The Future Is Relevance

After attending the Web 2.0 conference a few weeks ago, it’s clear that the future is about relevance. Digital marketers today are discussing several memes, including curation, personalization, and social filtering of digital experiences. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggests (and I’m paraphrasing) that people will soon look at the world through the lenses of other people. Such a lens is required, as people now create user-generated content online at a pace that outstrips our ability to read it.

Furthermore, there is a growing fragmentation of where our eyeballs spend time – from smartphone, to tablet, to Web, to TV, and other digital displays. From Google to Twitter and Facebook. From websites to apps. Gaining relevance requires filtering this content based on context of audience and distribution. Fortunately, attributes in the content itself – including the profile and social graph of the originator of the content – give us the opportunity to narrow the content’s aim and achieve relevance for specific audiences.

Relevant content harvested and curated from the masses, and brought to the masses across various experiences, will deliver engagement. And it’s engagement that opens the door to real business and financial results.

Let’s look at some examples of how curated, relevant social content can impact real metrics.

Time on site and page views. When you deliver engaging experiences through social content, users are more likely to stay on a page or click through to additional experiences. In a media example, including a stream of relevant tweets next to a Web video increased advertising views due to retaining users, reducing abandonment by 700 percent. Let’s say you have 100,000 people watch a Web video, and a new ad is served every minute at $8 CPM, but you lose 50 percent of your audience halfway through the video. The addition of relevant social content, such as a tweet stream or user-generated video reviews, could help retain more of your audience. If you could retain half of those you lost, or keep 25,000 viewers watching for 30 minutes, you’d gain an additional $6,000 of revenue in an hour.

Participation. Seeing participatory social content from others can have a herd effect, encouraging others to contribute and participate. This participation can take the form of writing a review, posting a tweet, or following or liking a brand. In the video example above, imagine if the 100,000 viewers see tweets next to a video, and the followers of that team or brand are highlighted in the stream of content. The “ego trap” to want to see one’s content and name “in lights” would encourage others to follow the brand and post content to also be highlighted.

Loyalty. If a customer has an engaging experience associated with your brand, they will remember that experience and your brand, and hopefully return to that experience. This can result in an additional visit to a website, use of an app, or returning to a channel or location. Writers who submitted personal stories for La-Z-Boy’s “Comfort Stories” campaign returned to the site an average of 6.8 times. What is each additional visit worth to your brand? If having more engaging content brings a 5 percent increase in return visits, that’s 5 percent more potential revenue from your digital business.

Conversion. If you’ve followed my column, you know by now that relevant social content – reviews, Q&A, related tweets – can drive incremental sales. In a retail example, imagine shoppers have access to tweets about a product while viewing the product page. If 50 percent of 100,000 visitors a day to an e-commerce site view tweets on products or brands, and that brings the typical 3 percent site conversion up to 4 percent for that audience (with average order value of $200), you’d see $10,000 in revenue per day, or $3.6 million for the year. At 15 percent gross margin, that’s $547,000 of incremental profit.

Applying the lenses of other people to your products means collecting and displaying relevant user-generated content. As potential customers’ time and attention becomes more and more fragmented, engaging these viewers through relevant social content allows brands to capture more of their time, attention, and wallet.

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