Q&A: How Marketers Can Foster Better Relationships With Data Analysts

Likes and retweets may be pretty to look at, but they don’t drive revenue. Marketers are on the hunt for more ways to make social meaningful–and they’re willing to dedicate the dollars to do so. In fact, when it came to their 2014 budgets, 61% of marketers planned on increasing their investments in social for customer acquisition, according to the “Marketing Budgets 2014 Report” by Econsultancy and Responsys, and 60% intended to increase their social spending for customer engagement and retention.

However, if marketers really want social to impact their bottom line, they’ll have to call on their colleagues, including analysts. Direct Marketing News sat down with Jordan Enright-Schulz, product marketing manager for Adobe Social, at Adobe‘s Digital Marketing Symposium in New York last week and discussed how marketers can enhance these relationships and what’s going to disrupt the social sphere next.

What role does social play in today’s marketing world?

What we’ve seen over the last few years is that social touches pretty much every stage in the customer journey…. Adobe thinks of it similarly to mobile as sort of a layer. We used to talk about it as a channel. First, we had an evolution: There was listening—that’s what people did on social. Then there was publishing to social networks, which we all called “social marketing” (published posts on Facebook or retweets). Now, it’s like social is a layer that sits across everything, which I think is part of the challenge of social. Measuring how well you’re doing there and what you should be doing is ubiquitous.

How can marketers make sure that social is an accountable layer and that it actually impacts their bottom line?

First of all, there’s no easy answer to that. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Our goal, when talking to customers about that, is to open their eyes to different ways you can think about it…. Basics: Measure everything you put out there. You have to be tracking. So many of our customers still aren’t. [If you’re] publishing links, you have to be tracking. Adobe Social automates processes like that, like appending campaign codes, but stuff like “like” buttons on your site [and] social log-ins—all of that stuff should be tracked.

The most basic [thing] you could [do is] direct attribution. At least then you’re starting to get a sense of that Facebook post drove real KPIs, whether it’s revenue, site visits, or time spent on site. That’s at [one] end. A lot of our customers do that and that’s’ great. It’s the first time they’ve been able to tie social to real KPIs. But then they also say, “Social doesn’t look very good when I’m looking at it against email or against paid search.” When you’re moving along in maturity, you want to be thinking about multichannel attribution. You can do all of that with a Web analytics tool, as long as you’re tracking everything you do. Then you can look at maybe these people didn’t click off social and buy, but they came back later and they bought.

You previously mentioned that collaboration between social marketers and data analysts remains a challenge. Do they tend to butt heads?

No. It’s more traditional silos…. Often, analysts in companies feel a little bit like data janitors. People are always bugging them [and saying] “Give me this report, right now.” They might be so drowning in those one-off requests that they don’t feel like they ever have the chance to provide real insight…. With most of our customers, that’s always how it’s been. The social people are over here and the analysts are over here. [The analysts] are crunching numbers, but the social people may not be tagging their content, so that’s not going into the Web analytics tool. It’s just historical silos.

Is there anything that marketers can do to better foster their relationships with data analysts?

Having an integrated technology stack is huge. Adobe Social is very deeply integrated into Adobe Analytics, and they’re all part of this one marketing cloud…. It’s not the only thing by any means. But if you’re over here using 18 different social, publishing, moderation tools that are not at all tied to [the same analytics tool], it’s an extra challenge. It makes these analysts much more like janitors…. So technology is key, but so are executive buy-ins. You have to have that coming from the top. You have to have dedicated social analysts. It’s this idea that you have either social marketers who do everything or you have analysts who are responsible for all digital marketing. Social data alone—there’s so much there. You want a dedicated role for that.

Do you think that this partnership between data analysts and marketers will spawn any new roles?

We do think of social analysts as a relatively new role…. In general, this role of social marketers is changing a little…. Now, we’re seeing people with social expertise across the organization. It’s no longer necessarily just the social marketing team. You’ve got social people in HR and social people in support. I think that’s a trend that we’ll definitely see. Then the social analyst becomes even more necessary as part of a hub or a nexus among those people. I think that’s the trend. I was reading something recently that said the number of jobs with ‘social marketer’ job postings was decreasing a ton. That’s not to say that social isn’t a valued skill. It’s just getting much more specialized—like you’re going to be a social support specialist. You have cross over. You understand how people engage on social, but you also know how to do support.

What’s the biggest mistake you see marketers make when it comes to social?

The biggest mistake is if you don’t have governance of your handles and somebody tweets out something that’s hideously offensive.…That’s the worst. Get your governance and your security in order. This isn’t life or death, but I think not tying what you’re doing in social to metrics that the business cares about is a big mistake. You’re never going to get the budgets, the resources, and everything that you need. And people like those vanity things. Even your C-suite is going to be like, “We got 300 comments on that?”

Do you think that we’ll see a new social channel break out on the scene within the next five years?

I don’t know. There are so many. To me now, the chatting [and] the SMS-based apps are huge. Waiting to see what pans out there for marketer is super interesting…. There’s a little bit of this backlash to sharing with everyone to really this one-to-one thing. I don’t know if you saw [that] Salesforce just announced this integration with [mobile messaging app] Line…. They’re like. “We’re going to bring one-to-one marketing to mobile messaging” and all of this stuff. I don’t know if we know what that means yet. I certainly don’t know if consumers are interested in that on those platforms. I’m interested to see what changes there.

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