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Measuring Social Media ROI in Google Analytics

By Michael Meisner on July 12, 2012 in Blog, Social media marketing

It’s only been a few hours since the WITS show officially ended, and I’m encouraged by what I saw. The wine industry seems to be taking technology more seriously. They’re seeing the benefits of streamlined online software and social media relations especially. Winery management in general has been skeptical of social media as a worthwhile marketing practice – a notion that as far as I can tell stems from some flawed logic. These naysayers fixate themselves on one thing, and one thing only, which is ROI.

People like Steve Heimoff continually “debunk” social media for two reasons mainly. One is that it’s hard, if not impossible to measure. The other is that it just doesn’t actually generate sales. Both are wrong. In fact, you can measure a heluva lot more from the ROI of social media than the expensive ad you placed in the Wine Spectator. As for making sales, well I’m not saying it’s will be your winery’s most consistent top sales channel, but social media can help sell anything, including wine.

Until recently it was pretty hard to measure the ROI of social media. When people narrow down social marketing to a singular issue – profits – they miss the point. That should not be the single determining factor in deciding whether it’s a viable marketing channel or not; that would be like choosing friends based only on how much money they give you. Social marketing opens new doors of communications and allows immediate response to issues. Remember when you bought some crappy product, and the only way to get a replacement was to ? You’d be lucky if you heard back. Today though, you can just yell at them through Twitter, write a pissed off review somewhere, and on the off chance they don’t respond, at least you put your voice out there for others to see.

Although you might value some of your friends for their intelligence and sound business advice, you wouldn’t qualify them based on how much money they place in your hands. I don’t think social media should be valued entirely on the profit it generates.

Google Analytics to the Rescue

The good news is that we can indeed measure the ROI of social media, and attribute sales to social campaigns. The Google Analytics team recently introduced some new reports and features that can help evaluate your social media campaigns and the impact of visits from social sites. In their blog post on the subject, they outlined three reasons these new features would help:

  • Measure the engagement and interaction of social visits on a website and learn how these visits directly led to or assisted conversions
  • Understand how activities on and off your site affect social KPIs
  • Make more informed, data-driven evaluations of the value of social campaigns

Social Flow Reports

social media roi

You can use this report to see the amount of traffic for social referrals from 400 various sources defined by Google. It shows the path a user takes through your site, and where they drop off. This can be helpful in understanding the types of different content audiences are interested in seeing on your site, and perhaps what they don’t like.

Social Value Report

This is the first report you’ll find under the Traffic>Sources>Social area. Assuming you have ecommerce tracking setup, this will show you the overall value from conversions on your site. You can assign a value to any conversion – a newsletter signup for example. If you get a 10% signup rate and find that your newsletter campaigns bring a 20% increase in sales, you can do the math to put a dollar figure on that conversion.


Social Plugins Report

This report shows how, when, and where content has been shared on public networks like Google+ and ShareThis. Private networks won’t show up, so it’s not a complete picture, but still helps overall.

 Last words

If you’re willing to identify the key goals on your website, then you can accurately track the value of your online marketing activities. These goals might be a purchase, a signup to the newsletter, a visit to the contact page, or watching a video that you posted. And now you can attribute social interactions with these goals.

It helps to make sure you’re doing other things correctly too. For one, you should always use campaign URLs when you’re trying to measure things. I like the URL builder at which walks you through the process. Also, use some common sense. Add a small form on your checkout asking where the user found you, and include other questions you think might help understand your customer’s behavior.