A great deal of debate is occurring online about how to measure ROI for social media marketing.
By Roger Ewing
Those of us who have spent lavishly on print media over the course of our business careers are empathetic towards our digital new-age friends who struggle to justify investing in social media. This is particularly true now, given our recessionary cost control environment.
If the Tweeters, Bloggers and Diggers could measure the effectiveness of their social media platforms, would the management team finally stop harping about the amount of resources in time and money that are being applied to these strategies by the marketers? Probably. Consider this.
Only about 30% of traditional marketing has demonstrable ROI.
Then why did we spend all that money on traditional print media in the past if there is so little measurable result? I, for one, did it primarily because my competitors were doing it. And my competitors did it because I did, and so on. In the past, advertising wars involved keeping a body count of pages published in specific publications. If my competitor was at ten pages, how could I not commit to at least eight pages to remain competitive? It’s a lot like a legal battle where the lawyers get all the money, and the clients slowly go broke.
The marketing wars have begun anew, but this time the field of battle is digital. There are several aspects of our battle strategy we will need to consider if we want our enterprises to prosper. The first is, our old nemesis, print media. The other is the awesome power of branding. These two weapons combined with an intelligent social media platform, will conquer the competition in record time.
Sorry techies, print media is critical and necessary. The marriage of print and digital marketing, when managed correctly, is the formula that produces spontaneous combustion.
There is a tipping point of web visits that is achieved, when targeted print campaigns support developing web based marketing strategies.
Traffic to your site needs to be substantial, if it is going to achieve traction and grow organically. The quickest way to do that is to market your web site via traditional print vehicles targeted to your particular industry.
Branding has such awesome firepower that smaller entrepreneurs are often swept aside by the sheer magnitude of it. Brands are the nuclear missile that atomizes the competition. Look, you don’t have to be a genius to know what a well-known brand represents to the consumer. Brand identity implies, “It may not be perfect, but at least I know what to expect”. Why else would you drive around a strange town searching for a Subway Restaurant at lunchtime?
The Internet has given entrepreneurs strange powers. With a lot of SEO work and a very small investment, an enterprising young business can create brand awareness in a short period of time that rivals the larger brand labels. In fact, there seems to be a group of consumers out there saying, “I like micro brands, they make me look hip and contemporary”. Of course, a strategy built around the concept of pretentiousness won’t go very far if the product is not rock solid.
In practice, I don’t believe we can expect to know for sure what the actual result of our investment is in marketing. However, we can directly measure our web traffic and extrapolate a return. Many sources of analytical information exist to measure the effectiveness of our internet marketing strategy. Google Analytics is probably the most popular source of web traffic information.
1. Lay your hands on a sold brand name, or in the absence of a great brand, work really hard to create online brand awareness for your business.
2. Spend judiciously on a print media campaign. Advertise your brand and your web site in direct mail, newspapers, or anywhere else your target audience may see it. Important rule: don’t do any advertising that is not memorable. You are better off sending 100 post cards with a great design and a compelling message, than sending 1,000 that will not be read or appreciated.
Once you have achieved a critical mass of visits to your web site, you can begin to wean off the print media, slowly. Do so carefully, and only after Google Analytics demonstrates your number one source of web visits is the result of organic search engines.