“Social media replaces nothing but compliments everything” – Neal Schaffer
According to Hootsuite’s 2018 state of digital report, there are more than 3 billion people around the world using social media each month. It’s no secret that in recent years, digital marketers have tapped into this audience to promote their brands by sharing content, sponsoring social ads, engaging with followers and more. With such a significant time/cost of this marketing activity, the main challenge facing most marketers is how to justify the ROI for this activity.
As we said in our recent Facebook V Instagram blog post, its important to start with a strategy, have clear goals and understand how social can be leveraged to achieve these outcome. Interestingly many sales and marketing teams overlook their social campaigns when they are planning lead generation activities.
However in our experience social media has a really important role at each stage of the buying cyle and syncing your social efforts with your inbound marketing strategy is a critical success criterion for a successful lead generation campaign.
Once you have mastered syncing your social to each stage of the marketing funnel, you will be on your way to optimizing that all-important buyer’s journey.
Lets consider the role of each phase of the inbound marketing funnel.
These days, buyers have more control of their journey, and so you’ll want to attract rather than disrupt your ideal buyers. Social media plays a huge part in this phase of the inbound funnel.
- Relevant and Authentic Social Content: Social media is a great way to make initial contact with your target audience. By producing relevant social content, you’ll attract followers who will someday become your customers. To succeed in attracting your desired audience, you must post consistently and remain active. Hashtags and keywords make it easy for new followers to find you. The content you share should be focused on the subject matter that interests your audience, so they’ll stay engaged with you. For example, Netflix’s Twitter posts about video content, new shows, films, the Oscars, etc.
- Paid Ads: In terms of effectiveness, the top paid advertising method used by B2B marketers is Search Engine Marketing – on platforms like Google Adwords and Microsoft Bing – (rated 55% by marketers). Also in the top 5, we have promotional posts (48%), social ads (45%), print or other offline promotion (31%) and traditional online banner ads (29%). This underscores the fact that a huge portion of your audience is available to you on social media networks. Your leads are right there, you just have to reach them. So when you create targeted social ads, you’re dramatically increasing brand awareness as well as encouraging site traffic.
- Respect The Algorithm: In our recent blog article, we spoke about the importance of keeping your finger on the pulse and staying ahead of the ever-changing rules of Facebook. This is true for all social platforms, in which recent trends seem to very much favour the consumer and almost always poses a new challenge for the marketing department.
Once you have successfully captured your lead, you’ll want to continue to nurture that relationship to help them move further down your sales funnel.
- MOFU/BOFU Content: As marketers, we understand that our potential customers are at different stages of the buying funnel. It is really important that we serve up different content to each of these segments that reflect where they are in the buying journey. For example, customers at the top of the funnel, often referred to as TOFU, probably need to be persuaded that you have something of value for them, for example, a whitepaper or a study relevant to their needs. Whereas visitors at the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), are very close to taking action and probably need content that helps push them over the sales finishing line – Perhaps a testimonial from another customer or a case study.
- Reviews: Review sites are a common way for buyers to evaluate a product or service. Customer opinions about your brand is a major deciding factor in whether a lead will convert. By incorporating reviews into your social strategy, you can help move your prospects along the funnel. Forbes Contributor Steve Olenski believes reviews from other customers greatly influence buyer behaviour: “Consumers love to read reviews. Posting them on your Facebook page, tweeting them and adding them to other accounts boosts engagement from shoppers, encouraging them to buy”. As tempting as it is, you don’t want to respond only to rave reviews. If you do, you won’t look believable. Choose a few that are in the two and three-star range. Show your visitors how you fixed the problem mentioned in the review. And at the same time be sure to thank the reviewer for his honest comments. The more authentic you are, the more engagement you will get. Visitors are positively impressed by honesty. It builds credibility, loyalty & sales.
If you are using a marketing automation platform like Hubspot or SharpSpring you can track all of the interaction points with a lead as they move from the point of initial contact right through the buying cycle. If you are the salesperson contacting the lead, you have access to all these touchpoints. For example you can see that their first interaction was clicking on a Google ad, then they visited your website and downloaded a whitepaper, next they opened one of your emails and read your blog article, they liked and shared one of your posts on linkedin and watched one of your videos. Understanding their journey is hugely powerful when you finally get to speak with them. The screenshot below is courtest of SharpSpring and illustrates how this sort of information is laid out under “Life of the lead”.
Now that you have nurtured your prospects, eventually they’ll reach the decision point. Hopefully, you’ll make the sale and they’ll become a customer. Here’s the role social media can play in the “close” stage.
- Special Offers
Promoting special offers on social media is a great way to motivate a lead to close. To encourage fast action, put a time constraint on a special offer. Or you could also offer an incentive to purchase sooner rather than later (like a discount or a free trial).
- Email Signups With Gated Content: If you want to capture a prospect’s email when they’re getting close to a decision point, share gated content. You could share a free eBook, white paper or another piece of BOFU content, or you could also combine a special offer with your gated content. For B2B marketers, eMarketer analysis shows that white papers, webinars, and case studies are generally most effective.
- Email Drip Marketing: Once you have the email contacts in your Automation database, you can segregate these into different customer types depending on the material they may be interested in and then using Marketing Automation, send them emails weekly, daily or however often you think would suit. These emails are a great way of nurturing your would-be customers to converting to a sale and reach the right people with the right content.
Social media is crucial for the “delight” phase of the funnel. The buyer’s journey isn’t over once a sale has been made. You must continue to “delight” your customers so that they become an advocate for your brand. Here’s how:
- Engage With Your Customers on Social: If you have loyal customers who follow your social profiles, why not take time to interact with them there? It’s just another way to show you care about your relationship with them. Continued positive social engagement will encourage advocacy on behalf of your brand.
- Set Up Social Groups/Communities: Setting up Twitter chats or Facebook and LinkedIn groups for your customers is an excellent way to delight customers. In these groups, you can answer questions, promote new products or services and keep the conversation alive around your brand.
- Find Brand Advocates via Marketing Automation: Marketing automation technology platforms like Sharpspring CRM and Hubspot allows marketers to monitor and set up alerts for a lead who has a particular interest in your brand. This means that when a customer visits your social channels, opens your emails or browses your website, they can be given a ‘Lead Score’ which accumulates from this activity, which is an ideal way to measure a customers affinity for your brand.
Pro Tip: You can keep an eye on potential social media advocate using social listening tools, like the ones available in Sharpspring CRM.
Having read this article we hope you agree that Neal Schaffer summed it up nicely when he said social media replaces nothing but compliments everything. Let us know how you are using social media to support your lead generation campaigns – We’d love to hear!