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Thoughts on digital marketing

Oct 1, 2009
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It is about the Conversation… Not ROI silly. Huh?

Source: Flickr, Creative: Mikey G Ottawa

Okay, this debate continues to rage and the irony (for me at least) is that there is no debate because there is no either or scenario.

Jasper Blake and I have had a chat (via email and commenting) back and forth for a while now because of his post “The Question is Not Can You Measure Social Media ROI? It is Should You?“. The article he wrote was essentially a discussion around his title and with some source information from his peers (very respectful first impression I thought).

However as happens in the Social Web, through the comments area, the discussion has evolved and in my opinion moved to a new separate debate. I alluded to this fact in the first line of this article and that is ‘conversations‘ are either ‘measured‘ or not. Further it appears (generalizing here) the social media world seems to be battling back with talk that ROI is too hard or is limiting the view of the value of social media. Great minds like Olivier Blanchard are fighting hard to keep the conversation on measurement with Olivier being a strong advocate of ROI-based measurements.

There are many examples of this casual attitude (or apathy) towards measurement and a couple examples can be found (or referenced) in the comment section of the article (here and here).

So I want to add my voice to the ‘hum’ of this debate and say without any reserve that ‘developing a social media strategy or campaign without making every effort to measure the Impact or ROI is just plain old Poppycock’. Surely there are circumstances where costs, tools or resources make measurement challenging, but to whole-heartedly dismiss the effort of measurement is foolhardy from a business perspective. Further this attitude not only doesn’t answer the typical questions we marketers are faced with from financial, sales and C-level executives but it likely engenders fear in the ‘unknown’.

Who is out promoting this attitude, none other than Lionel Menchaca of Dell. A company known for its social media success and clearly (see following quote) tolerance of its marketing and communication professionals.

“I frankly don’t care that we’ve done $3 million in revenue through Twitter – but I do care that Stephanie Nelson is out there answering questions and engaging with customers.”

The goal of every marketing effort but NOT exclusively should be to measure whenever possible, this is not only a marketing necessity, but a requirement of business. Admittedly social media marketing isn’t without considerable challenges when it comes to solid accepted measurements and tools to cheaply and efficiently communicate those measurements but that doesn’t give my peers a free pass to give up and then flip flop implying social media shouldn’t be measured.

If measurement were a mountain, I would say it must be climbed for the sake of our clients, our employers and our customers who deserve more than just business as usual from marketers.



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  • Hear hear! Well said Roger! No business should devote resources to anything without some sense of the why and the payback. While it's not always easy to measure the ROI of things like client dinners or wine and cheese events, we know they help build relationships, so perhaps a wee bit of latitude is in order for the social component of social media. But to forgo measurement and ROI altogether is, as you say, foolhardy. Good post, and lovely WordPress theme BTW!

  • To not have goals prior to starting any project or campaign is ridiculous. To not have any way to measure those goals is equally as ridiculous. Of course measurement is important.

    The difficult part is in deciding WHAT to measure. Measuring ROI directly to the bottom line from soft activities, that's next to impossible. But with a little creativity, measuring increased customer satisfaction, positive interactions, increased word of mouth, etc. makes finding an indirect link between online activities and an increase or decrease in a company's sales pretty simple.

    What Dell has done with social media and their online Twitter sales is a great example. I don't think it would be fair to say that Dell made $3M because they started posting deals on Twitter. I do think it is fair to say that sales from the Twitter feed were certainly enhanced because of increased visibility of good customer service. Again, there is no way to measure exactly what that impact is, but there is certainly enough data available to make a strong case for the fact that Dell's online customer service efforts had an impact.

    So, to measure or not to measure? That isn't the question. What to measure? That's a better one. We may never know the direct correlation of our soft activities, but being able to back them up with goals and measurements of success is an invaluable part to evaluating our efforts and moving forward. How does Lionel Menchaca expect to improve Dell's performance and customer service efforts through social media if he has no benchmarking or ways of measuring success? He can't.

  • Hear hear! Well said Roger! No business should devote resources to anything without some sense of the why and the payback. While it’s not always easy to measure the ROI of things like client dinners or wine and cheese events, we know they help build relationships, so perhaps a wee bit of latitude is in order for the social component of social media. But to forgo measurement and ROI altogether is, as you say, foolhardy. Good post, and lovely WordPress theme BTW!

  • To not have goals prior to starting any project or campaign is ridiculous. To not have any way to measure those goals is equally as ridiculous. Of course measurement is important.

    The difficult part is in deciding WHAT to measure. Measuring ROI directly to the bottom line from soft activities, that’s next to impossible. But with a little creativity, measuring increased customer satisfaction, positive interactions, increased word of mouth, etc. makes finding an indirect link between online activities and an increase or decrease in a company’s sales pretty simple.

    What Dell has done with social media and their online Twitter sales is a great example. I don’t think it would be fair to say that Dell made $3M because they started posting deals on Twitter. I do think it is fair to say that sales from the Twitter feed were certainly enhanced because of increased visibility of good customer service. Again, there is no way to measure exactly what that impact is, but there is certainly enough data available to make a strong case for the fact that Dell’s online customer service efforts had an impact.

    So, to measure or not to measure? That isn’t the question. What to measure? That’s a better one. We may never know the direct correlation of our soft activities, but being able to back them up with goals and measurements of success is an invaluable part to evaluating our efforts and moving forward. How does Lionel Menchaca expect to improve Dell’s performance and customer service efforts through social media if he has no benchmarking or ways of measuring success? He can’t.