According to Duke University’s recently released CMO Survey, marketers are planning to nearly double their social media spending within five years – even though most are unable to show the impact of social on their business.

So why the disconnect? Why are marketers going full throttle into social media when they can’t articulate how it impacts their bottom line?

Digging deeper into the survey, perhaps we can find an answer. When asked where specifically they were going to increase their spend, 43.6 percent of marketers said analytics. This shows that they understand the urgency of proving the value of social, using hard numbers.

Data must be gathered and examined in order for marketers to make smart decisions about what is working – and what isn’t – on social media. It’s also a useful component of monthly or annual reports to the executive team when determining budget allocation.

Here are several ways that data can be used to prove the value of social media marketing:

Connect social to broader marketing objectives

By using social data, marketers can connect their social media activities to marketing at large. They can use social insights to build audience personas, and tie these to sales and traditional marketing. They can also plug social data into their CRM platform, and gain deeper understandings of individual customers for better targeting, sales calls and more.

Highlight successful campaigns

Data can be used to showcase the most successful social media campaigns of the past month or quarter, in order to prove social’s value to executives and other team members. When a campaign hits a milestone – like reaching a certain number of key audience members, resulting in a high number of downloads or producing a lot of engagements – this needs to be expressed to the team. This is an important use of data for marketers, as communicating what social is good for internally can lead to increased budgets, support and future success.

Track social leads

There are many platforms and tools out there that can track the customer journey from first touch point to eventual sale. By using these tools, marketers can show when a customer first engages with content shared via social media – like an ebook download or a retweet – and when they make a purchase.

Show increasing share of voice

Not all efforts on social media will result in direct sales, but that doesn’t mean that social doesn’t add value. Data can help marketers express the more nuanced value of share of voice or thought leadership. By examining how often their brand is mentioned compared to the competitions’, for instance, marketers can show that the content and social posts they have been creating are effective in raising awareness about their brand.

It is important for marketers to prove the value of what they do on a regular basis. Since marketing efforts aren’t as easily attributed as sales efforts, marketers must rely on data and analytics to show where they are making an impact.