Measuring social return on investment doesn’t require a degree in statistics or voodoo dolls. Just follow these nine steps to diagnose how your social and Web efforts come together.
Look at referral traffic from Facebook. Is it increasing and correlated with your social efforts?
Consider how much of it is organic vs. paid. If you’ve got your ads tagged correctly with the Google URL Builder, you can trace back each site visit to where it came from.
How much branded search traffic are you getting on Google? In other words, when you have a stronger social presence, more people Google your company name and your personal name. You can isolate seasonality and the impact of other marketing campaigns to estimate how much more came from social.
Look at the goals and conversions in Google Analytics. Are we driving more of the target conversion goals? Google hides a good chunk of your traffic and the associated keyword via [not provided]. If you see greater than 30 percent of your traffic showing as direct/none (meaning a bookmark or type-in), there’s a good chance this is social traffic.
Compare your conversion numbers from your Facebook ads with what Google reports. Usually, they’re within 10 percent, since the extra SSL hop and redirect from Facebook drops some traffic, especially if your own site is slow. Facebook does cull robots and fake traffic, which may cause Google Analytics to show higher numbers.
Now if you really want to get smart about social ROI tracking via Google, here’s the pro stuff:
Create custom audiences so you can get cross-channel counts. In other words, find out how many of your website visitors are fans, how many of your email subscribers are not on Facebook, and the demographics of your best customers, matched to Facebook.
You can even create combos of audiences, such as how many of your competitor’s fans have been to your site in the past 14 days, live in Minneapolis, have an income above $100,000, drive a used Ford Explorer and have a friend who is a fan.
Run a split test via Facebook ads. Choose a few random cities to promote in heavily and compare these results against your control (the cities that you didn’t promote in).
You can do the same split test via your email list — choose to hammer a test group to see if they’re more likely to open the email and convert. You can track the conversions in Google Analytics if you have tagging set properly. Here’s how to do it.
Install any of the social plugins to verify your site. You can now track how much traffic goes from Facebook to your site and vice versa, in addition to the click-through rates and engagement rates on your social plugins. The like box and comments plugin are examples of social plugins. Most WordPress sites have the Facebook plugin.
Get fancy with your marketing automation system to register your application with Facebook. Then users can oAuth in, allowing you to collect their basic information (with their permission, of course).
Image of ROI arrow courtesy of Shutterstock.