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Well, it’s been a while since I have appeared in the Biznology fold. It’s been about 4 months to be exact. A lot can happen in four months and it has. Let’s just leave it at that. So here I am. Four months older. Supposedly four months wiser. Definitely four months more educated. About that education. It’s been extensive.

In that relatively short time period, so much has changed in the social media space. In fact, back in March of this year I was asked to speak at a special group that is part of the National Glass Association called the Window and Door Dealers Alliance. I said sure, it wasn’t until September and it gave me an excuse to go to Las Vegas. A win-win as far as I could tell.

I had decided early on that I would have my talk prepared far in advance so it would be practiced and honed to perfection. Well, four versions later I found myself a week before the event doing yet another revision because many elements of the talk that I started on in March no longer made the cut in September.

From changes in Google Local to roughly a gazillion changes in the post-IPO Facebook to, well, you name it, it’s like waking up one morning and recognizing that your kids have changed seemingly overnight.

But wait. There is one constant and one that seems to be headed in the wrong direction at times. That constant is the inability of businesses to get the correct attribution of online efforts to bottom line results. Oh sure, there is bluster about being able to track everything to the nth degree blah, blah, blah. That’s an old song by now.

The trouble is that the nth degree often falls far short of being able to measure events to the point where money is exchanged for goods or services. And if it is, there is often a mysterious dotted-line correlation drawn to complete an otherwise incomplete picture of exactly what impact social (and to a lesser degree of mystery, search efforts) has on the bottom line.

Oh, we can make highly educated guesses based on what we have observed, but we can’t be completely confident that our efforts in social media have contributed to bottom line results.

Why is this? I think it is a two-fold answer. The first part is admittedly a bit harsh and it feeds the second part so buckle up.

1. Marketers are lazy – If there was ever a place in marketing to “do it wrong quickly,” it would be in the measuring and tracking of social media from high level engagement to sale. But since there is no clear cut path to follow and no two businesses will likely do this kind of tracking the same way, we are faced with something very unattractive to many. Hard work.

There are no tools that cleanly handle these kinds of measurements,so it takes considerable research (boring!) and more likely than not, a mashup of several tools that almost do the job. It won’t be perfect and, worse yet, it will require a lot of monitoring.

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it well. Well, it’s not and they are not.

2. The Silo Effect – Marketers are killing themselves by allowing organizations to push social media, search and other parts of online marketing into separate and distinct silos. They are treated as something that is essential but can’t go out in the yard at the same time to play together.

So how does this relate to the first point? Well, many marketers accept this fate rather than push back to get what they really need—which is access to other parts of the business outside of marketing to determine the impact social and search have on a business as a whole. This silo effect makes it even more difficult to connect the dots in an already frustrating puzzle of attribution.

So where are you on this one? Do you think I have it all wrong? Well, don’t silo that opinion in your head. Let’s hear it in the comments.

Until next week, here’s to an integrated approach to the world of offline and online marketing efforts!

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