According to a 2012 report by Adobe , a whopping 52% of marketers cite difficulties in accurately measuring ROI as their biggest source of frustration in social media marketing . I would like to try and alleviate some of that pain, at least when it comes to marketing on Twitter .
With the continued growth of Twitter as a business tool, and the introduction of its new mobile video app, Vine , it's becoming more and more essential to analyze the benefits of your Twitter marketing efforts. However, Twitter doesn’t exactly offer a robust analytics platform. And Vine doesn’t have any analytics. So how do you know if your tweets are translating into leads? What about customers?
What Is the Right Way to Measure Your Twitter & Vine Marketing?
We like to call it closed-loop reporting . Closed-loop reporting on Twitter is the process of tracking the path of a user who clicks on a link in a tweet, visits a page on your website, completes a form on a landing page to become a lead, and, ultimately, converts into a customer -- so you can directly attribute customers to your Twitter marketing, and evaluate the effectiveness of Twitter as a marketing channel for your business. And isn’t that ultimately why you’re using Twitter or Vine for business in the first place? To bring in new customers? Of course. This post will dive into some key metrics to help you understand the ROI you're receiving from Twitter and/or Vine.
When it comes to tracking the ROI of Twitter, there are two main things you should be measuring.
- Customers Generated Through Leads Acquired by Twitter
- Twitter Reach & Database Growth
Vine, on the other hand, contributes only to the latter -- growing your reach and, thus, your Twitter database. Since Vine is still in its infancy, we may see it grow into something greater. For now, it's a great tool to attract and engage more followers for your Twitter account, from which you can then start them on the path of converting into customers.
The Tools You Need to Effectively Measure Twitter & Vine
Before you start measuring the success of your Twitter & Vine efforts, you need to set up the proper tools and tracking systems. The metrics we'll discuss later in this post will be contingent upon having the right analytics tools in place.
1) Select an Analytics Tool
To see how many visitors are coming into your site via Twitter, you’ll need an analytics tool, such as Google Analytics or HubSpot . While Google Analytics is free, the benefit of using a tool like HubSpot is that, through closed-loop reporting, you can directly see how many leads and customers are generated through your Twitter marketing (more on this later). Once you tie your customer relationship management (CRM) solution -- like Salesforce or SugarCRM -- to your marketing software -- like HubSpot -- you can close the loop between your Twitter marketing efforts and sales. Now, there is two-way communication between your marketing activities and sales results.
2) Set Up Tracking Tokens for Different Sources
Now that you have a marketing analytics tool, you have to overcome the issue of third-party Twitter clients, such as TweetDeck, HootSuite, or HubSpot. If a Twitter user is sharing a link to your blog post from such a client, it might not show up in your analytics as a visit from Twitter, even though that link is ultimately being shared on Twitter. This can greatly impact your data.
While there's not much you can do about people who manually tweet a link to your website via a third-party application like HootSuite, you can control how Twitter traffic originating from tweets your business publishes gets allocated. The solution is a tracking token. When you add a tracking token to the end of your links, it allows your analytics tool to pool a certain group of traffic. Different tools employ different tokens, but a generic one looks something like this:
By attaching this to the end of your link, anyone who clicks that link is signaling to your analytics tool that they're coming from Twitter. The same type of tracking tokens apply to different channels, such as email, paid media, and referral traffic. Ideally, this tracking token could be used for Vine as well, where it would appear as follows:
/? utm _medium=social& utm _source=vine
Currently, however, Vine has limited options for building links and attaching the proper tracking. But being inbound marketers, we should have this token ready in our back pocket to use. But more on Vine later. For now, investigate your marketing or analytics software to make sure you have tracking tokens in place and your data gets assigned to the right categories. HubSpot’s Social Media Publisher , for instance, automatically adds tracking tokens to social media updates sent using the tool, so if you're using HubSpot, your social media sources data will be bucketed appropriately without any additional work on your part.
3) Set Up Campaign Tracking for Deeper Insight
While understanding the amount of traffic coming from your Twitter marketing is important, wouldn't it be nice to see how specific marketing tactics within Twitter are performing? Campaign tags solve this. Campaign tags are an additional component that can be added to a tracking token to identify results coming from a specific campaign. Here's an example of a campaign tag for HubSpot's Twitter chat, #inboundchat:
As you can see, in addition to the source tag, this also includes "&utm_campaign=" so you can compare how various tactics perform on Twitter. Here are some example campaigns you could tag:
- Photos on Twitter
- Links on Twitter
- Twitter Chats
- Product Information
- Customer Case Studies
- Blog Posts
- Event Information
- Marketing Offers
By adding campaign tags, you can drill down into what works best on Twitter for your business. The HubSpot Social Media Publisher allows you to do this automatically -- try it out in a free, 30-day trial ! Our social media team uses these tags frequently as they provided unprecedented insight into your Twitter strategy, as you can see in a small snapshot here:
How to Measure Visits, Leads, and Customers Generated Through Twitter
Let’s first look at how you'd track customer generation from Twitter. Your first step is to look at traffic generated from Twitter. While many people look at the overall traffic from all their social media channels, it's important to be able to isolate Twitter, and measure it on its own. There are five key metrics to track here: visits, contacts, visit-to-contacts conversion rate, customers, and contacts-to-customers conversion rate.
Visits to your website from Twitter is reflective of the amount of referral traffic your website has attracted from Twitter. While traffic figures help you understand how successful your Twitter updates are at driving traffic to your website to can help you diagnose deficiencies in your Twitter marketing content, visits can't be the only metric you track.
Contacts is the number of new people (which you may or may not classify as leads for your business), who have shown interest in your company by converting on a form on your website, and as a result, have been added to your contacts database. Whether these people became contacts by downloading an ebook, providing their information for a coupon, or submitting an application for a job, they have shown some vested interest in your business. In HubSpot's software, for example, the 'Contacts' metric emphasizes the “new” concept, since conversions are only counted in the Contacts metric if they are net new leads -- as opposed to re-conversions. Either way, these are your potential customers. By becoming contacts, they are now a fresh opportunity for your sales team to convert into a customer.
3) Visits-to-Contacts Conversion Rate
While visits are important for understanding the traffic Twitter is sending to your website, and contacts are important for understanding all the new opportunities created for your sales team, in order to measure your marketing effectiveness, you also need to track the rate at which your visitors are converting into contacts -- in other words, your visit-to-contacts conversion rate. This will not only allow you to analyze your Twitter success month-over-month, but it will also allow you to spot problems in your Twitter strategy. For example, if your traffic volume is high, but your visits-to-contacts rate is low, you have a conversion problem. Furthermore, if your visits-to-contacts rate is high but your raw number of contacts is lower than you'd like, you have a traffic problem.
These are the actual paying customers that can be attributed back to your Twitter marketing . In other words, a customer that can be attributed to Twitter is someone who came to your website from Twitter, converted into a contact/lead, and then ultimately closed as a customer. Tracking this number is the true measure of your Twitter marketing ROI. After all, even if you're generating traffic and leads from Twitter, if they're ultimately not closing as customers, it might be time to re-evaluate how much time and effort you're putting into Twitter as a social media marketing channel.
5) Contacts-to-Customers Conversion Rate
Last but not least, your contacts-to-customers conversion rate is the percentage of contacts that ultimately close as customers. This metric can help you identify problems in Sales' ability to close your Twitter contacts as customers. For instance, if you notice your contacts-to-customers conversion rate is on the low side, it might make sense to talk to your sales team to diagnose the problem. Are they having trouble working these types of leads? Should these leads be entered into a new lead nurturing workflow you can create to better quality these leads before they get passed to Sales?
How to Measure Your Twitter Reach/Database Growth
Now let's take a look at three metrics that can help you measure the growth of your Twitter reach/database.
Your followers on Twitter are like subscribers to your email marketing -- they're your database of people to reach out to and communicate with. These are also the people you'll want to convert from Twitter followers into Twitter leads, and ultimately to Twitter customers. While there are a number of great reasons why you'd want to grow your reach ( even if many of those people never buy from you ) in terms of tying your Twitter marketing back to real ROI, growing your database and regularly attracting new Twitter followers is the key to consistently generating new leads and customers from Twitter. There are three metrics you should be using to track your Twitter database growth:
1) Follower Month-to-Month Growth
By pulling your total number of Twitter followers and by keeping track of your net new followers every month (a simple spreadsheet will do the trick here), you can get a sense of the monthly growth of your Twitter reach. For example, if you were to compute your Twitter growth in March, you would pull the numbers from February and March:
(March Twitter Followers -- February Twitter Followers)
/ February Twitter Followers = Growth %
Tracking this percentage monthly will allow you to see whether your Twitter strategies and campaigns are helping to boost your reach -- or are just a waste of time.
2) Daily Follower Growth
While understanding your month-to-month growth is beneficial to tracking your overall improvement on Twitter, it’s also good to look at how you're growing on a daily basis.
TwitterCounter is a free tool that allows you to easily examine your follower growth over time. This data can be used to see how many new followers a certain campaign garnered on the day it launched. If your following remains constant over time, this could indicate that you’re not using Twitter as well as you could. Your goal should always be to increase followers so you can grow your reach. As stated before, greater reach results in more leads and customers.
3) Link Clicks
Many of you probably know about bit.ly. It not only allows you to shorten links to be more Twitter friendly, but it also provides you with the ability to analyze the number of clicks on that specific link. While it's tedious to look analyze each link separately like this, it can provide valuable insight into how many people are actually clicking on individual links.
In fact, HubSpot Social Media Scientist Dan Zarrella analyzed 2.7 million link-containing tweets and found something interesting: He discovered that there is no correlation between retweets and clicks. Rather, 16.12% of the link-containing tweets he analyzed generated more retweets than clicks, meaning many people will retweet a tweet with a link without even clicking on that link . This data simply highlights how important it is to also understand how many people are actually clicking on your links (rather than just tracking metrics like retweets, for instance), since it will reflect the true interest in your content versus just retweeting for the sake of retweeting.
How to Measure Vine Marketing Success
Unfortunately, there are not many ways to measure your success on Vine (at least yet , anyway). But creative, data-driven marketers still find ways to track how they're performing. While we hope to see developments in Vine measurement, here are some metrics you can start watching now:
As you may already know , you can upload a Vine video and post it to Twitter. While, like Instagram, you can’t include a link to your upload, there is an opportunity to add hashtags to the tweet copy. The main link that populates with the tweet is a link to the Vine video.
Hashtags are trackable, and there are many free tools available to marketers, such as tweetreach , that will dig through all the tweets on Twitter to find every mention of any search term you request. So, simply search for your custom-made hashtag for your Vine videos, and the tool will tell you how many tweets that hashtag received, how many impressions it garnered, and how many people it reached. This can provide you with actual insight into the success of your Vine videos.
2) Follower Month-to-Month Growth
Although Vine is owned by Twitter, the mobile app is treated as its own tool, naturally having its own follower count. Similar to Twitter followers, Vine followers are a part of your social database. The more people following you on Vine, the more people you have the opportunity to delight through short video snippets. And the more people you're sharing Vine videos with, the more people you have to engage with. Over time, your goal should be to convert those people into Twitter followers. You can then try to convert those newly acquired Twitter followers into leads -- and customers!
The equation for this metric is naturally the same as before, but here it is again:
(DECEMBER Twitter Followers -- JANUARY Twitter Followers)
/ JANUARY Twitter Followers = Growth %
Just like any other new social tool, measuring is difficult at first, and you won’t always see immediate results. Test the waters with Vine and allow it ample opportunity to help your business. If a few months down the line the benefit is no longer there, feel free to stop. Or maybe keep using it for the sake of the engagement, and just for creating Twitter content that people love .
Be Smart About Twitter & Vine Prioritization
By now, I hope you’ve picked up on the fact that Twitter is more than just a network for engaging in the conversation and creating a positive brand image. Hopefully, you’ve also realized the potential business benefits of experimenting Vine for marketing. But as always, you must test and analyze all your efforts to understand whether it’s even in your business’ best interest to be investing time into either Twitter or Vine.
Don’t invest too much effort on Twitter unless you can measure the results of your activities and show that it's contributing to real business results. If your closed-loop reporting reveals extremely low ROI, then it’s okay to back off and only maintain your account rather than use it heavily.
At the end of the day, simply be smart about the way you prioritize your marketing initiatives, and keep an eye on the specific benefits these social networks can offer your business. Good luck!
How are you measuring the success of your Twitter and Vine efforts ? We'd love to hear how we can be even better data-driven social media marketers!
Originally published Feb 18, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated October 01 2013