Roy Jugessur, Head of EMEA at Shoutlet, Inc. explains why this is a marriage that matters to your business
The phrase ‘social media ROI’ is still a daunting one to many, but progress is being made to qualify and quantify social marketing initiatives. Companies are quickly discovering that developing quality social presences leads to identifying brand loyalists, encouraging buying behaviour and gathering meaningful data that can impact future cross-marketing activities.
Social media ROI v other points of value
The question of exactly what social media return on investment means is still being asked. Some call it ‘return on engagement or ‘return on influence’. These describe a few of the ways companies are getting value from social media, but technically they don’t describe real ROI. Social media ROI is a measure of the financial impact on your business, whether that happens immediately through a direct sale or revenue gained down the road. That’s not to say engagement and influence aren’t important – they’re critical. The interactions your social media programmes generate aren’t always linked to a sale, but they are important components in achieving business objectives.
For example, social media is a fantastic tool to build – or grow – your email list. By hosting custom apps on Facebook, you can connect your engaged customers with forms for newsletters, sweepstakes and contests that opt into your email marketing. According to ecommerce research by Monetate, the average order value from email messages in Q2 of 2013 was £60 – and that figure continues to grow with social marketing influence, resulting in long-term value of cross-channel marketing initiatives.
All metrics aren’t for everybody
When it comes to looking at the value social media brings to your business, different stakeholders will be interested in different sets of data. Forrester Research classifies these stakeholders into three groups: social strategists and community managers, mid-level interactive and marketing managers who are interested in brand-related data like awareness and purchase intent, and C-level executives who want the financial picture.
So while social strategists and community managers need lots of data that indicates social performance in order to optimise future communication – metrics that pertain to interactions with content (Likes, Retweets, shares), conversations (comments, replies), and consumption (video plays, click-throughs to a blog post) – as you move up the marketing ladder those kinds of metrics become less relevant.
To data is the key to social ROI success
The good news is, you’re not starting from square one when attempting to answer the ‘what is social ROI?’ question. Chances are, your business has already put structures in place that can help prove your return on social. For most businesses, that starts with customer relationship management (CRM) data. Social CRM and CRM are traditionally viewed as two different things, but the case should be made that they should flow in and out of each other, building a cohesive approach and holistic view of what your customers like, love, and loathe.
Tracking customer behaviours is important for several reasons. You’ll better understand your customers. By knowing fan behaviours and preferences, you can better segment your communication strategies to give fans what they want – when they want it. Brands like Best Buy, 24 Hour Fitness, and Cloetta use social affinity data in Shoutlet Profiles to optimise all customer engagement.
You’ll know what resonates with buyers and what falls flat. Rather than waiting for data after a purchase, many brands use social as a test-bed for products and services. Feedback via polls and contests can be applied to everything from product R&D to campaign message decisions.
You’ll improve future engagement strategies. Social should be part of the bigger cross-channel marketing picture. Using fan feedback to help determine segments will help build marketing strategies and tactics that work best for specific demographics.
You’ll increase word of mouth. If you figure out how to intelligently segment your online communities based on data, you’ll know exactly what to say and when to say it for a positive reception. Those fans will in turn trust your brand more, and will often share their positive experiences within their own networks.
You’ll stay in touch. The beauty of social is that it encourages two-way communication that keeps brand marketers in-the-know; which is critical in staying relevant and top-of-mind for your fans and followers.
You’ll receive unfiltered feedback. Consumers following your brand pages on social are vocal. They are going to tell you what they like and what they don’t like. Having a smart listening strategy in place will give your brand the leg up when it comes to using your fan base as a resource. Read more in Shoutlet’s whitepaper: info.shoutlet.com/resources-BeyondEngagementPaperDownload.html