Measuring the Success of Your Paid Campaigns

Last month, I discussed the value of using paid social media campaigns to further extend your company’s messages beyond traditional media relations or organic social engagement. This month, let’s focus on how to best measure and optimize those campaigns.

As previously stated in my last post, a big reason to integrate paid opportunities into your marketing program is to get concrete data, but getting that data can be a challenge. With organic efforts, it’s oftentimes hard to directly tie success back to the original campaign. Remember the old marketing rule of seven, which maintains that a buyer needs to see/hear a message seven times before it resonates with them? That means that it could take several social media impressions before a purchase is made, making it tough to really know what spurred the customer to make the purchase in the first place.

With a paid campaign, you’ll get detailed analytics that will help you understand exactly where your buyers are coming from. In fact, if you’re using even a fraction of the many paid options, you’re probably up to your eyeballs in back-end analytics. How do you know what data is important to track once your ad is up and running? You need to show your ROI, but the massive amounts of data that each platform spits out can be overwhelming.

Over time, you’ll learn which metrics move the needle, and those will become important statistics to track. But if you’re just starting out, I recommend beginning with the following data points:

The Bid  – Many platforms use a bidding system to limit the amount ads shown to avoid disrupting the user experience. Bid factors could include time, location, and audience – the more popular a slot, and the more expensive the bid is. It will be important to test different audiences at different times to determine where you get the most value for your budget. There are two different types of bidding systems – CPM (cost-per-thousand impression) and CPC (cost per click).

CPM (Cost-per-thousand impression) – This is the cost for every 1,000 unique display views your ad receives. CPMs are great for brand awareness because they measure reach and generally yield high click-through rates. For new companies that are trying to establish their brand, CPM is a great option.

Unfortunately, all social platforms register views a little differently. For instance, on Facebook, an impression is when a user scrolls passed an ad on their newsfeed. It’s not clear if the measurement is taken once the user pauses over the ad or merely just has it on their screen when they open the platform.

CPC (Cost per click) – This is the cost incurred each time a user clicks on your ad. Unlike a CPM, where you’re paying for impressions (that you’re not exactly sure people even saw), in the CPC model you are only charged for ads that drive some form of engagement. This model is great for marketing teams that are closely aligned with their sales funnels. Strong CPC campaigns that are properly tracked can show the results of your efforts to the company’s bottom line.

CTR (Click through rate) – This metric measures the total number of users who click on your ad .divided by the total number of times the ad was served. The higher the CTR, the more compelling your content and your call-to-action appear to be. This is a great statistic to show the value of your hard work in developing an engaging ad.

Every platform measures CTR a bit differently. For instance, Facebook counts all clicks, whereas other platforms only count link clicks. t’s important to understand how the social platform your ad is on measures the CTR

Audience Growth Rate – This measurement involves merely monitoring audience growth over time. There are a number of factors you should look at depending on your unique goals. For instance, if your goal is brand awareness, have your followers and likes increased? If your goal is engagement, are your followers re-tweeting or sharing your content? Are they commenting on your posts?

Potential Reach – This metric is helpful when identifying your target audience. If your goal is awareness, but the campaign that you’ve set up says that you’ll only reach 50-100 people, then your targeting criteria is too strict. Or, if the criteria is exactly the right target, the potential reach will give you a more realistic picture of what’s out there.

On LinkedIn, for example, the minimum required audience size is 1,000 members. The channel promises its users anonymity, so if your target audience only yields 10 members, you won’t be able to complete your ad until you broaden the search criteria.

Conversion – This is when a user takes an action that you want them to take (makes a purchase, initiates a download, or visits a landing page). It represents the winning step for your hard-earned social media efforts.

Measuring conversion is critical to gauging the overall success of your program, so you’ll want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to track it correctly. You may wish to consider working with your IT team to setup tracking pixels. Many social channels provide tracking pixels to add to your website to help better identify actions taken based on your ads.

With consistent tracking you’ll be able to see what messages resonate with your audience and build upon those sentiments. It’s important to understand your end goals – awareness, leads, downloads, and, of course, conversions. With that understanding in hand, you will be better armed to choose the best social media platform for your needs, and well equipped to measure and optimize your campaigns for success.

Let’s talk.