Brain Vibe

marketing muses to stay engaged

Does Data Quality Matter in Social Media?

Data driven marketing is reliant on high quality data, but with the introduction of social media and its pervasiveness in the marketing tool kit, it is easier to engage with your market without having to have correct emails, addresses, or profiles. It begs the question, does data quality matter anymore for marketing in a Web 2.0 world?

I think the answer is, “Yes, but…”

Direct marketing and bottom of the funnel mindset is what most B2B marketers work in as they have been more closely ties to sales goals.  Where sales won’t accept a lead without knowing who it is and the appropriate contact information at a minimum, it has to be collected at every opportunity.  Without this information, marketing also doesn’t have an adequate single view of the customer to profile and segment reliably.  In this context, data quality is critical as it determines if a lead is passed, how to pass the lead, and align the lead to existing opportunities or account profiles.  Name, company, location, phone, and email are the cornerstone to this.

Social media is not outreach, it is in-reach.  It isn’t lead generation, it is relationship generation.  You don’t collect details on your connections and contacts.  You cultivate engagement and conversation.  Without the need to maintain a list of connections in your CRM and the ability to leverage social media organizers like HootSuite to communicate to your community, contact information is somewhat irrelevant.

So, where is data quality necessary?  Having a single customer view that is inclusive of social media profiles and engagement. At some point, us B2B marketers do need to move relationships out of the 2.0 world and into face to face engagements, particularly for complex sales.  At this transition point, the social media profile becomes an invaluable part of the customer view.  Just as CRM captures order transactions, direct marketing interactions, and sale interactions, it also needs to show social media interactions.  Why? The social media interaction is probably more telling of your relationship with your customers than traditional interactions.

The catch? Linking a limited profile from LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook to a standard contact profile in CRM can be problematic.  Your CRM system may not have the ability or capability enabled to link the 2.0 world with your customer data. You may not have a social media platform that is capturing what is needed to integrate your customer data between online and CRM.  Or, it does, but integration needs to be established.  Those are just a few examples.

Ultimately, data quality will matter for social media as B2B marketers mature in their use and linkage of 2.0 activities to best practices for lead creation, nurture, and pipeline generation.  We live for now in customer relationship silos, but the real advantage and benefit of social media to show ROI for marketing will be improved integration and profile management across the entire relationship.  As soon as integration is introduced, just as in the past, data quality plays a critical role.

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Filed under: b2b, CMO seat, crm, data quality, marketing technology, social media, , ,

Is There ROI in Social Media and Display?

I sat across from a client the other day discussing how they measure digital marketing efforts. They had just committed and entrusted millions of dollars in online ad spend to our agency only weeks before. The SEM and Display Media teams had already come in to discuss ideas and strategy. Now it was my team, web analytics, to come in to measure and prove that we could get the most conversion out of these ad dollars. On the line – display dollars and social media.

As marketers, we know that display is the hidden lift behind search and conversion. We even realize that social media, beyond the hype, has as much if not more value than the a creative placement. It is intuitive. And, to be honest, executives get it as well – they just don’t know why they have to pay so much for it.  Yet, I still get the questions I got the other day, “How do we defend our display budget?  Is there really ROI in social media?”

Here’s the thing, if as online marketers we are in doubt, a definitive ‘NO’ is going to come down from above.   Research conducted by such reputable firms as ComScore Networks and eMarketer isn’t enough to change minds.  It wasn’t enough to convince the marketers across the table from me.  They wanted to know if display and social media spend was working to the advantage of our other clients.  If so, how did we know?

The current approach has been pick a few tactics, launch, and measure.  Results come in and they are lack luster; we chalk this up to not working and move on.  Why the test didn’t work is not always assessed.  The results tell it all.  Not really.  The results only tell us the outcome of the test.  It does not tell us the validity of the test.  This is the beginning of defining attribution to our display and social media tactics.

The Reality:

Not all campaigns and applications are made equal.  The trick with display and social media tactics is that you know what you want them to do for you.  What is the goal, awareness, drive to site, engagement, or conversion, or all four?  Once that is determined, what is the role of display and social media in attaining these goals – direct or supportive?

The Application:

It pays at this point to think out of the box.  Social media as commonly thought of – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. – is only an aspect of social media.  What makes social media work is the communication, proliferation, engagement, and connection it drives.  The venue of a network or blog is only a placement, the components that facilitate the experience of the venue are the engines.  Display as well is more than a billboard. Approaching display like you would an email campaign with a targeting strategy, crisp copy and creative, and a strong call to action is the key to making display work.

Next, taking into account how these tactics support the goals will define measures and metrics.  Saying that click through rate for display and social media are indicators of conversion is only a small portion of the value.  As seen, click through rates are dropping dramatically for display and marketers have yet to directly connect social media interactions with conversion.  It is not to say that conversions can’t or won’t happen.  It is just that the likelihood is much lower.  So, you need to measure how awareness and perception contribute to conversion.  And this is the crux of the matter.

Test, Test, Test Again:

The test at this point should be more clear.  You know what you will launch and why.  You have a perspective of how to measure performance and its link to goals.  It is time to develop the test plan.  Here are a list of things to keep in mind when developing the test plan:

1)  Know your baseline.  This is more than having a control.  A control segment assumes you have tested a baseline.  Don’t assume that several weeks prior or even a few months of data is representative.  You will need to measure a baseline of performance over a period that allows for seasonality, marketing cycles, and market forces.

2) Consider how long your display and social media campaigns need to be in market to be able to measure impact.  You need to attain a threshold of measurable sample and you need to take into account the length of time required for exposure.  You may reach a sample that is significant but if it was attained in a week and a display or social media standard is 3-4 weeks in market for impact to be felt, you don’t have a viable test.

3)  Start simple and progress to advanced.  Applying a simple in market – out of market approach can get you headed in the right direction and give you what you need.  As you begin to exhaust simple testing methods, this is when attribution analysis can kick-in and allow you to apply complex strategies.

4)  Got results?  Test again.  This is an iterative process.

5)  Those results you got, leverage them elsewhere.  Insights you gain from one set of tactics or a campaign can seed an expansion of activities.  Then, test assumptions in the new application.

Filed under: marketing technology, marketing/advertising, metrics, social media, social media marketing, , , , , , , ,

Marketing Measurement Primer: Creating Your Reporting System

So, you are thinking about creating an automated reporting system to monitor marketing performance across all your activities: direct, website, internet marketing, social media, e-commerce.  There are all these great tools out there with shiny dashboards and promises of business insight to drive your decisions in one place.  STOP!

It is not as simple as recreating your Excel spreadsheets in a database and copying the graphs to Powerpoint.  Forget what your analysts tell you.  The data isn’t the most important thing in this process.  Your business rules governing your data is the most important.  The business rules stem from your process, your plan, and the point of view of your business.  Make sure your establish your marketing plans and business rules as the cornerstone to your reporting needs BEFORE you go right to the data.

Most business intelligence projects are emerging from mature processes and the topmost functional areas that have application systems capturing and storing data as it happens.  There is a consistency around data elements.  For instance, finance, sales/marketing, customer service all work off customer data with sales transactions and relationship inter-actions.  The reason is that the application manages the data.  Where this breaks down is in the new world of cloud computing and SaaS solutions managing micro components of your business.

Your headaches in understanding marketing performance stems from this increasingly disparate view of your activities.  Traditional marketing is housed in your CRM system (ex. Siebel, SAP).  Website marketing is house in your web analytic suite (ex. Omniture, Webtrends).  E-Commerce might be managed with your E-Commerce provider.  Interactive marketing may be managed by your ad service (ex. MediaPlex, DART) or Google.  Each of these services have their own discrete view of the world and provide you with canned reports.  First and foremost all these various systems need to be bring data into a central repository before any consolidated reporting can happen.  This is where most reporting projects begin and move right to the reporting design and implementation.

Be careful.  This is the pitfall.

What makes the reporting in these disparate systems work is the business rules and processes that generate the data.  How a campaign is set up and tracked in one system can be very different than the other.  Cost management will vary by activity as well as marketing cost may be flat fees or operate through exchange systems with different billing methods (ex: by time, conversion, packaging). You want your campaign plans enforcing the management and reporting of activity across all marketing channels.  If you have not created this framework, you risk accuracy and completeness as feeds can have issues in delivery or have conflicting data that needs to be reconciled and/or adjusted prior to reporting.

As you begin your marketing performance reporting project, bring your sample reports and spreadsheets to the table during business analysis.  But, you also want to be sure you bring your marketing plans and business rules to the table as well.  This will ensure accruacy of reporting and mitigate issues in design, development, and implementation of your new dashboards.

Filed under: business analytics, business intelligence, marketing technology, , , , ,

The Value of Social Media for B2B Purchase Decisions

digital-medium-used-by-us-professionalsUnderstanding how customers decide what solutions they need, which services they need, or what vendor to work with seems to move in peaks and valleys.  With social media on the scene and companies embracing it to get closer to customers, the question is arising again.  The real question is, how does social media contribute to a customer’s purchase decision?

Taking visitors to social media networks or connections to social media marketing efforts into the sales process has thus far eluded marketing.  The answer may be in this recent analysis provided by eMarketer.com.  While GenY is more optimistic about visitation and use of social media activities by US Professionals, Boomers and GenX think that professionals are less inclined.  This is not surprising as other statistics show an age gap.  What is important to realize is that Boomers and GenX are typically the ones making the decisions and holding the purse strings.  If they aren’t using social media to gather information about solutions, services, and vendors their purchase decision is not going to be influenced by what marketers put there.

Another revealing aspect of this study is the individual vehicles and their place in the typical workday.  Social networking, where marketers are looking to develop one-to-one relationships, are not as frequented by decision makers.  The other area to connect directly, internet forums, is also a lagging vehicle.  On the other hand, traditional vehicles such as a news site and personal email are ingrained in everyday behavior.  Social media, as a newer communication and information source, requires change in a decision maker’s behavior.  Other tools, such as mobile devices, were readily adopted due to teh fact that they mimicked and incorporated existing communication methods.  It wasn’t as much of a leap for people to make.  Social media, on the other hand, my be too different from how decision makers gather information or collaborate.

In a world where the journalist is considered a dying breed, across the board responents reconginzed the role they play in a professionals workday.  In fact, the gap is significant when compared to blogs.  This seems to point to a need to value and validated content versus opinion.  Another aspect to consider is that business journals are still able to sell online content and information.  Social media in time may become a trusted source of informtion, but today’s the number indicate that decision makers as designated by generation still rely and trust traditional sources.  Blogs, forums, and networks may still be seens as commentary and biased even is they are produced in journalistic fashion.

As GenY moves up the ranks and GenX further gravitates to social media int the workplace, things will shift.  But, this may still be several years out.   As marketers, we need to consider our audience’s preference for communication and information gathering when leveraging marketing tools that should drive sales.  Social media in business is still an immature source even as the hype has reached a crescendo.    If social media is not used regularly in a workday, it does not have the marketing power to transform engagement into sales.  Purchase decisions are complex and content and engagement needs to happen in a manner that creates trust, credibility, and aligns to the customer decision process.

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Filed under: b2b, marketing operations, marketing technology, networking, social media, social media marketing, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is Twitter an Effective Direct Marketing Tool?

There are many uses for Twitter, but a significant use is to share content.  So, if you are a marketer and trying to get reach and conversion by feeding your blogs, white papers, and event invites through Twitter, what is the click-through rate?  How does it compare to email and direct mail?  Just how effective is it?

Pear Analytics just released a post looking at just that.  Their conclusion is that Twitter only provided a  click-through rate equivalent to direct mail.

… [A] “useful” tweet has the following characteristics:

-a shelf life of about 1 hr 15 min, and then it “dies”
-1 to 2% click-through rate on links

Which means that this is not a whole lot different than direct mail for example, without out the cost of course.

Ouch!  Alright, so it didn’t cost anything except manpower, but it is supposed to be better than direct mail and even email due to the ‘viral’ aspect of being within a social network.  That’s the hype.  That’s what the creative gurus are telling us. 

The issue with Twitter as a direct marketing tool has more to do with the fact that you cannot manage your list.  You may be able to manage your own follower and following list, but ultimately you are relying on the good will of others in the network to get out the message.  The way you manage your Twitter list is different than others manage theirs.

A big factor of success in direct marketing is the ability to slice, dice, and segment for a targeted approach.  It is surgical and scientific.  Even when you purchase lists you account for quality and alignment to your purpose, message, and content.  This simply is not manageable in Twitter if your follower’s networks are built for size rather than quality.  You can at least have negotiate money back if lists your purchase from vendors have quality issues.  But, Twitter lists are free.

Social networks like Twitter are great to keep high quality leads and customers close and then leverage to build your databases through early stage outreach.    When new leads do come into your social network, check for quality as this will tell you if your viral channel is high quality as well.  Then, If social network connections meet a threshold for quality, migrate to your central marketing database for lead nurturing.

 

 

Filed under: customer relationship, data quality, marketing operations, marketing technology, metrics, networking, social media, , , , , , , , , ,

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