This blog post is guest-written by Jacob Salamon, Bazaarvoice’s European Marketing Manager.
This is the second post in our three-part blog series with Rebecca Lieb, Econsultancy’s Vice President of North America. Econsultancy, the UK’s leading source of insight on digital marketing and e-commerce, has been a partner and resource to Bazaarvoice in the UK for over two years and is now launching its US office in New York City. Here, Rebecca shares her thoughts on monetizing Twitter and social media. Read the first post on growing the new US office, and keep an eye out for the next post in this series.
Q: What has been the biggest surprise in covering digital marketing this year?
A: I don’t know how surprising this is, but it’s been very gratifying to see digital marketing more or less hold its own in a very difficult financial climate. Sure, we’re no longer expecting those previously forecasted double-digit growth numbers for online advertising as we were last year. But it’s heartening to see web-based marketing to more or less maintain through these difficult economic times. Obviously, this is due to economies in the channel that just don’t exist in traditional marketing media. But it’s also due in no small part to the just-in-time rise of social media. More and more, marketers are relying on building their own communications channels, and encouraging users to do so as well, rather than buying ads and plunking them inside someone else’s media. This flexibility and adaptability is what really makes interactive “interactive.” So it’s been surprising, as well as delightful, to see more, not less, innovation in troubled times.
Q: Econsultancy conducts plenty of research throughout the year. What were some of the most unexpected results you discovered?
A: The extent of Twitter’s exponential growth over the last few months has taken us by surprise. A recent report we published found that 49% of companies are now incorporating Twitter into their marketing efforts, up from a meager 3 percent at the start of 2008.
We’ve benefited ourselves from the Twitter explosion and now have 8,000-plus followers for our @econsultancy account. This sends us a very significant amount of traffic and enables us to communicate and engage with our community in an unprecedented way.
Twitter is a big reason why companies are waking up to the importance of social media. Our recently published Online Measurement and Strategy Report found 40 percent of companies are now measuring online reputation and social media metrics compared to only 21 percent a year ago.
Another pleasant surprise has been the big jump in companies that are effectively measuring return on investment from both paid search and search engine optimization.
The proportion of company respondents who say that they are tracking PPC ROI effectively has increased from 33 percent last year to 45 percent in 2009. For SEO, there has been an even bigger increase (in those tracking ROI effectively), from 20 percent to 35 percent.
The recession has obviously focused minds on measurement and optimization, but even so, this was a really big jump. But having said that, there are still far too few companies out there that are measuring and optimizing properly.
Q: Your founder & CEO, Ashley Friedlein, has recently mentioned that Twitter has become the fourth-largest referrer of traffic to the Econsultancy site. How are you leveraging Twitter, and how would you recommend other brands make use of it?
A: Amazing, isn’t it, that something as new as Twitter could have this much of an impact on site traffic so quickly? As publishers, we’re naturally pushing our RSS feed headlines into Twitter, and everyone associated with the company tweets as well. We were also the first company I’m aware of — certainly weeks before Skittles’ experiment — to feature a live, unfiltered Twitter feed on our homepage for all mentions of “Econsultancy.” And to encourage tweets about our content, we’ve added a prominent “tweet this” chicklet on our content pages. It’s much more visible than our other social media links for Digg, StumbleUpon or Delicious because Twitter simply confers that much more value.
While it’s difficult to make a blanket recommendation as to how all businesses might leverage Twitter, because there is never a one-size-fits-all solution for all businesses and all business goals, it does make sense to consider how Twitter can help, and then work to leverage that benefit. In our case, as publishers, we’re capitalizing on traffic. Other businesses have used Twitter to support customer service, e.g. @comcastcares, or sales. Check out @Zappos_Service for a good example of that latter category.