Defining the expected value for your web channel strategies is the critical starting point to building a social media measurement strategy.
"The world has gone social; it's just that we don't know how to measure the value of that yet." That was one of the messages coming out of the Adobe Omniture Summit here in London. Thirteen hundred people from 500 companies from 30 countries came together last week for two days to learn, share, network, have fun, and digest the views of various speakers on the issues of the day. The other message was that the world's going mobile – "the eyeballs are moving from fixed web to mobile web" – and there's loads of challenges to measuring that too.
From the keynotes from the likes of Christian Hernandez of Facebook and Brian Solis at Altimeter, the emphasis is that businesses and organizations need to focus on people and to understand the social consumer. Hernandez talked about "putting people at the center" and the power of understanding how enabling social interaction can bring disruption to different industry sectors. First of all, there was photo sharing, then there was gaming, next in Facebook's sights is commerce; social commerce. According to Hernandez, the classical shopping funnel is dead and the shopping funnel is in fact a circle from awareness to interest, to decision, to action, to recommendation, and back to awareness. If that's true, then it's going to play hell with those pretty funnel reports in your web analytics tool. But Hernandez said that the future of social marketing was all around measurement and data.
However, Solis reminded us that "we cannot measure what it is that we do not know how to value" and therein lies the rub. What is the value of a social media marketing strategy? Solis' advice was to make it actionable. Social marketing is about actions, reactions, and transactions. If it's about actions and transactions, then it's more measurable. But at the heart of it Solis tells us that organizations need to understand the socially-connected consumer. What is it that makes them tick? What do they need or what is it that they want from you? To do this, it's going to be important to start to segment out your social customers from everyone else and look for those differences in patterns of behavior and attitudes from everyone else. The trick is also not to treat "social" as one big lump but to also look at the different channels within social media such as Facebook vs. Twitter, because, as some of the case studies shown demonstrated, there can be interesting patterns between what people do when using the different social channels. In fact, different types of people might be using different channels to do different things, so you can't take a one-size-fits-all approach. Segmentation is key.
Once you understand the social customer, then Solis says to introduce a social marketing program that works for both of you, and to do that you have to think like a connected customer and give them something to talk about. Often what the social customer wants (i.e., a special offer) is different from what the organization wants (i.e., a relationship), so you've got to find those things that are going to work for both of you. The key thing though is to make sure that you create outcomes; a "click to action" as Solis calls it. If you have outcomes, then at least you have something to measure against.
Of course, I know that these things are easier said than done. Organizations have been struggling for years to define "what good looks like" for their web channel strategies, let alone their social channel strategies, but defining the expected value is the critical starting point to building a social media measurement strategy. By defining the value, you'll be able to better understand the metrics that will tell you whether that value is being obtained, and therefore the technologies can give you those metrics.
So the world is moving on but some things stay the same. People need to be at the center of your thinking and the experience they have with you is key. At the same time, organizations need to be clear about "what good looks like" when it comes to the investment in new ways of interacting with prospects and customers, whether that be using social channels or mobile channels (or both at the same time). When you know what good looks like, it's easier to measure success.
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Neil Mason is SVP, Customer Engagement at iJento. He is responsible for providing iJento clients with the most valuable customer insights and business benefits from iJento's digital and multichannel customer intelligence solutions.
Neil has been at the forefront of marketing analytics for over 25 years. Prior to joining iJento, Neil was Consultancy Director at Foviance, the UK's leading user experience and analytics consultancy, heading up the user experience design, research, and digital analytics practices. For the last 12 years Neil has worked predominantly in digital channels both as a marketer and as a consultant, combining a strong blend of commercial and technical understanding in the application of consumer insight to help major brands improve digital marketing performance. During this time he also served as a Director of the Web Analytics Association (DAA) for two years and currently serves as a Director Emeritus of the DAA. Neil is also a frequent speaker at conferences and events.
Neil's expertise ranges from advanced analytical techniques such as segmentation, predictive analytics, and modelling through to quantitative and qualitative customer research. Neil has a BA in Engineering from Cambridge University and an MBA and a postgraduate diploma in business and economic forecasting.
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