Looking for Social Media ROI? Try Marketing Automation

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It almost goes without saying that marketers must generate leads. Interactions in social media pose a challenge because their connection to lead nurture isn’t always easy to see. Marketing automation (MA) software can help marketers manage their lead generation efforts and leverage the power of social media.

Why Marketing Automation Inspires Passion

I’ve worked as a B2B marketing manager for a number of years. Like many in my field, I had always tracked the overall performance of key touchpoints, like events and the website. However, when I focused on reporting marcom’s contribution to the sales funnel specifically, I faced greater challenges. I would compare Sales’ data on recent “wins” to Marketing data, such as opened emails or attendance at webinars and seminars, relying on our CRM when possible. Nonetheless, calculating campaign ROI was time-consuming and, sometimes, headache-worthy.

My employer was willing to invest in marketing, but needed to see how marketing was contributing to closed deals. I needed an efficient way to view marcom’s impact on leads as they progressed to a sale. Also, since social media was beginning to take hold, I wanted a simple way to determine whether channels such as blogs engaged our prospects.

It was then that I attended a presentation on a relatively new tool called marketing automation (MA) software. The presenters came from Eloqua, a leading MA provider. Oh, happy day. I had just found a new passion – a tool that could help me generate and track ROI.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation software provides a comprehensive overview of marketing campaigns. MA platforms host creative assets and automatically launch campaigns based on CRM segmentation or prospects’ digital behavior. They record the traffic from various communications channels, including social media, and also score leads. ROI reporting is a key benefit — MA tools provide statistics on marcom’s contribution to closed deals. (Read excellent definitions of marketing automation by Carlos Hidalgo and Mac McIntosh.)

How Marketing Automation Vendors Are Incorporating Social Media

SoftwareAdvice.com describes integration of social media with marketing automation as one of the major trends for 2012. What does that look like, exactly?

Marketing automation solutions incorporating social media may do one or more of the following:

  1. Capture information shared in social channels and add it to a contact’s profile
  2. Use social sign-in for quick response on landing pages
  3. Use “social sharing” features in email to encourage recipients to share content
  4. Embed social feeds or videos into landing pages
  5. Track contribution of social sites to website traffic
  6. Monitor conversations by prospects on key social channels
  7. Manage updates to major social channels (automated posting)
  8. Adjust lead scoring to reflect social conversations

Integrating Social Media in MA Isn’t Just Trendy – It’s Smart

Now let’s get to the point – why should we focus on the effective use of social media features in MA tools? Because …

Integrating social media into marketing automation improves demand generation effectiveness.

Consider these benefits:

  1. Improved data to measure social media ROI. MA reports provide insight into social media’s influence on campaign performance.
  2. Deeper information on prospects and customers. Social profiles help Sales understand prospects as individuals and help Marketing identify key influencers in the social space.
  3. More complete view of prospects’ digital behavior. Data about which web pages a prospect visited, or which emails he opened, is more accurate when coupled with information about which social sites he used while considering your product.
  4. Greater awareness of your published content. The personal nature of social sharing complements the more impersonal distribution through search optimization.
  5. Reach more buyers and engage more prospects. Social sharing features allow you to leverage the power of viral marketing to reach contacts outside your CRM.

I hope we’ll see the day when virtually all marketers use automation tools. These platforms provide marketers with ways to work smarter and do a better job. Plus, we’ll dodge a few headaches. That’s a win in everyone’s book!


This blog will feature a variety of references to vendors, consultants and thought leaders. I will try to highlight a variety of providers and their philosophies. Reference to a specific vendor doesn’t constitute an endorsement of their product.

Deborah Anne Gibbs
This monthly Marketing Automation and Social Media column is contributed by Deborah Gibbs. Passionate about product marketing, lead generation and marketing automation, Deborah has over 10 years, experience in communications and program management. Her marketing experience includes a wide range of industries, including high tech, automotive and medical devices. She is Pragmatic Marketing certified and, for fun, enjoys jazz, Portuguese and anything Brazilian. +Deborah Anne Gibbs
Deborah Anne Gibbs


Marketer passionate about demand gen, marketing automation & content. Keen on marcom, tech, jazz. Dir Marketing Automation @techaspect. Tweets mine.
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  1. says

    We like that you pointed out the many uses of SMM automation, not just the auto-posting aspect of using automation tools. It’s really important to know that as a the owner of a small business, more than ever your customers will associate you with your business, and will notice if their interactions with your business online go “unheard” because of complete automation. We like that your post shows that automation is a way to ASSIST and not REPLACE the immediate and more personal interaction of manually engaging in your online Social properties.

    • says

      DragonSearch, thanks for pointing out that we marketers should use automation tools to ASSIST us as we communicate in a way that’s relevant and authentic. That’s exactly where I was coming from. I should probably clarify that while I mentioned automated posting as a feature that’s available, I believe in the importance of real people overseeing social channels and representing a brand’s digital persona through genuine engagement. ROI comes from quality relationships. That might be a good topic to address next in this blog.   

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