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AUTM 2015

Experts share strategies, tools and metrics for assessing TTO marketing

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Just as important as developing marketing strategies is the ability to evaluate those activities and determine how effective they have been. At one of the sessions at the recent AUTM annual meeting in New Orleans, the panelists shared a number of tools they have used for metrics — not only for more traditional marketing activities but also for social networking.

For example, Lisa L. Matragrano, PhD, licensing associate in the Office of Technology Transfer at Emory University, shared the four pillars she uses in measuring social media impact: Reach, Engagement, Influence, and Acquisition & Leads. Interestingly, says Matragrano, those pillars were discovered by researching companies outside of the tech transfer field, such as Taco Bell.

Case studies show benefits

Matragrano shared several case studies to demonstrate the effectiveness of her metrics. For example, she shared the results of a startup campaign focused on telling the story of the university’s success in creating new ventures. It included an illustrative snapshot showing the different types of companies, how much VC funding they received, how many merged or were acquired, how much public investment capital was received, and so forth. Over the course of a month and a half, marketing staff blogged, tweeted, and “had a huge impact” using the start-up illustration, says Matagrano. In fact, she notes, the Klout score — a measure of social medial effectiveness — rose from 51 to 56. “Anything over 50 is golden,” she said.

In addition, she noted, monthly engagement statistics doubled, with the TTO’s blogs leading the way as the start-up success graphic was picked up by greater Emory divisions. Based on these results, marketing leaders decided to highlight start-ups more often in quarterly outreach campaigns.

In another case study, the office decided to measure the impact of Twitter against Facebook. The goal was to determine where best to spend money, and to see which was most useful to the TTO. They decided to measure reach, influence, and engagement. The results showed that Twitter provides about four times the number of referrals to the main site and is the top referral to the blog site, while Facebook “doesn’t even make the list.” In terms of reach, the TTO’s Twitter account had 1,708 followers, while Facebook had 116 “likes.” In terms of influence, Klout again was used, and Twitter was 91% while Facebook was 9%. The decision, not surprisingly, was to focus future efforts on Twitter.

Matagrano also revealed a Bitly trick that is extremely valuable to use. Bitly is one of the popular web applications used to shorten URLs. “You may not know this, but you can take any Bitly and add a plus sign to the end, and when you do you get a page of stats on that link,” she said, and even offered the following to see how it works: https://bitly.com/TeSpb0+

She offered a similar tip when using the Google shortener goo.gl. “Type .info at the end of a specific goo.gl URL, press enter, and it loads an analytics page of that specific shortened goo.gl URL. (To try this, convert goo.gl/l6MS into goo.gl/l6MS.info). The results provide you with:

  • Total number of clicks on the shortened goo.gl URL.
  • Traffic sources in terms of clicks on specific dates in graph form.
  • List of referring URLs to the shortened goo.gl URL.
  • Visitor profile details including countries, web browser and operating system platforms.

Measuring the value of events

Shifting the focus to even marketing, Meghan Meyer, MBA, marketing associate in the Office of Technology Licensing at the University of Florida, noted that it’s critical when you plan and put on marketing events to be clear on your goals, and your number one goal in any of these events “is to commercialize more university technologies.”

And while the appropriate analytic source can vary depending on what you’re looking for, she noted how important it is to use the most effective analytics tools. For example, she said, “if you just use Outlook, the only gauge is if people sign up and appear at an event. But Mailchimp lets you see open rates and click rates.”

Meyer noted that for the UFL’s incubator monthly meetings — their “Innovation Hub” events — they try to generate attendance within the building, with a potential audience limited to its 300+ tenants, “so the channels we use are e-mail newsletters and fliers, and then we evaluate it through Mailchimp, which tracks opens and clicks. But at other events we may simply be wishing to develop publicity, so we may not care if there is a high population as much.” In that case, we might use Google Pageviews to see how many clicks there were on that site.”

By studying the marketing results for the Innovation Hub meetings, they learned, for example, that the fall was busy and the summer less so. In addition, the open rate was lower when a subject was not new or interesting. It also became clear that the first Monday after New Year’s was poor timing, and now Tuesday is used. (See Figure 1.)

figure-1-innovation-hub-newsletter

In another case study of marketing for the university’s Empowering Women in Technology Startups (ewits) program, where the goal was attendance and enrollment, analytics “showed that people who enrolled said they heard from word or mouth or e-mail; they had to hear from people,” Meyer reports. “That tied in with our research that led to why we started this; women want to be invited.

So the message was changed to ‘Consider yourself invited.’ The change was only recently made, she notes, so it is too early to see if it has made a difference.

Still another case study revealed how analytics led to a change that saved a significant amount of money. The original marketing of a 2007 campaign to drive awareness of the university’s tech transfer successes, titled “MIT, Caltech and the Gators,” was handled through a webcast. “We did a live cast for $3,000 and had three viewers, so the ROI was not great,” notes Meyer. However, they decided to retweet the headline as news in 2012 via Twitter. “There was no cost except time, and the Klout score went from 39 to 47,” she says. “We engaged those people through tweeting, and they continued to follow us.”

The ‘Goldilocks Story’

Margy Elliott, MPH, marketing and communications manager at Columbia Technology Ventures, told attendees the key goal for e-mail marketing campaigns is to “market your technologies to specific companies through succinct, compelling e-mails,” adding that metrics tracked should include opens, clicks, bounces, replies, and ultimately deals.

Elliott used the classic “Goldilocks” story to explain how they arrived at their current tool used for e-mail marketing. Outlook, she said was “too cold,” with no tracking. Salesforce, she said, had lots of tracking, but was “too hot” and not everyone used it. Polite Mail, she continued, was also too cold; it had tracking but it was hard to access, and reports were not robust. Finally, she said, they decided on Mailchimp, because it was “just right for us.”

Mailchimp, she noted, produces easy reports, is very easy to use, and is customizable. In addition, its web interface can be used by multiple people; there are easily tracked and downloadable metrics; it has a simple template creation, and the department was already been using it for its newsletters. Since according to Elliott the department does about 100 e-mail marketing efforts a year, it was clearly critical to choose the appropriate tool.

As a result of moving to Mailchimp, she continued, the open rate went up significantly — from 15.2% in FY 2013 to 22% in the first half of fiscal 2015. This occurred, she noted, due to improved templates and more targeted campaigns.

Elliott also cited better backend tracking for the office, and more reliable data. However, click throughs were down (12.8% to 9.9% in the past year) and bounces were up (12.8% to 13.3%). The office is currently testing new processes to improve those metrics. To improve click throughs, contact searching was improved to help ensure inclusion of only the most appropriate contact/company, and the Mailchimp Timewarp feature was enabled, which allows e-mails to be batched according to the time zone so that delivery times could be improved. To reduce bounces, Columbia’s contact lists were being improved through lead qualification.

The results? Between the first and second quarters of fiscal 2015 click throughs went from 8.1% to 12.2%, and bounces dropped from 15% to 10%. Elliott’s moral for this story? The combination of metrics, appropriate tools, and time to review results “leads to improved strategy.”

Honing marketing activities can do more than improve numbers; it can actually lead to more licenses, Elliot maintains. “We do licensing exit surveys where we ask where they heard about the technology, and about us. In the last year we had 10 licenses done [as a result of] marketing efforts — seven through e-mail campaigns, and three came from website [visits].”

Contact Elliott at 646-543-0095 or margy.elliott@columbia.edu; Matragrano at 404-727-7218 or lmatrag@emory.edu; and Meyer at 352-846-1685 or meghanmeyer@ufl.edu.


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