Before designing a Digital Strategy, my clients often ask the “million dollar” question — How do I know Digital Media works?”My response is simple –there are no guarantees in this world.  But if I had the answer, I would own the most prolific global digital agency. SERVAS digital marketing Rather, I suggest addressing this challenge through a series of questions that are the foundation for a successful Digital Marketing program.

  • Is the content of the social media message effective?
  • Is the target market communicating via social media and will you reach them?
  • Are selected social media tools appropriate and optimized?
  • How do you evaluate this strategy before and after the launch?
  • Does the marketing effort meet the client’s goals?

A simple approach is needed to answer these questions. I searched for a methodology to evaluate current and future online and social media efforts in terms of meeting the basic criteria considered necessary for a successful Social Media Marketing campaign. After considerable research and testing, GERVAS was developed to benchmark these efforts. During the past year this methodology was used successfully to analyze current campaigns and “design stage” marketing efforts including:

  • Websites
  • Online newsletters
  • Facebook welcome pages
  • Blog posts
  • YouTube videos
  • TV advertisements
  • Digital Marketing campaigns

It was used as a guide to develop the digital marketing strategies for Lynchburg College School of Business and Economics and Fez Sacred Global Music Festival , as well as a learning resource for a Social Media Marketing University Course. The tool has been refined and expanded as SERVAS Digital Analysis. SERVAS reflects the ultimate goal of “serving your customers” through conversing, caring, supportive and sustainable actions. SERVAS is a tool that guides the development of your Digital Marketing Campaign.  Each marketer/ businessperson applies six simple benchmarks to evaluate the potential effectiveness of its digital marketing efforts. This analysis can be applied to the different phases of a campaign:

  • Strategic phase:  to position the product/organization
  • Design phase:  to anticipate results
  • Market Testing phase (via team discussion or focus group): to refine the product or  presentation
  • Final Evaluation phase:  as a post mortem for a current campaign to better understand the elements  that need to be adjusted

SERVAS is an easy to apply tool using these six critical benchmarks for digital success. By probing and asking related questions for each benchmark, marketers will gain insights on the potential effectiveness of their marketing efforts to achieve desired results.  Here are the six benchmarks:

  • Sustainable goal
  • Engage
  • Relationship
  • Value
  • Action
  • Synergy

SustainablegoalWhat is the targeted goal of your advertisement, social media program or digital marketing campaign? What differentiates a traditional corporate goal from a sustainable goal? A traditional goal focuses on meeting business objectives (e.g., brand recognition, profits).    A sustainable goal results in benefit for the community, as well as the business.  For example, a business designs a product that supports community values (e.g., social responsibility, community action, environmental stewardship). Based these actions, the business might affect their customer base increasing customer loyalty and advocacy. Dr. Philip Kotler shares many examples of companies developing sustainable goals in Marketing 3.0. Sustainable Goal addresses these questions:

  • Does it benefit the business and society, while expanding businesses’ opportunities?
  • Does it make a meaningful impact on a target market and society?
  • Is senior management committed and is it integral to company values and operations?
  • Is it definable and measureable?

Some sustainable goals include:

  • Creates exposure to company values
  • Builds service into brand for a target market
  • Generates positive actions and  X traffic to the website

Engage – How effective is the message in attracting or involving your target market? Engagement is the “elevator pitch” for your digital campaign. The first 10 seconds are critical in attracting and maintaining the interest of your target market. Engage addresses these questions:

  • Does your message reach your target markets?
  • Does your content provoke an “emotional” attraction?
  • Does the message “speak to your target?” (involving them, not speaking  at them or broadcasting to  them)
  • Did your targets take note or was there a “hook” to remember the message?
  • Does your message extend beyond the initial impression?

Relationship – Did the communication foster interactivity or shared dialogue with the company, blogger or contact? A successful social media message initiates interactivity and a two way conversation building a relationship.  A relationship requires openness, trust, transparency and vulnerability to grow to become sustainable with ongoing interactions. Relationship addresses these questions:

  • Did the tool provide easy venues to initiate conversations?
  • Did the message stimulate the target to feel trust or common interests?
  • Did the message create a feeling of openness and encourage dialogue?
  • Did the communication help you to “know the users’… needs, preferences, interests”?
  • Did the tool inspire ongoing conversations?

Value Does the product or service and related message(s) communicate added benefit for the individual, organization or company? The value component of a social message is crucial to moving a user/viewer to adoption or action. The value propositionis apromise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer of value that will be experienced. Value addresses these questions:

  • Does it answer a need or solve a problem; address a “pain point;” make you more ________ (e.g., competitive, feel better about yourself); or help you to be a better parent, businessperson, or citizen?
  • Can the user perceive Value/Benefit in the message?

Action- Does the message move you to act? Action is the dependent variable of most traditional marketing efforts.  How does the message translate into results? In a digital campaign, “results” bring forth a much more expanded meaning including social sharing/advocacy, social referrals, downloads, reviews and social mentions. Action addresses these questions:

  • Is the desired action clearly defined?
  • Is it accessible?
  • Is it being communicated in media where the target market “hangs out?”
  • Is the message clear and focused to promote action?
  • Does the message motivate the user to share it or advocate the “brand” with their extended network?
  • If the activity is successful, will it meet your goals?
  • Is the activity, trackable and measureable? (e.g., sales, orders, leads, brand recognition, database, social referrals, downloads, reviews, social mentions, website visits)

Synergy- Is the tool an add-on to current marketing efforts or is it integrated into the campaign? Synergy is the key ingredient in leveraging social media to generate a viral campaign. Many companies add a social media tool to their marketing package without leveraging its power or integrating it with their existing campaign. Synergy addresses these questions:

  • Is the message designed to “weave with” and leverage other marketing efforts?
  • Does the message link to other media and generate new sources of traffic?
  • Is it designed to be passed on to different communities to create viral buzz?
  • Can your message easily be shared in multiple channels?
  • Does the sustainable goal translate in a meaningful way to consumers or does it need to be adjusted?

SERVAS Digital Analysisis a practical and easy methodology for staff and outside agencies to benchmark a social media application and its effect on an organization’s marketing strategy.