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How social media marketing can unlock ROI

How social media marketing can unlock ROI

By Francois Laxalt, marketing director, Neolane

While many brands have succeeded in building large communities of fans and followers on social networks, few are maximising the revenue potential of these captive audiences. They are missing a trick. By integrating social data into a central marketing database or CRM system, then applying direct marketing techniques, anonymous fans can be converted into qualified prospects and profitable customers.

Brands should seek ways of integrating personalised one-to-one communications into their social media programmes, as in their overall marketing strategies. As with any marketing channel, the goal with social media should be to deliver the right message/offer to the right person at the right time.

Many brands have embraced social media ‘above the line’ (see steps 1 and 2 below). They need now to progress to ‘below the line’ techniques (steps 3 and 4):

Build & Listen

Once their social presence has been established, businesses must listen attentively to what is said on social networks and assess the impact of these comments on their brand.


Here, mass communication is used to influence consumers, either through emails containing social-sharing features, or through direct posts (Facebook)or tweets (Twitter) to consumers.


Individual permission strategies are implemented in order to collect consumer agreement (the social opt-in) as well as certain information from their profiles. This information is then used to personalise communications.

To do this, marketing teams may implement a variety of tactics, including:

  • Applying traditional DM tactics, including integrating games, competitions, quizzes, etc.. This technique, which collects an email or a phone number in exchange for consumer participation, is increasingly being used by brands on Facebook
  • Using technological features of social media. Facebook, for example, provides an API for retrieving a consumer’s email address once their permission has been granted. Twitter proposes to repatriate data about a brand’s followers, such as Twitter handle, number of followers, tweets, retweets, etc


Once the relationship with fans is established, the opt-in confirmed, and consumer data collected, one-to-one two-way dialogues may be initiated through these and other channels.

On Twitter, a brand can transmit fully-personalised messages by using “direct messages”. This Twitter feature enables the brand to contact every follower privately, perhaps with a personalised special offer for example.

The contents of a brand’s Facebook page can be customised in real-time too, for each visitor. Marketers can create additional “tabs” on the page. It is possible to manage the contents of these pages and tabs. Using a conversational marketing platform, marketers can generate one-to-one Facebook pages consistent with messages and offers delivered through other channels.

Once newly acquired leads have been entered into a central marketing database, marketers may also use social media to enrich existing contact profiles and to qualify areas of interest. Of course, the latter must only be done with proper consent and in compliance with the regulations laid down by the various media.

Any social marketing strategy must ensure that the content is cross-channel consistent. Consumers expect brands to speak with one voice regardless of the channel, yet especially when it comes to social media, they are too frequently managed as individual silos. Consumers are highly sensitive to message consistency and are liable to penalise brands for any discrepancy.

In selecting conversational marketing technology to support DM techniques in social media, choose a product that seamlessly supports other channels, both inbound and outbound. It’ll also need a central offer catalogue for selecting and presenting messages or offers in real time—across any of these channels. And to do that, the platform will need to be able to draw from a detailed, living profile of customers and prospects to personalise messages based on each individual’s demographics, interests, preferences, and behaviour.

Developing brand image, listening to consumers, and delivering mass marketing messages: social media have already proven relatively effective in these areas. However, only when DM techniques are applied to these channels and in cross-channel harmony, can brands exploit their full revenue potential.

Francois Laxalt is manager of marketing intelligence at Neolane, a provider of conversational marketing technology.  He can be reached on Twitter @neolane

For social media training, contact the experts at The Knowledge Engineers who can help you to achieve social media success.

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