Let’s discuss how brands can drive measurable ROI from social media now. This is such an important topic. ROI for many years was addressed from a longer-term perspective with respect to branding. The move to digital, and ability to track from click to sale, has trained marketers to determine effectiveness and ROI within days… perhaps hours.

With the immediacy of social media interactions (and exponential growth and adoption), we really do need to see measurable ROI in the shorter term, like digital tracking, but with a medium built for relationships, feedback, and interaction, this can prove challenging. Social media is so popular and effective as a marketing tool because it focuses on the customer experience instead of just throwing an advertisement at them and hoping the impression will stick. An incredibly valuable key, then, to driving measurable ROI is in customers’ shopping experience. JUST by listening to what shoppers want, you can improve their shopping experience (e.g. in-stock position, proper assortment, promotion placement, etc.) and grow your sales by a measurable effect immediately. Be a socially-focused organization.

Pay attention to the importance of what shoppers are thinking and saying. Shopper listening is exactly what it sounds like, AND so much more. It is listening to what shoppers want, but it is not just a passive gathering of information… it is an interactive, two-way feedback loop with shoppers (and potential shoppers). Effective shopper feedback includes an ongoing cycle of asking questions, listening to the answers, asking clarifying follow-up questions as necessary, and then TAKING ACTION based on the answers. Listen carefully to shoppers’ answers regarding the following questions:

  • What are their likes, and equally importantly, their dislikes?
  • What are their expectations of your brand and products?
  • What experience are they hoping to have because of your product?
  • What would delight them enough that they would want to tell their friends?

Apply those answers by making changes to in-stock product placement, or creating new promotions tailored to shopper preferences, or even removing certain products from the shelves to make space for a different assortment that your shoppers are asking for.

Think every day about who benefits from shopper feedback? Just about everyone! Shoppers definitely benefit because they get the products and customer experience they want. Brands benefit because when shoppers get what they want, they not only purchase for themselves, but tell others to purchase also (enter the social graph). And don’t forget your retail partners – they also benefit by becoming known as the retail shop that stocks the products (your products) that shoppers actually WANT. The retail location itself then becomes part of the positive customer shopping experience, influencing repeat sales and adding fuel to positive Word of Mouth.

Keep in mind that shoppers really pay attention to brands via the social media channel. Consumers now have “the channel of me” – their opinions now create the reality of the brand, and they are watching to see which brands are truly paying attention to them. Shoppers want to know more than just which brands are offering worthwhile promotions; they also want to know which brands are open to being influenced by shopper opinions and behaviors. Those are the brands they will purchase from in the long-term. Today, with the platforms and tools so readily available, shoppers definitely are paying attention, and brands need to show that same amount of attention back to the shoppers. How? By listening and HEARING!!

The truly fantastic thing about the power of social feedback is that the interactions your brand has with shoppers, and potential shoppers, now can influence their purchase decisions IMMEDIATELY. Show them you are genuinely paying attention and you can quickly become the recipient of their buying power.

Brands are now wondering how much time they should invest in “shopper feedback”?

In my humble opinion… spend as much as you can. I can’t stress enough the importance of this LISTENING. It benefits all parties in the marketing channel at a comparatively very low cost, and the ROI shows up quickly. When your brand is committed to shopper feedback, you give yourself the information needed to be able to:

  • Give your shoppers exactly what they want
  • Hone your product offerings to those that shoppers WILL buy
  • Turn on a dime to innovate quickly and in a way that will keep your shoppers happily along for the ride
  • Be welcomed into the consumers’ “channel of me.”

So… what is the long-term benefit to shopper feedback? When brands truly listen – and respond – to shoppers, those shoppers become loyal customers and then go even further to become advocates for your products and ultimately your brand.  Base your product innovations on shopper listening and show them you are supportive of influencers, and shoppers will become YOUR shoppers… advocates who can’t wait to tell their friends about their experience with your product and brand, simply because you delighted them.

In other words, the long-term benefit is the building of powerful relationships, and the ROI there is relationship commerce, or ROR (Return on Relationship). Listening allows for action and those actions can be measured.

Social media can be measured easily, quickly and efficiently, but many focus on the wrong measurements. Impressions and Share of Voice are important data points but what do they really do to move your product at retail? It’s very wise to move allocated dollars in media into social media, and at the same time, move research dollars to measure how that Share of Voice, and Impressions, translate to sales.

Shopper media not only generates content, awareness and impressions but integrates your shopper’s voice into your retail planning and execution. Imagine launching a new campaign, and 24 hours later have REAL feedback from the field as to what customers are seeing and saying! DATA leads to INSIGHTS that lead to ACTION that demands MEASUREMENT.

Social Media drives engagement, engagement drives loyalty, and loyalty correlates directly to increased sales. Return on Relationship™ = ROI.

The most effective ROI is one that makes the shopping experience better.

Remember, the success and impact of your product is not about how much you love it, but about how much your customers love it. What they love, they purchase – you can’t get much better measure of ROI than that!


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