By Sweta Patel

Most companies lack quantitative metrics that demonstrate the utility of marketing spending on their business. Fifteen percent of marketers are not tracking marketing return on investment, or ROI, according to the CMO Report, which collects the opinions of top marketers to predict the future of markets. In fact 27% of marketers rely on manager judgments. Only 2% of companies actually track lead generation to sales metrics.

Here are the common mistakes in analyzing social media metrics and how marketers can fix them:

San Diego-based marketing entrepreneur Sweta Patel.

Measuring the Journey of the Qualified Lead

“Visitors” and “traffic” to your website are unqualified leads. However, when a visitor fills out a form or opts-in for more information, then they become qualified. For example, Global Marketing Tactics and Marketing is Math collect qualified leads by having visitors fill out information on a pop-up to receive additional information.

Once you collect the lead, then you should follow-up with a sequential email marketing campaign  to get the lead to buy something or to learn about what their challenge is and how you can solve it.

The key to measuring the journey from prospect to lead is by using campaign codes, which identify where referral traffic originates and how prospects interact with your calls-to-action. This Bruce Clay Guide tells how to set up these tracking codes and which parameters to use for each measurement. For example, if you set up a retargeting campaign, then you can create a code that shows how the prospect maneuvers through the rest of your website and content. For example, I can set parameters to identify how my social media traffic is converting on the website.

Best Practice: Use the campaign builder tool to create campaign codes for calls-to-action. Then organize the campaign codes by using tags so you know exactly where your prospects are going and how they are converting into leads. Each step of the journey needs to have a campaign code. Don’t forget to tag all elements of your form so you know exactly where prospects drop off.

What Are Your Customers Really Doing?

Most CEOs do not care what customers do as long as they buy. However, measuring customer activity and what customers do on different social networks can lead your team to change a sales process. If the sales process is not congruent with the consumer’s buying behavior then conversions will be lower. It is important for an organization to measure the lifetime value of the customer, or LTV. Whether it be buying behavior on a social network or collecting such data as favorite color, birthday, and other personal information, such data will increase the LTV and decrease the customer acquisition cost because you will be able to target more precisely.

The truth is Google Analytics can’t track everything. You need more sophisticated tools to measure more granular data. This information will ultimately allow you to create a hyper-personalized campaign that helps your organization acquire new customers because you understand their behavior, interests and psychographics.

Best Practice: Contact your customer-relationship management provider and business intelligence team to find out more about your customer profile. Questions you may want to ask include: What data is available? What business questions do your stakeholders want answered? Which data points will help you analyze your projects?

Creating a Media Company

Every business needs to have the three types of media: paid media (native advertising, display ads, pay per click, etc.), owned media (blogs, digital magazines, eBooks, whitepapers, etc.), and earned media (social shares, likes, retweets, favorites, upvotes, etc.) This will transform the organization into a value-adding media company by adding value to your biggest prospects and turning the visitors on your website into qualified leads.

The best way to classify paid, owned and earned media is by using campaign codes or metadata. We use CampaignAlyzer to manage campaign codes. First classify the campaign into a direct-response campaign or a business-branding campaign. Then, classify the advertising as either value-adding or core-message-centric. If you expect your customers to take action when they come to your site, then yours is a direct response campaign.

After this classification is established, then decide which types of campaigns you are trying to develop (solo ads, blogs, videos, cost per click, cost per thousand, etc.) These can even include the device you are targeting.

Best Practice: Create tags for all your data in your analytics program using business intelligence tools or other third-party programs. The more specific you are with your tags the better you will be able to track conversions to your site from various different social media channels.

The Sales Process and Conversion Layer

Most businesses have a sales funnel in place. For example, the last ecommerce site I worked with had the following funnel in place: comes from ad, searches for products, browses through offers, adds a few items to the cart, makes a purchase, and finally sees a confirmation page.

But is this funnel really tracking conversions? It could be, but from a macro-level or a micro-level? What is the definition of conversion?  What if conversions didn’t occur in just one step as designed above? Life would be easy if conversions really happened in the way they are designed above. Most of the time, especially with social media, they don’t happen this way. There are times when prospects abandon the cart or they click through, leave and then return later. How do we measure these conversions?

The first step is to define what conversion really means and add goals and tags to the series of events that lead up to it. Author and digital marketing evangelist Avinash Kaushik’s Macro-level and Micro-level Conversions will make it more feasible for you to track this.

Then create your conversion story. Imagine your first prospect, searching for your products or service. How did they find you? The first part of the conversion is the search. Once the prospects find you, then they look through your inventory and search for what they want to buy. This falls under measuring their shopping behavior.

At the end, they make a purchase, and what you want to know is whether they share that information with friends.

Best Practice: Find out how many shares you receive without having a referral program in place. If you find that you are receiving many referrals, then create a referral program using Referral Candy.

The Ultimate Conversion Story

What caused someone to buy from you? It may cost you to find out what really causes people to go from one end of the funnel to the other end. However, you can measure these social media metrics easily and for free when you group your campaigns by codes and tags. A conversion is like a football game. It defiantly takes more than one factor to make it happen. You want to know how the players interacted to reach the ultimate goal. This is how you design your conversion story.

When your customers are interacting with the different marketing channels, they all factor into the conversion. Imagine if you could find out how your customers interacted in the different social media channels before they confirmed their purchase decision. This would allow you to optimize all the channels before the final conversion takes place and know which touch points actually contributed to the sale.

Most business owners feel as though social media just doesn’t work, or there is no ROI. However, social media plays a huge role when it comes to converting a stranger to a lead. To find out what works and what doesn’t, you can measure this through marketing attribution or channel effectiveness. This allows you to spend more marketing dollars on what is effective and dispense with what doesn’t work.

Best Practice: Read this Social Media Marketing Attribution Guide to determine which channels drive purchases and which channels do not.

I hope this guide helped you determine how to improve your metrics. Remember it is all about the qualified lead journey, customer activity measurement, paid advertising measurement, the sales process, and your conversion story.

Comment below on what you’d like to learn next from me or if you have any questions!

Sweta Patel is a San Diego-based marketing entrepreneur whose company is Global Marketing Tactics.