This has been another one of those unofficial themed weeks here at Evolve Systems. This time, it was podcasting. Evolve Systems is launching our own podcasting program and studio with podcasting equipment, so we are eager to get the word out. The Evolve Blog in particular focused on podcasting this past week, writing twice, once about Podcasts and Your Business with Evolve Podcasting, and another on Why Should Your Business Podcast? If enough interest is generated about podcasting with Evolve Systems, we’re deciding whether or not to offer a formal seminar on the benefits of podcasting. Let us know what you think about podcasts and podcasting.
One of the problems we’ve run into at Evolve Systems is that many of our clients just don’t understand the value or importance of many of these new marketing and promotional tools out there, such as podcasts or social media. Often the question asked of us is “What’s the ROI, or return on investment, of this service?” Which is a tough question to answer since there are so many different answers, and yet everyone is just looking for their one answer that they have in mind, be it eyeballs, conversions, blog comments, retweets, whatever.
With clients, we stress over and over that most social media channels are not dump beds for promotional spam. They are channels of communication, where users expect to be part of a conversation, and not just deluged with promotional spam and demands to interact. Most users of social media, if you provide them with something compelling, are willing to click through your link to visit your content and learn what they can, but odds are they are not going to convert or buy something on your site. They are merely browsing. However, this should still be considered a success for your business, because you presented them with new and unique information that they will not forget, may even be willing to share, and will probably come back to next time you update. You’ve created a return visitor, and often times return visitors become customers.
So, how can we quantify and qualify the ROI of social media, podcasts, SEO, and other Web 2.0
Social Media Today’s interestingly named “Social Media ROI For Idiots” goes in-depth into the subject.
Traditional ROI is calculated: ROI = (revenue – investment) / Investment * 100.
Social media ROI can be calculated in a ton of different ways. Check this out:
ROI = (revenue – investment) + targeted engagement (new clients) / investment * 100. How many new leads has the campaign established? You can make a case for traditional campaigns doing this too but since social media is highly targeted you’re more likely to get qualified leads from your social media.
or this one…
ROI = (revenue – investment) + employee retention / investment * 100. Engaged employees are more profitable, productive and less likely to leave their jobs. How much does it cost to train a new employee?
Take the Old Spice campaign for example. Old Spice saw a 2700% increase in Twitter followers, 800% increase in Facebook fan page visits and 300% increase in traffic to the brand website and countless parodies, but most importantly sales of its Body Wash more than doubled!
Other companies have had similar success when they engage their customers. Engagement builds incredible customer loyalty and brand awareness but also gives users a sense that they’re dealing with a real company, with real values and real people.
and finally, my personal favourite…
ROI = (revenue – investment) + social good / investment * 100. This is my favourite because, for so many years, big business has focused only on their bottom line. Even the companies that have philanthropic endevours built into their business model have had little success in translating that to ROI.
Yes, that’s a lot to process. But it’s worth thinking about.
We’ve mentioned on our SEO dedicated Twitter feed, Evolve_SEO, that SEO is a long term investment and the more you pour into it the greater results you will see (and subsequently the greater your expectations should be, of which the reverse is also true). SEO is not something you do once and are done with. It takes time, research, and serious analytics to be successful.
Is it possible to optimize for SEO? Yes, and in fact, many shopping carts and CMSs have built in SEO software that builds off of the content you provide, but just like a computerized voice reading a script, it doesn’t have that human touch. You SEO efforts won’t stay optimized, because search engines change constantly, different terms will rank differently, the rules will be different a few weeks from now, and customers search patterns should be dictating your SEO strategy. SEO could be a full time job, or it could be part of a larger strategy that works with your PR, advertising, and helpdesk departments. Similar, if you only pour 5 hours a month into your SEO strategy, and very little investment on top of that, you will still see organic results and changes, but nowhere close to what a dedicated SEO consultant can achieve.
Is social media, podcasts, blogs, and other Web 2.0 inventions a decent investment with a solid ROI? If the only answer worth hearing is in terms of conversions and hard sales figures, then probably no unless you are a large brand or one that specifically targets internet users. But if the answer is in terms of influence, eyeballs, engagement, participation, conversation…the answer is a solid yes.
Work with Evolve Systems on optimizing your website for SEO, search engine marketing, and long term SEO strategies. We’re here to help you succeed.