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6 Ways to Actually Track Social Media ROI

Despite how great the latest marketing tech stack gets, it always feels like there’s room for attribution improvement.

We’d know exactly how someone went from finding out about your brand to becoming a happy customer in a perfect world. But it’s not that easy. You know this by now, having realized that tracking social media ROI can be really difficult.

Can you confidently say that you know your social ROI?

If you said no, you’re with the majority of marketers trying to figure it out (including us!). Here’s what we’re doing to track social media ROI and *attempt* to get the right attribution.

#1: Clicks to Website by Source

Let’s start with the basics of website visitors. When someone clicks on your website, they’ve engaged with your brand. They’ve shown a clear interest in what you’re doing and we can now move them from the Awareness Stage of the Customer Value Journey to the Engagement Stage.

What we really want to do is keep moving them to Subscribe and then Convert.

By tracking your website visitors by source, you’ll be able to see how many people are engaging with your brand from specific social sources. This tells you if your social content is turning your audience into website visitors (who you can also retarget later). At DigitalMarketer, we have social sources like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

Using Clicks to Website Source, we can determine which social channels are giving us the highest clicks and assume we’ll be able to get the most amount of conversions from that social channel. Now we can create more content for those specific social channels driving website traffic and getting the ROI we’re looking for from our time and investment.

#2: Email-Opt Ins by Source

Website traffic is the first step, but we all know those email opt-ins are where the magic happens. We’re big-time email marketers and can attribute the majority of our sales directly to email. But again—the problem of attribution comes up.

What if an email subscriber initially came from social? We have to give social its credit. 

That’s where email opt-ins by source comes in. Using this metric, we can figure out how many email subscribers we’re getting from our social audience. For example, let’s say 2% of our email subscribers convert to our flagship offer. If we’re able to get 100 email subscribers from a social channel per week, that means we can attribute about 2 of those sales to social.

Using our Average Order Value and Customer Lifetime Value (LTV), we can figure out what our ROI for social is. If our flagship offer is $100 per month and our LTV is about $2,000, we know that our social ROI is $200 per week and about $2,000 in revenue.

In Google Analytics, set up custom event tracking on every form to see where the subscriber came from.

#3: Sales by Source

Now it’s time to get into direct social sales, which means things will get tricky. Since we still can’t confidently attribute sales to certain touchpoints, what we’ll do with sales by source is just get an idea of how many conversions are coming from social.

We say “just get an idea” because even though somebody bought from social—it doesn’t mean that social should get all of the credit. This customer might have found us through social, read 4 of our blog posts, came back to our social page 3 days later, saw our offer again and decided to buy it. In this example, social definitely played a part in the conversion but so did our blog posts and homepage (because of the Zero Moment of Truth).

We’re going to give social credit for sales, but we can’t be naive to think that it pulled all of the weight in every single instance.

In Sales by Source, there are 4 different events to choose from, and 2 of those are specific to clicks (which is what you’re looking for in this metric):

You’ll choose Cross-Channel Last Click so Google Analytics will attribute the conversion to the last click. This means that if someone clicks from your Instagram bio to our landing page and buys—Instagram gets the credit.

With Sales by Source, you’ll be able to see how much of your audience is taking you up on your offers. This is the time to look for patterns in the data. If you see that your social audience buys $20 Entry-Point Offers but not $900 Flagship Offers use that data in your content strategy. Selling 100 $20 Entry-Point offers gives you a better ROI than selling 1 $900 Flagship Offer. Ahh, the magic of data.

#4: Use Linear & Time Decay Attributions

Since Sales by Source can’t give you the real story of why someone bought (and acts like it was a much more straight line of a trajectory than it really was), you also want to use Linear and Time Decay attributions.

To be clear, you want to use both metrics. Even though Sales by Source isn’t perfect, it’s still really useful and will help you figure out which products to promote on your socials. Linear and Time Decay will show you how your socials are converting on average.

Linear attributions give each visit within the Lookback Window equal credit. Time Decay gives the more recent visits within a Lookback Window more credit and older visits less credit. This will give you an idea of where people were before they purchased. We suggest setting these attributions up for all of your digital channels, not just social. With this data, you can see which of your social channels are involved in conversions the most often. 

For example, you can see that social networks don’t have the highest conversions, but they have the highest Linear and Time Decay. This tells us that even though our social ROI might not look big, our audience turns into customers really well from social.

With these metrics, you’re looking to figure out what the real story is. Comparing these attributions to Sales by Source will help you narrow down what’s actually going on behind-the-scenes and leading to sales.

#5: Give Social A Specific Discount

So far, all of the ways to track your social media ROI have involved heavy metrics and having an understanding of Google Analytics. But, we get it. Sometimes you’re just a one-person team trying to figure out how to get more sales. Other times your team is so busy you couldn’t possibly get these attributions set up right now—but you need to figure out your social ROI.

That’s who these next two strategies are for. 

The first strategy is to give your social audience a specific discount. You can also give your different channels their own discount (INSTAGRAM10, TWITTER10, FACEBOOK10, YOUTUBE10). Each of those discount codes is for 10% off, but you get to see where that customer came from without a steep Google Analytics learning curve.

Your goal will be to see how many audience members convert into customers. Figure out what your conversion rate is based on your engagement and followers. For example, if you have 10,000 social followers and you get 100 sales, you know that your conversion rate is 1% of your followers. If you usually get 500 likes, comments, and saves on your post, then you know your conversion rate is 5% of your engagement rate.

These numbers are going to help you create a Predictable Selling System. This is something we talk about a lot inside Lab. Predictable Selling Systems (PSS) get you out of the “I hope I make money this year mentality” and into the “I know how much money I’m making this year” mentality.

When you know how much to expect from your socials, you’ll know how much you can afford to invest in them before you go into full Google Analytics mode. 

#6: Create special landing pages just for social

Another way to avoid using Google Analytics (for now) is to create special landing pages just for your social channels. You can make one landing page used across all of your socials or create a different page for each social channel.

Each of these pages can be identical or have copy that mentions the channel the user came from. What we’re looking for is how many people convert from your social or per channel. Since this page is dedicated to your social audience, your conversions can be attributed to your Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and other followings.

Let’s say that you have a 10,000 person social audience and 1% convert every quarter. Your offer is $500, so you’re making $50,000 from social every quarter. Your social team costs you $100,000 per year. With these numbers, you now know that you’re investing $100,000 in social and making $100,000 in profit (after subtracting your investment from your yearly profit).

You now know that it’s worth your time and what your ceiling is on when social isn’t worth your time or investment. 

I’m still waiting for the marketing tech stack that solves all attribution problems, but the reality is that it’s going to be really hard to create that. That’s where these 6 ways of tracking social ROI come in. At DigitalMarketer, we always need to be making sure that our social investment is paying off and the answer is in the data. We keep it close by to make sure we’re getting an ROI and finding room for improvement.

With this information, we can see what our star social channels are and double down on our strategy there.

Get that data flowing so you can start optimizing your social strategy.

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