Is calculating the ROI of your social media campaign the right KPI?

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I'm in Las Vegas for a Social Media Strategy Summit this week, listening to several speakers discuss how they have analyzed the value of their social media campaigns. Spoiler-alert: they have all been successful! However, I can't help but wonder if the effort to calculate the return on investment for social media campaigns is really worth it for a B2B company with a long and unpredictable sales cycle. Here's my issue: it takes six months to a year to close many of our deals, so to get really accurate (even close-to-accurate) data for an ROI analysis, I'd need to wait a year to build a report. That's a really long feedback loop!

I think there are better campaign performance indicators that give you more actionable real-time data than doing an analysis of ROI. For instance, determining the cost-per-marketing-qualified-lead (not just the cost-per-lead) can be a great way of getting at similar information to ROI within a few weeks of a campaign launch rather than a year later. Finding your cost-per-marketing-qualified-lead requires a few processes to be in place, but far fewer than setting up a good ROI measurement process. Essentially, you just need to be able to score and/or grade leads that are entering your pipeline, which is typically done using a marketing automation platform like Marketo, Eloqua or Pardot, to name a few.

I would be interested to know if others have a different view on the usefulness of calculating ROI for social media campaigns who work in similar businesses, or have thoughts on when it's best think about ROI analysis in the life of a marketing campaign? Feel free to leave a comment with your experience!


Whitney Mitchell

Whitney Mitchell

Whitney is a natural leader with a knack for creating something out of nothing. She’s helped dozens of brands gain greater recognition for their causes and products in the digital world. Whitney’s experience doing literally every job Beacon offers, from graphic designer to operations to web developer means she’s not afraid to roll up her sleeves and dig in when it comes to helping Beacon’s clients build the future of business.