Measure What Matters
“How will we measure success?”
It’s a question we get a lot as we help clients design social business strategies. In our experience, there are few companies that aren’t trying to connect the dots between their social efforts and results. It’s not 2008 anymore where marketers can secure budget for social initiatives because “everyone else is doing it,” or “but, we’ll be left in dust!” CMOs want to know exactly what return they are getting for their media spend, just as they do after any other media buy.
However, according to a study conducted last year by Mzinga and Babson Executive Education, 84% of global marketers aren’t measuring the return on their investment. Of that same group of marketers, 90% weren’t sure they even had the technology to measure a hard return on investment. That’s not to say brands aren’t trying. A few months ago, McDonald’s announced that they saw a 33% increase in foot traffic in conjunction with their Foursquare Day promotion. Aha! A brand that figured out how to do it! Only, a couple of days later, McDonald’s admitted that what they actually experienced was a 33% increase in Foursquare checkins, not foot traffic. Oops.
The confusion isn’t surprising. A lot of companies are unclear on what metrics they should be measuring and what those measurements are telling them about the success or failure of their endeavors. There are near infinite measurement possibilities; buzz, share of voice, influence of consumers reached, clicks, likes, growth rate of fans/followers/subscribers, sentiment, traffic. The list goes on and on. Measurement dashboards that come with every new tool or platform don’t make it any easier to determine what should be evaluated. They provide reports on every metric than can be measured, though not necessarily what should be measured. Therein, lies the real issue: frequently, what’s being measured isn’t what really matters.
So, that brings me back to the question, “How should you measure success?” Here are some helpful guidelines.
Determine what success means to you (and be realistic). Figure out what you want the return on your investment to be. Is it sales? You will have a hard time tying a feel-good campaign with no call-to-action to increased sales. Period. So, if sales are your ultimate objective, design your campaign or initiative in a way that makes sense and will help you achieve that goal. @DellOutlet is a perfect example. Stefanie at Dell started tweeting in June of 2007. A few months in, she decided she wanted to do more and developed a strategy for using Twitter for driving sales. (They’ve seen over $7 million in directly-attributable sales since).
Choose relevant metrics. Once objectives have been set, determine what can be measured, and eliminate superfluous metrics from your criteria. Again, if your goal is driving sales, then the number of YouTube channel views is probably not the most useful metric. Measure what should be measured. Earlier this year, we did a social servicing project with TurboTax. Their goal was to surprise and delight customers and gain recognition as a customer-focused support organization. They knew they wouldn’t be able to sufficiently gauge customer satisfaction with pre-existing metrics, so they created feedback surveys that were sent to every user serviced. As it turned out, the survey informed them that their customers were 71% more likely to recommend TurboTax because of their interactions with the company on Twitter.
Analyze, evolve, and track. Once the campaign is in full swing and data is available, ascertain that the right campaign metrics have been chosen. If they have, begin to track the data on a regular basis. However, if you aren’t able to confirm success or failure with the metrics you’ve selected, evolve them. Identify another method for evaluating the initiative’s value. Gatorade’s Mission Control Command Center does just this. The marketing team monitors online discussions, sports trends, media performance and general sports buzz in order to determine their relevancy in the sports beverage market (with the ultimate goal of reversing a 3-year slip in sales by increasing real-time participation and top-of-mind awareness). Gatorade, in addition to monitoring the data daily, regularly evolves and tracks the trended data and correlates it with other relevant information (sales, for example) to determine whether or not they’re measuring the right thing.
The key takeaway here is that brands should measure what matters and will help them to achieve their specific objectives. When businesses only pave the cowpath instead of reinventing their measurement models around social, then they will only see incremental results at best. Social is a whole new way of doing business. Just as strategies and processes will need to adapt, so will metrics.