So your new social media strategy is killing it. You’re getting likes and shares like nobody’s business and your followership looks like it could rival Donald Kardashian-Bieber. There’s only one problem. Your site traffic from social hasn’t really increased. Like, at all. Even more problematically for your monthly reports, neither has directly-attributable revenue.
Welcome to an all too common conundrum. While the less-tangible metrics of social are off the charts, I often see marketers new to the digital world struggle to translate that into a cash-money figure that will help keep the CFO off their back.
To do that you need to understand your customers’ purchase journey, and where social fits into it as a component of a multi-channel approach. Let’s start with the basics.
The hard sell has a time and a place: it’s not when your customer is unwinding after a long day
Social media is a personal channel. It’s where we go in our downtime to relax, to distract, to connect – but rarely to buy (at least not immediately or intentionally). In marketing speak, it’s a top-of-the-funnel channel first and foremost and it’s where we’re most likely to hear about a brand we’ve never encountered before – either through our connections, through influencers, or through sponsored content that truly resonates.
Think back to the first time you came across Red Bull’s social media presence. Was it encouraging you to buy a can of energy drink for a shockingly low $2.99? Nope. It was an incredibly produced video of long-haired 20-somethings throwing shaka-bros as they hurtle face first towards solid objects.
Red Bull understands their audience, but more importantly they understand how that audience behaves on social. We’re drowning in content, so it takes something truly special to stop our thumbs from compulsively swiping up as we scroll through a feed and make a meaningful connection. A traditional “buy my product for my price” is immediately lost in the noise.
Cutting through that noise and making a connection matters, because when we’re ready to buy it’s those connections that build affinity with a brand and trust in a product.
But you know all that already – that’s why you’re nearing Taylor Swiftian levels of engagement. Let’s zoom out and look at how this can be turned into cash money by utilising your social earnings within a wider digital ecosystem.
Search and you will find (what you’re ready to buy)
When you’ve acquired a loyal and engaged following among the right target audience, at some point those customers are going to be ready to buy. This is when your strategy needs to broaden beyond social, because although platforms like Facebook are pushing hard to incorporate direct-purchase eCommerce elements into their offerings, it’s still not primarily the way we use social. When we’re ready to buy, as much as Facebook may dislike it the majority of us turn to Google.
Now, it’s possible that you’ve done such a good job of building brand affinity that those customers will search for your brand specifically, but more likely than not they’re not. They’re going to search for broader keyphrases like “buy women’s product online” or “best men’s product reviews.” That’s when it becomes incredibly important to make sure your offering is presented front and centre, because that’s where all of your hard work back on the social accounts is going to pay dividends.
Paid Search (and Google Shopping if you’re eComm) are the two greatest tools in your arsenal for making sure you’re in the right place at the right time, the very moment your customer becomes in-market. This is when you want to make sure your brand name is front and centre, and it’s worth experimenting with a Target Search Page Location bid strategy to ensure top of page results too.
Where you can get really smart with it is by bringing your CRM into play as well. Run a social campaign aimed at database acquisition targeted to your most engaged audiences, and then (if you’re using a tool like Marketo or Hubspot) segment that list by engagement and product interest on your site. By uploading those segments into your search ad group targeting and increasing the bidding for CRM customers you can increase the likelihood your ads will be in the right place, right time, with the right message.
Of course, organic search is the holy grail of a multi-channel marketing strategy, so you should be absolutely factoring SEO best practices into your approach as well. The good news is that social sharing is a minor ranking factor, so all that hard work you’ve been doing is already paying off. An even larger ranking factor is that particularly special social content will almost always get write-ups from bloggers and news outlets – that’s link outreach gold right there.
Combining social and search, while understanding the role each one plays in your customers’ journey? That’s called making bank, my friends. But that journey’s usually a long and winding road, and social’s job isn’t done just yet. Let’s circle back on that.
Remember how I said social was top-of-the-funnel? I lied
Well, OK. No I didn’t. But I wasn’t entirely forthcoming – unlike almost any other channel, social has a role to play in almost every stage of the funnel. It’s a quintuple threat.
In the consideration phase, a potential customer will look at what connections have posted previously about the product they’re considering. They’ll ask friends about it via Messenger. They may even reach out to your brand directly with questions – community management ftw.
Remarketing on social media (Facebook in particular) is about as effective as you can get in recapturing drop-offs in the conversion phase, particularly if it’s dynamic and/or offers purchasing incentives tailored to user behavior. The beauty here is that you can put these more sales-oriented messages in front of customers who you know are receptive to them, instead of blasting them to everyone and disengaging your top-of-the-funnel audiences.
And of course, there’s no better source of amplified awareness than via customer advocacy on social media. Making heroes of your existing customers is just about the best way organic way to bring in new customers that I know of.
So, now we know social is playing an important role in every stage of our funnel, and we know that when combined with other channels it’s contributing to significant revenue – how do we go about proving that? Ladies and gentlemen, push those glasses up the bridge of your nose because we’re about to talk analytics.
Attribute wisely, model well (or, how I learned to stop worrying and love multi-channel attribution models)
Alright. Let’s strap in and geek out.
Now that your strategy encompasses the entirety of the customer journey across multiple channels, you need to be able to demonstrate that in tangible conversion metrics. Call back to when I mentioned getting the CFO off your back earlier – it’s time to fire that Chekhovian Gun.
If you’re new to analytics, most likely you’ve been using the basic conversion goals in Google Analytics – by the default, the attribution for these is last non-direct click. This means that excluding direct traffic, whatever the last channel a converter arrived from will be given 100% of the credit for that conversion.
Multi-channel attributions allow you to redistribute the credit for a conversion across multiple channels that drew the customer in at multiple different stages of the conversion funnel. In a nutshell, that means that your $50,000 return from last-click organic search conversions can be more correctly attributed to $20,000 to social, $10,000 to dynamic remarketing, and $20,000 to organic search. Boom. Chekhov and your CFO are equally satisfied.
Honestly if I wade too deep into the reeds here I’m going to end up writing a second article. How about if you’d like to know more about multi-channel attribution you pop into Yoke for a coffee and a chat (oh you’d better believe I snuck a plug in at the end).