To grow a business, you need leads. So how do you fill the funnel, especially if you’re a small business that no one has heard of yet?
Ten years ago, the formula was pretty simple. It was all about driving traffic to your website, getting people to fill out a form, and then following up with them using sales reps or email marketing. Today, in the social revolution, an entirely new opportunity to drive transformational growth for companies has arisen.
Tactics like PR, Events, SEO and SEM are used to generate traffic to a website. If you can get people searching for your product, those are highly qualified leads, because they’re essentially raising their hand saying, “I’m interested, tell me more.”
The tricky thing for a small business is that it is not easy to get into the first page of search results, and if you have to buy keywords, chances are you’re bidding against more sophisticated players.
The good news for companies just starting out is that we’re in the midst of a transformation — a transformation driven by social media that is redefining the rules for online marketing and creating opportunity for those companies who figure it out first.
If you think about it, over the past couple years the Internet has been completely re-architected. Today it’s no longer about static websites. More and more, the Internet you see is personalized. It is compiled based on the people in your network and the brands you trust.
It is being shaped every time you click on the Like button or retweet a post. And on the Internet today the people you’re interacting with are real people. You can trust they are who they say they are because you can see their connections. As you interact on social channels, you’re being exposed to new products without visiting the company’s website, and you’re making purchase decisions based upon peer recommendations.
6 Simple Plays
So how do you track the pipeline influenced by these interactions?
It starts with tracking social touches in your marketing automation system. That will help you with lead scoring, campaign attribution and personalization. The key is to add tracking codes to the content you’re publishing out to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. When someone clicks on those links, you can track the campaign driver.
You’ll also want to use your listening platform to pull in all of your brand mentions and see if you can match them up with leads and contacts in your CRM database. That’s another great source of data to build out your social customer profile.
The second big impact social is having on the existing marketing funnel is that more and more, it is influencing SEO. It’s long been known that companies that blog generate more website visitors than those that don’t — but now Google is looking at signals from social to improve the quality of its search results.
For example, Facebook has gotten pretty good at figuring out if a person is a real person. Therefore, if your site is being mentioned by hundreds of people on Facebook, that’s a solid indication that you’re an authority on the topic. So if you rely heavily on search traffic and you want to come out on top, you’ve got to publish great content and engage your audiences.
The third way social is changing the game is that it has become a tactic for driving incremental leads. There are six simple plays that can be applied to a campaign. You can drive pipeline from blogs, and you can drive it from YouTube annotations. You can embed forms directly in Slideshare presentations, you can write tweets that point to offers, you can promote offers on Facebook, and you can drive traffic from LinkedIn. Those are the six new plays for driving pipeline from social.
Small Improvements, Big Transformation
As for content marketing, it is always going to start with one big content offer. That might be a webinar, an e-book, a video, or some combination of the three. The key for a successful social campaign is to pick a topic that is bigger than the brand.
What questions can you answer? What are people compelled to share? Once you have your offer locked down, the next step is to promote it. You’ll use all the traditional tactics such as email marketing, website promos, and advertising. But you’ll also use those six new plays to drive incremental pipeline.
To get your content marketing engine going, the key is to look at each stage in the funnel. It requires more thought leadership content at the top of the funnel with targeted calls-to-action on all your posts. It requires landing pages that are optimized for soft offers. And you need to adjust your follow-up process to determine which leads get routed to sales and which go to a lead-nurturing campaign. Small improvements at each stage in the funnel make a big impact.