Social Media Considerations for Digital Sales Construction
For some social media yields poor sales results, when for others its their bread and butter. In part 2 I will show you how I have found conversion success when using social media marketing as part of a marketing mix to construct online sales. If you haven’t, please read part 1 of this series as it sets up my definitions.
If you know me or follow this blog you know I am a multichannel marketer. I believe (as you should) sales don’t happen in one place and last click conversions are a very short sighted way of seeing your market.
In real life sales are constructed using multiple channels of communication, both on and offline. A small business’ path to conversion can go something like this, words in red represent a customer touch point or point of communication along the path (larger brands may encounter a more layered process):
When starting a campaign I often construct an expected conversion path using both common sense and when available using customer attributions info from click path / behavior data. I think its important to rely on both forms of logic (your head and your data…although my head is often devoid of logic). Figure 2 is far more representative how a sale is constructed than Figure 1, yet at the time of this post many marketers believe that figure 1 is how you measure success. Further, smart marketers construct more sales by controlling the touch points (in RED) and leading the customer through the funnel, which starts outside their site. Remember my post, “Digital Marketing a Multichannel Approach – The Internet is Your Funnel” using digital media in this way you will increase your sales. Read the post for insights on how to use the Internet as your sales funnel as this post focuses on the social media component.
To review (from Part 1) mainstream social networks particularly timeline networks like Facebook and Twitter provide marketers with a good way to gain attention about products, services and brands. Networks with a niche focus like forums and blogs provide retailers with a good way to provide interest based content and messaging. Finally, local social networks like your site’s reviews and forum provide retailers with an audience who desires to make a purchase.
In Figure 2 above the buyer sees a vintage dress she likes in a sale from a friend’s Facebook feed. This turns out to be an introduction to the dress she ultimately buys, but she does not buy it at the flash sale (even though the price is lower). The Facebook feed post is an example of the Attention getting aspect of social marketing in AIDA funnels.
Another example, although not from a social network was the banner ad for oldtownladies.com. This ad introduced the buyer to the smaller retailer’s vintage site. Had oldtownladies.com not done the banner advertising it would have not been introduced to the buyer. The banner ad did not result in the sale, rather it assisted in the sale, the same as the Facebook post did. You will find that your marketing spend is much more efficient if you spread it intelligently through the proper mix of channels for your business. Instead of first thinking about which ads and content perform, think about how do we construct a sale. If you properly construct a sale I promise your cost of conversion will fall dramatically; then later you can optimize the path for better performance using the assist/last click ratio. Below are the steps you can take to construct the social channel strategy of your multichannel marketing plan. Understanding these steps will help you build your social media strategy and maximize its effectiveness across your other channels.
The First Step in creating the social media component of a sales construction is to identify which social networks your customers frequent and classifying them as I do Mainstream, Interest and Local. For example, Pinterest is a Mainstream site mostly used by middle age women to share photos and visual interests. Pinterest is better positioned in the minds of consumers to communicate say fashion and apparel than it is medicine or legal advise. Therefore, an apparel retailer will be wise to use Pinterest as part of their mainstream social media mix and medical professionals would do much better to find another venue. In similar fashion you need to find forums and blogs loved by your customers to fill out your Interest networks. Listing as many sites as you can find during this step will give you more options when choosing which to work within as each of these type sites will take resources (time, money and labor). Further each Interest level social network has its own nuances and Social Veneer, which will dictate how best to communicate and whether or not its a good fit for you. Finally, you need to set-up (or dust off in some cases) your blogs and forum hosted by you. Remember, much of what you post in local social networks will be customer service oriented providing direct product information, shipping advise and customer assistance. You will have more control over these sites and will find they have the lowest assist/last click ratio (highest conversion rate yet lowest traffic flow).
In the Second Step you develop an interaction strategy with goals that build engagement and “Harmonize” communications with other channels. Its important to note here that participants in any social network are not created equally. There are evangelists and the congregation. Generally, a low percentage of participants (evangelists) create a majority of posts which are read by the masses (congregation) of the community. Your job will be to provide compelling content that generates responses from the evangelists and once impassioned create a viral stream of content.
Also, leveraging your cross-channel communications to increase SOV and brand/messaging awareness is important. Your messages in any social channel must be in the brand voice and consistent with brand promise, otherwise connection to the other channels will be missed. An example of why this is important is many social networks especially forums and blogs will have a much higher search authority/ranking than your site, thus appear high in organic search results. It would be wise to “Harmonize” your posts to work well with your organic search channel. You should use keywords, links, imagery and when possible meta/title tags to your advantage in posts. Doing so will further your brand messaging and helping to build a familiar path toward a conversion in the organic search channel. Creating social content that is not consistent with the brand will confuse future searchers and become an impediment to the path of conversion. It should also be noted that at the time of this post Google is giving a high search value to social content, thus changing SEO techniques.
The Third Step is to run your strategy in a consistent and frequent way. You must continue your posts on a real time basis in every social network you’ve chosen to interact with. Having a monitoring tool can help make the monitoring process much more efficient. These posts must be compelling and of value to the community. Only posting your latest sales promotions will not get it done. You need to provide a steady stream of posts that are relevant to the community and adapts to its changing veneer. Your messaging would do well to be of high value so that they are shared by the evangelists and the community. Remember from one of my first posts in this blog, “Look Mom I’m in the Media Business”, here you are definitely in the social media business. Having a social media intern with no experience or an under employed customer service rep going through the motions of making posts can be dangerous. You need someone with flair and ability breathing life into your interactions. Creating excitement, wonder and glee because its not just one person you are responding to when replying to a post its a community of voyeurs who are just as judgmental as the vocal evangelists but do their talking with their wallets.
Social Media Marketing is now perhaps the most important digital channel as it is not what you say that is heard but the opinions of real people, which are trusted by the masses far more than your advertising. You will not have control as you do in display placement or email as what you say is interpreted and responded to by people with wide and varying levels of opinion and passion. But, if you are clever, follow the steps above and are received positively your brand will become trusted, your message spread like wildfire and a solid foundation will be laid under your path to constructing sales.
What is your experience with social media like? Do you have similar experiences to me when doing your social media marketing or are they different? Do you have questions about this article? Do you want some help with your social media channel? Please let me know in the comments and I will be happy do what I can to help you.
Categories: social media