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How to Demonstrate Social Selling ROI in Financial Services

October 24, 2019

Proving the return on investment (ROI) of social selling can seem daunting, particularly when multiple stakeholders – sales leaders, marketing leaders, and agency leaders – all seem to value different indicators of success. But quantifying results of your efforts can change the perception of social selling (a much needed but often questioned tactic in financial services), and increase enthusiasm by demonstrating the real impact social media has on business outcomes.

So what is social ROI? Simply put, it’s proving that you’re getting as much or more out of social selling as the resources (time and money) you’re putting into it.

Establish Your Social Media Objectives

Before you can measure or report on the success of your social selling strategy, you must establish some clear objectives. What exactly are you aiming to do?

Social selling objectives will differ by role, and might look something like this for financial services and insurance firms:

ROLE OBJECTIVES
Marketing Leaders Increase brand reach, referral traffic and lead generation
Sales/Distribution Leaders Increase client acquisition, cross-sell/upsell and client retention. Also, increase advisor recruiting & retention

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but represents a good starting point and common objectives we see across a broad range of clients.

Benchmark Your Performance Against These Objectives 

Once you’ve established the specific objectives your firm is focused on, it’s time to measure your program’s current progress against those objectives. Since this often appears overwhelming, we’ve put together a simple, customizable framework for demonstrating ROI – along with the tools Hearsay offers to help you use it.

Let’s get started.

1. ADVISOR/AGENT SATISFACTION

The simplest way to get started with ROI is to measure how satisfied advisors and agents are with your program. Technology and marketing support is often cited as one reason advisors and agents switch (or stay) with a firm, so it’s important to track this sentiment over time.

How to get started: Work this into an existing field NPS survey, start a new survey, or use Hearsay’s ROI Survey to measure this (and more).

Hearsay Customer Success Story: A Fortune 50 multinational insurance firm – surveyed their advisors in 2018 with extremely positive results. Of the respondents:

  • 94% of advisors found value using social media (23% found it very valuable)
  • 68% of advisors found the social selling program helped establish their brand and value proposition within their networks
  • 45% said it strengthened their client relationships
  • 31% found a new lead or client
  • 25% received a referral
  • 21% report that 5-10 transactions/clients were influenced by social
  • and 18% say it’s helped them find a candidate for hire

2. MARKETING VALUE

A more complete approach is to include the marketing value generated for both advisors/agents and corporate marketing. A simple way to measure the financial value of awareness created by your field team’s organic social marketing is to calculate how much it would cost to generate those results through paid advertising.

How to get started: Use Hearsay’s Ad Equivalency Calculator to quantify the value of your advisors’/agents’ total impressions, clicks, and more. Next, use Hearsay’s Attribution feature to measure the corporate referral traffic & leads generated by your program.

You can quantify the value of that corporate traffic by multiplying it against your firm’s average Cost Per Click (CPC). Example: Let’s say your program generated 460,000 visitors to your corporate website and your firm’s CPC is $5.00. It would cost your firm $2.3m to generate that qualified website traffic through paid advertising.

Hearsay Customer Success Story: Since we released Campaigns (marketing automation for advisors), one Hearsay Social customer has been able to reliably generate over 1 million unique website visits every year. At an average cost per click of $5.19, that’s over 5.4 million dollars in highly-qualified corporate website traffic. Unsurprisingly, this referral traffic alone provides a return on the firm’s investment in Hearsay Social multiple times over.

Aside from proving social selling ROI, there are important insights to be gained from this tracking that may have otherwise been missed. Through tracking how much traffic (and how many leads) different posts and campaigns generate on an aggregated basis, for example, we’ve found that in insurance and wealth management the highest-ROI content often has low engagement but high click-through. Topics like Retirement, Divorce, Aging and Neurological Decline, and Special Needs Families are all private matters that many do not want to discuss publicly on social media. However, readers will click on an article, read, and fill out a form for more information.

Without URL attribution, you may not discover that some of the highest ROI content has zero likes or comments, yet generates impressive website traffic and leads. Being able to measure how much traffic and how many leads different content and campaigns generate also allows admin teams to close the loop and refine their content strategy over time in a data-driven way that’s more directly attributable to revenue than ‘like’ and ‘comment’ engagement rates.

3. DISTRIBUTION VALUE

The most robust approach includes a measure of your program’s impact on client acquisition, upsell/cross-sell, and client retention. This can be measured anecdotally or by correlating your field team’s marketing activity with their production (sales) data.

How to get started: Use Hearsay’s ROI Survey to show, anecdotally, how social helped your advisors and agents grow business through increased acquisition, retention, and more. Alternatively, use Hearsay’s Digital ROI Assessment to conduct a detailed analysis of the performance and business value of your social selling program.

Hearsay Customer Success Story: A Fortune 500 Wealth Management  customer who conducted the Digital ROI Assessment found interesting results on two fronts. The goal of the assessment was to analyze the correlation between sales and branding performance and the use of social media. There were two hypotheses tested:

  • Advisors who use social media perform better than those who don’t
  • Among those who do use social media, advisors that do so more actively perform better than peers that are less active

Comparing datasets of more than 1000 non-social and 1000 social advisors, both hypotheses proved true.

Those who used social media (compared to those who did not), on average:

Increased net new AUM by 50% Grew their total AUM and client base 50% faster Generated 150% more website visits

Of the already more successful group of social users, the more active among them:

Brought in 70% more net new AUM than their less active social peers Grew their business up to 90% faster than less active social users Generated 400% more website traffic

Understanding your social program’s performance at this level gives you a strong basis for investing in the program going forward.

Best Practices for Reporting Social ROI

Gathering data is one thing, but communicating it effectively to interested stakeholders is equally important. Here are some tips:

Consider your audience. Speak to the business goals of the group you’re addressing. Don’t simply data-dump. Explain how the metrics you are reporting help further their objectives.

Clarify limitations. It is possible to measure social ROI, but it isn’t possible to measure everything. Social selling doesn’t always follow a straight line from cause to effect. Be clear about what is possible to measure with the data you have, but also be honest about those things that defy measurement.

Use templates and plain language. Using templates not only saves time, but also makes it easier for stakeholders to compare results from one report to another. Avoid using data-speak. Provide insights in straightforward language.

Stick to a timeline. Regular review and reporting of social success makes it easier to understand progress over time. It also makes it easier to iterate and pivot as soon as you discover a current strategy isn’t performing as well as expected.

Conclusion

Measuring the value of social selling isn’t magic. Though there are intangible benefits of a great social selling strategy that don’t readily appear on a spreadsheet, carefully choosing objectives, leveraging the power of analytics (including Hearsay Insights), and communicating clearly allow you to provide tangible ROI to your agents, advisors, and cohorts.

Michael Murphy

Product Marketing Manager

Michael is passionate about helping companies acquire more customers, build brand awareness and grow their businesses.

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