Rich Clark Marketing

Opinions from Rich Clark one of the UK's leading Marketing Professionals


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Measuring Return On Social Media

Measuring Return on Social Media Presence

This has been the fear/worry/challenge/competitive edge of almost every company that has any form of social media presence.  From a simple company Facebook page to a fully integrated Social Media strategy.  Speak to a number of agencies or many online marketers and they will tell you it can’t be measured beyond the simple metrics such as number of fans or followers.  Perhaps at the incubation stage and to a degree the baby stage that was correct.  However now social media has grown up a little, into a healthy little toddler things have changed.

In theory you can’t directly measure the impact of a brand TV commercial, but companies do.  It is the same for social media.

Remember the strategy

A lot of talk is around the utopian idea of getting an ROI from your social media spend or presence.  However for some brands this isn’t just a case of pounds in the till Vs pounds handed out to agencies or media owners such as MySpace.  As with any channel development or Marketing activity, you need to understand what you want to get out of your social media presence.  Your strategy may be a simple one that only looks at your impact within the channel, therefore a basic upwards trending number of fans may suffice.  Your strategy maybe to increase UVs to your core website, as such you need to measure the referrals from your social media presence.  Like a TV ad you maye be trying to influence brand perception so you would look at traditional brand metrics such as awareness and consideration.  Some strategies require an emphasis on loyalty or ROI, these can be much more difficult to prove, however not impossible.

Just consider before developing any tactics or implementation, what your objectives and goals are.  Then measure.

Understanding the basics

When measuring against any goals you need to understand what is your norm or otherwise known as the baseline.  You need to look at any pre-strategy figures and work out your norm, or the contribution you can expect without implementing your strategy.  This baseline should be measured over a long period of time to take into account one-off fluctuations, seasonality and peaks – you should then use a trend line and determine your norm.

Once you have claculated your norm, it is easier to determine what the goals from your objectives should be.  If for instance your site has 10,000 UVs a week then to expect a 100% uplift from a strong social media strategy may not be impossible.  However if your site gets 100,000 UVs a week, it may be more difficult to gain a 100% uplift, although not impossible.  This seems really basic stuff but it is often forgotten. I have spoken to Managing Directors and Marketing Directors that think because there are millions of people on social network they should be talking telephone numbers in terms of traffic uplift, sadly it doesn’t work like that.  It may be easier to get a massive groundswell if your activity is in the channel the people use, you could get a massive following on Twitter as the people are already there and its their environment, rather than expecting them to come to you.

Anyway, once you know the norm of whatever metric you want to track you can more easily identify any uplift from your activity.  However it may not be all down to the new strategy, other factors might be in play, that is why it is advisable to implement a good web analytics tool.  Omniture is widely regarded as one of the better packages along with Coremetrics, however if you have your own site or limited budget then Google Analytics may suffice.

OK, but now what?

So you know what you want to get out of your strategy and you have worked out the basics, but now what?  Sit back and watch everything work away and drive you towards your goals or personal bonus.  Not eaxactly.  Sometimes people expect immediate results.  Stick it on Facebook and they will come.  If they don’t see an uplift straight away, the strategy has failed.  Wrong.  Well potentially wrong.  Remember when working in social channels you are entering the end users territory.  You have to earn the right to be there.  Give them something to talk about, make yourself interesting, but don’t make things up.

So what do I do?

Don’t look at things with immediacy in mind.  When you create a coupon for your affiliate network or raise your bid caps in Google you can often see an immediate (or quick) effect.  However you need a longer view with Social and you need to look at things outside of your specific influence.  A great area to explore is Social Media Influence or Buzz Metrics.  There are various tools and service with varying levels of robustness and credibility.  In the UK there are market leaders such as Market Sentinel and Nielsen Buzz Metrics.  There are also some freebie or cheaper tools such as Viral Heat and PostRank Analytics.  These cheaper tools are sometimes less robust or feature on a specific platform such as Twendz.  What all of these tools have in common is that to varying degrees they track what is being said about your brand or site on other platforms rather than just looking at core measures such as visits or upstream and downstream traffic.

The majority measure trends and SoV, some measure snetiment and others rank influence on brands and/or topics.  All of these are important as although your activity may not imemdiately increse traffic, it may improve the sentiment towards your brand, increasing peoples’ perception of your brand and in turn increase their potential to engage or buy.  These tools can also aid your search activity.  As product or brand experts you might think you know what people type in about your brand, however more comprehensive tools help you identify what people are typing or saying about your product.  Giving you more insight into which words you you optimise or focus on in paid search.

But can I make money from it?

Well as I wrote at the beginning of the piece remember what your objectives are.  The short answer is yes, you can make money from social media and yes social media can increase users propensity to buy, however your activity may not lend itself to that.  But various surveys have taken place that demonstrate you can specifically get an ROI from your social media presence.  According to a recent survey by eMarketer, c. 51% of US internet users are likely buy from at least one brand since becoming a fan on Facebook.   When it comes to would they recommend to a friend the number increases to 60%.  That is one indication of an increased propensity to buy.

Before you all clamber out and create or refresh your Facebook page, Forrester outlined a stark statistic.  More than one third of online users visit at least one brands social media presence, yet less than half rated the experience rated their experience as having a positive influence.  One method that the likes of Starbucks and Dell use within their social media presence is exclusive offers and promotions.  It is this sense of providing something special for fans that makes the experience positive and influence future buying behaviour.

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The Internet Landscape

NetImperative.com published a number of latest stats on internet usage this week.  But what does it all mean?

Rise and Fall of the Internet

So you probably thought that everybody that wanted to use the internet at home probably already has access.  Well according to the latest numbers from Nielsen (featured on NetImperative) there is still room for growth in major markets.  The US and UK saw significant growth, 10.4% and 3.1% respectively.    There was also growth of over 1% in Australia, Italy and Germany with more modest growths in Japan and Brazil.  Most startling isn’t the fact that some markets have continued to grow, more that some major markets have declined, including France, Spain iPhone 3GSand Switzerland. 

Whilst I don’t think the numbers should be read in pure black and white terms, it does demonstrate the issues of using data on such a small time frame and not looking at longer term trends.  The data was based only on May 09 Vs June 09.  If you were to read this on face value, it would seem USA is leading the way on the internet whilst some mainland European counties are turning their backs on the Internet, which obviously isn’t true.  I am not 100% certain but I can’t imagine the numbers Nielsen uses takes into account convergance and the growing move towards accessing the internet on mobile devices such as the Apple iPhone or the HTC Google phone.  This is also set to continue with newer style netbooks with mobile broadband capability built-in.

Top Social Networking Channels

So Facebook are the kings of social networking.  That is the widely held view and judging from the Hitwise numbers featured in NetImperative show that it represents 47% of all UK visits to social networking sites.  Interestingly Bebo has twice the traffic of Twitter and MySpace.  Another dark horseSocial Media Pic that many people completely ignore is Yahoo!Answers with 1.19% of all traffic. 

Whilst these numbers prove that Facebook cannot be ignored by marketeers, it does demonstrate the next tier isn’t as obvious and clear cut as many think.  All Marketeers should look at their target segments and choose which channel best suits their needs.  They should also consider what they have to offer each network and create firm reasons for being involved.  Despite Bebo‘s claims within their advertising sales packages, I doubt they are as big in the 25+ market as they would lead you to believe.  You must therefore determine if you have anything to offer a younger audience and if you brand belongs.

Top UK Online Retailers

Once again on NetImperative they list the Top 50 Online Retailers within the UK (listed at the foot of this post).  The list published in conjunction with IMRG and using Hitwise data is based purely on visits.   The list is fine as a benchmark but to label its output Top 50 Online retailers is somewhat over the top.  The numbers fail to recognise usability, conversion, online SoV or the obvious benchmark of turnover and profit.  If all these factors were incorporated, I am sure there would be some differing positions and maybe even some change of faces in the Top 50.

Withstanding the rationale of creating the list, the top 10 is made up predominantly of names you would consider when talking about Top 10.  Amazon (1st and 5th), Argos, Play.com, Next, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Thomson, Expedia and EasyJet.  OK so the final few wouldn’t be in my list of Top 10 online retailers.  Despite this list IMRG claim a massive rise in spend online, largely driven by the fashion sector (none of whom really appear at the top of the list, with the exception of Next and M&S)

The most interesting element of the top 10 is that all are recognised brands.   This shows that Internet Marketeers also need to recognise the importance of brand and cannot base every business decision purely on immediate ROI or DM metrics.

Top 50 Online Retailers List  – August 2009

Source: NetImperative

1 Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/
2 Argos http://www.argos.co.uk/
3 Play.com http://www.play.com/
4 Next http://www.next.co.uk/
5 Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/
6 Marks & Spencer http://www.marksandspencer.com/
7 Tesco.com http://www.tesco.com/
8 Thomson Holidays http://www.thomson.co.uk/
9 Expedia.co.uk http://www.expedia.co.uk/
10 easyJet http://www.easyjet.co.uk/
11 Apple Computer http://www.apple.com/
12 Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com/
13 ASOS http://www.asos.com/
14 Tesco Direct http://www.direct.tesco.com/
15 lastminute.com http://www.lastminute.com/
16 Thomas Cook http://www.thomascook.com/
17 B&Q http://www.diy.com/
18 John Lewis http://www.johnlewis.com/
19 Debenhams http://www.debenhams.com/
20 Littlewoods http://www.littlewoods.com/
21 HMV.co.uk http://www.hmv.co.uk/
22 River Island http://www.riverisland.com/
23 Currys http://www.currys.co.uk/
24 Ticketmaster UK http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/
25 Topshop http://www.topshop.co.uk/
26 Odeon Cinemas http://www.odeon.co.uk/
27 New Look http://www.newlook.co.uk/
28 LOVEFiLM http://www.lovefilm.com/
29 O2 Shop http://www.shop.o2.co.uk/
30 Cineworld Cinemas http://www.cineworld.co.uk/
31 TravelRepublic.co.uk http://www.travelrepublic.co.uk/
32 Comet UK http://www.comet.co.uk/
33 Vue Entertainment http://www.myvue.com/
34 The TrainLine http://www.thetrainline.com/
35 British Airways http://www.britishairways.com/
36 ASDA http://www.asda.co.uk/
37 First Choice http://www.firstchoice.co.uk/
38 Dell EMEA http://www.euro.dell.com/
39 Halfords http://www.halfords.com/
40 Screwfix Direct http://www.screwfix.com/
41 PC World http://www.pcworld.co.uk/
42 GAME http://www.shop.game.net/
43 IKEA http://www.ikea.com/
44 Travelodge UK http://www.travelodge.co.uk/
45 Homebase http://www.homebase.co.uk/
46 Sainsbury’s http://www.sainsburys.com/
47 Boots http://www.boots.com/
48 ASDA Direct http://direct.asda.com
49 The Orange Shop http://www.shop.orange.co.uk/
50 QVCUK.com http://www.qvcuk.com/


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Murdoch to Charge – Does Attention Economy now have its own recession?

Rupert Murdoch announces plan to charge for news content

Rupert Murdoch News Corp

So the announcement last week that Rupert Murdoch intends to start charging for newspaper content via his News Corporations newspaper websites came as a surprise to some.  Especially as Murdoch is widely credited with being the individual that introduced the Free-to-read premise of online newspapers.

Obviously the recession and falling newspaper circulation is behind this latest decision (NewsCorps profits slumped by 47%, advertising revenue in Britain slumped by 21%).  The strategy is being fuelled by the success of online subscriptions at the Wall Street Journal.

This is a completely personal opinion, but online subscriptions for a B2B publication, or one where you make expensive decisions,  is a completely different kettle of fish to consumer mass media publications.

Murdoch is determined to set the wheels in motions on these plans within twelve months.  So no doubt you regular readers of The Sun and The Times will be getting your cards out to get your subscriptions.  I didn’t think so!

Attention Economy

This story made me think about a previous post I made on this blog relating to Attention Planning.  Attention Planning in part works with the premise of the Attention Economy.   The Attention Economy is based on the fact that humans only have the capability to pay attention to a finite amount of information or a finite amount of messages.  With the rise of social media, the dynamics of the attention economy have changed, more and more information is available at an unprecedented pace and there are in increasing number of ‘editors’ that broadcast.  As a consequence our attention is become a scarce commodity, a valuable trading commodity.

Many site owners are charged with making sticky or engaging content.  Content that will make people want to return to their site time and time again.  Whilst this is a great move and is a great way of trying to attract people it is also contributing to the overload of information and making peoples’ attention an even more valuable commodity.

Why is it so important?

Well if you look at traditional economic measures for simplicity sake, the amount of money people have, founders of sites such as Yahoo, Facebook and Google became millionaire when there was no revenue being driven via their platforms.  Why?  Largely because investors know that is a site attracts thousandsMark Zuckerberg or millions of visitors there are definite money making opportunities through advertising or maybe even subscriptions.

People will trade e-Commerce properties before they have made a penny, in a number of cases while they are making big losses.  Everybody wants a piece of Twitter but how much money does it actually make?

Very few genres such as Twitter and Facebook experience such accelerated over-night success.  However, if you can targetted to your key area, tailor content to your particular audience, segment or niche you will have a great chance of gaining their attention.  Otherwise, at best they will skim your content, not take it in and are unlikely to return.

Back to Murdoch

So has Murdoch got it right if you consider the Attention Economy?  I would argue he is taking a short-term view on an issue to solve a long-term problem.  With the likes of the BBC distributing high quality broadcast information and the volume of information transmitted by individuals on Twitter and Facebook et al, I doubt it is a model that can be sustained.  That is unless NewsCorp can get content that is so unique people will pay the subscription.  Something that was overlooked in most of the debates, will Murdoch start charging for people to use MySpace?  I would imagine that would kill the community and drive the teens and 20-somethings to an alternative.

I would personally suggest NewsCorp need to look at their content.  Make it compelling and then gain revenues off the back of the increased visitors numbers.  But as Murdoch himself said “I am no economist”.


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Monkey Sphere

 

monkey in marketing

 

 

 

 What on earth have monkeys and their brains got to do with Marketing? Hmm, absolutely nothing?!

Well as interlinked to marketing and advertising as sociology is, so is the monkey sphere. But what is the monkey sphere? The monkey sphere is a concept, some consider abstract, others think derived from science, that outlines how many people we can establish meaningful relationships with. Still not sure what this has to do with Marketing?

Well look at community sites. They are there literally to enable individuals to connect with one another. Facebook, MySpace and Bebo were literally set-up for people to meet, connect and speak to others. Twitter has in a way evolved to a similar realm, with people counting the number of followers they have.

The monkey sphere is a number that outlines how many people we can ‘genuinely’ connect with. Why is it called the monkey sphere?

 Scientists ran a number of tests to establish why monkey’s stayed in specific communities and seemed capable of only caring for certain other monkeys. In pursuit of the answer, they cut up so many monkey brains, that they could actually take a brain they had never seen before and from it they could accurately predict what size tribes that species of creature formed. Most monkeys operate in tribes of 50. But to test the scientists hypothesis a slightly larger brain was presented and they estimated the ideal group or society for this particular animal was about 148. The human number varies (due to variances in brain sizes), and if you research monkey sphere around the net, it is invariably rounded to 150.

front_monkeysphere

Essentially, similar to monkeys, this number is the critical number that humans can form meaningful relationships with. As a human you come into contact (either passively or actively) with hundreds of people every week. How many do you care about? And I mean, really care about. Very few! These feelings are normally reserved for family, friends and in some instances work colleagues. Very few brands have really connected with people and entered their monkey sphere. Some times brands can enter and then go equally as quickly. Others just click with some individuals and can do no wrong, no matter what (Apple?).

So for all the organisations grappling with social media or community marketing, just remember, the odds are very few people will actually really care about your organisation. Don’t enter the environment, thinking you have a god giving right to be there. Provide content and materials that the audience actually want. Communicate on their level. You may, just may enter their monkey sphere. But don’t get too down heartened if the base aren’t communicating with you day in, day out. It doesn’t mean you have failed, it just means you aren’t in their monkey sphere.

OK, so it was slightly off-topic, but interesting nonetheless.


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Free Online Promotion

Free Lunch?

OK, so not everybody is an SEO genius, able to generate copious amounts of free website traffic.  What other options are there?  The beauty of “Web 2.0” is that most of the concepts are still trying to find their commercial purpose. A a consequence the majority still offer free possibilities for any business. If you are clever and have something decent to offer you can also find your message or promotion spreading exponentially.

1.Facebook offers real opportunities to get your message out there, via your personal profile, a company page and/or groups
2. Twitter – its one of the most talked about sites at the moment and you can easily send your message to thousands
3. MySpace, if you’re related to music, this is still the place to put your messages – millions still look at MySpace
4. YouTube – depending on the concept, good video with a viral element will gain great mass coverage and quickly
5. Classifieds – places like GumTree and even eBay are great place to put your message out there
6. Directories and search engines – these are critical to your success
7. Guerilla – use tactics on forums, chatrooms to get your message out, but make sure they are relevant or you will be hounded out and lose any credibility
8. Produce blogs and articles, some good resources have already been listed in terms of areas to place and feed content.
9. Yahoo! Answers. Become a knowledge partner, great source if your area is interesting and has a number of questions
10. Do some real PR and contact online publications or journalists. You really need to sell yourself – I don’t think Press Releases are enough, you need to make contact with the key figures.

These are just ten ideas, however there are endless opportunities and if you want to put even just a small amount behind it, you can really make it take off.