These days, every B2B marketing organization is investing in social media marketing. But new research has found that the effectiveness of these efforts is all over the map. In fact, only 29% of B2B marketers say that their ROI is inline or above expectations.
Here at Socedo, we’ve partnered with Demand Metric, a research and advisory firm focused on B2B marketing technology, to discover: what best practices are B2B marketers using to get measurable results from social media?
Based on 475 complete and partial responses, here’s what the research found (all analysis done by Demand Metric).
The majority of B2B Marketers feel that their social media marketing efforts are not effective.
For those who maintained a social media presence (97% of all participants), marketers were asked to assess the overall effectiveness of that presence. Most (two-thirds) feel they are not using social media effectively.
To explore this more, the study also asked marketers to rate the ROI from their social media investment. As the data shows, ROI is elusive for most.
Social media ROI depends on the goals marketers set out for themselves.
Social media is a set of channels that can serve a variety of purposes for organizations. It’s also where B2B buyers spend a significant amount of time. Effectiveness and ROI varies based on the goals that marketers set out. This study found three primary goals for using social media:
- Brand awareness
- Lead generation
- Thought leadership.
In fact, 75% of marketers surveyed said that one of these was their primary goal for using social media.
What’s interesting is that there are significant differences in social media effectiveness and ROI between those with different goals. The study found that those who have a primary goal of using social media for lead generation are seeing the worst results in terms of ROI and effectiveness.
[In this figure, the “Effective” bar represents the segment of participants who rated their social media effectiveness as “good” or “very good”. The “ROI” bars represent the segment of participants that assessed their ROI as “in line with expectations,”, “Slightly”, or “Far above expectations”.]
Why is social media ROI so elusive, especially when the goal is lead generation?
While many marketers are eager to use social media for lead generation, the majority do not have the processes, tools and metrics in place to be effective.
This study found that over half of B2B marketers are not able to tie social media efforts back to the most important B2B metrics – net new leads, marketing qualified leads, opportunities and revenue.
In the B2B space, lead generation and financial metrics (i.e. leads, MQLs, and revenue) are stored in a marketing automation platform and/or a CRM system. But these systems do not record social media activities out-of-the box. Without integration between ones’ social media channels/social media management system and marketing automation and CRM, it is impossible to see how social media contributes to the marketing pipeline.
But here’s the good news: when these systems are integrated, lead quantity or the number of leads generated improves significantly.
In addition, when marketers use social media tools to manage their effort, they get much better results in terms of social media lead generation and ROI.
When tools are not in use, social media rates poorly as a lead generation channel. When any tools at all are used, the effectiveness of social media as a lead generation channel more than doubles, and when the top three tools are used together – social media analytics, social media monitoring and content marketing – the reported effectiveness almost triples.
Your Metrics Matter.
Social media initiatives are most often measured by “engagement metrics” – clicks, number of shares, retweets, reposts, etc. This study found that 76% of B2B marketers are using such metrics. But best-in-class B2B marketers are using metrics focused on real business impact. They are using lead generation (43%) and financial metrics (20%).
Lead generation metrics: new contacts, registrations, lead score activity, MQL
Financial metrics: Revenue, ROI
Below, the table compares the metric type to its impact on various dimensions of social media lead generation. The number in each cell is the percentage of marketers rating performance as “good” or very “good”.
Notice that in all except for one dimension (Cost per lead), those lead generation and financial metrics outperform all other classes of metrics.
What can B2B marketers do to improve social media effectiveness and ROI?
Based on the study results, here are five action steps to take to increase the effectiveness of your social media marketing.
1. First, set clear goals for social media. Make sure social media isn’t operating in a silo but is actually supporting your existing corporate and marketing goals. Here at Socedo, we use social media primarily to generate new leads. We capture the contact info of social leads through our own demand generation system, and we measure how many Marketing Qualified Leads we get each week and month from social media.
One of our customers, Dynamic Signal, an employee advocacy platform company, uses social media to improve the ROI from their event marketing. They track the hashtags of relevant events in their space and targets attendees who engage with the hashtag on social. With others like MuleSoft, they want to use social media to increase lead quantity and sets a cost per lead target when they decided to try our product to generate leads through Twitter.
2. Make sure you have a clear goal in mind when you start and define the metrics you’ll use to measure success.
3. Integrate social media activities with your marketing automation system or CRM. By integrating your social media activities into your marketing automation or CRM system, you’d be able to match and track social engagements or interactions to leads. This step is essential if you want to improve the ROI of social media and lead generation.
To see the rest of the recommendations, you can download the full report here. Or watch this video that summarizes the results.