Ring. Ring. Your Social Media Followers are Calling You

Luke Rees
by Luke Rees 20 Aug, 2014

In the past year social media has evolved from an engagement platform into a direct response medium for businesses. No longer should marketers be thinking of social media simply as a way to create positive brand sentiment. What the boss really wants to know is how each social media campaign is being converted into lead acquisition, customers and revenue. This means measuring social media ROI.

The problem with tracking the ROI of social media marketing is that things like brand building, community building and customer service aren't always transactional in nature. Therefore how can marketers find a way to track when customers are converting after seeing a post on social media?

There are a number of techniques marketers have used in the past to track the reach of their social media campaigns. These include anything from coupon returns, to using Twitter as a direct ordering channel. However, for companies that rely on offline methods for the majority of their customer acquisition, the task of measuring ROI can be much more complex. 

The telephone is one of the most effective ways to acquire customers, especially for companies who sell premium or niche products (such as those in the travel, insurance or high-tech industries). How can these companies track the reach of their social media campaigns? 

Call Tracking

Call tracking helps marketers understand the role of phone calls in the customer journey. Connecting online and offline marketing efforts allows businesses to keep on top of social media ROI and can lead to a much more sophisticated campaign. 

ResponseTap, Infinity and Call Tracking Metrics all offer call tracking services, and Bhavesh Vaghela, CMO of ResponseTap, explains how monitoring phone calls can give marketers important insights into the customer journey, from social engagement to conversion: 

"By analysing the digital journey as a customer moves offline, brands can understand the role different channels play at different stages," said Vaghela. "For example, when buying a holiday, social typically plays a part later in the customer journey, whereas when purchasing a financial services product it is usually much earlier." 

Understanding your customers and the peak hours of engagement on social media will greatly improve the ROI of your campaigns. Other call tracking services include Call Tracking Metrics.

Unique Social Numbers

Attaching unique custom numbers to each media platform is one simple and inconspicuous way of tracking where calls are coming from. 

By attaching a virtual phone number to each of your social accounts one can see which are performing best and which need to take a different approach. In this way, marketers are able to discover the best platforms for reaching their customers and can update each campaign according to their success.

Inquiry Forms

Onsite inquiry forms are one of the most efficient ways to generate leads - leads which can then be followed up with a phone call from the sales team. Techniques have been developed which allow marketers to track whenever a customer is referred to one of these forms via social media.

Joe O'Neill, marketing communications manager at start-up legal technology firm The Expert Institute, says that his team executes nearly every sale over the phone:

"We are able to measure our social ROI by tracking a social referral through Google Analytics and InfoGeniuz tracking codes, which allow us to keep tabs on which inquiries come from users who have found us through our social media presence," said O'Neill. "We compile all of this data in Salesforce, which then generates a graphic representation of which lead generation channels are yielding the most sales."

Tracking social ROI is still tricky, however with a well-developed analytics system, it's far from impossible. By employing one or more of these three techniques - call tracking, custom social numbers, and inquiry forms - companies who rely on phone call conversions can streamline the customer journey, from online engagement to offline conversion.

Luke Rees is a digital marketing executive from London who writes about technology and trends in the search market industry.