Category Archives: Marketing Metrics

Marketing Metrics 10: Linkedin

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Linkedin is THE platform for business professionals looking to develop themselves, their contact pool and their business. What began several years ago as a professional networking forum quickly evolved into a powerful tool to raise profile and showcase expertise.

As Facebook rose to prominence in the consumer space, Linkedin has been quick to deploy the latest techniques to ensure it stays ahead of competitors like Ning and Plaxo.

Whilst social media (annoying term!) continues its progression into business, and published luminaries’ pontificate on how to monetize it, we the practitioners are left to try and find a way to make it work.

In my  view, Linkedin supports two specific objectives: profile and reputation raising AND lead generation. But in this era of soft marketing, you should categorically focus on the former before crashing ahead with the later. The loud, spamming bores are given short thrift on Linkedin.

And, if you follow my non-nonsense ten-step approach to making Linkedin work for you, you’ll be well on your way personally and professionally to achieving both objectives.

If you’re viewed as someone people value through your contributions on Linkedin, you will be sought out. This means posting answers, offering solutions and sharing interesting content. Group members will want to connect with you, your contacts will want to recommend you to their contacts and over time be recommended by you. All these numbers are pretty tangible.

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So too, are the tangible numbers related to lead generation. This starts with group and answer discussions, click-throughs to [or downloads of] associated content like slides, blog posts, web visits, Twitter, views/follows on company profile, provision of Answers etc, all leading to connection requests and enquiries.

Everything you do on Linkedin gets you closer to the people you want to get close to. Applying Frignes Karinthy’s six degrees of separation strategy means that technically there is little stopping you accessing the FTSE 100 CEO you seek an audience with; you just have to do it in the right way as you get one shot.

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Few account holders stray beyond the free platform such is the integration with other tools including email, Twitter, Slideshare, WordPress and Amazon. But upgrading to one of the business plans affords the opportunity not only to use InMail to communicate with anyone, run detailed 3rd level searches and see expanded profiles but also to see who has been looking at your profile.

Professionals and companies – such as recruitment – are generating real revenue through platforms like Linkedin. Given you can take a step-by-step approach to building your expert profile, contact pool and leads, can you really afford not to?

Marketing Metrics 9: Micro blogging

One of the liveliest and often most polarising marketing debates centres around the relevance of Twitter for marketers. Like most social media tools, Twitter was establishing as a personal networking tool, but brands are trying to use the platform to understand and engage with customers.

What is true about Twitter is its addictiveness. If you adopt a ‘have a go’ approach, expect to spend a huge amount of time but probably garner precious little return – either in investment or involvement terms.

For fairly obvious reasons (and like other marketing tools) use it strategically and to add value or inform your understanding of your target audiences. Sounds complicated and overly dramatic but if you fancy getting your tweet on, consider the following:

1. Personal v business

People still predominantly engage with people. Corporate brands don’t tend to do terribly well on Twitter (though there are frequently cited examples of retail and customer service from Dell_Outlet and Zappos). Corporate accounts can be used to source and find information and insight but arguably little engagement. In my view, unless you already have brand magnetism (like a magazine, website, news resource or consumer brand) it is best to set up a Twitter account with an actual personal identity. It gives people something to engage with. A corporate account will inevitably follow a broadcast rather than an engagement model.

2. Selling v engaging

Businesses have to sell to make money. So be clear – decide if you are selling, if so what, and if so what is the value proposition for Twitter followers. Don’t build an audience following interesting tweets, quotes, comments and insights and then when you have them, hit them with sales collateral. Why? They’ll drop you. If you are going to sell, build in pricing related to time sensitivity – like early bird course bookings which work well in the event sector. Accept that your attempts to build an audience will be more difficult, but you will at least have an interested niche audience.

3. Follows v followers

Conventional Twitter wisdom suggests that if you follow 100 people, 50 may follow you back. This is often how businesses get started. By association. So use Twitter search or look up lists that other people create (@MarketingB2B is one of my personal favourites). You might blast follow lots of like-minded accounts and hope they follow back. Or simply follow those you like the look of. Over time you can use tools like Twinfluence to remove those who aren’t following you – if you are Machiavellian in outlook.

4. To retweet or not to retweet

Depending on the content of your tweets, you’ll pick up followers regularly. Retweeting things you like is the best and fastest way to building a profile and developing influential contacts. You become an information resource to people who haven’t got the time to plough through it all themselves.

5. Metrics

Metrics relating to social media and Twitter specifically cover a broad range from insignificant to significant. My advice. Look beyond follows, retweets etc and consider your wider influence. Is activity on Twitter integrated with other platforms such as your blog, website or YouTube account? Can you see a tangible uplift in newsletter subscriptions, white paper downloads or incredulously, leads?

Monitoring tools like Klout (which has found its way into Hootsuite) exist to give a score based on activity around your profile. I view them with scorn as they are easy to manipulate. If you have way more followers than you are following, succeed in getting your tweets retweeted, receive lots of @ messages then you are likely to have a high influence score. I’ve seen people with 200 followers, sending 5,000 inane tweets have influence scores 50+/100. Is that influence? I’m not convinced.

Here is a metrics-cloud I created drawing on a number of resources, not least Jim Sterne’s excellent Social Media Metrics. Jim compiles a list of over 100 at the outset if you really want to get stuck into it. What it highlights to me is that there are so many ways of determining how investment of time in social media can be measured – and some of them are actually worthwhile!!

Summary

Twitter works for me. I’m in it for the long haul. At this stage I’m not really selling, I’m profile building. I integrate it with other sites for content and use it broadcast my blog and share those I respect from Google Reader feeds.

What has this taught me? A lesson about Twitter, wider marketing and life perhaps. Think through what you’re doing and ensure you are getting something out of it. And, if you are considering it for business, think even harder. Set objectives and a way of measuring the time spent – whilst return on investment might be difficult, return on involvement can certainly be achieved.

Marketing Metrics 8: Email marketing

I read some statistics in preparing this blog that suggested 90 trillion emails were sent in 2009, and approximately 86% of them were spam. (Pingdom). Bad day in the office for the guy counting, but it is a staggering number if it’s even remotely correct.

If you have a glass half empty outlook, that’s going to put you right off email marketing. But if you’re a glass half full person, these numbers imply rather a lot were still well targeted and well propositioned to recipients interested in what they had to say.

Email remains a great way to make and stay in touch with a range of audiences and it can provide powerful insight into how your brand is perceived, the messages you want to convey, and the design and offers you make – if you take the time to assess the data.

Determining whether you use your email for acqusition, retention or relationship marketing will determine what you say, to who, how and when. This drives your metrics. There are lots of things that can be monitored and measured when it comes to email marketing (open, bounce rate, unsubscribes, time of day, number of unique clicks, number of repeat clicks, number of forwards) but there is only one metric that matters. You want click-through to your website. That’s where the engagement truly starts. Don’t get caught up in the numbers.

This isn’t an email masterclass (though there may be one in 2011), but if you want traffic generated from email click through, consider the following:

1. Audience need – we’ve moved away from monthly and quarterly broadcast communications and can now easily deliver bespoke content for different segmented lists. Sending the same communication to customers and prospects is plain lazy.

2. Design – the email needs to work without images, have a solid spam-filter friendly title, be sent from a reputable email address (not ‘donotreply’), contain an ‘if you can’t see this, click here’ link and an ‘unsubscribe’ button.

3. Message – different audiences are after different things and the content and tone should be tailored accordingly

4. Automation – the best emails are event triggered, whether by a transaction, a shipment or delivery update, an update on stock or a new price/offer, an anniversary or an abandoned basket. Amazon are the gold standard in internet business cross-sell and up-sell, but any business can adopt elements if considered.

A case study

I get regular emails from the shirt maker TM Lewin. Well I did until I unsubscribed. I like their shirts and the way they have used digital channels to promote their products (interesting YouTube channel). But they essentially make the same ‘4 shirts for £100/£90’ and ‘suit for £179’ offer on a weekly basis. And despite creative changes, this has been pumped out to their database (and me) for over a year.

I queried it with them on Twitter saying when you offer product at the same price consistently, it isn’t an offer anymore. They weren’t interested in taking honest and constructive customer feedback, saying it was working fine for now and they weren’t planning on changing it.

Which is fine, but that lack of regard for my transactional history and needs means my next shirt will probably come from Charles Tyrwhitt and for now TM Lewin have lost me to an untargeted, lazy and short term broadcast email strategy.

Image Keyzo

Marketing Metrics 7: News & blogs

Search is the dominant marketing tool of the moment and rightly so. Most of us use search engines daily when it comes to researching something, whether it is a personal purchase like a car, holiday, DVD or insurance, or a business purchase where the Internet can be used to shortlist suppliers, distributors, partners, agents and graduates. Statistics from the recent B2B Marketing Buyosphere survey support this.

One of the more pressing requirements in ensuring your business is indexed in search results relevant to your business lies in how you rank organically. Pay per click advertising (like Google Adwords which is found on the top and right hand side of Google) can still be used to great effect at launch or during key promotional periods.

However, the sustainable and long term approach to search is in operating a search engine optimised site with regularly updated, keyword rich meta data and on page content. And, this boils down to effective use of news and blogs.

Regularly updating your website news page is critical as changing content remains one of the hallmarks of a dynamic and leading web site. Ensuring new news features on an optimised home page regularly checked by the search engine ‘spiders’ remains one of the key ways of improving your organic listing.

And blogs, the one time hobbyist website, have come of age. With an estimate 130 million blogs on the Internet, there are an essential information resource and way of getting your message out. Sites like WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr offer impressive optimisation because of the high traffic passing through them on a daily basis.

Blogs can be used effectively for business and without the need for layers of approval. Business owners and middle managers can use them to talk about the science, technology behind the product to answer customer service issues and produce and distribute FAQs, or to comment on industry developments. As blogs of this nature are personalised and removed to a degree from the corporate entity, any concern about damage is reduced.

When developing content to drive your profile, the most crucial elements in marketing 2.0 remain the right of reply and the ability to share. Metrics can be set up to measure reads, shares, subscriptions, downloads and many other datasets.

Image: smbmarketingguide

Marketing Metrics 6: Trade shows

Attending trade shows is one of the most expensive activities in a marketing plan. How do you ensure they provide return?

Trade show organisers have probably had to work harder than anyone else during the recession. The expenditure in this area is often the first thing scrapped in a marketing budget review as extravagant. This isn’t a surprise given most companies attending trade shows fail to manage their attendance properly from the outset. They are not ruthless about why they are attending and what they want to get out of the show. Going because you always have is a poor approach to marketing and business.

But done well, with appropriate consideration given to pre-event traffic generation, trade shows can be your most profitable marketing mix tool. Why? The lion’s share of your new business still comes through word of mouth, endorsement and personal selling, so it makes sense to be right in the heart of any gathering of your clients and customers.

I tackled this very issue in a recent post following my experience at the Total Packaging show in Birmingham.

From a metrics perspective, there is a lot that you can do to measure the effectiveness of attending an exhibition. Working through the following thought process throws up things to consider and the metrics to be employed to measure them. In these recessionary times, I’ve deliberately kept to the tangible lead generation focused activities.

1. Why, what, who? Start at the planning phase, and decide what you are exhibiting, why and to who? If you haven’t got a credible reason to exhibit and/or nothing new to promote, don’t.

2. Focus on ‘new’. Make a maximum of three key messages the core part of all pre-show and show communication. The rules of high impact PR apply throughout, so ‘new’ always works best and attracts the most interest. Demonstration and presentation are fantastic ways of getting ‘new’ across. This could be product, service, data or insight related. And ‘new’ doesn’t have to mean available – a measurable metric might be to take a set number of enquiries, even orders for a previewed/future product or service.

3. Calculate Total Project Cost. Price up space and stand costs, design & logistics costs, hospitality, literature, email/advertising costs, hotels, lost sales force productivity through being taken off the road and management time.

4. Apply a Cost Per Enquiry. Having a Total Project Cost will allow you to start to consider cost per enquiry and allows you to start to work out how many enquiries (and convertible orders) are required to cover the investment of attending.

5. Set enquiry/order targets. Plug in your rough order value and calculate how many orders will be needed to cover this cost and then ideally turn a profit.

6. Set specific enquiry targets. With all the previous steps completed, you’ll be able to allocate enquiry targets against the cost of attending, per product/service line exhibited, per sector and per sales rep. This gives you a minimum of four ways to set lead generation metrics, and informs what you should do next to promote your attendance at the show, to who, and by who.

7. Agree pre show marketing targets. Allocate enquiries to each element of pre-show marketing (personal sales call, invite, email, visit to site, online registration). Offer customers pre-registration. Stage an event or give a presentation within the trade show and use the sign up to this as a metric. Set up a daily blog/email summary/Twitter feed from the show and measure engagement. Twitter hashtagging is fantastic for events. Above all, set up a specific Internet landing page and employ Google Analytics to give you a thorough assessment of this. Any advertising and literature should cite all contact points.

8. The intangible. Some times it is important to attend a trade show to build or protect profile and reputation. In this instance, arrange meetings with trade publishers and editors in advance and set a metric on that, reviewable 3 months and 6 months after the show in terms of PR coverage.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but it will give your trade show planning greater clarity and focus.

Image Beacon Alliance

Marketing Metrics 5: Speaking up

If you have something interesting to say, or are an interesting, engaging speaker, it’s worth considering public speaking as an element of your marketing strategy.  Speaking at conferences can be a powerful way of building a profile and raising the awareness of your skill set and expertise to your target audience.

Whether you opt to start small by acting as a guest speaker at a local networking or business group, running your own industry specific seminars or headline a major industry conference with a keynote presentation or panel place, one thing is certain. Everyone remembers a great speaker and a great presentation, and often business can be won off the back of one.

Speaker opportunities have long been highly prized within the PR fraternity as a way of pushing clients up the scale of influence. How do you think those experts who always seem to be the ones talking at the major conferences and being quoted in the trade or consumer press get there? By hard work and through building strong relationships with the media who run publications and organize conferences.

As the scale of opportunities afforded by technology and the Internet broaden, it is ever more important to specialise and avoid being seen as a generalist. There is a niche in every line of business and aligning your speaking engagements to 1/ your target audience and 2/ your specialist subject areas are fast tracks to expert status.

The ability to host webinars and webcast live on the Internet using sites like Bright Talk and Event Brite, to create podcasts for uploading to sites like iTunes and create and share presentations and video using sites like You Tube, Vimeo and SlideShare have revolutionised the concept of the expert and brought it to the masses.

But how do you measure the return from time spent?

It’s surprisingly easy. In most offline and online cases, the delegate list will be captured, especially if the carrot of exclusive post event material is dangled. An opportunity to join an exclusive group or register for exclusive content is always enticing. And remember this means all these contacts are themselves opting in.

Superficial statistics like the number of delegates, requests for and downloads of information are to a degree useful, but ultimately you should be forging a measurable link between the time and cost of preparing and giving the presentation and any tangible business outcomes, like opportunities to meet, opportunities to provide a proposal or quote and the landing of business.

Using speaking opportunities at seminars, conferences and exhibitions is a long term strategy designed to build profile and elevate you as an expert in your field. It is a tool that naturally sits on the fluffier side of the return on investment equation (unless you are able to charge for attendance in which case it is a revenue spinner all on its own).

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Marketing Metrics 4: Achieving ROI from direct marketing – it’s in the design and delivery

Direct marketing, when well designed, expertly written, highly targeted, clear in proposition and well implemented can engage customers and transform the sales and marketing success of a business.

Too often though it is done badly. Direct mail, as most recipients view DM, is the bane of most people’s lives, and the very worst, intrusive antidote to good honest permission marketing. And email has taken this on immeasurably.

Direct marketing can and is implemented well. I receive mailers from TM Lewin about specials on shirts (incidentally they have a nifty YouTube channel) and Amazon’s ‘Recommendations’ emails based on my transactional and browsing behaviour. I’m on the Volkswagon mailing list because I bought a Polo five years ago – the last mailer was a beautiful piece in the style of a VW dashboard. And other businesses are using DM techniques to personally encourage browsers to take their abandoned baskets to checkout status, with some success.

What is clear to me as I consider this blog series on metrics in the core elements of the marketing mix, is the requirement to target a segment, understand an unmet need and deliver a compelling (and for you, profitable) proposition that entices and engages them to act.

Achieving ROI from direct marketing really is in the design and delivery. Sure, the usual rules apply in terms of activating specific landing pages, phone numbers, email addresses, voucher codes, limited time offers and social media pages to monitor response. But getting response is the objective. Here’s how to transform ‘junk mail into conversion mail’.

  1. Take time to target
  2. Think about your audience and get tone of voice right
  3. Highlight the ‘call to action immediately’ and prominently – you have 3-5 seconds, even assuming the recipient is remotely interested
  4. Don’t clutter your communication – stick to one single message
  5. Have an equal balance between design and copy
  6. Make the most of the senses if relevant – smell, touch, taste
  7. Dont’s trick recipients into opening your mail – this will only damage your reputation and your brand in the long term.
  8. Make sure you test and learn – make subtle changes in campaign creative or message and gauge response.

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