As Messaging Takes Over The World, Marketers Need Better Metrics

eyal-pfeifelData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Eyal Pfeifel, co-founder and chief technical officer at Imperson.

As today’s primary interaction medium, messaging opens the door to new forms of marketing that are more engaging and adapted to the natural behaviors of consumers. But with the advent of new forms of marketing, there must also be new metrics to measure and analyze campaign results.

Many messaging platforms take advantage of their immense user bases by opening up their platforms to advertisers, brands and marketers. Kik, for example, launched its Kik Partners program. Snapchat introduced the 3V advertising platform and Snapchat on demand, which will allow anyone to create geofilters for a fee.

Although some brands have experimented with using Facebook Messenger as an advertising platform, the company recently announced that it would make the platform more broadly available. Even WhatsApp, a company that emphasizes how it doesn’t sell ads, is ditching the $1 annual fee for consumers and experimenting with business accounts.

With this, marketing is venturing to avenues where consumers congregate: messaging platforms. But for brands and marketers to fully use these new opportunities, they can’t rely on the same traditional metrics. They have to use new ways to measure marketing ROI by looking at length of engagement, conversations per session and depth of engagement.

Length Of Engagement

As brands and advertisers begin deeply interacting with consumers, the average length of engagement is becoming an ultra-important metric to track in messaging. From this metric, we’re trying to figure out two things. First, how long does the engagement last from first to last touch? Next, does the user keep coming back and, if so, how much time do they spend each time they return? Typically, when tracking the success of a campaign, the more engagements the campaign has in the first few hours, the better, more compelling and stickier it is.

To make this metric work, marketers need to find the sweet spot for engagement time. A longer engagement is typically favorable, but an overextended engagement could mean that the consumer never moves onto the next action. Ultimately, the context of the interaction will determine the ideal length of engagement. Short engagements aren’t necessarily bad, but they could indicate a few issues in the campaign. If the engagement is so short that the campaign does not achieve its goal, then the interaction should be more entertaining and engaging. Marketers can do this by reevaluating their key demographics and tailoring the campaign around them.

Marketers need to ask themselves: How long should the engagement be to get the campaign’s point across, express the call to action or move the customer to the next point in the sales cycle?

If the campaign’s goal is purely branding, how long do positive engagements typically last? Understand the sweet spot of engagement by considering these questions and evaluating the context of campaign goals, target audience or behavioral trends.

Conversations Per Session

Another engagement metric unique to marketing via messaging is conversations per session (CPS). It refers to the number of turns occurring in each conversation, or the number of times both parties reply during the conversation. For example, if each party says “hello” and “how are you,” that counts as two turns.

The more turns that occur in the conversation, the more engaged the user. This is a much more informative metric than the total number of engagements because it’s open-ended. On most mediums, the number of engagements a user can make is limited, but with messaging it’s common to have more than a few turns per session. Microsoft’s Xiaoice chatbot, for instance, recently averaged 23 turns per conversation.

If a messaging campaign is not hitting the target CPS, which ideally should be in the double digits, marketers need to either add more variables and options for engagement or make the engagement entity more compelling. Refer back to the target demographic to understand what that group finds compelling. If a marketers is running a messaging campaign and the conversation entity is simply an answer bot, this gives the user no reason to reply, likely leading to a low CPS.

To improve the CPS, marketers should consider integrating questions, comments and answers into their conversation entity. That way they can push the conversation forward more naturally and keep the user engaged.

If the campaign is merely aimed at driving call-to-action (CTA) rates and not entertaining, it will probably have a low CPS. The solution for a low CPS might be different for a direct-response campaign. In this case, it would make sense to adjust the placement of the CTA so that it occurs early on in the engagement, within the limit of the average CPS. That way even if the conversation doesn’t last many rounds, the campaign still gets to the point.

Depth Of Engagement

Sentiment is not a new metric, but it’s always been hard to quantify, especially in a deep way. With messaging, it’s possible to track a relationship between two entities and reach a deeper understanding of sentiment than was previously possible. Monitoring the depth of engagement in a messaging campaign might involve tracking keywords and actions.

If marketers set sentiment expectations before the campaign, they can figure out whether the campaign aligns with these expectations by analyzing the most common keywords in the aggregate of conversations and evaluating what these keywords indicate about sentiment. Instead of initially defining specific keywords, it’s better to figure out which are most used after the campaign gains traction. This offers a more realistic representation of the engagement and sentiment.

Beyond sentiment, tracking keywords and actions in messaging campaigns can help marketers understand consumer intent. For example, if they use a conversation character to promote a movie release, they might track how often users mention the movie by name or talk about going to see the film. If marketers find that many users talk about the movie, this proves that there’s a strong correlation between the users in conversation and movie-going users.

New forms of marketing require new sets of metrics to accurately assess campaign ROI. These metrics will help marketers evaluate their campaigns as messaging takes over marketing.

Follow Imperson (@imperson) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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