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Do you measure social media with sales?

Does even the question seem odd to you? I mean, how can a blog entry or a social bookmark lead to a sale? I know that lots of social media is designed to generate awareness, rather than sales, just like many TV or print ads. I mean, sure, it’s possible for someone to measure how social media leads to a sale, but does anyone really measure social media success this way? My answer to that question is not yet, but just wait.

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I’m doing a lot of work with clients lately on social media consulting and training, and I am always poking around as to what the business value is. Some clients think it’s an odd question. I’ve even had people tell me to avoid the subject because it will only confuse people.
I’m afraid that it’s me that’s confused.
If I said to you that we should spend precious time and money to optimize our Web site for search, but that we shouldn’t bother tracking whether any of those searchers bought anything, you’d think me a bit daft, wouldn’t you? I mean, we want to ring that cash register, don’t we? So why would we spend time attracting visitors to the site without tracking what happened?
Yet, that’s exactly what we do with social media. We get our message out, we attract people to our Web site using social media every day, but we don’t measure whether any sales happen.
Now, I realize that it’s harder to track sales from social media than from search. I understand that most people using social media are nowhere near being ready to purchase, unlike many searchers. But I don’t think we’ll be investing the proper amount in social media until we measure its impact.
If you can’t measure return on investment, you get a lot less investment.
When are we going to treat social media as a full-fledged member of the marketing mix? I think it’s the day after we can tell how much we make because we did some social media. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, if people don’t want to spend on social media, you can’t stop them. But if we knew that it was valuable, there’d be no stopping us.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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