If You’re In B2B Marketing, Get Your Head Around Social Media ROI

If you’re like me, you’re a bald, 30 something, B2B marketer. If you only fit into one of those categories, and you’re reading this post, chances are you may have come across MarketingSherpa’s 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report. This report covers just about everything under the sun in terms of what marketers are doing, how they’re doing it and how it’s working for them.

patrick maness is mlt creative's director of b2b marketing strategyThe latest report showed no surprises in where B2B marketers were going to allocate budgets in 2011. Inbound marketing, SEO, email and social media spending is expected to increase while direct mail, trade shows and print advertising is expected to decrease rather significantly.

The other interesting set of statistics revolved around the effectiveness of marketing tactics. They more or less fell in line with where marketers were (or weren’t) planning to allocate budgets going into the new year for one notable exception: Social Media.

Let me break it down for you.

  • 69% of responders are going to increase Social Media spending.
  • 59% of responders believe Social Media is ‘somewhat’ effective.

How is that possible? Why are so many intelligent people essentially taking a leap of faith with their budgets by investing in social media? Sherpa notes that this disconnect is the result of “the infancy of this marketing tactic and the low level of experience organizations have in execution when compared to more seasoned marketing tactics.” They continue by stating that “as B2B marketers become more mature with their social marketing practices, their perceptions on the effectiveness of this tactic will improve.”

Translation: As soon as B2B marketers can get their heads around how to measure the ROI of social media activity, perceived effectiveness will increase.

I don’t know why this has proven to be such a huge hurdle for marketers to leap; especially when Paul Gillin make it seem so easy in his article, “Making the ROI case for social media.

Granted that only covers effectiveness from the perspective of using social media to attract and convert leads into customers. It says nothing about the “social” aspect of social media. The return on using social media to listen to your customers; to converse with them, to solve their problems, address their issues, to be a human.

If you’re using social media to engage your customers, look at your churn rate. If it’s steadily decreasing you’re probably doing something right. Also, if the average value of a customer is on the rise that might be a pretty good indicator as well. Of course, both of these metrics are measured over time, so perhaps that’s another reason why 59% of B2B marketers fall into the “somewhat effective” category.

How do you measure the effectiveness of social media in your organization?