Making connections: how Kimberly-Clark embraced social media marketing

/// Making connections: how Kimberly-Clark embraced social media marketing

September 4, 2013  |  Blog

Today’s ability to connect directly with consumers online has changed the game for consumer giants like Kimberly-Clark, which owns global personal care brands including Andrex, Kleenex and Huggies. Every aspect of its marketing now has to be more connected and responsive than was even conceivable just a few years ago. This has opened up new opportunities to do things differently – even if it sometimes means taking a few risks – as with the controversial Andrex “Scrunch or Fold?” campaign.

Marketing pundits panned the campaign as too much information; but early results suggest the brand’s marketing team achieved their aim of engaging with a younger set. Boosted by accompanying promotions, Andrex registered a 22 percent rise in sales.

“Whether it’s our B2B businesses or our B2C businesses, it’s incredibly important that we continue to use the power of social networks to be competitive,” says Mike McCranie, global director of IT at Kimberly-Clark Professional, the workplace and healthcare arm of the business.

Sales teams that go out to sell Kimberly-Clark’s washroom and hygiene products to offices, factories and hospitals are now using mobile and social applications to interact with buyers. After putting in a new sales automation system two years ago, the company has connected up information flows so that its sales people know not only what their customers have ordered but also what new products they’re looking at. The connected data, running across software from SAP, Salesforce.com, Marketo and several others, helps to make sales interactions more relevant, timely and productive than was previously possible.

This kind of back-end integration is a priority for many companies, says Jim Coleman, managing partner at social media agency We Are Social, which counts Kimberly-Clark among its clients. “There’s lots of antiquated CRM systems [at these companies],” he says. “Trying to tie all their email marketing and all their direct mail databases into their social media marketing is the next big challenge – closing the loop between all those systems.”

For the consumer brands, listening to and participating in online conversations has opened up completely new channels of interaction and discovery. They now have a rich source of data on customer behaviour, which they can segment by demographics, geography and many other categories. Listening into these conversations has already helped Kimberly-Clark to fine-tune its product development. The next step is to join up the data to measure the success of campaigns.

“The feedback they get back gives them higher quality analytics than they ever had before,” explains Matt Mullen, senior analyst for digital marketing at 451 Research. “It’s put increased stress on measurability. It means straight away you can measure the return on that interaction.”

One of Kimberly-Clark’s most innovative uses of online data was the Kleenex Balsam campaign last winter, which won a Gold Media Lion award in Cannes in June for media agency Mindshare. The campaign, designed to encourage cold and flu sufferers to adopt the balm-laden tissue, used online data to target its ad buying to coincide with local outbreaks of flu.

By combining historical NHS data with a live analysis of where Google searches for terms such as ‘flu remedy’ were boosting the daily price of keyword ads, the agency was able to work out the areas where flu was prevalent and adapt its media spend to target those regions. Mindshare claims it was able to direct its media spend with 96 percent accuracy to infected areas, increasing sales in the first two months by 40 percent compared to a year before.

The campaign illustrates the importance of remembering that online information sources extend beyond social, whose users skew towards younger, more affluent demographics. “If you’re using [social] as a focus group you have to understand this is just a small part of your market,” cautions We Are Social’s Coleman.

And while social works well for certain types of products, others simply aren’t going to have a social following. “Shampoos and condiments probably don’t justify the fact they have a social channel. Some brands don’t have an interest value at all,” says Coleman. “It must not be just a box ticking exercise. There does need to be some kind of financial justification.”

Link: Making connections: how Kimberly-Clark embraced social media marketing

The Guardian – Phil Wainewright

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