Reach or relevance – what’s more important?

ROI

How do you measure ROI on content? We look at the most useful metrics when measuring the effectiveness of a content marketing campaign.

When brands first cottoned on to the power of social media to market their products and services, they became obsessed with fans, followers, likes and retweets. Such was the hunger for high numbers, some businesses even hired agencies to buy in fans and followers, in a bid to boost brand presence.

No one stopped to think about the value of these numbers. The focus was so much on quantity that no one stopped to think about quality. Sure, having a million Facebook followers makes you look good to your competitors, but what good is that to your business if it doesn’t translate into brand advocacy or a boost in sales?

Likewise, are brands who pay celebrities and social media influencers big bucks to endorse their products via channels like Instagram and Snapchat simply wasting their marketing budgets? In the 10 or so years since social media became a tool for business, rather than a place to simply chat, consumers have become increasingly savvy about how brands communicate with them. If they see reality star Kendall Jenner sipping a branded soft drink on Instagram, they’re wise to the fact that she was probably paid to do it – and #sp still doesn’t really make it transparent.

Engaging on an emotional level

This awareness of marketing tactics creates consumer cynicism towards brands, which is the exact opposite of what they want. For consumers to buy into a product or service they need to engage with it on an emotional level. They need to believe in its value. To do this, brands need to tap into smaller, targeted audiences with content that is genuine and relevant. This will build brand loyalty and a community, not just brand awareness.

“There’s no denying that the availability of customer data – thanks to online behaviour tracking on social media, email and websites – has made marketing teams’ lives easier,” says Niki Webb, CEO, Specialist – The Content Marketing Agency. “You can glean exactly what type of content audiences are engaging with and adapt your content marketing plans accordingly – it’s of real value. However, the key is using this data in a way that enhances your customers’ brand experience, rather than turns them off.”

Targeted messaging

One way to do this is to focus your content marketing efforts on creating content that taps into people’s needs and desires, rather than broad-brush, mass marketing messages that may reach a lot of people but not be relevant to them.

Also, build up a relationship with consumers by using customer data to create a targeted CRM strategy to communicate with people at the right time. Waitrose, for example, uses loyal shoppers’ past purchasing histories to create personalised ad retargeting, emails and online content. So, if a customer is a vegan they’ll never receive an email or offer advertising meat.

“If your marketing budget doesn’t stretch to targeting specific audience segments, focus your efforts on your strongest brand advocates – the people who are repeat purchasers and regularly engage with your brand,” says Niki. “These are the customers who hold the most value because they will share their brand experience with others and, when it comes to marketing, nothing beats positive word of mouth.”

Why reach still matters

While relevance might trump reach when it comes to building advocacy, brands would be foolish to dismiss the power of reach altogether. P&G, for example, announced last year that they were cutting back their budget on targeted Facebook advertising in favour of broader advertising messages, after an unexpected sales dip. They said that by focusing too much on targeting individuals, they had lost sight of attracting new customers.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Marc Pritchard, P&G’s chief marketing officers said: “At P&G, we are focused on growing more users, and have continued to invest in both TV and digital media to reach consumers. Facebook offers both mass reach with precision targeting and our brands will continue to use Facebook to reach consumers, including targeting where it makes sense.”

It seems striking a balance between reach and relevance, rather than favouring one over the other, is key, as Celina Burnett, head of marketing analytics, at ASOS recently told Marketing Week: “The question of reach versus relevance is a big debate right now and this trade-off between achieving long-term and short-term success. But just because personalisation results in useful customer data, that doesn’t mean you should prioritise targeting as a strategy and ignore reach.

“You need to use both in tandem. Often the conversation is about choosing reach or relevance but you need a balance of the two, that’s obvious.”