A recent study by Outbrain seems to indicate that social media, while highly useful for marketers in many ways, may not be the best way to drive traffic, at least not for my audience anyway.
One article stated, “Despite studies that suggest email is still the top way people share content, and that search is still the top way people find websites, social sharing—newer and more exciting—is in the spotlight.”
I’ve always found it interesting that people who sell social media-related services say such things as “58% of people don’t use email any more” and “Facebook will surpass Google by 2012″ without batting an eyelash (much less citing a reference). Really?
Forgive the brief digression, I was setting the stage for explaining why I think this study seems to at least somewhat validate my feelings about the social media hype machine.
Yes, social media is “the new way” — and it helps marketers tremendously by letting us get directly into the relevant conversations with our buyers, or at least listen in on them. Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more, and I welcome it. It’s about time.
Do our socializing buyers really want to be hit with our marketing message during their socializing activities? Apparently some don’t mind, but I dare say this does not reflect all of them. I believe that most “consumers” still want to get our marketing messages when they choose, and not when we choose to show them.
So, back to the study. The data shows that “referrals” (I assume this means shared links to external sites) from social media sites are hugely disproportionate based on the type of content being shared. News and entertainment together account for 72% of all referrals.
Well, I guess that’s why THE MEDIA is all agog about how great social media is for their business. But for the rest of us? Let’s see…
And on top of all this is the finding that the referred user who came from the social media site (compared to other sites like search engines and portals) were more likely to leave immediately and on average viewed fewer pages when they did decide, albeit briefly, to stick around.
It was inferred (quite logically in my opinion) that users have a certain mindset when they click over to your site from another site. For instance if they were in a search engine initially they were probably engaged in an information-gathering task and so they would be fairly likely to at least spend some time looking for the information they clicked through to get. If they came from another content site, they are already in content-consuming mode, and are inclined to continue doing that.
On a social site on the other hand, what were they doing before they clicked your link? Probably socializing. Is it likely that the link they clicked was saying something that made them want to suddenly stop socializing and start reading? Human behavior is not so fragile or whimsical. People are likely to want to continue doing whatever it is they’ve been doing.
Now here’s an interesting thought… do you think there’s an opportunity here? What if we place our messages on social sites and do it in such as way that it motivates the viewer to stop socializing and start engaging with our brand? Hm…? What do you think?
Talk about being stuck in a rut.
I recently ran across the web site of a local company here in Northern Virginia. I won’t name names, but it is a PR company based here in my town. They’ve been around for a while — longer than I have anyway.
First of all, their web site is not that great. It uses bleedy jpegs and old-fashioned table-driven layouts. It’s OK if you don’t know what that means, just trust me it’s very last decade.
According to their About Us page, they don’t do web design (but they do do web development), so I guess they can be excused for the 90′s design.
Basically they are a traditional PR company. Everything about their list of “What We Do” items screams WE ROCKED TEN YEARS AGO.
Oddly enough they did tack on Social Media to their Interactive Advertising line item (“Interactive and Social Media Advertising”). Wow, that says it all.
But the biggest sore thumb is the content. Everything on their site talks about them. What they do, how they do things, how great they are. “Our unmatched market knowledge”… really? “Our focus”… seriously? What about the client’s focus?
It’s completely impersonal, almost barren of personality. I wouldn’t trust my advertising campaign with this kind of company. Now, in reality, they’re probably much better than their web site indicates, but how would anyone know?
The point is their web site is not only not working for them as a sales tool, but it could actually be a turn-off.
I hope you don’t fall into this trap with your own business. Just look at your copy — for every time you say the word “We” or “Our” or use your name in the third person, that’s an opportunity to turn that sentence around to focus it on your customer, his pain, their challenge, or her need.
I think a lot about my sales funnel these days. I have a tall metal filing cabinet, to which I have attached about 30 post-it notes, each representing some channel or other method of marketing.
It loosely resembles a hub-and-spoke model, with my main product in the middle, and the channels emanating around it. Some of the channels also have supporting post-its to emphasize details or other assets.
This is a crude model, but it’s very effective in helping me visualize the importance of certain activities I may be engaged in. It’s also easy to manage. I can move things around, write in details, add highlights or asterisks, add and remove items at will.
Normally a sales funnel is pictured as an actual funnel, where all undifferentiated potential business comes in at the top, and only the final qualified sales come out the bottom. This is fine as a general illustration, but it doesn’t say enough about the actual process you have to go through to weed out the tire-kickers and freebie seekers and price shoppers, not to mention everyone else your message reached who just isn’t interested in your solution.
The hub and spoke model that I use is still only a part of the puzzle, but I like it because it helps me stay focused. Given that my schedule is generally so frantic, and my To Do list is a mile long, I often find myself at a loss for what to do next. When this happens I just look at my Sales Funnel Post-it Diagram, identify which item is highest priority, and focus on that.
Here’s how to make your own Sales Funnel Post-it Diagram (SFPD for the acronym-addicted).
1. Put one product (or service) in the center. Even if you have several you offer, pick one. Ideally you will choose the one that is most important to your business, or simply will provide the highest revenue stream the fastest. Put this one in a color that’s different from all the rest.
2. Write down a list of all the different ways you could attract potential business to this product. Don’t include things you have no intention of implementing. For example if you are terrified of public speaking, don’t put down “Free Seminars” as one of your channels. Pick those you are likely and able to do right away, if given the chance. Write these down on a different colored post-it, one per sheet.
3. Arrange all your channels in a loose, but somewhat equally-spaced, circle around the product sheet in the middle.
4. On a separate sheet, compile a list of your current assets that support these channels. For example if you’ve written a free eBook, this is an asset that might support a channel called “my e-mail list.” A blogger account supports your blogging channel, and a Chamber of Commerce directory supports a direct mail campaign. These assets are written in a different color (I use smaller sized sheets for these too), and are placed near the channels they support.
5. Look at your creation, in big-picture style. Take in the whole thing at once. Start thinking about which channels have the most supporting assets. Which ones might be easier or quicker, or have a better chance to produce fast results. Use a highlighter to add stars or arrows or boxes or whatever will help shed more or less emphasis on different activities.
6. Move the sheets around as you notice relationships and patterns. Does one channel have lots of support while others have none? Maybe you can move those closer to the center.
Leave your diagram alone for a day or two and let it simmer in your subconscious. Then look at it again with fresh eyes and make further adjustments.
When it’s time to sit down and focus on your marketing, look at your SFPD and use it to help you leap forward with your marketing efforts.
In my workshops I talk about “channels” a lot. A channel is simply a method of communicating with your target audience, a conduit so to speak. It’s a way of reaching out and creating a connection, building a relationship, or exposing your brand.
All advertising mechanisms are channels, so are social media, e-newsletters, blogging, video marketing, and lots of others.
Well, I found a new one that works amazingly well. Free webinars.
I have a free trial to a site called iLinc, which is a webinar/online training service. I’ve been using it for an online version of my E-Marketing 101 Workshop, and decided to try it out for my free webinar, which I’ve been promising people for a while.
I set it up the webinar event on the iLinc site which was pretty easy. I created my PowerPoint presentation, and then started promoting the webinar via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Merchant Circle. I started promoting it about a month ahead of time and then made a big push the last week, and ended up with 60 registrations.
After talking about the presentation format with a colleague, I decided to use the following approach:
One important factor I think was the bonus material. The participants were told they would get the bonus material at the end. They were also told I had a special offer for them. I think this was an important point because it helped create anticipation as well as encourage people to stay to the end to make sure they got everything out of it that they could.
The promotional portion was for a new program I am starting that I wanted to promote, to get pre-orders for. In included a special offer with some very juicy free bonuses that came with the purchase, including a huge price reduction. So it was a very compelling offer, and out of the 35 people who attended, 6 people signed up for the promotion. I got one more signup afterward from someone who watched the replay based on a link I sent out in my newsletter the following week.
I also sent another follow-up email to all the participants telling them that the replay was available. I’m hoping for one, maybe two, additional orders from that.
Not including the building of the presentation materials (which I can fully leverage by promoting the replay of the webinar over and over again), I spent about four hours in total promoting, testing, and delivering the webinar. The seven (so far) orders represent about $1,300, and on top of that I’ve added about 40 new people to my mailing list. Not too shabby for four hours of work. Everything else is just gravy.
I think I’ll do this every month.
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