5 Key Marketing ROI Tips To Fit On A Postcard

‘The best financial advice for most people would fit on an index card’ stated University of Chicago Professor, Harold Pollack — something which we think can be applied to marketing analytics! The world of marketing is ever changing, and that means that marketers are exposed to the shiny new thing often. However, sometimes the new thing is not fully  understood and marketeers can end up failing  to understand the ‘so what?!’ element. So, how do we ensure the ‘So What’ element is the driving force?

  1. Align marketing analytics objectives with the wider marketing objectives

Set clear and realistic objectives that fit into the wider goals of the marketing plan. No good can come from starting a project with the intention of understanding how to increase revenue from marketing activity if the key goal of the year is to increase awareness of the brand, or drive web traffic to the online store. Data scientists are spoiled for choice in terms of techniques used to match the analysis with the objective. An example of this is understanding how to use key digital channels from driving sales to understand the profit uplit.

       2. Know your data

Data, data, data! It underpins everything Brightblue does and if you have great data we can get great insights. However, if the data quality is poor, of quarterly intervals, or of unknown origin with missing periods it can be hard to use and thus will provide less insight.

Before starting the campaign, ensure you record everything from all relevant factors. So for  example take Youtube, being able to know how many extra likes / views by campaign on a daily basis helps understand the impact of Youtube marketing on the sales funnel. Without the right data, analytics cannot help deliver those marketing goals.

This is why branching out to other departments can help deliver data that the marketing department might have limited access to. Additionally, we grasp a better understanding if there is anything in the piece of work that might help other departments reach their goals.

  1. A rule of thumb can be useful, know when to use it

There is a common rule of thumb in the advertising community that for the majority of FMCG clients running TV with a burst strategy for their brands works well. But for the other 20% of brands, it does not. It is important to understand if you fit in with 80% of FMCG clients or the other 20%, this is where analytics can help understand the right strategy for your brand. Projects are great at proving or disproving rules of thumb, for instance you may choose to model the awareness of your brand if you are certain that is the metric to fuel customers further down the funnel, and you can use an approximate measure as to how they will convert into store visits and then later purchases.

  1. Extraordinary claims – how do the results sit with other analytics

‘The world’s 15 largest ships pollute more than all the cars in the world,’ was a claim pushed out a few years ago, however it is not quite true. It is a modelled exercise with some dubious assumptions like for example, all cars use the least polluting fuel and the ships always use the dirtiest. When working through data or going through a report on marketing analytics you will come across some unlikely results. We need to pull this apart and put it back together to understand it fully, what are we measuring here?  Do we have to unweight i.e. multiply to get to the total market value – is this a reasonable assumption that everyone behaves in the same way?

Knowing exactly what data, method and assumptions were used helps put the claim into context. But most importantly, it helps marketers know when they should and should not be quoting the claim.

  1. Understand the claim

Our overall marketing ROI is up by 55%! — we come across statistics like this regularly and the first thing to do is understand the claim, in particular the context it is in. For this instance, we scrutinise the time period it is up and whether it is up year on year or, quarter on quarter. When the context is understood, we can delve deeper and look at factors such as; is this a result of decreasing marketing spend? The introduction of a new channel? Executing creative better? The claim must be entirely clear for all parties to understand so that decisions can be made with sound reasoning.  At Brightblue we have a large database of results going back in time across industries and media channels to help us understand any claim put in front of us.

Why is this significant to Brightblue?

The aim of this is to show what we can achieve and where our limits run thin with our current resources. This is important to marketers so that they are not led astray by the new thing on trend. If we get the basics right then even the smallest detail of analysis will prove more useful insight than exploding on a piece of analysis that wows everyone because it ultimately gives a false direction on a business’s future. In such cases, we must take this with a pinch of salt!

How can PR affect a brand?

Recent news has seen high profile examples of the impact of negative PR. With the Oxfam scandal and the KFC chicken crisis being two big news stories of 2018. But negative PR can have varying effects depending on the brand and the type of PR. This PR can come in the form of employee misconduct, widespread industry scandal or having your brand appear on the dreaded Watchdog.

How to measure the impact of negative PR?

This is where Brightblue comes into effect. Brightblue’s predictive models measure and quantify the impact of bad PR. This condensed article captures 3 main factors that should be considered and should be used to guide any estimated impact. Brightblue recommends bespoke analysis to measure the specific impact onto each Brand. Factors to consider:

  • Whats is the impact on sales?

Negative PR will almost always have an impact on key business measures. But how much will be dependent on a number of factors?

Where the key characteristic is industry wide and an immediate category crisis has occurred, such as industry scandal (e.g. 2 Sisters Chicken scandal) or contaminated product (e.g. eggs salmonella of 2017). In these examples Brightblue would expect a week 1 impact of 3-8% negative impact on product sales in that industry. This impact whilst big is typically lower than Brands expect.

However, what would be the difference when the crisis is specific to the brand such as for Oxfam or a brand appearing on Watchdog? Typically we would expect the first week impact to be larger than 10%. For Oxfam in particular where the scandal impacts the core Trust based offering of the charity, Brightblue would predict the impact to be larger than 10%.

However, this is not always the case when PR specifically impacts the Brand. For one brand Brightblue measured a client that had negative PR on the operations of the brand but that didn’t impact the core product offering. For this brand we measured a low 1% impact on sales. This could be similar to the expected impact of VW emissions scandal, whilst the PR was bad it didn’t impact the core product offering of VW. With VW share price today being similar to what it was at the start of 2015.

  • How long does the impact last?

Measuring the initial impact is something that many companies are able to directly measure. However, looking at the longer term impact is something that requires predictive modelling looking at multiple variables over time.

When measuring industry scandals Brightblue have typically seen that consumer purchasing habits return to normal within one month of the initial scare. For some industry scares this impact for less than one month, as consumers quickly forget. Similarly for KFC we would not expect there to be a significant long term impact.

For a brand specific scandal that impacts the core product offering we would expect this to have a long term impact. Take for instance Seaworld after CNN’s 2013 Blackfish documentary — the company’s stock decreased by 33%, not to mention the mass protests and advocacy for improved conditions for their famous orcas. And, it’s only this year that such protective measures have been put into effect. Similarly we may expect the long term impact for Oxfam to be lasting.

  • How should brands react?

Negative PR doesn’t always bring bad news for brands. If selling a branded good in a category that is impacted by a negative PR, consumers can trade into branded goods that they trust. For example the 2013 Horsemeat scandal exploded in Europe where in some cases falsely advertised beef was found with 100% horse meat content had a significant detrimental impact on Tesco. As a consequence, this forced consumers to look at brands they could trust. Although this may not increase sales immediately, this provides brands with an opportunity to outline the message of trust in their goods over the longer term.

This condensed article captures an overview of factors to be considered when negative PR occurs. For more details on how to measure the impact of negative PR contact Brightblue directly at info@brightblueconsulting.co.uk

Blocks and Chains excite me

Bitcoin has been a topic of popular discussion as of late, especially those within the tech crowd. It’s founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, whose real identity still remains a mystery, started this journey in 2007. Since then, it’s popularity is similar to that of a faulty elevator — sometimes it goes up, and sometimes it gets stuck on the thirty-eighth floor of a forty storey building. But perhaps it is the volatile nature of the price that entices users to invest. With a value of $200 billion, Bitcoin has the potential to stir another dot.com crash, yet the possibility for users to profit is all too appealing.

Bitcoin’s success and innovation is entirely dependant on its transactions being recorded on a blockchain. Essentially, blockchain technology is a decentralised ledger that is able to confirm transactions across a peer-to-peer network without the requirement of a central certifying authority, making Bitcoin fundamentally different to all prior currencies. This offers many advantages and disadvantages:

The good:

  • It’s a simple way of storing data securely which means that information that recorded yesterday is (almost) impossible to modify today.
  • Transactions are consistent and transparent, guaranteeing that every user will be looking at the same thing.
  • It provides anonymity for users who wish not to disclose their identities.
  • There is no central organiser which cuts out the middleman and significantly reduces costs.

The bad:

  • However, no central organiser can prove troubling if faults in the system occur, this means there is no sole point of contact to rectify the problem.
  • There is the risk of anonymity failing which could tarnish user reptuations.
  • Security records will produce huge amounts of data that users will not need.

Where can we see blockchain technology going in the future?

Blockchain technology can also be implemented to various applications. For example, it can be applied to manage fractional ownership in autonomous cars. It has the potential to change the voting system whereby using a blockchain code that users can vote with through their smartphone, tablet or computer for immediate and secure results. Additionally, it could also update the current healthcare system where patients encrypted information can be shared with multiple providers without breaching privacy terms. But this is unlikely to happen any time soon due to the complex makeup of a relatively new and untested system.

One of the more promising potential applications is TV buying. The current system seems out of date but if there was to be an upgrade to a blockchain solution this could change the game. For instance, sellers would have the opportunity to list their advertising slots on the blockchain, then buyers would anonymously bid on the inventory until the time is up where only the highest bidder wins. This would not only remove the middle-men entirely but it would also allow smaller players easy access to the big pond. Nonetheless, this can only be achieved if movements from both buyers and sellers are to implement a blockchain solution which could be a long time coming.

Although Brightblue will not be implementing econometric modelling on the blockchain because it would be a solution to a problem that does not exist, we will certainly be watching. We look forward to analysing the impact of blockchain technology on industries using our tried and testing methods, but for now we’ll remain on the thirty eighth floor.

Search Engine Optimisation — what will happen next?

Over one billion websites exist online today but it was only when Google invented their search engine algorithm in the early 2000s that really changed the game for marketers. But Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) was first introduced by Google as a method of ranking websites according to the relevance of specific keywords, where it’s platform dominates 80% of search engine traffic. Now it serves as a valuable marketing tool.

The way in which it works is largely based around the principles of Google’s search engine as many other search engines use similar algorithms. While the exact details of the algorithm are held secret by Google, the principles consist of adequate coordinating of keywords, image tags, meta description and backlinks. Google receives 63,000 searches per second, so if this is done well, it can organically (non-paid) grow visibility online which is especially useful for businesses who want to increase their website rankings, drive traffic and expand awareness.

But just how important is it? The statistics show that the top ranking pages get the most amount of activity with the top three alone taking around two thirds of clicks. Of course, as online sales continue to grow across the vast majority of industries, it is becoming increasingly important to rank higher.

There’s more to it than just direct sales however. Consistently ranking highly for certain search terms helps to grow and sustain brand awareness, as well as fight against the often fierce competition. This in turn could also help boost rankings.

What is the future of SEO?

The advantages of SEO for businesses are indisputable but what’s next? There are three key areas to look forward to in the next few years:

  • UX is key

User Experience (or UX for short) is going to become more and more important. SEO’s core foundations are built around relevance and reliability for users, and this is only going to become more prominent in the future. It is essential for companies to attract repeat visitors, and as such, content, presentation and speed are more important than ever. Understanding your customers is fundamental, and therefore evaluating website analytics is greatly encouraged. Where did they come from? What did they do on the site? What is their past behaviour?

  • Accelerated Mobile Pages could become an important ranking factor

It is a well-known fact that mobile has become the dominant device for internet use. As such, it is imperative that websites are mobile-friendly. Google are moving to a mobile-first index, meaning that mobile versions of each webpage are to become the primary page to index ahead of the desktop version. The other key element to this is website speed, and a recent Google study showed that 53% of users leave a website if it hasn’t loaded within 3 seconds. As such, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is being pushed, which essentially aims to make the web faster and friendlier for mobiles. AMP is not currently a ranking factor, but could become one in the future – so be ready!

  • It is here to stay

There is an estimated $80bn to be spent on SEO by 2021. It is highly sustainable, since organic traffic will continue to come regardless of spend. While visibility in organic search can take a while to filter through, this also means that businesses are unlikely to be knocked off the top or priced out by competitors because they too will have to earn their place in the rankings. It is also extremely effective as shown by the above chart on click-through rates.

Given its growing importance, SEO budget should be prominent and receive as much attention as any other media channel for every brand with even a moderate online presence. Our analysis typically finds that SEO is one of the highest performing channels with a very strong ROI, even for established brands already doing relatively well in the rankings. Our statistical modelling draws out the impact of SEO from routine “base” sales and it’s important that every brand keeps on top of their ranking, else their natural search traffic will likely decline over time.

Why do consulting skills matter in data science?

Using statistical averages with data is like, “trying to see what’s inside the room by peering through the keyhole,” according to former chairman of the UK statistics Authority, Andrew Dilnot. This is very much the case for businesses who are drowning in raw data but do not have the necessary skills to analyse the information. Which is why data scientists are in such high demand.

According to Domo’s most recent Data Never Sleeps figures of 2017, it showed that on average every single minute there were 456,000 tweets, 45,787,54 Uber trips, 3,607,080 google searches, 527,760 shared Snapchat photos and $258,751.90 that Amazon makes in sales. But which of these figures are meaningful and which are meaningless,  how do data scientists successfully convey such colossal amounts of information without getting lost in translation?

The increase of data scientists simultaneously increases the value for consulting skills in a commercial environment. When working on a project, communication is key both internally and externally with clients. This is because for us to get the maximum results, the data required needs to be clear. But these skills can also help us develop other abilities such as decision making, teamwork and leadership.

How does Brightblue do it?

We continuously encourage our data scientists to build on their consultancy skills. This usually consists of close mentorship with senior members and creating an environment where we are not afraid to ask the silly questions. Essentially, we break down the information and ‘clean’ it for our clients. When presenting the information back, it is of the utmost importance to make sure that the details of our findings are clear.

Additionally, we also encourage our members to partake in weekly and monthly presentations to improve their presenting and writing skills. When displayed correctly these skills are incredibly advantageous because it leads to better organisation, confidence and a general positive impact on the company as a whole.

Data scientists who possess consultancy skills are capable of creating stories out of complex facts and figures to a variety of audiences. This is because we look at this from a business perspective which means that our recommendations are practical and flexible. It allows for businesses to create a clear strategy out of the data presented to them to achieve the maximum results.

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