We all know that the ultimate goal of marketing is to increase sales. But obviously it’s not always a straight, short line from a marketing effort to a sales conversion. Concepts like the buyer’s journey and the sales funnel help us understand the processes by which people become our customers or clients.
Social media marketing has the ability to influence your target market in all stages of the buyer’s journey. It has enormous potential for achieving a wide range of goals, far beyond the simple sales conversion. Once you recognize this, lots of opportunity awaits your brand.
Sales Versus Low-Consideration Conversions
Sales conversions are every business owner’s favorite metric to track. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Social media sites can certainly drive sales directly, especially if your website is set up with e-commerce capabilities; that eliminates a lot of the obstacles in your online sales funnel.
It’s important to realize, though, that social media marketing is most effective at driving low-consideration conversions.
That can mean different things to different companies and in different industries. If you sell a fairly straightforward, inexpensive product, then you might have great success making direct sales with ads, quick pitches, special offers, and other promotions on social media networks.
But very few people buy a car or a house through a link on a social media page. They won’t order your $400 dress, not without trying it on first. They won’t buy your innovative, pricey new drill, not without researching it first.
In other words, when you’re measuring social media marketing results, you’re probably not going to be impressed by how many clicks yielded a direct sale. And yet, real estate agents, car dealerships, upscale clothing boutiques, tool manufacturers, and everyone else uses social media marketing.
Practical Benefits of Social Media
Generally, the most successful social media strategies focus on things besides direct sales conversions. If you’re new to social media marketing, here are a few realistic goals to set for your efforts:
- Brand awareness isn’t the easiest thing to quantify, but it’s one of the primary benefits of social media marketing. Generally speaking, if your followers and engagement are growing, you’re increasing your brand awareness.
- Growing your following is itself a key social media goal, and its an essential type of social proof. But it should be done in ways that attract your target audience. Big numbers alone don’t help you succeed; it’s connecting with people who are likely to buy from you and provide referrals that matters in the long run.
- Lead generation is a crucial step between marketing and sales. It’s usually a lot easier to get people to contact you for a free quote or to request additional information via social media than it is to jump straight to the sale.
- Building an email or subscriber list is part of lead generation, and it furthers your content marketing and email marketing efforts. Consumers may not want to buy something from you right now, but they’ll hand over their email address without hesitation if you give them a good reason to on social media.
- Customer loyalty is built by delivering great products or services and great customer service. It’s also built on social media. Use your pages to stay fresh in your target market’s mind and to develop meaningful relationships with them through sharing valuable content and interacting with them.
- Customer service reaches new levels on social media. Respond to public and private messages promptly and professionally. Your social media presence can do wonders to help your customers benefit more from your products or services, to address their concerns and problems, and to show others how seriously you take your customer service.
- Boosting targeted traffic to your website is easy if you share valuable content and offers through your social media accounts and engage with people. This builds brand awareness and relationships with customers by increasing their exposure to you, and it creates more opportunities to let your site’s sales funnel do its work.