How to Prove ROI for a B2B Social Media Strategy
If your organization is struggling to measure the success of a B2B social media strategy, you are not alone in this challenge. As detailed in news coverage last year, a report from Simply Measured discovered that 61 percent of brand and agency marketers were struggling to determine the ROI of their social media initiatives.
Fast forward almost 10 months later and challenges are similar despite the rapid adoption of marketing technology to aid in these efforts. Almost 38 percent of marketers surveyed in a separate report from NetBase indicated that even though social analytics have made campaigns more successful, they are still unclear on how to measure social media ROI.
Measuring the success of a B2B social media strategy requires a combination of performance benchmarks, from lead generation all the way down to productivity metrics, which help assess campaign effectiveness.
In this post, we will outline a series of performance metrics that will help marketers demonstrate the success of social media strategies, campaigns, and tactics.
Social Media Lead Generation
Every B2B marketing initiative, including social media, must demonstrate the ability to generate high quality leads. Goal tracking through Google Analytics (or comparable web reporting tool) provides B2B marketers an opportunity to demonstrate this.
As I mentioned in a previous post, goal or conversion tracking typically falls into one of three key areas.
- Sales-ready form submissions: These types of form submissions are assumed to offer more sales-ready conversations with appropriate organizational personnel. Examples include quote / demo requests, product evaluation requests, and certainly specific sales inquiries or requests for proposal.
- Content marketing-related form submissions: Requests for gated assets such as white papers and research reports (independently created or third-party licensed) may not infer immediate sales interest but help establish potential contacts that are further nurtured to sales-ready prospects.
- Event tracking-related goal conversions: The use of event tracking as a mechanism for goal completion demonstrates that un-gated assets, such as specific downloads or page views, video playbacks, and clicks on related material, are having a positive impact on the B2B marketing process.
But make sure social media is getting it’s full credit due.
If your organization only uses last interaction goal tracking, any conversions from visitors that first discovered content via a social media program (or any program), and later came from another channel to complete a form submission, would not factor in goal reporting.
Google Analytics’ Model Comparison Tool allows B2B marketers to compare how different attribution models impact the valuation of marketing channels.
For example, a linear attribution model, which gives equal credit to each channel interaction on the way to conversion, may better illustrate the impact social media had in lead generation efforts.
See screenshot below:
Social Media Lead Nurturing
Of course, for social media to have any impact on lead generation efforts, B2B marketers must reach the right audiences with communication and content. Even though efforts can be related to content marketing elements listed above, here are some additional lead nurturing aspects social media success can be evaluated on.
A couple years ago I wrote a post on B2B social media measurement that focused on Network Analysis, which refers to the thorough analysis of target networks and how social media facilitates improvements in communication to targeted audiences.
Consider the following elements of network analysis when demonstrating B2B social media program success.
- Quality of Network: Percentage of network that includes target audiences (customers, prospects, influencers, etc).
- Industry Participation: Percentage of network that is associated with target industries / markets (using keyword identification).
- Converted Audiences: Targeted audiences that connect with an organization’s social presence or digital assets.
In order to document this impact, we can use the following combination of performance reports.
- Twitter lists to segment audiences and objectives.
- Spreadsheets and a few key formulas for extracting and matching target keyword and information.
The objective in this performance benchmark is to demonstrate that social media programs can build awareness with target audiences and interests, ultimately influencing the growth of prospects and customer lists while continuing to find new opportunities.
Social Media’s Contribution to Additional Acquisition Channels
The ability to attribute social media activity with top performing acquisition channel results, like SEO and content marketing, is another way to measure program success.
For KoMarketing’s B2B social media programs tied to SEO and content marketing, we use the following performance benchmarks to measure program success.
- Influencer Development: The number of connections made with key influencers and target audiences that can aid in link building efforts, based on social media communication.
- Third-Party Link Building Opportunities: Publisher relationship development driven through social shares and networking.
- SEO Link Building Success: Overall inbound links acquired via social media activity.
Buzzsumo is our ideal reporting tool for identifying influencers that engage with social media communication, identifying potential link building opportunities through contributed content, and measuring the success of organic link acquisition in social media-related content marketing program communications.
Social Media Traffic Performance
Traffic performance metrics form the basis for almost every social media program, even if they only indirectly impact specific B2B business results.
- Social Media Traffic: Arguably the most fundamental of all performance metrics when measuring social media activity.
- Percentage of traffic from social media platforms: This percentage varies based on the different online marketing strategies an organization utilizes in its B2B marketing mix.
- Landing pages receiving traffic: The number of web addresses and specific content marketing assets that received traffic or impressions from social media activity.
- Conversion-related metrics: Listed previously in lead generation benchmarks.
It is also important to compare quality of visit performance between social media and other acquisition channels as well. A primary reason this is important is because social media referral, particularly organic, will often be a smaller percentage of total traffic, in comparison to organic search and paid acquisition channels.
Social Media Productivity Metrics
Lastly, productivity metrics demonstrate the tactical work being applied to a social media program. These metrics are important because they help B2B digital marketers to recognize patterns in success and opportunity.
- Growth in network (particularly followers associated with target markets and audiences)
- Communication productivity (number of updates per social media platform managed)
- Per post impressions and clicks (can be freely acquired via social media platforms)
- Post production metrics (number of updates/time period, replies, mentions, etc.)
Coupled with competitive analysis, productivity metrics set a foundation for the necessary level and type of activity required to generate results more specifically tied to lead nurturing and lead generation performance.
It’s worth acknowledging that a single performance benchmark rarely, if ever, tells the success of a social media program. B2B marketers must connect the dots between productivity, traffic, lead nurturing, and lead generation efforts.
More often than not, repeated attempts and revamped tactics, based on lessons learned, will also lead to ongoing success and the development of high quality leads and connections through social media channels.
How has your B2B organization done at demonstrating the success of your social media programs? I would love to read your perspective via comments below.