Analytics, you can’t live with it, you can’t live without it
I have a love/hate relationship with analytics. It’s always been the best and worst part of digital marketing. The best in that you can measure results to a far greater extent than with non-digital campaigns. You can tweak and adjust on the fly and improve your results mid-stream. The worst in that non-digital campaigns still make up 85% of budgets and they never have to prove anything (for the most part)!
And now, analytics is killing social media. Or at least choking it to death.
In the meantime, social is strangling email marketing
This week I was on a panel at the Integrated Marketing Summit in Atlanta. It was a debate format and the title of our session was, “Can email and social live happily ever after?“ My main point on that topic was that social is making lazy email marketers even lazier, because now they are distracted by this thing called “social” so they’ve got their already-ROI-proven email campaigns on auto-pilot. So in a way, social is killing off email. But that’s beside the point (though I’m happy to debate that if anyone is interested). – UPDATE: Since this seemed like it had its own legs, I moved this debate to a new blog post.
On this panel I got on a rant – no idea how, though I’m prone to random ranting – about the lack of an ability to measure social media. How do you measure word-of-mouth (WOM)? Easy, you can’t. You can try and there are services you can use that get you fractions of the way there, but you can’t really measure WOM. And even though its digital, you can’t measure digital WOM either.
Social is word-of-mouth on digital steroids
I asked the audience a hypothetical question. Would they rather a) get one click from an email campaign or b) one person telling another person how great their product is? Obviously everyone chose b. I upped the ante, “10 clicks” vs. one recommendation. Still overwhelmingly the one recommendation won out. Where does it end? 100 clicks? 1,000 clicks?
I’ll tell you where it ends. Right at the point where marketers tell their boss that they want to increase their already measly social budget. “Where’s the ROI? How will I know if its working? I need to see analytics that show me that this increase is going to be profitable for us!” Yikes.
There are so many things wrong with that, the least of which is that your boss spends most of her budget on TELEVISION! Try measuring THAT! Oh, but its non-digital, remember? You don’t have to measure it, that’s just what we’ve always done and gosh darn it, it works.
Social is so much more than clicks and impressions
Social allows the most effective form of marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, to happen on a digital, global, limitless scale. You can’t measure that, not today anyway. The way we’ll see this played out is the companies that invest in social without having to prove out a direct ROI plan (ex: Pepsi Refresh), those companies are going to come flying out of this recession with a momentum that is almost unstoppable.
The next time your boss tells you that social isn’t in the plan because it doesn’t get high enough conversion rates, pose the “click vs. personal recommendation” question. Might just open her eyes a little.