How to Measure the Unknown for Social Media Initiatives

Capturing information to confirm point of origin for sales is challenging. The most accurate method is asking customers to enter a keycode or embedding one in the URL.

When all else fails (and even if it doesn’t) look at your direct marketing segments before and after your social media campaign. Usually there is a consistency in average order, response rate , and ratios from one campaign to the next. The numbers in the following chart are the results from one test.


In this example, X, Y, and Z represent the top three segments for a business to consumer company. The before and after numbers and ratios are consistent for these groups. The average order is slightly higher in the after column, but it was expected. The retail offering was higher for the second campaign, which accounts for the variance.

The Unknown segment is orders placed without a keycode. They could come from anywhere. The average order is higher on a larger scale. The percent of the total sales for this segment has a jump of 22%. While it isn’t conclusive, it implies that social media is pulling new customers in.

This is when your benchmarks pay off. Update your key metrics every month for a social media before and after comparison. Overlay the analysis with your social media activity. Did your email subscriptions increase when you promoted the sign up online? Is there an increase in sales without an increase in direct marketing promotion?

If you are promoting specific items via social media, monitor the sales curve around the same time. Extend it out two to four weeks after the promotion. Our tests have shown that tweets are clicked up to a month after they were posted. (We found that very surprising.)

Compare your web analytics, too. Social media increases traffic. If you are seeing a bump in sales from natural search, track it back to the source. You may just find that it was from a conversation! (Reminder: It will only happen if you include links in your tweets.)

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