Social media traffic is cost-effective and highly scaleable but only if you know how to make it convert. The social media conversion funnel is different to the one that many of us are used to but, if it’s executed properly, a conversion-centered social media strategy can yield real ROI.
The idea that social media traffic doesn’t convert is so widely held by now that many companies don’t even test it. The phrase, “there is no ROI in social” has become almost a cliche. But like most cliches, while there may be a kernel of truth to it, there is also a much more nuanced – and profitable – reality. Of course social media traffic converts. It is made of people, after all, and the last time I checked people are what you need in order to get conversions. So the question isn’t whether social media traffic converts. It is, how do we get it to convert profitably and predictably? How do we turn those reading viewing-sharing people into buyers and form-fillers?
In order to do that, we need to think about the difference between short and long conversion funnels. As an example, paid SEM represents a classic short conversion funnel: you advertise, and someone who is already in buying mode clicks on your ad and goes to your landing page. This works because search engines attract people who are already at near the end of their buying process – they’re just looking for the best possible deal. Social media by its nature isn’t normally targeted at people near the bottom of the conversion funnel, but there’s no reason why your particular social media content shouldn’t be. Think of it this way: a large percentage of people on social media platforms at any given time will also use Google or Bing on the same day. They are buying stuff all the time, even if it’s not top of mind when they are on Facebook or YouTube.
What that means is that there is an opportunity to reach people with the right kind of content at the right time, and in doing so, to bypass the big search engines. Video product reviews on YouTube, for example, can lead a prospective customer by the hand, create trust and then maximize conversion on a subsequent landing page, better than any 95 character text ad. The key is to treat social media traffic differently – although this often simply means treating it with the same level of respect you normally give to paid search
Let’s summarize six takeaways on this subject: the secrets of social media conversion.
• Focus on the right social networks. There are lots of them, but unless you have a good reason to choose one of the smaller ones, stick with the giants. Facebook, of course. Twitter, although some find that there’s too much poor traffic. YouTube, best of all for product reviews and traffic quality. And Google+, just because its Google and so you will probably benefit from better search rankings and any number of other, hidden algorithm-related goodies.
• Use a proper landing page and make sure it matches the social media traffic source. If you were running a paid search campaign on Google you would probably create a dedicated landing page and ensure it was optimized for the search terms on which you were bidding. You might even have multiple landing pages, each optimized for a different search term group. So why wouldn’t you do the same for your social media traffic? Make the effort to create a sales funnel that feels “right” and you will reap the benefit.
• Use social media widgets and testimonials on the page in order to establish authority and trust. In social, popularity can often function as a substitute for reputation, meaning that even if potential customers don’t know your brand personally, they are more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt if they can see that you are popular.
• Optimize for mobile, the whole way through the sales funnel. Mobile social media traffic is huge, so if you’re serious about making it convert, ensure the your landing pages, shopping carts and forms all work beautifully and seamlessly across a wide range of mobile devices.
• Include a strong call-to-action in all of your social media content. It doesn’t have to be as in-your-face as “buy this now!” but it should at least encourage the reader/viewer to be an active participant in the sales process. • Encourage sharing. If, on average, each visitor to your squeeze page finds just one thing that’s worth sharing with their friends, then your marketing reach has just been increased exponentially. Make sharing as easy as possible, on as many platforms as is practical.
Social media traffic really does convert. But it can’t be treated just like paid SEM traffic, or even display. Treat it with respect and profitable campaigns will follow.