As a business owner, your goal is to sell your product so that you can make money and keep the company growing. But in order to do that, you need to let people know that you exist and convince them to buy. In short – marketing.
Using social media to advertise your products is a strategy that many businesses have found to be both incredibly effective and surprisingly affordable, but there’s a problem. Too many people just don’t seem to understand how the social media marketing model works. They want to see immediate sales when they put up a blog or get a bunch of Likes, but that’s just not how it works.
Social Digital Marketing: You Have to Understand the Stages in Building Growth
We’re used to ads exhorting everyone who sees them to go out and buy a specific product right then and there (the model most of us are familiar with from far more expensive TV, radio, and print campaigns), but if you do that in social marketing, people tend to ignore you if you’re lucky and get angry if you’re not. So if you simply didn’t start your social marketing for the holiday season until November or December and then put out ads promoting specific products, it’s likely you didn’t have a whole lot of luck.
Instead of immediately focusing on the sale, you need to understand that you are creating a Marketing Pyramid where the initial stage (the large base of the pyramid) is about making people aware of your business and positioning yourself as a trusted source. After you convince people to check out your content, you want to focus on moving them up through the pyramid, which should reflect the stages of your sales cycle:
Lead -> Qualified Lead -> Customer -> Retention
Your website serves as your hub in that it automates lead capture and helps to funnel people to the top of that pyramid where they become ongoing paying customers.
Let’s take a look at the stages:
Search or Lead Stage. This first stage or base of the pyramid is where potential customers are just in an exploratory mind-frame. They have discovered that they have a problem that they want to solve and are interested in learning things that can help them to do that. This interest makes them potential leads, because you know that they are looking for something that you can provide. But your goal at this point isn’t to try to sell directly to them, it’s to create content that positions your product as the solution they want.
What does that mean? That your content should focus on things like best practices, how others have solved similar problems, and who are the solution providers that are best qualified to help them. Act as an information provider rather than a businessperson marketing a product and you’re far more likely to have your content spread through social channels, blogs, and in the press.
Conversion or Qualified Lead Stage. Once people come to your site to read that content, then you can concentrate on “conversions” – things like getting those people to Like/Follow/+1, sign up for your newsletter, download a white paper, or contact you directly. Those who do this then become qualified leads who have shown that they are willing to interact with you, and your goal should be to nurture this relationship while working to convince them to become a paying customer. This means focusing more on how your specific product can help them and incorporating Calls-to-Action in your correspondence with them.
Customer Stage. At this point, you’ve convinced some of those qualified leads to purchase your product. The question, though, is what percentage actually did it and why… or why not? You’ll need to continually tinker with your formula to figure out which particular parts of your sales pitch are working and which are falling flat. It could literally be where you position words on your pages or what colors you’re using, so testing out different things to see how they affect your results is important.
This is also the place where you’ll make your pitch to get people to buy related products, so how successful you are there is something else to watch for and play around with.
Retention Stage. It’s great that you got some attention and even convinced people to buy from you, but that doesn’t mean your job is over with those customers. Your goal is to grow, so you need to get those people to come back and buy more even while you generate new leads and prospects. You do this by continuing to provide high-quality content through emails and social media to keep customers aware of product updates, promotions, and other information you think would interest them, as well as incorporating methods such as allowing active users to refer new users through product features and incentives.
It takes time to get enough people to move up through this pyramid, so if you’re hoping to make your next holiday season more successful, start working on creating qualified leads now. The earlier you start, the larger and more engaged your audience will be when you really need them to convert to actual paying customers.