Your marketer or agency shows you a social media data report. They include number of social media followers, and engagement data. They may also include impressions, mentions and reshares. And some fancy graphs that tell you… nothing. You’re wondering, what does this do for me? It’s normal, when presented with raw data to scratch your head. It’s normal because you’re most probably not getting a social media data analysis, you’re just getting raw data.
Let me walk you step by step through the process you’ll need to make sense of your digital data:
Step 1: Can you properly track the data you need?
You need to be able to track data before you can read data…
One of the main reasons why your data is not making sense to you is probably because you don’t have access to the right data. Not purposefully. You may not have the tracking mechanisms in place.
Most frequently we miss the data connection between source and sales. You may simply not have the ability to attribute your sale to a source. There are three situations where this occurs:
1. When you don’t have an online store
The store owner will ask us, the digital marketers, to associate their visitors with online activity. Since we only have visibility into the online activity, we need the stores to tell us who went there and why. The reporting burden is on the stores not on the digital marketers.
In most cases the stores don’t have a process to identify what influenced a buyer’s visit. However, there are ways to gain insights:
- Survey your customers, either at POS or via email post-sale. This is also a great excuse to collect email addresses. Our clients who do this saw an increase in how many people report social media as one of the reasons they went into the store. Just keep in mind, that your customers will and should report multiple sources of influence.
- Give your marketers sales data by day and week so they can overlay this data with digital activity data, and look for associations. With many of our clients we’ve noticed that spikes in traffic to the website are associated with spikes in retail sales. But we can’t make that observation without the retail sales data. That’s data we need you, the client, to provide to us. If you can’t trust us with the sales data, you shouldn’t expect us to show how digital marketing impacts sales.
2. When you still need a sales person to close the deal
You have to build into your data tracking process direct lead source AND contributing source. Then provide that data to your marketers, at least monthly. Saying “we’re not seeing a lift” is not data. You can’t use arbitrary observations to evaluate your marketing. Also, assuming that each lead is only influenced by one source is not a good data.
So start tracking ALL sources for each lead and then create a report on these monthly.
3. When you don’t have analytics properly built into your websites
You may not have a data tracking tool installed. Or what some call “analytics,” such as Google Analytics. Or your analytics tool wasn’t properly installed to track actions, such as a check-out or a completion of the “contact us” form. Or your ecommerce check-out is enabled by a third party provider so you can’t track the entire purchasing process. Or any other technical reasons that stand in the way of you collecting data.
To get a good picture you need at least the following data tracking:
- How many contacts you’re making (impressions)
- How many take actions in the form of clicks and visits to your home base (website or store)
- How many home base visitors come by what channels (you need to track multiple sources of visits, not just one)
- How many visitors convert by which channel
- What is the dollar value per conversion per channel
In most cases your digital marketer can only give you parts of the data. You need to help them with the rest. Especially in-store visitor data and conversion data.
Step 2: Set Digital Marketing Goals to Support Your Business Goals but Don’t Confuse the Two
Everybody is sick of talking about this. But we just can’t get away from it. The majority of businesses we talk to don’t have SMART goals. “I want more sales” is not a goal. How much sales, by when?
Many of the companies we talk to don’t have solid goals and are not realistic about what they can expect from digital marketing. Because they don’t have marketing goals.
Business goals and marketing goals are two separate things. Marketing goals should be tied to business goals, but can’t be the same. The roal of marketing is to generate contacts and leads to the points of conversion. Then you need conversion strategies to transform those leads into a sale.
If your conversion methods work, the higher the volume of visitors the higher the conversion numbers. Your digital marketer is responsible to get you the visitors and your conversion mechanisms (website or sales force) are responsible to close the sale.
Both are important. But shouldn’t be confused. If you’re measuring your marketing based on conversion numbers, when conversion numbers are low you may be tempted to solve an inexistant problem. Your problem may be the conversion method, not the marketing method.
If you get a lot of visitors but they’re not buying, you need to evaluate your product, positioning and conversion strategies.
If you don’t get visitors, you need to evaluate your marketing.
Step 3: Don’t Look for Data, Look for an Analysis
This is where marketers fail too often. We think marketing analytics means reporting data. Data is numbers, analytics is the stories the numbers tell us.
To show social media results you need to first translate data into a compelling story. Being able to tell the story has to do with understanding the connection between data and customer behavior. Here are some common interpretations(and by no means comprehensive) of digital data you may see.
|Data||What it Means||What it Means||Does it matter?|
|Facebook post views||You played the Facebook algorythm right||The content was compelling and it made people share it||The more people see your content, the higher the odds that they’ll click. But you want to make sure that they click to your website not a competitor’s website|
|Facebook page likes||I’m a fan and I want to stay in touch and get coupons and freebies||I’m curious about this topic||80% of page likes come from people who already know of you. So it’s a great check to see how strong your fan base is. And those other 20% may become customers now|
|Facebook people reached||how many people possibly saw the post in their news feed||the higher the number the higher the brand visibility||Clicks matters more than views|
|Twitter follow||I’ll play nice and follow you back||I’m curious about this topic||Not much. people search Twitter for information so your content can be found in many different ways|
|Twitter retweet||Cool content, I think it’s relevant to my followers and it will make me look good if I share it||I want to get on your radar so I’m resharing your content||The more retweets the more chances that people will click on your content. Just make sure you’re sending the traffic to your site not to someone else’s site|
|Twitter “fave”||Cool content, I’ll read it later||Some believe this is a better sign than a retweet. Many who retweet don’t actually click to read the content, but those who fave often will.|
|Visit from a social network||I was compelled by your content and call to action to click||I want to learn more||It matters very much. It’s a commitment to learn more. As long as the website is designed to convert, you will soon have a new customer|
|Email Open Rate||I recognize the sender name and they always write things that I want to read||the subject line and/or the preview line made me want to learn more||The more opens we get the more clicks we’ll get. But open rates doesn’t mean your email was good. It just means your sender name is recognizable and your subject line and preview line were compelling.|
|Email click rate||I’m ready to buy or I want to learn more||I had enough options to click||It’s very important. There is no point in emailing if there’s no link that I can click. Marketing’s job is to generate leads not to send announcements without calls to action.|
|Instagram “heart”||I like the story your picture is telling and/or hashtag/topic||I’m liking everything in my path right now||It’s an indication that people care about your image and topic. Retailers have seen sales of products because of visual story-telling.|
|Instagram follow||I want to hear from you||I am interested in this topic||Most “follows” come from people who are already fans of yours or of the topic, so it’s a great retention number.|
|Pinterest follow||I am interested in this topic||I’m a friend of yours on Facebook||The more followers the more chances that your content will get clicked and you’ll get more visitors to your website|
|Pinterest repin||I am saving this content for later||Cool content, I think it’s relevant to my followers and it will make me look good if I share it||It will increase your chances for clicks to the website|
|Conversion||You have credibility so I’ll buy from you||You made it easy for me to check out||duh! that’s what we’ve been working for.|
Step 4: Look for trends
Often an analytics report will show data points but won’t talk about trends, such as spikes, dips and growth over a previous period.
Without reference points it’s impossible to tell if your marketing efforts are fruitful. Often times clients and leads will say “we only got x sales in June.” But without comparing it to last June, or with a 3-6 month average of the previous months, I can’t tell you if x sales is good news or not.
Step 5: Connect the dots
As you can see from this list, looking at data points will show you how to boost your numbers at different steps in the awareness-to-buy process. No one buys when they first hear of you, so you need multiple touch-points, multiple opportunities to grab the attention of your audience.
- Certain data points, such as Facebook’s “people reached” point to your exposure. And that’s important to building awareness and credibility
- Likes and reshares show interest and will also increase your reach so you can get more clicks and visitors to points of conversion
- Likes and reshares also indicate that your content is interesting, so if you don’t get this interaction you will certainly not get clicks and without clicks there are no leads.
- Clicks will bring your customer even closer to the “buy” stages. But they won’t just magically buy, especially if your website doesn’t speak to them, doesn’t move them to buy, or doesn’t make it easy for them to buy.
So next time you need a social media data analysis or a digital marketing report you should have a better idea what to ask for. And in case you get a half-baked report, you can refer to this article to interpret your data.
If there are other data points you’d like us to translate for you please contact us and we’ll do our best to help!