The “Emerging Trends in B-to-B Social Marketing: Insights From the Field” report, which includes dozens of charts and in-depth analysis, is available for paid download at: www.btobonline.com/intelligencecenter_social.
Marketers are eager to engage in social media marketing, and an overwhelmingly large proportion of them are doing so, according to a study of social media marketing by BtoB. However, the survey also found that they face a challenge in determining its effectiveness.
“Emerging Trends in B-to-B Social Marketing: Insights From the Field” found that marketers are vexed by poorly defined metrics. A larger percentage (58%) of the most experienced users view this as a major obstacle than do those who are new to social media marketing (53%).
As a result, most don't even try to measure their social ROI. While 93% of marketers are engaged to some extent in social media marketing, 75% have no ROI attribution program in place to measure its effect.
“I'm not a big fan of these [social monitoring and analytics] services, although I'm probably misguided,” said Joanne F. Gucwa, president of Technology Management Associates, a provider of business information on markets, technology and environmental issues. Gucwa cited in particular being annoyed by a cumbersome experience with cloud-based services.
“When I'm trying to launch a website, I have to wait as I see various analytics at the bottom of the screen apparently collecting information, despite our relatively fast connection,” she said.
Gucwa said she's interested in gauging the effectiveness of services that check social-channel backlinks, but hasn't had a chance to evaluate them yet.
For others seeking some social metrics, the initial steps are often tentative.
“We just started to do measurement, but it's not too sophisticated yet,” said Greg Donahue, marketing programs manager at Mercury Computer Systems. Donahue is using bit.ly URLs to track inbound traffic from social posts, but he's using just URL for all activity on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
“So I can measure how many are coming from social media in general, but can't measure the specific channel,” Donahue said.
Marketer objectives seem to be relatively consistent in order of priority, according to the BtoB survey, whether a company has some form of social marketing metric in place or not. Among companies that try to measure social's impact, its highest value lies in its ability to drive website traffic, cited by 64% of survey respondents.
That key metric was followed by listening to the social buzz (61%), branding (61%), garnering customer feedback (53%), SEO (52%), lead generation (51%) and product or event promotion (50%), among the major goals.
Traffic-building is a primary metric for the education portal ClassesandCareers.com, which holds each of its blog writers responsible for distributing their content via their own social networks and getting viral results.
“We are using Google Analytics to track each blog post's traffic per writer,” said Russell Jensen, SEO content manager at the company. “With the aid of AddThis [a social bookmarking service], we are able to see which articles have gone viral, getting more clicks than shares.”
Marketers' faith in Web traffic as a key social marketing metric seems well-placed. When asked what percentage of their overall website traffic comes from social media marketing, 30% of respondents to BtoB's survey said it boosted traffic more than 10%, with 5% claiming a 30% or greater increase in traffic due to social.
One interesting finding in BtoB's survey was that, while so few marketers say they're actually using any social measuring tool, many seem to be gaining some sense of ROI.
The answer may lie in the fact that marketers overwhelmingly favor search-measurement tool Google Insights as their prime social solution. They just don't consider it a social marketing tool.
Google Insights was cited by 65% of respondents as a social media monitoring tool. Other favored tools included Hootsuite (30%), Radian6 (13%), Tweetburner (10%) and Klout (10%).
“We use social marketing solely for SEO purposes,” said Rebecca Hauptman, marketing manager at E-Switch Inc., an electronic switch company. Hauptman uses blogging for product announcements, industry and company news, and product specifications, while adding anchor text links back to the E-Switch website to increase the number of inbound links.
“This gives us five links a week, but over time it has proven to make a substantial difference to our search engine rankings,” Hauptman said.
Companies of various sizes were represented in BtoB's survey, although small businesses predominated, with 56% of respondents reporting annual revenue of $24 million or less. The online survey, which drew 577 respondents, was conducted in January and February.