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April 16, 2013

Are You Measuring the Return on Your Social Media Spend?

By Heather Clancy

Starting my week by reading some recent research by The CMO, which suggests a significant increase in social media spending over the next five years.

Indeed, the data predict that social media campaigns and investments will claim approximately 21.6 percent of the average company’s total marketing budget at the end of that timeframe, compared with about 8.4 percent currently and an estimated 11.5 percent expected one year from now.

The metrics that marketers are using to measure those investments are likewise changing, according to the survey results.

While the number of hits/visits/page views generated by social media campaigns is still the top measurement used by surveyed marketing executives, the percentage of them using this measure has decreased. In August 2010, 47.6 percent of those polled used this metric, versus 40.9 percent of those surveyed in February 2013.

Here are the other metrics that are declining in usage: repeat visits, conversion rates (from visitor to buyer), customer acquisition costs and sales levels.

And here are four metrics that gained in usage popularity during the past 2.5 years:

• Number of followers or friends (30.5 percent in February 2013, versus 24 percent in August 2010)
• Buzz indicators / Web mentions (16.2 percent, versus 15.7 percent)
• Other text analysis ratings (8.5 percent, versus 6.6 percent)
• Net promoter score (9.8 percent, versus 7.5 percent)

Another CMO survey finding that dovetails with these results centers on the anticipated increase in the use of marketing analytics.

As of February, approximately 30 percent of the surveyed companies were using analytics for their marketing projects, off about 7 percent from one year earlier.

But the surveyed marketers expect to spend a larger portion of their budgets on this activity over the next three years: 10 percent by early 2016, compared with 6 percent currently.

The latest CMO survey reflects the opinions of 468 senior marketing executives at a cross section of U.S. companies.

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