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How Many Sales Will I Make Through Social Media?

Michelle Dale - Wednesday, June 04, 2014

If you provide social media marketing services this question may be familiar to you from potential or even existing clients and if you haven't yet started providing social media services, then you'll soon become accustomed to getting asked this question on your enquiry form after you launch, generally from those who've read about the fantastic ROI that can come from Social Media. The questions is, "How Many Sales Will I Make Through Social Media?" and I'm going to explain how I answer this one from a virtual assistant's perspective in today's post.

Feeling Inadequate?

I think a lot of the time we can get asked this question and we already begin to feel inadequate because we don't have an answer - first of all cut yourself some slack, a potential client sends in your contact form saying, "This is my website, I sell XYZ, how many sales will I make if I hire you for social media?" - this is like asking, "How long is a piece of string?" or "How long will it take for ice to melt?"

By not having an answer 'right off the bat' to this question, that only makes you human, and one of those people who hasn't yet tapped into their psychic social media prediction powers. 

Even the best couldn't answer

Another element we have to look at here is the fact that even the best of the best couldn't answer this question - just take a look at social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk in a recent interview entitled, "The Most Important Thing Entrepreneurs Need To Know About Social Media" - he makes it very clear...

"I don't know what my full page ad on page 47 on Inc returned quantifiably to a sale - it's not how it works."

He goes on to say that with this (and I'm guessing he means any kind of indirect advertising or social media) people go into a "Rabbit Hole", but asking someone to quantify the return on all the people entering it is "insanity".

Thank you oh wise Mr. V you're already making us feel better here... If you'd like to see the entire interview I've embedded the YouTube video below for you and although the person interviewing is pretty appalling, Gary has some great stuff to say:

You see I've always known this... Even with technology improving we can see how many clicks we got, how many opens etc... this is all useful information that tells us what's working in terms of engagement and what isn't, even Facebook's tracking pixels and cookies will have their role in giving us valuable information BUT - it really means nothing to the complete ROI that a business can get from social media...

Let's tell a story...

You start a Twitter campaign for your client, someone sees your client on Twitter by chance while working on their laptop, but doesn't really use Twitter that much so decides to visit your client's website and follow them on Facebook instead, where they know they'll be more likely to see your client's posts, they add one of your client's blog posts to a "read later" list because they don't have the time to give it their attention there and then - life gets in the way and they don't hit Facebook for a while until one Saturday they head out to a coffee shop with their iPad (not the place where they originally clicked on anything to do with your client) to catch up on social media. They open up their "read later" list, they click a few links, see the blog post your client has written, head over to their website and from there, they sign up to the client's mailing list. From there your client has an opportunity to communicate with them directly and eventually they buy your client's ebook.

Do you think that could ever be traced back to the original Tweet that person saw that lead them to the FB page, then the mailing list, then several weeks later, the sale? Well anything is possible, but it's highly improbable and there's the "bittersweet" in social media services.

If you have a client who is a bit 'old school' and only will give consideration to marketing techniques that produce a solid, quantifiable ROI, social media marketing is not for them... What I look for is increased engagement - the more of the right people we can reach, the more likely it is we'll attract customers like the example above. It's a marathon not a sprint, and any client who looks at the figures after the first month and believes they can't "see" any ROI or results in direct sales and abandons the efforts - this probably won't be because they don't have an ROI - but because it's just not quantifiable in that way.

This must be communicated at the very start to the client and the question, "How Many Sales Will I Make Through Social Media?" cannot be answered definitively, quantifiably at any point during the provision of service. The best I can do is make a rough prediction based on experience, based on the strategy or plan I put in place from my consulting work, and based on taking it as a given the client will play their part as we've agreed at the start. It's not uncommon that a client will keep their end of the bargain for a few days or a week and then taper off leaving a big hole in the entire strategy... Not cool, and their lack of effort is certainly not your responsibility... 

What Sales Will I See This Month?

Ahhh another good question that we can take a stab at, you might get something like, "How many sales will I see in the first month?" or "Can I try it for a month and see what the results are and then I'll decide if I want to carry on?" - again, this isn't a question you can look at and say a number like "42" or any other number of sales for that matter.

You see sometimes I get enquiries from clients who have been paying attention to their social media, ones who have made an effort to develop a presence that's fairly current, fairly active, has a bit of variety to it, and where you can see there has been a degree of thought and care put in - this is someone with a better start than one where it's been erratic, entirely automated, no engagement with anyone else, and looks like one big sales pitch.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see which one is going to be easier and faster to get off the starting blocks when it comes to social media...

In his interview, Gary had a great question I think you should ask your potential client during the consultation process... "What's the ROI/Sales on all your other marketing efforts you're doing right now?"

Top 3 Communications

So there are obviously messages you clearly need to communicate to clients looking for specific ROI or number of sales before they engage services. Here are the top 3 "musts" I think you should make them aware of.

1 - Think Engagement Not Direct Sales

What social media allows is the opportunity to build an audience, a pool of people who you can continuously market to on an ongoing basis, therefore, every new follower, fan, subscriber etc... is an ROI - it's a potential customer and maybe they won't buy today, maybe not tomorrow, but possibly some day for the rest of your life.

Okay maybe not quite the rest of your life as in Casablanca, but do your social media right - really right, and they'll hang around until you happen to post that attention grabbing blog post, tweet or status update that puts that person directly on your client's sales page.

2 - It's Not Like Pay Per Click

PPC or Social Media - What do you think the better investment is? So many people are using good old Pay Per Click where they can see exactly the number of clicks they got for their money and it's often the case that they can see the sales that came from those clicks too. I often run ads myself through social media to test and trial what works for clients and also myself. PPC is of course more quantifiable in the short term, but once the ad is placed and clicked - as soon as you've stopped paying, you have nothing to show for it, whereas in "human interaction" social media you'll have that audience held in the vaults of your followers and fans, even if you decide to slow down your Social Media efforts, so really social media can be an investment that keeps on giving, even when a campaign has come to a close. You don't get that on PPC.

As long as you can generate an audience of people who "voluntarily" (that's key, you can't go on Fiverr and buy 20,000 followers and call it social media) join your client's tribe, you've produced a great ROI and the client has the potential to sell to them either now or at some point in the future.

3 - They Themselves Are An Unknown Variable

There are SO many variables... so many... I've touched on a couple in this post, let's take a small business owner for example, like a coach, the potential in the volume of sales tends to be directly related to the client as an individual, it's not all charts and numbers that equal the same outcome for everyone, these variables include their industry, their target audience or ideal client, their service, their saleability, their activity, their website/presentation/brand and their contributions to their social media efforts such as fresh content and high value for the end user.

Another factor is the level of service or the package you’re providing. Is customer A investing £500 a month going to get the same results as customer B investing £1000 - based on my own practise I would say no...

These dramatically variable factors could mean (1) lead/sale a month or (100) or more… As a general guideline, the more niche the client's market is and the lower their budget, the fewer the leads we’ll be able to provide. It's something we have to start with, and work on, no virtual assistant would be able to give a client a definitive number of sales and consultations based on what they know from looking at someone's website, this sort of thing requires a degree of experience with the client and their audience, even what they're selling to some degree.


There are no unreasonable, invalid or silly questions when it comes to client enquiries, you may feel some questions warrant an eye roll, but for a novice or someone who is not familiar with social media for example, questions on anything, primarily sales and ROI are perfectly reasonable and normal to ask. The client will often come to you to seek guidance and answers, and you should provide them to the best of your ability as part of your service, but the point is to make it very clear to help educate the client on what they can expect, not just so it's clear before they enter into a relationship with you, but to help rescue them from the person that says, "Sure I'll get you 100 eBook sales in the first month on Twitter, just pay here." and then doesn't deliver and the client is left disappointed with not just the person they hired, but the industry in general, and that's when the industry suffers and acquires a less than desirable reputation.

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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