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Social Media ROI Measurement Lags Behinds Social Marketing Business Adoption Rates

Many of us have witnessed this first-hand, so it may not come as much of a surprise to lean that most businesses of all types, but especially those that sell big budget items, such as homes, cars and trucks An August 2009 research study shows that over half of all business professionals worldwide are using social technologies for professional business purposes. This is according to an August 2009 survey by Mzinga and Babson Executive Education.

The overwhelming majority of respondents were professionals across multiple industries, including automotive...
A whopping 86% said they had already adopted social media and Web 2.0 technologies for business purposes. Although almost every businesses uses social media, turns out there is a mix of reasons why. The breakdowns hold a few surprises... For example, 57% of the Automotive Marketers surveyed are already using social media to promote their business. While 39% (more than a third already!) of all businesses use Web 2.0 sites and applications for both internal associates and external client communication purposes. The Mzinga/Babson survey numbers show a low overlap of only 10% of the companies are using social media for BOTH Marketing and Communications. And, about 3 out of 10 businesses are using social media and Web 2.0 technologies for customer service and support.


Surprisingly enough, more than half of all businesses have assigned full-time and/or part-time employees that are 100% dedicated to working on social media strategies (57% of all companies). However, only 40% of the businesses surveyed had committed a percentage of their marketing budget dollars for social media.

The most commonly used method for businesses to implement social media applications, was by integrating the "widgets" or social media syndication functionality into their Website and/or Microsites... This tactic was cited by 61% of of the survey respondents. Creating business sponsored online community sites, and then installing third-party widgets were #2 and #3 in popularity among 40% and 39% of business professionals, respectively.


If you've been in the car business for any length of time, you have probably heard the phrase; "You cannot manage what you do not measure..." I would love to know who the person is that should be given the credit for first using that phrase! However, despite (or because of) the meteoric rate of adoption for the business use of social media, ROI related measurement still lags. Part of the problem may be that generally recognized key performance indicators have not yet emerged in this new area of digital marketing and customer relationship management. So, without any "Best Practices" established yet, it not too difficult to understand why 86% of businesses are using social media in some way at this time, but only 16% of those polled said they currently measured ROI for their social media programs. The gap between adoption and measurement looks even bigger when you see in the research report that more than 4 out of 10 businesses did not know whether the performance metrics tools they were using had any type of ROI measurement, or Key Buying Activity (KBA) tracking capabilities.


I have personally implemented full-scale Social Marketing Strategies at several dealerships and can attest to the difficulty in measuring the success of social media marketing... However, I have used both Omniture SiteCatalyst and Google Analytics in conjunction with DoubleClick Floodlight tags in order to measure Social Marketing campaigns that were partially driven by advertising budgets. These combined with using CallSource AdTracker phone numbers listed on the dealer's sponsored community, social network profiles, etc. give us more than just making a guess as to the effectiveness of social media campaigns. However, in a manner similar to the impact of online advertising in general, we have already seen that the majority of monetized ROI comes in the form of people coming to the dealership in person without a lead form, email or phone call.

Using a mix of hard data combined with assumption based analysis for ROI metrics is a better solution for right now. My next article should probably be about the Performance Reporting aspects of Social Media Marketing.
One effective campaign I have seen a couple of times from dealers using social media for traffic generation by distributing a coupon via a social network and monitoring its redemption. We did this for free oil changes, and the coupons even had the "Operation Code" that had been set up in the DMS, so that we could measure campaign driven traffic.
The best Social Media Marketers will learn how to assign a dollar value to more unique-to-social types of performance metrics, such as number of members, fans, friends and followers, as a means of adding a point of value to the total performance based metrics reporting that is used to measure ROI.


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Tags: Adoption, Behinds, Business, Lags, Marketing, Measurement, Media, ROI, Rates, Social

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Comment by Matthew Clark on September 23, 2009 at 8:49am
Thanks for putting in writing what a lot of us are seeing - we know we should be doing it but we can't tell if it's effective yet.
Tell us more about the measurement source you ARE using now especially DoubleClick Floodlights.
Tracking via a "Promotion Code' could be valuable too

Thanks Ralph - See ya in November in Nashville

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