by Ron Daly
After ten years providing email delivery and online services, I have a little experience with what draws people to open an email or visit a website. Where that experience shifts is when it comes to social media and referrals. Over the past year or so, there's been plenty to read about whether or not social media is "good" for your business. Can you run/boost a business using social media?
Bob Serling of Power 8 Marketing seems to think it's possible, but it requires a stronger knowledge of your audience. From his blog post:
There are a lot of ways to identify people who are actual buyers, but it takes a lot more leg work, and usually more money to do this properly. That’s why the promise of the next “free magic bullet” traffic system is bound to fail too. Because there just isn’t any free and easy way to generate qualified leads in your sleep. If there was, we’d all have a different color Ferrari for each day of the week.
I think Bob's point is well spoken - just because you're blogging, tweeting, facebooking, youtubing, etc. doesn't mean you're going to burn up the Internet with site traffic and new visitors. And even if you do draw a million people to your business' website, how many are in market and qualified? It's a tough nut to crack for b-to-c companies, but for b-to-b it's a lot harder. Fewer people are involved in a b-to-c buying proposition and you can appeal to people on a gratification level that's not quite the same in b-to-b. But no matter who you're selling to, getting them to buy online in a single visit is a rarity.
Serling talks a little about the people who are on your site to buy and who's there to "kick tires". Better to focus on the people who are interested in buying right away rather than those that go back and forth on whether or not you have something of interest. Not to pull out too old of a metaphor, but a bird in the hand IS worth two in the bush. The missing part of this equation is what's waiting for the visitors your getting at your site. Is your product or benefit apparent to your potential buyer? Can they get everything they need to know about you/your service from the pages you're pointing them to with your online ad space and media referrals?
This chart shows cost per lead among companies in North America. In the past year, as more folks get on board with social media and SEO as a means of getting new traffic, the cost per lead for these methods has continued to drop below the average cost per lead for the surveyed companies.
This chart shows percent of companies surveyed that acquired a customer from the noted media channel. Blogs are the favorite, with 57% of the b-to-c companies surveyed saying they turned a blog-reader into a customer. As I wrote earlier in the post, b-to-b companies have trouble with things like Facebook and Twitter, but are very successful using LinkedIn, the "Facebook for businesses". These two charts seem to suggest that, while using popular social media and online ad techniques are no guarantee, the cost of each lead is lower on average and the channel is getting stronger and more dependable.
My advice is to take a look at your product and your business. Are you the kind of business that could stand to add a more personal voice to your advertising and your inbound marketing? Is your fan page on Facebook really going to bring the kind of crowd you're looking for? I never feel as though I stress quite enough the importance of marketing to a crowd that's interested in what you have to say rather than chasing down people that aren't interested. You CAN market creatively and intelligently, so why don't you?
Who's buying what you're selling? The people that want to buy it. Know your market.
Who's lying about the impact social media has on sales? The people trying to get you hired on as their social media consultant, probably. Know the facts.
Who's dying? Luddites. Hiding from the Internet and from new ways to reach customers only means you're going to suffer in the long run. Know that NOW is the time to start.