Digital performance tips: identifying the power of social media

Recent posts in this series have been a little light on tips, so to compensate this post is packed with hopefully useful digital performance tips:

1) To really understand the customer journey we need to look beyond web analytics data

Web analytics data is some of the most useful and richest data we have – it’s the truth, but not the whole truth.

Let’s take another look at the chart from Google’s ‘Beyond Last Click‘ report I mentioned in my last post:Screen-Shot-2012-07-04-at-12.33.00The customer journey above is interesting because it is drawn from a browser plugin and not from web analytics data. But what if you were First Choice holidays trying to make sense of this by looking at web analytics data alone?

So here’s the same customer journey diagram, but just showing the bits of it that First Choice can see:

revised-journey3-1024x708Yikes! There’s a lot missing…

How could you fill the gaps?

One way is to take a look at the data on Google Adplanner. This gives a report on ‘sites also visited’ which to be honest doesn’t have any big surprises but shows the importance of some big aggregator sites in this market.Screen-Shot-2012-07-19-at-12.30.02


What’s missing from this list is the cluster of social media sites that we intuitively think are important to digital performance. You could use tools like Twitter Search to look for social media brand mentions – but I think there’s an easier way to identify important clusters of content.

Of course, you will see direct clicks from social media via web analytics – but the problem is that social media – and especially negative content – is relatively unlikely to drive traffic back to your website.

2) Search like a user

The customer journey here goes something like this:

Check prices in Corfu >> choose resort >> choose hotel >> check quality of hotel >> check prices >> buy a holiday.

All very logical and predictable.

So you can fill in a lot of the blanks in the customer journey by anticipating the searches that go with this journey. For instance, a search on Google for ‘blue bay escape’ shows TripAdvisor coming up top of natural search – so it’s no surprise to see the journey encompassing TripAdvisor.

Another way to look at this is that you don’t need to engage with the vast amount of content across the whole of social media – the important stuff is the bits that Google is surfacing against relevant searches.

Don’t just think like a customer – search like a customer!

3) At all costs, try to keep the customer on your site

Every time a prospect steps away from your site, they are ambushed by your competitors.

So try to aggregate relevant data on your own site – like maps or customer reviews and ratings.

Be especially wary of search. Many brands spend a fortune on TV advertising and generate large volumes of brand and category searches – searches which are gleefully snapped up by their competitors like starving hyenas. Moving TV spend to online pre-roll formats gives customers the option to click directly to your page and gives you a bit more control over the customer journey.

4) Try to influence your product reviews on social media

It’s stating the obvious, but bad reviews across social media sites are going to hit your overall digital performance.

So what can you do to influence reviews?

One thing you definitely shouldn’t do is to write great reviews yourself – you’re unlikely to hit the right tone of voice and anyway it’s kind of illegal to do this.

But what about inviting happy customers to tell the world about their good experience on Tripadvisor or Ballbearings World or whatever.

Let’s say you do a follow up email after someone buys from you. You can then skim off a segment of the customers who had a really good experience and invite them to share that with the world.

Finally, here’s a great example that I (literally) picked up in a Holiday Inn in Switzerland. The card was left in my room and I’m guessing that it is meant to be partly filled in by the room maid. So there’s a great bit of psychology going on here – I might happily slag off the Holiday Inn (it was fine by the way, in case they are listening), but will I really slag off the work of the poor maid struggling to keep head above water in Zurich?


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