Tag Archives: social media marketing funnel

Social Media Model that Defines the End of the World as We Know It

If I offered you $0.01 to work for a week, but promised to double your pay each week, would you take the job? If you work the math through you will find that by week 28, you would be making over $1 million a week. Started off slow, but the pay-off and long term result is big. You know, social media works the same way, but too many people are looking for the quick sale and looking for an immediate ROI. The wise marketing executives are in it for the long haul and are investing in social media to produce sustainable growth over time. If we look at the economy in the past four years, isn’t long term sustainable growth OK? Heck it is better than OK. Relatively speaking it is great.

And for the reasons above (as well as some great conversations with social media thought leaders), I am abandoning the social media marketing funnel that I have been trumpeting for a good while. It came down to one fundamental reason. The issue of sales. Here is the question – how does social media relate to sales? This is what so many are after when they bring up the question of social media ROI. Well here is the answer … social media increases the probability of sales. It is part of a marketing mix.

It is possible to define social media as a function of sales with extensive evaluation and regression analysis looking at all the marketing mix components and capturing cross media measurement. There are companies like MarketShare, ThinkVine, and SymphonyIRI Group that can do this for you. But in many cases, that is cost prohibitive. For many, they can intuitively accept that social media increases the success of SEO, SEM, paid media ads, as well as the non-digital traditional marketing endeavors. Social media contributions to sales is not immediate and is long term. Therefore it is difficult to measure. So why not simply look at the things that are easier to measure that lead to sales as well as looking at post sales metrics that contribute to customer life cycle value as well as word of mouth marketing.

If we concentrate on the things that lead up to a sale and the things after sale that are easily tracked, is this not an acceptable way to measure success? Is there not a value in looking at ROE (return on engagement) and recognizing that there is a definite value in engaging with your target audience; making them feel like your brand is a part of their life; building a relationships and trust? Does anyone debate that measured success here will lead to an increase in sales. So let’s measure and report on things that can be done quickly, won’t cost a ton to do so, AND ARE RELEVANT.

Take sales out of the equation. I am not saying that there is no sales attribute of/to social media. I am saying it is difficult to measure, if not cost prohibitive. If we take that stance, you should ask how then does social media relate to sales? Answer – it increases the probability of sales. It does this by generating awareness and influencing buying decisions (consideration) before a sale. Social media also increases loyalty and breeds advocates after a sale. So what we are left with is the social media marketing funnel I have previously defined without a sales stage. And if there is no sales stage in the measurement model, we certainly cannot use the funnel. What we are left with is “measuring social media success” as shown in the circular diagram below:

Yes, there can be other things that are measured, but this gives you some concrete examples of how we measure social media success. These four attributes increase the probability of sales and allow us to start measuring social media success.

A couple weeks ago, I recommended “How Social Media Helps Brand Building and Driving Profitable Business.” I suggested it was the intersection of “how customers engage with brands” (called Social Business) and “the way companies conduct profitable business” (called Relationship Enterprise). Relationship Enterprise is the diagram above and for review, Social Business is the way organizations should execute social media and looks like this:

This is also called the “A-Path.”

Now if we bring these two together, we have now defined “Social BrandAction” …

So, yes – it is the end of the social media marketing funnel. This new model represents the true business world of how customers engage with brands, and how brands build value. It also includes a scheme to measure profitable transactions that is easy to execute, not cost prohibitive, and unveils a true degree of success. It is based on return-of-engagement (ROE). ROE has long term ramifications. There are no short term scenarios to make a quick buck. Invest in long term sustainable profitable endeavors. Invest in social media and have realistic expectations and a method to measure your success.

I’ll leave you with a tribute to a great band that called it quits after five decades of awesome music. In the words of R.E.M. – “It is the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” Do you feel fine?

Make It Happen!
Social Ste

7 Comments

Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, BrandAction, brands, change management, Social BrandAction, social media, social media marketing, social media performance, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

How Social Media Helps Brand Building and Driving Profitable Business

Yeah, yeah, yeah … social media is getting beyond hype and everyone is getting in the game. And you are thinking, “There is no way I am going to get left behind”, but you’re concerned … how is it going to produce results for your business?

Let’s start with some simple basics. You need to build brand value that fits with your customers’ behavior and you need to drive profitable transactions that relate to your specific business objectives. So the building of brand value translates to how your customers engage with your brand and profitable transactions translate to the way your company conducts profitable business. In a social context, I call this “Social Business” and “Relationship Enterprise.”

What is a “Social Business?” First and foremost it is a business that is customer centric. And that customer centric approach needs to be very human and not corporate-like. Remember – people do business with people, not companies. And this requires engagement with the target market. Engagement such that there is brand-prospect-customer relationship building. The ultimate success is creating brand ambassadors and brand advocates. So social business is really the equivalent of relationship building. And social media relationship building is the A-Path (Attention > Attraction > Affinity > Audience > Advocate) that I have mentioned many times and defined originally in the article “Using the Social Media ‘A-Path’ to Capture Ultimate Customers.”

Now “Relationship Enterprise” is the way companies conduct profitable business. So many have asked, “How does social media contribute to sales?” I think the answer is straight-forward … social media increases the probability of sales. If you are part of a marketing organization you must be accountable and contribute to the business. The way you do this is with the Social Media Marketing Funnel I have defined. The Social Media Marketing Funnel describes how we lead prospects and customers through decision points to yield a sale. And after the sale, strengthen the customer-brand relationship. It consists of five stages (Awareness, Consideration, Conversion/Sale, Loyalty, and Advocacy) and defines a target segmentation or group, and psycho-demographic or individual state for each of the stages. The original definition was presented in the article “Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel,” but I later recognized that the definition was not sufficient. Marketers need to be responsible to business objectives, so I introduced “Measuring the Stages of the Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel.”

So in essence, when I talk about social business I am talking about the social media A-Path which is a guide for social media execution. And when I talk about relationship enterprise, I am talking about the social media marketing funnel which should be used to identify your social media KPIs (key performance indicators).

And if you will allow me now to do a shameless plug – at MediaWhiz (where I lead the social practice), we call the intersection of building brand value and driving profitable transactions, BrandAction®. In our social media practice this is how it lines up …

Let’s get past my shameless plug. Social media is extremely powerful if you think of it in terms of Social Brand Action.” Social Brand Action brings together “Social Business” and “Relationship Enterprise.” The marriage of the two brings together an empathic focus and understanding of how your customers engage with your brand while examining the ways your company conducts profitable business. Work to find the coexistence of the two, you WILL have a kick @$$ social media program that produces measurable results.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

5 Comments

Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, sales conversion, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Tying Social Media to the Most Important Business Question

If you had one, just one, business question to answer, what would it be? The most important one is “What does success look like?” If you can’t envision this or answer it, you can not obtain it. If you are an executive, you must communicate it. If you are part of a team in a company, you must understand it.

In the past year, much of the social media debate has changed from “should be it be done” to “how should it be done.” “How” must include a definition of successful outcomes. If you aren’t sure what success looks like, then you shouldn’t be doing social media. Most good suggestions start with having a strategy before “just doing it.” (Sorry Nike :) ) But I would back this up one more step – to an area that is often not formally stated. A strategy must be formulated around a specific objective of success and the success definition needs to continue to be formally recognized at every part in the execution.

Does success mean increasing the number of people that go to your website (unique visits)? Decreasing the number of calls into customer service? Shorten the sales cycle? Define your success!

Okay, so what about the social media tie-in? Let’s start by defining positive outcomes of social media. Take a look at the social media marketing funnel to get some ideas.

From a funnel state perspective, social media can increase awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. It is not really good at generating sales, but rather increases the probability of a sale. (See more at “Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel.” )

The social media marketing funnel addresses marketing. Social media also generates positive results for customer service activities. Dell is a great example as highlighted in the book Groundswell (by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, page 159). Groundswell explains how Dell supported one of their customer advocates who worked as an informal customer solution solver on behalf of Dell. He kept his on website to do so and was actively engaged with Dell customers. The ultimate end result was greater customer satisfaction and reduction of operations costs.

So whether “success” is increasing sales or reducing costs (hopefully you are a little more detailed in your definition of success), social media is an excellent channel for producing measurable results.

Dell is a poster child for the successful use of social media dating back as far as 2007. Back then, Dell had stated social media objectives:

1. Enter into conversations with customers everyday in every major language (awareness, consideration, lead generation)
2. Address any form of customer dissatisfaction head-on knowing that not everything will be solved and some of Dell’s weaknesses will be exposed (customer service, brand reputation, QA, operations cost)
3. Encourage crowd sourcing as the next step in listening to customers (awareness, requirements capture, yield cost reduction)
4. Use video to personalize the Dell story (loyalty, advocacy)

Thus, social media isn’t something new for Dell and they have stayed committed. Dell has worked hard to have a fully integrated social media marketing plan and execution. They are one of the very few companies that use a social media channel well to promote sales. Their twitter sales presence is @DellOutlet. While I have been very adamant professing that you should not sell in social media, Dell is the one exception that I can think of. In 2009, Dell announced that they had surpassed $3M in sales via twitter. Dell sales success could not have been obtained if they had just started in social media to sell. Go back to the four objectives above. Two years after they were accomplished, they met a social sales milestone. @DellOutlet currently has over 1.5M followers. Now granted, $3M in sales is a relatively small number for Dell. But as Seth Godin points out, small percentages of swing can make a large impact.

Looking for success? Define what it looks like first and then define how to use social media to back into the success vision.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

4 Comments

Filed under brand marketing, brands, marketing plan, sales conversion, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Twitter, Uncategorized, Word of Mouth Marketing

Social Media: How To Go About It Video Series – Part 1 of 7

Want to get in the social media game? Many want to, but still feel social media is a foreign language. Social media can be demystified. I thought it would be beneficial to splice up a video of one of my recent presentations into 3 to 4 minute segments to convey simple approaches and principles for social media.

The series is titled “Social Media: How To Go About It” and consists of the following 7 parts:

Part 1 – The Marketing Funnel
Part 2 – LCR – Listen, Conversations, Relationships
Part 3 – Define Position Before Starting Social Media
Part 4 – Define Objectives Before Starting Social Media
Part 5 – Importance of Value with Social Media
Part 6 – Traversing the Crowd through the Social Media “A-Path”
Part 7 – Social Media – Where Do You Start

I will post two parts a week for the next few weeks. You can find the clips both here on my blog and at YouTube. I hope you find these useful and I would love to hear back from you.

Here is the Part 1 – The Marketing Funnel …

(Also see “Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel”)

Best,
Social Steve

4 Comments

Filed under marketing, marketing plan, sales, sales conversion, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

Social Media – A Must in the Current Economic Times

By now, most of us are tired (if not sick) of hearing “in these economic challenging times …” Well it is time to change that and shape the future in a positive direction. It is in our hands and we can make it happen!

But first, there are a couple of things we should remember from the past two years as we put together our success strategy moving forward. The days of getting rich fast and sustaining market value are most likely in the rear view mirror. I am reminded of some great words of wisdom from Ram Charan . Ram is a Senior Fellow at The Wharton School of Business at The University of Pennsylvania. I had the pleasure of meeting him at an annual sales kick-off meeting for a large company I worked for a handful of years back. At that time, I had just finished reading his book “Profitable Growth Is Everyone’s Business.” In this book, he not only talks about the need for a culture where everyone feels responsibility and contributes to positive revenue initiatives, but also emphasizes a mindset of sustainable, profitable growth. Ram uses a baseball analogy to make this point. He talks about the need to hit a series of singles and doubles to score runs. There are few cases of homeruns to score in business, but a continuous teaming approach of getting on base and bringing runs around with a number of small successful hits produces winners.

Social media, when used properly, will produce these results. In my article “Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel,” I discuss an extension of a traditional marketing funnel. The traditional marketing funnel has states that include:

1) awareness,
2) consideration, and
3) sale.

This marketing funnel can be enhanced and two more states can be added:

4) loyalty and
5) advocacy.

Here, I define a “social media marketing funnel.” This is work and it takes time. No quick solutions. First you must make sure that you truly deliver value to your target market. Then use social media to reinforce the value you deliver. Provide your audience important information and earn a perception as a subject matter expert and leader in your industry. It is about establishing very strong relationships with your existing customers and potential customers. The focus of social media should not be on selling, but rather building relationships as I note in the article “2010 – Don’t Think Social Media, Think Relationships.”

Value and strong relationships will prevail in any economic times. And yes – social media is key! Social media is not a quick hit marketing endeavor. It takes time to build strong relationships and you must work hard at cultivating lasting bounds. Think what it would have meant to have the most loyal customers in the past two years – survival. And now as we see the stock market growing and have optimism of better days ahead, just think how those customers can be advocates that spur growth.

If you really focus on delivering valuable information to your target audience (assuming you deliver a valued product or service to begin with), you will sustain a profitable business. But remember, building strong relationships takes time. It is not smashing homeruns to produce winning runs. It is a slower process of hitting many singles, sometimes doubles. But doing so produces loyal customers and even advocates that are literally part of your team. Part of the team that communicates your value. Once this happens, you have people promoting your company in a way that it is a hell of a lot more compelling than anything you can say.

I have heard the social media cliché it is not quantity, but quality. I would change this a bit to say focus on quality and the quantity will come over time. And when that quantity does come, it will be of a much greater quality. So concentrate and use social media to put some runners on base and bring them around one base at time. Use the social media A-path. Make it happen!

Social Steve

7 Comments

Filed under economy, marketing, marketing plan, sales conversion, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Word of Mouth Marketing

The Social Media MVP in 2010

There has been significant progress in social media in 2009. Numerous companies have shown interest and are using some form of social media. In the recent report, “Social Media in the 2009 Inc. 500: New Tools & New Trends,” it was stated that 91% of the Inc. 500 companies used at least one social media tool in 2009. Social media is not just for big companies. Just about all companies are either thinking about social media or dipping their toe in the water. Mashable has a great article that provides “tips, tricks, and wisdom” for small companies looking to increase their brand awareness and move targeted customers down the social media marketing funnel.

Given the increased coverage and hype of social media, many “experts” are making their predictions on what we can expect from social media in 2010. Now if I can steal a nice line from a Twiptster I follow, I’m “smart enough not to call myself a guru,” but I have been very active in social media – enough to see many opportunities and challenges.

Given my experience strapping on my helmet and pads and roughing it up on the social media gridiron, I see an opening for a new social media MVP to emerge. That MVP is the company that delivers the Community Officer’s most valued tool, and that tool is the Social Media Suite/Dashboard (SMS/D).

The Social Media Suite/Dashboard has some offense and some defense. On the offense side of the line, the SMS/D is the master control board for all social media outbound “events”. It allows total coordination and management of all social media activities. At a high-level, here are some attributes for the “offense coordinator” of the SMS/D:

Keyword Tester and Keyword List. The Keyword Tester and List module helps determine the appropriate conversation phraseology by keying in on target audience vernacular. The Keyword Test/List ensures that outbound communication distribution and search-worthiness are optimized.
Social Media Outlet List. The Social Media Outlet List keeps track of all the social media outlets used by the organization. To give you some idea of the breadth of choices and how to determine which ones are actually used by your organization, check out “The Conversation Prism.”

The Conversation Prism


Scheduler and Distribution. The Scheduler is the event manager of all outbound communication. It manages, synchronizes, and distributes all communication. “Content releases” are loaded to the scheduler and marked for day/time send and destination. The Distribution Module is for internal use and allows a Community Officer/Manager to send a “social media action request” routed to specific individuals/employees/internal sources. The Community Officer/Manager will send “social media action requests” to various members in an organization. The Distribution Module controls, manages, and provides status reports for all ongoing specific requests/actions (track open and closed items along with alerts and reminders).
Audience Tracker. The Audience Tracker is a control module that allows a complete view of the audience from various applications. It includes a Followers List, Followers Search, Fans List, Fan Search, and more. Each Follower/Fan is classmarked by Social Technographic and A-Path classification.
Filer. The Filer is similar to Windows Explorer. It organizes, manages, and displays the different social media files with varying attributes (created by, modified by, file type, source, dates, etc.).

Now the social media MVP not only plays offense, but defense as well. On the defense side of the line, the SMS/D collects all the information in the digital world (web, blogs, tweets, etc) to capture the conversation happening about your brand, competition, or any searchable criteria. It allows you to collect all the pertinent information to setup a winning offensive game plan and react if needed. The “defense coordinator” is a “Content Aggregator” and “Distribution Module.” The Content Aggregator is an API (application programming interface) that leverages available tools that search all blogs, tweets, and other online outlets to capture every mention of a search criteria entity or keyword. The Content Aggregator displays the “found” content in nice wire-framed windows. Listening and capturing mentions are important and can spawn 1) additional promotion by a Community Officer/Manager, 2) response/continued conversation from appropriate functional groups in your organization (marketing, sales, operations, customer service, etc.), or 3) response to a negative comment. All of the mentions are archived and segmented per different characteristics including sentiment.

The defensive elements are really “listening” attributes, and the offensive elements are the “conversation” and “relationship” pieces in my LCR Mentality that I have written about.

You can get some visual perspective of the 2010 MVP (Social Media Suite/Dashboard) as I envision. The closest things that I have seen are a social media aggregator by Crispin Porter + Bogusky and at a Twitter client application, HootSuite. I think the Crispin Porter site is nicely laid out and is easy to look at for multiple inputs from social media outlets. It is a subset of the listening and defense aspect I described. HootSuite has some good insight with regards to the management of Twitter accounts from a corporate brand perspective. The same perspective needs to be applied to multiple social media environments. So there you have my pick. The expansion of what Crispin Porter has done plus a HootSuite-like offering for all social media environments all integrated into one Social Media Suite/Dashboard … the integration of all these functional characteristics (and others I have not mentioned) into one suite, one dashboard, is going to simplify social media execution and unleash some awesome game plans and wins. This is my vote for the 2010 MVP.

A comprehensive Social Media Suite/Dashboard – this is the MVP at true definition – what an MVP is to their team. The SMS/D will be the go-to “player” that makes a major contribution to the team and makes everyone around them better at what they do. What team will show up at the Super Bowl with the Social Media Suite/Dashboard yielding the execution performance of the year?

9 Comments

Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, marketing, marketing plan, social media, social media marketing, social network, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized, Word of Mouth Marketing

Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel

The billion dollar question – define for me how social media converts sales. Now that social media is getting serious consideration and/or implementation by just about all companies, this is the number one question I am getting asked.

First, let’s get a couple of things straight: 1) Social media is not a sales tool. 2) It is a marketing tool, among other things. It can increase the probability of sale – just like a well planned marketing campaign. It takes a salesperson to complete a sale (usually), but a good social media program produces many qualified leads.

I choose to answer the social media conversion question in the context of the marketing funnel principle. In the simplest form, the marketing funnel looks like this:

Simple Marketing Funnel


There are variations for the marketing funnel, but generally, some “marketing endeavor” creates awareness and interest, and a “salesperson” completes the sale. Ultimate conversion is accomplished by sales, not marketing. The sales force relies on marketing to generate qualified leads.

So now let’s talk about social media and the conversion process. A winning social media plan and implementation delivers greater numbers throughout the marketing funnel AND provides a cyclic capability not experienced elsewhere.

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING FUNNEL

In the diagram above, the marketing Funnel State is shown down the center. The first three states (awareness, consideration, and sale) are the same as in the simple marketing funnel, but social media is one of the best ways to generate awareness and motivate consideration. (I covered an execution scenario in the article “Executable Game Plan for Winning Ultimate Customers with Social Media”. The steps described to get Attention, Attraction, Affinity, and capture an Audience are an expansion of the funnel states of awareness and consideration.) The next state is the conversion. As mentioned above, conversion is a sales function, not a social media function, not a marketing function. Once again, a good marketing campaign and a good social media program generate awareness and increases qualified leads. They amplify the probability of conversion.

There are two very important additions to the social media marketing funnel – loyalty and advocacy. Social media has the power of making stickier (loyal) customers and turning them into your marketing engine (advocates, referrals). You can reinforce your customers’ purchase decision by engaging in appropriate social media activities. This is the power of social media – the ability to create advocates for your brand – advocates that produce the most compelling marketing of your brand. (See “Using the Social Media “A-path” to Capture Ultimate Customers .“)

The left side of the Social Media Marketing Funnel is labeled Group. This highlights the population before and after a specific funnel state. Yes, the population decreases as you move down the funnel, but social media endeavors produce a feedback loop where promoters spawn awareness, to a new target market population. This continues to be a cyclical program thus increasing the population in every funnel group. Social media is more than a campaign. It is continuous communication and conversations. If you continue to produce valuable information, you will continue to increase awareness, promote loyalty, and motivate advocacy.

The right side of the Social Media Marketing Funnel explains the Individual State or frame of mind of filtered group population after a specific Funnel State. For example, after a population gains some awareness of a brand, some individuals have interest. This is similar to the movement from Attention to Attraction in my A-Path model . There is an evaluation before sale. After a person purchases something and begins using the brand, they form a more complete assessment of the value potentially leading to brand loyalty and even a stronger satisfaction defined. Ultimately, some very happy, loyal customers will turn into advocates (see A-Path model ) and generate word of mouth referrals.

The Social Media Marketing Funnel model provides guidance for systematic implementations. There are two important takeaways here:

1) To begin, your product, service, and/or brand must have true value and differentiation for a target market. No offering will ever be successful unless this is true, independent of social media.
2) Your social media game plan should be designed such that Listening, Conversations, and Relationship building activities (see LCR Mentality) stimulate specific Funnel States (Awareness, Consideration, Loyalty, Advocacy). You can implement social media promotions to motivate conversion and sale, but as I always state, social media implementations aimed to sell most often have negative ramifications. It is best to have your sales team sell.

Bottom line – social media is an excellent vehicle to increase the probability of conversion. You can drive awareness and produce qualified leads. Think about the guidance provided here, listen to your target market, deliver them value, and build relationships. You will see an increase of prospects, customers, repeat customers, and customer promoters.

(Acknowledgement – The content above answers the question I have been asked hundreds of times – “How does social media convert?” The model I have defined here is a social media extension of what Adam H. Cohen termed “The New Marketing Funnel”)

9 Comments

Filed under marketing, marketing plan, sales, sales conversion, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized, Word of Mouth Marketing