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Social media leads the way

Social media is becoming a powerful business tool and, as Emily Mobbs discovers, generating sales leads from it may be easier than you think.
Last month Jeweller reported on the importance of social media marketing and having a specific online strategy. In light of this, let’s now look at how social media can help to increase sales – which, after all, is the main objective of investing time online.

By definition, social media refers to the interactions between people in virtual communities where they create, share and exchange information (words and images).

Taking this one step further, from a business perspective, social media should be used to exchange content and interact with existing and potential customers.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Tumblr are the major platforms available for this type of communication.

Social media monitoring tool Brandwatch explains that once a business has a strong pool of followers – regardless of which social stream is used – and understands its social target audience, it can then develop lead generation programs that turn social friends and fans into highly qualified leads.

Leads are a leading indicator of sales.

Dan Zarrella, from marketing software company Hubspot, found social media traffic has a high visitor-to-lead conversion rate. It was trumped only by paid media and fell barely behind email.

According to the Pivot Conference State of Social Media Marketing Study, 74 per cent of respondents said lead generation was a primary goal when using social media but many companies found it difficult to understand how they would implement it.

Generating leads through social media is really about creating a transaction of information. There is no sense sending someone from a Facebook page to a company website without capturing their contact details. And don’t forget there is a distinct difference between a website and social media outlet. A website is typically quite static and information rarely changes. Social media has a constant flow of interaction and modification.

But back to a transaction of information. A customer is not readily going to give up their details without getting something in return.

Retailers have to provide an enticing offer, something of value. The key here is to create a “call to action” on the landing page of a business’ social media outlet.

A basic example would be to make a downloadable information package about engagement rings available on a store’s Facebook page. It could feature various topics including the different choices available and how to make a diamond ring look larger by using certain settings.  
Or perhaps the offer of a complimentary jewellery check and clean or a voucher for Mother’s Day? Keeping in mind, people will only receive these offerings once they have provided their contact details. These calls to action can be rotated over a few months.

Keep in mind when developing a call to action that when it comes to the web, people are often anxious and looking for answers. Authors of The B2B Social Media Book Jeffrey Cohen and Kipp Bodnar believe that, “After all, that’s why search is so popular. People are asking questions and looking for solutions to their problems and anxieties.”

Bodnar also says people should really monitor call to actions by looking at the click through rate, which will provide information like the number of people who are viewing the call to actions and also how many are clicking on them. Bodnar says Google has a great free tool for this called Google DFP.

Once someone has engaged in a call to action the retailer can then provide a link to their website where more content can be viewed and the sales cycle increases. It’s a good way to attract customers without the awkwardness of having to send them to a website in order to take actions.

According to a new survey, when it comes to generating business-to-consumer leads through social media, Facebook is best.

The 2012 State of Digital Marketing report from WebMarketing123, stated that 67 per cent of B2C marketers who made leads from social media said some of those came from Facebook. Twitter followed with 43 per cent, LinkedIn (21 per cent), Google+ (15 per cent) and Pinterest (13 per cent).

To clarify, this doesn’t mean that 67 per cent of all social media B2C leads came from Facebook, but rather 67 per cent of B2C-ers got some of their social media leads from the platform. Essentially, it shows that Facebook is seen as more effective for leads.

While there’s no denying the potential sales benefits of social media, let’s not disregard the value of interacting with customers through a bricks and mortar store. Why not use consumers’ in-store visits as an opportunity to promote a store’s online presence? Success will more likely come from all communications combined.

SAMS Group Australia

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