Marketing executives are all very interested in analyzing their marketing ROI figures, yet it turns out that in key areas such as public relations and social media marketing, these marketers find measuring ROI to be a very difficult task. A recent survey by Ifbyphone demonstrated just how difficult marketers find it to measure the results of their social media marketing; more than one out of four marketers said that they cannot effectively measure social media ROI (Source: MarketingProfs.com).
Measuring Today’s Marketing with Yesterday’s Standards
Perhaps part of the problem is that marketing executives are measuring social media marketing with yesterday’s standards of success. According to the Ifbyphone survey, 62% of marketers measure the ROI of their marketing campaigns by looking at the overall increase in sales. Another 57% measure according to the number of new leads acquired.
While marketers are busy calculating the ROI of their social media marketing, are they just as busy calculating the ROI of the conversations they have about their business with their friends, their neighbors, and the members of their church? Do they measure the ROI of morale-boosting activities like the company picnic or the annual Halloween contest?
After all, social media is not unlike these other activities. Social media is a way of having conversations and building relationships with existing and potential customers. While specific analytics measuring the quantity and quality of these conversations certainly has its place, the real value of social media is not as easily measured.
A Double Standard?
David Meerman Scott, a marketing author, keynote speaker, and seminar leader, suggests that the ongoing angst executives have over the difficulties measuring the exact ROI of social media marketing is hypocritical.
During his seminars, when the audience asks him about measuring the ROI of social media, he turns the question around on them. He asks them to raise their hands if they have a Blackberry, iPad, iPhone, or another smartphone. About 90% of the crowd of marketing professionals raises their hands. Then he asks them if their company is paying for that device. Another 70% raise their hands. Finally, he asks: How many of your companies track the ROI of that investment? Not a single person raises his hand (Source: WebInkNow.com).
Measuring the impact of Internet marketing, SEO, and social media marketing on business is not always as clear as executives would like it to be. However, that doesn’t mean its not worth doing. Social media will soon become as ubiquitous as the office fax machine. Just as the fax machine is used every day but its ROI is never calculated, marketing executives will eventually tire in their skepticism about the measurable value of social media and come to accept it as a necessary part of doing business in the 21st century.