Written by Dean Bedard, Partner at eSage Group
Over the last several years, companies have been quite diligent about experimenting with Facebook and various other means of social media to better connect with, educate and ultimately sell to their customers. But how many of these same organizations actually have put the appropriate infrastructure in place to track the performance of this investment? Companies are interested in gaining a solid understanding of what strategies are working and which ones aren’t, as well as understanding how social media activity compliments and interacts with other sales and marketing channels in their organization.
Many marketers are ready to migrate their organizations to the next level of maturity, but some are hesitant about exposing the actual performance of their social-media activity for fear that their initiatives are not quite working as planned. We propose the approach where you measure as much as you can in order to figure out what investments are working and which are not. This results in a constant feedback loop that allows you to continuously improve your marketing performance, gain more credibility and ultimately more respect (and funding) within the organization.
If you are not tracking the performance of your social media initiatives, you are flying blind and you will have very little information to tell you if your social-media campaigns are meeting your marketing objectives. You will most likely not be spending your time and marketing money very effectively. Without the appropriate infrastructure in place you will not be able to understand the performance of the many interrelated pieces of modern digital marketing campaigns. For instance; with a campaign that has a goal of driving fans from your social media properties to your web site to gain further information on your company and products, or to make purchases; you will need to have the correct infrastructure in place up front or you will not be able to measure this cross-channel interaction.
As stated in a recent article from McKinsey titled Demystifying Social Media, “CEO’s can no longer treat social media as a side activity run solely by managers in marketing or public relations. It’s much more than simply another form of paid marketing, and it demands more too:”. The authors also state, “Leaders need to understand how social-media fits in with their broader marketing strategy”.
Research continues to show that social-media can form a very important component of your overall marketing strategy, but only with a well thought out approach and appropriate infrastructure in place to measure and track performance. Not only is social media an important channel to engage with and educate your customers, it has now become a very important component for each stage of the purchase cycle. As stated in the article: “social media is a unique component of the consumer decision journey: it’s the only form of marketing that can touch consumers at each and every stage, from when they’re pondering brands and products right through the period after a purchase, as their experience influences the brands they prefer and their potential advocacy influences others.”
With the impact that social media now has on the entire purchase cycle, it sure seems to be a good time to take it to the next stage and seriously think about building the solid performance management foundation that will allow you to optimize your social media investments and make sure your campaigns reach their potential and have the desired impact. As stated in the article, “We can now measure the impact of social-media well beyond volume and straight consumer sentiment metrics”. Are you ready to take your social media analytics to the next level?
A few things to consider:
• Are your social-media marketing campaigns designed from the start to include the necessary metrics that will allow you to track your marketing performance against your marketing goals, throughout the lifecycle of the campaign?
• Do you have the right tags and infrastructure in place to track the cross-channel performance of activities that span multiple channels?
• Are you capturing the right level of source data in the first place that will allow you to track meaningful metrics, not just high level data of very little value?
• Do you have access to all the data required for the analysis?
• Do you have the technical team in place to consolidate and extract value from this data?
• Do you have the appropriate strategy in place to coordinate the various functions of sales, marketing, IT and operations to make sure your social media marketing campaigns are integrated in with the rest of the organization?
• Do you have the analysis tools that will allow you to view the performance of your marketing campaigns at the level of detail required to assure you are meeting your marketing goals?
Once you have the appropriate infrastructure in place you can then be assured that you are optimizing your social media marketing investments by having the ability to track things like:
• Campaign performance to goals
• Channel engagement
• Cross-channel marketing performance.
More interestingly, with the appropriate infrastructure in place you would be able to perform what-if analysis and analyze cause-and-effect impacts to overall marketing performance. This is where the true value of a performance management system comes into play.
Instead of marketers being hesitant to measure social-media results, they should embrace a performance management infrastructure that will allow the organization to quickly try different things and determine what works best, what didn’t work quite as planned, then tune campaigns appropriately to incrementally improve them. Besides, if a particular campaign or strategy is not working as planned, it’s in everyone’s best interest to find out quickly and make the necessary adjustments, then move on.
As the author states…”this approach can give executives the confidence and focus they need to invest more money, time and resources in social-media.” And isn’t this the goal anyway?