You need to be HEARD!!

I think that we can all agree that the ultimate goal of any vendor is to increase sales, increase profits etc. etc. SM offers another medium through which said vendors can interact with their potential customers but the messages and nature of the conversation needs to be different. Prior to a sale being made or a recommendation being given, the customer must be engaged. The new breed of customer (hitherto referred to as the “Social Customer”) is more discerning and demanding than ever and consequently they respond less favourably to traditional one-way messaging being forced upon them by profit hungry vendors. The Social Customer is bombarded with messaging through various channels and therefore gaining their attention must be the first step before you can even consider selling or converting them to advocates. This is where knowing your customer can pay off, listen to them, engage in conversation and nurture the relationship. Although this stage of the courtship may be difficult to justify in terms standard metrics such as ROI; a long sighted approach will recognize that creating a strong relationship with the right influencers and creating powerful brand advocates has the potential to harness the multiplier effect of the Social Customer and this is where the true payoff lies.

Step one however still requires a vendor to breakthrough the clutter and grab the attention of the targeted consumer. This takes time, money and resources however the payoff can be vast. Vendors are no longer going head to head with with traditional competitors (Coke vs. Pepsi etc.) in this space, they are competing with any company who may be vying for the ATTENTION not the direct business of the Social Customer. You need to be heard in order to grab the attention and later the business and good favor of the “right” Social Customers.

So what was it that we’re supposed to do?

Many people will tell you what you’re NOT supposed to do as a marketer when attempting to leverage the variety of Social Media (SM) platforms currently at your disposal. It is common knowledge that marketers must abstain from the autocratic, one-way, didactic marketing tactics that they have traditionally employed and instead must use this new medium to interact with customers differently. The next step is where it can get confusing for marketers; what exactly should they do with SM?

Marketers have been hardwired with the need to push their message out to consumers, however SM requires a more subtle approach. Ultimately SM provides the opportunity for marketers to engage in a two-way conversation in which they can benefit from the collective wisdom of the crowd.  I recently read an article that did a great job outlining what things to focus on in order to fully realize the benefits of SM by creating a great customer experience.

1. Give Your Customers a Place to Talk
2. Integrate Social Media Into Your Customer Service
3. Activate Your Existing Customer Base
4. Be Proactive
5. Reward Influencers
6. Create Compelling Content
7. Stand Out From the Crowd

The key takeaway is that marketers must thoughtfully engage with their customers across the various platforms if they are to fully realize the benefits of SM. Customers have been empowered by SM and have been provided with a platform to share their thoughts and opinions. For businesses, it is imperative to proactively play a role in these conversations and communities, as this will provide rich consumer insights.  The resulting benefits of the relationships, insights and consumer understanding can be immeasurable to a firm; and this is where the true value of Social Media is for marketers.  Insights allow marketers to delight customers by delivering solutions that address issues that are important to them, and this is the key to any business staying relevant and viable in the long-term.

Social Media: More than Marketing

As a corollary to one of my previous blog posts, “Measuring Social Media”, it is important for firms to consider how they are approaching Social Media (SM) from a high-level strategic perspective. The strategy a firm employs will ultimately determine what they focus on and how the success of a particular campaign is defined. In order to fully realize the potential benefits that SM can have, firm focus should be on what SM can enable rather than the traditional marketing focuses of raising awareness and creating activity.  Although activity in the context of traditional marketing is a good thing, activity alone may not drive long-term business results.

Beyond marketing and technology, SM’s potential value to a firm lies in its ability to facilitate collaboration and engagement with all stakeholders both internally and externally. True breakthroughs in this space will require more than just signing up for a Facebook or Twitter account and hoping for the best. In order to become a truly effective “social organization”, firms must strategically leverage mass collaboration to create purpose driven communities facilitated by firm presence across the various SM platforms. The horsepower available to businesses that successfully leverage the knowledge of the crowd is off the charts, however as Rodney from Think Social Media said during his presentation, this requires a fundamental shift in thinking.  Management must be willing to relinquish some degree of control if they are to realize the full potential benefits of SM.  After all, your brand or product is no more then the aggregation of public opinion anyways.  You might as well be proactively involved in the conversation in order to address any concerns or negative sentiment.

Failing to approach SM from this perspective limits the upside of the medium. Firms should expect more than marketing from these new technologies; if they don’t, there is the danger that SM just becomes another channel for traditional autocratic marketing practices. Have a read of the following HBR article on the topic:

Measuring Social Media

Most firms feel as though it’s necessary to be active in the Social Media (SM) space, but don’t really understand how to participate optimally in this new medium or what the benefits are.  As we’ve discussed in class, many firms enter into this digital unknown if for no other reason then everyone else is doing it. So like lemmings, businesses from all corners of the earth, in all imaginable industries, throw themselves in to the digital abyss chasing this big shiny object known as SM. Unfortunately, as we’ve heard before it’s not a panacea, there is no magic wand.

Without clearly defined goals and objectives, it’s difficult to know what metrics should be monitored and tracked in order to define success.  With the sheer volume of activity and growth in SM there is an endless supply of data points and metrics. Consequently, IT minded people are producing huge amounts of data that overwhelm simple-minded marketing folk; resulting in sub optimal measurement and ultimately understanding of SM campaigns.

Businesses burst with pride when tallying up the number of friends, followers, subscribers, posts and tweets that campaigns have generated. But does this really matter? Is this an accurate measure of success? Avanash Kaushik says no.  What in fact matters is what happens AFTER you post, tweet or participate. In short, the measure of success should be whether or not your participation drove action.

In his blog, Kaushik proposes four distinct social media metrics that can and should be used as measures of success across any SM platform. Find the full article here:

1)   Conversion Rate = # of Audience Comments (or Replies) per Post

2)   Amplification Rate

  • On Twitter = # of Retweets Per Tweet
  • On Facebook or Google Plus = # Shares per Post
  • On a Blog or YouTube = # of Share Clicks per Post

3)   Applause Rate

  • On Twitter = # Favorite Clicks per Post
  • On Facebook = # of Likes per Post
  • On Google Plus = # of +1’s per Post
  • On a Blog or YouTube = # of +1’s and Likes per Post (or video)

4)   Economic Value  = Sum of Short and Long Term Revenue and Cost Savings

The above metrics give an indication of the effect that a SM campaign has had.  When leveraging any of these measures however, it is critical to have an understanding of what the intended outcome of the SM campaign is.  As a famous professor has been known to say, “That which gets measured gets done.”

Social CRM

You’ve got your CRM and you’ve got your Social Media. Well, I just read an article and learned that the two have been married together to form one of the newest buzzword sub-segments of the digital marketing universe, Social CRM (super original name). CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and in the past systems were put in place to do just that.  But the landscape is shifting.

We know that today’s customer accesses information and interacts with brands and products across many different platforms and in a much different way then the traditional customer. They are savvy, expect to be listened to and have much higher expectations in terms of engagement. More so then ever, the balance of power in the business-customer relationship has shifted with the advent of the “social customer”. This new “social customer” now owns the relationship and businesses must strive to earn their trust and respect.

In order to fully serve and meet the needs of this new “social customer”, businesses must be transparent, integrated and responsive. These new requirements have resulted in the evolution of traditional CRM, leaving us with what those in the esoteric world of eMarketing call SCRM. Paul Greenberg, author and leading authority on SCRM, stated that Social CRM is “…designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It’s the company response to the customer’s owning of the relationship.”

We have talked in class about the need to effectively triage and prioritize customer interactions via the multiple SM platforms that exist and this is central to the SCRM concept, as I understood it.  The following diagram maps out an example of this process.

The bottom line is that as customers change and interact with businesses differently, these businesses must in turn look at how they interact with this new breed of customer.  Have a read of the full article, pretty interesting.



Harnessing the Power of Bloggers

I recently read an article in the November issue of BC Business that discussed the level of impact that bloggers can have on any type of business and more importantly how firms might capitalize on their influence.

The idea of customers publicizing their own thoughts, complaints and feelings without censure is hardly new however with the proliferation of social media, the reach or amplification of these conversations is now off the charts. Businesses can now no longer be dismissive of bloggers or social media and have little choice but to be proactive and get involved. Enlisting the support and good faith of a popular and relevant blogger is high on the priority list for many firms.  This leads to the obvious question from managers… should we go about doing that?!?

Contrary to what you might think guys, don’t just go rushing in with wads of cash, that might end up doing more harm then good. A bloggers credibility is their currency; their life force, and the mere suggestion that their opinions may be purchased can cause irreparable damage to their reputations and subsequent relevance.

The first step for a firm is to identify the right blogger. Knowing which niche they intend to target is crucial as this will guide the search. A blogger being popular doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good, so choosing by number of followers as opposed to one with access to the right customers is a common mistake. Now that they are identified it’s time to approach them.

The process of “blogger wrangling” is so involved that many PR firms, on behalf of their clients, actually outsource this task and hire professionals to identify and win the good favor of the ideal blogger. University level courses have even been taught on how to pitch ideas to bloggers. Pitching, educating and sampling bloggers all have merits and must be considered, however it’s safe to say that there’s no exact science.  The only thing that seems obvious to me is that bloggers are important and getting a good one on your team who resonates with your customers should be high on the wish list of any business.

Article Report

BAMA 513 Article Report

Is the Click Still King? ROI Lags behind in Measurement,Rpp:50,Ro:1,N:498

The article that I am reviewing was produced by eMarketer on May 7, 2010 and it addresses the relevance and prevalence of click through rates as metrics of success for online marketing campaigns.


The data collected by eMarketer showed that 60% of US marketing professionals still leveraged the click through rate as their primary measure of success when evaluating online marketing efforts. This statistic is troubling given the lack of information that the click through rate provides. For example, a click through provides no guarantee of a sale; consequently it is difficult to measure the value to a firm of a high click through rate. The same data indicated that 14.7% of the marketers surveyed, who should be considered more astute professionals, leverage conversion rates as a measure of success. A conversion rate reveals the percentage of consumers who execute a transaction following exposure to an online marketing initiative. This is a more meaningful statistic as it provides an indication of the effectiveness of a marketing effort in driving transactions and top line revenue. As online marketing is often touted as being much easier to measure then traditional forms of media, it is reasonable to expect a much higher degree of precision in the evaluation of campaigns. To this end, it was disappointing to see that only 38.4% of marketers surveyed used ROI as a key measure of online marketing performance.

When asked about their ability to accurately measure the performance of online marketing efforts, nearly half of the respondents (44%) were currently unable to accurately put a value on their interactive spending. The web analytics exist to produce superior data and information on the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns, however meaningful understanding of performance requires a serious commitment of both time and money and must be part of a long-term strategy. Tallying up click throughs is much easier and less expensive in the short-term and consequently is preferred by many firms; the problem is that the resulting information does not provide much insight regarding the long-term value of these marketing efforts.

Why should we care?

Progressive firms who are willing to invest resources in order to better understand the effectiveness of their marketing efforts will ultimately be rewarded by more profitable and effective campaigns. Effective campaigns lead to the acquisition and retention of valuable customers whose repeat business will drive long-term firm profitability. In an economic climate where all budget items are under increasing scrutiny, the ability to measure and rate the return of marketing efforts is extremely important when deciding how to deploy scarce resources.  It should be noted that ROI might not always be an appropriate metric depending on the strategy of the campaign (eg. maybe the immediate goal is just to raise awareness of a new product or service offering). Some marketing efforts should not be evaluated in isolation, as they may just be a single touch point or part of a larger more comprehensive plan. However, all firms marketing efforts should ultimately be part of a strategy to increase profitability in either the short or long-term, and this is why information pertaining to the returns generated by a marketing campaign is extremely valuable.

What should be considered?

Evaluating the effectiveness of a marketing spend by click through rate will ultimately yield the “cost per click”, while leveraging conversion rate will yield a “cost per conversion”. These numbers are viewed by many in the marketing world as reliable measures of online marketing efficiency or success. Although cost per conversion is an improved measure versus cost per click, it still fails to tell the whole story. The dangerous assumption made here is that all customers are created equal, which we know is just not the case. Although this is common knowledge, it is difficult and expensive to properly segment your customer base in order to understand who your valuable customers are and where they are coming from. Failing to understand this consumer information leads to an egalitarian approach to customer acquisition, where all potential customers are considered and consequently treated the same way. A customer’s value to a firm varies widely as a result of several different factors; in addition to differing consumption levels (some customers spend more than others), there is also the revolving door problem (customer retention is a major challenge for firms in competitive industries). Research has shown that firms can expect 10%-30% of their customer base to defect to competitors annually [1]. It is for these reasons that spending more money to acquire a more valuable customer may make sense in the long run for a firm, but given the current metrics of success for online marketing, this is often not taken in to consideration when decisions are made. Evaluating online marketing by a “cost per conversion” measure prioritizes cost savings over the acquisition of more profitable customers. Avinish Kaushaik articulates this concept by saying that,

“Measuring conversion rates is akin to declaring success after a one-night stand. Focusing on real success, not simply the first conversion (the one night stand!), should involve finding the customers that create value for the company, long term” [2].

Understanding the lifetime value of customers and knowing where they are sourced will allow marketing teams to focus their efforts on campaigns and initiatives which will drive firm profitability over the long-term. In order to gain these insights firms must leverage value based consumer segmentation, the more granular the information, the more targeted marketing efforts can be. If firms are able to track the success of advertising, marketing then ceases to be merely a cost-centre with a budget allocated to it. It instead becomes a variable cost of production that results in measurable profits[3]. The web analytics needed to segment and understand consumer behavior in this fashion are the drivers behind many firms’ large-scale CRM software implementations. The value proposition for marketers is obvious. David Hughes, the co-founder of the marketing consultancy The Email Academy sums it up by saying:

A focus on Life Time Value (LTV) will help marketers answer 3 fundamental questions:

1. Did we pay enough to acquire customers from each marketing channel?

2. Did we acquire the best kind of customers?

3. How much should we spend on keeping them sweet with email and social media?

Makes sense to me.



[1] Alan Robert Earls, “CRM: Finders and Keepers,” 1 8 2001, Digital Software Magazine, 6 11 2011

[2] Avinash Kaushik, “Excellent Analytics Tip #17: Calculate Customer Lifetime Value,” 10 4 2010, Occam’s Razor, 5 11 2011 ,

[3] The Economist, “Internet Advertising. The ultimate marketing machine,” The Economist 6 July 2006: 1-5.