Social Media and the challenge of giving credit for the sale (Return on Social Spend?)

28 Apr

“Where’s the ROI in social media?” It’s an old question asked again and again, when often the question really being asked is “Where’s the Return on Advertising Spend?”

We’ve found that you can actually use successful Journey Analysis case studies from eCommerce or digital direct comms to sell the benefits and “Return on Social Spend” of social activity to more traditional “hard metric” clients.

Journey analysis can allow subsequent sales to be attributed up to 10 clicks earlier on in the customer journey, which enables you to understand search activity value.

Conventional wisdom says you don’t spend vast sums on generic or lateral research search terms – they never convert effectively. However, that’s only if you just look at the last click. Journey Analysis can identify specific non-brand or product research terms that feature further back in the customer journey, and it turns out they’re often highly (and measurably) influential. Basing keyword investment on this insight, one project delivered sales up 122%, spend up just 42%. Over a marked and measurable period of time.

Essentially, help people when they’re researching and evaluating, before they’re ready to purchase, and you get a positive outcome when they do get closer to buy.

This kind of “harder” traditional Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) proof within such a widely accepted channels like search and eCommerce has enabled us to demonstrate an insight that is highly applicable to social media. Today social streams frequently provide peer-endorsed opportunities to discover products/services or the engaging content around them, even though at the time people don’t jump away from what they were doing and buy. Later, an ad delivered by the search or display channel can stimulate the final sale. Journey analysis helps us map these interactions.

In turn this helps to get CFO buy in – it not only makes sense but has numbers to back it up – so that we can develop social activity and campaigns focused around stimulating research activity in the Exposure and Engagement categories of online relationships documented here.

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