For Episode 40 of The Small Business Marketing Report podcast, my co-host Sean Clark and I thought we’d share the marketing tools we can’t live without – but go beyond the usual suspects like Hootsuite, Google Analytics, or AWeber

You’ll find links to each tool below – but the real value here is in listening to pick up tips on how you can best use them to build your email list, improve your SEO, get more out of social media and much more…

Listen in to the show, and if you have any questions then please feel free to comment below or on our Google+ page.

Subscribe to this podcast via iTunes and if you like it we’d be grateful if you could leave a review, or a star rating.

So: how DO you generate sales, results and a positive return-on-investment (ROI) from your social media marketing?

In this part (Part 2/3) of my response to Tyson Report reader questions about social media, that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about. If you haven’t yet looked at Part 1, that would be a good primer:

But back to ROI. I had a lot of interest in this topic, and rightly so. Questions like:

  • ‘How do I measure my Twitter performance?’ – Roger
  • ‘How can you make buying Facebook or Twitter campaigns pay from themselves?’ – Chris
  • ‘How do I effectively calculate return on investment?’ – Sam

Now, I think a lot of people believe social media is one of those woolly marketing activities you ‘just can’t measure’.

Which is completely incorrect.

Actually, with a basic understanding of how social media activity can or does feed into your sales processes, getting a handle on ROI is a relative piece of cake, using Google Analytics

If you act on what I’m about to tell you, you’ll know:

  • How much revenue or value your social media activity brings in over a given period
  • How one social platform compares to another at this

To understand how this is going to work, you first need to understand a vital concept used in online marketing:

The ‘conversion.’

What is a conversion?

A conversion is a customer action that has value for your business.

It’s therefore either an outright sale, or a stepping stone on the way to a sale.

Here’s a very simplistic example for illustration purposes…

Let’s say you sell a product, and one sale of this product is worth £100 to you.

Sometimes you get a sale directly through your website, but more often someone leaves their contact details via a form on your website for you to call them back (which is what we call a sales lead).

Because you’ve kept track, you know that on average, you ‘close’ 1 in 10 of those leads – in other words, for every 10 conversations you have with prospects, one of them actually buys your product.

You therefore have two possible ‘conversions’:

  • an outright sale, worth £100
  • and a lead generated, which is effectively worth £10 to you based on your average closing rate.

You then set up your website in such a way that, after a visitor completes one of these conversions, they are redirected to a specific ‘thank you page’ corresponding to the relevant conversion.

With this page structure in place, you can then use ‘Goal’ tracking in Google Analytics to track which traffic source (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest) is generating those conversions.

More than that, by assigning these ‘Goals’ a cash value within Google Analytics, you can instantly get a picture of how much value, in £, your Twitter activity, for example, generated in the last day/week/month/year.

With this data, it’s then very easy to tell with certainty whether the half day you spent tweeting last month overall:

a) was a total waste of time (back to the drawing board)

b) earned you less than flipping burgers in McDonalds would have done (some big tweaks needed)

c) earned you a better hourly rate than Wayne Rooney (you hit paydirt – keep doing what you’re doing, or better yet hire someone cheaper than you to do the same thing for you)

I hope you can see how getting this in place is BIG.

Some kind of tracking is the only way you can scientifically improve your online marketing results. (If you want more guidance on this, you can get full worksheets and instructional videos in my VIP Membership.)

When you understand what’s going on, you can experiment, from a position of knowledge, and see which approaches yield the optimal payoff for your business.

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – only more responsive or less responsive. Let the market tell you what it wants.

So when people naturally ask questions such as:

  • ‘How can you increase sales from social media and not just traffic?’ – Chris
  • ‘What are the top two proven tips for converting “posts” into payment?’ – Christian

…I would always tell you it is ultimately a question of TESTING what works for your business and your market. But I will give you some general pointers too.

‘How do you sell on social media’ kinda reminds me of that question: ‘how do you eat an elephant?’

The answer?

‘One bite at a time.’

Firstly, social media isn’t a particularly strong channel for selling directly. You’re highly unlikely to sell a £10,000 product with a single tweet, for example. So:

1. Aim for the biggest conversion you can (for many that will be a stepping stone like generating a lead), and ASK DIRECTLY for it!

Too many people try to skate around the issue, because they’re terrified of ‘selling’.

But you HAVE to ask the prospect to take the next step in the sales process with you, CLEARLY and UNAMBIGUOUSLY at some point – or you can’t sell jack!

As I explained in Part 1 of this series, it’s OK to sell on social media, just make sure that selling isn’t all you do.

2. Ensure people who click the link in your ‘selling’ updates are greeted by a landing page that continues with the message and makes it easy for them to say ‘yes’ to whatever it is you want them to do.

One of the basic crimes of online marketing is to direct visitors through to a generic page like a homepage.

When you do this, you are in effect saying to your prospect ‘YOU do the work. YOU try to remember what it was that brought you here, YOU figure out why you should care, and YOU figure out how to buy from us.’

Guess what? People don’t want to do any of that. So they close down your page and they’re gone forever.

These two principles apply exactly the same whether you’re advertising on social media or doing unpaid activity.

On the subject of advertising on social sites, Geoff asks: ‘as people generally don’t use social media to read ads, are we in danger of achieving the exact opposite of what we’re aiming for? i.e. becoming an irritation rather than a ‘go-to’ solution to their problems?’

Well Geoff, our goal is not to be seen as an ‘ad’ at all.

Rather, it is to offer and deliver something so intriguing and valuable as a way of initiating a relationship with a potential customer as to make people glad they saw your message.

If you can achieve that, you won’t be perceived as an irritation, I assure you.

That may sound a tall order, but it happens all the time. Think of Nike football ads like this one (from a dim and distant era when Brazil had the greatest players in the world):

Now, no-one who was into football found that ad irritating.

On the contrary – millions of people have actually SOUGHT IT OUT on YouTube.

Only bad marketing grates!

And by the way, the message from this is NOT that you need a mega-budget to create interesting ads, or that only TV ads are interesting. That’s not the case.

You just need to know what your market really wants, and then work on how you package that up into something intriguing.

Let’s change tack and talk about some other questions and tactics now.

‘How can you make sure you capture all of the people talking about you so that you can create a conversation?’ asks Alan.

Alan, I suspect you’re thinking of Twitter in the first instance, so check out Tweetbeep which will send you email alerts every time someone mentions you (or a particular keyword) on Twitter.

Beyond that, and for other social networks besides Twitter, here’s a good list of social media monitoring tools.

‘How do you recommend promoting a business on social media which they don’t like?  I am involved in the gambling industry, but sites like Facebook etc. don’t like promoting us because betting is a problem for US-based companies.’ asks Simon

I think you have three options Simon.

#1 Create a dialogue

Money talks and often these sites WILL take advertising from gambling-type sites – if there’s enough in it for them. For instance Facebook’s terms state: ‘Ads that promote or facilitate online gambling, games of skill or lotteries, including online casino, sports books, bingo, or poker, are only allowed in specific countries with prior authorization from Facebook’ (my emphasis).

You can’t tell me that Paddy Power is not spending a bunch of money on Facebook advertising/reach in some shape or form. Find an ‘in’ with someone at your preferred social site and start talking to them, or talk to a media buyer (a dying breed but I guess this is one instance where they still have their uses).

#2 Create a ‘bridging’ site or brand

For instance, you could create a sports news website, promote it via social media and capture an audience… which you then control and can expose to the gambling offers.

#3 Forget social and find ‘unorthdox’ sources of traffic

OK, this will be unpalatable to some… but porn sites have a lot of cheap traffic. You’re looking at big audiences but also venues that mainstream brands won’t touch. That combination creates opportunity.

Traffic Junky is one such option - though, since you’ll be paying on a CPM basis (i.e. paying by the view and not by clicks or any other kind of performance), better be sure you have some proven ads to run or are prepared to make changes on the fly.

‘How to promote your website efficiently and effectively via social media?’ asks Cecilia. Follow the advice in this post for tracking to establish effectiveness Cecilia, and in Part 1 for general principles.

And on your follow-up question (‘and when is the right time to do so? As soon as you launch a new product? Or is it better to let it sink a little in case there are small glitches?’), yes, a ‘soft launch’ where a website is available for a period before being actively promoted makes a lot of sense if you could have issues to iron out.

Beyond that though, I increasingly believe that putting effort into ‘launch sequences’ is a very smart thing to do. Read the book ‘Launch’ by Jeff Walker if you want to see how an information marketer does it.

Finally, Paul asks, ‘do you know of a company that trains people in social media? A course or something. We see loads of people offering but wanted to go for a reputable one.’

Social media sites will come and go Paul.

I’d suggest looking for a course that will acquaint you with the basics of online marketing, and how to make it pay. Or, if it has to be ‘social’ learn how to use Facebook Ads and get a profit – because the principles involved in that are timeless and transferable.

It’s difficult to recommend one – so many people have jumped on the bandwagon in recent years. I suggest you scope out a possible provider local to you, subscribe to their email updates, see how good their content is, and size them up.

Do they offer a guarantee? Are they focused on BUSINESS RESULTS – not just the nebulous concept of ‘engagement’?

If you like what you see, book their course.

I hope you’ve found this Part (Part 2 of 3) interesting – please leave me a comment below if you have.

Part 3 will be along in a few days time, when I’ll be answering questions about specific social media platforms, including:

  • ‘How do you find industry relevant PR people on Twitter?’ – Paula
  • ‘Should we have/focus on a LinkedIn company page?’ – Karen
  • ‘Should I bother with Google Plus? (And if so, what are the best tactics?)’ – Rosie

Until then, you might like to read Part 1 of this series (‘Basic Principles & Strategy’) if you haven’t already done so.

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