return on investment
return on investment

When only 17% of CMOs say they can prove the ROI of their customer engagement on social media, it brings to mind the well-worn phrase from 19th-Century poet Robert Burns, “The best-laid schemes of mice and men” that go on to address how things can go awry.

That statistic comes from recent research by Khoros and becomes even more critical in today’s environment, with many brands trying to stave off budget cuts while proving the value of different strategies like social media.

What kind of plans can CMOs employ to present results to senior management in defending their budget and demonstrating their value?

While a lot of focus has been placed on the number of followers and impressions a brand receives, it’s time to concentrate on what matters, the brand’s value and consumers’ awareness of it.

That’s what leads to sales. Direct attention to surveys that validate the effectiveness of the brand’s content to prove the merits of customer engagement.

Similarly, it’s important to know how well customers understand the brand. Algorithms and engagement metrics keep evolving but what’s more important is the growth of consumer brand awareness.

Has there been an increase in positive brand awareness since the last quarter?

Do more consumers understand the brand and its values?

These are some of the issues that should be measured, unlike previous surveys.

Monitor social media comments as well as NPS (net promoter score) across all channels, particularly the negative ones. Have they increased? If so, that may be a cause of concern. Are many around the same issue or concern? In addition to responding to them, gather the team to determine what can be done to reduce the frequency of these negative comments and scores, and turn these around into future positive feedback.

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Do whatever is possible to follow customers by demonstrating their journey from engagement to sale or even how the latter sped up their purchase. Did the customer spend more time on the brand’s platform, and was the journey less costly and more efficient? If those questions can be answered, it will also help demonstrate ROI.

According to Khoros’s research, a brand needs to engage with seven people before a purchase is made. As a result, numbers count, and engaging with curious visitors is also important. Continue measuring them as each visit adds up.

The value should be more than income. In seeking a broader view of ROI, try viewing value in a collective sense. What does the brand’s NPS (net promoter score) reveal about ROI, and what do survey analyses say about customer engagement? All tactics should be driving customer engagement efforts to the top of the funnel. If not, adjustments are necessary. The same goes for customer affinity toward the brand.

Teamwork today is more critical than ever, and all departments must be aware of and embrace these plans to prove ROI. Silos cannot be permitted to exist. Where applicable, KPIs for the responsible departments also need to be understood and agreed to so that reporting is clear going forward.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.