Friday, January 14, 2011

You've Got Apped!...The ROIs of Social Commerce

Gone are the days customers when were incentivized for making purchases! Foursquare, Shopkick and a host of other players have armed mobile touting customers with rewards for checking into stores, scanning barcodes, posting reviews and just spreading the word.

As commerce got enriched with 'e-commerce', it has been taken into another orbit with social commerce! Driving the top end of the customer funnel for driving customer walk ins was usually the task for the media planning department, spraying the countryside with hoardings and television advertisements. Converting walk ins / check ins to transactions was the beleaguered task of marketing number crunchers doling out billions of coupons and referral incentives to hapless customers.

The new social apps have now taken over this end of the funnel and boldly incentivize customers for merely pressing 'check in' buttons on their mobiles. The difference of course lies in the fact that customers can check into multiple stores of their choice! So…is their loyalty to their thumbs or to the stores!...Well, that's a tough one. Let's come back to this on another post.

So…what drives customers to check in? The social urge to tell their friends where they are, where they've been and where they're going?! Sure..but this post is about the other end of the equation pointing towards the retailers and service providers seeking to sell their wares.

Though the Starbucks - Foursquare promotion has been touted as a breakthrough model, a quantum explosion of such cloned offers is bound to result in a declining response trend. The challenge for conventional marketing and loyalty practitioners has been to invest and experiment in this new gamble called 'social marketing'

Facebook and a host of networking sites have been flooded with company pages, offer sites, fashion communities and a wide vocabulary of social concoctions that would make a teetotaler head for tequila shots!

The rough road to social marketing nirvana has essentially moved forward on gut feeling and boards seeking to position themselves as 'web' savvy and hip. Not sufficient fuel for significant, scalable and committed efforts in the long run. The question that has been posed behind closed quarters..

"What's the ROI folks?"

A nightmare for any model that attempts to break away from the now sanctum sanctorum of click rates and response rates.

Eventbrite, offers a web based service to publish events and sells tickets using social marketing techniques. It has conducted analytics on it's several campaigns and has come out with the following findings (excerpts below)

  • Sharing equals transactions: Dollars per share When someone shares an event with their friends through social media, this action results in real dollars. Our most recent data shows that over the past 12 weeks, one share on Facebook equals $2.52, a share on Twitter equals $0.43, a share on LinkedIn equals $0.90, and a share through our "email friends" application equals $2.34. On an aggregate level across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and our email share tool, each share equals $1.78 in ticket sales. We're seeing this number improve every week with the most recent four-week average equaling $1.87.
  • It's extremely sticky: Visits per share The hyper-relevancy of the social graph breeds deeper engagement, greater sales and stickier audiences. For Eventbrite, Facebook is now the #1 referring site for traffic to the company's site, surpassing Google as people discover events that their friends are sharing and they click through to find out more. On average each Facebook share drives 11 visits back to Eventbrite.com. Averaging across all channels, one share drives over 7 visits back to Eventbrite.com.
  • It's happening everywhere, across all sizes and types of events: Consistency of sharing
    Sharing is consistent across event size. Sharing occurs at the same rate an event has 10 or 10,000 people. Classes/workshops and networking events have the most share activity, followed by fundraisers, conferences, and music events

Now, for those who may find this to be quite geeky, in a nutshell their findings appear to indicate that social marketing works and there is a potential ROI measurement that can be garnered from these exercises.

So, where does this fit in with the loyalty theme in this blog…… Marketing & loyalty teams appear to have a historical fixation on incentivizing economic transactions and few have ventured into the territory of recognizing and incentivizing 'social' transactions.

Perhaps the time has come! (now that you can satisfy the number crunchers approving your budgets!)

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