Every marketing director or CMO wants deeper engagement with customers. The smart marketing director understands that his or her organization is moving towards a social enterprise where old rules of communication don’t apply. In the social enterprise the big wins are to be had in aggregating audiences that want to interact with each other, in a deep association with your brands. How do you do that repeatedly and reliably?
Switching to the new social marketing
What do Zico, Ya Booty, Kropla Beskdu and Kuat Light have in common? The answer is they are all brands of the Coca-Cola Company.
A major problem brands face in their attempt to build the depth of engagement they want is the sheer scale of the branding business.
There are just so many brands and not that much consumer attention. Coca-Cola, for example, owns approximately 3500 brands and sub-brands globally, a long cry from the days when it made one type of sugar water. How many can you name?
The challenge for the new CMO shouldn’t be seen as how to buy attention for brands through an ever proliferating array of new content channels but instead how to aggregate attention, how to bring people to you in highly valued experiences, how to set the social scene.
Right now it’s still just about possible to buy attention for brands but the reality is at this stage we’ve passed well into the realms of earned attention. Actually where we are at is shared attention.
We need to create the conditions where customers share rewarding activities in association with the brand. There’s a word for this – gamification. We prefer the term game centric campaign design. But what’s important is what it bring – real engagement, real shared experiences. When people engage in play-like behaviour in games they become substantially more engaged in their experience. The new social CMO’s role is to design that experience so that it is strongly associated with the brand and creates clear opportunities for sales.
To achieve engagement with strong and predictable ROI, the old marketing paradigm of cost per view, click or like, online community and static content need to change to measurement, aggregation, and play.
Measuring the right activities
Typical marketing budgets are still driven by the idea of digital or offline spend, below the line, above the line, and are measured by volume. How many views, how manyTweets, how many Facebook likes?
Why measure these things?
The answer is we shouldn’t. Spend however is dictated by marketing’s traditional supply chain. When a brand wants to engage audiences online it turns to an agency to do the work. Agencies in turn have been busy buying up small social media and digital agencies, many of which are two to three years old at best. The agency then tries to marry its traditional creative skills, with some variation of an SEO and social media and lets loose a campaign it hopes will go viral and receive plenty of likes or views.
Why is this activity misdirected?
The reason is the emphasis on scale of response, how many views, how many likes.
You can’t entirely dispense with these metrics but if all you count are views and likes then your agencies will pull out all the stops to get views, even if a view is a micro-second of attention, even if a tweet is not read.
What you really need are engagement metrics, engagement scores that allow you to do something to improve your campaign and your customers’ experiences. These are scores that signal to your marketing department that a change to a campaign or to content design will increase effectiveness, a score that tells you a new opportunity for deeper engagement is emerging. More Twitter and more Facebook shares and likes don’t tell you what to do next or better. They are important but they are also ephemeral.
Metrics are central to what people do in business. Measure Tweets and people will drive tweets. Measure engagement and that’s what people will seek to achieve. What we’re tying to do at Global Dawn is create not just those scores but also to design campaigns so that the opportunity to make subtle changes is built into the process.
So point 1. Cost or spend needs to be related to engagement and not to the number of likes or tweets or view. Metrics that relate to various levels of behaviour are far more valuable than today’s metrics – which are essentially a replication of yesterday’s clicks. The metrics you need should be part of a precise system where your spend is driven by the opportunities that engagement opens up to micro-market to your audience.
Aggregating audiences and behaviour
Social engagement has something to do with community but here too brands have struggled. Brands first tried to scale engagement, or what used to be called intimacy, by building online communities and again became addicted to size.
Just don’t ask how much money those communities make for their owners. They are a long-term commitment, just as campaigns are a very short term commitment. Nike Plus is a great platform for people who want to do virtual run-offs against each other but is there good ROI for Nike? The answer is not really. It’s an expenditure that Nike finds very difficult to cut.
And communities are not malleable for campaign purposes. They tend to feel ownership and can even regard the brand as an intruder.
On the other hand if you have the opportunity to create a community just for one day, if it is highly engaged it can be a lot more valuable.
So point 2. Aggregating audiences is not the same as community. It can have community-like values but as a new marketer you need to understand how aggregating people helps with your key metric, engagement. Engagement happens when your customers take multiple actions and multiple interactions with each other and with your content. No standard website can do this for you.
Exploiting the natural inclination to play
Content is the engine of high performance campaigns. Today the content of choice for a customer might well be a scratch video of a kid solving the Rubik’s Cube in six seconds or one of the numerous comedy acts that have sprung up online like Remy Gaillard whose Real Life Super Mario video Remy Kart, has currently attracted 41 million views.
So what do users really want to do online? The answer is the same as what they want to do offline. By and large people oscillate between very serious behaviour – work – and very game-centric behaviour – play.
Listening to some of the debate around gamification right now you might think we’d all just made an exciting discovery – people like games. Play – or game centric behaviour – though is natural. People enjoy the combination of collaboration and competition that games bring. They look for rewards of course but very often the game itself can be the reward. They don’t always play to win, they play to be involved too.
Users recognise the web for what it is – one giant game. Even old media plays this game, giving their articles and videos ever more dramatic headlines to get people to click, hiring comedian Stephen Fry to write about technology, to get people to click, asking users to become involved in Government cover-up investigations, as the Guardian did, to get people to click.
Recognising these as game elements is very important to answering serious questions about how to market to people in a more socially interactive world.
So point 3. We can aggregate people in a far more cost effective and predictable way by enabling them to game; by providing them with the tools that make it engaging and fun to be with a brand; by allowing them to do all the web-like things that have made the WWW king: discovery of content, creation and sharing of content, development of status.
The perfect solution for the new marketing director, the socially savvy CMO, would marry the emerging social enterprise with the social habits of the customer. It would be cost effective with a more dependable ROI, taking advantage of user generated economics and scale.
To be those things it would have to embrace game mechanics because that’s where cost effective, targetable, highly engaged campaigns lie.
And to improve the dependability, to really drive ROI, it would have to be driven by a new kind of empiricism.
The new marketer has to embrace data. Data sounds scary but in fact it is simple. You don’t need to be a geek to benefit from data or to be an empirical marketer. Today’s engagement platform should process data for you. It should optimise the customer experience automatically. That’s what computing platforms do.
The three steps of empirically driven engagement marketing are: measure effectively, aggregate audiences rather than create communities, and do that through the natural inclination of people to play.