guy measuring w chartsProving ROI for social media activities is a major challenge. Measuring other internet marketing activities is straightforward. For example, to find the return on investment in paid search marketing campaign you just run a report on ad spend and quickly calculate costs.

When the question comes to social media, the answer gets fuzzy. What’s the value of a share on Facebook, an endorsement on LinkedIn?  What we do know is that social media is an integral part of todays’ marketing. Common sense says you need to be on social because that is where your customers, your prospective customers, and your competitors are.

What’s clear is that there is not a silver bullet solution to calculate return on investment from social media marketing. If your company has a good size marketing budget (thousands a month) you can invest in marketing automation services that track prospects’ interaction with any marketing effort and score this behavior. This information allows the sales team to make more timely follow-up.

If your company is small with limited resources, there are some measurements that can help you determine the relative value if not a dollar value. Here are four major metrics used to understand how your internet marketing impacts your business.

1) Consumption Metrics
2) Sharing Metrics
3) Lead Generation Metrics
4) Sales Metrics

Consumption Metrics is the easiest measurement to set up and understand. Consumption metrics helps you measure brand awareness and website traffic. These metrics include:

1) Page views: Google Analytics is a free and easy to use tool for this measurement and Wordpress has analytics plug-ins.
2) Video views: YouTube Insights, another free measurement tool from Google.
3) Document views: SlideShare and Scribd are websites that allow you to publish all kinds of documents, and they offer access to numbers of views.
5) Social chatter: Services like Mention.net, Radian6, Sysomos, and Viralheat are monthly subscription services for measuring chatter. They are affordable with different levels of pricing.

Sharing Metrics
Measuring how your content is shared satisfies two content goals: brand awareness and engagement. Of course, you need to create content that’s worth sharing. Your sharing metrics may include:

1) Likes, shares, tweets, +1s, and pins: Sharing tools typically keep track of these.
2) Forwards: Your email provider can help you track email forwards.
3) Inbound links: Tools like your blogging software and MajesticSEO simplify how you measure these.

Lead Generation Metrics
The use of a call-to-action with a download is easy to quantify when a download offer is tied to a form that captures contact information. These provide lead nurturing opportunities and potential for sales. Additional lead generation metrics are:

1) Email subscriptions: Your email provider tracks how many visitors sign up to receive your emails.
2) Blog subscriptions: You can measure blog subscriptions through RSS feed services like Feedblitz.
3) Blog comments: A strong comment platform (perhaps using a blog commenting service) helps here.

Sales Metrics
Here, you’ll find out how your content impacts customer acquisition and sales goals.
Your content marketing strives for these outcomes. The metrics you need to understand these include:

1) Online sales: Typically, you measure these through your ecommerce system.
2) Offline sales: You track these with marketing automation services that can record which pieces of content your customers consumed.
3) Manual reporting & anecdotes: Yes, recording those handshake deals is still part of measurement.

Don’t Forget Customer Retention: Your most important content audience is your current customers.
Smart companies use sophisticated CRM systems to track what content is consumed by customers and measure the impact of individual content components on retention and renewal rates. When you have a new piece of content, make sure your current customers get special access to it first.

Remember: if you’re going to track leads and sales, you have to do something trackable. When designing your web pages and social media we include a call to action that is unique to each piece of content. At Imagine, Inc we can assist you to create your measurement system or we can manage one for you.

We work with companies to develop a powerful online marketing presence so they can attract the perfect customers.

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