In a famous anecdote, social media guru 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 it has no value. It especially doesn’t mean brands shouldn’t be doing it.
Here are four ways brands can justify the ROI of social media and use its power to increase profit and customer engagement.
1. Use social content to drive purchase decisions
In a recent infographic, Invesp reported that 71 per cent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals. Therefore, brand social content such as Instagram photos, really can impact product sales. In addition, the content brands prompt their audiences to create and share also makes an impact on purchase decisions.
Campaigns that generate user submissions, or UGC, are effective in delviering ROI.
L’Oreal Shu Uemera launched a hashtag contest for its fans and associated each individual entry with a product on their site, making it easy for users to purchase the products and recommend them to their friends. People buy things their friends love, and seeing friends share content associated with a brands specific product can influence purchase decisions and increase sales.
2. Use social media to increase website traffic
A measurable and impactful way to increase the ROI of social media is to use it to drive consumers to brand websites. If done effectively, marketers can use Google Analytics UTM parameters to track sales conversions by channel, post type, or creative, as well as directly track revenue.
Links shared on Facebook, social ads, triggered responses to contest entries, and Instagram content are just a few examples of how social media connects the dots between consumers and product websites.
This can be demonstrated by Hudson’s Bay, who aggregates Instagram content to their website allowing visitors to purchase items from a realistic, social setting. The path between the content and the website is easy for consumers to travel, allowing them to get where they need via the content they enjoy the most.
It takes creative marketing to capitalise on its potential, but there is no arguing that traffic = dollars. Web analytics can prove traffic comes from social and finishes as profit.
3. Use social media’s current and upcoming easy purchase options
Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are launching functions brands can use to make spending on social easier. With the launch of “buy buttons”, Facebook and Twitter can become a sales channel for brands, and strategy will have to be built around these new tools to advertise and promote individual offerings. Measuring and delivering successes from these functions should become a cakewalk for digital marketers.
4. Use social data to create effective plans
Measuring social media ROI doesn’t exclusively entail how much revenue amounted from a specific post. It goes much deeper, and the data it collects should be analyzed to design campaigns with ROI.
Social media allows marketers to acquire valuable information for follow-up communications, such as email marketing. In a 2014 report from Gigaom and Extole, digital marketers revealed that email still is one of the most effective means for customer acquisition and retention. Using social media, brands can collect contact information, as well as tailor their communications content, aimed behaviors, look-and-feel, and more, to result in catered follow-ups that keep purchases on the up well after a social media contest or campaign has ended.
US-based hockey team the St. Louis Blues launched several Offerpop Referral campaigns to incentivise 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 per cent ROI. As an added bonus, these campaigns grew the team’s social following with over 20,000 new fans.
As you can see, marketers have a plethora of options to demonstrate social media’s impact on sales and engagement. There’s no doubt to social professionals that authenticity and sentiment are valuable, and weaving together of the above tactics with them will result in effective outreach value even the toughest of bosses will believe in.
Colleen Horan is senior director of global marketing for Offerpop.
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