If, like me, you’ve worked in the marketing industry for ten years or more, chance are, you’ve had a question that goes a little something like this: Where is the ROI in PR? Or, is there really any benefit to marketing? Or (my personal favourite in recent years) what can social media really do for the company anyway?
Questions that (probably unbeknownst to the naïve asker) make your blood boil, that make the red mist descend, or that make you want to curl up in a little ball and hide under the covers indefinitely.
If your chosen marketing discipline cannot be measured based on immediate sales figures, then red-mist-inducing questions can be common place. And, unfortunately, it is the thinking (or lack thereof) behind such questions that often leads to your budget being hit first when things are tight.
For marketing professionals in some of the ‘softer’ marketing disciplines, like PR, quantification of results has always been notoriously difficult. Traditionally, PR campaign reports focus on figures linked to awareness: circulation and readership figures, website hits and impressions, the equivalent cost of advertising spend. For social media marketing managers, those same reports now centre on new fans and followers, the number of post likes, and website click-through rates. All too often, reports such as these engender a raised-eyebrow response from senior executives who want to see a clear, demonstrable return on investment for every marketing dollar spent.
All these awareness results and reporting metrics are a perfectly valid marketing objective for any business. Brand awareness is essential: you have to have an audience to market to. If no one knows who you are, no one will purchase your products or services. Social media is the perfect conversation platform for increasing brand engagement (keep in mind social media is best used for ‘pull’ marketing, rather than ‘push’ style marketing).
But, senior executives will want to see a more solid return on investment than simply increased brand awareness. For social media marketing to be considered successful, and sustainable long-term, you need to demonstrate exactly how social media is contributing to the company’s bottom line. Here’s a few tips on how to do exactly that, and how to manage a successful social media program.
1. Link social media marketing to broader business objectives
As with any marketing or advertising campaign, step one should be defining your objectives. Social media marketing objectives should always be linked back to broader business objectives. For instance, if your company is expanding into new markets, or new industries, then your over-arching social media marketing objective might be to establish your company as a thought leader within that new market or industry. Then, you could break this broader objective down into smaller, measureable, actionable goals. Your social media objective should never be something as open-ended as ‘Increase Twitter followers’.
2. Use an action-based metric for your social marketing campaign
Include an action-based metric that can be counted in your social media marketing campaign. In the case of social media, an action-based metric is often a click. So, give your fans and followers something to click on. Once you have their attention, give your fans and followers a specific task. Do you want them to share your update? Click on a landing page? Purchase your product? Provide their email address? Whatever the action might be, make sure that it is linked to our broader business objective, and that you have the tools in place to count and measure audience behaviour. The counting helps to quantify social media results, and demonstrate ROI.
3. Capture and cultivate leads
Once your fans and followers are following your lead, and responding to your call to action, re-route them through to some sort of lead capture form. This step can be tricky, and must be done carefully. Oftentimes, users don’t want to re-routed away from the website (or app) that they are already using. So, where possible, use data collection mechanisms that are embedded in the social media platform itself. Facebook enables custom tabs and promotions options. So use them. Then, set up a database that manages all these new leads, and that reports on their behaviour. For instance, you might add all new leads to your e-mail marketing subscriber list. Then, use your email-marketing software to record their behaviour, and track their newsletter opens.
4. Convert leads into customers
This is where senior executives get really excited. If you can demonstrate that you are cultivating customers all the way from Twitter to the cash register, then never again will you have to answer the red-mist-inducing question ever again. Once you have your leads on-board, and stored in your e-mail marketing software, it’s time to ensure that any multi-touch attribution is attributed to your social media campaign. Make sure that senior executives know that the only reason that customer XYZ purchased products was because you engaged them to Twitter to begin with.
5. Use Google Analytics
Make sure that your website has Google analytics installed and working. Then, by using the ‘Acquisition’ reporting section, you can determine exactly how your website visitors are landing on your site. You will be able to see, quickly and easily, what percentage of website traffic is being generated by social media platforms, compared to organic searches, other website referrals, and direct links.
6. Report in a format that senior executives will appreciate
All senior executives are busy; it goes with the territory. But, at the end of the day, they still want to know, and understand, how budgets are being spent, particularly when revenue is down. So, make sure that your social media marketing report is presented in the way that is most appealing to senior executives. Ensure that it is clear and concise. Make sure that reporting is consistent: that you consistently use the same reporting cycle, and the same reporting metrics. Make sure every month you are comparing apples and apples. It never hurts to include a detailed monthly report, with a brief (updated) annual summary.
For some further reading on the hot topic of social media, check out:
- To really understand which social media platforms your target market is using: https://marketing.com.au/australian-social-media-statistics-2013-vs-2014/
- To find out how to convince your CEO that your company should be using social media: https://marketing.com.au/business-case-social-media-convince-ceo/
- If you need help from social media agencies: https://marketing.com.au/business-directories/social-media-marketing-agencies/
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