Andrea Johnson

B2B Social Media Marketing: Focus on leads, not likes

It’s time to generate revenue. Do you know where your social media is contributing?

Unless you can provide an unequivocal “yes” and the figures to prove it, keep reading.

Nichole Kelly, President of SME Digital, a digital marketing agency, and Chris Baggott, Chairman and Cofounder, Compendium, a content marketing software company, have helped hundreds of clients move from counting “likes” and “shares” to counting what executives care about: sales volume, revenue and cost. They reveal their top tips to help you do the same.

Focus on metrics beyond “likes” and “fans”

“Not that those are unimportant,” Baggott counters. “But they’re not the most important metrics – they’re this mythical ‘engagement’ that used to be called ‘brand awareness’ in the magazine and television advertising industry.”

Kelly advises to begin with cost.

“We know how much we’re spending on consultants or content development,” she explains. “So, in other areas of marketing, you measure cost per impression – how many people the message reached – which basically rolls up all of the retweets, comments, clicks and fans.”

From there, look at:

  • How many people engaged
    “Honestly, it’s almost unfair to compare social media engagement to other channels,” Kelly confesses. “Unlike online advertising or PR, or even TV and radio, [there are] over 500 forms of engagement we’ve tracked through the social channel. [There are] far more opportunities to engage that don’t exist in any other channel.”
  • How many people converted
    “But don’t expect them to convert as fast as other leads, because you’re catching them much earlier in the buying process,” warns Kelly. Here’s the good news: When they do finally convert, they do so at a much higher rate.
  • How often those converted customers recommend you
    “If they’re likely to recommend you, they’re worth far more than your average customers,” she notes, and points to a whitepaper: “NetPromoter Economics: The Impact of Word of Mouth,” which reveals that customers who recommend you are worth 100% more than those who don’t.

Track your prospects’ activities throughout the marketing and sales funnels

“Marketing used to be like bowling, you run it down the channel and boom! You hit your target,” Baggott says. “Today, it’s more like a pinball machine. The customer is that little silver ball and it’s rolling all over the place – bang, bang, bang – and you have to be sure your message and opportunities to convert are everywhere that customer might show up.”

Share Links

But this makes tracking results significantly more complex. This is why Baggott advises that every social media post links back to a landing page. He believes blogs are ideal for this purpose if they provide relevant content – content that will help the customer whether they buy from you or not.  Combine relevant content and a strong call-to-action at the end of the blog post, and he insists you will see results.

“When we do this, we see conversion rates that exceed 20%,” he points out. “In contrast, the average website has a conversion rate of 1.6%.

“When you have a 20% clickthrough rate on your blog, you’re making a lot of people very, very happy, and that’s really easy to measure.”

Customize Links

Kelly advises using Custom URL Parameters through Google Analytics, a free service, to track how customers came to that landing page. As its name implies, it allows you to create a customized URL that tracks:

  • Source – For instance, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
  • Medium – Content type, such as a blog post, so you can measure what type of content is working best
  • Campaign – e.g., the name of the post, so you know what information is attracting the most customers

Kelly combines this service with marketing automation software that allows her to record the path customers took to conversion.

“Social media is like the John Stockton of Marketing: It’s the almighty assist to the sale,” she explains. “We’re able to note that the person came to our website 10 times before actually converting, and the 10 things that brought them to our website.

“The sales cycle in most B2B companies is 90 days to two years, and you have to consider all of the marketing that goes on in between there. If you don’t understand every campaign or every program that someone responded to, you really don’t have an accurate cost per lead and cost per customer,” continues Kelly. “Many times, companies only measure that last point of interaction.”

“You have to measure the most important thing and that’s not likes, that’s leads,” adds Baggott. “After all, 90% of all marketing dollars today are being spent on acquisition. Know how to measure your social media effort so you know you’re spending them right.”

Want to learn more? Catch Baggott and Kelly at MarketingSherpa’s B2B Summit 2012 in Orlando, August 27–30, find out the details here: MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2012.

Related Resources:

MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2012

Webinar Replay: How to Integrate Social Media/SEO to Drive More Leads and Increase Marketing ROI

30 Minute Marketer: How to Take an ROI-Based Approach to Social Marketing

MarketingSherpa 2011 Social Marketing Benchmark Report

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  1. August 24th, 2012 at 14:41 | #1

    Google analytics with automated marketing sounds good to me. It is important to have that knowledge in measuring the social media effort because you will know exactly where to spend your dollars and will be getting good results. Google created this tool to really help businesses. http://bit.ly/ayeen8

  2. August 25th, 2012 at 10:49 | #2

    Conversation is all that matters. It’s important to track conversion rate.

  3. Carol Tang
    August 26th, 2012 at 18:49 | #3

    Hi Andrea,

    Great post! Definitely agree that Likes are not the most important metric for social media. We use URL parameters at Marketo too, combined with our marketing automation platform to help track where the leads were sourced.

    It’s also neat to look a little further than the number of leads acquired; we look at what kind of leads we’re generating from social media based on how well they fit our ideal buyer profile and measure our success on that.

    - Carol Tang at Marketo

  4. Andrea Johnson
    Andrea Johnson
    August 27th, 2012 at 16:35 | #4

    Ayeen – Great point and thank you for your insight.

    Charles – Your comment makes me think of a friend who was a car salesman – lots of folks kick tires but never buy. Conversations are great, but conversions are even better; that’s what CEOs really care about and they’re the ones who approve our budgets.

    Carol – Excellent idea to measure the type of leads you’re getting; that would be a great blog post. Thanks for sharing.

  1. October 16th, 2012 at 13:30 | #1
  2. June 6th, 2013 at 11:35 | #2
  3. January 2nd, 2014 at 15:44 | #3