Compared to its humble beginnings, social media marketing has become a staple in the B2B community with more than $5.4 billion spent on social marketing efforts in the United States alone in 2016 (source).

However, 14% of B2B companies still refuse to participate in social media initiatives. When asked why many cited the difficulties associated with measuring the ROI of their social media efforts (source).

Unlike other marketing strategies, calculating ROI on social initiatives can be difficult for a number of factors. However, it’s not impossible. Keep reading for our top tips and best practices for measuring social media ROI:

Establish Goals or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

One of the biggest mistakes B2B marketers make is not having a specific goal at the outset of a social campaign. Like any other campaign, if you don’t understand the metrics that indicate success, how do you know when you’ve achieved it?

With your team, establish clear and measurable goals for your social campaigns. These should ultimately align with other business and marketing objectives established by your company but should be specific to your social efforts. Some sample goals to get you thinking:

  • Brand awareness. Brand awareness can be tied to follower counts, mentions, and engagement.
  • Lead generation. Lead generation is tied to metrics like website visits from your social accounts, clicks to landing pages, and form completions.
  • Customer retention. Customer retention is tied closely to customer service. How many customers did you help? How many questions did you answer?

Calculate your investment

Quite possibly the easiest step in determining social ROI is adding up your expenses – or in other terms, determining the cost of the investment.

When calculating your investment, be sure to consider factors such as:

  • Man-hours: Time is money after all. Be sure to add up the man-hours that go into cultivating your social media efforts over a specific period of time.
  • Content: Did you outsource any of your social content? If so, include those costs as part of your investment.
  • Social media tools: Posting to each individual social platform may be free, but it isn’t unusual for a marketing team to implement other paid resources to streamline social efforts. Be sure to factor in the costs of any analytics/social media management platforms you may be using.
  • Ad costs: Add up the cost of any paid social media advertisements or promoted posts you’ve spent money on.

Tie your goals/KPI’s to numeric values.

Here’s the hard part—tying your KPI’s to a numeric value. We suggest setting up “goals” in Google Analytics or a comparable website tracking platform. These goals are tied to a specific behavior that indicates success—for example: filling out a form, landing on a specific page, or staying on a website for a certain amount of time. If you’re not sure what we mean, check out these helpful tutorials:

As part of setting up your “goals” in Google Analytics, you’ll have to assign each a monetary value. To determine a goal’s value, Ad Age suggests the following considerations:

  • Lifetime value: How much do you earn from each customer on average?
  • Lifetime value multiplied by conversion rate: How much is each potential visit worth to you based on the percentage that converts?
  • Average sale: How much is the average purchase through your site?
  • PPC valuation: How much would you end up paying if you were to use ads to achieve the same social media results?

Ad Age uses Zoomcar as an example. Zoomcar, the largest car rental company in India, uses social marketing to drive mobile app installs, where users can make a purchase (its key conversion metric). Zoomcar knows that its lifetime value of a customer is $70, and that 40% of its mobile app users make a purchase. Therefore, it knows a mobile app download is worth $28 and can strategize accordingly.

Consider your competition.

Stay up-to-date on your competitors’ social media profiles and tactics. If you pay attention over a long enough period of time, you’ll be able to get an idea of what works—and doesn’t work—for other companies within your industry. This can uncover new trends, dying fads, and give you new ideas.

It’s important to note, no two companies will measure ROI the same way. Don’t panic if your results are significantly different than your competitor’s. What matters most is that your ROI improves over time.

Fill your toolbox.

Gathering valuable data from social initiatives can be time-consuming and confusing. Fortunately, the rise of social media came with an influx of management tools and analytics platforms. Through these integrations, you’ll be able to dissect each user’s journey and understand the interactions that led to conversion. Popular social media management tools include Oktopost, Sprout Social, Buffer, Hootsuite, Spredfast, Percolate, and more.

Give it time.

Unfortunately, measuring social media ROI ’doesn’t happen overnight–especially if you are new to the social media arena. It’s important to test different metrics, tools, and strategies to find what works for your marketing department. Before you give up on measuring the ROI of your social media efforts, set aside the time necessary to gain accurate and usable results.

For more information about getting more from your B2B marketing, contact ZoomInfo today.

About the author

Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is a content marketing director at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact data solution.

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