Your Customers Are Ignoring Your Digital Marketing: How KPMG UK Uses Social to Cut Through the Noise


Social media is unquestionably one of the most effective ways to reach your potential customers. If you’re not focused on social media, you’re missing out on the best communication channel that digital marketers have in their arsenal.

As consumers increasingly look to their peers for advice on what brands or products to choose, businesses can harness their own network of employees and champion customers to get seen by these prospects. Social advocacy, and employee advocacy in general, should be approached in the same way we treat pay-per-click and email marketing. Think of at it as part of the marketing plan. Companies should look to promote subject-matter experts from their field via social media and focus on amplifying that message. 

Customers are turning online to learn about the best products and services. Be part of that conversation.

But rather than concentrating mostly on the corporate brand, social advocacy is more about getting out social media messages and connecting with followers. I wish the strategy side of it was much more at the forefront. That strategy should be led by employees and subject-matter experts from within the company. Whether they're portfolio managers or partners in the accounting firm, that's where the big drive should come from. 

Everyone and Their Dog Has Filtered Out Brand Messaging

My digital marketing and social media experience comes from 12 years in the field—starting back when our roles were called “multimedia managers.” Digital business tools and channels have seen drastic changes as the online marketing space rapidly evolves.

But the effectiveness of brand messaging has been massively diluted over past five years. Almost everybody and their dog has seen and filtered the messages out. It's because we’re so connected. Whether via phone, laptop, or desktop, we, as consumers, have naturally become so much savvier at looking past these messages. 

It makes my job as a digital marketer harder, but my life as a consumer easier. As a consumer, I'm bombarded by hundreds of messages a day, as you are too. We get around the barrage by ignoring 99.9% of those messages. We can filter out, in an instant, what we feel isn’t relevant. 

We’re also doing so much more online now—from shopping to banking—so we end up using social more. And as a result of our increasingly digital lives, we no longer seek out in-person referrals from friends and family as much as we used to. Now, we get most of our referrals from our online peers and channels.

The effectiveness of peer-to-peer communication is much more important now. Social advocacy, if done correctly, almost bypasses the brand and delivers the message directly to the target market without consumers needing to filter any of it out. Now, your prospects are hearing your words from the voices of those they trust. 

Pull, Don’t Push

Changing the way we interact with clients—and even potential customers—on social media is hugely important, especially for companies located within the European Union, like KPMG. A new EU regulation called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect in May 2018. 

Companies will now have to get customers to complete a double opt-in for e-communications to prove they have a direct relationship. Come May, we’ll have to send out an email to our massive lists asking customers to confirm they want to continue to receive interesting content through our emails. This rule has huge implications for businesses because many customers might not even see that email to begin with. If a company’s open rate is only 30%, that means they could lose 70% or more of their hard-won mailing list simply because they didn’t open the email. 

Your customers aren’t opening your emails. Find a better path to reach them through social media.

Given that challenge, companies have to start embracing avenues like social as a new channel, a new way of getting their message out there. The email marketing focus is going to shrink dramatically for most companies that do business in Europe.

This has forced us to start thinking more about social, which, in my opinion, is actually a good thing. Social, by nature, is all about active participation: You choose to follow a company or a person. Social media is more of a pull marketing technique as opposed to a push, like email.

If you’re not pulled to follow a company, you’re more likely to miss its promotions. But that’s okay. Marketers are not wasting energy and resources on disinterested people. That's why I think social advocacy and strategically cultivated social channels are so positive. There's no reason for us to waste time or resources emailing a list where 70% of the people won’t even open it—let alone act on the content inside.

The focus on social is ultimately going to be much more engaging and rewarding. But with this new focus on social comes a new challenge: You need to know how to measure success.

What Brexit Taught Me About Social Engagement

We’d been posting quite a bit about Brexit across our social channels this past April, shortly after I started my new role as Digital Marketing and Social Media Manager at KPMG UK. It was a big company focus at the time since Brexit was important to the type of work we were doing and was aligned with how we envisioned getting new business.

But with all our social media push around the event, a colleague tapped me on the shoulder and asked me a simple question that had profound impact: “Are we posting too much about Brexit?” I was taken aback, because I couldn’t really answer the question. Without the data, no one could. I knew I had to figure out the answer. 

If someone asked you how effective your social media strategy is, could you answer them? @Crowdbabble

I did some research and came across Crowdbabble—the social media analytics tool. It was immediately obvious to me that it was a really simple way of me comparing KPMG, our content, and the rest of the “Big Four”—Ernst & Young, Deloitte, and PwC—to see whether or not our Brexit content was performing better than the competition. 

We also looked at, in terms of shared volume, whether or not we produced most of the content. Were we getting most of the share of voice on Twitter, for example? It was quite easy to download the data around that problem. We compared our social against the other three companies and very quickly came up with an answer. 

We saw that we posted the most amount of Brexit content, but that was fine because our engagement rates were way higher than the rest of the Big Four. That was really useful information because it then shaped the weight and the volume of content we produced over the coming months for other Brexit-related campaigns. We saw, very clearly, that our efforts were worthwhile.

When You’re Time Poor, Crowdbabble Is Cash

Like most others in my field, my team is extremely time poor. Saving time was a huge draw in our choice of Crowdbabble. When I found the website I signed up within 1 minute because it seemed like a good solution, and then had my data within 15 minutes. That was a huge indicator of what was in store. 

I couldn't get that quick of results with any of the major players in the social analytics space. We've got access to a couple other bigger data vendors. These are companies that require you to sign service contracts for tens of thousands of pounds. You need to credit accounts, you need to get training, you need to go through module setup. It takes infinitely longer. 

But in 15 minutes, Crowdbabble gave me the data I needed to do my job more effectively. 

The time I save with Crowdbabble is something that I take for granted, because I almost don’t think of how I spent that time before. I don’t want to go back to those days. And for my colleagues, I can simply send them the data to use along with my Excel spreadsheets and formulas. In about 10 minutes, they’re ready to use the data as it relates to their own job.

Play to Win in the New Digital Arena

Despite our hundreds of thousands of social media followers, as a brand, the effectiveness of our messaging is becoming diluted as consumers get better at filtering out what they don’t want to see. But as social becomes an increasingly effective way to market our business, we need to find our way through the filter. 

But the good news is we can use Crowdbabble data to prove we need to start investing in social advocacy. And when I say invest, I don't mean just money, but our most precious resource: time. We need to spend time getting people within teams engaged online, sharing their stories and the brand messages if it's important to them and their objectives. That's how Crowdbabble helps us. Now, we can measure the effectiveness of our efforts and ensure that we’re doing what we need so we can succeed in our competitive industry. 

The digital arena has evolved, and we have the data to prove it. Do you?