Connecting Interactions To Sales Key To Measuring Social ROI

Published: December 3, 2013

With more than 225 million members on LinkedIn, 728 million daily active users on Facebook and around 135,000 people joining Twitter each day, it makes perfect sense to implement a social media marketing strategy, whether to generate leads or circulate content.

While there is an endless amount of data available through social interactions, the challenge for marketers is determining the impact on the sales pipeline and sharing the most relevant metrics with the CEO and other key executives.

“A lot of the analytics that marketers deal with just give data on the surface-level interaction,” said Meghan Anderson, Product Marketing Manager at HubSpot, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “What you need in order to track ROI is the data that tracks the customer from the first click to the purchase.”

While most B2B companies use social media as part of their marketing strategies, sometimes metrics do not provide a complete picture of social media’s influence.

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“It is not always going to be possible to measure and put a figure on your social media efforts,” said Adam Covati, CEO at Argyle Social, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “Social media would be a cold, dead medium if it was all science and numbers. You have to remember that marketing is an art, and it is often hard to quantify.”

The Social Data Marketers Need To Collect

While all of the data collected from social media interactions can be valuable to some degree, the types of data that can demonstrate ROI include:

  • Message-level data, including the number click-throughs from links shared on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.;
  • Channel-level data to demonstrate the impact each social channel has on sales; and
  • Customer-level data, including information collected from those who have made a purchase.

“Being able to show how many customers social media as a whole generates for the year from channel and customer data will help you make investment decisions on what worked and didn’t work in your campaigns,” Anderson said. “Customer-level data is very helpful toward proving customer conversion and success.”

Marketers have found various ways to separate this data, with one example being lead gen cards via Twitter. According to Dave Walters, Product Evangelist at Silverpop, marketers can run lead gen cards from Twitter and transfer user names, verified email addresses and Twitter handles directly into marketing automation systems.

“This tool becomes really powerful from a pure-play lead gen perspective,” Walters said.“For the first time, we are getting true, piped data straight in from the ‘Twitter-verse’ into our marketing systems that allow us to begin nurture conversations. I think those types of proactive marketing and advertising tools only help people drive benefits from their social strategies.”

Data collected can help marketers segment their followers, which helps them determine the best way to communicate with a particular group of their target audience. According to Stacey Miller, Director of Social Media at Vocus, the data collected from social media helps you map out exactly which audiences you are engaging, and also helps you tailor messages so they make the most impact.

“Although social media is not new to brands, it is still something that they are trying to figure out,” Miller said. “From SMBs all the way to big-name enterprises, each audience is different and the way you engage with them should vary.”

Connecting The Social Dots

The best way to measure ROI is to show the connection between a sale and the first social interaction with a lead. According to Meg Bear, Group VP of the Oracle Social Cloud Platform, being able to connect social interactions with key events during a campaign is extremely valuable.

“Providing coverage of the entire campaign portfolio is really beneficial because then you can pass along social information with a particular campaign modifier,” said Bear in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “You not only show the additional reach social media provided to the campaign, but also help compare and contrast which segments the modifier was resonating the best in.”

Although any and all data that marketers are able to collect from their social media campaigns is valuable in its own way, not all of it is considered valuable in the eyes of the C-suite executives. Tracking interaction history with leads helps attribute the social campaign when any social interaction moves a lead through the sales pipeline, while also providing a great visual into who the target audience is.

“Keeping track of an entire interaction history also helps you stay relevant to your audience,” Anderson reported. “Being able to see the entire interaction history with leads, but also segment off it, personalize and adapt to that information is really what makes it a more relevant experience for your audience and increases campaign effectiveness.”

The Forthcoming Social Storm

With Twitter going public on the stock market and Pinterest launching its first APIs last month, up-and-coming social media sites are beginning to experiment to see how marketers can effectively use them in their social strategies. According to Warner, the field is becoming more visual, which is encouraging growth for social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram in the content marketing space.

“Pinterest has the potential to become a major tool for e-Commerce marketers in certain segments of the market,” Warner said. “I think you’ll see an activation of many marketers that are affinity driven, and that will be very good for the market.”

Ultimately, the social media landscape is as sinuous and dynamic as the customers and consumers that use them. The ability to learn and adapt with the changes is what will lead to successful social marketing ventures.

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