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16 Oct 2017
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Marketing Magic: Making social media pay

Quantifying the tangible value of social media can be tricky, but travel marketer Nick Livermore has some handy tips for OTAs keen to measure the ROI from it.

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Quantifying the tangible value of social media can be tricky. Here are some handy tips to measure its ROI

The state of social media marketing in 2017 is better than it’s ever been. According to reports there was a 61.5% increase in businesses’ media spend across social channels – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Snapchat – in the first quarter of this year.


This strongly suggests that social media is moving ever closer to the centre of marketing budgets.


But something doesn’t quite add up. There lingers a perception that social media is “fluffy”, and unable to deliver or contribute to the sales ambitions of a business. That social media is only good for brand awareness.


While brand awareness is useful, the perception surrounding social media also isn’t true. In fact, measured correctly, social media can be shown to contribute to critical points in any business’ sales cycle.

Why the misconception?

The issue stems from the ways in which we choose to measure success on social media.


Traditionally, marketers report on social media using gentle metrics that are easily accessible: reach, likes, followers, impressions.


These are the metrics that platforms like Facebook spoon-feed us. Little to no legwork is needed to report on these, so that’s what we choose to do.

 

Attributing actual value to social media is more difficult, but it can absolutely be done.

Attributed sales modelling

Here’s where things get a little more involved, but this particular method of measurement is essential to understanding what social media is actually delivering for your business.


This is especially the case because of the sheer number of marketing channels there are: from email to social, direct to pay per click (when a company pays Google to appear as a sponsored site when customers enter an agreed search term on Google).


The attitude that “they booked directly from pay per click, so it should be attributed 100% of the value of that sale” is somewhat archaic in 2017.


This is especially true in the travel industry where consumers now perform their research across a relatively large number of sources and long period of time.


Clearly, in 2017 it’s important to understand the role each of your marketing streams has in driving online bookings.


The first step towards achieving this is to ensure that your Google Analytics (GA) is set up correctly.


Get an expert to appraise how you are currently using GA to ensure you are correctly mapping the purchase and customer journey and that all goals are correctly created.


This is a one-off requirement – do it once and you’ll reap the rewards of the data from that point onwards.

Deciding how to attribute

Once you have GA tracking set up properly you can use it to see exactly how your clients are making their purchasing decisions.


In GA, this may look something like “Social Media > PPC x3 > Direct > Purchase”. This might be the case when a new user spots a post you make on social media and clicks through to your agency website, for example. The next day, they might type your site into their search browser.


The problem with attributing the full value to the last click involved in the decision is that the “direct” traffic has been your most important source.


In fact, it’s probably more accurate for you to give equal weighting to social media, pay per click and direct traffic.


There are other attribution models, but I advocate the usage of those that intelligently distribute value to contributing marketing streams.


For instance, you might give equal value to the first click involved with the purchase, and the last. Or, you might consider a model which attributes increasing value the closer you get to the “last-click” in the purchase cycle.


Only by taking the time to truly understand the role social media is playing in the purchasing journey of your clients will you be able to realise the return on investment it is having for your agency.


In this time of multi-channel marketing, this is vital not just from a social media perspective, but to properly understand where your money is best spent.

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