That’s a 46-percentage point increase from a year ago, according to a new Salesforce report.

Social media is generating better returns on investments this year than it did last year, according to Salesforce’s new “2016 State of Marketing Report.”

The report finds that 75% of retailers and other marketers say that social media delivers either a “strong” or “some” return on their investment. That’s a 46-percentage point increase from the 29% who said so a year earlier.

“Social media marketing is a core piece of a lot of retailers’ businesses,” says Vala Afshar, Salesforce’s chief digital evangelist.

That’s despite the fact that social media led directly to relatively few sales over the most recent holiday season. Only 1.8% of online retail sales over the holidays stemmed from shoppers clicking directly from social networks to retail sites, according to marketing platform vendor Custora, which examined online shoppers’ visits to more than 200 online retail websites.

In part, social media has become a more effective marketing tool because marketers are increasingly developing holistic, cross-channel marketing campaigns rather than developing their social media marketing campaigns in a silo, Afshar says. The report finds that 63% of self-declared “high-performing” marketers integrate social media into their overall marketing strategy, far more than the 28% of marketers who say they are “moderate-performing” and 20% who say they are “low-performing.”


Moreover, social networks over the past year have rolled out a number of new advertising formats and tracking tools, as well as e-commerce-oriented Buy buttons. For instance, in February 2015 Facebook Inc. rolled out dynamic product ads, which let merchants upload their entire catalog, then automatically target consumers with ads featuring products they’re likely to be interested in. In June Pinterest and Instagram launched Buy buttons. And just yesterday Twitter Inc. launched universal website tags to make it easier for marketers to track website conversions and manage multiple advertising campaigns.

Mobile marketing is another key piece in marketers’ cross-channel campaigns, which helps explain why their use of various tactics—from text messages to push notifications—has soared over the past year.

“Mobile offers marketers a wealth of tools,” Afshar says.

77% of marketers say that mobile marketing delivers either a “strong” or “some” return on their investment. That’s a 34 percentage point increase from the 43% who said so a year earlier.

High-performing marketers are using ads to guide consumers throughout the conversion funnel from product discovery to purchase. For that approach to work, they need to tie together the disparate threads of customer information they gather—from stores, online, social media and elsewhere—to create a single view of their customers, which requires customer relationship software like the tools offered by Salesforce, Afshar says. The survey finds that 60% of high performers create a single view of their customers, compared to 21% of moderate performers and 4% of low performers.


That single view is important as retailers embark on omnichannel initiatives that link their desktop, mobile and offline marketing campaigns, Afshar says.