One Hundred Percent Increase in Social Traffic! Now What?

During the Sweet Sixteen, CNBC reported that brands such as Nabisco and AllState were seeing 100% increases in social traffic during the first few days of their campaigns. We searched online to see if these brands were capitalizing on the digital marketing space, and were disappointed to find that advertisers were missing the opportunity to integrate traditional and digital marketing.

Whether it’s the Super Bowl or March Madness, event-based marketing campaigns planned with only the typical KPIs in mind -- increases in site or social traffic, follower growth, or revenue -- may be limited by short-term thinking. Brands must be better prepared to understand the influx of digital opportunity accompanying a big TV spot. These days, for brands with enormous event-based media buys, it’s routine to have real-time social media teams in place to respond.

Such preparation is well and good, but marketers with a vision of the overall endgame should also have protocols in place to harvest and segment the data. With an increase in social following, how much do you actually know about your new followers aside from the raw numbers?

Traditional channels, such as TV, are great at creating demand, but they cannot capture and cultivate it. This is where digital excels. Online marketing channels offer the chance to meet users at every part of the funnel. By neglecting full integration of digital marketing channels, brands run the risk of event ad campaigns being merely short-term accelerators. Advertisers should make the most of their media spend by driving users to digital channels, where data can be gathered and translated to make current and future targeting more precise and content more relevant.

Accessing the Data

Demand capture starts with having the right attribution and tracking mechanisms implemented well in advance of the main commercial spot. Technical efforts, while not glamorous, are the nuts and bolts of any campaign. Proper tracking allows a brand to pinpoint consumer behavior when the audience engages with the rest of its marketing channels.

For example, viewers’ initial reactions to Fruit of the Loom's funny commercial for no-ride-up boxer briefs probably did not include a trip to the mall, or adding a pair to their shopping cart on-site. More likely it was a search from a cell phone for something like "plastic pants commercial.” Capturing this demand would have started with non-brand keyword placement and creative ad copy tailored to an audience that clearly just saw the commercial during the NCAA Tournament.

Without the proper attribution and tracking in place, Fruit of the Loom has no visibility into exactly how users interacted with its site. Brands that know how to capture demand through digital marketing set themselves up for future success because they have a stronger foundation of user data on which to build the next campaign.

The Next Game

The boost in site traffic or bump in followers represents far more than a basic measure of ad spend ROI. It’s a bump in user data, detailed information which brands must be prepared to incorporate into the marketing strategy after the event. How readily a brand can parse that data and act on it is a truer measure of success, because doing so allows brands to craft more targeted marketing strategies long after the game is over. For example, had brands aggregated data on audiences during the NCAA tournament, they would have more opportunity for future retargeting to qualified individuals through search and display. More broadly, this opens the door for more robust lookalike modeling to acquire new customers who behave like existing customers.

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On social, new user interests and engagement behaviors (what they like, share, and respond to) are valuable data points for any content strategy going forward. Without proper tracking and attribution in place, brands have no idea how to answer these questions. A brand that gains followers but remains married to the same strategy succeeds only in broadcasting at scale, duplicating the advantages of traditional mass media channels like TV, but also replicating the imprecision.

Stop Starting From Zero

Event-based marketing can offer brands access to larger and different audiences than traditional media buys. As such, brands have access to enormous amounts of data. Laying the groundwork in your digital ecosystem to acquire and use that data makes event-based momentum more purposeful, and brands should embrace the opportunity to use insights gleaned from event advertising to control the conversation that follows, defining the brand image and capturing demand.

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