The Unique Power and Value of Social Promotions
Social Promotions have a special ability to drive trial and loyalty far beyond other types of digital coupons – by combining the activation power of a promotional or coupon offer with a seamless way to share an offer, and presented with a personal recommendation or referral. They leverage relationships and personal good will to spread brand and promotion awareness, to build brand equity, and to strengthen consumer commitment to the product and brand. Well-designed social promotions can also be an incredibly effective way to help initiate a new direct, long-term consumer-brand relationship via email capture. Sharing a promotion isn’t just additional distribution, it’s an offer delivered along with a personal stamp of approval. We see our clients deploying social promotions with extraordinary results for both mass- and niche-market products. For products with small niche markets, or for products that might carry some level of stigma, such as specialized personal care products, social promotions can be an incredibly cost-effective way to identify and reach new customers.
The Case for an Intuitive, Common-Sense Way to Measuring Social Promotion Effectiveness
We’ve come across as many approaches to measuring the impact of social marketing campaigns as there are marketers who execute them: one can measure volume, reach, amplification, shares, multi-generational shares, influencer scores, retweets, comments, participants…. the possibilities are endless.
What’s missing is a clear way to measure social promotion effectiveness.
At RevTrax, we’ve developed a straightforward and intuitive way to measure and compare social promotion effectiveness, based simply on the two most important jobs that social promotions are designed to do:
- The promotion was shared frequently, relative to the number of times it was viewed by consumers
- The recipients of the shared promotion frequently acted upon those offer referrals, relative to the number of total recipients
A High Share Rate + High Activation (Print) Rate = High Social Promotion Effectiveness
When both those outcomes occur – when an offer is both shared at a very high rate, and when those shares are acted upon at a high rate – that’s when a social promotion has most effectively accomplished its’ mission, and has the most impact in market. If only the first job is done – if an offer is shared nearly every time it was viewed, but was not acted upon by the recipients of those shares – that may indicate that a coupon offers enough incentive for a consumer that’s familiar with the brand to share the offer, but doesn’t offer enough of a discount for a consumer new to the brand to act upon that offer. If the offer is rarely shared after viewing, but those shares are nearly universally acted upon when received, that indicates that either message or incentive was not compelling enough for the first-generation audience to make it worth sharing. Niche products, or those with some level of social stigma, may also fit this social promotion performance profile. A laxative or incontinence product may not be shared often, but when it is, it is likely very well-targeted and thus much more likely to be acted upon. Different product types will have different performance profiles, but generally speaking, the object of the game for a social promotion is to deliver a high rate of shares per views, and for the recipients of those shares to have a high rate of activation upon (printing or loading to retailer loyalty card, and redeeming) those offers.
To Offer an Incentive to Share, or Not to Offer an Incentive to Share
One question we’re often asked by our clients is: should we provide an incentive to share an offer? In other words, should there be two versions of the offer – a higher value version if the viewer shares the offer with a friend, and a standard-value version if the viewer opts to print the offer themselves without sharing? The short answer is yes – though at RevTrax, we’ve identified something of a breakthrough initial finding that should help to alleviate cost concerns about funding a higher-value sharing version of an offer. In fact, with a smart approach to incentive based sharing, we believe overall promotional costs can be far lower than they would be using a typical high-value incentive approach, or even versus a no-incentive approach.
Incentive Offer Value Matters, But Incentive Offer CONTRAST Matters More
The industry standard approach for creating a sharing incentive is to start with a standard offer as the ‘non-share’ version, and a higher value offer as the ‘sharing’ incentive version. Say a standard coupon value for Product ABC is $1.00. The thinking goes that a sharing version should be $1.50 or $2.00 – something significantly higher than standard value to reward and encourage a share.
We see evidence that an alternative approach delivers a more effective outcome.
After reviewing the overall social sharing effectiveness performance of hundreds of social promotions, we’ve identified a key driver of overall promotional sharing effectiveness – the offers that were shared at the highest rate – and had those shares acted upon at the highest rate – often had incentives for sharing, but it wasn’t the size of the incentive that drove performance, it was the contrast between the incentive offer value when shared versus the offer value if not shared.
Overall, we found a contrast, or differential of 3X to 4X between non-share and sharing-incentive versions of an offer was optimal in driving overall social sharing performance. So in the example above, instead of a $1.00 non-share and a $2.00 or $3.00 sharing version, we found it more likely that a $0.35 non-share offer, presented and contrasted with a $1.50 sharing-incentive version would drive a much higher overall level of social sharing effectiveness. Absolute value was not nearly as much of a driver as size of contrast from the non-share offer version vs. the sharing offer version. We found that contrast form the non-share offer version of 3X to 4X had the greatest impact, and those offers that had that level of contrast performed most effectively.
Other Drivers of Social Promotion Effectiveness
Good performance measurement approaches should literally enable you to manufacture insight. When a desired performance outcome is defined, and when promotions are fairly scored on the basis of delivering that outcome, it’s much easier to detect patterns in the best- and worst- performing social promotions.
Other key elements of the most effective social promotions include:- Bold creative, images and messaging for both the non-share and sharing versions of the offers.
- Call to Action is clear, colorful and unmistakable – no confusion about which action drives which reward.
- Custom, colorful designs presenting the choice to consumers are key – when sharing offers were presented with basic (e.g., sky blue) or generic creative presentations, they had a dilutive effect on performance.
- Fewer steps and a more seamless consumer experience (no questionnaires, no registrations, etc.)
- - And our favorite – the use of a Sans Serif font – seems to have a significant positive correlation to overall promotion effectiveness. We’ll continue to analyze this to see if this correlation holds.
With Intelligent Measurement, Social Promotions Help Marketing Leaders to Do More, With Less
Social promotions can be one of the most powerful tools in the hands of a marketing leader – they can be deployed via multiple digital channels owned and controlled by brands – brand sites, email, and through a brand’s Facebook or other social page. Social referrals can offer one of the most impactful ways to build brand equity, via a personal introduction and effective recommendation from a friend. Social promotions add a reason and incentives to make those referrals, by making them easier, faster and measureable.
At RevTrax, we strive to empower marketing leaders to optimize the impact of their promotional investments. When you design social promotions to meet and exceed your marketing goals, and when you can clearly measure the effectiveness of your social promotions against those goals, you can prove the transformational impact that intelligent, personalized promotions can deliver.
About the Author
VP, Strategic Accounts
Mike’s career has been defined by a passion for defining, delivering and marketing great products that differentiate great companies. He's driven a culture of data-driven innovation, strong sales growth and a passionate service culture in every role he's held. Mike led multiple teams at Coupons.com, and spent 10 years at Gartner, where he was a leader in technology performance benchmarking, Director of Gartner Financial Services, and VP of Product and Channel Development. Additionally, Mike founded and led the MarketPlace Research Practice at MasterCard Advisors, where his team evaluated new product, distribution and competitive strategies. He later managed a strategic consumer and commercial partner card portfolio for Citi, and was Divisional VP of Gift Card at Sears Holdings Corporation. Mike is a graduate of Wesleyan University, with a Bachelor of Arts in history, and of Albertus Magnus College, with a master’s degree in management