Posts Tagged ‘Search Engine Land’
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?
Among 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).
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.
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.
Optimizing a website by incorporating keywords into page titles, headlines, text, page URLs, image alt tags and internal links will help improve the position of a site in the search engines—but it’s only half the battle. As one of the posts linked below notes, “In Search Engine Optimization, things that are happening OFF of your site can be just as important (if not more so) than things happening ON your website.” Search engines look at on-site factors to determine relevance, but at external links to gauge authority.
Julie Batten offers nine key elements to include in a link-building toolkit–such as lists of targeted keywords and directories–to make link-building efforts more efficient and productive.
In this brief but useful post, Jessica Nielsen explains five ways, such as crafting a relevant “professional headline,” to use LinkedIn to improve your company site’s Pagerank.
Raiding Your Competitor’s Backlinks by Internet Marketing for Business Owners
How to quickly find and replicate backlinks to competitor’s site to improve your site’s search engine ranking.
71 Technical Factors For Backlink Analysis (From 30 Link Building Experts) – Part 2 by Search Engine Land
For those who have waaaay too much time to spend on link building, Garrett French walks through the URL, on-page and sitewide factors to use in backlink profile analysis. Includes helpful commentary from a range of SEO experts like Eric Enge and Aaron Wall.
The 30-minute-a-day link building plan by iMedia Connection
Another piece from Garret French, this one outlining his recommended link building plan, starting with linkable asset identification: “common linkable assets include webinars, job listing pages, PDFs, blogs, forums, subject matter experts, deals, news, a community participant, contests, podcasts, and free tools.”
Top 100+ Link Building Resources by Vertical Measures Blog
An extensive list of blogs, tools, forums and other resources to assist with link building knowledge and tactics.
Simple tips for improving your website’s links by iMedia Connection
Ramsay Crooks presents guidelines for building quality links as well as low-value link building tactics to avoid.
Another Big Roundup of Link Tools by Search Engine Land
The always brilliant Debra Mastaler presents a helpful list of backlink analysis tools plus mini-reviews of several “non-standard, outside of the box link tools like Smarter Search.
Ultimate Guide to Link Building by Agent SEO
Jacob Stoops provides an excellent tutorial, beginning with explaining the process and importance of link building then stepping through different tactics and key sites of different types (directories, social bookmarking, article submission, etc.).
Build Links Backwards by Search Engine Journal
Rather than begging for links or hoping your content will appeal to a publisher, Jennifer Van Iderstyne suggests throwing the process into reverse — contacting great sites (blogs, educators, news sites, associations) and asking what type of content they would be interested in linking to.
In this guest post, Dana Lookadoo engagingly live-blogs a session from SMX Seattle featuring tips from several link building experts including Roger Montii (use target searching, don’t rely solely on competitor backlinks), Arnie Kuenn (targeted email requests, content development and promotion), Chris Bennett (infographics), Debra Mastaler (content syndication, guest blogging) and more.
The Art (or Science) of Building Links by Search Engine Watch
In her first post for SEW, Nichola Stott compares link building to expanding one’s professional network: factors like reputation, connections and relevance all matter in both realms.
Google’s Recommendations for Organic Linkbuilding by 10 Golden Rules Internet Marketing Strategy Blog
In this short post, Marc Purtell shares Google’s recommendations for organic link building, which basically come down to: produce quality content.
Case Study: I Listened to Google and I Failed by Graywolf’s SEO Blog
This case study puts Google’s linking advice (see post above) to the test. Is great content really all you need?
While more than 80% of companies now use paid search in some form (primarily AdWords), many of these programs are under-optimized and not delivering the results they could be. How can search marketers use techniques like testing and keyword match types to improve results? How important are branded terms in paid search? Does PPC advertising help with branding? How can you use demographic and geographic targeting to improve results? What are the best ways to reduce the bounce rate from landing pages? What’s a “conversion path” and how can you use that knowledge to increase conversion rates?
10 tips for extending paid search growth by iMedia Connection
Noah Elkin walks through how to use testing, match types, ad text optimization and other tactics to improve search marketing success.
Better Targeting = Better Leads — Demographics for SMBs by Search Engine Watch
Carrie Hill explains how to use demographic targeting tools from AdWords, MSN AdCenter and Yahoo to increase conversion rates for b2c search marketing programs.
Back to the PPC Classroom | A Disciplined Approach To Managing A Client Relationship by PPC News & Opinion
For search marketing consultants and agencies, four basic phases and an example of what a monthly report should consist of to keep the client engaged throughout the relationship.
The Importance Of Branded Search Programs (Even in Tough Economic Times) by Search Engine Land
Sami Carroll shows why branded terms are important in both SEO and SEM efforts, along with tactics for maximizing results with a limited budget.
Kevin Lee reports on a study showing that search increases brand awareness by 6% or more, and points out that, because PPC search marketers pay only for the click, the lift in branding due to the sponsored link is free.
What’s The Real Value of Brand PPC? by Search Engine Journal
Brian Carter uses research and client studies to support the same conclusion reached by Kevin Lee in the post above, and also provides tactical options for maximizing the branding impact of search based on your objectives. Two other noteworthy posts from Brian are 5 Ways to Maximize PPC Impressions, in which he explains how to use bid levels, keyword match types and other tatics to maximize PPC exposure, and The PPC ROI Calculator: How To Forecast And Optimize Your PPC ROI wherein he shows how to maximize the productivity of search marketing programs using an ROI calculator.
A guide to options and techniques for limiting delivery of search marketing ads to a targeted geographic area for local SEM.
Study Confirms Display Ads, Paid Search Work in Concert by MediaPost Online Media Daily
Laurie Sullivan details results of an iProspect study quantifying how “display ads and search work together to provide a bigger impact on campaigns.”
***** 5 Stars
This post tells how to get a business listed on Google Maps, then goes on to explain the distinction between a map listing and local map ads: “that (map) listing doesn’t reach as many searchers and internet users as one might think. To broaden your advertising reach, Google created Local Business Ads. These ads are separate from your traditional campaign-level geo-targeting in AdWords.”
10 tactics for lowering your website’s bounce rate by iMedia Connection
Tom Shapiro explains how to analyze your bounce rate (percentage of people who hit the landing page from a PPC ad then leave your site immediately without taking any further action) and reduce it using keywords, timing, landing page design, navigation, offers, and other elements.
7 Steps to Improving Conversion Rates by Search Engine Guide
Stoney deGeyter provides a seven-step guide to using conversion paths to increase conversion rates.
Why one of Google’s less-known tools, the Google Wonder Wheel, “is a very helpful and insightful tool for PPC keyword research” and tactics for using it.
Optimization—the greatest results for the lowest cost—is the goal of every AdWords campaign manager. What are two of the simplest ways to optimize AdWords campaigns? Google is constantly changing and upgrading its AdWords tools; which recent enhancements are most important to understand and take advantage of? Click-through rate (CTR) is the single most important factor in determining Quality Score, which is as important as bid level in determining how highly an ad will appear in search results. But it isn’t the only factor; what other items are considered, and how can you optimize these?
Get the answers to these questions and many others here in more of the best articles and blog posts from last year on Google AdWords search engine marketing.
Setting up PPC Campaigns 101, Part 1 by Search Engine Watch
Ron Jones steps through the process of structuring content for AdWords campaigns, developing keyword lists and setting up ad groups, along the way identifying helpful resources and tools such Permutator.
2 dead simple ways to optimize your Adwords campaign by CDF Networks
Chad Frederiksen recommends using the AdWords Conversion Optimizer tool and Opportunities tab to increase conversion rates while reducing per-conversion costs.
Although AdWords advertising can benefit a wide range of businesses, it isn’t right for every company. Steve Loszewski walks through ROI calculations to help determine the value of AdWords for a specific situation, as well as what’s involved in properly managing a successful AdWords program.
Rich Media and Video templates in display ad builder by Inside AdWords
Emel Mutlu explains how to use the AdWords display ad builder tool to create ads for Google’s content network that display multiple products, incorporate multiple destination URLs, track unique interactions, include video, provide in-ad coupon codes and more. New templates simplify these tasks, and Emel notes that he hopes they will be “one more great reason to try out the AdWords display ad builder, and reach additional customers in new ways.” More noteworthy posts from the Inside AdWords blog:
- AdWords Editor 7.5.1 for Windows and Mac: Austin Rachlin reports on key changes in the latest updated of the AdWords Editor tool, including the ability to import .CSV files, selectively download specific campaigns, and view and organize new keywords by topical category. In another newsworthy post, Conversion Optimizer is now available to more campaigns, Austin announced that any campaign with at least 15 conversions in the most recent 30-day period is now eligible to use Google’s Conversion Optimizer tool, and that according to Google’s research, “campaigns which adopted Conversion Optimizer achieved a 21% increase in conversions while at the same time decreasing their CPA by 14% (on average and in comparison to similar campaigns).”
- New Interface Thursdays: Keep tabs on your account with custom alerts: Trevor Claiborne explains how to set up custom alerts to get notified about specific types of events or activities in your AdWords account, such as a spike in impressions for branded keywords or when a campaign is close to hitting its daily budget.
- AdWords Conversion Tracking is now even easier: Emily Williams shows how changes to the interface for the conversion tracking tool make it easier to implement and monitor this capability. Of note, the “New Conversion” button allows you to quickly define new conversion actions or import them from a Google Analytics account, and the “Webpages” tab makes it easier to track conversions by page.
Is The Hype Over Google AdWords Quality Score Justified? by Search Engine Land
Craig Danuloff provides a detailed discussion of Quality Score: its importance (high), its ability to function as either a discount mechanism or a tax, why CTR is critical, and why landing page design isn’t. Two other noteworthy posts from Search Engine Land are The 6/90 Rule: 6 Reports Contain 90% Of Actionable AdWords Insights, in which Brad Geddes identifies and demonstrates the value of the six most important AdWords reports, and How important Is Click Through Rate In Google’s Quality Score Formula?, wherein Siddharth Shah illustrates mathematically the importance of CTR to quality score (it explains about 72%; all other factors combined account for the other 28%).
A concise but helpful post that explains how to pull goals and transactions from Google Analytics into AdWords for unified conversion reporting. Analytics and AdWords have traditionally been completely separate systems with inconsistent data, but Google continues to bring the two into closer harmony. Two other valuable posts from PPC Hero are 5 Tips on Passing the Google Adwords Qualified Professional Exam, which provides tips such as knowing how to calculate ROI and AdWords ad text policies before tackling Google’s AdWords certification examination, and 6 Rules to Achieve Awesome Quality Scores & Increase PPC Performance, which explains five factors other than CTR (such as having well-organized ad groups and pruning under-performing ads and keywords) that can help improve AdWords quality scores.
What’s the real optimal cost per lead for your SEM program? How can you improve conversion rates? Keep your search marketing program growing? Assure you that aren’t overlooking any important opportunities for optimization?
Discover the answers to these questions and others here in some of the best posts on search engine marketing of last year.
Finding The Optimal Cost-Per-Lead by Search Engine Land
Patricia Hursh makes the case that the lowest cost per lead isn’t always best, as this pursuit can cause marketers to leave leads on the table, so to speak. The goal, as she states it, should be rather on “maximizing lead volume at an acceptable (profitable) cost/lead.”
5 ways to boost your lead conversion rate by iMedia Connection
Noting that 78% of marketers consider generating online leads one of their top priorities, Andreas Roell offers advice on how improve both the quality and quantity of leads, including sharing source information between marketing and sales (as not all leads are created equal) and carefully monitoring the lead generation performance of each source. In another excellent piece from iMedia Connection, 10 tips for extending paid search growth, Noah Elkin and Rick Dalton provide tips on how to increase results from paid search, such as expanding your keyword list, optimizing text ads, carefully segmenting keywords and using the AdWords Search Query report to identify negative keywords to add to campaigns.
9 things you MUST know before you start any conversion rate optimization by Search Engine People
Though this post is aimed primarily at b2c e-commerce sites, b2b marketers may find a few useful takeaways as well. Khalid Saleh provides helpful tips on how to improve conversion rates such as analyzing your analytics, viewing optimization as a long-term commitment, andstarting optimization during the initial site development process.
Finding Google AdWords Super Converter Keywords by MediaPost Online Media Daily
Laurie Sullivan reports on an online presentation by AdGooroo founder Richard Stokes, in which he explained how to find “super converters”—combinations of keyword phrases, ad copy, and landing pages that align to produce “enormous profits.” Stokes pointed out that “They are nearly impossible to predict,” but explained a formula for identifying them and methods to increase the odds.
Patricio Robles reports on a study which showed that contrary to other research indicating that paid search results get 25-30% of all search query clicks, the actual number is closer to 15%. The study authors admit that because they focused on meta search engine DogPile, the figures may be different for other search engines (such as Google, maybe?). What is clear is that, regardless of the precise figure, a significant majority of clicks go to organic results; therefore, smart marketers will invest in both paid search and organic SEO.
Aaron Wall talks to Dr. Karl Blanks and Ben Jesson of Conversion Rate Experts about improving conversion rates, the most common mistakes search marketers make, messaging, audience targeting, testing, the role of public relations in the conversion process, generating referrals and more.
Never Get Bored With My PPC Tasks Checklist by PPC People
As Amber writes, “This post is dedicated to all the PPC search advertisers out there who think they have done everything to their PPC account and still can’t get the results they need to meet their goals. Just like any job out there, you can never be bored with your PPC account. There is ALWAYS something you can do to improve your performance.” She goes on to provide 15 tips for areas to check and tweak, such as geotargeting settings, keyword groups, negative keywords, ad text, bids, day-parting, landing page design and more.