// July 10, 2014

Before social media was a crucial weapon in every marketing team’s arsenal, some business leaders questioned social media’s potential for delivering real ROI. In a famous anecdote, Scott Monty responded to those critics with, “What’s the ROI of putting your pants on in the morning?” In other words, just because you can’t see an immediate, tangible benefit, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing it.

“What’s the ROI of putting your pants on in the morning?” — Scotty Monty

We know what you’re thinking. Your CMO doesn’t respond to hypotheticals; she responds to numbers. In order to win buy-in for your social media efforts, you need to demonstrate actual return on investment. The good news is that there are simple tactics to help you measure the value of your efforts. It just takes collaboration with your website, email, and acquisition marketing teams.

Here are a few suggestions for getting started.

Social Media + Web Analytics
An important first step to tracking social ROI is linking your social efforts to your web analytics tools. With Google Analytics, the most popular of these tools, you can use UTM parameters to track sales conversions by channel, post type, or creative. Pulling in data from your CRM allows you to directly track revenue as well.

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Not only will this data demonstrate the ROI of your social channels, but it will also allow you to continually optimize your work. Doubling down on your most successful efforts and cutting back on your least successful tactics will improve efficiency and boost performance. With hard numbers to show, you’ll be able to demonstrate the value of your work and make a case for further investment.

Social Media + Email Marketing

Measuring social media ROI isn’t just about direct response. To understand the big picture, you must measure the impact of social media on other channels.

Social networks play a key role in awareness and engagement, but email is still king for direct communication with customers. With the proper incentives for fans, you can run social media campaigns that capture valuable email addresses at scale. You can then send these acquired addresses targeted offers and track response rate.

The St. Louis Blues launched several Offerpop Referral campaigns to incentivize fans to share email addresses and refer their friends. By offering fans a chance to win prizes such as season tickets, they were able to collect 17,000 opted-in email addresses. Their first three Referral campaigns drove increased ticket sales resulting in a whopping 235% ROI. As an added bonus, these campaigns grew the team’s social following with over 20,000 new fans.
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Social Media + Paid Advertising

John Wanamaker once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” You’re much more likely to choose the right half with the help of social data.

Once you’ve used a social campaign to gather fan email addresses, you can target ads at these specific fans using Facebook’s Custom Audiences feature. Since these users have already participated in your campaign, they’re more likely to engage with your ads. But these capabilities really get interesting when you use these emails to build Lookalike Audiences. This feature allows you to identify Facebook users similar to those from whom you’ve already captured emails. By layering Lookalike Audiences with interest and demographic targeting in Facebook, you can focus your advertising with pin-point precision.

It’s no accident that this technique – along with the email campaign above – requires resources outside the scope of what’s strictly considered social media marketing. Many of the best opportunities to drive ROI with social media necessitate cross-functional collaboration. But doing so can increase your businesses performance and underscore the importance of social media for your brand.

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