Marketing Communications Manager
MINI USA uses real-time marketing to maintain relationships with its current customers and also to drive new prospects to its website. Lee Nadler, MINI USA’s marketing communications manager, spoke with eMarketer’s Debra Aho Williamson about how the company measures its real-time efforts and compares the results with other forms of marketing.
eMarketer: How does MINI approach real-time marketing?
Lee Nadler: MINI is excited about real-time marketing because our owners are so engaged with MINI—mostly through social channels—but also out in the real world, with clubs that they set up and rallies that our owners do. There’s a constant relationship happening between MINI and real customers, and relationships happen in real time. We also look at how to use things that are happening in the world, things that are happening with MINI, things that are relevant to some of the brand attributes of MINI that we can tap into to connect with new people.
eMarketer: What metrics do you use to gauge the effectiveness of your real-time initiatives?
Nadler: I think there are a few that are very quantifiable. In social media, we’re looking at amplification. We’re looking at messages that we put out or [times when we are] putting ourselves into conversations. Are those being shared, are those being “liked,” are those being commented on? We are looking at not just the numbers, but we’re also looking at if we’re connecting with people and the comments and things our owners, followers and fans are sharing.
“We do look way beyond the ‘like’ button and start to look into business metrics as well.”
eMarketer: Are the metrics you’re using for real-time marketing the same as what you’re using for your broader social media efforts?
Nadler: Some are. We’ll put some paid social media behind things that are starting to take off, to give it some more amplification. Then we do start to look at some of the metrics that are shared across other mediums, like how many impressions are we getting on those paid social messages? If we’re putting trackable links into the posts, what’s happening when people are clicking through? And then we look pretty deeply at whether we are adding fans and followers—and if people are coming to our website, are they more interested in MINI and starting to sign up for our newsletter, or are they interested in configuring a car or reaching out to a dealer?
We do look way beyond the “like” button and start to look into business metrics as well.
eMarketer: How do you compare your more evergreen social media marketing with what you’re doing in real time?
Nadler: We take a look at programs campaign by campaign, especially when we’re able to put in trackable links and other techniques to see how many impressions we’re delivering, if people are clicking through, if people are becoming fans or followers, and then if people go deeper into the MINI experience.
With real time, some of those programs we can put trackable links into. For others, we are able to look at the time of day when we do certain posts and see if we get any spikes in our channels. We can see from the correlation to time what’s happening with the results.
eMarketer: Do you think you will eventually be able to track things like sales and conversions from real-time marketing?
Nadler: We do that for all of our marketing. We are able to attribute people coming into our website, for example, through social channels, or through some of these real-time marketing initiatives, or through coming to an event.
In terms of tying it back to business metrics, I think people have to be very smart about what they’re trying to achieve and not look at it as a short-term sales goal when they’re doing these real-time programs. Because in some ways you’re trying to keep an engagement level going and keep a relationship going and keep a dialogue going. And that might not only increase sales, but also increase loyalty with your existing customers.
eMarketer: What tools are you using to track the effectiveness of real-time marketing?
Nadler: We have some third-party partners that we work with for listening and looking at sentiment. We have some tools for tracking activities coming into our site. And we work with our agency, BEAM, which puts together a proprietary report that we go over campaign by campaign. We look at what we did, what we saw, what we learned, what we hoped to learn—post by post. We give it an overall engagement score, which takes into account things including tweets and reposts and comments and new fans, to help us score different real-time marketing efforts that we engage in. That helps us to learn what’s resonating and what we can build upon and what we tried that didn’t work that we can learn from.
“In terms of tying it back to business metrics, I think people have to be very smart about what they’re trying to achieve and not look at it as a short-term sales goal when they’re doing these real-time programs.”
eMarketer: The bottom line for companies to keep investing in real-time marketing is that it has to drive results. What are you looking for when you want to determine whether to put more money behind it?
Nadler: For MINI it starts with investing in the relationship we have with our owners. Whether you call it real-time marketing or experiential [learning]—whatever you call it, we’re going to keep doing it. And these tools that people are using now are simply another efficient way to do that. For us it’s not a question of if we’re going to do it—it’s a question of what’s the best way to engage with our owners.
We have put some resources behind having a team and a process in place to be able to put materials together and have dialogues on an ongoing basis. We look at how many people not only became fans, but actually came to our website and configured a car. We know the likelihood of people configuring a car has a great correlation to selling more cars. So we can see with pretty clear eyes if the value is getting paid off for the investment.