What is the best way to promote the early deadline to your upcoming conference – sending an email or posting to Twitter and Facebook? Most companies’ response to this question is an immediate, “Why email, of course.” We know email works, through experience and analytics.

The challenge with social media adoption has been the absence of the analytics that have endeared marketing budgets to email. Without them, we simply cannot know how well the channel works, and have little reason to shift resources away from email and other channels that prove themselves with every view of the Track Message tab.

But what if social works better than we’ve given it credit for? That question was the impetus behind the creation of Social Magnet. For an email company, we’re actually pretty channel agnostic. We want to help you drive your business forward with a strategically managed communications program. If 250 million people install messaging receptors into their cerebral cortexes, we’ll build the tools to help you reach and measure into that channel. But until then, we’re focused on the 250 million people using social media. As marketers, we shouldn’t take a leap of faith into some new channel because it’s popular, hoping that it works. We should move into it strategically, focused not just on driving results, but being able to measure them so we can replicate results and allocate resources accordingly.

Social Magnet has a batch of analytics that allow us to measure the contribution of social media in unprecedented ways. As a guy at Real Magnet whose job it is to help promote and explain these new tools, I’m eager to get to work. But as a marketer facing the prospect of getting smarter than ever about how social media impacts my campaigns and results, I’m positively salivating.

Over the next few articles I will look at how to measure the impact of social on marketing programs. I will start with the first topic that I as a marketer intend to get strategically smart about:

What impact do Facebook and Twitter have on my actual marketing results?

I know I’ve got fans and followers, and I see whenever people like or comment or retweet, and I can also see who those people are. What I don’t know is how much of the response I get to messages comes from social channels as opposed to email. When I want to drive traffic to a website, I promote via email, Twitter and Facebook simultaneously, and I get results – but to what channels do I attribute the success?

With Social Magnet, I can attach social messages to an email and analyze all three at the same time. For example, if I want you to register for my next webinar, I can send an email out with a link to the registration page. In the same Real Magnet application I can also compose a Facebook status update and a tweet, both with a link to the same page, and attach them to the email message. Then when I look at the response to that message, I will see how many total clicks it received, including a breakdown by channel. Maybe I’ll see 100 on email, and then another 30 on Facebook and 20 from Twitter.

Without Social Magnet I’d still get these 130 clicks. Using the application does not necessarily increase the productivity or effectiveness of your marketing messages (not yet anyway – but analytics always drive better results so they will come in time). But I wouldn’t know how much of my results – if any – to attribute to social channels. I can look in Google Analytics or another web analytics program but they don’t exactly have Six Sigma accuracy on attribution. Many people access Facebook and Twitter from mobile devices or apps that are not webpages, which are often not measurable in analytics programs and show up in the large, vague “Direct” category of traffic sources.

Social Magnet works differently because the measurement is done through a shortened tracking URL the program creates. Whether someone clicks via email (in the inbox or a smartphone), on Facebook’s or Twitter’s sites, or on apps or dashboards used to view and manage social media, the URL is constant and Social Magnet tracks it.

In my example, social media is responsible for one third of my click-through results. Whether it is one third or one tenth, it is intelligence I never had before. Now I can start to approach the channel more strategically.

Next time:
Social Magnet Analytics, Part 2: Should I prioritize growing my social audience over my email list?