Best Western's Morton contends that better attribution will help monetize social marketing efforts by showing the origin of sales -- for instance, an influential blogger sharing a hotel discount posting -- and "shorten the bread trail crumb to customers." His group wants to see "when and where the customer is making the purchase," he says.
The one major constraint in this vision is "making sure we can get the operational data included," Morton explains. "IT plays a crucial role here because Medallia gathers a large amount of customer feedback data, but the more we can tie customer feedback to operational metrics, then the more potential there is for insights and focused, impactful action... Hopefully as systems grow more integrated we can better automate some of these processes, allowing us to focus on deriving value from the information."
Ultimately the goal is for this process to be relatively instantaneous, Morton says, so "the second an online review or feedback pops up Medallia is already processing information captured by Best Western on what happened during the customer's stay."
For its part, PCH plans to use attribution not just to evaluate advertising ROI, but to identify influencers in the PCH social media universe as well as the audience members who are most active.
Also because of the company's large mobile following, PCH plans to keep the heat on Facebook to improve the quality of its mobile applications. "A third of our audience is mobile and that number is growing rapidly," Holland says. "Facebook apps are not completely compatible with mobile devices, but we are dependent on their developers to fix that."
Best Western's Morton, meanwhile, is studying ways to integrate social media analytics into the company's property management system. His hope is that someday if a customer tweets that he wishes he had a first-floor room, that information will be recorded as a preference in his customer profile.
Wickham, Holland, Morton and Marcum all are optimistic about the future of social marketing and are sure it will pay off for their brands. "There is a lot of work left to be done, but it's not an area of frustration -- it's one of excitement and anticipation," Marcum says.
Sandra Gittlen is a freelance technology writer in the Boston area. Contact her at email@example.com.
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This story, "Analytics boost social marketing efforts" was originally published by Computerworld.