“You can’t track ROI with Social Media.”

Heard it before, and I GET it. I too have been a long-time skeptic of social media as it relates to ROI of any type.

“So what do you believe in, smart guy?”

Good question. I believe in tangible numbers. That is, numbers that mean something from a commercial perspective, as should you. You start talking “likes,” “retweets” and “shares” in the context of ROI and my eyes go glossy as I let out an obnoxious exhale and run for the door.

Dramatic, I know.

But if you told me that your social media efforts drove 228.3% more conversions and 82.6% more revenue year over year, you would have my attention. And that’s exactly what happened for one of our clients.

Now you are talking my language. Retweets are not sexy, money is sexy.

Now you are talking my language. Retweets are not sexy, money is sexy.

So let’s back waaaaay up. What happened here?

We need to answer one question before we start this conversation: Why does our client think their website should exist?

Sound like a silly question to you? It shouldn’t.

Why does your site exist? If you tell me that it exists to “drive awareness” or “promote thought leadership,” then you don’t fully understand content marketing. Your site exists as an asset to conduct commerce. You site does not exist to generate social awareness, drive organic traffic or rank well for keywords.

Your site exists to make money. Period.

Setting a foundation for success

This client set up specific goals in their analytics tool to track clearly defined KPIs. These KPIs were broken out into a matrix that listed each specific goal, how it was going to be achieved and how it was to be measured. This is a critical first step that a surprising number of businesses never make.

Our client client’s bottom-of-funnel KPIs were:

  • Questionnaire completions.
  • Newsletter signups.
  • Calls.
  • Contact form completions.

Each conversion objective has its own dollar value attached to it, and with that data, we are able to determine the efficacy of our efforts. Without it, we regress to the land of “likes” and “retweets.”

So how do you tie these things to money?

Sophisticated digital marketers work closely with their sales team to determine the value of inbound leads. The equation is simple:

% of inbound leads that convert to sales × average sale price = value per inbound lead

This is how you turn an intangible into a tangible.

Also, it’s how you turn a non-e-commerce site into a site that can be measured like an e-commerce site.

So give me the goods!

Over the past year, our client saw the following:

82.6% more revenue generated, 228.3% increase in goal completions, and 113.2% increase in conversion rate.
  • Facebook:
    • 45.2% growth in Facebook traffic to the site.
    • 161.8% increase in engagements.
    • 56.2% increase in fans.
  • LinkedIn:
    • 129.5% growth in LinkedIn traffic to the site.
    • 408.4% increase in engagements.
    • 16.3% increase in followers.
  • Pinterest:
    • 102.8% growth in Pinterest traffic to the site.
    • 66.7% increase in Pins.
    • 58.5% increase in daily viewers.
  • Twitter:
    • 98% growth in Twitter traffic to the site.
    • 47.7% increase in engagement.
    • 12.2% increase in followers.

So what, right? Weren’t we just talking about tangible numbers? Don’t worry, we are getting there. I just wanted to set the table first. Remember, these stats are indicators, conversions are the proof in the pudding.

We saw the following tangible metrics:

  • 82.6% increase in revenue generated from social media visitors.
  • 228.3% increase in total goal completions from social media visitors.
  • 113.2% increase in conversion rates from social media visitors.

How did we do it?

Put simply, we stopped being “active” and started being strategic. There is a big difference. A lot of brands don’t understand that simply “being active” (regularly posting things on their social channels) is a waste of time, and just adds noise to an already loud social media world. It’s not enough to just check the box anymore. So we replaced a quantity-based approach with a needs-based approach.

Broken down by channel, we did the following:

Twitter:

We share a combination of videos and photos from the client’s customers, questionnaires, blog posts and infographics. We even post motivational quotes from our client’s clients.

Facebook:

Facebook lends itself to taking a longer-form and more personalized approach to discussions. We have found success with sharing community photos with links to individuals’ unique stories. Facebook is personal by nature, so we embrace that.

LinkedIn:

Given the nature of LinkedIn, we carefully navigate the tightrope between personal and professional content. We select specific blogs, infographics, information about their professional partners, studies, questionnaires and information about their various programs. Occasionally we will also post community photos to show off the human element.

Pinterest:

Pinterest can be extremely effective for brands whose customers have a strong response to visuals. In our case, the visuals are recipes, activities, and interior design. We frequently mix up our Pins from content that we generate, and from other users that our followers may find of interest.

So what have we learned here? Social media can generate actual revenue for your business. But, you have to put in the time. First, we defined the goals we looked to achieve and tracked against them. Then we took a very strategic and thoughtful approach to the content we share on each unique channel. The results speak for themselves.

Want to explore other ways social media marketing can grow your business? Check out our guide to social ads:

Jeff is the AVP of Marketing for Brafton's marketing team. He specializes in SEO research in and testing. In his personal time, he is a woodworker and jogger. He hosts a podcast that can be found below: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/above-the-fold-by-brafton/id1413932916