MEASURING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF REAL-TIME MARKETING
Looking Beyond Social Media Metrics,
Real-time marketing (RTM) captured marketers’ attention in 2013. However, questions remain about where real-time techniques fit in a marketing plan, how much money brands should invest in it and whether the results are worth the cost and effort.
Measurement plays an important role in answering those questions, and in helping marketers understand the impact real-time marketing will have on the key metrics they track—brand health, customer loyalty and sales. In 2014, brands must start to compare the effectiveness of their real-time endeavors with that of more traditional, evergreen types of marketing. They must also look beyond social media data to understand how real-time marketing affects key business metrics.
This report provides a set of guidelines for measuring the results of real-time marketing and details how marketers like ConAgra, Dell, MINI, Nestlé Purina and Visa are doing it.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MEASURING REAL-TIME MARKETING
In the year since Oreo put out its Super Bowl 2013 “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” tweet, real-time marketing has captivated the marketing industry. But there has been a lot of debate about what RTM is—with some saying it’s the future of marketing and others calling it an overhyped fad.
It’s not surprising that there is dissension about the importance of real-time marketing. The same debates took place in earlier decades—in the mid-1990s, when marketing on the internet first gained prominence, and in the later part of the past decade, when social networks began to take off. Then, just like now, new technologies and consumer behavior patterns threatened to change— and eventually did change—longstanding ways of marketing to consumers. As in those earlier periods, businesses today have tough decisions to make. Should they invest in real-time marketing? If so, how much emphasis should they put on it?
Some companies have already made a substantial investment in RTM. Many marketers and their agencies have created command centers—sometimes called “newsrooms”—to support ongoing monitoring and rapid response to trends and news. These businesses have built teams of employees that are responsible for developing quick-turnaround imagery and videos for sharing through social media.
Another area of expenditure is collecting and analyzing data: To do real-time marketing well, marketers are realizing they need to overhaul their data infrastructure to gain quicker access to essential business information. These costs can add up quickly.
Measurement plays a key role in helping marketers determine how much emphasis to put on real-time marketing and what resources to devote to it.
“Just like you need to show your return on investment [ROI] for other media, you need to show your return from real-time [marketing],” said Paul Zeman, executive vice president and general manager at Phoenix Marketing International, a market research firm.
That’s easier said than done. Measuring success of real-time marketing can be a challenge because there is no common definition for it. So far, most marketers consider real-time marketing to be responding on the fly to a major event or news story, often with a tweet accompanied by a Photoshopped image or a short video.
Compounding the problem of measuring RTM is the fact that even though analytics tools have gotten better and faster over the years, real-time marketing still puts enormous strain on even the most robust systems.
“Traditional media measurement solutions just don’t work very well when it comes to real-time marketing,” wrote Brian Kotlyar, vice president of marketing at Dachis Group (recently acquired by social media management system Sprinklr), in a September 2013 white paper called “6 Steps to Real-Time Marketing.” “Even relatively new social reporting processes tend to break down under the strain of this kind of reporting and optimization.”
However, there are a few ways to measure success, regardless of the way marketers define real-time marketing. The questions marketers should answer with their research are simple:
■ How did consumers respond to my real-time efforts—beyond superficial engagement-type interactions?
■ How do the results of my real-time marketing compare with other marketing that is more planned or took longer to execute?
■ What impact did my efforts have on tangible business objectives, such as sales, and was the cost worth the results obtained?
These are early days for real-time marketing, but best practices for determining success are starting to emerge. Creating a solid measurement infrastructure from the start will help brands focus on driving results, not just hype.