Does Your Social Media Generate Sales? [Research]

Can Your Social Media Marketing Afford to Go Dutch?

Does your social media marketing generate enough sales to break-even? If not, you’re in good company.

Roughly half the respondents in a recent Econsultancy and Adobe research survey of both companies and agencies said they couldn’t generate sufficient revenues to cover their social media costs.  (Don’t worry that’s not stopping them from investing in social media marketing!)


Before you jump to the conclusion social media marketing doesn’t work, understand that part of the issue is that about 60% of marketers aren’t tracking revenues, based on research by Booz & Company and Buddy Media. Instead, these marketers track engagement, interaction and reach. While in theory, this sounds good since these activities happen earlier in the purchase process, the problem is that these metrics don’t necessarily translate to sales.  Social Media revenue tracking

Unlike marketers, prospects view these social media interactions from a “what’s in it for me (aka WII-FM)” perspective. [Check out Social Media: Marketers are from Mars, Customers are from Venus.]  They’re mainly looking for discounts, social engagement and entertainment because they’re on social media platforms to interact with their family and friends. [Here’s the “What’s the Value of a Facebook Like” research.]

Rather, the social media metrics reported, such as social media shares, followers, pageviews and time on site, are easy-to-track and can be retrofitted after the fact to get some type of analysis. For a new form of marketing like social media, the importance of using items that are already being collected or are straight-forward to collect is critical since you must make a case for continuing their use (which translates to additional resources).

BUT, there’s a strong chance you won’t be able to track associated sales because it wasn’t integrated into the marketing. Additionally, these simple metrics often show better results than actual sales because it’s easy and free to “Like a brand”.

Therefore, you must continue to refine your social media analytics, which aren’t as sexy as social media engagement, and how they support your marketing objectives. To this end, have clear business goals and develop appropriate metrics to determine whether you’ve achieved those objectives so you can measure your social media marketing effectiveness.

By itself, this isn’t sufficient to yield measurable results. You must ensure that the ability to track and calculate these metrics is integrated into your marketing and your systems. To this end, you need a contextually relevant call-to-action and a unique, trackable promotion code that leads to a microsite, targeted landing page, QR code, mobile app or phone number where your streamlined purchase process can reel prospects in and convert them into customers or at least to warm leads.

As any good sales person will tell, it’s critical to ask for the sale. The same holds true for social media marketing. Equally important, you must be able to track those revenues because, without knowing what you’ve sold, you can’t calculate a return on investment.

Do you have any other suggestions for organizations looking to track revenues associated with social media marketing? If so, please share them here.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/3354726208/

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