It’s no longer a question of whether marketers should invest in social media. Social platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are blooming with valuable behavioral data about your customers. Not surprisingly, there has been an explosion in social media advertising. BA Kelsey has predicted that by 2017 social media ad spend will more than double last year’s numbers hitting the $11 billion mark. Companies that have yet to get on board with social are finding themselves in a train-has-left-the-station scenario, while those that have are faced with the question of how much time and resources should be allocated to social efforts.
There’s no single way that marketers measure social media ROI. While some marketers are content relying on customer engagement metrics such as “Likes” and “followers,” it can be near-impossible to connect these metrics to the bottom line. Here are 5 ways that marketers are going beyond engagement metrics to gain a deeper understanding of social ROI.
Probably the quickest and dirtiest way to measure social media ROI that is advocated by marketers is to use coupons and promotions. This tactic mimics the way that marketers have historically measured direct mail ROI. Facebook Offers makes it easy for marketers to quickly create a promotion and then track it in brick-and-mortar stores via a bar code and in online stores via a coupon code. While promotions can give marketers increased insight, they don’t give a 360-degree view of social ROI. What happens when a customer clicks through to your site via a promotional ad but then decides to purchase a different product? Another potential issue is that coupons fit better into business models with short sales cycles like ecommerce. But B2B marketers might be more interested in generating sales-ready leads (SRLs) than quick sales.
Facebook offers a solution called conversion measurement that can help B2B marketers to track how Facebook ads affect online conversions. By adding a few simple lines of code to your site, conversion measurement can help you track the behavior of prospects who click through to your site from Facebook ads. According to Facebook “conversion measurement allows advertisers to measure the ROI of their Facebook ads by counting relevant user actions … that are driven by people seeing ads on Facebook.” Conversion measurement can also tell marketers when a prospect views an ad on one device and converts on another. It can also be used in tandem with Facebook’s targeting capabilities to improve advertising ROI.
One down-and-dirty method that some marketers are using to estimate the ROI of clicks from social efforts is to set the value of each social click as the average cost per click of paid search efforts. In other words, they are asking how much it would cost to get the same results seen in social from a PPC campaign. Therefore if the average CPC of your AdWords efforts is $.80, then each view from social could be valued at that amount. The benefit of this method is that it can very quickly give marketers an at-a-glance view of social ROI. But the drawbacks of this method are obvious. First of all, there’s no process for calculating whether social traffic is any more or less valuable than traffic from AdWords or Bing. It also doesn’t let marketers determine which social platforms are best. What if customers from Twitter ads purchase 25% more than customers from Facebook ads?
The previous three methods listed can help marketers gain a limited view of social ROI. But truly gaining a granular understanding of social ROI presents some challenges. Integrated marketing complicates sales attribution due to the high volume of touch points that often contribute to sales. Social is often just one of many contributing factors that drives a sale. Another pain point that marketers face is that social monitoring tools are frequently disconnected from other marketing and sales data. The best way to address these issues is by integrating social data into a CRM solution. In fact, the world’s leading CRM tool, Salesforce.com, acquired Buddy Media last year as part of their Marketing Cloud. As a result, Salesforce now has native tools that help marketers track social content ROI.
Marketers can also use Salesforce.com to track the influence of social campaigns on sales. This is helpful because it can help marketers see every sale in which social was a touch point. There are tools that can be used to help marketers assign value to various touch points in a sale so that they can get an even more granular view of sales attribution.
If you are closing business over the phone, then call tracking can be one of the most reliable ways to measure social media ROI. You can either feature unique call tracking numbers in social content or use dynamic number replacement to trigger a call tracking number on your site when a user clicks through from a specific social media site. If you use a CRM-based call tracking solution like RingDNA, then you can truly connect your social efforts to revenue closed over the phone.
Jesse WestDirector of Lifecycle MarketingringDNA
Jesse Davis West is Director of Lifecycle Marketing at ringDNA, focusing on improving the experience and maximizing the lifetime value for customers across their entire journey. Drawing on 9 years of B2B marketing experience, Jesse is passionate about communication, branding and strategic marketing. He also plays a mean lead guitar and can throw down at karaoke.