Measuring for ROI in a Multichannel World

When we talk about a multichannel world, we invariably think of social media. Yet, one of the biggest questions social-media marketers have today is “How do you measure social ROI?”

Is it about earning “likes?” What is the value of a “like?” How much should an engagement cost? And, how do we use the metrics social provides, tying it all back to the bottom line? Social-media measurement involves all of these things, but doing it well across channels can be challenging. Marketers struggle with defining what it is they’re trying to do and understanding where social fits in the picture.

Like most marketers, you probably spend a great deal of time experimenting with social content, trying to determine what comes between getting likes and making profits. Are you achieving the desired return on your investment? As budgets increase, so does the pressure to produce greater results. Measuring for social ROI across channels can be challenging, but it’s really what you make of it. The key is simple: stay focused on your goals and let the metrics help. Taking ownership of social metrics involves knowing your goals, choosing the right platforms, and aligning goals with the best channels.

Knowing Your Goals
Right away, you have to have very clear goals. Think through and identify the key drivers for your content initiatives and the social channels that play into those drivers. Many of us already do this — albeit not in a strategic way. We use specific social platforms for a reason. Clarify these reasons and then get buy-in from your team so everyone circles around one metric. For example, your purpose could be to gain product or campaign visibility. Maybe you’re looking for loyalty or advocacy.

Whether you’re after content consumption in general, or you have myriad other goals, prioritize and stay consistent. Furthermore, once you’ve established goals, don’t change them, because you’ll ultimately need to prove success against this initial metric.

Choosing the Right Platforms
Once you define your larger campaign goals, seek the best platform fits for driving content consumption. Look again at those channels where you plan to put your social content and decide whether they really serve your purpose. Who are the users on each platform, and what is the primary way that people engage? Is it by consuming content or clicking through to somewhere else? What metrics are offered through each of these platforms? If your program doesn’t have video assets, you can probably eliminate YouTube from your list. If you’re targeting women with images, Pinterest may be worth considering. This process helps you explain your decisions to your team, supporting the goals you set early on.

Matching Goals to Metrics
The third step is to align your goals with the metrics you want to measure. For instance, if brand visibility is the goal, you’ll likely be measuring impressions on posts or pieces of content. With video or photo views, you might be looking for earned social mentions or page views. If brand loyalty is the goal, content engagement on certain platforms would be key. For content consumption, if you’re trying to get video views in another place, you could look at where your social traffic comes from. Set up the metrics that you want to align with the goals on the initiative level for the social component of that digital effort. You’ll be able to assess what social ROI you’re achieving because you’ve designed it from the start.

In Summary
Despite having lived through a social evolution of sorts, businesses still struggle with measuring the return on investment for their social efforts. As marketers, we want to measure what we’re doing, and we need to defend our budgets. But, social platforms are constantly innovating, making it tough to stay current with measurement tactics in a multichannel world. Remember, social ROI is what you make it, and tools are available to help you create metrics that matter for identified goals. Move beyond collecting data to a place where social measurements can be refined for truly actionable insights.