Search engine referral traffic took over from social media as the biggest driver of website traffic in 2017 according to Shareaholic – up to 34.8%.
Unfortunately, though, this referral traffic doesn’t result in a conversion rate of anything near the same amount. An average of only 2 to 5% of social media activity results in a visitor completing whatever Call to Action you’ve specified in your campaigns.
And yet all our social media marketing and content strategies are designed with one intent in mind. – To get as many visitors to our websites so they have a chance to either purchase our products, sign up for a service or commission us for a job.
Finding the secret formula to get that conversion is not unlike the famed search for El Dorado! There are rumours it’s out there, but no-one can identify just where it is.
The Rule of Seven
One formula which doesn’t seem to be as prevalent in digital marketing as it was in the traditional advertising world, is the Rule of Seven. This assumes that your prospects need to come across your offer at least seven times before they will take action or purchase what you’re selling.
In essence, to get people to take note of your message or offer, you repeatedly expose them to it. This is especially important where social media is concerned. In fact, it’s so important that research by Buzzsumo, which analyzed more than 100 million articles, found that resharing content can boost engagement by 686%.
Bridging the gap
Bridging the gap between our referral traffic and our conversion rates is one place where the use of social media and web analytics is absolutely vital. It’s not just about collecting the data though. Learning how to use it properly is what sets apart a successful campaign from one which languishes away to nothing.
An article published in The Paris Review 32 of Summer-Fall 1964 – Pablo Picasso: A Composite Interview – consisting of a collection of interviews by the prize-winning author William Fifield with the artist, accompanied by the writer’s own observations, included the following:
I feel I am nibbling on the edges of this world when I am capable of getting what Picasso means when he says to me—perfectly straight-facedly—later of the enormous new mechanical brains or calculating machines: “But they are useless. They can only give you answers.”
And Picasso was right. You need to know what questions to ask of your data to find out the right answers. As John Piccone, president and chief revenue officer at Simulmedia writes in an article for AdWeek: “If marketers are not accessing the algorithms, they’re not be used to their fullest extent.
“Since the advent of digital advertising, machines have been collecting an unfathomable amount of data points about customers and their digital journey. Unfortunately for advertisers, many of these have become media metrics that are masquerading as media measurements.”
Our ultimate aim, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, is always to direct traffic to our websites, so we need to know what is and isn’t working with the posts we share no matter how popular they appear to be on the surface.
Clicks, likes, and swipes have become the default level for proof of engagement when, in actuality, it’s what happens after the post which is the most important. If 100 people like your post, but none of them go through to your website or follow up with an inquiry, how can it be deemed a success in the long term?
It’s easy to track the above metrics, but that doesn’t mean they should be used exclusively to demonstrate a customer’s interest or intent. Instead of only measuring the clicks, the likes and the swipes/shares, we need to be asking questions like:
- Why did customers engage with my products and services previously?
- Where will I find new customers and potential clients in the future?
- What can I offer my customers which provides a unique selling point for my organisation?
This allows us to identify patterns which an Artificial Intelligence program will use to forecast more accurate and predictable outcomes. By asking the right questions, machine-powered, predictable customer journeys will allow marketers to look past technical metrics and focus on business objectives.
Defining Your Conversion Goal
The first thing is to decide what your conversion rate goal is. This will depend entirely on your organisation:
- Organisations with products want sales
- Organisations with services want signups
Conversion rates are difficult and, according to SmartInsight’s Dan Barker, it’s a horrible metric to focus on. Conversely, Alexandra Gavril at hosting company 123Reg believes they are something all businesses should be keeping an eye on.
While it can differ from business to business, a successful conversion rate for a social media advertising campaign is largely accepted to range anywhere between 2-5% as mentioned earlier. This effectively means 2-5% of the people who click on your social media ads and arrive at your website have performed the desired action you want them to take.
However, context is everything and so realistically you need to forget about comparing your conversation rate to your industry average. Instead, focus on improving your own percentage rate. Keep in mind the “burden of the ask” – offering a free download will most likely have a higher conversion rate than if you’re asking someone to purchase goods from your site.
Consider switching the Call To Action of the campaign to something people are more likely to accept – i.e. “sign up for our email offers”. This way you’ve entered them into your marketing/sales funnel and have a much greater opportunity further down the journey for them to convert to a hard sale.
The Metrics Matter
If you’re running multiple social channels – a blog, email campaigns, social media posts on platforms like Twitter, Facebook etc – then you need to isolate the right metrics to measure for your business.
Use your business goals to define these. Going back to our earlier statement: tracking the buyers/customers journey from social to website to sale is why we’re paying attention to the metrics.
When it comes to tracking the data, there are a number of considerations to bear in mind. According to HubSpot every analytics statement should have the following:
- HubSpot’s metrics formula contains the above values
Using the above formula gives us a number of different example statements which then allow us to properly track, measure and analyse the effect of our social content strategy.
- the metrics formula in action
So, applying this in practical terms, it means you need to bring as much data diversity as possible into any strategy analysis – and allow for variations in the results on a campaign by campaign basis. Accept that there are variables and, even if the process is controlled, it can still change.
Trying to work out Google’s SERPs and SEO positioning is a law unto itself so bear this in mind. Social media data is also sensitive to variations because the algorithms which power the platforms are known only to those working behind the scenes. Everyone else is using best practice guesswork.
It’s also important to remember the quality of the data is paramount. High-quality data – that which comes directly from source i.e. Google Analytics or Facebook Insights – means you’re looking at the same comparable information each time, providing you account for those mysterious algorithms!
Finding the Right Tools
There are hundreds of social media tools out on the market but there’s no real debate, Google Analytics is the big one when it comes to tracking metrics from online activity.
Because Google Analytics is free and relatively easy to set up. (It involves adding a piece of code to your website so you need HTML editing permissions or FTP access.) It tends to be the default “go to” when it comes to looking into your website’s traffic referrals.
However, to get a more in-depth look at the analytics requires a fair bit of fiddling to create advanced segments which focus on specific targets you want to measure like tracking traffic from a blog post or social directory listing.
It can be overwhelming, and expensive, trying to work out what data you need and which tools you need to have.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was something which would give you insights into your website traffic from all digital marketing activity without having to jump through lots of hoops first?
Beacon Makes Life Easier
One of the tools which can make life simpler is the Beacon app. (Full disclosure here, I work for the company which created the app). Beacon adds value to the digital marketing process by revealing anonymised website visitor behaviour from tracked short URLs generated within the platform.
It then reports website traffic engagement, intelligently measuring the full customer journey from any digital marketing channel to sale. It also protects website visitor privacy and conforms to recent GDPR guidelines.
Being able to easily and intelligently attribute website actions, signups and sales to an individual link and digital marketing activity gives users instant knowledge of their digital marketing ROI, which was previously incredibly difficult and time-consuming to achieve.
- Image: Beacon gives insights into what happens once a visitor lands on your website through the use of fully trackable customised short form URLs
Social media analytics have the power to reveal potent opportunities to increase your engagement. Reference the right data to increase the efficiency of your marketing activities. You’ll start to see the true value in your ROI.
With activity targets you can measure the effectiveness of your social media campaigns in a meaningful way against 5 Key Performance Indicators:
- Hard bounce rate – Measure the percentage of visitors from a social post who bounced off a page without taking any action.
- Soft bounce rate – Measure the percentage of visitors who interacted with a landing page, but didn’t navigate to another page.
- Multi-page visits – See the percentage of users who visited more than one page from your social post.
- Average pages viewed per visit – Learn how many pages your visitors navigated to on average, from each social post.
- Average time on site – Learn how long your visitors from social media are spending on your site.
Don’t think of your social channels as a straight-line sales funnel or a pure lead generation platform. They’re not. Social defines what they are for – interacting with people who you wish to become your organisation’s customers.
Our intention with our social media marketing is the same as any form of marketing – to promote our organisation, create leads and/or convert into sales. Traffic (likes, followers, connections, and shares) is only one part of the equation. Without the conversions, it’s just statistics.
Make sure you’re digging for those data-driven insights in your analytics and business intelligence, use the best tools to get real-time information and understanding of your potential customers and their behaviour by creating fully developed customer personas.
Remember that Rule of Seven and don’t let your content be a one-hit wonder. Repromote your old posts at least a week after their initial publication. Find old content that can be refreshed or which ties into a global event and promote it again.
Use your analytics tools to get behind the posts and find out what’s really happening once you’ve let something loose in the world. Use Beacon to check what happens when those visitors land on your website. See what can be done to improve customer retention and get those all important conversions.
And remember, when looking to improve your site and your conversion rates, always test and find what works for you and your audience and don’t compare against others.