Chasing ROI on Social: Hire a Mathlete

Marketing_ROI_Cartoon

I have no doubt 2010 was the year social media took a seat at the marketing table. After 2011’s launch into mobile, I predicted that 2012 would be the year of augmented reality – instead, in the dank, creative pit of the Great Recession, 2012 brought practical decisions made by a wizened marketing force: Clients were demanding ROI.

While agencies continued to jump into the game with “fresh approaches”, that “integrated marketing communications” and became a “conversation with your audience”, while “leveraging key opinion leaders”, many smaller companies shook off the “consultants” and freelancers who had failed to hit black on the bottom line. Instead, these businesses, (finally), hired recent college grads who could manage twitter channels all day for minimum return and field basic customer service questions without the ego.

And the big agencies? They bought brains. Digital powerhouses, fusing creativity with analytics and tracking innovation. Radian6 had become the corporate standard. Google Analytics was blown out into customized campaign tracking, following every click from every source. Smaller link trackers like Bit.ly bowed to full-functioning social media systems. An industry was created for fresh startups, the future Buddy Medias, bringing better and more detailed conversation analysis, semi-natural language processing and conversion tracking.

Even after GM pulled out of Facebook, online social media marketing has grown more popular with marketing managers. This is because the ability to mine data on individuals, campaigns and over time is being refined by minds bright enough to be found in the quant quarter at a financial firm. Programmers are able to funnel that data into beautiful dashboards, but the real impact comes on exporting into spreadsheets, parsing, analyzing and color coding into graphs, until you can slip it into a PowerPoint and say to the decision maker, yes!, Oreo sales went up in Q1!

My advice for anyone wondering if their marketing team’s efforts are in vain, is start digging for data. Even if it’s just running sales over time against your campaign efforts over time, find the geekiest person on your team and give him or her undivided time. Marketing data is almost always trackable. When it comes to the economic rebound though, my guess is as good as a guru’s.

Next post I’ll share tips on tracking and benchmarking I use.

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