Social media affords marketers the invaluable ability to connect directly with current and potential customers.
Mobile, social media, content. For the first quarter of 2013 this has been the litany on the lips of all digital marketers - the (non pope-related) holy trinity that has set marketing industry news aflame. Advertisers are investing heavily in these channels, working to strengthen their brands' offerings as well as the perception of their products in the eyes of consumers.
What they aren't doing quite so much of is following up with users post-campaign. Analysis and reporting are always top of mind. Brands outsource campaign analytics to companies specializing in deep-dive response metrics and insight. There may even be the occasional attribution study. But how do you assess consumer response to your viral campaign, your online videos, your promoted tweets? How do you gauge the effect of impromptu social media ads, like Oreo's Super Bowl blackout tweet, or more minor efforts like the "Mr. Wolfdog" ringtone collection on the Old Spice Facebook page? You put a lot of time and energy into your marketing efforts, big and small. Don't you want to know what people think?
Collecting this kind of information from consumers is akin to customer relationship management - but with a marketing skew. Think of the effort as "marketing relationship management" (MRM). Use the marketing channels already available to you to probe your audience about your campaigns the moment they go live, while they're still fresh - and engage your customers in the process.
Query Subscribers by Email
Your opt-in email database represents an audience of loyal fans. They're likely to follow you on social networks and have probably downloaded your mobile app. They're liable to have something to say about how your brand is being presented. While they might not be able to point to a specific ad, they'll be aware of your overall marketing presence and can tell you whether it has made a positive impression.
One way to extract this feedback is with a survey. YouTube recently sent out such a message to its email subscribers with the subject line, "YouTube Wants Your Feedback." "YouTube wouldn't exist without you," the copy read, "But how often do you get a chance to tell us what you really think?" The correspondence gave site users the opportunity to offer anonymous feedback on the product and brand, and promised to take their opinions to heart. As an added bonus, a request that's worded thoughtfully - as YouTube's is - is apt to gain you some fidelity in addition to quantifiable comments.
Poll Social Media Users
There is no speedier tool for gauging consumer response to a branded app, banner campaign, or native ad placement than Twitter. Brands already active on the site are typically quick to alert followers to marketing news, but they don't always summon direct feedback (and would certainly generate a lot more of it if they did).
The trick is to ask specific questions of your fans, as opposed to inviting a general impression. Rather than tweeting, "What do you think of our new ad?" ask, "What's your favorite part of our new ad?" or ask followers to retweet if they're fans of your latest marketing effort. You might also run a poll designed to harvest explicit impressions of your ads on Twitter or Facebook. Often these initiatives generate a bounty of useful comments, too.
Now, engaging users in an exchange about your branded content isn't quite as cut-and-dried - particularly if the advertising blurs the lines between editorial and advertising. Before enticing your social network followers to share their thoughts about a native ad, consider your willingness to engage in what could become a heated (and potentially viral) conversation.
Make Your YouTube Channel More Interactive
In part, marketing relationship management is about creating an optimization roadmap that can inform future campaigns. That isn't easy to pull if you aren't absolutely certain the consumers you're surveying and polling have seen your ads.
To effectively mitigate this concern, dedicate a portion of your brand's YouTube page to your most recent ads or online videos, and ask viewers to share their thoughts. Invite them to tell you which they prefer, and apply this insight to your next marketing effort - no focus group required.
Social media affords marketers the invaluable ability to connect directly with current and potential customers. Marketers can leverage this opportunity by engaging with them post-media buy to include followers and fans in the 21st century digital marketing process.
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Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.
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