase funnel: the actual purchase.

Here’s what I think is most important when it comes to expressions:
Do you hear what I hear?–prospects and customers who are engaged will talk about you…alot. So you should be measuring not just how many people are seeing your brand name through SEO and focusing on how many people are talking about you and more importantly…what are they saying.

Houston are you receiving me? –in addition to listening to what your “fans” are saying, you need to actively engaging with your prospects and customers. And by that, I mean talk to them through the same media in which they used to talk about you…social media. By measuring how much they engage with your two-way conversation, you can really get a sense of how likely they are to promote you…can I get a NPS (Net Promoter Score) anyone?

Have you heard the good news? –ok, I am not talking about a commune, but a community. Are you using your social media efforts to build a community of followers? That’s the big pay off in this whole game. Once you get the expressions, you need to be thinking communities. How do I turn expressions of engagement into a community of engaged fans. It’s not easy, but it can be done with time, patience and the right (customer centric) attitude.

So when are you going to quit worrying about impressions and start focusing on expressions?

Happy Marketing!

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The death of a brand?

For those of you that follow my blog, you know that I don’t use my blog as a rant platform. Well today, I am sorry to say, I have to diverge from my normal blogging style. But, don’t worry…it will still have to do with branding and marketing. I promise.

Southwest Airlines has been the Gold Standard (Platinum even) when it comes to customer focus and service. Not just among airlines, but among most American companies. Over the years, they have built a brand based on one singular notion…the customer comes first. I have to say, based on my experience with them today, I believe they may be veering away from that focus—which in my humble opinion will make them like all the rest of the big carriers. What will come of their brand? Not sure, but it can’t be good.

One of the best things about flying Southwest, besides the friendly staff and great fairs, was their flexibility when you had to make a change. Have to cancel a non-refundable ticket? No problem, we will still let you use the money for another flight. Have frequent flyer miles you want to use to buy a ticket for someone else? No problem. Have travel funds from a canceled ticket you want to use to fly your mom out to see her grandkids. Bring her!

Guess what…not anymore. Brand promise conflict? I think so.

Here’s what happened you decide…

  • I had to cancel a business trip because my son was going to have surgery
  • Southwest was nice enough to allow us to cancel the ticket and have a co-worker use the funds from the old ticket to buy the same ticket under her name so she could cover my meeting
  • I found out last night that the surgery has been rescheduled for July
  • My co-worker canceled her ticket so that I could reinstate my flights because I have to go on this trip
  • Southwest told me to go pound sand, the ticket will cost $1000 (from Reno to Chicago and back)
  • I told them that it was my ticket to begin with and that the whole process had started before they changed their policy on transfers today (yes… my luck… today)…again, go pound sand

So is what Southwest did wrong?  No, it’s now their policy.  Did their brand take a hit from me on social media from me today?  Absolutely!  And, more importantly, will experiences like this take their brand to a place it really doesn’t want to go?  Maybe.  Do they just want to be a commodity carrier and not a caring carrier?  Only time will tell.

Happy Marketing!

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PR finally getting onboard with Inbound Marketing…

As the marketing world has moved from an outbound to an inbound focus, many public relations (PR) companies have been “left behind”. That’s why I am very happy to see that some forward thinking PR companies and PR organizations have gotten together to study social media in the main stream and the Hispanic market.

Here are some of the highlights of the study from TeleNoticias and LatinoWire (in conjunction with the Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA), HispanicizeHispanicAd.com and Survey.com) in which they surveyed PR professionals.  Special thanks to emarketer for providing easy access to the survey stats!

  • The majority PR professionals (69%) believe that social media programs are important in both the mainstream and Hispanic markets.
  • PR professionals know that social media is an important tool for reaching Hispanics. However, only 45% of respondents said they actually use it, compared to 92% who use social media to reach mainstream markets.
  • The majority of PR professionals feel that social budgets will increase for the main stream (58%) and the Hispanic market (60%).
  • Coming as no surprise, the PR professionals interviewed through the study are most often using Facebook and Twitter to attract the mainstream and Hispanic markets.

Hey you PR professionals….how are bridging the outbound/inbound gap?

Happy marketing!

When Marketing Goes Wrong…

As Easter is almost upon us, I am left pondering a recent discussion I had with my brother—a professor at SUNY in Canton, NY—in which we were discussing the blogs I wrote to help people perfect their marketing efforts.   During our discussion, my brother said… “it’s great that you are helping people make their marketing efforts more successful, but what if being successful in marketing was good for your company, but bad for society?”  

Here’s what he is talking about.  According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, as we go up the needs pyramid, our needs change from the basic survival type stuff to self actualization kind of stuff (technically speaking of course).  My brother is not worried about the people at the bottom of the needs pyramid as they don’t have any money to buy anything but the basics.  But, what about people on the other rungs?  Do we have a moral obligation to warn them about the consequences of overbuying?  That they should be buying what they need and not just focusing on what they want?  Basically, he was suggesting a marketing/advertising disclaimer similar to the types of disclaimers on packages for cigarettes and alcohol.  Buy at our own risk.  Or at least, he is suggesting a disclaimer you see at a casino…play responsibly…so in this case…buy responsibly.

I see his point.  Would we be in the economic and financial meltdown mess right now if with every purchase we are reminded that over buying is bad?  I am not sure.  Is the emotional desire to keep up with the Jones stronger than the rational mind required to heed the warning in the disclaimer? I think not.  Research has shown that consumers making decisions from the emotional rather than rational part of their brain.  So if that is the case…would the disclaimer work?

So I guess I need some help from others in the marketing world.  Are we our brother’s keeper when it comes to marketing?

Happy marketing!

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