3 Simple Steps to Build a Social Media Marketing Sales Funnel

Posted on Posted in Internet Marketing Strategy, Marketing Funnels, Social Media Sales, Social Media Strategy

Originally posted on SME

Are you looking for a smart way to use social channels for lead conversion?

Are you tracking and leveraging your target customers’ path to buying your product?

Collecting fans and followers is one thing, converting them to paying customers can be quite another. That is, unless you have a customized sales funnel in place.

In this article you’ll discover how to put together a marketing and sales funnel with the right channels and key trackable metrics. You’ll also find advice on how to test and tweak your funnel for maximum boost.

Why Is Your Marketing and Sales Funnel Such a Big Deal?

Social media marketing is about using social networks and tools to guide prospects through a series of steps–a funnel–to get them to take the actions you want (e.g., becoming a fan, sharing their email address or buying your products or services).

There are tons of social media tools, networks and options that include everything from Facebook and Twitter to landing pages and email marketing to SEO and ads. Each of these social marketing channels is one more way to guide your prospects through your sales funnel.

marketing channels

Use varied social marketing channels to guide your prospects through your sales funnel.

With all of these marketing channels at your disposal, how do you decide which ones fit within your sales funnel?

To answer those questions, you have to know who your potential customers are and how you can reach them most effectively. You also have to know your company’s goals, how you’ll measure those goals (i.e., the metrics you’ll analyze) and what your target numbers are for those metrics.

Without those key facts, your marketing and sales funnel will be skewed. Excessive focus on one part of your funnel can cause problems elsewhere. If you focus only on owned media like follower numbers and email addresses, you may have trouble with conversions. Or, if you only focus on brand awareness and neglect email marketing, you’ll likely miss out on sales.

Every decision you make about how to create brand awareness, garner engagement and make conversions and sales should be a reflection of your funnel.

The rest of this article shows you how to build, track and test your marketing and sales funnel to give your company the big results it wants.

#1: Define and Implement Channels and Jobs

Did I mention you have a ton of social marketing tools at your disposal? Frankly, it can be overwhelming to think about using all of them at once as part of your marketing and sales funnel. So don’t.

Start by determining what your high-level sales path should look like. In the example a little further down, I’m using Awareness, Repeat Visibility and Engagement and Sales.

Next, prioritize the social channels and tools your audience is already using and that you’re familiar with, then organize those by their primary function (or job). For example, Facebook is great for raising awareness and driving leads, but not for converting sales. Email blasts are excellent for conversions, but not awareness.

As you’re deciding which marketing channels go where in your funnel, consider which ones are most relevant to your short-term and long-term goals, what each channel’s strengths and weaknesses are and what job you’re expecting that channel to do.

marketing funnel concept

Use your funnel to organize your channels and hold each accountable for its role in the process.

As you see in the illustration above, you may have channels that overlap; for instance, different kinds of social ads in the Awareness part of the funnel. In addition, each channel may have different facets (e.g., Facebook ads versus Facebook fans). Each facet builds upon its own functions, as well as the functions of other networks, to lead to your ultimate goal: sales.

Your funnel should be stable, but not inflexible. If your company cares more about email marketing than its number of followers, adjust your tactics accordingly.

For example, instead of using Facebook ads to increase brand awareness and gain more fans, jump straight to an ad campaign targeted at list building. Create an ad that sends leads to an optimized landing page on your website where you ask them to share their email address to access content, a download, etc.

#2: Assign and Measure Key Metrics

Any bottlenecks in your funnel will slow your momentum or stop it completely. Depending on where the bottleneck happens, you could miss out on brand awareness opportunities, growing your owned media lists or conversions and sales.

To measure the health of your funnel, you need to assign key metrics to each stage. That usually looks something like this:

marketing funnel channel metrics

Set a key metric for each tactic in each part of your funnel to quickly diagnose where the funnel is anemic.

With your key metrics in place, look at each tactic in each funnel section and set any industry benchmark standards.

Use these benchmarks to compare your company to your competitors and your industry as a whole. How do you stack up? Look at which of your tactics and funnel sections are best or worst compared to industry averages and adjust as needed.

Speaking of benchmarks and comparing, are you making the most of your analytics and tracking what you need to track? Awareness metrics, Facebook Insights and Google Analytics all have flaws, but I have a few tips for you.

If you’re tracking awareness, I suggest looking at impressions instead of reach. Tools like AdWords don’t give reach data and Facebook’s reach data is inaccurate.

Have you noticed that you’re getting inconsistent results from your Facebook Insights? Start exporting your Insights data to an Excel spreadsheet so you can consistently track and compare the right metrics and get a better idea of how your tactics are working long-term.

You’re probably using Google Analytics on your website, but if you’re not using the Google URL Builder or event tracking, you’re missing out on a lot of useful data. Google URL Builder allows you to customize URLs for posts and ads so you can track visitors from social networks and how they move through your site.

yoast wordpress plugin

Yoast’s Google Analytics WordPress plugin tracks events.

Event tracking gives you information about button or link clicks, which is especially useful if customers have to go offsite to buy your product. If you have a WordPress site, you can even install this plugin that automatically creates event tracking for you!

#3: Test and Tweak, Then Test Again

The number-one thing you can do to boost your results is test everything. Every good idea you think of is something to test.

As you test, always think in terms of your key metrics and make use of your analytics to find out what works and what doesn’t. Let’s use Facebook as an example.

You can constantly test your Facebook success by trying a variety of status updates. Which has the best engagement rate—photos, text, links or video? Does your audience prefer news or funny videos or memes? Take the time to analyze your previous and current posts to see what worked and what didn’t.

If you want to find your engagement rate for a given post, I suggest dividing its total engagement (likes, shares, comments, clicks, etc.) by total post impressions. If you’re using Facebook ads, the Facebook ad display algorithm shows which posts get the most engagement.

post engagement metrics

Pay attention to which posts your fans respond to.

The key is to look at your best and your worst posts. In both instances, keep an eye out for differences in post type, topic, colors, sentiment, message and graphic style.

What do your 10 most engaging posts have in common? What do your 10 least engaging posts have in common? Just knowing the commonalities of those top and bottom posts can help you dramatically boost your post engagement.

When I went through this exercise for a client, their page had a month-over-month increase of seven times as many likes, comments and shares and 31 times as many link clicks!

Are you using ads? Then you definitely need to be testing!

Ads burn out fast, so it’s important to create and test ads weekly. If you have the budget for it, you can create, test and optimize new ads three times a week or more.

If you’re using AdWords, create new ads until the point of diminishing returns. Check actual search phrases to see if you need more negative keywords. If your AdWords manager is slacking, get an AdWords Audit.

google adwords

Do you use Google AdWords?

Not sure which channel ads to spend money on? Compare your options. Run Facebook, Twitter and even Reddit ads to see which works best for your audience and gives you the best awareness or conversions for your money.

A Quick Note About Content Calendars

A lot of brands use a content calendar to create a month of posts (for Facebook, Google+ or any other channel) ahead of time and then submit it for review. This seems organized and diligent, but in practice I believe this approach makes you less likely to improve your posts and get better results.

Every month you need to analyze your key metrics and learn from any mistakes. It’s hard to implement those lessons when you’ve already assigned content for the next month (without the benefit of analysis).

In place of content calendars, I recommend submitting examples of types of posts you want to test or creating your posts daily, or at least weekly.

Conclusion

Customers like to make decisions on their own terms. In most cases, they’re looking for a relationship with a company, not necessarily a hard sell. You can use this human nature to your advantage.

Take note of the social channels your audience is using most, then use those channels to guide them through your sales process.

Set up a funnel that allows leads to jump in wherever they need to. If your funnel is stable but flexible, you’ll be able to adjust its use to fit your customers’ behaviors and needs—and make sales.

Your biggest sales results will come from constant measuring and testing. Be prepared to make changes quickly and match your customers’ reactions to your efforts. You’ll be seeing intensified results in no time.

The Data Says: Fans Aren’t Buyers and Buyers Don’t Care About Your Fanpage

Posted on Posted in Conversion Optimization, Digital Marketing Strategy, Facebook Marketing, Internet Marketing Strategy, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Sales, Social Media Strategy

There’s an assumption in social media that if we get fans or followers and cultivate and invest in those relationships, that will create buyers- and possibly even loyal customers.

Well, you know what they say about assumptions, don’t you?

(If you don’t, ask somebody- I’m not going to say it here, because it’s a little inappropriate!)

spaceyknow

What if cultivating relationships and engagement with customers doesn’t lead to sales?

Ok, so engagement probably leads to SOME sales. What if it doesn’t lead to very many sales? What if they’re really expensive sales and it’s not profitable?

The data we have from all our clients suggests that for the most part…

Buyers aren’t fans. And fans aren’t buyers.

By the way, before I show you all the data, which some of you are not going to like, let me share a story from when I used to be in alternative medicine…

I used to read a ton of research, because I had to find proof that the acupuncture and herbs I was learned and practicing wasn’t a bunch of B.S.

During all that reading, I ran across this study of medical doctors. It was research about how medical doctors read and responded to research. It turned out that, for the most part…

  • If the conclusions of the research conflicted with their preexisting beliefs, they would always question the study’s methodology.
    “It must be wrong, so there must be something wrong with the study or data.”
  • If the research conclusions agreed with what they already believed, they didn’t look at the methodology at all.
    “It’s what I believe so the way it was done must have been fine.”

The upshot? Even our super-smart and scientific doctor friends believe what they want to believe and don’t want to be swayed by the data when it disagrees with their beliefs.

It’s hard to be scientific and objective. It’s hard to be open-minded, because it means you sometimes have to be wrong. Being wrong means you need to change.

We don’t want to change. We want confirmation that we’re already right. We want to keep doing what we already do.

Which is why every agency or social media person that gets paid to do engagement is going to question the validity of the data I use in this post 😉 

But this data is based on anywhere from hundreds of thousands of people to millions. In most cases, it’s based on more data than their beliefs will be.

If you disagree with this post- email me (brian at bcg (spell it out) dot com) and tell me what your data is, and how many datapoints or people are in your data. 🙂

Digital Marketing History: From Conversions to Engagement back to Conversions?

How has digital and social marketing evolved?

  1. I started in 1999 with SEO and AdWords, when the whole digital marketing industry also just starting, and everyone was very focused on traffic, leads and sales.
  2. Around 2007 and 2008, Twitter exploded and everyone got excited about engagement and relationships.
  3. By 2010, Facebook was getting hot and companies wanted to grow fans. Initially our first Facebook ads clients back in 2010 all wanted fans. For years, they wanted more Facebook post engagement with those fans and others. Many companies still are chasing post engagement.

Both the original Twitter explosion and the Facebook fan and post engagement movements center on the philosophy that businesses need to be human and relationship-oriented; which you certainly can’t argue with…

Humanized, personable brands certainly are powerful. And relationship building and personality clearly work for one-on-ONE networking. If you’re a salesperson, building relationships makes a ton of sense. No one can argue with that.

But does one-to-MANY big-brand relationship-building create more sales and profits?

Let’s look at the data…

Diving into Consumer Data

As we’ve shifted our Facebook clients toward leads and sales, and as we’ve done Facebook Marketing/Strategy Audits for new clients using Facebook’s data (which includes data from Datalogix, Epsilon and Acxiom)…

  • Analyzing creative and targeting: what has worked and what hasn’t?
  • Investigating customers on buyer email lists: who are they?
  • Discovering prospects on lead lists: who are they?
  • Reviewing fans: who are they?
  • Characterizing ideal buyers: what makes them unique compared to non-buying prospects and non-buying fans?

buyers

Correlating the email addresses, Facebook tells us what it knows about these people, plus:

  • Acxiom has detailed entries for more than 190 million people and 126 million households in the U.S., and about 500 million active consumers worldwide.More than 23,000 servers collect and analyze more than 50 trillion data ‘transactions’ a year. pigeonhole people into one of 70 very specific socioeconomic clusters (personas) in an attempt to predict how they’ll act, what they’ll buy, and how companies can persuade them to buy their products.It gathers its data trove from public records, surveys you’ve filled out, your online behavior, and other disparate sources of information, then sells it to banks, retailers, and other buyers.
  • Epsilon has the world’s largest cooperative database (over 1 Petabyte of data across global data centers) with over 8.6 billion consumer transactions and 4.8 billion business transactions. The different data Epsilon sells includes age, profession, residence, ethnic information and political affiliation.
  • Datalogix, acquired by Oracle in 2015, now called “the Oracle Data Cloud,” it helps Facebook advertisers find customers on Facebook by onboarding first-party data, target customers through relevant audiences, measure campaign effectiveness based on offline purchases; their expertise spans across all industries including; CPG, Retail, Auto, Travel, Financial Services, Telecommunications, Technology and more.Datalogix aggregates and provides insights on over $3 trillion in consumer spending from 1,500 data partners across 110 million US households… across Auto, CPG and Retail Industries;DLX Auto: 99% of all U.S. Sales Captured, 20+ years of ownership data;DLX CPG: 50+ Grocery Chains; 7,000 brands; 300+ categories;DLX Retail: 10 billion transactions; 1,400 retailers; 1,000+ categories.

And by the way, discovering and targeting the ideal buyer is powerful- see our case study of how it lowered one company’s cost per lead by 84% and cost per customer by 60%.

We’ve looked at the data, and the data says: in many cases, buyers aren’t fans, and fans aren’t buyers.

For example, here’s the overlap (or lack thereof) between one company’s…

  • Facebook fan base,
  • Prospect email list and
  • Customer email lists…

buyerfanoverlap

Across a number of these audits, we see anywhere from zero overlap to 35%, but that 35% is the exception. The average is 1% or zero.

These are the facts…

That doesn’t mean that you can’t:

  • Create campaigns to get buyers engaged, or
  • Target your fans better to get them to engage…

But what’s more interesting is this:

When we analyze the difference between loyal buyers, non-loyal buyers, and leads who don’t buy, in many cases, we look at the Facebook activity of

  • Buyers vs the non-buyers +
  • Loyal buyers vs non-loyal buyers…

…the buyers and the loyal buyers tend to score LOW in post likes, post comments and post shares:

interactionofbuyers

In the chart above, the light blue area is the Facebook average. The dark blue is what the loyal buyers are doing. As  you can see, they’re:

  • Liking fewer pages than the average Facebook user
  • Commenting less than the average Facebook user
  • Liking fewer posts than the average Facebook user
  • Sharing fewer posts than the average Facebook user
  • They’re even clicking on ads less, so we should expect and be OK with a lower ad CTR

We’ve seen this pattern in many buyers and loyal buyer groups.

What does that mean?

Often, the more of a buyer someone is, the less of a social media engager they are.

Now, of course this is not true for every brand…

There are some brands with highly engaged buyers- depending on that brand’s psychographic or demographic.

There are exceptions, and you should analyze your own customer and prospect lists to discover the truth about your customers.

But be open to the idea that your best buyers and your most loyal buyers may not be the people who want to engage with your fan page or posts.

Think Realistically About Buyers and Engagement

When you go to Amazon to buy, are you feeling chatty?

Or do you just want to buy the danged thing and get going?

Speaking for myself, I might do some research or comparison before I select the item or the company to buy from, but I’m not in the mood to like or comment on Facebook posts- I’m ready to buy.

I’m often buying something that few or none of my friends have ever bought. I may not be in a community of people based on that thing I’m buying, so trying to get that purchase info socially is not always realistic. Not all purchases are social- and not all the people who buy them are social.

For example, I rock climb, and I even have a local climbing gym, but I don’t care at all what the guys at my local climbing gym think about my next pair of climbing shoes- I just read the Amazon reviews. That might be a form of social, but it’s not on Facebook.

On the engagement side of the equation, who are the most socially engaged people you know?

Consistently the Facebook tell us the most engaged demographic is 13-18 year old females. They’re also one of the groups with the least money! They’re high engagement but don’t have much buying power.

Facebook Audience insights won’t show us the 13-18 group, but here are the 18-24 females:

1824fem

 

See how every interaction is above average, except for promotions redeemed- interesting… redeemed promotions requires money, and they’re only average at that.

Now, think about the no-nonsense rich powerful guy in his 50’s; does he want to sit around and engage  with you on Facebook? No! He barely even wants to be ON Facebook! He want to get in and get out, because he has more important things to do. The following chart is the activity level of the over 50 guy with a net worth over $1 milion:

over50over1mguy

As soon as I switched it from both genders to men only, the activity dropped. And by the way, in some of our audits, we find that the loyalty groups are more men-predominant… so there you go- loyal buyers not wanted to engage on Facebook!

Early in our Facebook marketing days, we had a client whose customers were all action sports dudes- they all wanted to buy GoPro helmets, but none of them wanted to interact with Facebook posts. They just wanted to go outside and do stuff. They weren’t into social media engagement. Make sure you know your audience.

There are some exceptions- some of the female demographics are very engaged- but again, this engagement doesn’t always lead to sales. I recommend a healthy dose of skepticism, measure your engagement tactics and monitor very closely whether they’re actually converting.

So many social campaigns are called successes based solely on engagement metrics- yet here’s no proof they’re leading to any bottom-line results.

Is It Because of How Facebook Ads Work?

There is actually a really good reason about why buyers would not be fans and fans would not be buyers- and it’s baked right into how Facebook ads work.

The ad type you choose adds another level of targeting to the ad- so

  • When you do a page like ad or a post promotion ad, your ad is shown to the type of people who engage, but not necessarily those who click links or buy.
  • When you do a conversion ad, you’re shown to the type of people who buy, but don’t necessarily engage.

The fact is, some people are more likely to do one or the other, and the Facebook ads display algorithm picks the subgroup based on your ad goal.

So, if you want to beat that, you’ll have to

  • Do conversion ads targeted to fans (but stop them if they’re not cost-effective)
  • Run post promo ads that get conversions (but often these are not cost-effective)

You’ll have to keep an eye on the costs of both. In our experience, they are not the most profitable approaches.

The Most Cost-Effective Facebook Strategies

We find that the best approach is not this strategy:

assumedfbstrategy

With every step in a digital funnel, most people drop out, so longer funnels are not good.

Reachpocalypse happened, and now organic visibility on average is only 2.6%. You have to pay to get fans, pay for visibility, and then post promotion ads don’t tend to lead to affordable link clicks.

The entire process is very expensive, and you spend a lot of time with fans who may be more interested in engaging than buying.

The fan marketing is the strategy the entire industry started with, and it wasn’t until we tried other methods with multiple clients, the data convinced us this wasn’t the most efficient method.

This strategy is better:

bettersalesstrategy

Here we’ve cut out three steps, which means losing three failure points.

We can still target fans, or email audiences, or totally new cold audiences, but we send them directly to the website right away. If they don’t buy right away, we retarget them.

The website retargeting ad guarantees a higher quality visitor that’s more likely to buy (this is a second level of targeting I’ll explain on further slides).

Cost per sale is as much as 90% lower with this method than the fan marketing method.

We recommend you use conversion ads to go straight for sales.

And if you’re doing lead gen before sales, use this:betterleadgen

That’s it.

Get to it!