Putting together an effective social media marketing campaign takes a lot of time and effort. Developing a solid plan and choosing the right platforms are key steps in the process. However, all this work will be for naught if you fail to use a data-driven marketing approach.

This means not simply making your marketing public and trusting it to succeed, or relying on gut instinct to determine whether it’s working. Instead, you’ll need to keep an eye on some crucial metrics. These numbers will provide hard evidence as to whether your social media marketing is on the right track.

In this post, we’re going to explain why data-driven marketing is so important to your brand. Then we’ll introduce three of the key metrics you’ll want to track and discuss how they can be used to improve future campaigns. Let’s get to work!

Why it’s vital to run a data-driven marketing campaign

Many new marketers pour their hearts and souls into developing their first campaigns. They research their target market, create high-quality content, and display it proudly. Then they simply wait for the sales to roll in, or move on to working on the next campaign.

However, this skips over a vital step in the marketing process. If you have no idea how well your current campaign is performing, how can you ensure that the next one is just as effective – or hopefully better? Even if you’re keeping an eye on sales, it can be hard to say whether any increases you see are the result of your campaign or something else entirely.

Instead, your social media marketing campaigns need to be ‘data-driven’. In other words, you’ll want to determine exactly how well they’re succeeding (or not). The information is then used to improve future campaigns. This means tracking a variety of metrics related to how people are engaging with your marketing, and whether or not that engagement is resulting in conversions.

Possibly the best reason to use data-driven marketing is to stand out above your competition. While nearly all companies collect data and use it to some extent, only around 44% use that data to make important decisions about their business’ direction and marketing. By contrast, around 52% rely heavily on educated guesses or gut feelings, rather than letting the data shape their strategies moving forward.

This results in a lot of expensive campaigns not offering a strong return – something we’re sure you don’t want for your own business. So if you want to make a splash with your marketing and capture a greater share of the market, you’ll need to consider how to start applying data-driven marketing techniques starting now!

How to build a data-driven social media marketing campaign (3 key metrics)

So, how do you use data-driven marketing in your social media campaigns? The short answer is that you track as many numbers as you can. Next, you use them to determine what’s working and what isn’t, and apply this knowledge to make improvements for future campaigns.

Of course, the actual process of doing this isn’t so simple. To get you started on the right foot, we’re going to introduce three of the most important metrics you’ll want to track, talk about what to look for, and discuss how to use the results to your benefit. Let’s start from the top!

1. Engagement and engagement rate

Social media is as it sounds – a platform uniquely focused on conversations. This means it’s not enough to put your content or messaging out and hope it’s noticed. To see success from your social media marketing campaign, you’ll need to encourage your audience to interact with your posts.

This is also known as ‘engagement’. A person engages with one of your posts when they interact with it in some way. This could include:

  • Clicking on a link within the post.
  • ‘Liking’, ‘upvoting’, or otherwise reacting to content.
  • Sharing or retweeting your posts.
  • Leaving a comment, or otherwise conversing with users.

Those that apply will naturally depend on the social media platforms you’re targeting. This also means you’ll need to track engagements separately for each campaign if they’re spread across multiple sites.

For instance, let’s say part of your campaign involves sharing your blog articles regularly on Twitter. There are three primary ways people can interact with your Twitter posts – likes, replies, and retweets:

Data Driven Marketing: Engagements on a Twitter post.

This means you’ll want to keep an eye on how many of these engagements each post related to your campaign gets. Fortunately, Twitter provides a built-in analytics dashboard to help you do this. Most of the other popular social media platforms offer similar tools, and you can find plenty of third-party solutions to help get the job done.

Obviously, the more engagements each post gets, the better. However, this doesn’t help you determine whether or not you’re doing well. When it comes to setting goals and improving your future data-driven marketing campaigns, there are two main aspects to consider.

First, you can go back and look at your previous campaigns, calculate the engagements you received, and use that data to set goals for the next time around. If your engagements continue to increase, it’s a good sign you’re building an audience and improving your strategies. However, keep your expectations realistic – a 50% increase in engagements over the last campaign isn’t likely, but a 5% increase is certainly achievable.

The other step you’ll want to take is to calculate your ‘engagement rate’. This is done by taking the raw number of engagements and dividing it by the number of ‘impressions’ (i.e. views of your content) you’ve received.

So, for example, you could divide the number of likes on a given Twitter post by the number of people who’ve seen it. This will tell you what percentage of your viewing audience actually took the next step and interacted with your content.

The engagement rate you’ll want to shoot for will depend on your industry, as well as the platform in question. For example, the average engagement rate on Facebook is just 0.16%, while on Instagram it’s 1.73%.

A little research will tell you what level of engagement is normal in your specific circumstance. If the rates you’re seeing are lower, it may be time to adjust your strategy.

2. Conversions

Having lots of engagement with your social media posts is a great thing. However, it’s hardly the sole indicator of a successful data-driven marketing campaign. It won’t do you much good to have hundreds of likes and retweets if none of that activity is translating into actual sales.

This is where conversions come into the picture. A conversion is the moment when an audience member or customer performs whatever action you’re trying to convince them to take. Often, this means purchasing a product or service:

A CTA on a Twitter post.

However, exactly what classifies as a conversion will depend on your campaign and goals. It could be signing up to an email list, becoming a member, or joining some type of program. Whatever your primary Call To Action (CTA) is trying to get people to do, that’s your conversion.

Tracking conversions is an essential part of any marketing campaign. You need to know your audience is not only seeing your message but is being convinced to take action. Similarly to engagement, you’ll also want to see an improvement in conversion rates over the course of multiple campaigns.

How you keep an eye on your conversions will naturally depend on what they are. In many cases, this involves creating tracking links to ascertain the source each conversion originated from.

For instance, if you’re sharing content on both Facebook and Twitter, you’ll want to include a link specific to each platform. This way, you know how many new sales result from your social media marketing efforts, and which platform performs better. You’ll also want to create unique links for each campaign to track your marketing’s progress over time.

Once you’ve built up enough conversion-based data, you can begin to look for patterns. For example, are your conversions higher on specific platforms? If so, it might be worth focusing your efforts there.

In contrast, a low conversion rate on a platform you know is popular with your target audience might mean you’re not doing enough to make your message visible or persuasive.

You can also look at the overall conversion rates for various campaigns, to see how they compare. This will help you narrow down which types of marketing strategies do and don’t work for your brand.

Conducting some research into the typical conversion rates for the industry you’re in (and the platforms you’re targeting) will also help you determine whether you’re seeing results that indicate success.

3. Return On Investment (ROI)

If you’re seeing high engagement figures, that’s a good sign – likewise conversions. However, there’s one more angle to consider when putting together your data-driven marketing strategy.

High conversion rates are almost always positive – unless it’s costing you more to secure those conversions than you’re making from the sales. Imagine you spend $1,000 on a marketing campaign, and the new conversions it brings in only result in $800 worth of profits. While you’ve made plenty of sales, your business has lost money in the process.

Of course, there are times when it makes sense to spend money on marketing without a guaranteed return. If your goal is simply to spread awareness about your company, or build recognition for your brand, you may be less concerned with how much money is brought in. The same applies if your conversions deal with signing up for an email list, or performing another CTA not resulting in direct profit:

An email list CTA on a Twitter post.

However, if the goal of your social media marketing campaign is to drive sales, Return On Investment (ROI) is critical. This measures the net profit or loss of a campaign when costs are compared to gains. In other words, you’ll find your ROI by calculating your net profits and dividing them by the amount you’ve invested.

The nice thing about social media is that the costs involved are often quite low. This can make it easy to sustain a high ROI. However, unless you’re running a completely free campaign, you’ll want to keep track of everything spent throughout the process, such as:

  • The price of any tools or software you’re using to perform marketing, manage your campaigns, and/or track results.
  • Any fees for work you’re outsourcing to a professional or agency.
  • The cost of paid advertising.
  • Design and production costs for graphics, videos, and other media.

You may even want to factor in the man-hours involved, along with the salaries paid to any employees responsible for working on the campaign.

ROI is a metric that can be tracked throughout your campaign. However, it’s best considered at the end, once the relevant data is in. Add up everything you’ve spent, determine how much profit has resulted from conversions you can trace back to your campaign, and take a look at the ratio.

A positive ROI is an excellent sign. On the other hand, a negative ROI might mean it’s time to find ways to cut spending or try out some alternative marketing strategies.

Conclusion

Marketing your business on social media is relatively easy – doing so successfully is an entirely different story.

While there’s no ‘magic bullet’, developing a strong data-driven marketing strategy is your best chance to create campaigns that benefit your brand.

While there are many useful metrics to track, these three should be central to your data-driven marketing:

  1. Engagement and engagement rate.
  2. Conversions.
  3. Return On Investment.

Do you have any questions about how to track these metrics or interpret the results? Ask us anything in the comments section below!