Posts Tagged ‘Social strategy’

CMO: Time for Social Programs with Provable Profits

Just Published!  Social IMC – Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI

While there are many books talking about engaging people on social media like Facebook, Twitter, PInterest, LinkedIn and hundreds more, all describe the return you will get in general terms.  Usually, the discussion first informs you social ROI [return on investment] doesn’t exist as a financial calculation but, instead, rests on the influence and intangible benefits you receive from social engagement; however, nothing could be further from the truth.   The key to social success is to stop focusing on specific site strategies and, instead, focus on engaging your highest value markets and build strong, measurable, 1-to-1 relationships with them.  That is the goal of Social IMC – Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI.

How it started

I teach social and mobile marketing at Northwestern University.   About 9 years ago, one of my graduate students who worked at a major retail company said that while she understood the power of social media, she could not justify staff because she could not prove the bottom-line impact of a social strategy.  She asked me the question which plagues many companies…”What is the profit impact of developing a social strategy”.  While I did not have a good answer for her, it started me on a mission to find the social strategies which drive profitable, measurable social programs.  In talking with CEOs and CMOs across the world, I found 3 strategies companies were using and – good news – 2 had proven bottom-line impacts.  In other words, these 2 strategies link your social investment to your sales and marketing systems.  These strategies allow you to grow market share and increase the lifetime value of your high value markets using KPIs, relationship funnels, and the same metrics you use to justify and measure all of your business metrics.  Social IMC shows you how to use social to achieve provable business results.

What’s in the book

Many books focus on the theories behind the use of social media and mobile applications in marketing—but this is not one of them. Social IMC provides strategies based on proven business models that have produced real-world results.  Each strategy has been taught, tested, and developed by the author himself, and all are thoroughly explained in an easy-to-follow format that includes references to exemplary businesses from around the world. By the time you finish reading this book, you will be able to identify which strategy is best to use for each of your company’s high-value markets.  You will know what steps you need to take to successfully design, develop, deploy—and maintain—your business’ social and mobile approach.  A veritable “how-to” guide for using social and mobile technologies to propel business profit and growth, Social IMC is sure to appeal to business leaders and entrepreneurs worldwide. The strategies discussed in the text have been proven effective in a wide variety of models, including both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations and companies targeting businesses or consumers on international, national, local, and hyper-local scales.

Special Introductionary Offer

It’s time for you to develop KPI driven, 1-to-1 relationships with your high value customers using proven social strategies.  Learn what IBM, the NorthFace, American Express, ONE.org and companies throughout the world are learning about developing bottom-line driven social strategies.  Get a copy of the new book Social IMC available on Amazon.  Click here for a special $5 off discount!

 

Randy Hlavac

 

Randy Hlavac teaches social and mobile market at Northwestern University in Chicago IL.  He is also CEO of Marketing Synergy, Inc – a consulting company helping companies develop their social and integrated marketing strategies and tactics.  His new book – Social IMC – shows companies how to best design, develop, deploy, justify and measure their social marketing and mobile marketing programs.  It add business metrics and proven strategies to your social marketing programs.  Randy can be found on Twitter @randyhlavac

 

Social Strategy: 3 Paths to Social ROI

IBM CMO Study findingsAccording to eConsultancy, Only 8 percent of companies say they can determine Return on Investment (ROI) from their social media spending (source: Econsultancy).  From their Global CMO study, they find 63% want to measure the ROI of their social investment.  Yet, many social pundits – while giving “lip service” to the concept of ROI, have “surrendered” to the ROI challenge and, have instead, encouraged their followers to simply focus on the “intangible” justifications for a social strategy.  In other words, don’t worry about the lack of social ROI, it is intuitive it benefits your organization and that is justification enough.

While these types of articles imply you don’t need to really consider or develop the ROI from your social investment, nothing could be further from the truth.  If you consider the “opposite side” of the IBM quote, if 63% of all organizations would like to measure their Social ROI, this means 27% of them can.  That is the direction I used when I started researching my new book – “Social IMC – Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI“.

Social Strategy  Social Media  Social ROIThe fact is there are thousands of companies who are using Social as an integrated part of their marketing mix.  Their social strategies develop very specific KPI’s and provide a way to track their social investment from first social contact through to final purchase from the organization.  And these companies are no different than yours.  In developing my book, I looked at B2B and B2C companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100.  I examined for profit and not-for-profit firms, governmental organizations, and organizations across the globe.  From Africa to China, to the Pacific Rim, to Europe to the Americas, companies are designing, developing, deploying, justifying and measuring their social investment with the same precision as their other marketing investments.  The key is not to simply rationalize the fact you don’t have ROI today, the key to success is to look at your social investment through a marketing prism.  Start with your high value markets and you can develop strategies which transform your social programs into revenue producing, market share generating assets to your organization.

While my book goes into the strategies in great detail giving you the metrics, methodology, and best-of-breed examples from across the globe, there are three paths you need to consider in re-thinking your social investments from an ROI perspective.  They are:

  • Start with your High Value Markets – Man pundits advocate specific site strategies.  Whether it is blogging, building your Facebook presence, Tweeting, building your PInterest presence, etc., they focus on content and engagement, not ROI.  The path to an ROI strategy starts NOT with social networks but with your High Value Markets.  The goal of social strategies with bottom-line impact is to develop strategies which build 1-to-1 relationships with your high value markets.  Using social to build relationships rather than followers is one of the paths to social with measurable, provable bottom-line results.
  • Think Multimedia Engagement – If you look at social from a marketing perspective, it is logical that your high value markets are engaging on multiple levels of the social pyramid.  Whether they are consumers or business professionals, they are seeking expertise and information using blogs, websites, social networks, private virtual communities, videos, passion sites and a host of other social options.  For success, you need to understand where your high value markets are congregating, who is at the center of their conversations [the influencers] and where they are congregating.  This will allow you to maximize your impact by engaging them on the levels they “inhabit”.  This is where social monitoring comes in.
  • Build Relationship Funnels & KPIs – The final path is to begin thinking of your social strategy as a journey rather than a networking site.  To build a business relationship, you need to take your prospects through a process [a relationship or performance funnel] from prospect to customer [and beyond].  While many of these relationships will occur exclusively in social, many can use other marketing channels [sales force, conferences, meetings] to close the sale.  When I work with companies through my consultancy, we start by identifying all of the “steps” from suspect to customer.  Each level is quantified, valued, and then we begin by determining the performance required in each step of the process to be profitable.  Comparing every pair of behaviors in the relationship funnel gives us the KPIs [Key Performance Indicators] we need to manage the ENTIRE process from social contact through to purchase.

In summary, there are thousands of companies across the globe who are implementing highly effective, highly efficient, and highly profitable social marketing programs with their high value & high opportunity markets.  The key is to understand how best to use social as an integral part of your marketing mix.  Today, Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI is a necessity and you need to know how to design, develop, deploy, measure & justify your social programs for your organization to grow and prosper.

Randy Hlavac   Social IMC  Social MarketingRandy Hlavac is a social and integrated marketing expert.  In 1990, he founded Marketing Synergy, Inc [MSI].   MSI helps business and consumer focused companies define, engage & acquire high value communities using social, web, mobile and integrated marketing technologies.  Using value based predictive systems and marketing databases integrating social and integrated marketing channels, MSI’s clients build profitable, long-term relationships with their most valuable market segments.  Marketing Synergy aids its clients in developing and deploying the marketing database, analytical, and marketing systems necessary to achieve their business goals.

In addition to being the CEO of Marketing Synergy, Randy is also a Lecturer at Northwestern.  He teaches courses on digital, social and mobile marketing.  Randy is a social marketing blogger and his first book – Social IMC – Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI is available on Amazon.  Randy also writes articles for the Journal of Integrated Marketing, Chicago Association of Direct Marketing and is a frequent guest blogger on social, marketing technologies, and integrated marketing. 

Randy can be reached at RHlavac@SocialIMC.com.  You can also reach Randy on Twitter at @RandyHlavac or on LinkedIn at randyhlavac

 

Three Social Marketing Strategies you Need to Understand

In the last blog article, I examined social media and the IMC [Integrated Marketing Communications] marketing model to make three important points.  1] Most companies are executing social strategies which do not provide any identifiable ROI to their company.  2] Successful marketers don’t focus on all markets but only on market segments which produce high returns for the company (high value markets).  3] Social media has three characteristics which makes it unique as a potential marketing channel.  These are:

  1. Social networks are different from social communities – Networks are for connecting with every one of your interests while communities are self-forming and focused on one particular passion or to address a key life trigger event.
  2. Social communities interact on many different types of social media – blogs, forums, video sites, aggregator sites, and many others.
  3. Private communities dwarf open communities – most communities require a log-in to become a members

These were emphasized in the first blog because they are critical to identifying the best social media strategy for your company.

Today, there are three strategies companies are developing and deploying using social media.  While I recommend you will use all three, it is important to understand the roles each of these strategies will play in growing your market share and in building stronger relationships with your current customers.  In this final article, we will examine each strategy and identify the roles, strengths and weaknesses associated with each one.

Strategy 1 – Social Networking Strategy

Most companies are using a social networking strategy.  As social media usage grew across all demographic groups, it just made sense to join in the conversation.  After all, it was easy to start.  Create a company Facebook page, same with Twitter and, perhaps, LinkedIn.  Customers and prospects will find you and, if you develop some content, you could engage them in a conversation.  Fast, simple and, if you did it right, you would soon have hundreds, if not thousands, of friends and re-tweeters. 

The strength of this strategy is that it is fast and easy to deploy.   Creating sites on the major social networks takes a couple of hours and you are in business.  Post occasional articles on your new products and services or key topics of interest to your customers and prospects and your friends will grow. 

But there are problems with this strategy.  The most critical is that the relationship between you and your visitors is, for the most part, anonymous.  While you will get to know some of the more active people from their names, companies cannot database them or measure key relationships.  Because we cannot link social networks to our marketing and sales systems, we can’t really tell if an individual is a prospect or a customer, the value of the relationship, or whether our social initiatives are creating new purchase activities.  In other words, we don’t have hard numbers to support whether our social networking investment is creating new revenues and profits for the company. 

Another problem with the social networking strategy is all of your best and worst markets are online at your site at the same time.  As a result, brand positioning and tailoring messages to each unique high value market is impossible.  Creating content or discussions with one segment might alienate another, more valuable, segment.  It is impossible to talk to everyone in a focused manner on Facebook or other social networks. 

As a result, social networking strategies are, for the most part, used by companies much like mass media was used in the past.  In a 2012 Social Habit survey conducted by Edison Research, the survey found most people follow brands on social networking site for sales, discounts, and coupons.  And this makes sense.   These types of offers and engagement devices are perfect for a marketing channel which cannot tailor to the needs of individuals or differentiated market segments.  With coupons, for example, you can place them on Facebook and the visitors can either use them if appropriate to them or ignore them if they are not.  Much like a mass marketed TV or magazine ad, either you are interested or you are not.  There is no targeting…that is left to the reader or the visitor.

One final note on developing a social networking strategy.  Keep in mind that the ease of building a social site you experienced also applies to everyone else.  This means while you have people visiting your official company site[s], they may also be visiting sites from your employees, disgruntled employees, external experts and others who will be talking about you, your products and your brands.   In fact, at 2012 study by the Altimeter group found most medium sized companies have 178 different social “facings” – some official and some not!  This makes it even more difficult to market using a social networking strategy.

Strategy 2 – Social IMC Strategy

The Social IMC marketing strategy is designed to achieve very different end goals.  It is designed to engage with communities of high value to your company, move them to a community site you develop to help them achieve their objectives, and acquire [database] them.  It is designed to link your social activities with your sales and marketing databases to track these high value individuals from first social interaction to final product purchase.  Companies deploying a Social IMC strategy are able to answer key questions like “What is the ROI of our social investment?”  “Are the individual attracted to our social programs customers or prospeccts?”  “What is the first product purchased and when does it occur?”  “What does each member like on our community site and how frequently do they visit it?” 

What is required to develop and deploy a Social IMC marketing strategy?  While it is complex to develop and requires a deep knowledge of social monitoring, social levels, and other social tools, it is easy to explain.  The Social IMC strategy requires companies develop the following components:

  1. Identify High Value communities – Identify the high value markets for your company and, using social monitoring tools, identify the communities they use to discuss their passions, needs, and wants.  In this phase, also identify the influencers and key “super connectors” at the center of each community
  2. Become Exceptional – Develop a plan to do something exceptional for community members.  Do this right and your concept will go viral
  3. Community support site – Create a private community support site requiring community members to register with you.  Use their registration event to learn about what they want from the community and also give them total control of your marketing process [opt-in].  Design ways to link their registration to your marketing database system.
  4. Create a viral marketing plan – Create a marketing plan to engage community members with the exceptional event to move them to the community support site
  5. Be there when they are ready to buy.

Want a quick example?  Look at the Members Project by American Express.  American Express wanted to sell cards and increase card usage in younger adults.  But selling through traditional channels is costly.  American Express looked at these individuals and found they were passionate about improving their local communities through environmental, educational, and social activism.  They used this knowledge to create the Members Project.

They created a site dedicated to helping the young activists achieve their goals…not selling cards.  It is a “think globally … act locally” site where you can recommend local causes and add them to the site.  You can then “vote” for your causes by donating dollars and time.  If you get an American Express card, you get additional votes.  Same if you use it.  The card is not the center of the strategy…just an enabler of community members to achieve their goal.  Does it work?  They got 1,7MM members in year one and it has been going since 2007. 

Strategy 3 – Big Data Strategy

Big Data is a very broad concept and is in its infancy in terms of its impact on marketing.  To a great extent, marketers today are awash in data.  We have data flowing in from our marketing database systems, our social activities, our website, our sales and CRM systems and even from social monitoring systems.  For the most part, these new marketing sources of data are real-time, non-integrated, and provide us with insights and opportunities we need to respond to NOW.  In many respects, marketing is moving from a look-back, lifetime value, predictive modeled look at market to a real-time interaction with people who are indicating they are ready to buy your product and service.  While we aren’t there yet, there are Big Data strategies being developed now that will impact marketing in the future.

Non-aggregated Marketing Systems

A major computer component manufacturer sells its products to businesses and consumers.  One of their major concerns is how to learn of manufacturing or service problems as soon as possible.  If they can address problems quickly, they can proactively address the situation before it becomes a major problem for their customers.

To accomplish this, they use the three non-integrated systems highlighted in the equation above.  They use social monitoring software to monitor social chatter for their specific products.  These social monitoring systems [which we develop at Marketing Synergy] use very focused social monitoring to identify changes in sentiment by product.  When they detect a shift from positive to negative sentiment, they quickly examine the social sources to determine the nature of the problem and if there is a specific geography affected.

When a sentiment shift is detected, they then begin scanning their customer service system to detect the problem.  They want to know when business or consumers begin calling in with the problem.  At the same time, they look at their manufacturing systems to see if the problem might be with the product – especially if there is a geographic skew – or if the problem is a customer support or application issue.

From these various sources, they quickly can pinpoint the problem and develop a response to it…before more than a few calls are received by customer service.  They proactively manage their markets using a combination of social, marketing, and other corporate systems.  Rather than react to problems, they can increase customer satisfaction by addressing problems before they become viral issues.

Now for the key question – Which strategy is for you?

The answer is simple – all of them.  Social networking is great for broad based discussions appropriate to all markets, addressing customer service issues, and distributing coupons and sales offers.  While it will – for the near future – be an investment and not a profit center for a company, it is necessary because of its wide use by your customers and prospects.  In addition, when you deploy a Social IMC strategy, social networking sites can “funnel” high value community members to your specially developed sites.

Social IMC is the way for marketers to do that they do best.  Build relationships with high value market segments, database and learn from them, and move them from prospect to customer.  The key is it must be done differently on social.  However, once you understand the process, it gives you the entire test and learn and analytics capabilities of all other marketing channels.  In fact, using Social IMC allows you to measure social like all of your other marketing channels.

Big Data is an area you need to monitor for the future.  Early applications have proven very successful for B2B and B2C marketing organizations.  As marketing managers and C-level executives, you need to begin moving from a marketplace where you control everything to a social world where you need to engage with your high value markets as they address their needs.

Thank you for reading this two part blog.  If you enjoyed it, send it to others and feel free to link to me to discuss any points of interest to you.

 

Randy Hlavac is CEO and founder of Marketing Synergy Inc – an integrated and social marketing company located in Naperville IL.  Founded in 1990, Marketing Synergy works with companies to build measurable, highly profitable marketing programs and the database and analytical systems to drive them.  Randy works with B2B and B2C organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 firms.  In addition to Marketing Synergy, Randy has been a Lecturer Professor of Integrated and Social Marketing at Northwestern’s Medill IMC program for the last 21 years.  His graduate and undergraduate courses focus on the development of high impact Social IMC marketing programs and many of the course “graduates” work in social marketing today.  Dialog with Randy on Twitter @randyhlavac or discuss social issues with this hash tag #NUSocialIMC.  Randy can also be reached through his company website.

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