Digital & Social Media

Demonstrating the Social-to-Sale Connection


What’s the ROI of social media? For brands and for their marketers, the question is ever present – and commonly surfaces when it’s planning and budgeting time. It can be a tricky question. But it’s increasingly being thought through in the early stages because engagement alone no longer is the primary objective of social media. Brands want to make the social-to-sale connection.

To make the connection, as the organizations below have done, we first need to understand the significantly shifting marketing mix – and the customer journey. The traditional funnel-like path to purchase remains useful as a way to think about a customer’s journey.


A consumer is exposed to a brand’s content. Often (ideally), there is some form of engagement: reaction to or interaction with the content. That engagement may result in some sort of influence, reflected in sentiment or consideration, recommendation, etc. The consumer may then be spurred to some form of action, including both transaction and nontransaction activities. After the transaction, customers might become advocates for the organization. Brands shouldn’t – and can’t – push people down the funnel. But they should be there where, when and how customers want them, providing content, tips and dialogue that is genuine and adds value to the customer.

The average person spends three hours a day on social media. For brands paying close enough attention, social media can be leveraged as the biggest focus group in the world. Several times daily, billions of people are, unprompted, sharing wants, needs, desires, disappointments, experiences, places and so on. For brands, listening at that point of need (or pain) and close to the moment of action or transaction is critical and a key opportunity. And not just listening, but engaging and responding in near real-time in the right way that isn’t creepy. Brands are doing this in a few ways, including using data and filters to listen and connecting their CRM platforms with their social platforms.

While there still is a ways to go to pinpoint ROI on social and solve the social-to-sale connection, several organizations are showing how it can be done, including:

  • An auto manufacturer (client) began connecting several data sources to match email addresses of in-market intenders to email addresses in Facebook profiles. This data allowed the organization to target those intenders with relevant content based on their stage in the funnel – and drive them to the brand’s website. Once purchases were made, again email matching was able to directly tie social to sales.


  • Jewelry retailer Alex & Ani is using Swirl technology’s iBeacon, which allows the brand to communicate via Bluetooth with consumers who are near a store and push promotions to them in real-time. In a recent trial period, 30 percent of all consumers who interacted with a piece of branded content reacted by walking into the nearest store – and 72 percent of those consumers made a purchase.


  • When faced with declining revenues, EMI Music shifted its marketing focus online – and digitized their strategy of mass marketing music. EMI implemented a CRM system to create a single view of individual fans based on data from various channels, including registration cards, artist websites, mobile apps and social platforms. EMI now creates targeted products and experiences based on customer attributes. Sales lifted within a year and a half due to new digital revenues.


  • Haagen-Dazs (Nestlé’s retail ice cream shops) is a traditional franchise model, so historically, franchisees would be excited when Nestle would invest heavily in a national print or TV campaign. However, Nestle realized that these marketing dollars were driving awareness but not foot traffic to Haagen-Dazs locations. Nestle enlisted social CRM strategies, including targeted advertising on Yelp, where it was critical to drive traffic to the street locations and promote higher-end products like ice cream cakes. The company also leveraged its robust email database of customers to engage them with Haagen-Dazs Shop promotions, and select locations were allowed to operate their own Facebook pages. These efforts, including bounce-back receipts offering near-time discounts (come back for $2 off your next purchase of $10 or more), helped the retailer see a noted lift in same-week sales.