Mike Hanbery February 4, 2014

Social Media Marketing’s Role in Converting Leads to Sales

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Following on from last month’s post on social media’s role in generating leads, we now focus on how social media can help in converting leads to sales.

This is the point in the sales process at which social media can definitively be seen not as a marketing channel but rather as an entity influencing all others. At this point, prospects are aware of you. Their social media activity is part of an attempt to understand who you are.

They are asking questions like:

Are there negative reviews on your Facebook page? Have you responded to them? Is there a community developed, i.e. are there actual conversations occurring?

T6 - Cheryl S

T6 - Scott Stear

What kind of content are you sharing? Is it timely and relevant to your audience? Does it enhance your brand?

Denver Social Media - Webolutions Client Content

This Webolutions client tweet has been retweeted over 70 times and favorited 14 times to date.

The opportunity at this stage of the decision process is to engage the visitor. Just as in real life, provided you have a welcoming presence, know your stuff and present it well, the more time you get with prospects, the more likely they are to choose to do business with you.

Webolutions frequently helps our clients improve their N.U.D.E. score. N.U.D.E. stands for Novelty, Utility, Dependability, Economy. Successful brands are, in their social media presence and otherwise:

  • Novel – Uniqueness to the product, service or approach
  • Utility – Fulfills a need
  • Dependability – Are we who we say we are in everything we do? Do we follow through on commitments?
  • Economy – Is the value provided worth the cost?

Your lead generation initiatives have brought your prospective clients to a point in which they are considering making their interest known. Novelty, utility, dependability and economy coming through in social media helps pull people through the sales funnel.

Know Your Stuff
“Thought leadership,” is a goal for which social media is a frequent tactic. Thought leadership is a product of intent.

A content creation strategy helps keep content relevant and consistent. This can include creation of blog posts, infographics, case studies, videos, etc. Coupled with a content generation plan and editorial calendar, social media content becomes dependable.

Some content, such as white papers, can be “gated” for information capture, i.e. the cost of downloading the white paper is an email address. White papers are frequently promoted through search engine advertising and email marketing. Social media provides another avenue.

In general and especially on Facebook, conversions for advertisements are higher when the conversion point allows the user to remain within the network. Developing systems including landing pages with conversion forms will increase opportunities to convert leads to sales in social media.

Again, the content of the white paper, or other product, must be overtly novel and useful for the readers in order for them to be receptive to additional contact.

Additionally, social media can be an effective vehicle for curating content generated by others and fostering discussion about it.

Present It Well
In order to tell people who you are, you must first understand yourself. This means brand identities have been clearly defined and communicated throughout the organization. Everyone from CEO to CSR should understand and live by the brand identity.

While this can include everything from the proper appearance of the company name in print to unique vocabulary, at a more fundamental level it is the emotions people should associate with the company. Understanding ourselves at this level contributes to consistency in voice—the way we talk about ourselves and to others, understanding our audience and creating messages that resonate with them.

Understanding our audience includes understanding how decisions get made. Our brains have three layers:

  • Neocortex: Outer layer of the brain. Responsible for rational and analytical thought, processing information and language. It has no capacity for decision making. As Simon Sinek points out in his TED talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, most marketing content attempts to appeal to this part of the brain. It’s a mistake.
  • Limbic: Middle two sections of the brain. Responsible for feelings, trust, loyalty, behavior and all decision making.

Early identification of the emotions with which the brand should be associated focuses messaging, provides consistency and dependability (the “D” in NUDE), and targets the message to those with a natural proclivity to be most receptive. With results and proper treatment, these will be the people who refer others through word of mouth, including personal social media channels.

Have Some Fun
This post is being written two months after a Pew Internet report stating, “73 percent of online adults now use a social networking platform of some kind,” 42 percent use multiple Internet social networks and that among those networks Facebook remains dominant. The Pew Research Center also reports half of those online adults who do not use Facebook live with someone who does and who, therefore, likely have a vicarious presence on the network.

This post is also written on Facebook’s tenth birthday, a day in which the network is estimated to have 1.23 billion—with a “b”—users.

To date, exactly zero of those 1.23 billion have logged on to Facebook hoping for a sales pitch. Same for those who have migrated to Twitter and/or Instagram. (The Pew report cited earlier also notes, “Instagram users are nearly as likely as Facebook users to check in to the site on a daily basis.” Who owns Instagram? Facebook does.)

People look to social media for connection and enjoyment. It’s a good idea to give people an activity. Find something that touches people at an emotional level and invite their participation. This can be as simple as a poll or an incentive to comment or slightly more involved, such as this recently initiated “Tug of War” for a Webolutions client:

  Denver Social Media Marketing - Webolutions Client Contest

Join us!
This will be the topic for the February 21, 2014 installment of our Denver Social Media for Business Meetup group, which in its fifth year is one of the largest Social Media for Business Meetups in the world. Denver marketers, executives and business owners are encouraged to attend. There is no cost to attend. Breakfast is provided.

How to Use This Information
Social media is still viewed as a marketing channel and gets isolated as such. It is in fact a part of every aspect of our lives. We should view our social media presence in the same way we view talking to people, albeit in a nuanced public setting.

Just as in traditional marketing and sales, one’s conduct during the conversion process greatly influences the likelihood and velocity of a prospect to move forward or move away. To generate interest, engagement and a decision, touch the heart.

To effectively use social media in converting leads to sales, build an overarching brand strategy and let it influence social media messaging and tactics.

For more tactical pointers, visit our Social Media Tips library. Rate the tips and add your own!

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