Posts Tagged ‘Eric Anderson’

31 Spectacular Web Design Guides, Techniques and Resources

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Paradoxically, in the early days of websites, when there were few standards to adhere to, most business websites were laid out with pretty much the same template: grid layout, logo in the upper left, content in the middle or left frame, “highlights” in the right sidebar. And being edgy meant using a slightly different shade of blue as the dominant color. A few adventurous souls did some creative things with Flash, but even then, few people saw these sites because they were invisible to search engines.

Today, most sites use CSS rather than tables, avoid the use of deprecated tags, and adhere to W3C standards, and yet—the variety and creativity of website design is greater than ever.

How can you design a website that stands out visually from the crowd yet meets users’ needs? Maximizes social engagement? Optimizes trust and conversions? Looks as good on a smartphone as on a monster monitor? Find out here in more than 30 of the best articles and blog posts on website design of the past year.

General Website Design Guides

13 Website Social Optimization Oversights That Make You Look Foolish by Search Engine Watch

Angie SchottmillerThe positively awesome Angie Schottmuller identifies a baker’s dozen barriers to social media engagement on your website, such as requiring account creation or sign-in in order to comment (“Ease up on the form lock down. Allow users to rate and comment without creating an account…Forgotten passwords are a huge barrier to on-going engagement, so leverage OpenID and social sign-on tools to simplify the comment interaction process”).

Why “Infographic Thinking” Is The Future, Not A Fad by Fast Company

John PavlusJohn Pavlus reports that Francesco Franchi is bullish on the potential of infographics—but only if done well. In this video, the art director at one of Italy’s top financial news outlets says that content needs to come first, that infographics shouldn’t be like PowerPoint presentations, and that they don’t need to be one-dimensional.

10 ways to make your website more social by iMedia Connection

Jeff RagovinJeff Ragovin offers tips for creating a more social-friendly website, from first determining your social objectives and choosing your social networks wisely to keeping “your theme and aesthetic similar across digital presences” (i.e., branding) and incentivizing your readers to share your content.

10 Useful Findings About How People View Websites by ConversionXL

Peep LajaPeep Laja shares practical applications of 10 findings from eye-tracking studies, such as that the top left-corner of a site gets initial attention; that people read in F-patterns; that the most effective images are large, high-quality photos of people facing forward; and, most frighteningly, that “When viewing a website, it takes users less than two-tenths of a second to form a first impression.”

List Building: The four questions every email capture page must answer by MarketingSherpa

David Kilpatrick outlines four questions visitors will naturally have when hitting your landing page, such as “Why should I sign up?…What you want to avoid is simply saying, ‘Sign up for our FREE newsletter.’ Write from the subscriber’s point of view and explain how the opt-in for your email program will help the new subscriber solve challenges and eliminate pain points.”

6 Tips to Boost Your Web Presence by Inc.

Though this post largely centers around Lance Armstrong’s website—since somewhat discredited by Lance’s honesty issues—it still contains some great nuggets of wisdom, such as that one should “Keep it simple. The goal of most websites is to get visitors to the content they seek as quickly as possible. A simple, intuitive design is the best way to accomplish that.”

Put Customer Convenience Front And Center When Designing Websites – Part II by MediaPost

Jim Gilmartin details 10 “dos and don’ts” of website design, specifically “to help increase the satisfaction quotient and reduce the frustration quotient of most site visitors especially Baby Boomers and senior visitors,” though the advice applies much more broadly than that. For example, do include a blog and place a (simple) newsletter sign-up box on your site (presuming you offer a newsletter); don’t use auto-play videos, Flash or poorly-crafted titles.

12 Design Best Practices for Drop-Down Menus by Get Elastic

Linda BustosLinda Bustos offers a dozen tips for maximizing the usability of drop-down menus, among them: keep menus as short as possible; use multiple columns for unavoidably long menus; set the menu off clearly with a border or shadow; and get the timing right (“the menu should wait for half a second before appearing, as this prevents the menu popping up every time a user passes their mouse pointer over the top”).

Free Design Fonts

10 Extremely Good Free Fonts for Your Designs by Web Design Ledger

Henry JonesHenry Jones showcases 10 free design fonts, including Bemio, a fun, rounded “ultrabold sans with an extensive character set (which) bridges the gap between old signage and craftsmanship with modern forms and simplicity,” designed by Joe Prince.

28 New Free Fonts For Web Designers by Splashnology

This post highlights more than two dozen free fonts for web designers, such as Adamas Regular by Octavian Belintan, PLSTK by Aesthetic Therapie and Bispo by Jackson Alves. “a script typeface made inspiring on italic chancery calligraphy, with a flat nib pen and a module of 10 pen widths.”

8 Beautiful New Free Fonts by Web Design Ledger

Henry Jones (again) shares eight more free design fonts, including FatFrank, Acorn Typeface and the art deco-ish 47.

10 Excellent New Free Fonts by Web Design Ledger

One more set of free font downloads from Henry Jones, this set featuring typefaces like Nexa, Bouwen and NeoDeco.

Free Social Media Icon Sets

115 Creative and Unique Social Media Icon Sets by EntheosWeb Blog

There’s nothing unusual about including social media icons on blogs, but there are certainly some unusual and distinctive icon sets here. If you want the social icons on your site to stand out from the standard circles or rounded squares, you’ll find plenty of alternatives here, from colorful splashes and jeans pockets to coffee cups, bottle caps and T-shirts.

Best Free Social Media Icon Sets for 2012 by DandyWP

Hand-drawn social media icon setWhile there is inevitably some overlap between this post and the one above, here you will also find interesting icon sets along the themes of trucks, blueprints, monochrome and hand-drawn themes.

20 Free Social Icon Packs That Will Make Your Design Stand Up by Top Design Magazine

Still more social icon sets, from hearts and “Windows 8 style” to squares and sprockets.

Free Social Media Icons (34 Sets) by Graphic Design Junction

Muhammad Faisal presents nearly three dozen creative social icon sets, with themes ranging from 3D social icons and icons with a hand-sketched look to blue, neon, street signs, faded, retro, flaming, dark, frozen. letterpress, Easter egg, and speech bubble.

Parallax Scrolling Design Guides

Parallax Hovering And Its Engaging Quality For Web Design by Usabilla

Sabina IdlerSabina Idler explains what parallax effects are in scrolling and hovering, how they work, how they attract visitor attention, and a bit about how to implement them, then illustrates all of this with 10 richly visual examples of parallax website design, from Grab&Go  to Batman 3D.

Hot Web Design Trends: Parallax Scrolling Effects in 100 Examples by Splashnology

For more about parallax scrolling (which is a “technique that features layered images that move around the website in different speeds/perspectives creating a nice and interesting 3D illusion”), check out 100 more examples of the approach here including 8vodesigns, Head2heart.us and Electrochuck.com

Website Trust and Credibility

The Psychology of Why Sexy Websites Suck at Sales by KISSmetrics

D Bnonn TennantD Bnonn Tennant explains why consumers naturally trust “attractive” websites, but that in this case, attractive does not mean sexy or flashy—it means following some conventional design standards that won’t make a site exciting, but may very well help it to convert more successfully.

Give Your Website Soul With Emotionally Intelligent Interactions by Smashing Magazine

Chuck LonganeckerChuck Longanecker writes that when he researched sites and apps with high loyalty, he found “the websites and apps we truly love have one thing in common: soul. They’re humanized. They have emotional intelligence designed into the user experience. And this emotional intelligence is crafted through thoughtful interaction design and feedback mechanisms built into the website.” He then showcases a number of sites that meet this criteria, demonstrating how each is infused with creativity and emotional intelligence.

9 User Experience Pitfalls That Repel Website Visitors by KISSmetrics

Zach BulygoBecause no one wants to lose website visitors due to factors within their control, Zach Bulygo here reveals the unpleasant truths about factors that can drive visitors away, including the use of stock photography (that smiling young woman with the headset representing “customer service” is used on far too many sites), having a slow-loading site, using auto-play videos, and—ugh, my pet peeve!—pop-ups. As Zach puts it, “It’s 2012, why does your website still have annoying pop-up advertisements?…Save pop-ups for the spam sites.”

39 Factors: Website Credibility Checklist by ConversionXL

Writing that “web credibility is about making your website in such a way that it comes across as trustworthy and knowledgeable. Your website is often the first point of contact for the customers…Companies that design for credibility have a strategic advantage over competition,” Peep Laja (again) identifies four types of website credibility, then presents a detailed website credibility checklist–factors to examine (and if necessary, change) on your site such as using case studies and testimonials, while avoiding excessive ads, unsupported superlatives and cheesy stock photos.

Landing Page and CTA Design Tips

8 Reasons Users Don’t Fill Out Sign Up Forms by UX Movement

Noting that “Most users today are more wary than ever about who handles their personal information. In a cyber world full of hackers and spammers, who can blame them?,” this post outlines reasons visitors may not be signing up on your site (for a download, a webinar, a newsletter, whatever)—and by extension, how you can make it more likely that they will sign up—such as fear of being spammed, concern you’re asking for too much information or information you don’t need, or simply not seeing a compelling call to action.

5 Highly Effective Landing Page Tips by Search Engine Land

Mona ElesseilyMona Elesseily details five elements that can increase landing page engagement, including credibility indicators like customer quotes, removing unnecessary page elements, and experimenting with different wording on action buttons (after all, who really wants to “submit”?).

14 Real-Life Examples of CTA Copy YOU Should Copy by HubSpot

Pamela VaughanNoting that “while CTA design is critical to initially drawing the attention of your visitors, it’s the copy of your calls-to-action that has to be compelling enough to get them clicking,” frequent best-of honoree Pamela Vaughan shares 14 examples of outstanding call-to-action copywriting from both well-known sites (Amazon.com) and more obscure ones (OH! Media).

Mobile Website Design Tips, Tools and Resources

Ultimate Guide to Responsive Web Design: 55 Stunning Tools, Tutorials, and Examples by 1stWebDesigner

Noting that “It is estimated that within two years mobile internet users will overtake the desktop internet users,” Daniels Mekšs steps through more than 50 resources for responsive design, from tools like Less Framework 4 and Gridless to sources of “Inspiration” like Quazarwebdesign and Apgdesign.

The 5 worst mobile websites by iMedia Connection

Eric AndersonOf course these aren’t literally the very worst mobile sites in existence, but as Eric Anderson explains, “rather than trying to simply expose five bad mobile sites, I looked for sites that were archetypal of certain common mobile usability problems,” and he found, among others, “The bad first date: Hardee’s” which asks for your zipcode (while you are likely on the road far from home) and the “irony of the year award: Nokia” which—at the time of the writing of this article—did not actually have a mobile website.

10 best practices for your mobile website by Socialmedia.biz

Deltina HayDeltina Hay presents 10 “best practices that should be applied to all mobile websites,” among them taking advantage of mobile features (“Like the click-to-call button, there are features specific to mobile devices that can be used to improve your site’s user experience”) and using a conventional URL structure (“It is becoming standard to find a website’s mobile version at a URL like m.example.com”).

Why Google loves responsive design (and you should too) by Econsultancy

Mike EssexMike Essex outlines half a dozen reasons to use responsive design, such as that “Responsive sites attract more links to key pages” (because there aren’t multiple URLs with the same copy), responsive sites work on multiple devices, and responsive sites (usually) look better, then points readers to resources for getting started with responsive design.

Mobile Websites vs Responsive Design: What’s the right solution for your business? by Google Mobile Ads Blog
***** 5 STARS

Jessica SapickAlthough responsive design is now generally regarded as the best approach to accommodating the needs of both desktop and mobile web users, Jessica Sapick points out that it’s not the best approach in every situation—and provides a vital guide to determining which approach is best based specific business needs.

Best practices for mobile email design by Econsultancy

Observing that about a third of email use is now on mobile devices, Erik Boman offers more than a dozen practical tips for mobile-friendly email design, from going easy on images and including social links (but keeping them out of the way of important calls to action) to using a one-column layout and not crowding links.

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Best Content Marketing Guides, Tips and Tactics of 2010

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

How many times have you heard the expression “content is king?” That’s the case because, in an increasingly competitive and noisy market, buyers care not so much about what you sell as about what you know, and what you are passionate about. Great content accomplishes at least two of the following objectives:

  • • It helps get you “found” online.
  • • It enhances your organization’s image (e.g., by demonstrating how smart and helpful you are).
  • • It sets you apart (it’s not just a rehash of common knowledge).
  • • It helps move a prospect along the buying cycle.

Best Content Marketing Guides of 2010Great content fills a need for both the consumer and the producer. It helps the consumer solve a problem or improve their life in some way, and it helps the producer sell goods or services that accomplish that task. So how do you produce great content? How do you maximize your return on valuable content? How much content is “enough?” How can you optimize your content for search? What different types of content should you develop for different types of buyers and the various stages of the buying process? Where can you spread your content to maximize exposure?

Get the answers to these questions and more here in some of the best guides to content marketing of the past year.

Content Marketing Strategy and Tactics

10 Tips For Content Marketing Success by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

Adam Singer notes that with 6 in 10 marketers spending more on content marketing in the coming year, it’s getting more difficult to stand out; shares some statistics on the results that can be achieved with quality content, e.g. “56% (of corporate bloggers) say that their blog has helped their company establish a positioning as a thought leader within the industry”; and offers 10 tips to maximize the impact of content marketing, from “personality is essential” to tone is more important than perfection.

11 steps toward a content strategy by Econsultancy

Reporting that “80 percent of those who begin a corporate blog never post more than five entries…In the rush to adopt social media as a tactic, too many marketers leave strategy in the dust,” delightful author Rebecca Lieb presents 11 steps to help marketers think more like editors and develop an effective, consistent content strategy, among them defining key themes and messages, creating an editorial calendar, and utilizing multiple forms of media.Content Marketing Spending Trends

Social Media Leads Content Marketing: New Survey Reveals by Jeff Bullas

Jeff Bullas shares several interesting content marketing stats from recent research, such as: content now accounts for 33% of marketing budgets on average, up from 11% just a couple of years ago. 59% of marketers increased spending on content last year, while just 7% cut that area. E-newsletters, blogs and white papers are among the most popular types of content. While social media, mobile and online video are increasing in importance, traditional email newsletters remain among the most popular delivery vehicles.

7 “Rs” for B2B Marketing Content Planning by Customer Think

Lead nurturing content expert Ardath Albee writes that “Designing content for 1X use is wasteful. Marketers need to create a process for content planning that helps them maximize the return from their investments in developing content resources,” then provides seven tips (such as re-purposing content for different audiences) to help accomplish that goal.

How Much B2B Content is Enough? by Savvy B2B Marketing

Stephanie Tilton says a company has developed enough content “when it has created content that answers prospects’ questions at each stage of the buying cycle,” then outlines a process for determining exactly what that means in any given organization.

The 10 commandments of content marketing by iMedia Connection

Declaring that “all marketing is content,” Eric Anderson hands down his 10 commandments for content marketing, beginning with dictates that content shall be sharable, malleable and collaborative.TopRank's DAO Content Strategy Model

10 Steps to Optimize Your Content Marketing Strategy by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

Lee Odden explains the digital asset optimization (DAO) model (“what can be searched on can be optimized”), outlines a 10-step process for optimizing content for ever-changing search results pages, and concludes with “The good news is that by following these 10 steps, a significant impact can be achieved in overall authority for the topics and keyword concepts focused on as well as the ability to attract new business, media coverage and employees. The bad news is that it’s not easy.”

Lead Nurturing by Find New Customers

Pointing out that lead nurturing is a critical process because “9 out of 10 visitors to your website are not ready to buy now,” this post presents seven keys to creating and maintaining a successful lead nurturing program, beginning with research and content mapping and progressing through continuous measurement and refinement.

Ramping Up For a Bigger Content Publishing Strategy by MediaPost Search Insider

Rob Garner recommends eight tactics for optimizing content marketing results, starting with in-depth keyword and market research and working through strategic planning, metrics and resource allocation.

Most Valuable Content and Offers for IT Buyers by High-Tech Communicator

Cheryl Goldberg reports and comments on recent research identifying the types of content that IT buyers most useful as news and articles (84%) and competitive comparisons / buying guides (73%), while b2b technology marketers often sub-optimally focus on other types of content.

How to Take Advantage of the New B2B Buying Behavior by Fast Company

Wendy Marx contends that b2b “buying decisions ultimately aren’t completely rational, much as we would like them to be…you may have the best product or service in the world but if people don’t understand its value or find you credible you might as well post your ‘going out of business’ sign,” and therefore it’s critical to build relationships, nuture leads, and write content that captures the needs of your prospects.How IT Buyers Consume Content

How Tech Buyers Consume Content: New Findings from TechTarget by Savvy B2B Marketing

In another noteworthy post, Stephanie Tilton shares results from TechTarget research which details the behaviors of “hyper-active IT researchers,” the most engaged 30% of technology buyers. Among the findings: these hyper-active researchers are constantly hunting for and gathering information, often conduct research on behalf of others, and “are most receptive to completing a registration form in exchange for content during the consideration and decision stages.”

White Paper Marketing: 5 White Paper Types and When to Use Them by SmartBug Media

Brittany Brouse defines the characteristics and key purposes of five types of white papers, including the business benefits white paper, the technology benefits white paper, and the product comparison white paper.

6 Ways to Cast a Wider Net Using a Whitepaper by Zmags Blog
***** 5 Stars
White papers are a popular b2b marketing tool, but good ones are expensive to produce. Companies can better capitalize on these investments by reworking, repackaging and re-using white paper content in different formats. Christina Pappas presents six ideas for extending the life and value of white paper content such as turning a white paper into a podcast, video, or webinar.

Measuring ROI on Content Marketing and Creation by Social Marketing Forum

Though acknowledging that “Measuring ROI on content marketing is not straightforward; that is why most firms put measurement on the back burner,” Ambal Balakrishnan presents two sets of recommendations for and examples of content marketing ROI measurement from Ardath Albee and Maria Pergolino.

2011 Trends: Content Marketing Is Critical by eMarketer

Geoff Ramsey shares research revealing that “nearly three-quarters of US companies with a social media strategy use (branded) content—also referred to as ‘earned media’—in their campaigns, making it the most common type of content used.” He then lists five questions marketers should ask themselves to determine whether or not their content is truly “magnetic” and likely to attract targeted buyers.

Developing A B2B Content Promotional Strategy In 7 Steps by Social Marketing Forum

Michele Linn recommends seven questions to ask when developing strategy for promoting your content, starting with “What is your objective?” (e.g., lead generation content is often promoted differently than thought-leadership content).

Article Submission Sites

A list of the best sites to submit articles to by Internet Marketing for Business Owners

The site is a tad spammy, but this list of seven of the most popular article submission sites is helpful.

Article Directory Sites sorted by Importance

Huge list of nearly 300 article submission sites sorted by page rank and Alexa ranking.

The 10 Websites To Get Your Articles Discovered! by Ink Rebels

Misty Belardo recommends promoting your online content using these 10 (mostly) popular social networking and bookmarking sites.

Top 21: The Best Article Directory List by Friday Traffic Report

Another slightly spammy site with a nevertheless useful list of 21 article directories with page rank.

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The Social Media ROI Debate

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Can the financial return on expenditures for social media business activities– in marketing, PR, customer support, HR, product development or other areas — be accurately measured? Can social media costs be justified on the P&L, so that as belts get ever tighter in this stagnant economy, these projects and tasks can be spared the budget axe?

Social Media ROI Debate? Not ExactlyAmong social media pundits, the debate rages on. The “yes” crowd argues that of course social media can be measured, and must be in order to demonstrate value to the business. You wouldn’t buy a new machine tool or enterprise software application without an ROI analysis, so why should social media be any different? Executives don’t care about shiny sparkly things or the latest fads or buzzwords; you’d better know what you want to accomplish, be able to quantify both expenses and revenue, and have the analytics in place to track results before even murmuring the words “social media” in the presence of C-level types.

The “no” group will counter that the metrics and tools haven’t yet matured, or that social media is too amorphous to even be measurable, or that it is rapidly becoming simply part of the plumbing or wiring of a modern organization, making ROI immaterial.

My own thoughts (for what they’re worth) on the matter are that:

  • • It’s challenging to measure the true ROI of social media activities with any precision because social media is as much (if not more) about influence than direct action. For example, if John Doe clicks through to your website from a tweet and buys something, that’s easy to measure. But if John Doe is influenced to buy from you based a tweet—but completes the purchase through another unrelated channel—there’s no way to assign the value of that sale to Twitter.
  • • That said, there are many aspects of social media that can and should be measured, both to show results and to help guide future activities (e.g. determining which topics generate the highest traffic and comment activity on a company blog, what time of day is most productive for tweeting, etc.). In other words, the statement “ROI is challenging to measure accurately” shouldn’t be confused with “don’t bother trying measure anything.”
  • • Metrics can be useful to help determine what to do more of, less of, or differently, but should not as the basis for whether or not to engage in social media. At this point, the adoption of social media tools is so widespread as to constitute just another communication channel. It makes no more sense for a business to shun social media until ROI can be demonstrated than it does to demand an ROI analysis for installing phone lines or email.

So much for my thoughts. What do other pundits have to say? Below are summaries of a variety of posts on the topic of social media ROI measurement from luminaries such as Danny Brown, Brian Solis, Erik Qualman, Michelle Golden and Sharlyn Lauby divided into their respective camps: yes, no, and maybe.

Is social media ROI measurable? Yes.

The Real Cost of Social Media by Danny Brown

This isn’t strictly speaking an ROI article, but Danny does dive into the “I” part of that measure, detailing the true costs (investment) of social media participation.

20 Metrics To Effectively Track Social Media Campaigns by Search Engine Land

Chris Bennett lays out the list of metrics he uses to analyze, track and “prove ROI’ from social media marketing. Compelling piece except for his use of the phrase social media campaign (argh).

Social Media ROI – How 3 B2B Technology Companies Are Achieving Revenue Results by MarCom Ink

Kim Cornwall Malseed summarizes the social media wisdom and ROI results gleaned from a panel of b2b marketing pros including Holger Schulze of SafeNet, Frank Strong of Vocus and Susan Cato of CompTIA. She reports on the revenue achieved, social media strategies used and measurement systems employed for tracking.

ROI: How to Measure Return on Investment in Social Media by Social Media Today

In this long but worthwhile post, Brian Solis reviews the evolution of social media measurement forms (e.g. “return on engagement”), the disconnect between social media marketers (most of whom can’t measure ROI) and CMOs (most of whom expect it), then offers his recommendations for improving the measurement of business objectives from social media.

Sexy Numbers: Measuring ROI in Social Media Campaigns by ReveNews

While acknowledging that tight precision is impossible because the same measures from different tools rarely match exactly (and multiple tools are still needed to end-to-end social media tracking), Angel Djambazov nevertheless makes a strong case for developing ROI metrics for social media campaigns. Quoting Brian Solis and others, Angel points out that particularly in this economy, even great ideas without a hard-number rationale are likely to get slashed; ROI measurements are needed because CMOs demand them. The post also includes some strategies, tactics and tools to assist in social media measurement.

Social Media Monitoring Techniques by WebFadds

Scott Frangos presents a concise but clear outline of basic social media ROI measurement objectives, tools and analytics.

Counterpoint: Why you can calculate an ROI in social media – and why you should do it by iMedia Connection

Uwe Hook responds to the post from Ben Cathers (in the “No” section below) on why social media ROI can’t be measured, laying out a roadmap using metrics such as frequency, yield, sentiment analysis, NetPromoter score and customer lifetime value.

Socialnomics: What Social Media Success Looks Like by Fuel Lines

Michael Gass shares a social media ROI argument in video format. “Socialnomics: Social Media ROI showcases what social media success looks like. Social Media ROI: Socialnomics is by Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business author Erik Qualman. This video highlights several Social Media ROI examples along with other effective Social Media Strategies.” Though a few of the examples are vague or misleading, most are compelling. However, after showcasing companies that have achieved remarkable, quantifiable results through social media, Qualman provocatively asks, “Why are we trying to measure social media like a traditional channel anyway? Social media touches every facet of business and more an extension of good business ethics…When I’m asked about the ROI of Social Media sometimes the appropriate response is…What’s the ROI of your phone?” He seems to suggest that while ROI is measurable, it’s immaterial. Hmm. You can find more of Eric’s insights on his Socialnomics blog.

Making sense of social-media ROI with Olivier Blanchard by SmartBlog on Social Media

Rob Birgfeld talks with Olivier Blanchard, introduced as “perhaps the most sought-after expert for those looking to connect the dots between social media and return-on-investment.” Perhaps. Blanchard contends that most self-proclaimed social media “experts” have difficulty articulating ROI because they have no business management background (agreed, I’ve seen these types — which is why our agency has an MBA who helps clients with social media). With that background, he argues that “the question can be answered in about three minutes. All it takes is someone on the social-media side of the table who understands how to plug new communications into a business from the C-suite’s perspective.” He also makes the case that being able to prove social media ROI is essential. The post just doesn’t specify how to do this.

Social Media ROI — No.

Social media (finally) returns value by The Communicator

Peter Schram doesn’t come right out and say that social media ROI can’t be measured, but rather that organizations should “focus on five key areas where social media will create actual value” that aren’t strictly about sales ROI, including corporate reputation, employee engagement and customer service.

“What’s the ROI of Social Media?” Is the Wrong Question by Golden Practices Blog

Michelle Golden makes a compelling argument that ROI calculations apply only to discrete projects with a beginning, middle and end, such as a direct mail campaign. Social media is a tool, not an event, so such calculations don’t apply.

5 Problems With Measuring Social Marketing by Web Worker Daily

Aliza Sherman articulates some of the frustrations with any social media measurement, much less something as precise as ROI, including the fact that the term “social media” is nebulous and that many traditional marketing concepts (e.g., “reach,” “promotions” and “campaigns”) simply don’t apply to social media –and the industry hasn’t yet developed widely accepted new measures (though Daniel Flamberg attempted to answer this last challenge in 4 Social Media Mining Metrics).

Why you can’t calculate an ROI in social media – and that’s okay by iMedia Connection

Ben Cathers argues that, because the advanced analytics tools that would be required for such measurement have not yet been developed, “In many forms of digital media, you can spend 1 dollar knowing you will earn 1.30…Unfortunately, you cannot do the same in social media, just yet.” He suggests instead that marketers estimate the payback on social media by assigning a value to metrics they can track, such as each follower, each retweet, each “like” of an item, etc.

CEOs Love Pie: The B2B Social Media Case Study, Part 2 by iMedia Connection

In this follow-up post to Conversations that Aren’t about Mel Gibson: the B2B Social Media Case Study, Part 1, Eric Anderson writes that “today you can’t throw a virtual rock without hitting five blog posts about how we all need to simmer down about ROI,” and places himself firmly in the “simmer down” camp. He recommends instead serving them pie, as in pie charts showing measures like “the proportion of their paid impressions that can be replaced or augmented with free impressions. PR agencies have long been selling the value of this pie as earned media or ‘ad equivalency value,’ so CEOs are used to seeing it. They get it. Once you’ve done your social media market analysis, it’s relatively easy to project how big that social media pie wedge will be.”

Social Media ROI…Maybe.

Quantifying Social Results by eMarketer

eMarketer reports that while marketing pros generally agree that quantifying the benefit of social media marketing is important, they are split on whether it is possible. Measuring certain types of activity or behavior is easy; translating those measures into ROI, not so much. As this article notes, “There is a leap, however, between finding appropriate metrics and monitoring them on the one hand, and quantifying results on the other. Marketers must tie the social metrics they settle on directly to business goals, such as increased sales and leads, before social media return on investment can be quantified.”

A call for more accountable social media marketing by iMedia Connection

After acknowledging that “ROI is difficult, if not impossible, to measure with social media. An astounding majority of professionals do not even try to take it into account.  According to a survey late last year from Bazaarvoice and the CMO Club, 72 percent of CMOs did not attach revenue assumptions to social media in 2009,” Jerry McLaughlin goes on to say that marketers must do it anyway. For example, one of his recommendations is to “reach specific social media goals with a tangible ROI, such as tracked discounts or coupons.” While that’s certainly not a bad suggestion, it covers only one very limited aspect of what social media marketing can do.

5 Ways To Set Goals & Measure Social Media Marketing Success by Smart Insights

Danyl Bosomworth summarizes a Jason Falls presentation on various ways to measure social media outcomes. While the post seems to suggest that measuring ROI is easy (measurement #5 casually includes “generation of sales and leads from blog visitors and from social interactions”), it also points out several other benefits that unquestionably have value (e.g., product innovation, branding and awareness, links for SEO benefit), though that value may be difficult to quantify. The message seems to be that if you can directly measure sales and leads then by all means do so, but recognize that social media can provide many other important though less quantifiable rewards.

Marketers Use Varying ROI for Social Media by Marketing Charts

According to a new study from King Fish Media, Hubspot and Junta 42 summarized in this post, most marketers perform some type of social media measurement (e.g., website visits from social media referral sites, new fans/followers, number of links shared, etc.). However, nearly half (43%) admit that they aren’t even trying to measure ROI. And only 29% say “they will have to show positive ROI to continue their social media programs.”

How CEOs are Using Social Media for Real Results by Mashable

Though Sharlyn Lauby shares numbers here from two CEOs able to correlate hard sales data with their social media efforts, she also points out that “even when there might not be data supporting a direct relationship between social media activity and sales, sometimes other metrics point to the connection” such as exposure, branding, customer satisfaction, recommendations, even employee recruiting. The conclusion seems to be that ROI may or may not be measurable, depending on a company’s specific circumstances — or at least that not all of the benefits of social media can be captured in precise sales and ROI figures.

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