2018 Marketing Director Survey Part 2/2

If you aren’t aware of it, some amazing people have been putting out a great survey for a number of years. It’s called The CMO Survey, and it asks marketing directors, VP’s of marketing and others key questions to figure out what’s going on with marketing and where we’re headed. We wanted to bring more awareness not just to the great work done by Christine Moorman, her team and those at Deloitte, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and the American Marketing Association, but also to the trends uncovered by the latest survey.

We, of course, had some of our own opinions and insights to add on the topics in the survey based on our work in digital marketing and social media over the last 19 years… and it took us 2 hours to get through it all! We put the discussion into two videos. We hope to piece them into smaller topic videos soon.

This is part two of two. Go here for part one.

Discussion by the Brian Carter Group. This podcast is not directly affiliated with CMO Survey. All registered copyrights and trademarks remain the property of original owners.

The Only 5 Ways Small Businesses Can Do Digital Marketing and Social Media

Most small business owners want:

  • More publicity
  • More sales
  • More leads and
  • More new customers

Some businesses need them desperately.

Business owners hear you can get these things from social media… or digital marketing… or Facebook ads or Google ads, and they want it NOW.

But many discover the hard way that it’s not that as easy as it sounds.

In my keynotes, I speak to groups of retailers, franchisees and other small business owners , giving tips and advice based on 20 years of digital and social media work, spending millions of advertising and marketing dollars for clients…

I realized last year that I had been making a big mistake.

I had been leaving out a very important piece of information!

99% of business owners can’t do digital marketing and social media themselves.

Not effectively.

Digital marketing and social media, done well, where you get the kinds of bottom-results that business owners want – like sales, store visits, leads, profits and new customers – is a serious and complicated profession that takes years to get good at.

In the meantime, people waste a lot of time and money.

Without thinking about it, I went along with the idea that everyone can learn to be an expert marketer.

The idea that every business owner can quickly become a brilliant digital marketer is a pipe dream sold by salesmen selling online courses and tools to entrepreneurs desperate to get rich quick.

But the truth is…

Business owners need help with digital marketing. But there are a lot of pitfalls.

A lot of people say they’re Facebook ads experts, or Instagram experts, or whatever experts… but aren’t.

They may honestly think they are, or they may just want to sell you something, but they won’t help you.

A lot of young people know how to post on social media but can’t market for a real company- at least not yet.

There’s a reason why most of the digital marketing job descriptions on sites like Indeed.com ask for at least 3 years of experience… because it takes that long to learn how to be effective.

It takes at least 3 years of experience to be good enough to reliably get bottom-line results for businesses. Even that may not be enough time.

So if you’re a small business owner, you really only have 5 options with digital marketing or social media.

Here they are:

THE ONLY 5 OPTIONS FOR DIGITAL & SOCIAL MARKETING

  1. Do nothing.
  2. Do it yourself.
  3. Hire an inexperienced employee.
  4. Hire an experienced employee.
  5. Hire an agency.

That’s it.

Ok, maybe an alien could do it for you. Or magic. Or an alien with magic.

But I didn’t include those.

Let’s go through them in a little more detail:

OPTION #1: Do nothing.

Technically not really an option…

You’d be living in the 1980’s with dot-matrix printers, dial-up modems, and, well, phone books.

And the 80’s weren’t all bad, but…

Your competitors would get ahead, and you’d eventually go out of business.

OPTION #2: Do it yourself.

Like you don’t have better things to do!

…like run your business or do sales or manage people.

To do digital marketing yourself and do it well, you’ll have to sacrifice at least 10-20 hours a week… probably more.

You’ll need to invest in training courses, which are not free.

You’d better like learning and detail-work and writing and testing and math and data and analysis. Sounds like fun, right?

We have a client who is a former rocket scientist who does pretty well at understanding it. He’d agree: digital marketing is not rocket science. It’s worse.

And it will take you one to three years to learn to get reliable results, unless you’re a very lucky outlier.

We have worked with some outlier business owners, like Dr. Eric Berg, who can not only run their own businesses but also create a ton of their own content and even run their own ads for some time- and get results!

But they are the exception. And he is a doctor.

Even with someone like Dr. Berg, when he wanted to find revenue and profits in a new area like Facebook ads, it took our agency’s experience and expertise to help him do that.

So, if you’re not a scientist or a doctor… and even if you are, I wouldn’t recommend it.

OPTION #3: Hire an inexperienced employee.

Maybe you want to go cheap.

Maybe you think “young people” are magical.

Some people have experience posting in social media but don’t have any expertise in marketing businesses for bottom-line results.

They may lack the kind of digital marketing experience where they’ve driven store visits, leads or sales repeatedly.

That means- no matter what other strengths they have- they’re incompetent at digital marketing, at least right now.

You’ll have to train them (paid training courses) and wait 1-3 years to get reliable results.

And of course, as was said before, they had better like learning and detail-work and writing and testing and math and data and analysis.

Or they might be the wrong person for the job.

I can tell you from experience that it’s really hard to hire successfully for digital and social marketing solely on the basis of talent, because these jobs require a rare combination of talents (left and

right brain) and drives (OCD analysis and creativity and diligence).

You’ll find a number of people don’t have what it takes, and you will waste time investing in them, so it’s smarter to get someone who’s already stuck with it for some time and had success.

OPTION #4: Hire an experienced employee.

This is the first viable option so far.

Pay $40,000+ annually for someone with 3+ years of experience.

The only consideration here is that you may need:

  • Google ad expertise
  • Facebook ad expertise
  • Google Analytics expertise
  • E-commerce expertise
  • Content marketing expertise
  • And more…

And each of the above is a separate job descriptions. Each merits at least $40k annually.

So, it may be tough to get everything you need from one person. You may need to grow an entire internal marketing department.

A less committed version of this option is hiring a freelancer from a site like Upwork. Just look at lots of them and vet them thoroughly.

OPTION #5: Hire an agency.

This is the other viable option.

Pay $30,000+ annually for an expert marketing agency.

An agency can be more affordable than hiring employees.

You may get more expertise and access to more people overall. Possibly more experience across more companies and industries. That’s not always true- just make sure find out and compare when considering employees, freelancers and agencies.

CONCLUSION

Now we conclude things…

If you want to be assured you’ll grow your business, revenues and profits, then, as soon as you can afford it, hire a freelancer, employee or agency!

That’s your best insurance against wasting money and time.

Invest in expertise and experience.

Choose results.

2018 Marketing Director Survey Part 1/2

If you aren’t aware of it, some amazing people have been putting out a great survey for a number of years. It’s called The CMO Survey, and it asks marketing directors, VP’s of marketing and others key questions to figure out what’s going on with marketing and where we’re headed. We wanted to bring more awareness not just to the great work done by Christine Moorman, her team and those at Deloitte, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and the American Marketing Association, but also to the trends uncovered by the latest survey.

We, of course, had some of our own opinions and insights to add on the topics in the survey based on our work in digital marketing and social media over the last 19 years… and it took us 2 hours to get through it all! We put the discussion into two videos. We hope to piece them into smaller topic videos soon.

For now, here is part one of two. Go here for part two.

Discussion by the Brian Carter Group. This podcast is not directly affiliated with CMO Survey. All registered copyrights and trademarks remain the property of original owners.

Why Do Social Media & Community Building Actually Work?

The Ecommerce Times was recently writing an article on social media community building and reached out to 15-year digital marketing expert and 10-year social marketing expert Brian Carter for an interview. ECT published some of his responses in this article, “5 Ways to Build Community Around Your Brand.”

If you liked that, here are Brian’s complete responses!

Q1. Why is it important to build social or community around a brand?

When we do social for clients, part of that is building engagement and awareness around a brand and its offerings.

In a time where a lot of digital experts have gravitated toward conversion optimization only, I understand that because I grew up doing that with SEO focused on conversions, Google AdWords focused on revenue and ROI, Google Analytics, Omniture and split-testing.

I’m a data guy, a test-discover-learn guy… basically a geek!

So it took me a long time to believe that engagement really had a hard quantitative value beyond all the soft feel-good stuff people seemed to like about it.

When Facebook ads came on the scene, we ran fan growth and engagement ads for companies along with Facebook and Google ads for lead gen, ecommerce and other conversion-oriented campaigns, though I often was skeptical about whether the fans or likes were really helping them grow their customer base, drive sales, or improve profits.

We’d counsel that this was the quickest way to get customer or profits, but customers often wanted to grow fans and get engagement, so we took the challenge…discovered how to drive low cost fans and get high engagement rates for pennies on the dollar.

But I was still skeptical about the business value of fans and social media engagement.

And it’s hard to overcome that skepticism, a skepticism many people have, because:

a. Multi-touchpoint analytics are spotty (not every company has them)
b. The analytics for multi-touchpoint seems complicated or out of the way (not every company wants to dive into this just to examine whether their bias is correct), and
c. Finding out the truth about your social media’s conversion value sometimes requires spending money or even third party studies of your analytics.

Not every company can or will do all of that. But the 20% or so of clients we’ve had who did both engagement and conversions AND looked at their metrics, always saw big benefits to running engagement ads in addition to conversion campaigns:

  1. Engagement ads usually spike organic search traffic and sales: Increased brand awareness from social engagement ads increases search engine searches for your brand name (people notice you more and think, “Oh what was that thing? Oh yeah that company… Let me search for that now…”), which gets you additional organic traffic and sales. When you see an organic traffic and sales spike after starting a new social ad campaign and not changing anything else, you have to be honest: it might have been that social awareness. Sometimes you can track that, if the social ads led to traffic, but if they didn’t, your website analytics can’t even track that, unfortunately.
  2. Engagement ads can pay for themselves: Often you can look at the social engagement ads data and see specific revenue driven from that same ad spend- and often it pays for itself. It may not be a positive ROI, but its breakeven. That means you have to run other ads, of course, to drive profits, but the engagement ads aren’t necessarily a cost- they may pay for themselves. Now, to make that happen, there must be links in your posts… if you aren’t putting links and calls to action in your posts, that’s a whole nother topic- how to create effective engagement ads that also drive traffic…
  3. Engagement ads can improve conversion rates and profits: The brand familiarity you get from this (look up the “mere exposure” effect if you haven’t heard of it) lowers people’s resistance to buying from you, which increases conversion rates, which in turn lowers cost per sale and cost per customer, which of course, increases profits.

Q2. What are some of the most effective ways that e-commerce businesses can build this kind of social media or community? Why do these strategies work?

You have to run Facebook and Instagram ads, create a lot of posts and ads, and see how your customers respond to them.

It’s just like learning how to get along with a real person- you have to get to know them- and online the only way to get to know people is to either look at their data first, or put stuff out there and see how they respond.

Listen to the data- what do they like? What do they share? What do they click on? What don’t they respond to?

You need a repeatable process for constant improvement- we call ours F.I.T. First you find the Facts- that’s data about who are they- then you Invent things, and Test them (discover what works by looking at everything!).

Then look at the Facts again- how did they respond to what you Invented? By Inventing more stuff like what they liked, you create a better and better fit of your marketing materials with their likes. If your marketing fits your customers, they love you more, likability increases, and you know what excites them.

The RARE company’s research on loyalty showed that 86% of customers are loyal because they like the company. So how likable is your brand, and how likable is your marketing? What are you doing to increase that? What process do you use to ensure you win at likability?

This is critical to your survival, and to thriving, because when companies disrupt others, or entire industries, its always because they suddenly make your customers a lot happier than they have been. You can’t afford to just be good enough and maintain, because that’s what companies like Blockbuster and Borders and the Yellow Pages and Yellow Cab did before they got disrupted by Netflix, Amazon, Google and Uber.

Continually strive to become greater and make your customers happier. Make sure you have a process for that. We use F.I.T.

Q3. What are common mistakes that are made by e-commerce companies when trying to build social engagement, and how can these mistakes be avoided?

The biggest mistake marketers make when it comes to engagement is that they approach it as a sales opportunity or by thinking mostly about their brand messaging. They wouldn’t walk into a mixer and talk about themselves for 15 minutes straight. Hopefully… They’re smart enough to know that people like people who focus on them. Not on themselves. They ask others about their lives and family and hobbies, and they make a friend.

But somehow they have a blind spot when it comes to marketing their brand. They show their products a lot…even their “lifestyle” images are about their products, not truly about the customer’s lifestyle.

They don’t think about who the customer is- what their daily life is like, their pains, fears, worries, dreams, goals and obstacles. And when they do it’s only in terms of their products.

You have to go a level beyond your product into the customer’s life and emotions and live with them and talk about other things and have faith that this creates a relationship that makes them love you so much that of course they want to buy your products.

You can’t be afraid to NOT talk about the product for a while. You can’t be so afraid that if you go off topic, you’re wasting time.

Because the truth is: so much of friendship and relationship is about wasting time because you are together.

You have to just be with them- without selling- sometimes, or you’re not building a relationship… you’re just an annoying salesperson… and that’s not a likable approach.

risk graphics

THE 4 TYPES OF CREATIVE TESTS THAT DRIVE PROFITS

Everybody wants results from digital marketing.

But what works for you and your business and your customer is different than what works for everyone else.

You can try to follow formulas and systems, and they’ll work to a point, but there is always testing and looking at results and optimizing.

Sometimes you find something awesome and creative that drives huge results…

But new creative often doesn’t work.

It’s risky to try new things.

Testing and learning is expensive.

Not testing, not creating, isn’t the answer either- you’ll never get noticed- you’ll never learn- but there’s a cost to learning.

And too much creativity and novelty is risky.

So how do you manage risk while testing and trying to achieve great results?

The more you spend on digital ads, the more you have to be aware of this.

As we attempt to expand while continuing to get good results, it becomes more and more important to manage risk around creative testing.

How Do You Maximize Profits With Ad Spend Allocations?

You have to make creative decisions and allocate your ad spend against creative in a way that balances the need for two things:

#1 Profitability (high results or low costs of any kind, regardless of the KPI we use for it at the time): any goals we have for appointments, revenue or cost per new customer must be achieved at the same time that we create and learn.

#2 Novelty: to push forward our KPI’s, we need varying degrees of novelty in the creative. It’s the amount of novelty, the degree that it diverges from what has been proven to work, that increases the risk, increases the cost of testing and lowers profit while testing.

At times, we work with a simple system of allocating ad spend between:

A. BEST: proven ads (and when I say ads, we may also mean landing pages, depending on how traffic distribution is set up) that achieve our best KPI performance so far. We allocate a certain amount of ad spend to this- as much as possible, to try to achieve the overall KPI goal- while leaving a certain amount of spend for the “TEST” group. In the beginning when nothing is proven, it’s all TEST. And the definition of BEST changes as the KPI’s improve.

– vs. –

B. TEST: new ideas that are unproven. Many of them will not perform and will be discontinued. Some will end up in the BEST group.
As a rule of thumb, we can recommend a ratio of anywhere from 50:50 to 80:20 BEST:TEST.

However, in more complicated situations like TPW, I recommend we look at more groups, as shown in this image…

#1 OLD Proven Creative
Proven profitable, or best performing creative so far
Keep in mind that the definition of proven is relative
KPI’s improve over time, and the definition of what’s best changes
Best investment for ensuring KPI goals

#2 NEW Slight Variations on Proven Creative
e.g. changing one bit of text or one image in an ad or landing page
Lowest risk of poor performance for new creative
Highest assurance of profitability for new creative

#3 NEW Bigger Variations on Proven Creative
e.g. a big landing page layout change, or changing multiple things at one time
Medium risk of poor performance for new creative
Medium assurance of profitability for new creative

#4 NEW Totally New Creative
e.g. totally new ideas, themes, messages, formats and customer pathways unlike previous tests
Some amount of totally new is required, but because its overall performance is, on average, the lowest, it should be allocated the least amount.
Highest risk of poor performance for new creative
Least assurance of reaching KPI goals

An example spend ratio could be…

ProvenCreative:SlightVariation:BiggerVariation:TotallyNew
60:25:10:5

The idea is to put spend in every group to allow for diversity but to allocate spend conservatively to reduce KPI performance risks.

It’s critical that to use this 4-category system for new ad, landing page and other tests as you go forward and increase ad spend.

If you don’t do this, you risk spending too much on the riskiest creative, and while you may learn a lot, you will not at the same time produce satisfying results.

Airport Revenue Digital Marketing & Social Media Keynote Interview with Brian Carter

In March, Brian will be speaking about how to drive more visits and revenue with digital marketing and social media to airport operators and concessionaires like Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks and TGI Friday’s at the annual Airport Revenue News conference in Orlando. Here’s an excerpt of his interview with ARN!

Ward: What are some key mistakes that you see companies making?

Carter: I think one of the biggest mistakes is opinion versus facts. We now have data – we can test whether the customer likes our branding. If you listen to the wrong information, or your information is out of date or you make decisions that are based on opinion rather than fact, eventually you’re headed for disaster. The companies that are winning today, that are disrupting categories and established companies, are using technology to make customers happier than they ever were before. When your opinion is wrong and out of whack with the facts, you’re not going to be able to make your customers happy.

Read more of Brian Carter’s interview on airports and digital marketing more here…

How To Bridge The Offline/Online Customer Experience Successfully

Nowadays, the average customer journey can be rather complicated. Consumers expect retail experiences that are smooth, seamless, and most importantly, omnichannel. As a result, retailers must look at how they can optimize their strategies to offer a holistic presence – bringing together both online and offline operations.

Econsultancy tells us that “nearly 40% of online searchers make a purchase after being influenced by an offline channel”. In maintaining an online and offline presence, it can sometimes prove challenging trying to connect the two. With that in mind, here are some tips for bridging the offline/online customer experience successfully.

Keeping things consistent

This first point is perhaps an obvious one, but it bears reinforcing. A big part of connecting the online and offline experience is consistency: in design, branding, and messaging. It’s often the case that a customer may see your advertising out in the real world before searching online to find out more. If your branding doesn’t match up, your credibility will take a hit.

Consumers expect consistency each time they encounter your business. Even if selling online doesn’t form a big part of what you do, a professional-looking ecommerce website that fits with the rest of your communications is essential. It doesn’t have to be a big endeavor, these days. On-brand imagery, language and ease of use are the most important factors.

Cosmetics retailer Lush is a good example. Observe the visual similarities in their online and offline branding below – font choices, color scheme, etc.

There’s something about mobile

As we’ve discussed, modern consumers use a variety of channels to make their purchases today. But one of the biggest things that can get in the way of this is mobile experience. More than half of us still find it cumbersome to complete a transaction on a mobile device, and around the same percentage of retailers fail to optimize their websites for tablets.

On top of that, a growing number of people are keen to take advantage of the opportunity to use their mobile phones while visiting a store, whether that’s to check if what they want is in stock, save money with real-time promotions, or earn extra loyalty points. As yet, most retailers don’t offer this service, so those that do have a distinct competitive advantage.

Shopify users will find that exploring functionality like geo targeting is not as complicated as you might think. For $10 a month, the Geo Targeting app integrates with your store to target offers, news and coupon codes at certain locations. The more visual and eye-catching you can make these notifications, the better.

The case for vanity URLs

A vanity URL is a shortened version of your web address that’s easier for customers to remember. They’re mostly used for offline advertisements, such as billboards and posters, so people won’t struggle to recall the website at a later date. What’s more, you can track this URL to judge the effectiveness of your offline advertising efforts.

Once someone has landed on your vanity URL page, you can then look to retarget those users digitally if they failed to convert the first time around. Vanity URLs are also easier to share and perceived as more trustworthy.

Below are some examples of what a vanity URL might look like. You can find out how to set one up for your landing page here.

  • fashionwebsite.com/categories/womens/dresses/party-dresses becomes www.fashionwebsite.com/party-dresses
  • mymusicwebsite.com/events/live-gigs/chicago-street-party-2018 becomes www.mymusicwebsite.com/street-party
  • welovecats.com/cat-breeds/maine-coon/how-to-care-for-your-maine-coon becomes www.welovecats.com/maine-coon-care

Why you should be collecting data regularly

Whether offline or online, it’s important to know the best way to contact your customers. While it’s always recommended to collect a name and email when people buy from you online, asking for too much personal information in one go can be offputting – potentially enough to risk an abandoned shopping cart.

So make creating an account optional, and make use of those email addresses to send each new customer a thank you email, along with an incentive to complete a short survey about their shopping experience. That initial contact could lead to a series of feedback requests that help you improve your customer experience, both online and off. Good retailers understand the importance of reputation management – and if you wanted to bring the same ethos in-store, you might want to consider targeted smartphone notifications, surveys that can be filled out via tablet as customers exit the store, or comment cards.

Creating engagement through social media

Finally, your social media strategy can play a big role in engaging customers, whether they shop online or in-store. Even if they don’t visit your website, chances are if they shop with you regularly, they at least follow your social media channels. It’s a great way to remind them about offers, events, new releases, and your company ethos. Never underestimate the power of a good UGC campaign – the ultimate way to bring offline experiences into the online world.

In summary, keep in mind that today’s consumers do not see distinct shopping channels. Rather, they will have an overall view of your brand that’s informed by their experiences across multiple touchpoints. A unified approach is key, as the online/offline worlds will only continue to merge.

Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Marketers Who Don’t Implement

What’s the danger of working with strategists who don’t implement? They can get stuck in theory, or third-hand information that’s speculative, not based in fact.

You need marketing and sales results and you don’t want to waste time or money.

You can’t afford to go on theories that sound good- you need best practices based in data and experience.

What’s Your Source For Marketing Best Practices?

I’ve always wondered where social media generalists get their strategy ideas from. New articles? Blog posts? Rumors? I’ve seen repeatedly in the last decade situations where the most insightful case studies were not published because a company didn’t want to give away the competitive advantage they had discovered. Not all the best tactics and strategies will be in the public domain.

That means that strategists who don’t implement anything will only know about the most average and common approaches- not the most powerful or cutting edge ones.

I remember when writing one of my books, an editor questioned something I called “a social media best practice.” As an editor with an academic writing background, she wanted an academic reference for it.

In other words, she was asking, “What other book or blog post corroborates your claimed best practices?”

I had to reply, “It comes from our experience getting results for real clients.” Our day-to-day experience working with 10-20 clients at a time over the last 10 years, is usually richer and more useful for answering specific strategy questions than the blogosphere, which often seems to be based in nothing but opinion.

Marketing must seem like a weird industry to academics. In medicine, research is done independently with government grants, or is funded by huge companies. Practicing doctors based their clinical approach on that research and other doctors’ clinical experience. But in marketing, we don’t have nearly the research industry, so we rely much more on very small case studies and opinion. And the marketing ecosystem changes much more rapidly than the human body could ever evolve. It’s a moving target. So, the more of research you can do and experience you can gain in-house, the more effective marketer you will be.

Working with clients forces you to be oriented toward what really works (because you’ll lose the client if you’re wrong) and to keep secrets (because clients don’t like you to give away their competitive advantages).

When people hire us, they’re paying us to implement what we’ve found that works, and to avoid what we’ve found to be dead ends.

The Upshot

If you’re not working with people who implement digital marketing tactics daily, you won’t have access to the most powerful strategies- you’ll fall behind and miss opportunities. If you want to be a market leader, you need to find the smart people who are working on the gnitty gritty of digital marketing every day.

3 Simple Steps to Build a Social Media Marketing Sales Funnel

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.

12 Mobile Marketing Stats You Can’t Afford To Ignore

80% of internet users own a smartphone. (Smart Insights)

Smartphones have beaten magazines and newspapers and aren’t far behind radio (eMarketer)

71% of marketers believe mobile marketing is core to their business. (Salesforce)

By 2019, mobile advertising will represent 72% of all US digital ad spending. (Marketing Land)

Consumer time spent on mobile is increasing while time spent with all other media is decreasing (eMarketer)

Mobile time is mostly APP time, NOT mobile web usage (eMarketer)

Apps account for 89% of mobile media time, with the other 11% spent on websites. (Smart Insights)

People are spending over 3 hours a day in apps, and only 50 minutes on the mobile web. (GeoMarketing)

57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. (CMS Report)

Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead. (McKinsey & Company)

70% Of Consumers Delete Emails Immediately That Don’t Render Well On A Mobile Device (Blue Hornet)