Social Media

The Marketing Funnel – Should You or Shouldn’t You?


I was recently asked whether I organize my marketing thinking along a demand or marketing funnel.  This question brought to mind a set of two blog posts (“Advertising Week 2011 Key Themes” and “And, uh the a ha is“) from October 2011 covering Advertising Week.  I have included the relevant sections below.  While I am still refining my answer to this question, this is my initial response:

  1. On many occasions, I do organize my thinking along a demand or marketing funnel. It depends upon the specific marketing initiative or challenge.  I find the marketing funnel useful when addressing macro issues such as the role of “upper funnel” awareness communication vs. “lower funnel” direct response activities – and how these should be coordinated or integrated.  It is also a valuable framework for ensuring that a brand reaches its target customers at each stage of the path to purchase with the right message at the right time and using the right medium or platform.
  2. The metaphor of a funnel in which the number of prospects or size of the consideration set becomes more focused in each phase is less relevant in today’s non-linear, iterative digital and social environment. Today’s framework is more of a decision journey loop with a consideration set that may contract and/or expand along the way and in which post-purchase communication and activities such as social sharing and an ongoing dialog are crucial.
  3. I often use a customer journey map or customer-specific path to purchase that incorporates the way in which consumers move from one platform to another as they interact with a brand. This approach frequently includes the development of customer personas and/or the identification of moments of truth.  It has its origins in the marketing funnel and is an expansion of it.

And, Uh, the A Ha Is: 

The ruling on the purchase funnel is not final.  Most agree publicly that the traditional funnel, e.g., awareness, consideration, intent, purchase, loyalty – or as I was taught in business school, AIDA: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Acquisition, needs to be updated.  The patch to purchase is no longer a straight line.  The funnel of choice seems to be the McKinsey oval, which you can view in my summary of the panel.   (No mention of the Forrester “path to purchase” in the age of social engagement – see below).

The key takeaways are that:

(a) the process is iterative and circular

(b) must include advocacy

(c) many include “loyalty,” but that’s not new, that’s just “adoption.”

However, when we got to the TV panels, the upward and lower funnel nomenclature was still front & center.  A disconnect?

Figure I: Forrester Path to Purchase in the Age of Social Engagement

Customer Journey in the age of social media – Forrester

Figure II: Harvard Business Review – Traditional Funnel and McKinsey Consumer Decision Journey

Advertising Week 2011 Key Themes:

The Funnel (aka Path to Purchase and Consumer Decision Journey) – The traditional funnel is outdated.  However, much of the terminology has survived and/or been incorporated to the new, bright shiny (Mustard colored) circular tubes.   There is some consensus about the fact that the process is no longer linear but more of a circular conversation. – However, the term “funnel” as well as “top” and “bottom” of funnel and stages such as awareness, consideration, acquisition were used frequently, particularly by CMOs.  However… the funnel must include advocacy.  (Social, social, social)  And, the funnel is iterative and, well, free flow.

The Stroke of Midnight – Will Viacom Go Dark?


As I looked up from my desk today, I saw a news story that caught my eye: DirecTV is threatening to take 26 Viacom channels off the air at midnight.  Gee, I thought, I guess it has been three years since they last were at loggerheads with the operators.  But that was December, and this is July.  That was Time Warner Cable, and this is DirecTV.   That was 2008, and this is 2012.  Is this story new or an off-network airing of a 2008 episode?

I went to the “Always On” archives to see.  What I found was my post from New Year’s Day of 2009.  I recall going out the night before preoccupied with whether Viacom would still be on the air when I came home.  It was a dramatic moment!  Fortunately, as with Y2K, the stroke of midnight did not bring the terrors foretold.

(Ok, so what I mean here is that in 1999, people feared that there would be all kinds of havoc when we entered the new century because our computer systems would get confused – long story – and people prepared for all kinds of hardships including food and water shortages and lack of electricity.)

In any case, my plan this evening – July 10th – was to republish the post below, comment on how this will be a tricky negotiation given that Viacom has had significant ratings problems with Nickelodeon and MTV, reference the fact that Viacom’s stock price is vulnerable to adverse news given these ratings problems, discuss whether these standoffs have become more common, more public, or simply more on my radar screen, and call it a night.

Given that I had an image of the Sponge Bob ad from 2008, I decided to grab one from this summer’s dispute.  That is where the differences became apparent.  The Viacom ads – at least the ones I found – are simple and slick and use Comedy Central rather than Nickelodeon brands.  Somewhat interesting.

But what really struck me was DirecTV’s website.  Clearly planned well in advance, the site maps out DirecTV’s side of the story including a heartfelt video message from the company’s CEO Mike White.  The ability for television programmers and operators to communicate more directly, personally and interactively with their audiences and customers makes 2012 quite different from 2008 – even though the key sound bites: “Viacom wants too much money,”  “DirecTV/Time Warner Cable is taking your channels away from you” may sound the same.

Who”s the Enemy?  Who’s the Friend?  January 1, 2009

Cable operators and TV affiliates complain when programmers put content online. Programmers put content online because that is where viewers are going. Music producers ignored this “where I want it, when I want it” trend, seeking to protect their business model, and were leapfrogged into impending demise by iTunes. NBC Universal cites Hulu as a huge success story, but CEO Jeff Zucker fears that the web will turn “analog dollars” into “digital pennies.” Online ads may garner high CPMs and may be growing at rapid rates, but they are still dwarfed by broadcast.

Viacom, owner of MTV Networks, has for years sought to create a “360 degree” media presence that hinges upon the Internet. They now have a huge army of digital employees. Cable operators complain that hits like “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” are available in long form on Hulu. But who is benefiting now?

Viacom is asking for a 25 cent increase in monthly subscriber fees (25 cents more per subscriber per month) from Time Warner Cable across 18 Viacom networks. Yesterday, a crawler at the bottom of the screen for each of these networks warned of an impending blackout at midnight. (I rushed home at 1:20am to see the blank screens, but alas no MTV Armageddon.)

Now I watch Comedy Central more consistently than any other non-premium cable network (I love my Showtime – twisted as it may be), and my loyalty to the two programs above is on par with that for broadcast network programming such as “60 Minutes” – most other programming (“Eli Stone,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Ugly Betty”) comes and goes. I am proud and embarrassed to say that I get most of my news from Mr. Stewart and, to some extent, Mr. Colbert. So, what will I do if Viacom goes dark? I don’t envision doing much.

First, I don’t watch any of the other MTVN networks. I used to admire Viacom for its segmentation strategy, i.e., different networks for different age demos, but now what that means — for me as a single New Yorker, at least — is that I watch only one of their networks. And, as mentioned above, the two programs I count on are available on Hulu. In fact, Time Warner Cable is promoting to its subscribers where they can access Viacom programming online should it go dark on TWC. So, to whose advantage is the online platform now? Ironically, Viacom has made itself less indispensable to TWC – at least in the short term.

It reminds me a bit of our strategies in the middle east. We train the enemy of our enemy, even though that force was or could become our direct enemy. A bit of an extreme comparison, perhaps. But the question remains – to whom is the Internet a greater threat and for whom is it a greater advantage? Programmers? Distributors? Both? Neither?

Business minds around the world have not yet come up with a way to turn the enormous value of the Internet into a tangible, substantial monetary value. True, digital broadcasts of the Olympics, of SNL (Tina Fey) and of prime time programming do drive stronger TV viewing of these programs — something that was not necessarily anticipated. But, what is the long term business model? How can the television industry identify and transition to a new business paradigm? And, how will they accomplish this in light of existing carriage contracts and – even more specifically — Most Favored Nation (MFN) clauses that make change even more cumbersome?

Playing with Pinterest, Tallying with Twitter


I finally spent an evening (ok late night) playing with Pinterest, and I can see why it’s so addictive. So many beautiful images. It’s visual decadence and indulgence.

It’s uplifting. A great way to spend half an hour… or more. It’s also extremely easy to use with an overall positive vibe (or tone, as Pinterest would say). People are sharing things they find uplifting or attractive or thought provoking, in a light hearted way. As of now, no disturbing images. And wonderful production quality. I wonder how they control for that. Images come from the Internet, so they’re not really user generated – though they are user curated. That maintains this highly polished experience.

But what’s especially nice – it’s all about the details – is the email you get when you sign up: “Hi karenlevine,” it says, “YOU are the newest member of Pinterest, a community to share collections of things you love. We’re excited to have you as a member and can’t wait to see what you pin.” Now that’s just nice.

Twitter, of course, is also addictive, but in a different way. On Twitter, I find myself almost unhealthily aware of how many followers I have. Am I loved??? Am I respected?  It’s like they days when you would come home and rush to see whether you had voicemails.

Every time I post something on Twitter, I watch to see if it leads to more followers – in that vast community of hundreds of millions of people I don’t know. Someone out there shares a topic I am interested in and felt that what I had to say merited following me.

Of course, I also look to see whether I have been retweeted, the ultimate compliment. Or retweeted my multiple people, a real head rush.  And then there are the responses. The exchanges you have with someone you don’t know at all. At social media week, it was truly fun to watch people who had somehow ended up following or corresponding with each other meet in person. And because the avatars are typically photos, it makes it that much easier.

Social Media, Reese Witherspoon and Pinterest


Last night on Chelsea Lately, Reese Witherspoon admitted that she “doesn’t get” social media.  Twitter, she said, “scares me.”  And, although she knew she had a Facebook page, she thought, upon Chelsea’s suggestion, that the address is likely www.reesewitherspoon.com.  (It isn’t.)

This adds credence to Terri Li’s estimation during a Social Media Week panel entitled “The New Ghostwriter” that 4/5 of celebrity twitter feeds are ghostwritten.  Terri is the Chief Operating Officer of Bre.ad.  It’s no surprise, of course, that Reese does not manage her own Facebook page.  However… the point of this comment, and the part that is (ironically) interesting is that Reese exclaimed in the next sentence that she LOVES pinterest.

On another Social Media Week panel, Jon Steinberg, the president of buzzfeed said of pinterest: “I think it’s going to be one of the most powerful business models after Google.”  Wow, that’s big.  What happened to the days when social media and other sites took years to figure out how to monetize themselves?  In fact, Google itself took 5 years before hitting the lottery.

Images below: reesewitherspoon.com (top) and Reese’s Facebook page (bottom)

Social Media Tidbits I


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Do You “Like” Me?  Do You Really “Like” Me?

Much of both Advertising Week and OMMA Global was spent talking about the importance of being “Liked,” as in the Facebook “Like” functionality.  The conclusion was that (a) consumers don’t hate advertising, they hate bad advertising… (b) if you keep it under control, it can be powerful (c) consumers DO want to have relationships with brands they care about – as well as those who offer them something for being their “friend.”  So, ironically, today’s eMarketer article includes two charts about consumers attitudes towards letting brands/advertisers/companies into their Facebook worlds:

Discretion

We’ll move now to a personal admonition – things individuals should consider before posting on their social networking site (69% of prospective employers have rejected a candidate based on something posted on a social networking site).  Below, we get into what organizations should do at a minimum in social media – to avoid regrets.

The chart below shows the huge draw Facebook has on our time.  Far and away higher than any other U.S. Web Brands in terms of total minutes.  I was intrigued by the Facebook phenomenon back when I joined in early 2006  (as one of 7.5 MM unique users) – and suggested my media client take a serious look at it.  At the time, Facebook was just opening up beyond college students.  Here are some bullet points I put in my report in February 2006:

Overview:

  • Social network site for college & university students
  • Founded by Mark Zuckerberg; raised $500,000 from Peter Thiel in angel round
  • Raised $12.2MM from Accel partners in April 2005 (valuation of $100MM)
  • Began allowing high school students to join September 2, 2005: High school and college networks are kept separate.  There are 20K U.S. high schools.
Membership (info as of September 2005)
  • Must have .edu email address to join
  • Supports 1,120 colleges – 56% (Source: Scott Osman, 2/10/06 – up from 880)
  • 85% of students in supported colleges have a profile
  • 7.5MM unique users in January
  • 60% of members log in daily; 85% at least weekly; 93% at least monthly
  • Recent alums are maintaining same log in rates
  • Users can add favorite music, books, movies, quotes, etc. and see others who share same interests; can also form and/or join groups
  • Additional functionality: events, messages
Who knew!

Here’s an interesting post from ClickZ by Heidi Cohen:

What’s Your Social Media Marketing IQ?

As you make your 2012 marketing plans, consider what you need to do to take your social media marketing to the next level. To ensure your firm’s maximizing its social media effectiveness, now’s the time to check your organization’s social media marketing IQ.

Here are 30 questions to help determine your firm’s social media marketing IQ. These questions will help you assess where your organization is in terms of social media marketing maturity and where you may need to improve effectiveness. Depending on where your organization is along the social media adoptioncurve, some of these questions can help you develop plans going forward.

Listening

  1. Do you have brand monitoring and/or other analytics in place? If you don’t have the budget for professional social media monitoring, use free options such as Google Alerts, Twitter Search, and Google Analytics.
  2. Are you analyzing the information collected?
  3. Are you taking action where appropriate based on your brand monitoring? Remember, about 2 percent of the comments require any company interaction.

Social Media Guidelines

  1. Do you have social media guidelines for how employees should represent themselves and what they can say?
  2. Do you have guidelines for what’s acceptable for customers and the public to contribute on your organization’s website, blog, and/or forum? This doesn’t mean you can delete negative comments! Customers will say whatever they want on their own and third-party social media networks where you have no control.
  3. Do you have a crisis management plan? If so, do you review it regularly to ensure it’s up to date and employees know what to do? If not, here’s help to develop one.

Goals

  1. Do you have goals for your social media marketing? This is a critical first step of any marketing strategy. Don’t think it’s just a test and we’ll figure it out later. If it works, you’ll need to make a case for more resources.
  2. Are your social media marketing goals related to your overall business objectives? This is a must for any marketing plans!
  3. Is your social media marketing driving revenues? For many businesses, this is a sign of social media maturity.

Management

  1. Does senior management buy into social media as part of your marketing and business plans? Recognize this can be difficult to achieve. Research shows leadership at one in three businesses supports social media marketing after three years.
  2. If management doesn’t buy into social media marketing, are you bringing them up to speed? Chances are that you need to show how it drives results associated with business goals.
  3. Are you expanding buy-in beyond senior management? Think customer service, sales, product management, human resources, investor relations, and other organizational departments.

Social Media Marketing Strategies

  1. Do you have a social media marketing strategy? What do you want to accomplish?
  2. Are your social media marketing strategies integrated with your overall marketing plans?
  3. Are employees monitoring social media marketing implementation(s)? Customers will use every point of contact to reach a human being.
  4. Are you promoting your social media marketing efforts? To drive customers and the public to your social media marketing, you must continually promote it. Use internal media.
  5. Do you make it easy for social media participants to share your content? Think social sharing including Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
  6. Do you have tailored call-to-action and tracking mechanisms integrated into your social media marketing efforts?Prospects and customers need to be guided through your sales process.

Social Media Marketing Content

  1. Are you creating tailored content for your social media marketing initiatives? Since social media thrives on content, ensure your social media efforts have the fuel they need.
  2. Have you created a variety of content formats?
  3. Does your content support every stage of the purchase process? The information consumers need may cut across your organization. To support these efforts, use an editorial calendar and marketing personas.
  4. Is your social media-related content integrated into your search optimization efforts?

Social Media Marketing Budget

  1. Do you have a dedicated social media marketing budget? Social media marketing isn’t free! You can’t count on having a robust social media marketing strategy without financial and headcount resources. If you don’t have a dedicated budget, can you leverage other resources or hide your social media marketing budget?
  2. Do you have headcount dedicated to your social media marketing efforts? If not, are social media marketing activities incorporated into specific employees’ job descriptions? If no one’s required to do the work, it won’t happen.
  3. Do you have social media training to ensure employees understand how to engage on social media platforms and are consistent in how they represent your organization? Many firms overlook this important factor.
  4. Do you have a social media contingency plan to ensure you have personnel involved and monitoring social media 24/7?What happens if your social media manager’s sick or unavailable and there’s a problem?

Metrics

  1. Do you have established metrics to track social media marketing efforts back to marketing and/or business objectives?This is best done when you’re planning your strategy.
  2. Do your metrics include the full purchase process not just the last marketing touched? Social media can influence customers before you realize they’re shopping and after they’ve bought your product or service.
  3. Do your social media metrics go beyond marketing? Think broadly across your business such as customer service.
  4. Are you measuring the ROI of your social media marketing? Understand it takes time to have a well-integrated social media marketing strategy where you can measure your investment and results accurately. Short-term, determine whether your social media marketing contributes to achieving your business goals.

Social media marketing is a growing part of every marketer’s plans and budget. Regardless of where you are on the social media marketing continuum, you must assess the effectiveness of what you’re currently doing and implement strategies to enhance your results.