Planning a social media marketing campaign can feel daunting, especially when we are doing it ourselves or have a limited budget. Ever caught yourself scouring the interwebs for practical tips on how to plan, launch and measure your social marketing campaigns? So have I. That's why I reached out to Chintan Goswami of TravelCarma to get more insight on running better social media marketing campaigns for my clients (and for myself.) I came away with a clear roadmap for launching and measuring my next social media marketing campaign. No more guessing. No more crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. Now, you have no excuse NOT to increase your ROI on your next social media marketing campaign.
And, here's the juicy, oh-so-tactical interview.
What exactly is a social media marketing campaign?
A social media marketing campaign is a planned marketing effort on social media, based on a specific theme, aimed at achieving predetermined business goals. Today, most people spend a significant part of their day on social media (including when they’re at work) and it has become essential for businesses to have an active presence on social media to remain connected with their target audience. Whether you’re a startup or an established brand, connecting with your target customers on social media through targeted campaigns will have a positive impact on your business. The advantage of marketing on social media, as opposed to TV, print media or billboards, is that your marketing ROI can be measured much more accurately and you can easily tweak your campaign on the fly based on real-time feedback.
How do you go about planning a social media marketing campaign, especially if this is your first?
Here's our process for planning social media marketing campaigns.
- Decide the goals and KPIs of the campaign. This could be anything, such as increasing brand awareness, increasing followers, generating leads or even a combination thereof.
- Decide the target audience for the campaign. This is based on our predefined buyer personas.
- Decide the message for the campaign, based on who we are looking to target. This is crucial, as not everybody has the same pain points. It’s important to segment your prospects and customers, creating a targeted message that resonates with them at a very emotional level. Here, it’s very important to understand what motivates your target audience and design your campaign accordingly.
- Decide which social channels matter most, as the behavior and expectations of people on each channel are different. What might work on Facebook may not work on LinkedIn, and vice versa. We often create different forms of content for the different platforms. In our experience, blogs and infographics work best on LinkedIn, while banners and videos work great on Facebook.
- Decide the optimal time(s) to run the campaign based on a lot of research and analysis. We use a combination of inbuilt insights provided by social platforms, as well as, digging into our own historic data.
We’re big on social ROI. How do you calculate social media ROI for your campaigns?
The social ROI for us depends on the KPIs we choose for the campaign. Let’s say the two main KPIs of a campaign are website traffic and leads generated. In this case, we would set up goals in Google Analytics and use UTM codes in the campaign to track traffic on the site and measure goal conversions. Being a B2B (business to business) brand with both marketing AND sales teams, we measure the end success in terms of how many of those leads our sales team is able to convert into deals and the revenue generated from those deals. We already know our costs in terms of manpower and technology, so we just need to compare the cost versus the revenue generated to arrive at the ROI.
You mentioned that Google Analytics (GA) is critical to measuring Social ROI. If someone is new to Google Analytics and wants to learn more about how to set goals, which metrics to watch, etc. what would you suggest?
Google Analytics is our favorite tool for measuring the effectiveness of our online marketing. It’s easy to use, provides in-depth insights and the best part - it’s totally free! Every business is different, and the KPIs that may be important to one may be less important to another. However, there are certain metrics that every business should look at in GA.
In my opinion, the most important metrics are:
- Unique Visitors
- Bounce Rate
- Average Session Duration
- Conversation rate.
All these demonstrate the quality of your website and quality of your traffic.
A high bounce rate (unless yours is a single page site) indicates that either your landing pages are not optimized for your target visitors or that you are getting the wrong traffic on your site.
Average session duration and pages/session are indicators of the quality of the content on your site and how much it’s able to engage visitors, particularly in case of sites with multiple pages. People are likely to spend more time on your site if the content is relevant and interesting to them. The presentation of that content is equally important, as great content with poor presentation can cause high a high bounce rate and short sessions.
In addition to the overall website metrics, you can analyze these metrics for specific channels:
- Organic search
- Geographic locations
- Device categories
The most important metric though, one which best demonstrates your real ROI, is goal conversions. Goal tracking in Google Analytics is easy to set up and is a great way to test your funnel. Goals may vary depending on the nature of your business and can include sales, inquiries, ebook downloads, newsletter sign-ups, etc. For an e-commerce brand, the most important goal would be sales. For a B2B brand, like ours, it’s sales inquiries.
Conversion is the most important because you may have a great bounce rate or average session duration, but if visitors are not converting, it’s not going to generate any revenue for you. So, conversion is paramount.
The best indicator of the effectiveness of your website would be conversion rate (number of conversions per 100 visitors). Conversion rates vary from business to business, but you should aim for a conversion rate of at least 4-5% if you’re a B2B brand and at least 15-20% if you’re a B2C brand.
You can track goal conversions in various ways - by URL destination (such as a thank you page), by event (such as button clicks), time spent or pages/visit. The choice of goals would depend entirely on your marketing objectives. Regardless of the type of goal you choose, when you’re running a campaign on social media, you want to track the conversion for that specific campaign. You can do this in GA using UTM codes.
UTM codes are parameters you can attach to your website or landing page URLs and they tell GA the source, medium and the campaign through which a certain portion of your web traffic has come from. This helps you differentiate the campaign traffic from your overall traffic and effectively track conversions from the campaign.
How can you tell when a social media marketing campaign is successful?
The success of a social media campaign would depend on the goals you’ve set for the campaign.
Let’s say your goal is to get 1000 downloads for your ebook next month.
Step 1: Build a landing page for the ebook where users can download the ebook from.
Step 2: Create a UTM code for that landing page and use that UTM code in your campaigns. If you are carrying out paid campaigns (sponsored posts, search engine ads, etc) the UTM codes will automatically be generated by the ad service, so won’t have to do it manually.
Step 3: Go into GA and create a destination url goal where you put the destination url as thankyou.htm. This means that every time someone downloads your ebook, the thankyou.htm page would load and GA would register that as a goal completion.
Step 4: Run your campaign for a month. At the end of the month, log into your GA account. Go into Campaigns (under Acquisition), and you will see the goal completions for your campaign. If that figure if 1000 or more, you know your campaign has been successful. If the goal of your campaign was something else, say increasing your Facebook page likes by 20% you can go into your Facebook Page Insights and do a before-and-after likes comparison to judge if your campaign has been successful.
Do you need a big budget to run a social media marketing campaign? What’s a good starting point for those just getting started?
You don’t need a big budget to run a campaign, and spending more dollars doesn’t necessarily translate into better results. How you spend those dollars is what matters.
Typically a dollar a day on Facebook will grow your audience by 4000 likes.
Social channels give you an estimated number of impressions and clicks based on your daily budget, so you can use that to plan your strategy.
Planning is key here: a well thought-out campaign with a small budget can outperform an ill-planned big budget campaign.
Budget: If you’re on a small budget and want to make every dollar count, create a solid plan. Like I mentioned earlier, it starts with knowing who your target audience is and what motivates them.
Go Niche: The more targeted your message, the higher your conversion rates are likely to be. The cost of advertising to a niche audience is typically lower compared to targeting a wide demographic.
Copywriting: The copy is also very important, so make sure you spend a good amount of time optimizing it. You can do everything right but if your copy sucks you won’t get any engagement. It might be worth running it by your friends and family and make changes based on their feedback.
Pilot: If you do intend to spend a considerable amount of money, start with a small budget and run a trial campaign for a brief duration. It will help you test your campaign and make corrections before you go all out.
Word-of-Mouth: If you don’t want to spend on ads, and want to achieve your goals organically, posting into groups and communities would be great idea. You can even tie the campaign into your product/app and encourage your users to spread the word by offering them incentives.
Can you share an example of a successful social media campaign?
The one I can remember is Hootsuite’s Game of Social Thrones campaign where they released a video and an infographic using Game of Thrones as a theme. I feel it worked because Game of Thrones was trending at the time and people could instantly relate to the campaign. Plus they made it interactive by inviting users to engage in the campaign and choose their champion social network.
What’s the one thing you wish you would have known about strategizing and executing social media marketing campaigns when you got started?
We lost quite a bit of money when we launched our first ever Facebook marketing campaign. This was because some of the countries we were targeting were employing click farms, something we didn’t know about at the time. So we ended up spending a lot of money on ‘fake’ traffic that had a 100% bounce rate.
Where can readers learn more about your work?
I work for TravelCarma, a global travel technology brand with over 20 years of software delivery experience. We have helped tourism companies worldwide achieve a significant online presence by providing state-of-the-art, mobile-enabled e-commerce solutions with their own branding, diverse content and access to global inventory.
Chintan is a data-driven Inbound Marketing Specialist with a proven track record of successfully designing and implementing both B2C and B2B omnichannel marketing strategies to achieve business goals. He currently heads Marketing at TravelCarma, a leading travel technology brand providing ERP solutions to tourism firms worldwide. He has a strong passion for inbound marketing and believes the key to building a brand is not by talking but by listening—listening to your target audience and understanding what keeps them up at night.