Sunday, January 24, 2010

How many clicks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop

The value of a click for PR and marketing professionals

All sorts of marketing departments around the world are meeting right now trying to figure out how to get their enthusiastic followers to Tweet about their product. They imagine that each Tweet will drive one more click to reach the chewy customer at the center of the marketing campaign.

I believe there is a hard cash value for each Tweet. Just like any traditional outbound marketing or lead generation program, there is a value to every customer action. Each new customer that comes in the door brings in money. Twitter brings people into your cause or company and they buy your product. I'm not suggesting that marketing departments blast Tweets like they do with direct mail, but instead it makes sense to engage with customers online and listen to the conversation. If you are investing time and money into a social media program, you'll want to know what that investment is getting you.

So, how do we measure the value of a Tweet? I've put together a basic formula that I think calculates that value fairly well. At least it gives you a baseline value to compare against your other customer engagement programs.

Nearly every topic and word has a value in today's online marketplace that is set through Google AdSense. Thousands of people are bidding for these keywords and this auction ensures that the value of the word is set just about right. For example, pretend I work for Specialized, the bike company. If I look up the value of the Specialized Epic on Google Adsense, I know that Google will charge me $.59 each time someone clicks on my ad. Or, the value of that click is at least $.59.

The next step is to count the number of clicks that you've had on your Tweets. If the Tweets in your campaign use a Bit.ly link to shorten the URLs, the service will give you a real-time count of who has clicked on that link. The formula is something like this:

(Dollar value of keyword) X (# of clicks) = Baseline value of the campaign

Imagine that the community posts a cool video of Team Specialized from their last competition. If I saw that I received 11,000 clicks on the link to the video the day it posts, I could estimate that the Day 1 value of the campaign is $6,490.

This formula omits a few important considerations for influence campaigns. Unlike a TV ad where the sender (the TV) is neutral, the sender in social media has a reputation that can greatly enhance the impact of the message. That reputation factor should be multiplied against the baseline value. Tools like Twinfluence attempt to measure influence, but it is still fairly subjective.

Also, the formula leaves out the value to your brand when someone reads a Tweet, but doesn't click. That Tweet improves your brand, but is even more difficult to measure. All marketing campaigns suffer from this problem so it probably equals out when you are comparing the success of campaigns within the same company.

Each click takes marketing and PR professionals closer to the customer. Now that you have a baseline value for those campaigns, you'll be able to quickly demonstrate their value by counting the clicks that it takes to reach the center of the candy coated customer.


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