Your Marketing Needs a Plan: Don’t Miss these 4 Critical Steps

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By Sue Brady

bobcat2

Know where to put your snow

Marketing doesn’t just happen. It takes thoughtful planning.

As you embark on your next successful year, be sure to remember a few basics as you formulate your plans:

  • Set clear goals

What do you want your marketing to accomplish: Sales, brand awareness, positive social media coverage, award-winning recognition?

All might be valid goals for you, and all would have different approaches. Understanding your goals is perhaps the most important element to spell out in advance of launching any new marketing program. And don’t forget that goals have nuances. If your goal is sales, it makes a difference if you are after a one-time sale or if your product is a subscription or requires repeat sales throughout the customer life. Knowing the difference will determine how you segment your acquisition file, how you message your campaign, and how you communicate with the customer post-sale.

  • Define what success looks like

While sales might be a goal, success metrics go further. Metrics could be gross revenue per new customer, % business from existing customers, mobile app downloads, Return on Investment (ROI)* above a defined amount, Cost per Orders (CPOs)* lower than a certain level. All are valid. The key is to know what you’re after.

  • Identify your target market

And it can’t be everyone. Get specific. What type of person needs your product? How much money do they make? Are they college educated? Do they live in urban areas? Are they in their 20s? Do they tend to use Facebook? Knowing who your customer is will make finding them easier.

  • Design a campaign that will meet your goals

If your goal is say 500 mobile app downloads, you might want to run a campaign targeting your audience on their mobile phones. If you also know that they are Facebook users in a certain age group with certain interests, you can run a highly targeted campaign on Facebook.

As with every post I write about marketing, if you aren’t testing every time you go into market, you are missing out on an opportunity to learn. Whatever campaign you choose to run, there’s almost always room for testing. Testing will make your next campaign better. Test the most important things first: offer, audience, creative. Use what you learn as you create your next campaign.

Check back for future posts expanding on some of these concepts!

* CPOs are calculated by looking at the total cost to generate an order, and dividing that by the total number of orders received. Total cost typically does not include creative development, because creative can be used well beyond the campaign it’s first designed to support. Think of some of the well-known marketing campaigns out there. Take Flo from Progressive Insurance. If the folks that created that campaign took all of the campaign development costs against the orders for that first campaign, it most likely wouldn’t have been considered successful because of the high CPO. Flo has been used for years now, and so the cost of developing that initial campaign has benefited many campaigns that came later.

ROI can be a trickier metric. ROI is calculated by looking at how much revenue is generated vs how much it cost to generate that revenue. Higher ROI is obviously better. But how you calculate that ROI can vary. True ROI should look over the life of each customer generated off of that specific campaign spend, and also take into account other business generated from the campaign. For instance, TV ads often drive consumers to search on the web, or to respond to a direct mail or email campaign that arrives at the same time. This gets into the importance of attribution. You can read a post about that here.

ROI From Social Media? Is that Possible?

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By Sue Brady

ROI

ROI is a key performance indicator (KPI) that most marketers hold near and dear. Why? Because most brands use marketing to generate product/service sales. And typically, a marketer will spend fully in the most efficient resource before allocating funds to the next channel. I know what you’re thinking: My campaign wasn’t about sales, it was about ‘likes’ on Facebook. And to that I would ask: Why did you want likes? And you would say: To get sales! So there you go.

The standard definition of Return on Investment, or ROI, is ‘dollars made’ minus cost divided by cost:

 

$$s generated – investment (to generate those $$s)
Investment

Basically, what did you get for what you spent, and was it worth it?

For social media this is admittedly a difficult task. It’s hard to track the steps involved that moved your customer to the final click. But it’s not impossible. I wrote this post last year on attribution, and the field is ever changing. Earlier this year, Google bought an attribution company called Adometry and they’re now happy to help you determine what steps your customer took in their buying journey.

Attribution modeling is probably the trickiest part of figuring out your social media ROI, but it’s really important. Let’s say someone saw your ad while they were on Facebook and clicked. They read your landing page but decided they weren’t ready to buy. The next day they saw a tweet that you or a fan posted and clicked on that to continue with their research. But they still weren’t ready to buy. Then perhaps they saw an email from you, they clicked and made a purchase. Attribution companies can tag each of those touches so that they can tie them together. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than giving all of the revenue attribution to the email campaign.

To figure out what your social media is worth, you’ll want to track the purchase behavior from those who ‘liked’ your page, the click/purchase behavior from those who clicked through on your tweeted link, buying behavior from those who watched your YouTube video, and any other action you have prompted. As you can see, it’s much more complicated than figuring out your ROI on that last direct mail piece you sent. And speaking of direct mail, that can also impact your social ROI, along with TV advertising, radio etc. etc. etc. Some things you’ll be able to directly track, and some things you won’t.

Story: I used to work for a company that ran a lot of TV advertising, and also sent steady direct mail. Over time it was clear, even to management, that if we had to scale back the TV, the direct mail rates would suffer. So we were eventually able to establish how much the ‘halo’ of TV was worth. It improved the ROI of our TV ad campaign.

Your first step is to figure out what you hope to gain from your social media, and then make sure you can measure and track it. Do this by tagging your media, making sure your coupons offered via Facebook are coded, tracking all clicks from that consumer and having analytics in place.

And even though I said at the beginning of this article that it’s all about revenue, I realize that sometimes your content really is not about that. If that’s the case, know what the goal of your content is to determine if you’re achieving what you wanted to achieve. This might be engagement via answers to posed questions, or it may be shares…or in fact, it may be revenue.

The Multi-touch, Multi-device Attribution Dilemma (and some companies that can help)

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By Sue Brady

IAB/TagMan Study, July 2012

IAB/TagMan Study, July 2012

Over half of the folks surveyed by Atlas Institute  (Cookie Retention. Is the sky falling on cookies?) say they delete their cookies at least monthly.  This data is not unlike data shared over the last few years from Nielsen and Jupiter, and is just another factor that needs to be considered as you think about attribution. Attribution refers to how you give credit to your various marketing efforts. It’s complicated and messy, but necessary to understand. Attribution tracking, or understanding the customer journey to conversion, is key to optimizing your site performance.

So why the buzz about multi-touch attribution modeling, and what does it even mean?
Just a few years ago, marketers favored First or Last Click  attribution, meaning the first or  final behavior that lead to the conversion is the one that received all of the credit. That means that if someone searched for your product and clicked on your ad one day but didn’t buy, the next day went directly to your website on their desktop, and on the third day went to your website via a mobile device, you’d attribute 100% of that person’s ROI to either that first ad or to the mobile device. The new norm however considers multiple sources along the customer journey as a way to gain much more real and useful information.

There are three primary ‘forms’ of multi-touch models: linear, position-based, and time-decay, and there are variations on each of these. A linear model assigns an equal attribution percent to each touch. Though better than a single-touch model, linear models are still somewhat arbitrary in that they assume each touch is as important as every other touch.  Position-based models spread the attribution across the touch points, but not evenly. Typically these are more heavily weighted to first and last touch, with the remaining percent assigned to the ‘in-between’ touches. This seems to be used most with marketing efforts designed to generate a lot of leads into the funnel.  A time-decay model assigns a larger % for attribution as the consumer goes through the touch points. This type of model is often used when a brand has a special promotion running with a quick close. Slingshot SEO published a nice checklist to help you decide which type of model would work best for you. It’s on page 13 of this study.

Why is multi-touch attribution important?

  • It helps you understand your consumer’s buying process
  • It helps you distribute your marketing spend to produce the greatest ROI
  • It can help justify your marketing budget
  • It creates much more accurate ‘cost per orders’

Multi-touch models aren’t perfect. Things get messy with cross-device tracking that can undermine the integrity of many of these systems. And it’s hard to tie offline advertising into your online attribution. But even messy, there is no question that multi-touch attribution is far more valuable than last-touch or first-touch attribution.

Given the relative newness of the field, there aren’t a huge number of companies in the attribution business, but there are some and the offerings continue to grow. Casey Carey, the CMO of Adometry provided me with this list. I’ve added a brief blurb from each company’s website:

  • Adometry: They bring media types together to provide insights to guide and improve overall performance and incremental ROI of cross-channel campaigns.
  • TagMan: Their clients can manage and unify tag based technologies to produce one independent stream of clean marketing data from all channels.
  • Visual IQ: They are a cross-channel attribution software company looking to improve marketing performance.
  • DC Storm : They do multi-channel measurement, attribution and optimization.
  • Google Analytics: Released earlier this year, the GA tool allows you to choose your attribution preference (first touch, last touch, time decay).
  • Convertro: Their claim is that they provide advertisers with actionable spend recommendations so that marketing spend can be allocated in the most profitable way possible.
  • ebay enterprise, aka ClearSaleing: They claim their solution measures and calibrates across paid search, comparison shopping engines, display media, email communications, social media, natural traffic and more, and delivers recommendations for improvement both within and across channels.
  • C3 Metrics: They offer the ability to capture and make sense of billions of advertising touches.
  • Kenshoo: Their uniqueness comes from applying mathematical modeling with machine learning and algorithms.

Cross-device attribution
Here’s where things get even trickier.  Tracking multiple touches when a user is on one device is hard enough, but tracking across devices requires more attention.  Tapad has a robust product that does cross-device attribution and cross-device ad targeting.  They work with the majority of the Fortune 500 brands. bluecava also does multi-device tracking and targeting.  Whatever tool you choose, keep consumer privacy in mind because that certainly comes into play. This topic is already generating interest in Washington with the FTC.

I spoke with Chris Brinkworth at TagMan  about multi-touch and device tracking. Their company conducted a study with the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau in the UK) on this topic and he told me that “the majority (55%) of customers who make the journey to purchasing a product have had at least 2 marketing touches before doing so.”  Where TagMan  comes into play is, they drop tags in various places (in an email, on a landing page etc.) that will identify the same customer each time he turns up. They use 1st party cookies to do this (in many cases 1st party cookies are better than 3rd party cookies because 3rd party can be readily blocked by the user). Using tags to identify a consumer based on various data points such as IP address, email opens and cookie data allows you to follow that consumer. Additionally, Microsoft and Google both recently announced their plans to move away from 3rd party cookies and towards technology that will help with cross-device tracking.

And Chris reminded me, you can’t forget about the halo effect, especially as related to offline advertising.  Here’s his example: say Macy’s is running a TV advertising campaign for sofas. TV viewers might be prompted after seeing the ads to search online for other sofa deals. As a result, JC Penney might see a spike in their search traffic. If they aren’t aware of Macys’ TV campaign, they may falsely believe that they’ve done something in search that’s having a positive impact. Companies like Optimal Social can help to tie these activities together.

In summary, attributing marketing success across multiple consumer touches, including cross-device, is key to understanding the ROI being produced from your marketing budget. Understanding the consumer’s journey will help you properly allocate your marketing budget as you move forward to accomplish your goals.