Brands need to make every dollar count, given the financial impact of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of the global economic outlook. Data-driven strategies have a better chance of success and a higher ROI.
According to a survey of 500 analytics and business professionals, 94% say data analytics is important to their business growth and digital transformation. 56% of these organizations leveraging analytics are experiencing faster and more effective decision making, while more than half (51%) are realizing better financial performance.
Businesses can’t afford to make mistakes and will need to be more data-driven than ever before. Data-driven brands are able to be more agile during these turbulent times and can accelerate through their recovery faster than their competitors.
Let’s explore how this ROI analysis is done.
Step 1. Define Your Business Goals
Whether your goals include driving brand awareness, launching a new product, or managing a crisis, a successful communication strategy aligns with your organization’s broader business objectives.
Identify which problems you are trying to solve, then leverage the insights from one objective to drive the other parts of your business.
Alignment is easy when you take a step back:
- Define strategic use cases such as a product launch, major events, brand awareness, and crisis management, etc.
- Identify current market/industry trends that align with your objectives
A broad analytics program aligned with strategic business objectives will generate a higher ROI. Engage stakeholders to identify their primary business goals and identify where social analytics can help drive those initiatives.
Identify your strategic business objectives, then tie your measurement and analytics strategy to those initiatives.
Once you have identified the data required to drive your strategy, identify what data you have today vs. what additional data you need to inform and drive your strategy in alignment with your goals.
The chart below highlights a few examples from Strategic to Operational you might consider for your brand.
Step 2. Where Are You Right Now
Now that you’ve defined your key business objectives, it’s important to set baseline metrics so you can compare the performance of your strategic initiatives with previous results.
Without first identifying these metrics, you’ll have no context for whether or not you’re successful, or even making progress towards your end goal.
Here are several key areas to consider as part of your baselining:
- Understand your brand’s media coverage and share of voice (SOV)
- Understand your competitors and the market landscape • What is your brand perception? And does it match your expectations
- Know where you are being talked about and by whom
- What stories are driving brand perception and how does that influence your place in the market?
- Identify which topics are consistently drawing media attention
- Determine which stories support your objectives and which harm or interfere with your objectives
- Review historical data to understand where others have succeeded and failed
While this list may seem daunting, understanding these factors before you begin outlining your strategy will ensure that you are investing in those areas that will have a measurable impact on your business— which is the key to realizing ROI.
Looking at the chart below, we can measure the relative share of voice using our Autonomous Vehicle media analysis. Not surprisingly, Tesla has the greatest share of voice (light blue bars) and the pioneering car maker sees consistent media coverage throughout the first half of 2020.
Baselining your brand sentiment is another important metric for measuring public perception of your brand.
In the analysis below, we can see that Hyundai has the highest percentage of positive stories about their brand while Jaguar Land Rover has the highest percentage of negative stories about their brand.
Because brand sentiment and consumer favorability often go hand in hand, it is important to know if you’re brand perception is getting better or worse over time and what factors are contributing to a negative perception of your brand over time so that you can course-correct as quickly as possible.
Step 3: Identify Your Opportunities
It’s easy to track specific metrics or a few KPIs (key performance indicators), but taking a holistic approach to understand your brand, competitors and market yield higher return on investment once you understand what’s driving the news narrative and corresponding consumer behaviour.
Below are some specific areas of exploration that can lead to a more effective marketing and communications strategy, each with its own unique insight that enables you to pivot quickly and effectively to lift your brand above your competition.
Analyzing conversations in the news media narrative is important for identifying emerging trends that may have an impact on your brand perception and favorability with consumers.
Key opinion leaders (KOLs) and top journalists covering your market and competition will shape your PR and communications strategy to get the right message in front of those with the greatest impact on your brand’s visibility and SOV.
And lastly, connecting those news stories with the highest social media engagement combined with demographic information of your consumers can drive your most successful campaign strategy yet.
In a recent study analyzing articles on baby care, the Quid product was able to identify content whitespace for an infant product manufacturer by ranking the most popular topics, as well as the amount of social engagement for each topic.
Through this analysis, we are able to see that conversations around recyclable materials in infant care products not only generated media interest (demonstrated by the x-axis in this chart above), but also had a higher average number of shares on social media (demonstrated by the y-axis in the chart above), which clearly presents an opportunity to insert themselves into the conversation, especially when coupled with their marginal footprint in discussions of this topic:
But understanding the content whitespace is only one component of this analysis. The other crucial component is understanding who the KOLs are in these topics so that they can further amplify the traction you’ve gained with publications.
Key opinion leaders (KOLs) are essential for your brand. Their articles and posts have the ability to influence trending topics across multiple platforms, not just on social media, but also on high profile news outlets.
It’s this ability to influence trending topics that earns someone the right to be called a KOL. KOLs are perceived as earned media, or as an unbiased 3rd party (whether they actually are or not) and there’s significant value in their ability to make or break your brand.
In this same analysis, we can quickly see that it wasn’t necessarily just people who were leading the conversations, but also specific publications and platforms.
As you can see in the chart below, it was a combination of parenting blogs and a journal that increased the likelihood that a topic was seen by this manufacturer’s target audience…
…and that if they wanted to increase the visibility of their brands, it was these influencers who garnered the most media coverage:
There are a number of studies that have quantified the effectiveness of word-of-mouth, like this one from Nielsen that found that 92% of consumers trust earned media (mentions of your brand through outlets you don’t own, such as 3rd party publications, review sites, or even word of mouth from colleagues) overpaid advertising or owned media (like your own websites and properties).
How much value exactly, you ask?
A study by Adweek revealed that influencer marketing had an average return of $6.50 for every dollar spent. That’s a 550% return on investment!
Figure 7 chart—such as Jessica Alba, who appears in this analysis as a founder of Honests, plant-based beauty and baby product brand—can be seen as KOLs because of how much media attention they garner, and the spotlight they’re able to cast on specific areas of interest that may be relevant to your target audience.
In our analysis, Alba is a KOL who is able to draw from her status as a celebrity and founder of a company that specializes in consumer products with natural ingredients to be an influencer in baby products.
As domain experts that have earned the trust of their followers, KOLs like Alba are essential for your brand and increasing not just your SOV, but also your potential revenue
Step 4: Assess Your Progress
Now that you’ve defined your goals and established your baselines, it’s important to turn your attention to monitoring and reporting on those metrics defined above. Set up a regular process for assessing your progress toward meeting your business objectives. Familiarity breeds trust.
And trusting your data is a key maturation stage for organizations with a successful data analytics program. Create opportunities for key stakeholders to match events in the real world with your corresponding news and social analytics data with a steady diet of daily, weekly, or monthly reports
When you measure consistently, you can improve consistency. It may take time to get everyone on board, so stick with a few key metrics and evangelize their use at every opportunity.
Here are a few benchmarks to assess your progress:
- Compare the previous current vs. prior benchmarks to measure your progress
- How has your brand perception changed over time? Is brand sentiment trending more or less positive over time?
- What are your changes in the share of voice, sentiment, social engagement, etc
Step 5: Be Agile
Things change fast, so you’ll need to adapt quickly. As your business objectives evolve, your data analytics strategy needs to be flexible enough to support those changes.
Your metrics will change over time, based on what’s happening and also based on the analysis you’re doing. Everything about your program—your technology, your processes, your governance structure, and your approach—needs to assume that nothing is set in stone.
Look to review your current program every quarter or half-year and adjust as necessary. According to a survey of 500 analytics and business intelligence professionals from around the globe, 56% of organizations leveraging data analytics are experiencing faster and more effective decision making, and more than half (51%) are experiencing the better financial performance.
And according to Forrester Research, by 2021, insight-driven businesses are predicted to take $1.8 trillion annually from their less-informed peers.
According to these data growth statistics, insight-driven businesses are customer-obsessed firms that systematically harness insights across their organization and implement them to create competitive advantage.
Brands that respond to shifts in the market and consumer trends are more successful. Understand where you can drive and shape industry conversations that benefit your brand and align with your strategic objectives.
It’s now more important than ever for brand marketers to measure, measure, measure. Know what works and what doesn’t so you can adjust your plan accordingly for maximum impact.
According to McKinsey Global Institute research, data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times as likely to retain customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable as a result.