How to Increase Retail Sales: Measuring Social Media Impact on Retail Sales

The old saying “measure twice; cut once” is meant to ensure high-quality craftsmanship. Building materials are temperamental and finite. As such, you don’t want to make a fence post or piece of lumber unusable by cutting it down too far.

When measuring social media’s impact on your retail sales and customer engagement, the saying is more like “constantly measure and cut often.” The cut here refers to revamping and iterating on your content and messaging.

You want to track your most effective social media outreach and stay on top of what posts are driving customers to your store.

But how do you go about doing this? What’s the retail social media equivalent of a tape measure? And how do you use it effectively?

We answer these questions in this the fourth and final part of our series on how to increase sales using retail social media marketing.

Using Big Data Analysis As a Small Business Retailer

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but big businesses today rely on loads of data analysis. Enterprise retailers are leveraging purchase histories, customer demographics, loyalty/retention programs etc. to optimize experiences and drive more sales. In short, big data is strong in the retail world.

And it’s a tool many of your small business retail competitors are leveraging as well. This is largely due to the newfound ability and affordability of easily collecting and analyzing valuable data that highlights key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs can then be measured against predefined goals to indicate the performance of key business objectives.

As Kissmetrics highlights in their social media campaign measuring guide, there are two overarching types of social media analysis you should practice:

  • Ongoing analytics are the perpetual monitoring and tracking that measure successes and failures of social campaigns throughout the lifetime of your social strategy.

    As Kissmetrics says,

    “Ongoing analytics are necessary for keeping up with the overall pulse of general conversation about your brand and company. Once your brand tracking is set up, you can just let it run and check in regularly to see how everything is going.”

  • Campaign-focused analytics are specific monitoring of posts within a defined campaign. This type of analysis often has a definitive beginning and end in line with the lifetime of the campaign being monitored.

    Again, Kissmetrics defines this focused analysis as,

    “Campaign-focused metrics, on the other hand, help you understand the impact of targeted marketing initiatives and will vary from campaign to campaign, depending on your goals for each.”

But how can you set these up for measuring social media impact and effectiveness to drive sales and customer engagement to your store? Here are some key steps you can take to ensure you’re effectively measuring your social progress:

Define Your Retail Social Media Goals

We discussed the importance of goal setting in the first three parts of our retail social media marketing series (assigning customer demographics, targeting customers, optimizing social content). But here we are again, because it’s so crucial that you’re intentional in your social media strategy.

Goals Tied to Revenue

You need to set goals and objectives for each campaign and each post within a campaign. Don’t just post to social for the sake of posting. Have measurable goals for every post that you can use to determine success.

Obvious measurements include new followers, likes and replies. These metrics are crucial when beginning a social strategy, but you also need to measure KPIs that reveal the ROI of your social strategy. In other words:

You must figure out how to connect specific social posts to purchases and revenue.

Here’s an example of how to do that: If you see you’re overstocked on a specific red shirt, you can create a campaign highlighting it. The objective of the campaign is to sell more red shirts. You could cross-reference the start date of your campaign and any significant likes, shares or engagement it creates with an increase in red shirt sales during this time. This would tie together your social campaign with in-store revenue.

Goals Not Directly Tied to Revenue

But, as Julie Hopkins, Gartner retail analyst, states in her study, which inspired this series (available to Gartner clients):

“Metrics don’t need to be solely revenue-related. Social connections established to generate market research can be evaluated based on your ability to generate insights more cost-effectively, or more efficiently (with speed of insight correlated to reduction in risk, for example).”

Julie Hopkins, Gartner Retail Analyst

For example, say you wanted to stock some new products at your store. You could test the waters to see which new products most resonate with customers by posting a few options online and tracking how customers react. If they were all to positively engage with a certain product, you’d definitely want to consider rolling that one out.

Kissmetrics defines some valuable social media metrics you can set goals around:

  • Awareness: You can determine awareness for your store(s) and brand using metrics such as the exposure and amplification of your posts. These help you track how far your messaging is spreading.
    • Engagement: You can infer customer/audience engagement from metrics such as retweets, comments and replies. To take it a step further, analyze the context in which the comments and replies are being posted.
      • Locate brand advocates: You can use social analysis to find advocates/champions of your store. These are valuable relationships to cultivate as they can amplify your social marketing to all their followers.

      It’s important to find value in your social tactics that aren’t directly tied to revenue. This value can provide some quick wins for your social strategy.

      Employ Measurement Capabilities

      Next, you need to set up a way to track the success of your social doings. Remember to keep in mind the primary objectives of each post as well as the two types of analytics defined by Kissmetrics in the previous section.

      As a small business retailer, you have a couple of options for social measurement tools. In part two of this retail social media marketing series, we highlighted the built-in analytics tools offered by Facebook and Instagram.

      Facebook business accounts come with an in-depth analytics tool via Facebook Insights


      This is likely the easiest way for you to monitor your social activity and measure the success of individual campaigns and posts.

      A couple of the valuable metrics that Facebook Insights provides are:

      • Impressions. The number of times your posts from your page are displayed on Facebook’s newsfeed. Keep in mind that people will see impressions more than once. For example, someone may see an update in their news feed and also see the same update on a friend’s page that like or shared the said update.
      • Reach. The total number of people that your post reach. In other words, reach is the number of people that receive impressions. As such, your reach is often lower than impressions since reach only counts once per person, whereas one person can account for multiple impressions.

      Two other great options for social media analysis are marketing modules built into your POS system or a full-fledged social CRM platform. The POS module may be an easy and affordable way to add a marketing component to your existing system. This would be ideal as it would integrate with your existing data.

      A social CRM platform will likely offer you the added benefit of being able to conduct email marketing campaigns (which are key for targeted marketing initiatives). It will probably also offer additional key marketing automation capabilities.

      Regardless of what system you choose to analyze your social KPIs, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the platform well in advance of setting up a campaign. This is so that you fully understand what sort of measuring tools you have at your disposal. This understanding will help inform how you set out your social strategy and define the metrics you want to monitor.

      Analyze and Adjust Social Strategies Accordingly

      Once you’re up and running, the fun begins. As you monitor the performance of various posts and campaigns, you can begin to track trends and tweak and optimize content and goals accordingly. And this tweaking and optimizing is something that should happen on a continual basis as new data and trends come to light.

      “Use your initial findings to set a baseline or benchmark for future measurement.”

      Kissmetrics, “The 5 Easy Steps To Measure Your Social Media Campaigns”

      Give yourself some slack with your early goals; it’s not as if you’ve done this before. You’ll find much more success working toward more accurate and obtainable goals than you will chasing unrealistic numbers that your enterprise retail compatriots would be able to achieve with their teams of social marketing employees.

      In that same breath, take advantage of the fact that you’re a small business retailer by focusing on building individual relationships with your most active customers/social audience members.

      As explained by Craig Downing, director of global cloud marketing with SAP:

      “One of the most valuable aspects of social data is that it’s ‘living.’ It’s a point-in-time data source, but because it’s unique and personal, it lets you measure unique trends over time. That’s very hard to do with other data sources. And it’s what allows you to build a ‘target segment of one’ to optimize customer experience for each individual customer.”

      Craig Downing, director of global cloud marketing at SAP

      The “target segment of one” that Downing refers to is what you should hope to eventually achieve with your social engagement.

      Once you lock in on successful campaign strategies and ideas, the next step is to drill down to the individual level and connect and engage with customers on a personal level. This will help you build lasting relationships that promote sustained customer loyalty.

      What Now?

      If you haven’t already, check out all four parts of our retail social media marketing series:

      Once you read the whole series, you should see immediate and drastic results from your social campaigns, right? Hopefully this will be the case—but probably not.

      Keep in mind that we live in a heavily saturated social media world. Allow yourself time to find your social marketing niche and discover which posts are most successful and where. Take the little victories along the way and celebrate them for what they are: building blocks to greater customer engagement and brand/store awareness.

      You may also like

      How To Increase Retail Sales: Using Retail Social Media Marketing (Pt. 1)

      How To Increase Retail Sales: Using Retail Social Media Marketing Pt. 2

      How to Increase Retail Sales: Optimizing Your Social Content Strategy (Pt. 3)

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