A few months ago I interviewed Sean McGinnis, who was at the time with Sears Parts Direct, on what marketing metrics really mattered to big business. That post was inspired by my frustration with vanity metrics and how often I witnessed fellow marketers promote the metrics that aren’t really meaningful to business objectives.
Sadly, that interview did not change the social marketing world and what metrics we value most. Now I’m back at it, interviewing Adam Dince, Director of Earned Media (SEO, Social Media & Content Strategy) at Deluxe Corporation. I met Adam in a Facebook discussion where he was expressing the same frustrations I have with the metrics marketers push, so we jumped right in.
Amy Tobin: ARCOMPANY’s discussions often center around the fact that too many large corporations aren’t measuring the right things – the things that happen before and after the sale. Tell me what your biggest concerns are:
Adam Dince: My biggest concern is with brands that are only concerned with the initial sale and then bail on the customer. Consumers have become much more sophisticated and personal in the brands they choose to do business with. If all a business cares about is the initial sale, that business won’t be around too long.
Have you heard of many businesses that survive by selling to a customer once? The key to running a successful business is to grow first time sales AND keep current customers happy and engaged. However, if a business is not measuring the right things, or focusing on vanity metrics, good luck in a meaningful CRM program.
Deluxe has a very sophisticated marketing program: lead gen, purchase, after purchase keeping in touch. We have so many different types of products and cross-sell/upsell opportunities. We have a lot of competition in both the direct to consumer, b2b, small business and financial services. Our marketing needs to be so strong and good in order for us to continue to increase market share.
Amy Tobin: So, how do you know what to measure, without goals?
Adam Dince: One of the biggest concerns that I (and many of my colleagues) have is that social media marketers have such a low bar to entry. People with little to no marketing experience are being hired to manage social media for brands. That’s a recipe for a disaster. And the worst part of it is, it makes social (at scale) seem like a waste of time and money.
You’ll often hear the social media echo chamber bemoan the fact that brands haven’t adopted social media at the right levels to be successful. Well, no kidding! Maybe if more social media marketers were business minded and could speak in C-level language, they’d do better at selling it up the chain. Analytics are important and tracking software doesn’t have to be expensive. I love Avinash Kaushik’s quote:
“The metric you choose communicates to your organization what’s important to you (the POWERFUL person). It communicates to them how their personal success will be measured. That translates directly into what they prioritize when it comes to your digital initiatives.
Choose the right metric and they’ll create the most glorious digital experience in the universe, the perfect acquisition campaign, the most amazing customer service channel. And they will shock you with the profits they deliver.
Choose the wrong one and they’ll create self-serving, sub-optimal, non-competitive, tear-inducing outcomes that will, slowly over time, bleed the business to death.”
Amy Tobin: Can you speak about paid search as a channel; is an enterprise more committed to it versus social?
Adam Dince: YES! Paid and organic. Both channels are lead and demand gen beasts. If you think about it, search marketing is highly effective because you’re able to get in front a consumer at the exact time they are searching for a product or service that you have to offer. And most search marketing veterans are well versed at reporting 0n and proving ROI. We’re not seeing that same level of marketing sophistication at scale, in social media.
We can justify our existence in paid and organic search – it may be the reason we may outlast and remain a more viable channel than social to drive business results.
As a business owner or budget manager, what would you rather talk about: How many impressions your Tweets got this month or how much revenue was driven? But, it doesn’t have to be revenue that’s measured. It’s important that social media marketers set up campaign goals before implementing. Then choosing the right KPIs to measure success. When social media marketers become better at business, I think you’ll see enterprises become as committed to it as other channels
Amy Tobin: How does enterprise measure for online/digital success?
Adam Dince: It goes back to the type of business it is and the goals behind campaigns. In my opinion, you must be able to show the impact to business. Vanity metrics alone like Reach, Impressions, Likes, and Favorites are too ambiguous to use as success factors. I want to know how those metrics impacted the business. Why would I continue to invest in something when I can’t explain what it’s doing for my business? Basic business 101.
It all goes back to ROI. No one’s in business to not make money or get a return on their investment. In my opinion, that’s how successful enterprises measure for success. And yes, this can be done with social media—it’s just a bit more complicated.
For example: if you’re reporting on how many customer service complaints you’re responding to, make sure you’re able to show correlations between that variable and customer retention rates.
Amy Tobin: How do you measure social success?
Adam Dince: Measurement strategy across all channels really depends on the goals of the campaign and the overall strategy. Social can be a little bit more difficult to measure, and I think that’s why people give up on trying to prove ROI. If you’re using analytics tools like Google Analytics, Adobe, etc…, you can look at multi-channel attribution reporting to see what impact your social media campaigns are driving.
If you’re running Facebook ads, you should be implementing conversion pixels and tracking success. If you’re managing a blog, measure how many leads it generates or how much revenue it generates.
In a highly complex enterprise, you have to be able to tell a story and tie metrics back to business outcomes. If you’re going to say “Congratulations, we just got 5K new Twitter followers,” I’m going to say, “That’s great – what is the business impact?”
The real question is – how do you measure multi-channel attribution?
Amy Tobin: Tell me about your social strategy at Deluxe.
Adam Dince: This is Deluxe’s 100 year anniversary and we’re celebrating by telling the stories of small businesses across the country. Check out smallbusinessrevolution.org to learn more about it. We align brand, PR, and social media extremely well and successfully manage to engage small businesses nationwide. Additionally, we’ve teamed up with Robert Hershevec of SharkTank and have gotten a ton of exposure across traditional and online media. Furthermore, we’ve been able to measure the positive impact to our brand. Major props to the Deluxe brand team. Big shout out to Amanda Brinkman, Heather Rist, Cameron Potts and the Deluxe Brand team for running such an awesome campaign!
Amy Tobin: How much does social listening play into your strategy?
Adam Dince: We listen a lot! Right now, we’re focused on the 100 year anniversary, so we’re paying attention to what people are saying about our brand in that regards. We listen for customer care issues and address them as needed. As we continue to drive more sophisticated lead and demand gen social media efforts, we’ll be listening for opportunities to introduce our brand and products to relevant conversations.
Amy Tobin: HOW do you optimize all digital channels together?
Adam Dince: Deluxe does a fantastic job at optimizing all channels together. Typically, segment and channel leads work together to develop business goals that we all strive to achieve. We do things like:
- Our SEO team uses PPC insights to power our recommendations. We can test our meta-data and content through paid search and apply winners to our organic campaigns. We can learn more about effective keywords.
- Our Affiliate marketing and SEO teams work closely together to make sure we’re synergizing blog strategies.
- Affiliate marketing and PPC work together to make sure that our affiliates aren’t competing with Deluxe for keywords
Email works with social to grow email lists and custom audiences.
I could go on and on.
We would never do a social campaign alone.
Amy Tobin: Do you target Millennials? GenZ? Do you have a specific message for each demographic?
Adam Dince: Deluxe is a sophisticated marketing machine. We know exactly who are customers are and have specific segments built out to target appropriately. As for my team and department, we’re hyper-focusing marketing efforts on helping current customers adopt our new marketing products. Our customer base is so large that, it’s taking our full attention.
Amy Tobin: What is your biggest frustration with metrics used currently by marketers?
Adam Dince: A few things:
- Vanity metrics drive me insane! What does it matter if you have 100,000 Facebook fans if most of them aren’t your target demographic? What does engagement mean, if you’re not engaging with the right people to drive business? Get to the bottom-line and make it meaningful.
Marketing consultants should look at their clients business as their own. What metrics would they report on if they were measuring the success of their business?
Marketers, who work in-house, should ask the questions, “Do these metrics justify my salary?” “How do I prove my worth?” If your job depended on the metrics you report on, what would you pick?
- Always feeling the need to tell good stories. I can’t tell you how many marketers I know are afraid to report the bad news. So they look for positive slants to take. Look, sometimes numbers suck and you have to be bold enough to report on the losses just as much as the wins. That helps build credibility.
I am always interested in speaking to the people running digital media for larger businesses to get their take on where social media marketing it headed. If you’d like to express your opinions, please reach out.
VP of Content & Strategy at ArCompany. She has an extensive background in Sales, and focuses on generational marketing and content. With Hessie Jones she founded ArCompany’s Millnnnial, GenX and Boomer Think Tanks and writes and speaks on those topics from an insights/strategy perspective.