Posts Tagged ‘ROI’

When it comes to ROI, why is social media different?

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

How many times have you heard or read that companies should just forge ahead with a social media program even though the return on investment is hard to quantify? I’m not going to point fingers, but it’s been repeated so often it’s become the mantra of so-called social media experts.

This is really bad advice.

Social media is no different than any other type of marketing activity. It takes time and resources to write blogs and record podcasts, build followers on Twitter or create decent videos for YouTube. If you’re going to suck up those resources they had better bring demonstrable value that advances critical business goals. Without that grounding, you’re just wasting your time.

Every solid PR or marketing plan I worked on over the last decade or so began with a SWOT analysis linked back to business objectives, like establish a foothold in market X with this demographic, or protect our flanks in this segment Y from low-cost competitors.  From there we worked out strategies and tactics – that could involve a social media component –  and thought through a set of metrics to determine if the programs were successful.

SWOT Chart

A major advantage with social media compared to traditional PR is the abundance of tracking tools. You can see the number of re-tweets or Facebook Like button clicks and then drill down to better understand the type of traction you’re getting. Ideally these efforts generate more website traffic which leads to more business.

Social media is ultimately a tool, another arrow in the marketing quiver. If you combine it with solid business and marketing practices, the ROI is sure to follow.

Helping Customers is a Smart Strategy

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

With technology in particular, there’s a tendency to get excited about a whiz-bang bit of “breakthrough” or “innovative” or worse “unique” gizmo or piece code that some smart guys in India cooked up for you. Seriously, who cares if something is unique or first if it’s completely useless?

I’m the first to admit that technology is cool, and I can easily get excited about a gadget just because it’s cool. I have many gadget sitting on shelves gathering dust for that very reason. Once the excitement was past, it turned out that the gadget wasn’t all that useful, reliable, or helpful.

In his Convince and Convert blog, Jay Baer makes the point that finding out where customers can use your help can improve your marketing efforts. He advocates implementing your marketing activities in such a way that customers will find some utility in your communication. One example I have is a newsletter we get from a local auto repair shop full of quirky tidbits and useful tips on gardening or cleaning out the attic. My wife actually takes the time to read it, and then gives me the coupon for an oil change.

Applied to technology marketing, helpfulness should be a big part of your strategy. It’s important to remember to always tie your messages back to what your product or service actually does for the customer. Ask the question, how does this help make the customer’s life better in some meaningful way. Ideally, you should be able to make that case that if people fit a certain profile, they will be significantly better off using your product then they were previously, or if they used a competitive product. If you are struggling to understand your audience’s needs, maybe it’s time to do a bit more research and message development.

Tools like ROI calculators that give customers a way to evaluate whether or not your product will help save some money are incredibly valuable. Yet, too often I hear about how hard it is to figure out ROI. These days customers are most interested in saving money so demonstrating how much money your software will save is a great strategy for anything in the B2B world.

On the B2C front, a big part of the iPhone’s success ties back to the huge catalog of apps. While many of them are fluff, a large number are actually helpful. Once people find something to be useful, they tell their friends who in turn run out and buy an iPhone. The real genius in the iPhone isn’t the touch screen, but a friendly UI that lets people discover and use truly helpful apps.

Want a blowout success? Think long and hard about how you can help your customers. What are their pain points and how can you help?

More content, less money. The iPad’s ROI.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Tablets like what Steve Jobs and Apple just introduced have long been forecast in science fiction, so you just knew that sooner or later devices like this would become reality.

ipadFor example, in Arthur C. Clarke’s 1968 novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, Clarke describes something called a “Newspad” that Heywood Floyd, “plugs into the ship’s information circuit and scans the latest reports from Earth. One by one he would conjure up the world’s major electronic papers; he knew the codes of the more important ones by heart, and had no need to consult the list on the back of his pad. Switching to the display unit’s short-term memory, he would hold the front page while he quickly searched the headlines and noted the items that interested him.”

While there will be little need to know codes by heart, Clarke’s vision of getting electronic papers on a pad-like device is finally here.  To be sure the iPad is likely far from perfect, I fully expect that it will inevitably become more refined and in the process move us much further to full electronic delivery of premier content – much of which is currently paper-based.

Sure you can get content on either a smartphone or a laptop, but neither is ideal. The smartphone is just too small and the laptop is too clumsy. I just don’t find myself sitting at breakfast surfing news on my laptop, or trying to peer into a tiny screen on the BlackBerry.

Instead I get volumes of newspaper – big piles of it that inevitably end up being recycled.  Speaking of which, the environmental impact of all that paper is not good. Paper consumes large amounts of water and energy, levels forests, and requires many gallons of fuel to get it to my doorstep. Electronic delivery has almost zero impact in comparison.

I can, however, imagine using the iPad as my daily news feed. What’s more there’s economic justification simply on the basis of replacing paid-for printed content I currently consume.  While I expect to still pay for the electronic content, the price will go down significantly.  Note that some of the publications have yet to adopt eReader technology like what the NY Times currently offers, but publishers that expect to survive will offer similar technology. Based on my calculations, I figure I could save $652 per year, easily justifying a $499 iPad.


Beyond lowering costs, the iPad will deliver a much improved experience.  Publishers will be able to blend video and printed words. Instead of a few photos, I will be able to see the entire sequence if I so desire. I’ll also be able to look up related information, or make comments. Basically it’s everything we love about the Web, but in a nice magazine-like format.  When I’m travelling, all I’ll need to pack is my iPad and a cell phone. No longer will I need magazines, books, media player, GPS, or even a laptop. And, of course, there will be countless numbers of cool apps.

Sounds like science fiction? Not anymore.

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