Tech Transfer University Reporter

Experts identify the best tools available for marketing metrics


By David Schwartz
Published: October 28th, 2013

Tech transfer executives have a wide variety of tools available to measure the effectiveness of their social media and digital marketing efforts, but in many cases these tools are not being taken advantage of.

Speaking at a recent webinar sponsored by Tech Transfer University, “Tech Transfer Marketing Metrics in the Digital Age: What’s Working and What’s Wasting Time and Money,” Cara Michaliszyn, marketing manager for the University of New Mexico-STC, made it clear that though many TTOs are using new digital marketing methods, far fewer are getting good data on the effectiveness of those efforts. Citing a recent survey, she noted that only about 1/8th of the respondents said they use SEO metrics. “Those findings are pretty surprising,” she observed. In fact, she added, 40% of the respondents are not currently using social media, and the vast majority of them rank one-to-one meetings as their greatest source of lead generation, with e-mail second and press releases third. Within social media, Twitter and LinkedIn ranked highest.

Evaluating brand marketing

Michaliszyn focused on the importance of TTO brand marketing, for which she employs her office’s website, profile alerts, webinars for entrepreneurs and investors, e-mail marketing, marketing videos, and social media.

With each of these areas, she continued, there are be several sets of metrics to track. For example, for her website she employs the following metrics:

  • Daily visitors
  • Page views
  • Social media shares
  • Domain names

 Press releases are also posted on the website, promoting events, successes, and featured technologies, and for these the number of inquiries is tracked. In addition, the website includes the TTO newsletter and e-zine, for which she tracks views and technology inquiries.

Michaliszyn also lists the TTO’s profile and subscribes to profile alerts with sites such as LifeSciencesLink and CommNexus. “They will let you know when requests are made,” she explained, allowing her to follow up with the leads provided.  

Her blog is also used to create awareness for the TTO, and she tracks its performance based on followers and re-posts. Other vehicles she uses to brand the TTO and the university’s research capabilities are webinars, which she said “are good to use if you can’t afford to go to trade shows,” direct marketing via e-mail, and social media including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Vimeo, and Pinterest — as well as her blog posts.

To generate much of the data to track the results of all that activity, Michaliszyn recommended Google Analytics as an essential starting point. “One of the most important metrics to track is daily visitors [to your website] — and you want to focus on new visitors,” she advised. “If they are decreasing, consider adding new content; if they’re increasing, keep doing what you’re doing.”

Google Analytics, she continued, can track visits by country or state, and can be used to target specific areas to see if certain industries are responding. “Page views can also tell you if the site is working,” Michaliszyn added, noting that the bounce rate is also an important metric. “Do they only look at your newsletter and then leave, or do they spend more time?” she posed.

Other metrics than should be tracked, said Michaliszyn, include social media shares and visitor domain names. With showcase services like Flintbox, where clicks on your technologies can be tracked, “you can view the numbers of visitors on a particular technology. You can also reach out to the companies that looked at the technology as well as similar companies; this is very helpful for data mining,” she offers.

Press releases can also be effective in boosting site traffic, and that activity can also be tracked with each release to see what topics are stimulating the most activity, she added. “We also track any posts we do or appearances in the local paper; we can share these with inventors to demonstrate the promotion we do and the impact it has,” she said.

E-mail generates results

Of course the most gratifying use of metrics occurs when you can clearly demonstrate the success of a marketing campaign, and Teresa Fazio, PhD, portfolio analyst with Columbia Technology Ventures, has been able to do just that with an e-mail marketing program that transmits technology briefs to prospective licensees, investors and partners. Its average success rate with 400 campaigns sent between 2008 and 2012 includes a 21% click-through rate and a 10% reply rate.

The campaigns, said Fazio, “extend the reach of our licensing officers.” And the data  gathered from the e-mail efforts can be helpful even when a specific technology isn’t licensed, she noted, because it can be used to get marketing feedback before a major patent decision and to let the researchers know their invention is being promoted.

The e-mail blasts and responses are monitored through a central Outlook mailbox. “You can also use Salesforce,” she noted, “but we found it was overkill.” The key metrics used include click-throughs, bounces, opens, and replies.

Like Michaliszyn, Fazio said she employs several different resources to gather data. The first is human — student interns. They create the entire marketing package, which includes a list of potential licensees, e-mail addresses, positions, and names. “We subscribe to internal and external sources,” Fazio noted, such as the Jigsaw business contact database. Information gathered includes company sites and internal contacts.

“The key to targeted marketing like this is constant gardening,” noted Fazio. “If a source replies, that tells you that you used a good e-mail address, but they may also say they’re not the right contact. If they tell you who is, you add them to your database.” Another valuable tool, said Fazio, is Mail Tester, which checks whether an e-mail is valid or not. “It’s good for guerilla marketing,” she noted.

The email responses are also auto-forwarded to the licensing officers. “This is helpful in compiling metrics because it allows the licensing officers to follow up in real time,” Fazio explained.

There’s one additional — and critical — metric for the program: ROI. “It costs $180 to do a campaign, so one licensing fee pays for at least a year of interns,” noted Fazio, who added that the revenue from licenses generated by the program has more than paid for all of the campaigns to date.

Fazio also uses internal e-mails for faculty outreach, and tracks metrics there as well. She will schedule ‘blasts’ to faculty members who have won grants, been hired recently, authored a publication, and so forth. “If an initial assessment has been done [on an invention] we’ll let them know,” she added, “And we will scout them through recent patent notices. This is important in soliciting more inventions and improves our internal brand.” Fazio said she also tracks metrics here (opens, bounces, responses) to measure penetration in different schools within the university.

Humans and ‘robots’

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a big topic in any conversation about web and social media marketing. Fazio says one of the keys to SEO is making your content easily consumable for both of your “audiences” — humans and ‘robots.’ “Storytelling is for humans and information is for search robots,” she explained.

Before she even starts optimizing, she continued, she searches the Internet for the types of technologies she’s promoting. “Google will highlight words that match, which is helpful because that tells you good keywords,” she explained. Google Adwords, she said, is an “incredibly helpful” tool to search for keywords.

“You’ll want to use keywords in the title, early in the content, within your URL, and within the browser tab,” she stressed. “You also want the heading in bold fonts.”

The metrics you use to track social media results can be varied, as there are many tools available, added Margaret Elliott, MPH, marketing & communications manager for Columbia Technology Ventures. “Once you’ve selected a platform, begin by following people and organizations that align with your mission,” she advised. “You’re about to have a dynamic discussion, so you must ensure you have the resources to engage or respond accordingly. Then as you get a better sense of your audience, you can begin to track metrics.”

Beyond whether the audience engages with your posts, she continued, you should track re-tweets, mentions, and shares. “The quality of interactions is at least equal to the quantity,” she added – meaning a re-tweet from a thought leader is more valuable, for example, than a mention by a teenager who stumbled on your post and liked it.  

Other metrics include how many clicks are received from your platforms, where they click to, and how long they stay on your site. Your social media management, she added, can be enhanced through the use of services like Hootsuite and bit.ly, which enable you to track clicks.

In this rapidly evolving area, she continued, new services are constantly being launched, many of which might be considered experimental. “You must figure out which reports are best for you,” she concluded.

Contact Elliott at me2304@columbia.edu. Contact Fazio at taf2102@columbia.edu. Contact Michaliszyn at cmichaliszyn@stc.unm.edu.

Editor’s note: The full recording of the webinar “Tech Transfer Marketing Metrics in the Digital Age: What’s Working and What’s Wasting Time and Money” is available on DVD and on-demand video. For complete information, click here

Posted under: Tech Transfer University Reporter

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