How can social platforms make themselves more marketing friendly?

If you read the marketing trade press just before the Easter break then you’d have probably seen the story about marketers rating Facebook as the “most marketing-friendly” social platform of all.  The attention-grabbing headline came from a new study published by the DMA’s Social Media Council.

The Social media scorecard is the industry’s first ever quantified assessment of the relative merits of the top social sites in terms of their ease-of-use for campaign planning, execution and post-campaign analysis. One clear victor emerged: Facebook.

Social-media-scorecard

More than 170 social marketers polled for the study rated it above Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ in almost every department. The only notable exceptions were Twitter’s ranking as the best platform for building brand awareness and LinkedIn for having the most effective user-targeting tools.

While Facebook received the highest ratings across the board, what really surprised me was just how harshly marketers rated each of the platforms. When asked to mark each of the platforms out of 10 in terms of their strengths, Facebook only managed an average score of 4.39; Twitter averaged 4.02 and last-placed Google+ garnered an average rating of 3.05.
If this was a school report card then even Facebook would be scraping a D-.

So why, in the eyes of marketers, are social platforms falling far short of providing an A+ service for their customers? How can the platforms up their game and improve the tools marketers need for campaign planning, execution and post-campaign analysis. Answers on the back of a postcard please…

Read the Social media scorecard infographic

By Tristan Garrick, the DMA’s Head of PR & Content

 

Measuring sponsorship: From Lewis Carroll to Einstein

It’s with some trepidation that I write a piece on measuring sponsorship. Why?

For many years, finding a true standard measurement for sponsorship has challenged brands and agencies alike. The reality is that it doesn’t exist.

Don’t worry though, it is possible to measure sponsorship and in such a way it can prove its value to the business, but it can sometimes feel complex due to its multi-channel multi-discipline nature, so there is a fundamental need for flexibility. Sponsorship presents a unique opportunity for brands and businesses to connect with stakeholders drive growth and build their brand. Sponsorship provides an activation platform for many other marketing disciplines.

This can present complexity in terms of tracking and measuring success, but it is essential that brands do measure their sponsorship to track the sponsorship effectiveness, benefits to the business and ensure return on investment.

Proving the business value of sponsorship
The European Sponsorship Association (ESA) held its annual Sponsorship Summit last week, and ‘Proving the Business Value of Sponsorship’ was a hotly debated topic.

There was some great debate and I think it also was the death knell for the long over-used and often irrelevant media value metric. In addition, the discussion was nicely bookended with two insightful quotes.

The first quote is a salutary reminder of the need for clear objectives and KPIs:

Rob Mitchell 1

So, the usual rules of marketing apply to sponsorship. It is imperative to set clear objectives and KPIs, otherwise you will almost certainly deviate from your course, in terms of your strategy, activation, measurement and, ultimately, what success looks like.

Sponsorship can’t set one standardised measurement like the advertising world because it’s different. It tends to have a number of objectives and multiple stakeholders and audiences (often each audience will have different objectives set against them), is activated in a number of ways, and as such, one definitive measure does not and cannot exist.

Instead, brands need to focus on their sponsorship objectives and understand how they want to measure success in a way that will be meaningful to the business.

Measuring the wrong things
Quite often we see sponsors measuring too many of the wrong things, wasting time, money and effort. So we get confused. For example, campaigns that say they were successful because they achieved an equivalent advertising spend on the exposure achieved when they actually needed to measure brand awareness is wrong.

Brand exposure and brand awareness are fundamentally different. This mistake crops up in award entries all the time. And how many times have we seen the number of facebook likes and twitter re-tweets cited as a goal? Why? Unless you know the precise value of a ‘like’ to your business it’s meaningless.

Here are a few fundamental considerations:
1. Objectives: are they the right ones and meaningful to the business?
2. Measurement: are you measuring the right things?
3. Value: is your sponsorship adding value to your brand and business? (see 1)
4. Timing: measurement should not be pre- and post-campaign, but needs to monitor and track continually, so that plans can be updated and revised to ensure efficiency and effectiveness

Let’s remember that the purpose of measuring and valuing sponsorship is to help us make better decisions. As such, it’s alarming how little is invested in research and measurement in an overall sponsorship campaign, and yet this is very area that will help you achieve and prove success.

We can measure, track and count lots of different things:

Commercial
Capturing the commercial results using existing corporate and brand measurement tools for:
• Sales: incremental and comparative sales results
• Event sales: incremental sales driven by created events
• Customer retention & loyalty: net value of customer acquisition and retention
• Promotions: redemption, sales uplift, product impact of promotions
• Value: cost per acquisition, customer value

Brand Health KPIs
Tracking impact and role of sponsorship on brand trust scores using continuous brand tracking surveys.
• Brand & sponsorship awareness, leading to consideration and commitment
• Brand trust
• Brand affinity
• Consumer advocacy
• Employer favourability scores

Exposure and Engagement
Measuring audience engagement and the brand activation programme efficacy:
• Brand exposure & audience analysis: monitor and valuation of brand exposure across media & PR, including reach, audience, equivalent advertising value (see above)
• Onsite & Experience: event attendees and participants; hospitality guests (numbers and stakeholder group); fan park attendees; sampling; number of gifts distributed

Data
• Statistics & Web Analytics: tracking the number of people signing up online; data opt-ins; online traffic, likes, re-tweets, followers, frequency and conversion. [This data must be used for CRM purposes to affect the commercial measures.]

So what is important?
If you strip it all back, we must be more commercially focused. Focus on how many customers you acquire, retention rates, average cost per customer, sales and profit. “The rest is just fluff”, says Matt Rogan, managing director of Two Circles. Quite right! I would also incorporate brand health metrics such as awareness, consideration, advocacy, affinity and trust, but these are only important if you can link these brand metrics to the more commercial metrics above; and if you can’t, they’re just fluff.

So, it’s essential to keep asking the ‘why’ question. But don’t worry, if the flexibility is a concern, and you feel bogged down measuring, monitoring and counting everything. It’s just not necessary. I reckon Albert Einstein had the measure of sponsorship.

Rob Mitchell 2

This is an ongoing debate in the sponsorship industry, so it would be good to hear any thoughts you may have.

By DMA guest blogger Rob Mitchell, Sponsorship and Marketing consultant at RJM Consulting and member of the DMA Brand Activation Council

 

Data trading is outmoded and no longer fit for purpose

We live in a complicated world.

In the old days, clients wanted to do mailings. They spoke to their agencies to create a shiny responsive mail piece. The agency then spoke to their list broker. They then spoke to various list managers, and list managers spoke to list owners. The data was then ordered and supplied to bureau on magnetic tapes, who under took a merge/purge. The price of the data was agreed upfront, with the list owner setting the minimum amount they were prepared to sell the data for.

Data had a value that was very evident.

In the days of Cheshire labels and magnetic tapes access to data was limited. The list owner held all the cards and the barriers to market were many. Rules of engagement were clear: data was a precious commodity with a significant value. Misuse it at your peril, because there is a clear trail to the use of the data, as well as its original source.

Fast forward 20 years… and what does the industry now look like?

The nice linear buying process is fractured.

Mailers are buying directly from data owners (who are no longer list owners). Data owners may have the same data with a number of list managers. There has been an increase in the number of compiled data sets – so less transparency around the provenance of the original data. Data no longer relates just to a name and address, but also landline, mobile number, email address etc. Data is downloaded from FTP sites and bureaux add value to the merge/purge process (resulting in ‘cleaner’ data). Data costs are heavily negotiated before ordering and there is an increasing trend towards credits being requested once the campaign has gone.

The protocols around how data is traded however has not taken any of this into account.

The industry previously could self-regulate itself. Data was held on mainframes and was supplied on labels (either Cheshire / self-adhesives) or on magnetic tapes. Data was couriered from list supplier to bureau with signatures for each part of the process. When delivered, it was held in walk-in a safe.

Today, data is held on a variety of different platforms and sent in a variety of secure and unsecure methods. As a result, data is no longer a commodity that is difficult to come by. Millions of records can be easily downloaded from unsecure websites for a few hundred pounds, thereby creating a shift in the buying paradigm.

List owners previously held the power, as they controlled a scarce commodity. Now it is the mailer, as information is so freely available. A mailer’s expectation as to what they feel they should be paying for and what the data owner believes they should be paying for, is often worlds apart.

For example if ‘J Brown, 1 Love Lane, London’ is a record showing as deceased on an industry suppression file and you find a Mr J Brown at the same address on a mailing file, is this the same person? What if you find a Julie Brown at the same address? Or even, what do you do if you have an Anne Smith in a household where a J Brown lives, do you mail the person or suppress?

Every mailer will have their own view as to what to do and will be looking for credits from the data owner if the percentage of these kinds of suppressions is high. In which case ought the data owner credit?

The bottom line is that the mailer is paying for names that are not used and paying to have ‘incorrect/inaccurate’ names suppressed.

So, is it time to get away from cost per thousand rates for names supplied? And if so, what could it be? A cost per thousand rate for names mailed – a clear winner with the mailer, but I would suspect this would be unpopular with the data owners. Or would it be a fixed fee? So that no matter how many names were ordered or used, the mailer would pay a one-off fee, for the agreed data usage.

Or do we just say “It is what it is!”?

By DMA Guest Blogger Suzanne Lewis, Managing Director, EDMMEDIA and member of the DMA Data Council

7 steps to successful optimisation testing

If your organisation is just getting started with optimisation testing and you are lucky enough to be a part of that journey, you may feel overwhelmed. Just like any venture, creating a plan and sticking to it helps remain focused on the larger goal even when individual steps prove challenging. A transparent process also creates accountability and benefits both the core testing team and the larger organisation.

Here’s a seven-step process that most testing teams can adopt:

 Blog test this first image 1

1.Ideation
This is the top-of-funnel stage in which ideas are gathered. Some will be obvious, others less so. If in doubt, ask these questions to identify good areas to look at for testing ideas:

  • What is the main goal of the website?
  • What are the key flows users go through to accomplish that goal?
  • Where are the drop-offs occurring?

There is value in gathering a wide pool of ideas. At companies where testing is already part of the culture, ideas can be sourced from all sides of the organisation as well as from users and clients.

2. Prioritisation
Realistically, no team or organisation can test every single thing that comes to mind. After a pool of ideas has been gathered, those ideas have to be prioritized to determine what to test first.

The Action Priority Matrix is very helpful in tackling prioritisation:

Blog test this second image

Once you’ve plotted all ideas in the quadrants based on the effort required to run each test, including any necessary development and design resource, and the impact you expect it to have, it becomes obvious where to start.

3. Design & development
This is the stage where the test comes to life. Some tests will require design or development resource while others will be possible to create independently. If you’ve plotted your ideas on the Action Priority Matrix, you should be able to differentiate between the easier to create quick wins and the more resource-intensive major projects.

4. QA
Quality assurance is key when making any changes to a website. It is possible for a non-technical tester to do QA if they have the right tools (virtual machines, devices, understanding of browser exceptions, etc.) but it is much safer to follow the established QA process to avoid unexpected trouble. Alert your QA team about tests you are preparing to run and get their thumbs up before making any changes to the site. They’ll thank you for it.

5. Testing
The test is finally live! Be patient. The duration a test needs to run for to reach statistically significant results depends on the sample size, the conversion rate and the difference between variations. Give your test enough time to reveal insights you can use. Strive for a confidence level of 95% or higher.

6. Results analysis
Analysing test results can be a very rewarding part of the testing process. When evaluating a test, keep a few things in mind:

  • Statistical significance: look for a confidence level of 95% or higher
  • Micro-conversions vs. macro-conversions: when testing to improve micro-conversions (e.g.: clicking a button on a registration form, clicking a link in a promotional email), monitor the effect on macro-conversions, i.e. the site’s main goals or key metrics. Clicks and conversions are not always correlated and failing to track through to conversion creates the risk of optimizing against your key metrics
  • Segmentation: if your users come from different markets, geographies or have a variety of experiences on your site, it’s a good idea to segment test results to identify any key differences or patters. This is especially relevant when you test something that may significantly alter the experience for existing users – segmenting for new vs returning users can reveal valuable insights into site usage and user flows
  • If a test fails segmentation is your best friend. Take a hard look at the performance of key segments and identify any major differences. Form a hypothesis as to why the test failed. A failed test will often reveal as much insight as a successful test and might inspire further drill-down exploration

7. Documentation and sharing
Whether they succeed or fail, well-executed A/B tests carry insight worth keeping and sharing. Keep everyone in the loop:

  • Communicate synthesised learnings to stakeholders to give the testing team credit for their work and keep the momentum going in terms of optimisation and development
  • Create a repository of easy-to-read records of past tests and results that can be used to inform future work and to easily introduce new team members to the history of testing
  • Spread the word across the wider organisation to continue generating excitement about optimisation and foster a culture of testing throughout the business

By DMA guest blogger Savina Velkova, Audience Engineer, BrightTALK

LinkedIn Showcase pages: new B2B opportunities?

LinkedIn is having a great run. The B2B platform recently launched in China, it has opened up its blogging platform to all its members and it has announced a useful member blocking feature among a raft of recent updates and design tweaks.

That’s not all. According to Econsultancy’s recent analysis of 2014 marketing budgets, 26% of companies plan to spend the bulk of their social media budget on LinkedIn.

Figure 37

That’s not bad for a site that’s previously been regarded as a recruitment and B2B networking platform.

LinkedIn is fast becoming an important way to generate leads and showcase your company’s expertise, products and services.

And with 42 million professionals creating profiles in over 40 languages across the network, it is a valuable tool for building professional relationships that can lead to future sales.

It is also the no.1 social network for driving traffic to corporate websites, accounting for a hefty 64% of their traffic.

Is your company making the most of LinkedIn?

Most organisations already have a Company page which sets out their stall. We’ve previously blogged about the best ways to improve your Company’s LinkedIn page and the importance of regularly sharing engaging and relevant content – your own and other people’s – on that page.

But in November 2013, LinkedIn launched its Showcase Pages, which extend the platform’s marketing opportunities, and allow for more effectively targeted content. With the company’s recent announcement that it will be retiring its Product and Services tab, there’s no time like the present for businesses to get to grips with their replacement.

How do Showcase Pages work?
Showcase Pages were designed to allow companies with a diverse range of products or services to create pages for individual brands. This allows brands to target their marketing and build relationships within relevant communities. Individuals can then follow the pages in the same way as they would a Company Page and the two should be treated as separate entities. You can’t migrate followers from your Company Page to your Showcase Pages, for instance.

It’s still early days for the new pages, but a few brands, including Adobe, Prudential Financial, Microsoft, and Hewlett Packard, have dipped their toes in the water.
Hewlett Packard is primarily known for digital printers and IT. And that’s what its highly successful Company Page proclaims.

HP

But the company also sells IT consultancy and infrastructure services to other businesses, including its Cloud product. This is a product with a very niche audience, so HP has created a Cloud Showcase Page.

It offers visitors the opportunity to participate in a free trial of the Cloud software – something that would not necessarily be relevant on its main Company Page.

HP Cloud

To help distinguish Company Pages and Showcase Pages, the latter offers a larger sized lead image and a two-column layout. Showcase Pages don’t display associated employee profiles or job listings and there is only one placement for ads.

Creating a Showcase Page for your brand

If you’re already the administrator of your main Company Page, it’s pretty straightforward to set up a Showcase Page.

In the ‘Edit’ menu, click on the dropdown and go to the ‘Create Showcase Page’ option.

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Add your page name, and list the administrators for that page. Then click ‘Create page’.

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Add your page description (up to 200 words), your industry sector and your main (or hero) image. Once you’re happy with the page content, you can publish it. It will then be linked to your main Company Page and appear in related search results.

You add and edit content in exactly the same way as your Company Page and your most recent updates will always appear above the fold.

Currently, you can create up to 10 Showcase pages for your company (you can request additional pages from LinkedIn) and your Showcase page will have its own unique metrics to track engagement, trends and audience demographics.

We’re going to get cracking with our own Showcase Page shortly and will report back. Tell us if you’ve built a Showcase Page, and whether it’s had good results for you.

By DMA Guest Blogger Adrienne Grubb, Head of Marketing, Emoderation and DMA Social Media Council member

Data privacy is now a “critical brand differentiator”

Data privacy is now a “critical brand differentiator” for businesses looking to acquire new customers, with consumers’ decision to share information driven by the use of trusted channels and transparency, new DMA research has revealed.

According to the findings of the Customer Acquisition Barometer 2014, 43 per cent of consumers prefer email as their most trusted channels for sharing information, closely followed by 42 per cent who rated brands’ own website as their favoured route. More than four in five (85 per cent) now will only share their information if it’s made clear that it will be used only by the company that collects it; 32 per cent say they expect a clearly worded privacy policy before they share.

The findings follow remarks made by deputy Information Commissioner David Smith, who earlier this month told delegates at the DMA’s annual data summit that brands which make “a feature of [their] privacy approach” and are “getting in tune” with customers are to be admired.

The report also found that only one in two UK consumers (52%) claim to have willingly shared their personal information with a company in the past 12 months, in spite of marketers saying more than half of their budgets (59 per cent) is being dedicated to customer acquisition activities – compared to just 20 per cent on retention.

While email and brands’ website dominate in the trust stakes, social is failing to win consumers’ approval – despite marketers’ commitment to it. Four in five (77 per cent) of marketers said they use it for acquisition purposes, but only 16 per cent rate it as ‘effective’. This is perhaps because 54 per cent of consumers rate it as their least trusted channel for sharing their information.

The report, which was produced by DMA in partnership with McDowall, surveyed 1,509 UK consumers and interviewed 116 senior marketers as the first annual benchmark of current trends in and critical issues brands face in acquiring new customers.

The DMA’s executive director Chris Combemale says that marketers must quickly adapt to the new expectations of consumers:

“Effective customer acquisition relies on trust and transparency which is undermined by some companies, organisations and institutions misusing, abusing and exploiting people’s information against their expectations and wishes.

“The most successful companies are respecting their customer’s attitudes to privacy and making trust a critical brand differentiator.”

The report also reveals that marketers are anticipating a shift in focus on their performance targets. Currently, 41 per cent report cost-per-acquisition as their primary measurement, compared to 37 per cent on quality of leads and 21 per cent on quantity of leads. However, over the next 12 months 35 per cent of marketers expect quantity of leads will rise to become their number one target.

Read the Customer Acquisition Barometer 2014 report

Read the Customer Acquisition Barometer 2014 infographic

By Tristan Garrick, the DMA’s Head of PR & Content

Ready for the changes to 0845, 0870 and 0800 numbers?

The end of 0845 and 0870 is upon us as part of a major shake-up of customer service phone lines. From June 2014 it will be illegal to use 0845, 0870 and other non-geographical numbers for lines that deal with customer complaints, enquiries, renewals and cancellations.

The rules regarding 0800 numbers are also changing in 2015. From June 2015 freephone numbers such as 0800 and 0808 will become free for people calling from a mobile.

The changes to 0845 and other non-geographical numbers, which are part of the Consumer Rights Directive, were implemented into UK law in December 2013 and will come into force in June 2014.

Some businesses are already organising the switch to a geographical number and updating their literature, but for those of you still unsure about what you need to do ahead of the June deadline, here’s a reminder:
What are the options?
• Switch to a geographical numbers (eg 01, 02)
• Switch to a 03 number – this has the same technological benefits of the non-geographical 0845 and 0870 numbers

See the table below for details of what you need to do (click on the table to enlarge it).

 

table-700x398

Should I switch to a 03 or 01/02 number?
It’s probably simpler to switch to a 03 number as it just requires changing the 8 for a 3 – eg 0845 becomes 0345. Check with your service provider because the chances are you should own the 03 version of the number as part of your contract. This will make adapting your literature easier too, as you’re just changing one digit.

What are my obligations under the new law?
From June 2014, the cost to call your customer service line should be no more than the basic rate. If you continue to charge more than the basic rate for calls, you will have to pay the customer the difference between the actual cost of the call and the basic rate. In addition, Weights and Measures teams in local Trading Standards Departments can pursue a complaint made to them under the Regulations and seek undertakings or apply for injunctions to enforce the new law.

What do the changes to 0800 numbers mean for my business?
From June 2015, freephone numbers (0800, 0808 and 116) will be free for mobile phone users too. At present they cost mobile callers between 14p and 40p per minute. This means that the business who owns the number will be charged by its network operator – a big worry for charities and similar organisations that use 0800 to collect donations.

What is the DMA doing about freephone numbers?
In our submission to Ofcom we stated: “The DMA would strongly suggest that the only way to make this change fairer on all parties is to set a reasonable cap on the charge for a call to a 080 number from any phone, whether mobile, landline or telephone box. This will ensure that both the consumer and the business know the cost to use the 080 range.”

Ofcom explained in a recent meeting with the DMA that it is awaiting information from the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) as to what those charges would be. This information is likely to be published in late summer this year.

Ofcom also confirmed in a statement that it is also imposing an access condition on terminating communications providers which will ensure that the commercial terms, including charges, for connecting such calls are fair and reasonable to all parties.

By Mike Lordan, Chief of Operations, DMA

Are women still being sidelined in marketing?

What a year 2013 was for women. Sheryl Sandberg encouraged us all to lean in, while the Everyday Sexism project gained critical mass, and a campaign to keep a woman – Jane Austen – on banknotes succeeded. It was a year of much-needed discussion on the rights of women, and we’ve come a long way since Mary Wollstonecraft penned A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792 – but have we come far enough? And in the marketing industry, are women still being sidelined?

The Drum wanted to establish how level the playing field is for women, and as such we have launched an inaugural study on the experiences of women employed in the marketing industries. Despite 75% of marketers being female, only 7% are reaching director level, according to research published in October by recruitment specialist EMR. Not only are twice as many men reaching director level than women, a larger proportion of male marketers received a bonus last year.

The Drum’s research spans all aspects of marketing, and will review women’s overall job satisfaction in terms of salary, work/life balance and opportunities for development in a sector where, in some areas, a “boys club” mentality unfortunately still exists. We’re also calling on agencies to get involved by letting us know their headcount to provide an overview of where the divisions lie. You can find out more about the survey here.

By DMA guest blogger Katie McQuater, Features Editor, The Drum