Integrating social into your marketing? Don’t overlook your most important asset.
Your Website is the Core
Your company website is a core asset and should be the center of your marketing efforts. Your website is the mainstay of your online presence; it brands you and serves as the foundation, or center, of a constellation of marketing assets.
Not only is your website the host of your content and offers, but it is the gateway through which the world can reach you, and serves, in many cases, as a first introduction to your prospects.
Your Prospects are Already Online
“Many Americans begin their purchasing experience by doing online research to compare prices, quality, and the reviews of other shoppers. Even if they end up making their purchase in a store, they start their fact-finding and decision –making on the internet.” Jim Jansen, Senior Fellow Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project
Research reveals that consumers who visit brand websites do more in-store buying. Visitors to CPG brand websites buy 37% more in retail stores than non-visitors to the brand website, and complete 41% more transactions, according to a ComScore, Accenture, and DunnhumbyUSA study released in January 2012.
New Marketing Landscape is social
The Internet, Technology, and social has changed the way consumers buy. Consumers don’t just stop after taking a look at a product website…they are search-savvy, seeking information from various sources. Marketers are no longer in control of the flow of information; the information advantage has shifted to the consumer. Truth is, not only are consumers looking at brand websites, but they are also seeking information and advice from each other, sources independent of the product/service provider.
Search is getting more social
Recently Google announced significant changes in their search algorithm that are designed to provide increasingly tailored search results. The new results incorporate personal social networks.
The article How social search should change your social media strategy is evidence that the trajectory is toward more social integration not less. Consumers are having conversations, sharing their good and bad experiences. Social platforms now amplify the conversations, especially the negative ones.
Promotions are more social
New services like Groupon offer promotional discounts when consumers band together to take advantage of an offer. If a certain number sign up to take advantage of the deal, it becomes available to all; if it fails to achieve the minimum, nobody receives the deal. Other applications are location-based allowing consumers to use apps like Foursquare, Facebook or Yelp to “check in” and make comments or evaluate their experience so they can easily share with those following them.
How to integrate Social into your Marketing
Strategy should drive social into the marketing mix. For marketers thinking about integrating social into their marketing there are many choices like Twitter, Foursquare, Groupon, Living Social, Facebook, You Tube, Linked In and Pinterest, just to name a few.
It can be tempting to begin with “We need to be on (fill in the blank) a certain platform.” This is not the way to integrate social, you must begin with a strategy, not a tactic.
Incorporating social into marketing strategy begins with questions like:
- How do my customers use social platforms?
- Is our organization ready to engage with customers on these platforms?
- What do we intend to accomplish with our presence on these platforms?
- How will we know if it is successful?
- How will we integrate this effort into our overall marketing mix?
Being able to answer social media strategy questions like these is essential when incorporating social media into your marketing strategy.
Begin with the basics - Integrate social into your most important asset
Once you have a social media strategy, start by making one of your most important marketing assets, your website, social. Here’s how you can begin:
- Create compelling content, and keep it fresh. Consumers will quickly identify sites with dated information they will not return. This task will be more manageable if your site is built on a Content Management System.
- Develop a content strategy. Quality content will allow you to establish yourself as a thought leader, and this in turn builds trust.
- Make sure content that answers specific questions is clear and visible. Increasingly consumers want to search to find information on your site. If possible, ensure this feature is included.
- Include supportive resources for prospects at every stage of the sales funnel, encouraging them to return to your site often. Here is a helpful content checklist.
Engage with consumers on your site
Provide opportunities right on your site for consumers to interact with you; offering surveys, opportunities to vote, give ratings and opinions, allowing comments—all of these are ways to give a voice to your site visitors. It’s a good idea to respond to their communications, so they know you are listening.
Make it easy for everyone to share content; there are a number of free share icons tools that make this very practical. Most content management software is designed to enable simple integration of the major social media platforms, so take advantage of these added channels to appropriately share and distribute your content.
Invite consumers to sign up for newsletters or offers without asking for too much information. It’s a good idea to just start by requesting only an email address. The less information you require, the better the response rate will be.
If you haven’t already, consider blogging. Sites with blogs generate more leads. Blogging will help establish you as a thought leader. Make sure the content is helpful and conversational; this is not the place to drop sales propaganda. Allow your personality to come through.
If you happen to have video, find a place to incorporate it on your website. Often “behind the scenes” action or interviews with appropriate stakeholders are powerful ways to convey your values or demonstrate how your product or service can be used. Film testimonials or share about events you attend.
Integrating social into your marketing offers many opportunities…and distractions. Take action now, being careful not to let the shimmering possibilities take you off-course. Simply start with a focus on the basics and begin to realize the benefits now.