That benefit can be in the form of driving traffic to Web sites, which is one of my main interests because I build and consult mostly content-rich sites.
That benefit also can be in the form of advertising clicks, ecommerce transactions, subscriptions, etc.
The Coca Cola company famously said not long ago that it couldn’t measure any discernable benefit to its bottom line from social media.
Coca Cola isn’t about to abandon the largest brand presence on Facebook because sometimes there are benefits that can’t easily be measured.
Nevertheless, it is important and useful to track social media results. Even though Coca Cola can’t track sales results, other brands can do so if they have different objectives.
A content-oriented Web site can measure the clicks that go from the Facebook page to the site. The first measurement is the click to the site. Then it’s a matter of tracking what that visitor does.
A little perspective helps. It is quite interesting to compare those social media results to email marketing results. Which one does better? Which one deserves more resources such as time, labor and money?
Email Marketing Still Matters
Email marketing works because it is inexpensive acquire subscribers to a newsletter especially if they are opting in via a Web site or some other form that can automate the process.
It also works because plenty of people still read email and click on links in those emails.
MailChimp has published statistics showing email open rates among various industries ranging from 23 percent on the low side to as high as 48 percent.
The click rates range from 1.9 percent to 5.0 percent. So the open rates are strong, but the click rates are weak.
That said, I have seen some client newsletters exceed a 10 percent click rate, especially if the list is high quality.
Still, a newsletter with a large list can have a significant impact over time on a Web site’s traffic and server a vital purpose in building frequency and brand loyalty.
Social Media by Comparison
In a previous post, I pointed out that social media “reach,” which is very much like email open rates, is often much higher than email, especially for sites that post often.
I also explained that an email subscriber is really no different than a social media follower.
They both receive notifications of some kind — one in an email client and the other in, for example, their Facebook news feed.
They both may or may not see the notifications based on time of day or volume of other notifications.
Finally, if they do see the notification, they will click to see more if it is interesting enough.
Social Media Versus Email Click Rates
What also is interesting is making a comparison of click rates, and here is where the return on investment matters.
Using Google Analytics, it’s possible to compare how many site visits come from social media as a percentage of their reach.
A simple but useful step is building a spreadsheet showing the number of social media followers and email subscribers by account on one line.
On the next line, put the number of site visits (or any other metric) for the period of time in question. One month is a good period.
On the third line, place a formula dividing the site visits by the followers and subscribers.
The odds are good that the click rate for some social media followers is higher than the rate for email subscribers.
If nothing else, this exercise will show which promotional tactic has the best click rate and which has the worst.
The next step is asking a few pertinent questions:
- Is the worst performing account worth less time and effort?
- Likewise, should more time and effort go into the best account?
- Is too much time going into any account based on the ROI?
Answering these questions is an ongoing process. But tracking and analysis will produce better insights on the best ways to use time, labor and money for the maximum effect.