Business in the digital age is not the same as it used to be. For example, once upon a time a business could send out 2,000 mailers to three different areas of town, then simply count the number of sales generated from each area by the mailers brought in. The return on the investment was simple, cut and dried. The only issue was tweaking the delivery area and the message on the flier to improve the return. This isn’t the case anymore.

The Expanded Process

Many people find it difficult to measure the ROI of social media. Some still view social media, or digital marketing in general, through the old lens: invest £500 one month and earn £1,000 the next month. But it doesn’t normally work like that. The real value of Social Media lead generation is so much bigger than that.

Consumers used to need 6 to 8 touch points before a sale was made. Today that number has grown exponentially. They see a tweet, then follow you on Twitter, then read a blog post or two, then engage by asking a question, take advantage of a free download you offer, subscribe to your email newsletter, attend an event or webinar and so on. Down the line they make a purchase, but that’s only after you’ve established awareness, trust, and relevance with them over time and through many interactions.

Social Media allows you to have many interactions with people through conversations, messages, social media updates, paid advertising, re-targeting and more.

On top of that, Social Media also allows you to align all your other marketing activities into one seamless channel.

Are you organising a new event that you want people to attend? Message people on Twitter.

Have you written a new blog post? Share it on LinkedIn.

Have you got a special offer? Advertise it on Facebook.

Do you want to make sure people attend your webinar? Re-target them using Instagram.

You get the picture.

With Social Media there are endless opportunities and ways to promote your brand online.

Never Over-promise

Part of the misunderstanding, and often the disillusionment, that people have about social media ROI stems from agencies promising things they can’t deliver. At Skyline Social we focus on generating leads which ultimately lead to sales… but we don’t promise sales as one of our KPI’s. Why? Because we don’t promise things we can’t control.

We only promise and measure KPI’s that we can control, such as online traffic generated, engagement, follower growth and of course lead generation. But it’s up to the business to convert those leads into sales. That’s because one of the things we can’t control is ultimately the most important of all – customer experience. Only you, as the business, can control that. And that single factor can convert leads into sales or drive them away with disappointment.

For example, a friend who recently visited an outdoor shop just to kill some time. No purchase was planned, but the employees in the establishment were so friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful that he ended up spending more money on two pairs of hiking socks than he would have normally spent on ten or twelve pairs. The customer experience in the store made the sale, and no outside marketing could have done the same no matter how good it was.

So everything your business does after generating a lead (how many times you follow up, how much value you provide to them, how you speak to them on the phone, etc) will determine if, when and how quickly that leads converts into a new customer.

We do of course help our clients as much as we can to convert those leads into sales but it’s important you ensure you play your part as well.

Budgeting for Social Media ROI

So if it’s so difficult to measure ROI for specific campaigns, how should your business budget for it? The answer is twofold: long-term and widespread. Social media and digital marketing require long periods of use, improvements, and many different strategies to determine what works best and how effective it is. Two weeks on Twitter will do nothing for you. Plan to spend 12 months putting in a good effort, which is usually best accomplished by using an experienced agency. Spread your budget out over various outlets and campaign types. Even when using an outsourced marketing agency, be aware of and involved in the process. Take the time to educate yourself as to how it all works.

Focus on the bigger value that social media provides for your business. During a social media campaign, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have I provided more value to those in my target audience? (e.g. potential customers or existing customers)
  • Have I built up more brand awareness with those in my target audience?
  • Do more people now trust me as a result of social media?
  • Has it helped improve SEO and traffic to my website?
  • Have I generated more leads compared to what I was generating before social media?
  • Has it, maybe without even realizing, helped me convert more leads into customers as a result of providing value to people through social media?
  • Has it helped me build a stronger brand for my business?

After a few months into your social media campaign, you will have some idea of where you’re getting the most effective responses. At that point, you can begin altering things to better refine your lead generation strategy. After you’ve continued this process diligently for a year you will start to see where your place is online and what kind of ROI you can realistically expect.