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Ecommerce | Social media

Quick Tips to Generate (and Measure!) ROI from Social Media

image: chalkboard with top tips written in white chalk
Most marketers don't know how to measure the effectiveness of their social media marketing. Here's how to avoid being one of them

Unless you've just time-traveled from the 1980s, you know that any business selling products or services needs to include social media in its marketing efforts. But you might not know the most effective ways to do so—in which case you're not alone. According to the 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner, only 37% of marketers felt able to measure the effectiveness of their social media activities.


In its white paper "Real ROI from Social in Five Steps," social commerce solutions provider Bazaarvoice offers some suggestions to help you measure your return on social media investment—and to ensure you even have a return to measure. These boil down to:



Be social where your audience is shopping.

That's not to say you should no longer maintain a Facebook presence because customers don't shop from Facebook. The purchase journey is a long one, especially for higher-ticket items. What's more, social media, particularly visual ones such as Pinterest and Instagram, can drive significant impulse purchases and raise awareness of your offering in the first place.


But you want to focus on those channels and websites where you know your target market is. For b-to-b, that might be LinkedIn and Twitter; for some b-to-c companies it might be Facebook and YouTube; for others it might be Snapchat or TripAdvisor.


And it will also be on your own website and those of your resellers, in the form of user-generated content (UGC): customer reviews, answers to customer questions, blog posts featuring photos from customers showing how they're using their products.


UCG on product pages not only helps shoppers with their purchasing decision, but it also boosts your search engine optimisation (SEO). "Conversations about your products provide fresh content, which search engines look for when generating search engine result pages (SERP)," Bazaarvoice notes. "The greater the volume of fresh content on your site, the higher your product pages will appear in organic search results." The white paper cites the example of Evan Cycles, which saw a 23% lift in visits to product pages from search engines after it added UGC to its pages.


How to determine which offsite social channels your audience is using most? One way is to use cookies to track which sites your shoppers are coming from. But because plenty of traffic doesn't necessarily equate to plenty of revenue, you also want to analyse revenue per visitor by source.


Simple consumer surveys can also help. Once customers have completed a transaction, you can serve them a pop-up screen with just a few questions about which social sites they use.



Measure ROI in three key areas: increase in transactions, increase in revenue per order, and decrease in product returns.

To measure increase in transactions, establish a baseline transactions metric for product pages prior to adding social content onto them. Then after an appropriate period of time, measure the increase in transactions after the content was added. To determine whether offsite social content is boosting sales, use cookies to track where buyers are coming from prior to making their purchase.


Measuring revenue per order or transaction size lets you know whether social content is leading to add-on sales: Basically you want to track the average order value (AOV) of buyers who interacted with social media versus those who didn't.


Not enough companies appreciate the value of social media—UGC in particular—in reducing product returns, even though even a 1% decline in return rates can improve your bottom line. This is why it's important to include negative as well as positive customer reviews on your product pages. It's better to lose a sale than to complete a sale only to have the customer return the product—and perhaps give up on your brand altogether. A down-and-dirty way to measure the effectiveness of content on your return rate is to simply ask customers who are making a return whether they read product reviews prior to buying the item.


And here, for those wondering what Bazaarvoice's exact five steps are:


1) Establish separate channel benchmarks for key response and conversion metrics.


2) Analyse the traffic from your social channels to determine the range of purchase paths.


3) Provide UGC and related social content to address buyers' informational needs.


4) Map traffic from your social channels to your purchase paths.


5) Measure the effectiveness of each channel's key performance indicators against a baseline ROI to determine lift.


author: Sherry Chiger

Sherry Chiger

The editorial director of Your Commerce, Sherry Chiger is an award-winning writer and editor. She was formerly editorial director of Multichannel Merchant and Catalogue e-business magazines.


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