Everyone wants to take advantage of the new marketing channel social media offers. The idea that we can drive sales to our storefront or website by being friendly, talking about ourselves, and engaging with our fans is an appealing and intoxicating one. We can offer some coupons, promote our specials and sales, and people will be flocking to our stores.Give us a “thumbs up” on our Facebook fan page, a friendly tweet on Twitter, a share of our blog post, and we are bound for social media success, right?
As it turns out, the answer is no.
You don’t have to spend much time on social media before you start to see the difference between a “like” on Facebook, for example, and an ultimate sale. The metrics can be tricky to track. The types of customers happy to like your page if you give them a free gift via a contest are not necessarily interested in actually buying your product. In the end, having more fans and followers does not guarantee increased sales. There is no magic wand.
What does help increase sales from your social media campaigns? The short answer is an integrated approach based on how your customers actually decide to buy.
The longer answer requires you to understand your processes, personify your value proposition fully, and interface with customers in ways that they appreciate and prefer. The work is hard but it’s worth doing.
The following suggestions will assist you in moving your social media efforts from just a curious pursuit to build brand awareness or push out coupons to a powerful and useful sales tool.
Integrate Your Offline and Online Efforts
When you run a Facebook campaign, weave in a physical in-store action as part of the transaction. For example, billboards should direct viewers to a website offer instead of just showing a sexy picture with a logo. You can require a QR code scan or digital picture share from within your store to be posted to social media for entries into contests. You can set up location based check-ins that allow visitors to tell their online friends that they’re at your store. Bridge the offline and online worlds to stimulate both in-store foot traffic and targeted and motivated web traffic.
Brand awareness isn’t enough anymore. You have to connect the dots between where a customer finds your original provocative message, all the way to the cash register, including the points in between. Do this by including both physical actions with online virtual ones.
Incorporate Calls to Action
One of the simplest ways to make your social media campaigns work is to ask for an action. Don’t let a single lead be wasted. Move beyond name and brand awareness to direct appeal marketing.
Be sure to direct the visitor to a relevant, tightly focused landing page based on the original promise, rather than dumping them into just the home page of your website. If a visitor follows a Facebook link to a place on your website that has nothing to do withthe element that attracted their attention in the first place, they will resent you for it. Avoid that. Be sure to keep the conversation going from your social media to your landing page, and to your order page.
Develop a Nurturance Cycle
Many people use the Internet to research long before they are ready to buy. They will reach out to interact with you prior to actually wanting to purchase. Being available and helpful during this education phase allows you the opportunity to impress, delight, and close them when the time is right.
If you develop a nurturance cycle that supports this investigative learning process, potential shoppers will begin to develop a loyalty. If they find what they need from you, they’re more likely to buy from you. Nurture your audience with permission-based text or email marketing, regular yet friendly follow-up, and consistent “touches” that check the progress of the customer toward a purchase. Pay attention and express a caring attitude.
Make it Easy to Share
Social media requires the ability for frictionless sharing. The more complicated it is for your customers to share their experience, share your specials, and share their opinions about your products, the less likely it is that they’ll share it. In social media, sharing is what it’s all about, so you have to make it easy.
How can you make your content and website more sharable? Add social media social icons to your shopping cart pages so a single click allows your customers to tell their friends about your product. Add “share this” buttons to your email campaigns. Add your Facebook signup and friends summary to your website. Add a strong call to action asking them to share and you’ll get more people talking about you and recommending you.
Track Your Results
Relying on anecdotal evidence is not sufficient to build a strong business case for social media. Use tracking links when creating social media blurbs. Implement Google analytics on all your web pages. Start A/B or multivariate testing for headlines and offers so you can confirm what is working and what is not. Use the information to derive insights that can inform you on what to change – what worked and what didn’t. Do more of what works.
Results Take Effort
If all of this is too technical, hire technical support or a social media consultant. There are also numerous options to gain training if you insist on doing it all yourself. Move beyond simply seeking numbers in your social media audience to focused campaigns that allow you to channel your audience and craft unique messages for each segment. That way, you can go from just being “liked” to also hearing your cash register ring.
To learn more about how to optimize your marketing, go to Me-Ality.com.