Marketers always have the challenge of proving ROI to their superiors and business managers. Advertising money isn’t like other hard costs; it can be hard to show what exactly it bought. Fortunately, technology has made it possible to trace and analyze most marketing mediums. Data can tell you what worked and what didn’t on the back end, but generating ROI, especially from the newer channels like social media marketing, depends on an understanding and strategy on the front end.

Choose Your Platforms Thoughtfully

If you’re planning a social media marketing campaign, you must start by determining which platform or platforms you intend to utilize. You may be tempted to try to select as many as you can think of, but that’s a recipe for spreading yourself too thin, especially with limited personnel or budget. Thoughtfully pick the platforms (or platform) that are most likely to be used by your target audience and focus your efforts there.

Compare Data

If you’re already utilizing any other forms of digital advertising, from email blasts to web banners, take a strong look at their analytics before starting your social media marketing campaign. There’s no better way to cultivate a snapshot of what’s resonating and what isn’t. Of course, this works both ways. Use your social media marketing analytics to inform your strategies for your other buys.

Focus on Direct Sales Rather Than Awareness

One of the hard truths about ROI is the fact that it’s difficult to put a dollar amount on reach, awareness, or brand growth. Most people wouldn’t try to dispute that it has value, but it’s tricky to pinpoint how much value it has, and if budgets are tight, awareness campaigns are a hard sell to the people who hole the purse strings. Social media marketing is all about immediate information and access, which helps with this problem. Get specific, offer and demonstrate a benefit, and use your ads to get them to buy right then and there. Direct revenue drivers are the best way to prove ROI.

Devote Energy to Great Content

Of course, your ads can only generate ROI if they are eye-catching and persuasive. Tactics are important, but they must support effective messaging. If your content isn’t at a level that will move the needle, focus on that before you plan any campaign. Otherwise, you’re throwing money away.

ROI may seem elusive in the digital world. If you use these strategies, the hope is that you’ll hit a note with your audience and break through!