According to a recent survey by EPiServer conducted at ad:Tech, nearly 60 percent of respondents realized the highest return from email marketing and their company website. Those same channels are top of the priority list for spending among 46 percent of respondents. So, do corporations just not get social and mobile or are these channels simply not effective?
“The survey results clearly illustrate what many in the marketing world already suspect, that while marketers are experimenting with social media, they are also struggling with the practicality and ROI of these channels and driving the bulk of investment to the more “traditional” digital channels, “ said Bob Egner, Vice President of Global Marketing at EPiServer. “The reality is that as marketers we’re still early in our understanding of how to best use social channels such as Facebook and Twitter and that clearly more work needs to be done to effectively connect social and mobile marketing to lead generation and revenue growth.”
Mr, Egner makes an obvious point and I would imagine that the toughest spot to be in at a management meeting is when the question is put forward about what if any ROI social and mobile are providing. The seat squirming likely intensifies if someone asks about the human resource costs involved since most companies are likely doing social and mobile by hand and on the fly.
Ad hoc strategies lead to inconsistency in both message and frequency, result in errors and are counterproductive. It’s not just the impact on your resources or the direct single-channel return but a mixed or disjointed message across multiple channels actually increases the chances of consumer disappointment and alienation from your brand.
ROI, excuses and innovation
However, the “ROI challenge” is also often an excuse to not start using the media and channels our customer use. There should be no more social media ROI excuse. And in fact, there should be no more discussions regarding the ROI of channels. Sure, what is “proven”, known (comfort zone) and used a lot in the eyes of marketers delivers high ROI. However, being innovative and taking some calculated risks (yes, once again, you can measure social media ROI), much higher ROI can be achieved raising average ROI of your marketing programs.
And it’s not (only) about the channels, it’s about the customer. ROI in marketing is by definition tied to the cross-channel picture. You cannot measure cross-channel ROI if you only look at individual channels because you miss all cross-fertilization effects and because you are not looking enough at what should be the center of your marketing universe: the customer!
There’s nothing wrong with testing the waters and doing a little experimentation, but it would be best to keep in mind that channels such as mobile, social and even email are live – that is to say that the only one who likely knows you are testing is you. The consumer doesn’t know and doesn’t care and if they see you have a presence in these channels they expect a satisfactory level of consistency and service. In fact, today the consumer expects that you will be there. You can’t zip in and out of these channels when it suits you – you must be there when it suits your customer.
Without a plan in place you may never come out of testing mode. If you don’t have an answer to the question of why you should be in social, mobile and other channels, then you are a like a sky diver who just leapt out of the airplane without checking to see if he chute was packed correctly.
It’s hard to really judge any ROI if from the beginning you weren’t sure of what the objectives were. There is strong ROI to be gained from multi-channel marketing if you plan your strategy and use the correct tools, processes and resources. You can carry on a conversation with consumers on their terms and be there when and where they want you if you start from step one by mapping out your route and have the right vehicle to get you where you want to go.
Anyway, the “good news” is that, according to Mr, Egner “In 2011, we expect to see more detailed analytics related to social behavior and sentiment that is closely coordinated and synchronized with the other online marketing metrics”.
And I like his conclusion best: “In order to drive greater investment by marketers in the social channels, we also encourage digital agencies to take an integral role in bridging the gap between marketers and technologists to drive greater understanding of social media, and to paint a clearer roadmap to conversion and ROI.”
Let me add to that: bridge the gaps within your business first and start speaking a common metrics language across all channels and divisions.
Some data about the priority list for spending below. More info here.