Oh, the numbers.

Before we get started let me be clear about one thing. You NEED data. Desperately.

You need to understand how your efforts are working and how to refine your efforts. You also need some way to know if you are making a smart move with your money.

Hence the terms ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend) and ROI (Return on Investment). These terms turned into the devil for me and my agency when iOS 14.5 was released.

As if being in the middle of a pandemic wasn’t enough, 2021 also brought the privacy war to social media.

To be fair, we knew it was coming. We had seen the changes happening in Europe and knew that it was only a matter of time before it made it to the United States. But I don’t think most people truly understood how it was going to change digital marketing.

Woman with long brown hair grabbing her hair in frustration staring at a computer

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

The Effects of iOS 14.5

In my book The Business of Social Media, Clients and Customers Not Just Likes and Followers I talk about wanting to throw my computer out the window and yelling at Mark Zuckerberg in 2018. In January of that year, they changed the Facebook algorithm and forced many businesses to change the way they interacted and managed their social media presence.

The arrival of iOS 14.5 had MUCH more catastrophic effects on digital marketing as a whole. We lost our visibility and many of the tools that we had relied on to make strategic decisions.

ROI and ROAS today are best guesses. Why? Let me back up a bit.

The release of iOS 14.5 gave the individual the option to opt-out of tracking on their phone. This was a privacy issue. A lot of people don’t like to be followed around the internet and see the same ad pop up. Or they are totally creeped out because they were talking about something by their phone and then Facebook puts an ad with that very same thing, in their feed. I get it – 100%.

The option to opt-out also did something to the social media platforms – it blinded them.

They were no longer able to see your information, what you liked, if you clicked on an ad, or how you interacted on their site at all. Great for privacy! For marketers…not so much.

Looking down a dark tunnel with a figure at the end - the data void

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

The Data Void

We lost A LOT friends.

80% of people opted out of tracking.

In social media terms that means that if you previously had 10,000 clicks on an ad then you may still have had 10,000 clicks, but only 2,000 would show up because the other 8,000 people chose to opt-out of tracking.

Read that again, please. You could have had 10,000 clicks but ONLY 2,000 would show.

That pretty much kills your ROI.

Why? Because your ROI was traditionally calculated by taking your return (for many people the number of click-throughs to their site) and dividing it by your investment. If your data on how many clicks is off, then so is your ROI. Everything looks a lot more expensive and a lot less effective.

Facebook was very upfront with this. Every platform basically said the numbers you used to have, you will no longer have, so you need to find a new way to measure your success on social media.

person measuring distance on a chalk board with chalkMeasuring Your Success on Social Media Now

So, if your numbers are off and you don’t really have a solid grasp on how many people are seeing your ads or profiles, how do you measure the success of your efforts?

There are still a few ways to measure traffic…for now.

Your website can give you some indications, but it is only a matter of time before Google and other websites are no longer able to track your movements. This has already happened in Europe.

Ever been to a site that has a pop-up that allows you to opt-out of some or all of the cookies? Right now, we can just give people a heads up and tell them that we have cookies on our site. (Side note – we make it sound so innocent and yummy right? I mean, who doesn’t want a cookie? I digress….)

That all being said, we have the traffic numbers from our website and if you have an item on Amazon then you definitely have the traffic to your items.

So if we are going to lose our data on traffic as well then how can we measure the success of our efforts? Great question.

The best number we have and one that is not going to disappear – is our sales.

wood background with white iPhone and pink bubbles with emojisYour Two Best Success Metrics

The only way to truly gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns is to base it on one of two measurables – engagement on your social profiles and sales.

The engagement you can read through comments, likes, and shares. These are numbers that are still true because if you put on a heart on a post, it will show up whether you are tracked or not. You chose that action, so marketers can see it.

Your sales are the bottom-line number that you will always have access to in order to measure your success. The challenge with sales is that you may see an increase immediately, or you may not see an increase for weeks.

Normally with an ad campaign, you see SOME type of effect right away. An uptick in conversions or possibly more action on your website or social media profiles, depending on what the goal of the specific campaign is.

Unfortunately, it’s just not as easy to report as it once was.

Everyone wants to validate their efforts and in order to do that, you need data and to ensure that you and your clients are educated on how social media really works for businesses.

Social media marketing is not an immediate flow of business that will instantly overwhelm you or your client (viral unicorns do exist, but that’s for a different post). It is a courtship where you build awareness, increase engagement and create communities.

girl with brown hair and brown eyes with a butterfly on her nose

Photo by Saeeed Karimi from Pexels

It’s The Butterfly Effect

You can measure your sales and those can definitely tell you if your efforts are working. But can you measure the effect of a butterfly as it flaps its wings a million miles away? No.

That butterfly is a social media post that may be seen by one or many over multiple days, weeks, etc. It will have an impact but it may not be seen in the ways we traditionally measure marketing.

It is measured in comments, likes, and shares. It is measured in mentions and conversations on and offline. Your work is having an effect, really, it is.

Social media creates an echo system for your brand and allows you to exist in this digital landscape. It is not always measurable in the ways that we are used to, but you can see success in your efforts. You just need to be willing to extend your previous ways of thinking to embrace the new digital frontier.

Some would say we have gone back to the dark days of advertising where you can only expect a 2-3% return on an ad. Do you agree with that?

I would love to know your thoughts or how you measure your success in the comments!

Until next time my friends – keep posting, keep creating and keep building.