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Early in my career, my boss called me into his office first thing on Monday morning. As anyone who has worked in a corporate role before knows, that’s not a good sign. As soon as I sat down, he blurted out “I looked at the numbers, and you’re messing up the online advertising campaigns, you need to fix it.”

I knew I had optimized the heck out of the display advertising campaigns, and every month, performance was increasing, so I asked to see which report he was viewing.

He showed me a report that tracked campaign results for two similar products (we’ll call them Product A and Product B).

The report tracked results down to the lead level. He said, “The Product A campaign received a lot more clicks and leads, but you are giving 5x the impressions to the Product B campaign. We need to shut the Product B campaign down, and move all our impressions to the Product A campaign immediately.”

So, I told him I’d be right back. I went to my desk to get the report that tracked results all the way down to profitability.

That report showed that at the end of the customer journey, even though the Product A campaign received far more clicks and leads, the company closed about the same number of sales from both the Product A and Product B campaigns. Furthermore, the company’s profit margin on Product B was 5x higher than Product A.

My boss looked at the report, thought for a second, and proclaimed “WE NEED TO SHUT DOWN THE PRODUCT A CAMPAIGN, AND ONLY RUN THE PRODUCT B CAMPAIGN!!”

I smiled and said, “just let me handle it.” And to his credit, he did.

So, how could this hour-long, semi-tense back and forth on a Monday morning have been prevented? To solve the problem, you have to diagnose the problem.

There were 2 problems here:

Problem #1:

My boss wasn’t looking at the full data picture. I’ve always told clients that I can get you a high click-through rate, for example, if that’s all you care about. I can get my team to design a “funny cat video” meets “shoot the zombie ad” that will get boat loads of clicks. But are those clicks going to convert to leads and ultimately to sales? Absolutely not.

Which is why having that end-to-end data picture was so incredibly important.

Now, let’s apply this thinking to social media. How do you measure the success of your social media efforts?

If you answered awareness or engagement, that’s not necessarily bad (it’s better than nothing!). However, at some point, senior management is going to ask “what is the value of our social media efforts?” If you only track to the awareness or engagement level, then how do you effectively answer that question? How do you know if social media is somewhere your marketing and sales teams should spend their time?

Well, let’s look at your non-social media sales and marketing efforts. How do you measure the success of those efforts? Leads? Revenue? Net income? WHICHEVER OF THOSE METRICS YOU USE ARE THE SAME METRICS YOU NEED TO USE TO TRACK YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA EFFORTS!

And the closer you get to the end of the journey, the better idea you’ll have as to the true success of your efforts (and the value to the organization).

Now, I know what some of you are thinking – that’s great for advertising and email, but it’s much harder to do for social, and besides we SHOULDN’T do that right? Social is different. It’s not a sales and marketing channel.

Most of us treat social like this magical purple pegasus that flies around spreading candy and rainbows everywhere – it doesn’t live by the rules of our other marketing and sales channels.

But we need to change that. We need to treat social like any other channel because:

Senior management measures social media success the same way as any other sales and marketing channel

Senior management wants to know how many sales our LinkedIn efforts are generating, or how many leads our Facebook campaign creates. That’s their job. They are running a business. A business needs to smartly spend money on things that generate profitable business.

Thus, you HAVE to measure your social media efforts in the same way you measure your other sales and marketing efforts.

This apples-to-apples measurement approach will help the two biggest problems that most social media teams face:

  1. Lack of budget
  2. Lack of resources

Apples-to-apples measurement solves these problems because it levels the playing field.

If you can compare display advertising campaigns to Twitter campaigns using the same metrics, you can show which is providing more value to the organization. If you can compare LinkedIn messaging to cold calls using the same metrics, you’ll know exactly with which of the two your sales team should spend their time (hint: it’s LinkedIn).

If you can prove social media is providing more value using the same metrics, then suddenly, the skies part, the sun comes out, cherubs start singing, and you will get the budget and resources you need. It may not be super-easy to track social like other channels, but it’s 100% worth it!

Problem #2:

My boss didn’t know the end-to-end results that we had. That was my fault. I wasn’t doing a good enough job socializing the data. Sure, I sent a report out every week via email, and you could argue that he should have been reading it, but VPs/SVPs are very busy people.

Sometimes, that extra step to open the document is too daunting of a task. It’s easy to say “I’ll look at it later,” and close the email.

So, proactive communication is key. If you have great numbers – tell EVERYONE, and ESPECIALLY your boss. In your 1/1s, talk about the numbers, how they are increasing, and what a great job the team is doing. How else will he/she know?

When you send out reports, include an executive summary (2-3 bulletpoints maximum) at the top of the email, so if they don’t have time to look at your incredibly detailed report, they get the high-level story. Senior leadership has zero time in the day. Make it easy for them.

This is also an effective way to influence change at an organization (it’s hard to argue with numbers). If you go to your sales managers, and say they need to spend as much time on LinkedIn as they do on the phone, you will be kindly escorted out of their office. If you show that you get 5x the meeting rate, for example, using social selling as compared to cold calling, NOW you’ve got those sales managers’ ears.


End-to-end measurement and apples-to-apples comparisons take the guesswork out of your social media efforts. They will tell you EXACTLY which channels, campaigns and content are most valuable to the business and the client alike, and it is imperative that you measure your social media efforts as close to the end of the purchase journey as possible to determine the bottom-line value.

About the author

Robert Knop is Founder and CEO of Assist You Today, helping companies GAIN + RETAIN clients using digital strategy and social media. He’s a proud member of the Wave3 network of consultants, and always happy to talk strategy, digital and social selling. To learn more about how to evolve your marketing and sales approaches for the digital age, reach out to Robert.

Photo: Kirinohana

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