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Digital Noise or Data Heaven?

by Stephanie Shkolnik, Digitaria / July 3, 2013

Note: This blog entry is available in English only.

Some call it social media noise. I call it data heaven.

The information across digital — content, experiences, campaigns — have enabled marketers to access what the public is thinking, feeling and saying at any given moment. Social monitoring provides insight into data across multiple channels and platforms, providing an unstoppable understanding of how specific groups of people interact with particular topics.

Through crowd sourcing, brands use these insights to inform their business — from both a marketing and business standpoint. Frito Lay recently ran a digital campaign to find their next chip flavors. There were nearly four million entries from consumers. Submissions were narrowed down by Iron Chef Michael Symon and desperate housewife Eva Longoria, and three new flavors were put on shelf (Sriracha, Cheesy Garlic Bread and Chicken & Waffles). Users were then able to submit their favorite flavor to see which would live on. Cheesy Garlic Bread was dubbed the final winner last week from a fan who submitted the contest idea. She’ll receive a hefty reward too – either one million dollars or 1% of that flavor’s net sales (the higher sum).

For Frito Lay, the campaign doesn’t stop now. By listening to how consumers are discussing these flavors – on which channels, through what sentiment, and in context of which other topics — Lays gains valuable insight of their target audience and how they can enhance marketing these flavors across channels. It can also inspire future product development. Any brand that has a digital footprint — easily accessible through social — has the opportunity to learn from their fans by monitoring, listening and applying.

Data can and should be utilized at both the creation and optimization stages.
•    When creating a campaign, data can inform marketers of what channels to use, depending on specific business and brand goals, and understanding the competitive marketplace. For instance: If a goal is awareness and industry standards and research indicates display media can combine with social media channels to cast a wider net, that will likely be the most appropriate strategy to explore initially. However, if a business goal is to drive conversions, search may be a more effective medium to qualify leads. Competitive analysis lends qualitative and quantitative intel to identify how other brands may have successfully (or not) marketed specific products or services. Understanding how these marketing tactics were perceived through qualitative social insights is another point of data knowledge to inform what to do and not to do.
•    Optimization when a campaign or initiative is already live identifies what is currently performing effectively, such as a landing page or other channel. Based on an understanding of data and current performance, these insights can be used to better the experience. Any initiative can continuously be optimized – as products, services, content and experiences, can always be enhanced by data.

“Marketers shouldn’t be afraid of data,” asserts Digitaria’s senior analyst Ralph Knowles. “Having data in your arsenal will help make more informed decisions, but it’s up to them to decide what is most important, and what they are comfortable with. Rather than having access to everything – better to access the particular information you need.  Data comfort – comfort with the decisions you make – support the development of baselines and goals, to help gauge performance. Without benchmarks and goals – you can not effectively optimize. There’s a forever lingering fear of defining benchmarks and goals – but if you have that comfort, the fear will be alleviated.”

In order to measure the success of any marketing initiative — from a campaign’s fruition through its end — benchmarks, goals and findings will not only support understanding how specific tactics measured up against objectives, but will help tell a data driven story to gather appropriate insights and inform the business:
•    Once the “what” facts are identified; e.g., Lays chip flavors Sriracha, Cheesy Garlic Bread and Chicken & Waffles obtaining the highest votes
•    The “so what” conclusion addresses why the data and findings are important; e.g., the top three desired flavors are Sriracha, Cheesy Garlic Bread and Chicken & Waffles
•    “Now what?” addresses the recommended action that should be taken, based on the new finding; e.g., these three flavors should be merchandised into new lines of Lays chips, and made available for purchase on shelf at grocery stores

While the life cycle of a campaign is never finished, such an approach will enable data to truly impact optimization efforts.

How have you used data to inform your digital footprint? Share your experience with me on Twitter: @Stephanie00.

*Frito Lay is not a Digitaria client

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