Demystifying Marketing and Social Media Measurement

by · October 15, 20136 comments

I’ve been evangelizing measurement in social media since 2009. I’ve started to sound a bit like a broken record to myself in that time, but the reality is that for me, it isn’t really about measuring social media. It’s about measuring marketing activity and social media is just one piece of the pie. I truly believe that measurement is the difference between being just another marketer and being a business rock star.

I know I’m not alone in that thinking. The Fournaise Report stated that “just 20 percent of CEO’s consider their top marketers to be ROI marketers but those that do believe they have ‘solid influence’ within their organization and could go on to senior management.” At the end of the day, “80% of CEOs admit they do not really trust and are not very impressed by the work done by Marketers – while in comparison, 90% of the same CEOs do trust and value the opinion and work of CFOs and CIOs.”  (Source) Measuring marketing activity isn’t a nice to have anymore; it’s a critical piece in every marketer’s career trajectory.

As important as it is, measurement still seems elusive and hard. I mean, if it were so easy wouldn’t marketers just do it? Wouldn’t measurement be a standard practice and not a differentiator? You would think so. I’m here to tell you that measurement doesn’t have to be hard. It’s actually simpler than most CMO’s realize, so I’ll let you in on a few secrets of ROI marketers.

Measuring ROI Comes Down to Tracking Campaign History

ROI DiceIn order to get to ROI, the first step is to start tracking every campaign that a prospect engages with before they become a customer. I’m not talking about the first campaign or the last campaign. I’m talking about EVERYTHING. I mean full campaign history, which entails having a database that is updated every time a prospect or customer touches a marketing campaign even if they don’t convert or take action. You’re right. That is a big database with a lot of data storage, but it’s the only way to know what is and what isn’t working. It’s the only way to know everything that contributed to a sale. And it’s the only way to truly measure the company’s real acquisition costs because let me tell you they are far higher than you think.

Just imagine the type of data you could get if you wanted to be able to measure every prospect who touched social media somewhere in their prospect life cycle? Or the performance of any customer who ever subscribed to the corporate blog? The depth of the types of analysis that is possible is frankly, mind-blowing. Once you have this type of data you’ll be calling me asking what is the most important thing to look at, instead of asking how to get the data. That is a great problem to have, so start setting yourself up to deal with an overload of data instead of not having enough.

Campaign History Must Connect to Revenue

A big part of tracking campaign history is being able to overlay prospect and customer performance in terms of revenue. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you can tell me every prospect who touched social media if you can’t then tell me how much revenue they generated. The reason CFO’s have so much influence and respect from CEO’s is because they present financial data. CEO’s live, eat, and breathe financial data because it’s what makes or breaks their career. If you can put yourself into a position of providing data that makes the difference in a CEO’s career trajectory you will put yourself in the circle of trust. Therefore, make sure that wherever you store campaign history can be cross-referenced against the revenue performance of each individual. Notice that I said each individual. You must be able to store campaign history on an individual person’s data record, but then be able to pull and aggregate data efficiently and effectively.

Campaign History Must Be Reportable

For many companies this means it is critical to get campaign history into a business data warehouse because frankly a lot of CRM systems aren’t set up to store this type of data in a way that can easily be referenced in reporting. So don’t think it’s as simple as setting up a database to store the data. That’s the first step. The second step is making sure it can be referenced against revenue. The third step is to ensure that you can quickly and efficiently do your own analysis of the data. I wish I could tell you that tracking A or B was going to be the golden nugget of awesome, however when you actually get into the data you’ll find things that are not only unexpected, but that are equally unpredictable. For example, you might find things like people who touch social typically convert in organic search. Or you might find that the prospect lifecycle to customer is longer when they touch social media, but they convert at ridiculously higher rates. If you want to see some of the types of data I’ve found check out this case study article that Jason wrote about me back when I was brand-side. The analysis started with a few questions around things like, “I wonder if there is any relationship between x and y.” Before I knew it, I had a list of relationship possibilities that went far beyond the alphabet. There were a lot of data points that weren’t super interesting, but there were some that were shocking and extremely positive that I never would’ve guessed until after I pulled the data. In fact, the ones that were the most positive were the ones I initially thought had very little chance of showing success.

Include the Marketing Channel as a Factor in Campaign History

To make reporting easy, make sure you include the marketing channel as one of the data points that can be referenced in campaign history. When it comes to social, you will want to know that an activity happened on Twitter, but it would be really nice to simply be able to check the box that says you want all social media data and then have the option for drilling down when the data is interesting. Your company probably has a variety of marketing channels that are used for demand generation and customer retention; make sure you include them in the data set in a way that makes reporting super easy. I also can’t stress enough that being able to pull the data yourself without having to involve other departments or make “requests” for data is critical. Because you won’t know which data is going to tell the most interesting story, you will need to pull a lot of reports in the beginning. Cutting out the middle man makes this a much more realistic process because after all, no one will care about the data or the reporting more than you will.

Think Through What Data Will Pass into Campaign History

One of the key factors in making reporting easy is to seriously think through what types of fields you want to track in your campaigns. In Google Analytics we typically use source, medium, and campaign for social media. You want to create a framework for how you use these tracking fields that is consistent and maintains data integrity. For example, in many systems little things like using a big T or a little t in Twitter will separate your data into two different groups. When you go pull reports if you don’t pull both you could be missing a bunch of the data you are looking for. Therefore, it’s important to create a system for how you will use campaign fields to pass the data you are looking for.

Do a Systems Audit

At the end of the day, you won’t be able to get around completing a systems audit so that you understand where data is stored and how you can start passing social data. The goal is to get the data from social associated with a record in your customer relationship management system. A good place to start is by looking at your web analytics system and see if there is already an integration built that is passing data. If there is, the good news is that you can probably tap into it. If there isn’t, there are simple ways to address it. This audit will likely require conversations with IT, Marketing, Customer Service and any other group who currently tracks data related to customers. The good news is, now you know what data you need to pass. The question becomes, what is the easiest way to tap into an existing integration to pass it?

Instead of spending time wondering which metrics are important to measure, start by getting marketing and social data into your core systems. Then we can debate which metrics are the best metrics, but I can tell you this. If you aren’t passing campaign data into your CRM, it’s unlikely you are measuring anything meaningful to your executive management team today. It’s time to fix it.

What are your thoughts about campaign history? Are you capturing full campaign history today? If not, what’s holding you back? Leave a comment and join the discussion on the value of campaign history.

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About Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly is the CEO of Social Media Explorer|SME Digital. She is also the author of How to Measure Social Media. Her team helps companies figure out where social media fits and then helps execute the recommended strategy across the “right” mix of social media channels. Do you want to rock the awesome with your digital marketing strategy? Contact Nichole

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.riversagency.com/ Evan

    Interesting article. How do you account for impressions of things seen but not interacted with on social media? I’m not too sure there are any social media analytic that offer that but impressions/clicks on a post with no action taken can easily connect the customer to the product or brand.

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  • http://www.ultimatef1events.com/ Ultimate Event

    Great post &
    Fantastic blog I would definitely love to begin a blog too but I have no clue
    where to begin I possess the ability to do it (not that challenging on the
    technical part) but I really feel like I am too lazy to post regularly That
    is the problem if you start you have to go all the way However blogs like
    yours inspire me to have a go at it

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  • Sarah Jocson

    Brilliant blog! Explore examples showing social media measurements impact on business. Determination is one aspects on how to make sense of all the data.

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