Manufacturers are increasingly looking for new ways to generate leads online. In the process, decision-makers ask tough questions about social media ROI – questions that may be hard to answer early in a brand’s digital efforts. Most boil down to this: Is social media worth it?
I view social media as a sound system speaker. Once you publish content, say a blog post or an eBook, then you can employ social media to amplify its message and reach your prospects. Social media is an assist to spread the content to easily findable locations, getting the word out about the content you've worked hard to produce, so it's found by those it will benefit the most. But how do you know if the cost of personnel time, and potentially the cost of promotion on social sites, is worth it? We've built a Social Media ROI Calculator to help you determine the answer for your own organization.
Getting to the Truth About Social Media for Manufacturers
Manufacturing has traditionally been defined by a few major players. Barriers-to-entry were high, and many customers had few alternatives. Constant contact with buying decision-makers wasn’t necessary, because most vendors and buyers attended the same major events.
Over the last few years, however, these factors have changed. Manufacturers can no longer guarantee effective customer relationship management by attending industry events.
Social media has stepped in to help brands maintain their connection with customers and prospects. However, the process is complex: Not only must manufacturers prove value at each customer touch-point, but they have to do it within an unfamiliar digital framework.
The Role of Social Media to Manufacturing Companies
Social is becoming more important in the manufacturing world:
- 30% of manufacturing brands raised social spending in 2011, a figure still rising today.
- By 2023, 53% of manufacturing executives will focus on digitizing production processes.
- LinkedIn and YouTube have been named by manufacturers as leading social media tools.
While interest in social – and digital technology as a whole – is rising, conventional methods of reaching customers are faltering. Although 85% of manufacturers in a 2015 survey used traditional offline promotion methods, only 34% say they’re effective!
B2B buyers are reading more content – 10.4 pages on average – before they ever discover your content. Social media is one way of amplifying your message, cutting through the clutter, and making an impression. To gain those benefits, a structured approach to tracking ROI is essential.
Using ROI Tracking to Get the Most from Social Media
There are dozens of different ways that social media can contribute to your overall brand goals. To track ROI, you need to start with a firm idea of which results are most important for your social campaign to succeed. You can do this by measuring which platforms convert best for you, and determining which metrics contribute most to that success.
Some possible metrics include:
- New followers
- Views of individual posts or videos
- Website visits from social media
- Contact form completions
- Mailing list sign-up
- Online purchases
- Downloads of your white paper
- Time spent on an important page
Although the ultimate goal of any customer relationship is the sale, the strength of social media isn’t in closing the sale but accelerating the buying cycle. Looking at the goals above, you’ll notice each represents a “gateway” to another step in the customer journey. By choosing and tracking your goal, you can keep tabs on the number of times social media has provided tangible motivation for your customers to “take the next step” wherever they are.
Depending on the structure of your business, you can also track social ROI using established metrics, such as:
- Lifetime Value – How much do you earn on average over a customer’s lifetime?
- Lifetime Value x Conversion Rate – How much is each potential Web visit worth?
- Average Sale – How much revenue does the average purchase through your site yield?
- Advertising Costs – How much would it cost to use ads to achieve the same result?
For small-scale social efforts – campaigns intended to produce a business case for more social investment, for example – the latter elements might be the most interesting. It allows you to pit organic traffic directly against the cost of paid advertising. Over a few months, these figures typically demonstrate social has less overhead and is easier to improve on.
Social is here to stay in manufacturing. Get started with a clear, data-driven approach, and new opportunities to improve your bottom line results will follow.