Are you still relying on old fashioned, outdated marketing techniques to get your business the exposure it needs? A better question may be whether you actually think that these traditional forms of marketing are still the most cost effective for your business.
One of the most cost effective forms of marketing these days, no matter what industry your products and services fall under, is online marketing. With the advent of search and online networking, it is absolutely essential that your business have the proper placement and branding on the Internet.
Did you know that over 80% of all transactions start online? Think about it. When you want to buy something or find information on something, where is the first place you go? If your answer was “the library”, then you are either lying or you are one of the few who still even know where their local library is. Our bet, you answered the Internet – more specifically even, Google. Now, think about how much business, or at least increased opportunities for business that your competitors get that do have good exposure on highly frequented websites, like Google.
If you haven’t done so already, we highly recommend that you revisit your marketing plan to make sure that online marketing is mixed into your marketing plan appropriately. If you need assistance developing, or reworking, your marketing plan to include this extremely cost effective form of targeted marketing, then check out our post on How to Create an Online Marketing Plan.
One of the main reasons why online marketing has been so effective is because it is a form of inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is like a magnet, it pulls customers into your website, your business. Outbound marketing, such as television commercials, magazine ads, and newspaper ads, are intrusive, interruptive and annoying. Worst of all, outbound marketing channels are less effective and more expensive as these messages are easier to block out and ignore.
One of the top forms of online marketing, more specifically inbound marketing, is social media marketing or social networking. Unless you have had your head in the sand for the past couple of years, then you have probably heard of Facebook, Twitter or possibly even LinkedIn. Holding common misconceptions, many businesses believe these websites to be for younger audiences only. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Facebook alone has amassed over 250 million users since its startup, with users ranging from ages 18-75. No matter what you are selling, you are bound to have some prospective customers in this demographic somewhere.
Social media and online networking is the newest form of building authority, respect, and popularity. These three things can only help to build your brand and your business and we are going to explain how you too can use inbound marketing through social media to benefit your business.
How to Attract Prospects with Social Marketing
The following is a step-by-step guide to bring as many prospective customers to your website as possible.
(STEP 1) Sign-up for social media accounts
Create accounts / profiles for yourself and your business on the following social media websites:
There are many more useful social media websites, but start with these for now to keep things manageable.
(STEP 2) Listen to existing users
Before you engage yourself and your business in these social media networks, observe what others are doing. Preferably, observe what the “experts” are doing to get the best idea of how to get involved.
Here are some useful ways to find the “experts” or those talking about topics and stories most relevant to your business and client base:
Again, there are many more useful tools to finding relevant conversations and experts. However, start with one or two until you feel comfortable expanding to other resources.
(STEP 3) Interact with existing users
If you have spent the necessary time getting familiar with the social media tools and websites above, then you are ready to start interacting with other users. Here are some of the best ways to interact:
TIP: Do NOT talk about your products and services you sell, write about things that the people you are interacting with want to learn about
(STEP 4) Contribute Quality Content
To really receive the true benefits from social marketing, you MUST contribute and distribute content. There is no easy way around it, sorry. Content can exist as any of the following things:
- Tweets using Twitter
- Blog posts using Blogger or WordPress
- Videos using YouTube or Revver
- Presentations using SlideShare
TIP: Do NOT share product info, free trials or anything that directly talks about what you are selling. People will see right through this and your credibility will undermined.
How to Convert Visitors from Social Marketing
Once your social media efforts gain momentum, you WILL see increases in traffic to your website or other web properties that you are driving social media users to. The important thing now is to make sure that the increased traffic you are receiving is getting exposed to the most beneficial places possible. Here are some effective ways to convert social media visitors:
(STEP 1) Use targeted landing pages
When people get to your website you MUST take advantage of these opportunities. Website visitors will make up their mind about you, your business and whether or not they will buy from you within the first 8 seconds of landing on your website. For this reason alone, you MUST direct social media users to the most relevant, specific pages on your website. This will reinforce their reason for being there in the first place and will also help you to immediately build trust with them right off the bat.
TIP: Landing pages should have limited navigation options (less choices, less distractions), layout and design should be clear and simple, and a contact form that rests above the fold of the web page.
(STEP 2) Implement Strong, Clear Calls to Action
The beauty of driving prospects to a website is that you can control what you want someone to do on your website. If your goal is to get people to sign up for a free trial of your service, then you can, and should, make this very clear and ask visitors to do it.
TIP: Use one strong call to action on each landing page and place them in prominent a place on each landing page. Remember that as English speakers and readers read from left to right so the top left of your landing page may be the best place for your call to action. Make sure to test placement, look and verbiage of your calls to action to find the best combination.
How to Measure Results from Social Marketing
Just as with any other marketing campaign or strategy, you must measure your efforts to determine whether or not your social marketing campaigns are worth your time, effort and investment. Very much like website analysis and traffic statistics reporting, measuring your social marketing efforts yields crucial information about your actual ROI.
(STEP 1) Use Analytics
If you have read our previous blog posts, you probably seen at least one mention of website analytics, specifically Google Analytics. Tools such as Google Analytics allow you, as the webmaster and business owner, to analyze important data like where visitors are coming from. You will immediately be able to tell if your Facebook Fan Page or your involvement on LinkedIn Q&A is actually driving traffic to your website.
(STEP 2) Measure Conversions
Social marketing is not all about driving traffic. Ultimately, like any other form of online marketing, the goal of social marketing is to create additional business for your company. Additional business means actual sales. Actual sales are very important to tie to your social marketing efforts as many people simply just track conversions (i.e. website visitors filling out a contact form to become a lead), but don’t actually track net conversions.
Net conversions give you a much better picture of whether or not your social marketing efforts are actually paying off. You may very well find, to your surprise, that LinkedIn creates more new business for your company than a more popular site like Facebook.
Can Social Marketing Help Your Business?
If you, like many business owners, think that social marketing is too new school for your company or ineffective in reaching your target customers, then just look at companies like Amazon, Google, JetBlue, Comcast and Facebook. These companies do very little traditional marketing or advertising, with the majority of their marketing efforts centering on social marketing / inbound marketing. We are yet to come across a business that social marketing cannot help to do the following:
- Create, build and maintain brand awareness
- Allow customers and prospective customers to provide valuable feedback
- Allow your business to converse with customers and prospects through conversation and interaction outside of a sales environment
If you strongly believe that social marketing cannot, does not and will not work for your business or industry then we would love to hear your side. We will even feature your case study on our business marketing blog and syndicate your story for you (using social marketing) to help your business and website get some valuable traffic. Or, better yet, if you have had great success using social marketing to grow your business, then we want to hear about it.