As part of an ongoing conversation into how we should all be using social media in 2019 is the conversation about sales. Social media managers are increasingly being asked about the dollar value amount they bring into a business, what’s their ROI. And we have no issues about being asked about our ROI – what we do want to look at is what we mean when we talk about the “return”.
Notice that we have wrapped this up in the term “return” – not dollars or cents, not sales, not likes or comments but return. It’s an important metric to consider, but we need to be measuring it from the same yardstick. When we talk about ROI on your digital communications, we should be talking about influence. We should be talking about touchpoints or discovery or access. Because that’s really what social media or email marketing drives.
Digital communication should be a supporting piece in an overall customer acquisition strategy – but it should not BE your customer acquisition strategy. You will not get work, customers and business simply by having a social media presence. You need to have a physical presence, physical advertising (whether that’s signage or print media or flyers in other businesses etc), advocates and brand champions, a website and probably some sort of sales process to tie it all together. None of these things can work independently, and nor should they. But you do need all areas of this process working together, playing their own role, to get some sort of success in business.
So let’s get back to digital communication and that ”return” on your investment. Some could argue that the return on your investment is simply that you were present on social platforms and in Peoples inboxes, and you (the business owner) had time to do other things. That’s your return.
Some say that the physical posting on social media or the sending of EDMs combined with the customer service side of operating on these platforms is your return – someone present to answer questions and enquiries and complaints. That’s your return.
We believe it is a bit more complex than that. It’s a common trite that people need to see a message 3 times before they understand it or can recall it. The same is true for a brand or a service – repetition is key. And so social media provides a great place to share that message once; then repeat it in either your email marketing or via your website; and repeat it again in store. Bonus points if you can get brand ambassadors (like ongoing customers or minor celebrities) to repeat the message for you.
This also ties into the importance of consistency – if you’re not repeating your message in all aspects of your marketing, can people understand and recall it? If your logo is different on your signage than it is online, will people put the two together?
Unfortunately, this doesn’t lead to a clean “sale” that can be attributed to digital marketing. It’s about building that influence, giving people access to the information and ways to discover it, so they can ultimately convert – often via phone, email or a contact form. Yes, you should always be asking your customer how they found out about you – but in lots of instances, it will be from a number of different sources. Make sure you record any and all of the answers given, as this forms part of how you can measure the ROI of any of your marketing activities.
The other important thing to remember is the risk of doing nothing at all – what happens if you just stop investing in your email marketing or social media? No discovery, no influence, no access.
That’s your return.