It truly amazes me how often an eyebrow is raised when I say to a client, “Social media does not create sales and will not provide you with a great ROI, however, as I am sure you are already aware of, social media is a must have for all business trying to compete on the web.”
I suppose, in some way, most clients are not expecting brutal honesty.
The truth of the matter is, social media alone does not create a huge amount of sales any more than email marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) will. If you want online sales and a good ROI, then you need to invest in all areas of inbound marketing because neither works without the other.
The three main areas of inbound marketing are:
Social media marketing which focuses mainly on engaging with clients and prospects via public platforms in order to promote your brands or products.
SEO which is the art of using content and keywords to create web organic traffic to your website in order to capture potential clients.
Email Marketing which is the bridge between both of these elements, whereby when a lead or prospect is realized, email marketing is used to send promotional information directly to the client in regards to you brand or products. It is also where information about your current and future client lists are stored.
When used properly, these three elements can be combined into a powerful arsenal for online sales, however, they are not so effective on their own, as most marketers would have you believe.
Social media is a great tool for engaging with people and helps boost SEO by spreading content such as blogs, videos and images over numerous platforms and while you may receive the occasional request for information about a product, it rarely leads to direct sales.
That being said, social media is no longer an option for business, it is a must have. People will search for information on their social media platforms first and many never go beyond that. If you are not listed on any current social media platforms, chances are they will never find you.
Think about it this way, most people are viewing social media for things that directly effect them and are simply flipping through, no one has time or energy to read every single post, therefore, most of it goes unnoticed. It is a constant battle and a great deal of work to make one sale and simply not a very realistic method for selling, however it is a great tool for getting your brand noticed.
SEO does not create traffic simply by adding back-links and creating a blog on your website like many SEO managers would have you believe. It is a complex system that involves a great deal of processes such as web design and development, on-page optimization and content management.
Without the use of social media to spread SEO, it is highly likely that any of the content created would ever been seen, simply via a keyword search. Seo needs to be funnelled through images, videos and content that is posted on the internet and shared via social media and other similar mediums. Traffic does not simply mean that you will capture a lead, traffic is a means for getting the client to visit your website so that hopefully you can capture their attention and convince them to eventually buy your products by building a continued relationship with them.
Without some form of list building strategy, this will not happen and that is what email marketing is for.
While email marketing is a must have for list building, it does not actually work unless you follow through with it. Too often, companies place opt in forms and list building forms on websites but rarely do they create offers or send promotional material such as newsletters to the client afterwards.
What is the point of going trough this three tiered process of marketing if in the end you do not follow through?
There are many reasons:
Email marketing is an extremely costly process and is based on the number of clients you have. The more leads that you capture, the more it will cost you to communicate with them.
Using email marketing and creating templates often requires a professional’s touch because it is simply not that easy to do.
Most companies do not offer all three elements because it is simply too much work and therefore you must hire three separate companies to do each part, which is difficult to micro manage and often causes conflicts.
All of these strategies take a great deal of time, effort and patience on the part of the business owner because satisfactory results are usually not obtained in a short period of time unless done via unscrupulous methods.
To hire a full time inbound marketer, it would cost over 50K plus benefits and thus companies seek out cheaper means of getting their name out there, but hiring three separate companies can also be costly, so how does one create a reasonable inbound marketing strategy within a budget?
One step at a time!
The past five years has taught me that the best strategy for my clients is and always will be:
- Begin with a properly developed website, brand and CMS that is optimized for SEO that contains lead capturing and social sharing components to it.
- Get the brand out there via social media and weekly blogs.
- Once a buzz has been created for the brand, you can begin to add full time SEO content and backlinking elements this way you will only need to pay for content because you will have already been added to many platforms already.
- When SEO has created enough traffic and viable leads, begin to add email marketing. Hopefully by this time, you have made a sale or received an investment or two to help pay for this portion.
Did your social media marketing company ever tell you this? Chances are they didn’t, because they do not want you to know that without all inbound marketing elements, chances are they will not be effective and worse, most have no idea.