How Effective is your Marketing Dashboard?

We recently had the chance to sit down with two professionals from the hospitality industry who frequently initiate new media marketing campaigns and evaluate their impact. Lauren Levin, Vice President of Interactive Marketing for Sbe Entertainment, and Greg Bodenlos, Marketing Manager for Revinate discuss how they determined the success of their efforts for the brands they were serving. Last week we featured their answers on how they measure their marketing performance. 

How effective are the measures and dashboards you’ve used for assessing the effectiveness of your digital programs?

Levin: I’m glad you guys asked me to talk about dashboards and you’re going to have  to allow me, if I haven’t already geeked out on this, to like really geek out on dashboards, because they are so so crucial to your success.

The state of the industry, I find TMI, way too much information. Usually I have to take a vendor’s report, be it a search report, a report from Revenate, and put it into a bite-size piece and not even attach it, attach and copy and paste into the body of the email, a one-pager dashboard, so that the senior execs look at it. And I mean, I know just myself I have very little time, and when you’re talking about making budgeting decisions because of these dashboards and changing processes, you need to have a CEO’s eyes on what you’ll, what you’re working on. And a five-page report is never going to cut it.

So I will give you an example. Revinate, a company that I worked with at Kimpton and I work with at Sabre Hospitality Solutions –I just signed them–gives an excellent report that is a monthly roll-up report about how your hotels are doing. I read the whole thing, great, but I saw that it wasn’t really changing the way that my hotels were doing business. Great, we had an awesome positive reviews, but management was not responding to reviews. So, and this is important because, as you may or may not know, online reputation is outpacing price and location as the number- one factor in a consumer’s buying decision, and so those TripAdvisor reviews, those Yelp reviews, it completely matters. Again, a friend’s recommendation is way more important and more powerful than an advertisement.

So we weren’t doing a great job of responding to reviews. No one was even looking at the entire GS2 report except like people like myself, which there aren’t necessarily on every property. So what we did was created this “buzz” dashboard for our CEO that basically ranked all the hotels, how they were doing, and basically took the most important and interesting pieces from that GS2, that monthly roll-up from Revenate, and put it into a one-page Excel that could be automated.

So all of a sudden our metrics for success change. So before this “buzz” report was created, the GMs were told, just have a response on the first few pages of TripAdvisor. So that seems reasonable, but that’s very hard to quantify and report on. So GMs kind of just let loose of it and the higher-ups, the SVP of Ops, couldn’t get his pulse on which hotels were doing it because that couldn’t be quantified, to just have a response on the first few pages of TripAdvisor. Instead, what I did was recommend that we have a 100% response on one- and two-star reviews. I think it was like 25% on three stars, and then on, or one and two stars were a 100%, so you want to defend yourself against any of the negative complaints, show that you’re listening. And on four- and five-star reviews, to make it easy on the GMs, we in the beginning, we said just respond to 50% of the four- and five-star reviews, show that you’re listening, that you appreciate their accolades. And then we put that into their report and put it into this “buzz” report, and all of a sudden people at home office were obsessed with response ratios and our percentage rates. And all the sudden in this report that was all red because the hotels weren’t doing a very good job of responding to reviews, within two months you saw everyone beating the metrics that we had put in place and everyone was beating the goal. Why? Because of this one dashboard that everyone had had the information to, but no one had put it in a bite-sized kind of just easy-to-read format for the senior execs that kind of control what is being focused on at the property and and what maybe is not so important.

So through the advent of that dashboard we change process and we also got more budget for online reputation. So that’s why dashboards can be really important and also because most people don’t understand online marketing and and most GMs and older people who are in positions of power don’t understand what I’m talking about, or what you understand, because you are at eCornell right now and are learning all this stuff. So as easy to digest and easy to say “Yes, this is great, let’s move with it, let’s go,” the better.

So, go with dashboards and make them into one page.

Bodenlos: As everyone knows with social, and anything digital, actually, it requires time and resources. And the biggest challenge, as we sit here in 2012, with regards to these social media measurement tools and digital measurement tools is that there are a lot of great tools out there that do one thing very well, but not one tool that comprehensively does everything well.

As I mentioned previously, tools like Simply Measured are very good at benchmarking how you’re doing against your competitor in a social space and give you some additional insights and some pretty graphs that you can bring to your property lineups and show that you’re making progress in the social space. But they’re not bringing in Google Analytics data that is equally important when looking at the hard dollar.

There are other tools out there like HootSuite and TweetDeck that are great at managing your Facebook and Twitter accounts on a day-to-day basis, but the analytics behind them aren’t as evolved as they could be. There are also companies like my company, Revinate, that are great at doing review-sentiment analysis but don’t touch necessarily as deeply on the social media needs that hotels and restaurants have.

So you take all these things together and you have a great tool set, but you have to end up going to four or five different tools to get the full scope of what you’re looking for. And so I think what I’m looking for hopefully in the near future is a tool that can comprehensively build you or deliver to you all these services in one.