Social media is now the norm. Everywhere we turn, a high-ranking businessperson, blog, or magazine is pressuring us to replace traditional, "outdated" marketing methods with cutting-edge social media techniques. And without question, there is a lot to be said for social media's brief yet transformative history. But if you're like most marketers, you likely use some combination of search, display, and email marketing. These media have fueled your business with sales and leads for years. Is it not a bit hasty to suggest that we all ditch these proven mechanisms in favor of Facebook pages and Twitter feeds?
There's no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Your paid media and earned media can work together to boost ROI when you leverage the connection between the two. Following is a realistic, three-month action plan that outlines how "traditional" online media can be combined with social media.
Month 1: Mine your social networks to uncover your next ad campaign
While many consumers are quick to criticize traditional online techniques, these criticisms tend to be misplaced. The problem of course is not that search, display, or email are bad ways to reach your audience. Instead, problems occur when the content of these messages is bland or untargeted.
Too many advertisements reflect what someone assumed customers wanted to see rather than what they really wanted to see. It is here that social media can breathe new life into the traditional online marketing mediums. If you already have an actively maintained Facebook page or Twitter feed, it's time to mine them for valuable nuggets of customer input. One way to think about social media is a live focus group that produces true feelings about your brand. Your own Twitter account is a treasure trove of valuable data that can be turned into a successful ad campaign.
This data includes:
- How your customers and prospects voted on polls
- Frequently asked questions (other than those you've answered elsewhere)
- Recurring complaints or grievances
- Extremely positive or negative things said about your products or brand
- Experiences (good or bad) customers have had with competitors
- Content prospects shared, retweeted, Liked, clicked, listened to, watched, or commented on
The goal at this stage is taking you out of the echo chamber of your own marketing department. Whatever theories you have about your customers will likely differ from what social media says those customers truly think and feel about you. Pay special attention to what content was retweeted, clicked, Liked, and shared the most. We'll be using this data in Month 2.
Month 1 summary: Your marketing budget is limited. Therefore, your ads must express the most powerful, attention-getting statement of value you can possibly produce. What better place to find out what this is than the candid remarks of your own customers?
Month 2: Craft a content marketing strategy
Content is the catalyst for building a relationship with prospects in a social media world. Content transcends websites, social networks, and formats. Direct marketing instructor Perry Marshall captured the benefit of well-executed content marketing when he said, "Nobody who ever bought a drill wanted a drill. They wanted a hole. Therefore, you should sell with information about holes."
Just as nobody who bought a drill wanted a drill, it's likely that nobody who buys your product wanted your product. What they actually wanted was whatever tangible benefit(s) your product gives them. The way to sell more products, therefore, is to lead with information that empathizes and connects with the underlying reasons people want what you sell. Pure advertising (whether banners or search marketing) can rarely do this as well as a blog post, article, or tutorial can. Most prospects are, by nature, far more skeptical of messages that contain overt sales pitches.
An article, on the other hand, bypasses this resistance by putting information first and selling second. By the time your content is read, the prospect will already have seen that you understand their problems because you applied what you learned from your current customers by studying their social media interactions. As a direct result, prospects are more likely to see your product as a genuine fit for them than they would have been if you immediately asked for their order. Marshall, for example, sells a marketing course with the help of an empathetic article called "People Are Cynical."
Remember to include a call-to-action on your content landing page too, whether that is a newsletter subscription, webinar or whitepaper sign-up, or even a product offer. You might be surprised by the conversion rate.
Next page >>