We were all supposed to become data scientists in 2014. Billed as a year of “data explosion” by ZDNet, brands were expected to make huge leaps in the measurement and analysis of their digital marketing efforts, using data to drive all strategy.
Social data did have its breakthrough year. In Offerpop’s most recent survey of practicing brand marketers, 75% said it was critical to collect insights from social data. This particular statistic came as no surprise as social statistics give marketers access to a wealth of real-time insights about audience preferences, demographics, behaviors, e-mails, relationships and more. The roadblock occurs after the data is put to use and it’s time to measure the return on investment.
In December 2013, Social Media Explorer’s Nichole Kelly predicted a “fundamental shift” in marketing measurement, saying it is no longer about the channels or the content or the sentiment. Instead, marketers need to prove social’s ability to show executives the money.
It’s necessary, but is it happening? Seventy-one percent of Offerpop’s respondents rated their measurement of social media ROI as neutral, not very effective or not effective. If three-quarters of experienced marketers doubt the effectiveness of their ROI measurement efforts, creating fresh social marketing strategies that can drive direct sales, engage customers, build your brand and increase awareness must be at the forefront of strategy in the coming year.
Start by tracking direct sales
Design and launch campaigns that exclusively promote sales by way of social channels. Then track the metrics of, say, social coupons redeemed, e-commerce sales directly from social campaigns, or email marketing conversions tracked to data collected from social campaigns.
ModCloth does an exceptional job at offering their social audience discounts and coupon codes they can easily track through bit.ly links and sales conversions. The brand keeps campaigns themed and streamlined through a hashtag. By offering social coupons, ModCloth can drive revenue with a direct correlation to social media.
— ModCloth (@ModCloth) March 4, 2014
Track and measure the brand marketing value of your social strategy
This is the type of marketing that might not elicit a direct, trackable action, but is valuable for your brand’s overall visibility in the marketplace. Setting up systems to demonstrate brand reach will help get you on track with ROI measurement. Metrics including impressions, reach, and engagement have valid, justifiable impacts. Delivering daily revenue via social isn’t a reality for most brands, but measuring the ROI of engagement, brand exposure and the fresh data collected through social media can prove massively beneficial in the long run.
The Hyatt Maui used a wedding giveaway contest to collect data on participants, and followed the contest with exclusive email campaigns catered to the soon-to-be brides and grooms. While the contest didn’t specifically drive sales, it garnered thousands of votes and new fans, thereby increasing the brand reach and recognition, and according to Marketing Manager Jessica Kapoor, extended the reach of Hyatt Maui’s brand beyond weddings and gave them a way to further engage existing consumers.
Run social ads to targeted groups
To truly get more bang for their buck, experienced digital marketers know that advertising is a necessity, not an option. Rather than launching “spray and pray” advertisements to a very broad audience, put that data to use with Facebook’s custom audiences features to target the most appropriate audiences for each revenue-driving venture. Shrinking your ad audience to the most targeted group increases ROI.
Research currently demonstrates that the recently redesigned right-rail Facebook advertisements (conveniently the cheaper option) result in much improved conversion rates, particularly for e-commerce businesses. Twitter continues to roll out new and advanced targeting options, the most recent being specific to each cell carrier.
Advertising is a core contributor to the ROI of social campaigns — you must spend money to make money, and the sooner all marketers accept that and utilize social advertising’s targeting abilities, the more return they will experience.
Bring social commerce to your website
Let the two worlds collide! Use cross-channel opportunities and allow each medium to support the other.
For instance, user-generated content galleries can increase sales among a variety of audiences, dominating influence factors among millennials. Mashable cites an April study where 20% of millennial-aged respondents claimed UGC is more influential on what they purchase than anything else. High-priced retail categories like major electronics, cars and appliances topped the list of purchases influenced by UGC.
Integrating user content into product galleries or triggering purchase suggestions based on content a user’s friend likes/browses can be the make or break between “checkout” or “save for later.”
Online retailer Rent the Runway launched the “Our Runway” Web store giving consumers the ability to upload their own photos dressed in the products and inspire other customers to shop based on photos of real women with their exact body type. This bold move puts the brand power in the hands of its loyal audience, and creates a sense of trust between the brand and shoppers, influencing them to buy products that are made for them and their friends.
Gauging social ROI has become more important than ever. Gartner’s 2014 CEO Survey found that digital marketing was the No. 1-ranked CEO priority for technology-enabled business capability for investment during the next five years,” said Yvonne Genovese, managing vice president at Gartner.
In 2015, marketers can drive sales directly from social by creating multiple opportunities for consumers to interact with products and sweeten the deal with special offers and demographic-specific campaigns. Take the time to create gift guides on Pinterest, couponing campaigns on Facebook, UGC campaigns on your website, etc. Finally, employ A/B testing with social advertisements, and eventually graduate to testing the Facebook and Twitter buy buttons.
Rob Manning is the content marketing manager at Offerpop, where he heads up the creation and execution of content strategies on digital marketing and social media strategy for brands. He tweets from @ManningRob.