The Crunch: Many companies recognize the benefits of tracking consumer engagement with their brands and products. What they may not realize is that sharing through social platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, only reveals the tip of the iceberg when it comes to consumer insights. More than half of sharing is done through copying and pasting content to send via email, SMS, and instant messages, which is known as “dark” social sharing. Rebranded as Sharing Analytics in parent company RadiumOne’s suite of marketing tools, Po.st uncovers real-time deep customer analytics that can be used to identify new customers and deliver more personalized messages. Through Sharing Analytics, companies can also create brief, branded links that improve click-through rates in marketing campaigns. Whether as a stand-alone product or combined with other RadiumOne tools, Sharing Analytics gives companies actionable data that can be used for efficient marketing.
Many companies seek to uncover how consumers interact with their brands and products to deliver more effective, better-targeted campaigns. However, even the companies that are listening to social channels and reviewing analytics for insight might not be getting the whole picture.
This is because the vast majority of consumer sharing is done through what is referred to as “dark” social sharing. Essentially, dark social is any type of sharing done through copying and pasting content or URLs off websites or apps and sending through other forms of communication such as email, SMS, and instant messenger.
According to RadiumOne, 69% of global shares went through dark social channels in 2014 with 23% of shares attributed to Facebook. RadiumOne offers retailers and other businesses Sharing Analytics, a service previously known as Po.st, which enables social tracking and creates shortened, branded links to uncover dark social data.
“If you copy and paste content from a website or an app or you copy and paste the URL from the browser bar and send it through one of those channels, we can track those shares and the clicks from the shares as well,” said Bob Hall, Chief Strategy Officer for RadiumOne. “This helps brands really uncover an area of engagement that’s been hard to visualize and analyze.”
Through the analytics tools offered by RadiumOne, Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was able to get more bang for its advertising bucks while gaining more insight on how its content and ads were being shared.
Ghirardelli saw a 600% increase in click-through rates on its social media links through branded vanity links with Smart Links while also uncovering new prospects through tracking copy-and-paste shares.
The company also learned firsthand about how much data it was previously missing out on. Copy-and-paste sharing accounted for three times the number of shares Ghirardelli was seeing through Pinterest and 12 times the number from Facebook. With Sharing Analytics, Ghirardelli sees 100% of customer interactions with its marketing campaigns.
“If you’re a retailer that is not tracking that dark social sharing activity, you are missing out on a huge portion of the sharing activity and probably some insights about what is trending, what’s going viral, and what you need to stock more of,” Bob said.
Insights Uncovered Through Vanity Links & Dark Social Tracking
Many companies have long names that don’t lend themselves to brief links, creating a hurdle to overcome in the Twitter age.
“You’ve got 140 characters, so the economy of speech is really important,” Bob said. “Vanity links sprung up because you’ve got to pack a message in and you’ve got to provide a clickable link that you want to drive people to.”
Smart Links facilitates brevity in social media posts while providing companies with vanity links that help send a compact, branded message through a shortened link. For example, many Starbucks posts on social media include links that begin with sbux.co, which many consumers have come to recognize as being a Starbucks link.
“I think that really helps brands get the full message in a short post and then drives some action,” Bob said.
Shortening links through Smart Links involves a simple copy and paste, and one click later, businesses have a brief, branded link that drives clicks. Businesses also receive real-time user analytics on who is engaging with a link, uncovering a new set of interested customers.
Smart Links creates embedded links for sharing on popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, but it goes a step further by tracking dark social sharing. In recent years, Smart Links has also been improved to include deep linking functionality.
“Deep linking is the art and science of driving people to content deeply embedded within a mobile app,” Bob said. “Rather than sending them to the opening screen of an app, deep linking is the set of procedures that you have to follow to make sure someone can get into specific content within an app.”
A First Step for Data Collection in RadiumOne’s Suite of Tools
While Po.st remains a stand-alone offering, the product has also been incorporated into RadiumOne’s deeper suite of marketing tools, where it is known as Sharing Analytics.
The goal of the unified suite is to eliminate connectivity gaps and understand customers’ behavior as they pass from one channel to the next.
“Maybe someone does research on a mobile website, tries out the mobile app, but then they typically buy or convert on a desktop website,” Bob said. “That is terrific information to leverage at each point, to target advertising to direct folks to the appropriate next channel and the ultimate conversion point. We’re helping brands pull all of those data points together so they can act on them in their advertising and marketing strategy.”
An example of Sharing Analytics in action would be someone copying and pasting a paragraph of content off a website and emailing it to a coworker. The receiver of this message automatically sees a link back to the website where the shared paragraph originated and then has a single-click invitation to seek out more information on the initial website. The sent link is unique, providing RadiumOne with more information about where each customer comes from.
Another key piece for RadiumOne’s suite is Mobile Analytics, which was previously known as Connect. Mobile Analytics focuses on capturing data on a customer’s experience with your mobile application. Bob told us the rebranding of Po.st and Connect provides businesses a better sense of what each product offers.
User Feedback Turns Link Shortening into Advanced Analytics
The original function of Smart Links was shortening links, but the tool has become much more valuable since its original incarnation.
Bob said RadiumOne’s development strategy revolves around customer feedback, but it also focuses on cohesiveness between every tool within its marketing suite.
“We develop within each tool, but what we’re also doing with the suite is developing the connectivity between the tools,” Bob said. “This is really important because brands and retailers have different channels through which they engage prospects and customers — a website, an app, a social channel — and it’s important not to just get the engagement on each one but to understand how a consumer passes from one to the next.”
This connectivity is also apparent when you see how Sharing Analytics and Mobile Analytics work together. RadiumOne developed Smart Links as a response to customers who wanted to monitor and drive traffic to pages within their applications.
“For the Smart Links tool, we introduced deep linking and deferred deep linking to what was previously just a link shortening tool,” Bob said. “That was based on the significant feedback and input we got from clients — many of whom were retail — that we should help them manage links not just into websites but also into their mobile app properties which requires deep linking.”
Make a Marketing Plan from the Journey Your Customers Take
Thanks to RadiumOne, Ghirardelli and other companies, including Universal Music Group and Neiman Marcus, are conducting vastly improved social marketing campaigns and finding new customers through dark social sharing data.
Most modern companies use several channels in their marketing efforts, and it’s important to track every interaction for a clear picture of customer engagement. And this is especially true of dark social, which comprises the bulk of interactions.
“We’re very good at helping brands trace the consumer journey — how people interact with a company or a product in all the different places that they could learn about it via a website, a mobile app, through a social feed, and through research and sharing.”
Modern marketing isn’t about reaching as many customers as you can. It’s about spending your advertising resources efficiently by finding high-quality customers that are interested in your product and then tailoring your message to them. Sharing Analytics provides the deep customer insights that retailers and other companies can use to drive ROI.
“We really focus on helping brands connect the dots between all of their channels to find high-value customers,” Bob said.