How to (finally) measure ROI from social media

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Social media is not a direct-response channel. I think we can all agree on that. But it absolutely is part of the sales funnel for your business. It’s where you can build and foster relationships with unlimited prospects, partners and influencers at very little cost, adding value on a daily basis until a percentage of those individuals and organizations are ready to move forward – either into a conversation or an active buying cycle.

Establishing a quantitative value for social media as a component of the sales funnel has been difficult, largely because we rely on disparate systems to establish causality. That may be changing with updated features in Salesforce.com launching in October 2011. For the first time, you’ll be able to see integrated social media accounts and interaction activity right in your core sales management platform.

Here’s why that’s so important.

Let’s say you have 80,000 leads in Salesforce.com. You know 40,000 of them have Twitter accounts. Of those, you also know that 6,000 are following your Twitter account, and you know exactly which of those 6,000 have responded or interacted with you in that channel.

When that lead makes it way through the funnel – to an open opportunity and eventually a closed deal – you can now establish the source of origination and primary causality of pipeline movement back to the social media activity.

Social media may not be a direct-response lead channel, but with this level of integration you can evaluate it’s effectiveness and ROI as an eventual sales producer in an apples-to-apples format with email, direct mail, events, etc. And if prospects have been impacted by multiple campaigns and channels (and most likely have), you can still measure and weight the primary causality factors all in a single platform.

That’s powerful stuff, and will help many organizations finally bridge the gap between their focus on leads & sales, and the importance of investing in long-term social and content-based relationships well before customers are ready to buy.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Matt: thanks for addressing the oft-asked question regarding the value of social media. It’s great the Salesforce offers an opportunity to hold a spotlight on the efficacy of social media tools, but for me, I keep asking “what’s the point?”

    As you say at the outset, social media “absolutely is part of the sales funnel for your business.” I agree. So what is the allure of decoupling it, as so many people insist on doing? Wouldn’t it be better to compare the value returned (ROI doesn’t consider time and risk) of Projects A, B, and C, rather than attempt to make judgments on the individual component’s contribution to value? That’s hard enough to do for a simple system. What about one that has many pieces and subsystems?

    And how do you judge value returned to the company for pieces of a social media system when there are dependencies between the tools? I know that it’s done, but there are large risks from ripple effects by pulling the plug on parts of any system that weren’t deemed “essential.”

    While I recognize that financial analyses are as varied as social media strategies, the CFO’s I have worked with have been loathe to get involved in the guts of systems that have many inter-related and moving parts. The financial rigor they apply still boils down to “does this initiative bring more value to the company than the current state?” When the answer is “yes,” there’s a good reason to implement it.

  2. I agree with everything you’ve said here Andrews, and clearly this integration isn’t even a means to an ends, but a means of better tracking the activity that MIGHT make a difference. Just because it can integrate and because you can track it, doesn’t mean it will work, be right for your specific target audience, etc.

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