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Show Me the ROI, Part 1: Measuring the Effectiveness of Social Email

January 29, 2010 By Ben Ardito
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The day that social media reaches near-ubiquitous adoption is fast approaching, and the pace will only quicken as brands move beyond experimenting with social media and begin to focus on business value. Of course, how marketers should measure that value remains a mystery.

If you're like most marketers, you currently measure the success of social media campaigns in clicks. This is a perfectly fine direct response metric, but not easily aligned with success metrics that really matter, such as sales conversions, brand awareness and, most importantly, return on investment. Part of the challenge lies in understanding what social media really means to marketers — is it a lead generation tool that's best measured in sales metrics or a marketing channel better suited to brand awareness? How can you identify the right metrics for success when you're not even sure what the goals are?

One of the reasons email remains a highly profitable and investment-friendly channel is it's easy to measure success in response rates, customer engagement, sales conversions and so on. The value of email marketing is plain as day for executives to see. And although social media remains hip and relatively cheap, eventually executives will ask, "What am I getting for my social media investment?"

Building the case for social email
Email and social media share more commonalities than some marketers realize. In fact, many consider email the most widely adopted form of social media — it just happens to predate the terminology. Perhaps that's why email and social media seem to share a unique strategic relationship, one that you can leverage when you begin to build your case for investing more in social media.

When email and social media are integrated, it creates more opportunities to measure the effectiveness of a social campaign and whether or not the campaign produced the desired impact. Did the recipients of your social email campaign share the information on their social networks, for example? Did they submit online reviews of your product or service? Did they incite new customers to register for information? These are all measurable behaviors that are driven by email, but with actions that take place in social media.

What about the converse situation? Are you using social media to promote email marketing? You should be. It's great to be able to share coupons and offers via Facebook and Twitter, but growing your list of email subscribers leads to a more sustainable and measurable source of revenue. Using your social networks to promote the value of registering for your email program means your customer database has more potential to grow, which increases the likelihood that your ROI will grow — from both social media and email marketing. Let customers know that your email program will deliver added value, such as unique promotions and offers targeted to customers' specific interests.

 

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