Forget everything you ever learned about conversion funnels and traditional online marketing when thinking about social (media) marketing. When it comes to social marketing you can’t simply expect customers to flow seamlessly through a series of steps as if being pulled by gravity as funnel analysis implies. It’s time to embrace the concept of getting your customers to walk or run up the down escalator of social marketing.
When it comes to traditional online marketing (banner ads, email marketing, pay per click ads), you are marketing to people’s wants. You’ve done your demographic studies, you know what keywords they’re looking for and you simply created ads that appeal to that audience at a particular point in their buying cycle. When your creative is effective and people click through to your website, you can allow the site to generate its own gravity to pull (guide) their interactions through a series of steps, to their ultimate goal. These steps comprise your conversion funnel.
With social marketing, you’re reaching people at a completely different stage in the buying cycle. Frequently social marketing reaches people so early on that they might not even know what they want. They have no idea what the prize is at the end of the social engagement. It is through multiple social interactions that you will ultimately encourage them to walk up the down escalator to reach a prize they don’t even know they wanted yet. A prize they perhaps didn’t know existed when they took their first steps towards the escalator.
The First Step
The customer’s first step is their first social interaction with you and your brand. This might simply be a response to a tweet, a +1 or a Facebook Like of a blog post. It is through these initial interactions that your customer is at the bottom of the down escalator ready to make the decision to commit to the climb or simply walk away.
Getting Them On the Escalator
As a social marketer, your job now isn’t simply to get them to slowly look up the escalator and see the prize that awaits them. Your job is to entice them to take the next step and actually get on the escalator. This step might be simply becoming a fan of your Facebook page, following you on Twitter, adding you to a G+ Circle, or following your Pinterest feed. In essence they’ve given you a small indication that they have some interest in you and your brand.
Getting Them Up the Escalator
Once the potential customer is on your escalator, you need to make them truly want that prize at the end and keep climbing up the down escalator. Anyone who has ever attempted to walk up a down escalator knows, it takes a lot work just to stay in one spot and a significant effort to work your way all the way up. That’s exactly what we’re expecting from our audience. If you fail to entice or deliver what they want, they’ll simply stop and take the quick and easy ride back to the bottom and perhaps try your competitor’s escalator instead.
Motivating the Climb
At this stage in the climb your customer might simply need to catch their breath, but if you let them, they’ll quickly slip away. At a minimum you need to keep them engaged just to hold them at the same spot. From an organization’s perspective this is also where you need to spend a lot of time interacting with your existing and potential customers. You need to demonstrate you care about their wants, needs and interests. If they tweet out a question, you need to answer it quickly and appropriately. If they’re interacting with you through Facebook, Google Plus or any other platform, you can’t let their attempts at communication fall on deaf ears. Social marketing isn’t a broadcast medium (unlike TV & Radio), it is a true form of bi-directional communication.
Successful interactions and the possible next steps with your audience may include getting them to enter a social contest, share something, or like something you’ve done; in simplest terms participate and through that participation share your brand with their friends, family and colleagues. In this way, they are helping tell others that you exist and that they are engaged with your brand. When they do, they just might bring a few more people to your escalator (the social multiplier effect). If and when they mention your brand, don’t forget to use good manners and say thank you. You are building the trust and when the time is right show them the prize.
The Final Steps
You’re about to close the deal, you just need to have customer take that final step so they can reach the top of the escalator and step off and claim their prize. Their prize is your prize. By getting your potential customer to climb up the down escalator you’ve built brand loyalty and more importantly trust with the individual. They trust you with their money and in exchange you have given them your service/product. Best of all, because of all the work they did to get up and claim their prize they’re less likely to take the trip back down and start all over with a competitor. All you have to do at this stage is keep them happy.
To be successful in the social marketing game, you need to be less of a hard sell marketer and more of a sports coach. Show your potential customers the way, provide encouragement and motivation to climb up your down escalator. In the end you’ll both be happy with the results and when done correctly your organization will have a positive ROI.
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