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Is Conversation the Next Big Marketing Initiative?


DATA-DRIVEN CMO is an ongoing series on the Brooks Bell Blog that focuses on topics for the modern day data-driven CMO.

If you’re a parent like I am, you have probably uttered the phrase, “Less talking, more doing.” Or maybe you substitute the word “doing” with a different, more relevant, verb like eating, doing homework, etc. I propose that the next generation marketer needs to do the opposite. Recently, we marketers have spent so much time concentrating on content creation and not enough on the actual engagement and conversation with the target audience.

How McDonald’s Australia missed a huge opportunity with their “Track My Macca’s” app

Yesterday, while reading an article on augmented reality mobile apps, I learned about the “Track My Macca’s” app from McDonald’s Australia. For those of use in the Northern Hemisphere, it may be important to note that in Australia and New Zealand the Golden Arches is better known as Macca’s.” This video does a good job of explaining the app:

So what’s the problem?

The problem is the missed opportunities. When McDonald’s Australia posted this video to their YouTube channel, they received 42 comments. The vast majority of them were negative. There is not one comment from McDonald’s themselves in the dialog.

track my maccas twitter response photo

When McDonald’s highlighted the app on their Facebook page, the received 66 comments. Again, there was no official response from McDonald’s.

track my maccas Facebook response photo

Clearly, this app was not built overnight. It uses GPS and augmented reality technology that promotes a key message to customers: Real food produced by local farmers is delivered straight to your local McDonald’s restaurant. It’s an app that they should be proud of and based on the marketing push around it, they do indeed feel this way.

But McDonald’s marketers fell into a common trap: They spent all their time and resources building the content and invested nothing in having a conversation with their target audience. Or, they did monitor the conversation but made a decision to not interact.

Either way it is a missed opportunity! Like everything McDonald’s does globally, there will be naysayers and criticism. The old marketer would say that McDonald’s is too large and too slow to create vibrant real-time conversations. This is not a post about responsiveness.

The numbers to prove it

There are many studies supporting the need for conversation. Here are a few takeaways from the most important ones:

“Customers who received a response to a public comment were overwhelmingly positive about the fact that the company responded; regardless of how well the company actually handled the issues. With 27 percent “delighted” with a response to their public feedback, compared to only 6 percent for a response to their direct feedback, they were, in fact, more likely to be happy about companies responding to public comments than direct feedback. ” Source: Maritz Research

“Young adult consumers increasingly prefer online public feedback over direct, with 33 percent of the youngest consumer age group (18 to 24-year-olds) preferring public feedback methods and 28 percent of those specifically favoring Facebook.” Source: Maritz Research

“60% of those under age 55 say they want companies to be listening to their public comments.” Source: Quirk’s Marketing Research Media

“16% of online consumers expect a response within 30 minutes when they ask a question or post a comment on the company’s Facebook page, compared to 13% who expect a response within 2 hours.” Source: Oracle

Content starts the conversation. But if you aren’t there to continue the discussion, you do more harm than good.

I’m not sure what the return has been for McDonald’s for this app. I don’t know if they deem the launch a success.

All I know is that there are at least 100 people in this world that voiced a negative opinion about the brand. Most likely, that has never been addressed. Just imagine how much that’s costing McDonald’s.

Keep this in mind when planning your next marketing initiative, whatever it may be. Your content may be amazing but it won’t mean anything without conversation.