I’m somewhere between a perfectionist and obsessive: I can tell you when my couch is is an inch off center and hate it when a webpage lacks equal white-space. Most people involved in product share this attribute, it’s what lets us push forward past what others have done and succeed, but if there’s one mistake I see companies from startups to SMBs to fortune level brands making time and time again it’s not knowing how to get over it. Continue reading
If we’re starting a brand new company and tomorrow you kicked off a TV campaign promoting the business you’d expect some immediate sales to walk in the door, you’d expect to hear about the efforts, but chances are you’d be downright surprised if you broke even on new sales. After decades and decades of advertising we’ve come to accept the value of building brand perception to grow business over the long haul. So why is it that so many companies’ measure social media only by the short term sales bump?
Just because you have data doesn’t mean you know the full story
Since the banner first hit the web marketers have been stuck in the same paradigm – the data is there so measure it. And why not, with data coming in seconds rather than days or even weeks, the temptation to assume it’s all right there is great. Yet we’ve started to learn that people are using multiple ads, are narrowing in with many searches over time and conversions are taking longer and longer as the web becomes a corner stone of shopping. Single metrics are dangerous.
The opportunity cost of using social media only to acquire
Instead digital marketing, and even more so social media, must be looked at as holistic program that is as much a necessity as creating brand awareness and consideration is.
Some 70% of Americans say they consult product reviews or consumer ratings before making a purchase, according to an October 2008 survey by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates
One could look at driving user reviews as an acquisition effort. There’s an audience to target, an expense to drive, host and promote reviews and a lift associated with a product that has them over one that does not. But it’s deeper than that.
When the majority of your customers are seeking reviews it’s not just about what you can increment, it’s about what you stand to lose. If you opted not to push for reviews because you couldn’t justify the cost on new sales, you risk all sales, not just new ones as people turn to other sites or product lines that offer the support they’ve come to expect. That’s not captured in lift metrics.
There are no longer channels, even tactics outside of marketing, must complement to earn a sale
Your investments into all forms of media drive people back to you or your partner’s digital properties for research. Just like with reviews, if someone who uses Twitter sends a message for pre-sales questions and gets nothing… not a customer support message, not a suggestion of a peer to peer area, just silence. That speaks volumes about what your brand will be like after they buy.
This extends to all channels… after being intrigued by a radio spot and going a company’s website a user who discovers a blog about the culture and expertise becomes a great choice, even a premium value, while the other company that just promotes their tradeshow booth feels empty, or “salesy”. Customers don’t care which channel gets attribution for the sale, they simply look for validation – a good buy or a bad one.
Let’s not forget the brand awareness opportunity either
This isn’t just about tactics that support a product purchase on the front end either. Just like TV is run on a negative upfront ROI basis to produce over the long haul, a social campaign can have the same value.
750 million people on Facebook outrank major sports events, dramas or reality tv, and they’re around just about every day. So if a customer goes knocking on your Facebook page and it isn’t there, or isn’t doing a good job of holding their attention when they “fan” up, that’s a wasted opportunity. But with social this isn’t just prospective awareness, this is true engagement opportunity where a good program can have that person showing affinity and even spreading it. How does that factor in to upfront sales?
Measure but measure the right picture
By no means do I advocate stopping or backing off on measuring your campaigns but instead it’s about making sure you understand their full impact and measure that. The problem with data is that we tend to focus on what we have easily available, and that’s new customers who come in directly or old ones who stay attached… but engagement, validation, cross-channel sales, and many of the other components of social are not easily studied and thus they are skipped and that not only short changes your programs but opens the door to cutting something that’s far more important than you may realize.
With the buzz out there, it’s easy to see why brand owners, marketers and of course the hotly contested social media experts, are extremely amped up about social, social, social but just because social is right in front of us doesn’t make it the only game in town. In fact, if you take a social only approach chances are you’re handicapping your campaign from the start.
Social media, while powerful, authentic and important only works if people see what you’re doing and that’s where advertising comes in as a symbiotic partner
The problem we see today is that people expect everything to just go viral. We’ve all be asked [told?] to make a viral video; to make a product get “out there” with sharing alone. The reality is that very few products even have a chance to “go viral”. For every blendtec or old spice is a thousand more brands with a good product that simply isn’t what people want to share around the web. That’s why on any given day the top 50 YouTube videos include one product related videos. Yup, one.
Advertising is the dependable version of viral
Instead of asking “how do I make this ‘go viral’”, which is something you can’t control or guarantee, you need to ask yourself: “how do I take something that is credible, authentic and trustworthy and make it get exposed”. This is why advertising becomes remains so important in an era of social media – advertising is your guaranteed source of visibility that insures success whether or not a viral pickup takes place.
Social Media changes how you advertise
Google AdWords, Targeted Banners, Lead Generation Campaigns, Facebook Ads. Advertising has been used to sell your brand’s value under your voice, with your credibility attached. Social integrates into this chain to make your ads authentic and stand out [at least until everyone gets on board].
Rather than saying “50% off on the Amazing Widget” say “50% off on the 5-star rated Widget” with quotes from reviews visible around the ad unit. Rather than a stock photo of actors enjoying their new RV pull in a video from your Facebook campaign of a real family talking about their experience with a link to read more stories. Bring the same transparency you have on your reviews, Facebook page, user community and other social features right out and into your advertising – the more real time and authentic, the better.
Product packaging is another great place to bring social to life and get in front of the customer. Think about two boxes with nearly the same product, one has a summary rating, an expert rating and a QR / RFID / short url link to read more reviews while the other doesn’t even have a mobile friendly site. Even at a higher price the brand willing to put it all out there is worth a closer look. Mobile has become far too prevalent to think you can hide or out impulse research, so instead beat the customer too it.
Don’t assume that simply because you have UGC on your website or social channels people are going to find it. You need to tell them it’s there.