By Ellen Woods
Multi-channel marketing in a digital world is a far different cry from the world of reach, exposures and demographic penetrations. With the majority of content access occurring over tablets and phones, the ability to measure marketing effectiveness via traditional approaches is becoming less and less reliable.
What has become clear is that traditional measurement methods are often not viable and rarely reflective of a consumer’s true interaction with a brand. While it is difficult to tell if consumers overall are more or less dissatisfied than in past generations, it is clear that blunt force measurements of the past (ratings and scales) were really never that accurate. Equally clear is that consumers are fed up with their interactions with many brands, and often choose social media and its virality to voice their dissatisfactions.
It’s also apparent that the majority of consumers simply tune out screaming voices, regardless of the source, and gave an equal cold shoulder to marketers, non-passive advertising and dissatisfied customers. Decisions for larger purchases often engage reviews at third party sites such as Amazon, regardless of intended purchase channels, and smaller purchase decisions are often made at the shelf and based on the perceived value “within the moment”.
However the value of marketing performance is measured within an organization, marketing’s shift into a sales role (now common practice in many organizations) has created additional pressure on performance and in most organizations, has yet to be proved cost effective because the value of unattained business is not a calculable variable, especially without clear corollaries that extend beyond competitive sales data.
Another factor that is often underrated and rarely measured is the constant barrage of negative and shocking news that parlays our worst fears into almost a daily dose of terror and sadness that has changed our cultural imperatives. We are numb to shock value and turn deaf ears to those who aren’t a mix of entertainer and informer.
The response of marketers to these challenges so far has been to become more aggressive by forcing content into our consumption patterns without allowing the consumer white space. Overlay ads, native advertising, and gateway blockers in the form of pop-ups delaying access to or hiding content and forcing response permeate our world. It’s like have the worst salesmen in history hanging out in your living room and…following you into the bathroom.
Apparently irritating people with content on your best brand attributes is ok as long as you can measure how many people you irritated. Does that seem somewhat counter intuitive? How often does a company measure how many consumers they alienate other than in a totally disastrous campaign?
While the problem is so pervasive it’s hard to fault any one company or industry more than another, the real issue is innovation in both products and communication. Virality is a double edged sword and the fastest way for value propositions to be realized or dissected and dematerialized. In order to achieve positive virility, the message has to draw interest in rather than simply be pushed out and the product has to fulfill the expectations put forth by the brand and its messaging. When that happens, the success becomes an easy measurement for both or points to obvious flaws when only one or the other succeed.
Because information exists in an eco-system and consumers have access to both internal and externally generated content, the current measurements within a campaign often fail to look at the extent of influence extended by the campaign on factors such as satisfaction and loyalty as well as factors such as brand equity. Those types of measurements are rarely done in real time or in relation to a single product and when they are, they often use legacy methods. Because most measurements aren’t integrated they don’t measure the brand eco-system, so the impact on brand’s overall strength is indeterminate.
So the realization is that brand measurements do matter, but not in the way we are used to exercising them. For brands to realize their true positioning and the impact of particular products and services, the models need to incorporate a bottom-up approach where activity measurements are identified by buyer segments, messaging is formulated to those buying segments (and their most vocal components), tracked by virality and the impact on all aspects of the brand. This also provides a method for the establishment of an ROI and the ability to establish the true value of products and services, messaging and the analytics that drive that process.
It is the true “voice of the customer” approach and the first step to a trusting relationship with customers. If you doubt that, take a look at the way small businesses grow; it’s not rocket science but rather good listening skills.