Taking social media beyond cost-per-click

Taking social media beyond cost-per-click

This article looks at key techniques for measuring and improving social media campaigns for brands. It was originally published in print in Ad Map.

Social media, which once focused on conversation and content, has now become an established channel for customer acquisition, something that astute marketers are increasingly exploring.

According to a recent survey by ClickZIntelligence of advertising professionals worldwide, 61% expect an increase in social ad spend for Facebook and 40% on LinkedIn and Instagram.

We appear, however, to have reached a tipping point where marketers acknowledge the potential impact of social media advertising yet are still challenged when it comes to proving the value of a social advertising campaign.

To drive performance and secure executive buy-in and budget for social ad campaigns, marketers need to plan more strategically, building in measurement from the outset, while drawing on the latest data management and social monitoring and measuring techniques to define and establish true ROI, moving away from the traditional focus on clicks.

Here are six ways to improve and measure impact from social media advertising:

1. Know what success looks like

Before you can measure and improve a social advertising campaign you need to establish what success means to you. A ‘satisfactory’ ratio between ad spend and revenue will differ based on business size and objectives.

To do this it’s necessary to change the common mindset that social advertising is a ‘cool thing to do’ but won’t cover costs. Managed and planned properly, social will not only break even, but can also generate a handsome profit, thereby meeting KPIs for a conversion campaign.

Start off by ensuring you have clear measurable objectives. These need to be well defined as they will be the benchmark by which you will drive the entire campaign. Online advertising delivers accurate ROI, something that is more guesswork in traditional advertising.

With new social products, platforms and capabilities constantly emerging, it can be difficult for brands to remain focused on their core social media strategy. Keeping primary business objectives front of mind will help you avoid the distractions that new platforms might cause.

National Amusements recently used a social advertising campaign to promote the launch of children’s movie Thomas & Friends: The Great Race. It set a clear objective of beating 2016’s ticket sales, despite showing the film in 150 fewer cinemas. This ambitious goal drove the campaign, with every element focused on this target.

2. Define and target your audience as accurately as possible

With your objectives set, it’s time to define the audience you want to engage with. The more accurately you can do this, then the more successful your social campaign will be. The key factor, of course, is how you go about targeting your defined audience on social media.

When it comes to audience size, less is more. A hyper-targeted audience will enable you to gauge exactly who your most lucrative segments are. There are varying degrees to which you can deep dive into segmentation. Ranking highest relevant audience segments will go a long way towards avoiding wastage or worse, diluting or damaging the brand.

For its Thomas & Friends movie campaign, National Amusement’s first identified the most appropriate audience data segments, which included family demographics, age and number of children, geo-location through to socio economic status, interests and hobbies.

This data was then cross referenced with personality traits and behavioural patterns, then overlayed around purchase intent, life and family events through to device and channel preferences. Ranking the highest relevant audience segments combined with lowest CPM identifiers [EXPLAIN?] helped National Amusements avoided waste.

3. Decide on the right format

With your audience defined and key data segments identified, the most appropriate channel and ad format need to be decided upon.

Google AdWords, for example, can be combined with Facebook to get in front of those people who are actively in the buying cycle. AdWords is one of the best sources for new customers who are already searching for a defined product or service, as it targets users actively looking for specific information. A good example of this would be a potential customer searching for red velvet ballet pumps.

Social advertising on the other hand targets new customers who don’t yet know what they specifically want, but who display the right kind of purchase intent. In this case a good example would be a potential customer who is interested in dance in general and ballet in particular. From this starting point you can begin exploring suitable channels. Which ones you choose will of course be dependent on your product or service. Facebook has proved to be a highly cost effective and scaleable acquisition marketing channel, particularly for the entertainment sector.

Aligning with the popular Thomas & Friends UK Facebook page, National Amusements promoted a highly engaging movie trailer, and used website click ads to re-target the audience that watched at least 75% of the video, thereby ensuring high levels of interest were already in place.

4. Hyper target through establishing optimum deliver time and place

The campaign can be further honed by then considering the best time to serve the ad to your audience to gain maximum engagement. To establish the right delivery times your audience data can be refined into target audiences’ ‘modes’.

This kind of fine tuning was crucial to National Amusements for its Thomas & Friends movie campaign, where the behaviour of parents and their children were analysed to establish the best time to engage.

It was found that an ad served in the middle of children’s dinner and bedtime could be lost in the chaos of the moment. However, serving it straight afterwards, when parents are in organising mode, was much more likely to lead to a purchase. Leave it too late and parents will be in wind-down mode and may not feel inclined to follow through.

5. Complement and support your marketing on other channels

You can increase the impact of your social advertising by making sure it complements and supports any marketing across other channels, and vice versa.

The messages you send out through marketing and advertising should be consistent no matter what channel you are using. What’s more, any social media campaigns should support others running elsewhere to help widen the reach and strengthen the message. This can help to increase the effectiveness of the overall campaign.

However, it’s important to avoid simply sharing ad creative across different channels as different approaches are required in each case, particularly in social media. A common mistake, for example, is to run TV ads on social media. Consumers are in different mindsets when watching TV or using social media, where people have a much shorter attention span. Social video advertising, therefore, needs to me much more brief and immediate.

6. Monitor and measure performance

When running a social ad campaign, you should aim to carry out regular conversion uplift tests so that you are continually assessing performance and making any necessary adjustments to improve results. To do this it’s necessary to identify those engagements or sales – depending on the objectives set – that were down to the social campaign.

A retailer, for example could benchmark the percentage of sales that would have happened even if consumers hadn’t looked at the social advertising to establish incremental sales rather than cannibalising other existing channels.

Where the relationship between different channels is complex, attribution modelling can help to define the contribution of each individual channel. This might be the case between social search, offline and display with a product that has a long consideration process. Attribution modelling can help allocate a value to each channel based on analysis of the target customer’s purchasing journey in order to measure and refine social conversions effectively and ultimately establish cost per conversion.

Thanks to the latest native and third-party tracking tools, it’s possible to define the entire consumer journey accurately, from awareness all the way to key business metrics such as sales and ROI.

In conclusion

Social media has certainly come a long way in a very short time. A decade ago marketers would never have even considered leveraging social platforms the way they do today. Social advertising offers organisations of all sizes great returns on investment. However, without the expertise to navigate what still seems a relatively new advertising landscape to those outside the sector, it is easy for companies’ to rapidly become frustrated as the returns are scarce and their budgets get sucked dry.

By delivering great content targeted at the right audience at the best time and accurately measuring the results, National Amusement’s Thomas & Friends movie campaign was shown to generate a 300% uplift from revenue target.

The campaign also delivered a return of investment of £12 for every £1 invested as well as over 6.8 million impressions, resulting in more than 480,000 video views and over 25,000 website clicks. It also had a highly positive impact on website traffic, with over 50% of users clicking the ‘Book Now’ button.

This shows the power of social advertising if planned, managed and measured effectively.

Joel Davis, co-founder, Mighty Social

(This article was co-written by Three-sixty)