Online marketing is not a new concept, but one that continues to evolve. Social networking, and interacting with customers and consumers via the Internet harnesses the powers of new media as part of an effective marketing strategy.
However, tracking the success of these new marketing avenues is a much grayer area.
In traditional marketing you look at product sales reports, whether your efforts are gaining recognition and increased consumption. To use journalists as an example, they will measure success by the stories that gain traction. Their editors will evaluate achievement in terms of papers sold and advertisers signed.
So how are people tracking their brand’s success online?
First off, it is critical that you understand your parameters, the criteria by which you will examine the success of various online strategies. Before you pay a retainer to a social media “expert,” or sign a contract with a new media firm, you should possess an understanding of how that third party plans on charting their success as it translates into growth for your company. If you don’t know how they will achieve this, you are wasting your money.
That said, tracking online effectiveness is tricky–but not impossible.
Poynter.org blogger Patrick Thornton points out, “using analytics to track social media’s success remains a work in progress.”
There is just no uniform way to track online success. Most people look at clickthroughs as an immediate barometer of campaign worthiness.
Every click is money earned in most cases. At thinkglink.com, we make money leveraging Google ads – but only if a user clicks and views them. When developing client sites, there are usually view/click quotas to be met, and rewards if those numbers are exceeded.
A successful social media program has many moving parts and each platform has different measurements for achievement.
Here are some of the basic things to evaluate:
- Company website – Visits, average time on site, bounce rate, number of pages viewed, unique visitors. Also look at traffic patterns: is there a certain day of the week in which your site welcomes more eyeballs?
- Newsletters and eblasts – Track open rates/read rates and readership patterns.
- Twitter – Other than followers, retweets (RTs) and general interaction, clicks are a good way to track success on Twitter. Third party sites shorten links (you need to conserve as many of those 140 characters as you can) and offer click statistics.
- Facebook – The site is constantly changing and adding new features, but the biggest mark of honor remains friends, likes and comments. If you are using Facebook for a business establish a Fan Page. The number of friends you can have following your page is unlimited–unlike the restraint of 5,000 on a profile page.
- YouTube – Look at video views, channel views and subscribers.
Think Glink Publishing uses a variety of tools including: Hootsuite, Omniture, tiny.cc and Google Analytics.
These are just a few of the ways to chart progress online, for more options or ideas, check out econsultancy.com’s list of 10 Ways to Measure Social Media Success.
So there’s no perfect system, but there are a few easy ways to track clicks and traffic. If you recognize that this field of online marketing and social media integration is continuing to evolve and don’t search for the end-all-be-all of charting success you should be okay. That being said, you should always quiz a social media company about the programs they use before engaging their services.