SES New York brings nearly 4000 online marketers to the city March 19-23, 2012. The conference agenda offers marketing professionals keynote speakers, sessions, networking events and exhibits on social media, integrated marketing, paid search and SEO with emphasis on tactics and best practices.
Tami Dalley, Director of Analytics and Insights at Buddy Media, is speaking Thursday March 23rd in a panel session entitled ‘Winning! Measuring Social Media Success’. I had the benefit of interviewing Tami and wanted to share her insight with our readers. She offers valuable advice for companies looking to engage in social media strategies in 2012 and offers tips for today’s marketers. Thanks, Tami! I look forward to seeing you in New York.
At SES NY your panel session entitled: ‘Winning! Measuring Social Media Success’ focuses on the value and return of social media strategies. In recent years, the value of social media has been around engagement and relationship building. With the onset of more tools to track metrics, do the relationships take a back seat or do measurement tools highlight how social engagement results in sales?
Relationships do not take a back seat at all. This is social media we’re talking about, and social media is all about relationships. In a joint study conducted by Buddy Media and global research firm Booz and Co., brands said the top metrics used to measure social media fell under the categories of Reach, Engagement, Participation and Advocacy. These are all metrics that I would qualify more as “relationship metrics.” Only 38% of brands surveyed used social media metrics for sales or lead generation. However, this is changing fast, and the metrics are not mutually exclusive. At Buddy Media, we track the qualitative metrics, but also the transactional metrics, such as conversion or sale per share. Our customers have a clear view as to exactly how the sharing of their content drives sales and other conversions.
Measuring the ROI of social media is a primary challenge marketers face in 2012. Can the ROI of social media be separated out from the return of digital marketing as a whole?
Absolutely. The technology is here, and brands are getting more sophisticated in this area.Buddy Media has invested heavily in this area, with our ConversionBuddy social commerce and analytics tool, which tracks revenue and conversions from social sharing.
We also recently acquired Facebook Ads API company Brighter Option, so we are the only social marketing software that gives brands and agencies powerful products across their paid, owned and earned social media efforts. Our social ad buying technology includes a built-in conversion tracker that can be used to manage and measure conversions at any stage of a sales process. We offer complete data on best performing social ads and deliver precise information on exactly when consumers are falling out of the sales pipeline. If you’re not looking at your social efforts from this level, you’re flying blind.
Independent third party research strongly supports that social ROI is here today. Nielsen just released data showing social ads deliver 55% higher recall than ads that don’t allow people to share ad content with friends.
When considering the variance in budgets small and large companies have for online marketing, does the size of a company’s budget impact different social media strategies and measurements?
Almost all of the brands surveyed (95%, in fact) in our study with Booz & Co., said that they plan to grow their social media spend moving forward. Regardless of budget, companies are planning to devote more resources to social media. As far as the differences between small and large brands’ strategies and measurements, it really depends on the company, their programs and their goals. At Buddy Media, we focus exclusively on the enterprise. Even the largest global advertisers such as Procter & Gamble are shifting spend to digital and social to save money and be more effective with their budget.
The worthy challenge for all marketers has always been measuring ROI. Is social media just the latest manifestation of that challenge? How is tracking the return on social media similar or dissimilar to measuring results of the age old ‘word of mouth’ (WOM)?
I actually think measuring WOM is now easier to execute and track with social media than it was in the past, because WOM is now happening increasingly online. Companies used to (and still do) conduct post-purchase surveys online or over the phone in which consumers are asked how they heard about the company. One of the options is always, “I heard from a friend.” That always struck me as a rather imperfect way to measure word of mouth marketing.
With social media, you’re actually able to get more concrete data to measure the way people are sharing social content and purchasing from those shares. What you’re measuring is still similar: the reach of your content, who is spreading your content, and how many sales and conversions are resulting from the word of mouth marketing. But with social media, those metrics are all easy to track, which makes social media an even more effective way to utilize word of mouth.
What insight can you offer companies who are building advocacy with executives to support social media marketing and/or who are just launching their social marketing strategies? What are the top points for justifying social media spend and key metrics to track results?
Our recent research revealed that 38% of companies reported social media is on their CEO’s agenda, and that 35% of companies have a senior executive who is responsible for social media company-wide. That latter number rises to 41% among companies that consider themselves “best in class” or “strong” in social media. I expect that those numbers are only going to continue to grow. Social media is an important part of any company’s marketing strategy.
The cost of shares, the cost of impressions, the cost of clicks and the cost per order on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, etc. all start at zero, versus the cost per click and cost per impression on television, print and digital advertisement, which never start at zero. Executives loved that social media ROI can earned and paid, where in other mediums it is only paid. Now that we have the ability to track key metrics to determine ROI, based on share and conversion tracking, I think it’s easy to make a very strong case to increase the presence of social media marketing within your company. The largest brands such asP&G, American Express and Ford are believers, and that is a tremendous endorsement.
What percentage of social media strategy is art vs. science? And to riff on that, what percent of tracking the ROI of social marketing is art vs. science?
I don’t think brand will ever track 100% of their social media programs, or that 100% of their social media strategy can be boiled down to science. This is the same for other marketing initiatives. There is always a branding component. Brands need to generate “top of the funnel” activity such as awareness and consideration, and not everything is direct response.
That being said, the technology continues to improve and brands continue to hone in on the science aspect. Digital marketers that understand marketing analytics inside and out are quickly adapting social media. Community managers and social strategists need to think like marketers and be more data driven with their programs.
Tami Dalley oversees Buddy Media’s analytics and insights team. She has more than a decade of industry experience in deep-dive web analytics, usability consulting, competitive intelligence, landing page design, and multivariate testing. Prior to Buddy Media, she worked as the director of user experience optimization at ROI Labs, a leading provider of global web analytics consulting services. Her work has been honored with the Search Engine Strategies Award for Most Effective Use of Web Analytics and the HSMAI Gold Arian Award for Outstanding Search Marketing Strategy. Dalley is an industry thought leader and has spoken at SES, Search Marketing Expo, and Conversion University, among other events.