A recent ANA study found 87% of brands measure the effectiveness of social media content based on clickthroughs. This suggests digital marketers actually believe clicks and traffic are synonymous with success. Clickthroughs or click through rate (CTR) is a common metric for social marketing because it’s easy to measure, thanks to free URL tracking services. The problem is clicks and web traffic alone don’t indicate success for social marketing—or any other form of marketing. Clicks do measure users’ interaction with your brand, and may even signal consideration or purchase intent. But the real success is not in getting people to go to your site; it’s in what they do when they get there.
Conversion or conversion rate is a more effective measure of social marketing content and tactics. Why? That metric translates into revenue and demonstrates the value of social marketing in terms of business results. Engagement is nice. Charts and graphs showing increases in clicks and likes are pretty. But CEOs and shareholders care about revenue. CMOs use conversion rate to prioritize channels and tactics and allocate budget. I get it. It’s simpler to track vanity metrics like CTR. It’s more fun to report positive results than lackluster outcomes. It’s easier to plan and execute social marketing without considering icky acronyms like ROI. And for a long time, that’s been okay.
In the past, business and marketing leaders were satisfied simply to have a social media presence. They slept soundly knowing someone was monitoring the page for porn and profanity and the number of “likes” and clicks was growing steadily. But as social marketing budgets grow, organizations are demanding more from social marketing. They expect it to drive tangible business results, not just audience growth or engagement, which can be hard to value. They ask questions—uncomfortable questions—like, “What’s the ROI of social marketing?” or “Should we spend more on social or mobile?” Unless digital marketers shift their focus from counting clicks to measuring conversion, they going to fall short of demonstrating the business value of social marketing.