By Joel Rubinson
This is the year to take action rather than talking about it. This is the year marketing teams need to move from empty narrative like “the ROI of social media is that you will be in business in five years” (Socialnomics) to data, like “the ROI of social media is ROI…estimated from marketing mix modeling and experiments properly designed”. This is the year we turn to evidence as our light at the end of the tunnel.
Here is my suggested list of practical and high priority initiatives.
Integration of digital data with survey-based insights
You need to start small with big data, and the most important starting point is the integration of digital data into your brand KPIs. The marketing teams are striving to build brand community, to master content marketing, and to generate amplification via social media conversation. All of these objectives can be directly measured from digital exhaust, so why not harvest these ongoing data streams turned into metrics along side brand tracking measures? If you are using surveys alone, you are not positioned to succeed in a digital age..pure and simple.
Convert one research method from backward looking, slow, and costly TO real time, and at half the price
At a recent ARF event, Joan Lewis the Global Consumer and Market Knowledge Officer for P&G threw down the gauntlet:
“things that are big, backward looking have to cost less. The money’s not going to be there in 5-10 years”.
My take: digital data have a structure that was created for ad serving and optimization but it can serve insights and testing purposes just as easily so let’s leverage that. One possibility: instead of using pop-up surveys to measure digital ad effectiveness, why not tag an ad so it serves a cookie that can be matched to downstream conversion? Why not systematically manipulate creative and ad serving elements for the first week so you can conduct a naturally occurring conjoint style study and then optimize?
Learn visual marketing
While we are still struggling to extract value from social media listening, pictures have become as important as words. We are becoming increasingly visual on Facebook and via the rise of Pinterest and Instagram so marketers need to learn how to convert this into insights data streams. However this is critical as Facebook marketing effectiveness is critically dependent on the use of pictures with updates.
Make mobile your competitive advantage
This is the year to commit to testing mobile marketing, inventing new vehicles (apps, mobile ad products, and the integration of mobile into shopping.) And perhaps most of all, learning how to measure mobile marketing effectiveness. Check out how Target is showing its commitment to mobile across full path to purchase from living room to store aisle.
Do something transformative by blurring physical and virtual and by creating interactivity
Marketers used to question if virtual shopping was a realistic enough way of testing shopper marketing. Well, in South Korea and Gatwick airport in London, Tesco made the virtual real. In South Korea, commuters can use their smart phones to shop for groceries in a virtual store projected onto the back wall of the train station and place their grocery order to be delivered to their home while they are waiting for their train. Increasingly, people are using their tablets and smart phones while they watch TV, so it is likely that you will be able to interact with a TV commercial via your second screen and perhaps even add the product to your shopping list on the device you take with you into the store.
Where’s the beef?
As I mentioned in the intro, we need to change our source of illumination from bright shiny objects to cold light of day. Facebook has been around for too long for us to not know what the value of a Facebook fan is. Physical retailers are scared of showrooming but not measuring it properly. We pre-grieve for the death of TV advertising yet fail to properly compare the time people spend watching TV vs. being in social media. TV is still the 800 pound gorilla! Recent marketing mix modeling work I was involved with in partnership with MSA consistently found that TV drives search, social media activity and other digital actions, so digital actually amplifies TV advertising effectiveness. Pick a couple of meaty and important areas, and dig in with learning goals.
Would love to hear from you and know if I left something off the list that you think is critical.