Social Media ROI Polarizing Digital Marketing Trends

When 42% of the world’s population is using social media, one cannot deny the fact that people are already interacting with brands through social media. 


This has made social media marketing a crucial element in digital marketing strategies. It offers an excellent opportunity to businesses of all sizes to reach audiences globally. Although social media marketing is always on the rise, the fundamental problem is that companies are still struggling to measure their effectiveness. 


This post will help you in understanding how social media ROI is crucial to see how social media efforts are contributing to the success of your business.

Challenges of Measuring Social Media ROI




Social media is no doubt a powerful tool for digital marketing, but its return on investment is difficult to calculate. Evaluation of available data is not an easy task because there are no specific guidelines to follow. For instance, how can you figure out the return on investment on a particular boosted Facebook post? The effectiveness of content is not always measured on the basis of shares and likes. You need to focus on the final outcome. Don’t worry if you are new to this concept. Merely 2% of companies running social media marketing campaigns measure their customer service metrics. Around 73% of the company’s efforts stop at the tracking phase only. As the efforts are funneled further, the percentage reduces followed by measuring engagement and conversion for measuring ROI. Consider this new challenge as an opportunity to lead the current cutting edge market of SMM. First of all, we need to understand the factors influencing its quantification i.e. 

  1. Upsurging website traffic
  2. Increasing exposure
  3. Sales lead generation
  4. Developing a supporter’s base
  5. Business partnerships growth 
  6. Sales boost 


Let’s understand the challenges every social media marketer has to face while quantifying the Return on Investment:-


Precise tool for ROI measurement 


Not only for you but social media is a new marketing channel for most marketers. Still, there is no conventional tool to measure social media impact on revenue precisely.


Prior experience and digital content creation


Influential content creation on social media is not an easy task. Lack of adequate resources is the main reason why most businesses consider compelling content creation as a big challenge. Also, lacking experience as a beginner creates several issues in understanding complexities.


Strategy development 


You cannot achieve the social media marketing objective by just randomly posting promotional content on social media platforms. A strategy is required to identify the most appropriate platform and choose a suitable tracking tool according to a particular business requirement. 


Unreliable data source 


Social media is more liberalized than the rest of the World Wide Web. Therefore, the risk of collecting fake data is higher. Fake IDs on your targeted social media accounts can easily affect the data accuracy. 


Four different Techniques to Calculate Social Media ROI


It’s time to focus on the solutions rather than circling around the challenges. Here is a list of four different formulas to quantify the return on investment with better precision. 


How to Calculate ROI With The Cost Of Goods Sold


Marketers use the gross profit to calculate ROI. However, they often ignore the cost of goods sold. Let’s see an example. Your investment of $100 in Instagram ads earned 10 sales at $25 each product. The total revenue is:


Now, your Instagram ads spending is $100. 


The return on investment is 150%. This is an impressive return on investment. Though easy, but not a very accurate method for calculating ROI. This method does not consider your profit margin. You also have to consider the cost of production and subtract it from your gross revenue.    


Calculating ROI With ‘Cost of Goods Sold’


For accurate ROI calculations, you have to consider the cost of goods sold. If one $25 product is earning a profit of $10, you need to include this information in your ROI calculation.  

  1. Start with calculating the cost of goods sold. 
  2. Add the cost of goods sold to the ROI equation. When selling a $25 product makes a profit of $15, the cost of goods sold is $10 per unit.
  3. The total cost of goods sold for 10 units is 10*$10=$100. 
  4. Now you have the required numbers to calculate your ROI. Your social media marketing investment for 10 units ($25 each) is $100. The total revenue is $250. The cost of goods sold for 10 units is $100. 
  5. Subtracting the cost of goods sold and marketing investment from total revenue gives $50. So, the ROI is 50%. 


How to Calculate social media marketing ROI with Year-Over-Year Growth Rate


Year-over-year comparison is the best way to demonstrate your social media marketing performance. This is a common technique that measures growth very accurately. In addition to comparing year-over-year performance, you can also compare the performance of months. For example, you can compare the traffic drop in May month of the last year and the May month of the current year. This technique reveals accurate numbers related to the key performance metrics.


Take yearly traffic from social media as an example. Last year 90,000 users visited your website and this year 100,000 users visited your website.

  • Your website traffic in one year has increased by 10,000.
  • Dividing the increased traffic by the current traffic gives .01.
  • Multiplying 0.1 by 100 gives 10.
  • Your growth rate is 10%.

You can use tools like Google Analytics, Hootsuite Analytics, or Tableau to compare different metrics and calculate real over year growth. You can also use Excel for this job.

  1. Create three columns A, B, and C in an Excel sheet.
  2. Enter the number 2018 in cell A1 and 2019 in cell A2.
  3. Put total traffic or sales numbers of the year 2018 in the cell B1. Similarly, put total traffic and sales numbers of the year 2019 in the B2 cell.
  4. Type the formula (B2-B1)/B1A in the C2 cell.
  5. Now you can see the year over year growth rate in Column C.


How to Calculate ROI with True Conversion Rate


Don’t worry if your conversion rate is low. Probably, you are calculating it wrong. Tools like Google Analytics perform calculations automatically. You get this aggregate number in your reports. 

Here are steps for calculating a basic conversion rate:

  1. Divide leads, e-commerce purchases, email subscribers, downloads, and other goal completions in Google Analytics by the total visits. 
  2. Multiplying by 100 gives your conversion rate. Divide 10 (goal completions) by 1000 website visits. 10/1000=0.01
  3. Multiplying 0.01 by 100 gives you the conversion rate: 1.

However, the problem is that this method uses an aggregate number, such as total website traffic, instead of your target market segment. This is the reason why your conversion rate seems really low. 

When it comes to calculating your conversion rate metric, Google Analytics takes all Google users into account. This aggregate data can be unreliable. For example, you ship products to the United States. You don’t need data from the UK, Canada or any other location you are not targeting. To get relevant data from your target market, you need an advanced segment in your Google Analytics profile. 


How to Calculate ROI With Customer Lifetime Value Calculator


Customer lifetime value predicts how valuable a customer will be to your business. Accurately calculated customer lifetime value helps in creating an accurate marketing plan. Consider yours is a subscription-based business. A customer pays $9.99 for the standard plan. An average customer stays with you for two years. However, your promotional emails bring the customer back for another 15 months. 

Total months of subscription: 2 years + 15 months = 39 

Money made from an average customer: 39*$9.99 = $389.61 

Now, you have to keep customer lifetime value in mind while running Facebook ad campaigns. 

The complexities in customer lifetime value depend on your business. 

For the simplest method for calculating customer lifetime value, you need a bit of data for the following metrics:

  • Average order value 
  • Purchase frequency
  • Customer value 
  • Customer’s average lifespan 
  • Customer lifetime value 


Average Order Value (AOV)


How much does an average customer purchase in one visit? For example, how many pizzas does a customer purchase from your pizza shop? It can be your average shopping cart amount if you are selling online. You need to sit with your finance team to get this data. The team will tell you about your taxes and total revenue for the last year. Now get the last year’s total number of orders from your analyst team. Use the formula: 

AOV= Total Revenue/Total number of orders


Purchase Frequency (PF) 


How often an average customer does business with you? Depending on your business, purchase frequency can be weekly, monthly, annual or a few times during the lifetime. 

PF= Total number of orders/Total number of unique customers 


Customer Value (CV)


It is the average money you can expect an average customer to spend.



Customer’s Average Lifespan 


How long does an average customer stay with you? 


Customer Lifetime Value


Use the following customer lifetime value formula to calculate customer lifetime value:

Customer Lifetime Value = Customer Value * Customer’s Average Lifespan 

Customer Lifetime Value



How SMM ROI Differs From SEO ROI


This formula for calculating ROI is important so that you can plan your SEO budget and campaign accordingly. There are two types of ROI: 

  1. Anticipated ROI 
  2. Actual ROI   


Anticipated ROI 


You need the following data to calculate anticipated SEO ROI:

  1. Average monthly visits 
  2. Conversion rate 
  3. Order value   

Let’s consider the following sample data:

  • Average monthly visits: 50000
  • Conversion rate: 0.68%
  • Average order value: $176

Let’s assume that the SEO budget is $20000. You need to justify this amount. You need to generate a reasonably positive ROI. Determine the additional sales you have to generate to earn at least $20000 during the contract spend. 

Additional sales required = Proposed sale/ Average Order Value 

= 20000/176=114 

So, your SEO efforts should generate at least an additional 114 orders to reach the break-even point. 

Your SEO efforts have to generate additional traffic to generate additional 114 orders. 

Required Additional Traffic=Number of orders required to reach break-even point/conversion rate 



Let’s double all these pieces of data.     

Estimated traffic = 16765*2= 33530 

Additional sales required = 114*2==228 

Proposed sale = $20000*2=$40000

Anticipated ROI= (Anticipated SEO revenue-Proposed SEO project cost)/Proposed SEO project cost



Your ROI is 100%.    


Actual ROI 


Actual SEO ROI you generate determines how far the client will go with you. Use the given formula to calculate actual ROI. 

Total SEO goal value= Assisting Conversion Value+Last Interaction Conversion Value   

Actual ROI=(Total SEO revenue+Total SEO Goal Value)-Cost of running the SEO campaign


Why Social Media ROI Calculation is so Important 


Calculating social media ROI is critical to your social media marketing budget. This key performance indicator also tells about the impact of social media marketing on your business by determining profitability. It measures the success over time and supports future decision making. Calculating ROI offers numerous advantages. First of all, this determines whether your investment in social media is fruitful or not. There are different important decisions clients make by calculating ROI, such as purchasing new equipment, hiring new employees, adding a new department, or investing in a particular sales strategy driving better results and profitability. Social media ROI provides you with valuable insight that can help in creating advanced marketing strategies. By calculating ROI, you can learn: 

  • Where to spend your money 
  • How to advance marketing strategy 
  • Which tools to use to increase the success of your social media marketing campaigns




All sorts of surveys and studies reveal that social media marketing helps in increasing traffic, sales, and reputation. When paired with other digital marketing techniques such as SEO and PPC, social media marketing can increase the ROI of these techniques as well. Allocating social media marketing budget has to be an informed decision that cannot be made without accurate social media ROI. Your return on investment gives an idea of the success of your current campaign and can make your future strategies more productive.


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Rahul Vij

Co-founded WebSpero solutions about a decade ago. Having worked in web development- I realized the dream of transforming ideas sketched out on paper into fully functioning websites. Seeing how that affected the customers’ generation of leads and conversions, I wanted to delve deeper into the sphere of digital marketing. At Webspero Solutions, handling operations and heading the entire Digital Marketing Field – SEO, PPC, and Content are my core domains. And although we as a team have faced many challenges, we have come far learning along and excelling in this field and making a remarkable online reputation for our work. Having worked in building websites and understanding that sites are bare structures without quality content, the main focus was to branch into optimizing each website for search engines. Investing in original, quality content creation is essential to SEO success in the current search climate. Succeeding in this arena ensures the benefits of producing visitor-friendly content. Directing all our teams to zoom in on these factors has been a role that I have thoroughly enjoyed playing throughout these years. linkedin