STUDY: Return On Investment In Facebook Eludes CMOs

By Jackie Cohen Comment

Nine out of every ten Chief Marketing Officers participate in at least three forms of social media promotions, yet many don’t know whether these efforts yield a return on investment.

That data comes from a survey of 175 CMOs conducted by Bazaarvoice and the CMO Club in October 2010. The resulting white paper says that 79 percent of CMOs do some form of marketing on Facebook.

And while 73 percent of them say they participate in customer reviews, only 59 percent of all the survey respondents indicated that they achieved an average or significant return on investment.

EMarketer created an infographic based on the ROI statistics in the Bazaarvoice and CMO white paper, showing that 15.4 percent have a significant return on investment and 20.6 percent have an average return.

I see a business opportunity in the other three categories of responses — the 34.9 percent that said they don’t know whether they have an ROI, the 8.6 that have none and the 20.6 percent that aren’t even on Facebook. The first two groups sound like potential customers for analytics tools for social media, while the CMOs who aren’t on Facebook are probably good candidates for turnkey Facebook page creation services.

While we’re at it, I question whether Bazaarvoice and the CMO Club had a sufficiently large survey sample to represent all types of companies’ marketing efforts. The white paper describes the survey respondents as:

  • 39 percent are consumer facing
  • 47 percent are business to business
  • 14 percent serve both consumers and businesses

In terms of industries represented by the survey respondents, the breakdown is:

  • 21.7 percent are in software or hardware
  • 12.2 percent are in financial services
  • 12.2 percent are in consumer goods
  • 6.9 percent are in travel or hospitality
  • 7.4 percent are in media or publishing
  • 5.8 percent are in retail
  • 5.3 percent are manufacturing

That seems heavily tilted toward technology, bolstering my opinion that this survey needed a larger number of respondents to get a representative sample.

Regardless of whether the sample was representative or not, the fact that only 36 percent of the CMOs achieve a return on investment seems consistent with larger patterns in promotions: Many people in the business have a difficult time quantifying ROI on advertising in all of its manifestations. So why should marketing on Facebook be any different?

What do you think about this set of statistics? Which services or applications offer the most precise return on investment data, in your opinion?