Social Media, Yeah… What Else You Got?

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Social media is past it’s prime now. In fact, in my most recent business discussions, social was the ancillary conversation. And that’s really where it belongs. Social media is the 7% solution.  You’ve got to have a lot of other things right before focusing on sharing and socializing of your content.

Here’s how most digital budgets and priorities break out, for businesses trying to do business or generate leads on the web.

1. Email Marketing
The tried and true ecommerce engine, the email list. If someone subscribes to your email list (harder and harder to convince people to do this these days) you’ve truly got a captured customer. By taking care of the cadence and audience priorities you can mine your “list” with both soft (we’ve got some new strategies to share with you) and hard (15% off any contract this week) offers. The return on investment for sending out an email to your established list is quite high. (Outbound email does have a cost if you are using a managed mailing system. MailChimp has a free account for most small business needs.) On the flip side, purchased email lists do not perform very well, and the cost per address and email can be prohibitively high. If you do need to pay for email demand gen, make sure you test your subject line and CTA thoroughly with a small set of the audience. Testing is the king of email marketing. Send several small tests (different subject lines, different call to action, different offer.)

2. Search Marketing
Search is the 2nd most valuable digital marketing tool. Using a coordinated combination of SEO and PPC you can attract and pitch a high volume of potential customers. If you’re PPC and SEO teams are off in different silos, you might want to bring them together for weekly updates on what’s trending, what’s selling, and what the next ideas are going to be tested. Complacency is the enemy of search marketing. The clicks aren’t free, but if you find profitable niches where the inbound traffic actually buys, you can dial in the successful search program. And as the news is always changing, your industry buzz words and hot topics could change quickly as well. Be sure both of your teams are working together to maximize your agility and accountability.

3. Content Marketing
Content is the king. Without good content you don’t have anything to send to your mailing list. And you’ve got to have great landing pages and valuable content offers to activate your potential customers. What’s the offer? In lead activation it’s not a buy now button you are using, it’s a give us your contact information and we will give you this valuable piece of content. The rest of the process is up to your sales team and drip email campaigns. Without valuable and relevant content you’ve got nothing to socialize or offer.

4. Social Marketing
Once you’ve got your top three drivers in place, you can consider the benefits of social media marketing. Share good stuff and it gets shared by others. Build up a following in Twitter and LinkedIn and activate them almost for free. Twitter can can easily drive 1/3 of your inbound traffic. But don’t over use or spam your social accounts. And remember you need to talk about ideas that are valuable to your followers. They are not interested in marketing materials about your company. They want to see how your ideas or technology has shown results for other customers just like them. Get you content in order before embarking on an aggressive social marketing campaign.Without good content, you’re going to be blasting our your brochure ware and people are going to drop you like the advertiser/spammer you are.

And of course more important than any of these demand generation tactics is your website itself. Bad design, unclear offers, and hidden contact forms are not going to be remedied by driving 10X more traffic to those same pages. If you’ve got your site in order, start at the top of the digital priority tools and work your way down to social. Then social can become the accelerant. Social doesn’t drive business, but it can accelerate it and keep the potential customer engaged until the sale/lead/contact is made.

Make sure you get the blocking and tackling done before you jump into social marketing.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

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