After speaking with a couple of small business owners, it became very evident of the need to discuss what the true value of social media marketing is and how to measure its ROI.  There is no simple answer to this question, and understandably this is what frustrates some small business owners who question the value of it.  More often than not, if you ask the owner if they are an instant gratification type of person, this will determine how or if social media marketing is a good fit for them (or any marketing in general for that matter).  

If the business owner is into instant gratification, the success of the marketing is determined on if they have an instant product or not.  For example, do they have an e-commerce site for potential customers to view products?  Are they looking to grow leads for which their sales team can contact?  What is their sales cycle?  These are all questions that both the marketer and business owner should be factoring in.

Before investing in social media marketing the first thing established should be what are the goals?  What are you looking to accomplish?  The generic response is, of course, an increase in sales, but that’s a given.  However, there are actual steps needed to accomplish in order to see that increase in sales.  Just like traditional marketing, social media has its very own sales funnel.  Depending on the product or service you provide the sales funnel could vary.  Perhaps you may simply want to increase brand awareness and educate the public on your product/service.  Maybe you want to grow your email list.  Others may want to distribute a digital download.  Here is an example of a social media sales funnel.

Digital-Marketing-Sales-Funnel-by-Amber-Creative

Awareness

Building product and brand awareness is at the core of all marketing, starting Facebook pages are just like starting a business.  It is not enough to simply start your business and expect people to immediately know who you are and what you do.  The sales aren’t just going to come to you, yes you may have some foot traffic come up and inquire but that’s not enough to be sustainable.  Building awareness may require a start-up investment (we’ll discuss how to create a marketing budget at another time).  The awareness stage may consist of Facebook Ads or promoted posts, YouTube Advertising, Twitter Advertising, or another digital platform.  Be sure to take advantage of social media targeting abilities, such as demographics and interests.  Location targeting is highly recommended for companies with brick and mortar locations, or designated areas they are able to operate in.

Engage

This part of the sales funnel is where you generate everyday content, research and include relevant hashtags, respond to comments and mentions, and potentially respond to private messages from interested/current customers.  The Awareness portion may happen during new sales, monthly advertising, or a weekly promoted post.  The Engagement portion is what you do on a daily basis.  If you are properly building your brand awareness, then the engagement is about educating your following on not just your product but about your industry.  This stage is about increasing interests in the what (product), to ultimately get them interested in the who (you) that is providing it.

Clicks

After piquing their interest on the what and the who, you want to ultimately have them find out more about you.  This results in the form of a click or visit to your website.  They have become intrigued enough that they would like to know more about you, which means that you should have a well-maintained website.

While it is possible to sell items directly through Facebook, most customers are still going to want to see who you are and how they can get in contact with you outside of Facebook if need be.

Sales

lucas-favre-489526-unsplash

This where that almighty dollar comes in, the sweet sound of a new sale!  This is what everybody is ultimately after.  If you have built the proper awareness, share quality content that followers engaged with, they clicked through to your website to learn more, then this lead could potentially convert into a new customer.  Wait potentially?  Yes, potentially.  There are a number of things that could go wrong at this point.  

For example, if the business has a great social marketing strategy but a poorly designed website that isn’t very user-friendly then it will decrease the conversion rate.  Or if there isn’t a proper tracking system to separate the social media sales from all other forms of sales, you wouldn’t really have a definitive measuring tool to judge the success of the marketing strategy.  You could say “well our sales stayed the same,” but there is the possibility that your other sales went down and the social media marketing just made up for the other losses.

Let’s take for example a potential company that specializes in financial management.

Awareness: Creating branded images/videos and promoting posts with services offered in the messaging content.  Target geographic areas close to your local office(s), along with typical industries or people who most often invest in financial/wealth management.  Including short links such as bit.ly or an equivalent for users to click, sending them to the homepage or another specific webpage.  Using a URL builder such as Google’s URL Builder to tag links for data analysis.

Engage: Images that feature everyday operations in the office with the staff, educational posts about the average person’s finances, important financial tips about how to manage finances.  Responding to comments on promoted posts.  Sparking conversations with other users that are using industry-related hashtags.

Clicks: Measuring the data from the tagged short links to determine promoted posts with the highest conversions.  Creating a website goal such as a contact form or appointment scheduling for tracking purposes.

Sales: Monitoring bounce rates, average time on page, tracking the website behavior of visits.  Tracking a number of goals and conversion rates for reporting.

This example outlines the basics of how to potentially increase social relevancy to measure the ROI without getting into detailed specifics such as the brand voice, scheduling, core audiences, marketing analysis, SEO research, etc.  Some businesses may be scared to share too much information for fear of giving away too much trade secret. For those business owners, remember just because you tell somebody how to do a particular action doesn’t mean they will want to do it for themselves.  You can teach many how to do corporate tax themselves, but the majority of them will still opt to hire an accounting firm just for peace of mind.

Regardless of what strategy you choose to use make sure you have a plan.  Don’t be so quick to say something doesn’t work or have value simply because you don’t know how to truly measure the results.