If you’ve been working in the digital marketing space for any length of time, the results I’m going to show you will come as no surprise. IF you follow trends, listen to me, look at what everyone is talking about, you might imagine the SOCIAL MEDIA is the best thing to hit digital marketing, ever! It’s not true.
Social is part of your digital marketing mix. And these numbers follow my experience in using digital marketing to drive ecommerce (re: sales) for both small and medium business and large corporations. The KING of all marketing channels is EMAIL. It sucks to say that. But it’s the truth. If you can get your email marketing campaigns tweaked for performance, and use the best practices (as well as break a few of them) you can unlock lead generation and sales with close rates of more than TRIPLE social marketing.
Of course none of these things work if your site and ecommerce platform suck.
Second up is SEARCH marketing. The is both ORGANIC (having great content with relevant keyword density – and producing this great content with measured frequency) and PAID search marketing. (Primarily consisting of paid adverting on Google (Bing/Yahoo et. al. run a distant second to Google by a factor of ten.) Getting your search strategy right is critical path #2. (relevant terms: SEO, PPC, SEM, AdWords, AdSense, SEARCH, Search Engine Optimization, Search Marketing)
FINALLY, we have social media in all its fun and misunderstood forms. (Examples of social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogs, LinkedIn) And I’m really in to social media marketing. BUT this is AFTER we’ve optimized your email and search programs. Social comes third.
Let’s look at some numbers from a recent ecommerce report: Monetate – Ecommerce Quarterly Report EQ2 2003 (pdf)
That tracks accurately with my experience over the last 5+ years. And the problem with email is the spam still wrecks our honest efforts. So we’re working harder to deliver email into your inbox. The rewards are there, but we have test subject lines, and CTA’s (calls to action – what do you want the reader of the email to do?)
Okay, but here’s the cool part, and it’s getting cooler, if you know what you’re doing. SOCIAL is an accelerant to the top two performers, and works in concert with them to improve your results even more. Let me explain.
Email is part of a permission-based marketing. Legitimate email programs have a very strict process for opt-in and unsubscribe. Getting a subscriber is tough. Keeping them is even tougher. But social media can be part of the mix to get new subscribers as well as keeping the current subscribers engaged.
Good content is why people subscribe to email. Keep the content coming, make sure it’s valuable to the receiver, and you will keep a good percentage of your mailing list happy, and done right, you can hit the list more frequently and make more money. EMAIL LAW: The more emails you send to your list, the more money you can make. EMAIL LAW #2: Send out shit and you will alienate subscribers (who will unsubscribe and hopefully not report you as spam) and jeopardize the most powerful driver of online sales. Take care of your list. Deliver valuable content their inbox. And engage them in a conversation though social channels.
SEARCH and SOCIAL are becoming even more closely entwined. It seems that every time we hear about a Google update we learn of new ways they are hooking social activity (the call them social signals) to your position on the search engine results page, as well as how much you pay, and even your Google Page Rank value. All “influenced” by your social footprint. How deep the connection goes on Google, we can’t really know, but we do know this: Better social activity produces better search results and lower cost-per-click.
(There’s another thread of reasoning that is impossible to dispel.) GOOGLE SEARCH AND SOCIAL THEOREM: If you advertise with Google, even a little bit, your organic search results improve. Maybe the higher clicks from the paid reach increases your “activity.” But the results from paid ad activity seem to have a higher weight inside the secret Google search algorithm.
And then there’s SOCIAL as an independent driver. For one current client the social channels of Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter drive over 60% of the inbound traffic. Again, inbound traffic and lead generation are only part of the mix. If your site isn’t very well designed to make the desired transaction as smooth as possible you might need to focus some attention there. But your Google Analytics will give you insight into that. (grin)
Reference/Graphics: Monetate – Ecommerce Quarterly Report EQ2 2003 (pdf)