Many people say that Social Media is not a sales channel, but it is not so. If there is no sales element, why would brands want to invest in social media marketing or advertising? Sales is done in social media; however, the process is long and most of the times not transparent. If your objective is to obtain leads via social media and drive sales, this chapter is just for you.
Lead generation on social media is a process that starts with the right objective and a series of different practices. Generating lead on social media can also be called as an opportunity that arises when brands’ position itself as a thought leader and keeps its ears open on the listening tools. There are different ways brands can generate leads on social media which is a direct component of patience and persistence on social media and content.
Today, when we conduct a workshop on Social Media, most of our tickets are sold via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, or referrals that we obtain from the participants. The major chunk of leads for our Social Media marketing services are all routed through Social Media. We follow an essential process while generating leads on social media. However, sometimes we do not really follow the process but still are successful in generating leads via Social Media (Figure 10.1).
Sales or lead generation happens when a brand invests time and effort in engaging their audience, offering customer service, giving value by offering exclusive contents and information, tracking consumer insights and feedbacks. These procceses impacts the overall brand equity building trust and relationships with customers and thus generating leads and leads to the brand closing it as sales. This looks like a tedious process; however, with every step involved in brand equity building, there are fair chances to generate leads, most of the time. If you are aiming at instant sales then you are setting yourself up for a fall. You need to focus on attracting audience with innovative offers or discounts. There are certain steps to be followed.
Various Process of Lead Generation on Social Media
Step 1: Define Who You Are Targeting
As is the case with every process of Social Media or traditional marketing, defining the target audience is essential and this applies to lead generation as well. For many consumer brands, lead generation through Social Media is a secondary objective as their primary focus is on using social media as a platform to build awareness, manage relationship with customers, and give customers an experience, etc. In many B2B organizations, using social media as a lead generation tool is the primary focus.
Social media marketing process is successful only when your target niche is well defined. Here are some tips that will help you define your target audience better. Remember, these tips will help you define your target audience while setting up any primary or secondary objectives on social media.
Customer Analysis on Social Media:
Understanding your customer’s behavior on social media is highly essential. Make a list of 20–40 of your customers on social media and track what kind of activities they do on social networking sites. Take a spreadsheet and track the kind of content your customers share or read; the time they are usually active, the various kind of activities they do on social media (such as engaging with an application, sharing content, sharing family photos, sharing funny stuff, etc.; you can set various decibels as per your brand). Profiling each customer and their behavior will help you understand the commonalities and differences
To visualize your customers, it is better to define your target based on a story that you can develop using the profile:
Example: “Ravi is a 28-year-old man and is in a relationship with a girl. He works for a software solution-providing company and earns about Rs. 40–50 thousand per month. He usually reads and shares a lot of contents from Technorati, WSJ, and Forbes on the emerging trends in technology. He is an active member of so and so group on LinkedIn. Most of the updates that he shares are through LinkedIn and Twitter. His Facebook presence is very much personal.”
Similarly, you can develop a story on other customers to understand in detail about what your customers really do on social media.
Benchmark Your Top Three Competitors:
Following in the footsteps of your competitors is always a smart strategy for the beginners on social media, provided you considered yourself the followers of the innovator. Choose three competitors who have already entered the social media territory for promoting their brands. Competitor analysis is the best way to understand who their customers are, which social media platforms they use to engage your customers, and what kind of content they share on social media to attract audience. One needs to track the kind of give away, thought leadership, contest-based element, content they share, design, involvement of employees, brand positioning and the brand’s behavior, characteristic and performance on social media. Compare the profile of your competitor’s customers with the profile you have created of your customers. Understand the similarities and differences in their profile. Track what is that your competitors are being good at and where is that you are better than them.
Consider Demographics and User Behavior:
It may be helpful to list your target audience’s demographics and psychographics. In fact, in step one you already defined some of these attributes. Listing as many out as possible will help you get a glimpse of the big picture.
- Income Level
- Education Level
- Marital or Family Status
- Ethnic Background
You can use this information to figure out how your customers think.
Once you have chosen a target audience, test it! Use the conclusions you have drawn to shape your communication tone. Try some things and see what happens. Take notes on the responses you get. Do the amount and quality of comments or responses go up if you talk a certain way, or share certain content? Use this information to improve your communication with your audience.
With the above analysis you should be in a position to derive the questions below. These are the main points that you need to vouch for while understanding your customers on the web.
- Who are your customers?
- What channels do they prefer?
- What are their content preferences?
- What is their usual behavior towards a brand on social media?
- What kind of content do they share?
- Where do they discuss about the product/services or the industry you belong to on web?
- What is their demographic and geographic history?
- Where do they seek solutions for their problem related to product/ services or the industry you belong to on web?
- What are the keywords that you can use to track conversations regarding your industry, problem (for which you have solution), or brands?
Step 2: Landing Page
A landing page is essentially designed considering the specification of who your customers are and what kind of information they would like to read on the landing pages, depending upon the analysis you have done. A landing page is an essential component in any form of Internet marketing, and it is a deciding factor for the conversions to happen or leads to generate. When the audiences you are targeting get to your website or to a customized Facebook page, you should take advantage of these opportunities as a brand.
As it is said, the first impressions are the best ones, a landing page will help the customer decide, create an image about you, your business, and whether or not they will proceed further or exit. You can prefer to have a landing page on the Facebook business page if you are targeting your customers there, and whereas targeting other social networking, a landing page needs to be built on the website.
Direct your customers from social media to the most relevant, specific URL on your website and not to the main website. By doing so, you are meeting those expectations and strengthening their purpose of coming to the site thus helping you build the trust to obtain their details.
What Should Go in a Landing Page?
A. Call to Action:
When running a lead generation campaign the ultimate goal is to obtain genuine leads and convert the prospects to customers. Driving customers to the landing page is one of the most crucial steps to reach the end goal. And the beauty of having a landing page with a “call to action” strategy implemented is that you influence and control what you want your prospects to do on your site.
Use the chosen “call to action” strategy creatively, for example you can highlight the content with a box around it which completely contrasts from the landing page to point out where the customers need to fill in details or take necessary step as per the objective.
Call to Action on Facebook Landing Page:
The Facebook landing page is the result of advertisements that your prospects have just clicked or product of tab that is visible on the Facebook business page of your brand. Your landing page is essential targeting either to generate leads or to generate more number of relevant people in the community. The most common ones are requesting people to click “like” to join the page, click “like” to avail an offer (which is accessible on the next page) or fill in the details. Below are some examples.
Call to Action on Social Media Channels:
Besides all the descriptions and details about your brand that you mention on social media channels on “call to action” mentions in your content and your channels, is essential after all your prime objective is to generate leads, give it enough exposure. On the branding elements you create for your presence on social media such as Twitter background, customized YouTube, and SlideShare dashboard, a creative header for the blog and any other element for giving a space for “call to action” must be a high priority. For example, do you want us to design your website? Click here or visit us on xyz.com/designforu.
Call to Action in Content and Conversations:
Sticking by the rule, every content that you develop in the season when your prime objective is to generate leads you need to highly consider the inclusion of “call to action” as an end note to your blog post, presentations, videos, photos, and the conversations you build around it. For example, whenever I post a presentation on my SlideShare account I always add all my contact details in the final side with a note: “Talk to Sorav, To Find Solutions to Your Social Media Problems.” Even when conversations are built across on social media on a topic initiated by your brand when you see your customers or prospects are raising questions, you should address the queries and end up adding a call to action note “for further details or queries about the products /services please feel free to connect with us @_____”. You should give enough opportunities for your customers to remind that you are there to serve or offer.
B. Maintaining Relationship Between Call to Action and Landing Page:
There is a strong correlation between call to action and a landing page. A call to action in the promotions, content, announcements or advertisements drives customers to landing page and acts as a strong support to the drive. If you, as a brand, drive your customers through a newspaper advertisement saying there is a 50% discount in the store and you are only offering 5% you definitely disappoint them as your “call to action” sets an expectation in customers’ mind which you have not met in reality. A landing page is where you meet the promises and the expectations that you set via “call to action” mentions.
C. Simplifying Design
If you believe in being straight forward, you need to implement the same on your landing pages too. Keeping it simple is the key mantra of a landing page.
- Avoid using different font sizes, styles and colors on your landing page. Follow a standard header, body and format.
- Do not add a lot of images or rich media content unless it supports your conversion goals and is a great way to convey important message. If your product/services are complicated and cannot be explained in limited words, then a quick 1 min video presentation can help.
- Having a form that allows your prospects to enter their contact details is essential.
- A toll-free number displayed on the top right-hand-side corner of the landing page will be a value add as your customers would want to talk to you to understand your product/service better, provided you have a 24×7 support.
- Having a live chat facility integrated on your landing page will help you track your customers and allow them to ping you if they are looking for an instant solution. Provided you have 24×7 support.
- Images are impactful on the landing pages, having an image that gives a visual representation of products or services is suggestible as long as they are not too large and complex and is properly sized.
- If you are planning to use a similar landing page for your Facebook business page, you will have to customize the same to 1100 height and 850 width pixels.
Since you are aiming at lead generation, having fewer content on the landing page is suggestible to distract the audience. Instead of writing in paragraphs make your description in bullet points and if there is something that you want to share in detail, have it linked to the footer and make it accessible on supporting pages.
D. Credibility of the Brand
Gaining the trust factor from the audience who visit your landing page is necessary, for conversion to happen or leads to be generated. A good design and call to action strategy alone will not help in the decision making process. On your landing page you may also want to have:
- Logos of your clients you have served before. Use the recognized ones (link these logos to case studies on supporting pages—if available).
- Badges of the media who have covered a story on your company or your product (link these logos to original story).
- Testimonials of your customers: Display the ones who are well known in the industry.
- If you are aiming at obtaining their information to sell your services later, have a note below the form “The information you will share will remain confidential and we will not spam your inbox.”
- If you are planning to sell via landing pages, make your customers feel secure about transactions by adding logos of the secure payment gateways.
- The logos of trade associations, acceptable payment methods, and money-back guarantee seals will be add-ons.
E. Enabling Social Sharing and Social Login
Having social media share buttons integrated with the landing page is an add-on to the entire experience of your prospects. A customer sharing your landing page shows he/she endorses the brand and that the content and offer is worth it. Allowing social media sharing icons on the page will also show the number of people who have retweeted on Twitter, liked on Facebook, or total number of times it has been shared on sites such as Google plus, LinkedIn, and bookmarking sites that shows how credible the brand is. There are popular social sharing widgets that you can use using sharethis. com and addthis.com. Allowing customers to share your landing page will increase its visibility on social channels and enhance its search engine positioning.
If you are too sceptical that your customers would not enter their details to contact them, you can enable social login feature; this feature allows people to access your site and continue “call to action” by logging in through the id and passwords of social networking sites they already have registered in. Many social networks today allow you to pull in contact details from the user (such as an e-mail address), making it very easy to allow you to communicate with users.
Step 3: Lead Generation Battle Ground
In the step 1 of the process you have taken all the necessary steps for understanding your customers and prospects better. It is time to put all that you have learnt about your customers there in action here. When a warrior enters a battleground he has a specific goal in mind for the day; it could be conquering a specific land or killing these many warriors of the enemies. Similarly, when a marketer enters social media landscape he/she needs to have a specific goal in the mind. The goals could be:
Based on Your Customer Analysis:
- Number of social media channels to approach
- Number of contents to be released in a week
- Kind of contents to be released in a week
- Number of prospects to reach every day through listening (tangible), advertisements (tangible), and virality of the content (intangible depends upon the content).
- Number of prospects to reach base don profiling and availability.
- Participate and pitching in number of conversations through listening
- Number of leads to be generated through advertisements
- Number of leads to be achieved through the content released
- Overall visibility to obtain: Community to develop favoring future lead generation activities, such as number of likes and number of followers
All the goals mentioned above have a co-relation with the customer analysis you have done. For example, if you are a consumer brand targeting youth in India via social media you will have a lot more choices as they are more social media savvy and they are like the soldiers in the battle ground. However, if you are a B2B organization and trying to target CXOs or manager level, individuals’ choices and activities get limited as the social media literacy or accessibility is still limited. It is like targeting the majors in the battle ground; you will reach them but there is a lot to do.
#1 Targeting Your Prospects Through Listening:
Listening on social media is a key element to generate leads which is available up in the air. Social media has today become a ground where many individuals seek for answers. For example when I was going to Colombo for a workshop, I had just tweeted “I am looking for a vegetarian cafeteria in #Colombo, any recommendations?” Someone who was following the #Colombo listened to my query and recommended to a cafeteria called @Cocoveranda which was also available on Twitter. The one who was managing @Cocoveranda quickly responded to my query with the menu of vegetarian dishes and warmly welcomed to the cafeteria via Twitter even before I landed to Colombo
The queries raised on social media by prospects help raise them collective decisions from peers which are also accessible to the brand to pitch.
A. Listening on Twitter:
By using various listening tools (refer to chapter online reputation management) a company or an individual can set up those keywords that users use to search you. The words could probably be one of the following:
- Broad Search: Name of the brand or competitor’s brand.
- Narrow Search: Prefix or suffix to the brand name or competitor’s name or the products and services your company sells. For example: looking for a Lenovo laptop, any Dell dealers:
- Search for the Need: Looking for jeans, any social media expert, any recommendations for laptops?
- Search for Plans and Problems: Small businesses can prefer to search for words that people use while describing their activities which could be related to the services or products your brand offers. For example you own a cab service company and to look for customers even before they reach your city you can use Twitter extensively to listen to people who are travelling to your city. For example search for, going to Chennai, visiting Chennai, Chennai, here I come, etc. and then tweet them with a pitch.
Similarly, many a times brands take advantage of people sharing their problems online and pitch to them with the solution which helps them engage with the individual and recommend them their products and services as a better solution to their problem.
Case Study 10.1:
How Amrutanjan Relief (@WuhooRelief) and Amrutanjan Roll (@KickOutPain) Listened to People Suffering on Twitter. This is the detailed case study of the one discussed in Chapter 6.
The case study shows how Amrutanjan created demand on social media by listening to people’s generic problems and pitched them with solutions that the health care brand Amrutanjan offers.
What did the brand do?
Relief (@WuhooRelief) and Roll On (@KickOutPain) two healthcare products from a popular South Indian brand called Amrutanjan became popular on Twitter by providing homemade remedy solutions and recommending products to people suffering from cough, cold, sore throat, and headache.
In less than 4 months Amrutanjan Relief and Roll On reached more than 2000 people on Twitter who were suffering from cold or headache and offered them home remedies and the healthcare products to get some quick relief.
How did the brand do that?
The company first made a list of keywords that people usually use when suffering from a cold or headache such as suffering from cold, nose blocked, head is aching, sardard (headache in Hindi), could not breathe properly, coughing, sardi—jhukaam (cold in Hindi), and other hundreds of words in different regional Indian languages that were associated with the problem.
After running a search on these words on a daily basis, the brand identified many who were suffering from this problem or have been conversing about it and that is when the brand joined the conversations by checking with them how they are feeling and offering them some tips to get a quick relief (thus not being promotional on the first instance) and ended up recommending their products.
As a result:
- More than responding back to the concern raised by the brand, people shared that concern with their followers on Twitter because it was surprising to have a brand showing sympathy when the person is sharing his problem on a public platform. With RTs the communication of the brand reached to thousands on a day-to-day basis.
- The sympathy raised and suggestions that were given not only created brand advocacy but also helped create a brand identity and an increase in sales.
1. Leads Through Question and Answers and Groups
- Quora and LinkedIn Answers (feature of LinkedIn) are two places that can help you get answers to your queries on the web. Quora is more to do with queries personally and professionally whereas in LinkedIn Answers are very much confined to the professional questions alone. Both of these sites are full of opportunities as you not just answer the questions and gain credibility or respect but also get an opportunity to address to some of the direct leads.
The image above from LinkedIn shows a direct requirement to which a sales executive can contact to and privately respond to close. On a similar note, sites such as Quora.com and Yahoo answers can help you with a lot of open questions relevant to your business that could be a direct lead.
Apparently, LinkedIn has removed the LinkedIn Answers features. However, relevant LinkedIn groups are where you can benefit from or Quora is where you would want to be for this feature.
There are various communities and groups on LinkedIn and Facebook where conversations on certain topics are built and so are the discussions on requirements. Obtaining leads on these places can be related to a cafeteria experience. For example, you are in the queue of a cafeteria to pick your coffee and two persons behind you are discussing a certain issue for which your company has a solution. You tap on the shoulder of the person and offer him to join in a conversation where you show him the solutions you have and exchange cards. These groups run in similar fashions where conversations and leads are out there and you need to figure it out. A company needs to be a part of the relevant groups of their industry where their target audience usually dwells and converses with other like-minded individuals.
For Example: A popular group on Facebook called “Chennai Shopping” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/chennaishopping/) with more than 17,000 members is a place for Chennaites to source information related to their requirements and at the same time a platform for local vendors to showcase their products. Many women on Facebook keep dumping their queries and get responses in a crowdsourcing pattern from the members or a response directly from the vendor too, times. Check the example of requirement and conversation below.
2. Lead Generation Through Content and Thought Leadership:
SlideShare, a popular presentation and document sharing website has a feature that allows brands to source for leads when people access the presentations they upload. The pro account of SlideShare allows a minimal number of leads based on different packages. Ramco Systems, an ERP on Cloud service provider extensively uses SlideShare to share contents on pro account that generates a form while the viewers access the presentations. This has helped them source numerous leads and close a few. Ramco Systems has shared more than 200 documents and presentations which has gotten 70,000+ spectators. The process of uploading a presentation is simple and so is the lead generation process on SlideShare, provided the brand has great presentations to share or if it can start investing in creating new. SlideShare is a very effective tool for B2B marketers.
Case study 10.2: Ramco System’s 360 Degree Social Media Approach – B2B Social Media Marketing Case Study
For B2B Marketers, Social Media is a tool for lead generation which comes with a lot of credibility on the web and thought leadership. Ramco Systems and many other IT companies such as Wipro, Infosys, HCL, and TCS have a holistic presence on social media channels. Thought leadership over a concept on web is always well recognized by analysts, customers, search engines, authors, and bloggers. Ramco Systems has created its active 360 degree presence on all the social networking sites positioning itself as a “Cloud Computing” thought leader.
Various brands’ 360 degree presence and social media activities are presented in Table 10.1.
- Ramco Systems claims to have obtained leads and sales via its social media presence.
- Increased visibility of the updates related to cloud computing made by Ramco Systems on search engines and increasing leads through the lead generation forms.
- Loyal base of followers, fans and subscribers resulting in inquiries and sales.
- Shows credibility and content richness of the brand related to the subject thus making it a thought leader.
- Customer relationship management through regular mapping on LinkedIn and Twitter
Sharing a lot of content on a regular subject helps brands position themselves as a thought leader in the web sphere and that ultimately results with people approaching you or your brand to avail expert advice. Making full use of sites such as YouTube, SlideShare, Blogs, and Pinterest to upload contents and promote it via sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn with a “call to action” will help brands to promote themselves and avail leads.
3. Driving Leads Through Social Media Advertisements
Many brands do not enter social media, however prefer to advertise on these platforms and drive traffic to their website or generate direct leads. LinkedIn and Facebook are two popular sites that allow people to use their advertising dashboard and run advertisements on their own. These ads are called social advertisements. Social advertisements are way too different than traditional advertisements; it allows brands to reach the customers based on their specifications (such as age, gender, sexuality, profession, education, marital status, and designation), social activities and interests which is not in the case of traditional ads. There are few but major differences between them, which are presented in Table 10.2.
Many ecommerce websites in India invest in Facebook ads to showcase their offers and products to the defined audience. Websites such as snapdeal.com, hushbabies.com, lenskart.com, myntra.com, and inkfruit.com regularly advertise on Facebook to increase traffic to their website to generate leads and direct sales. Communities such as Café Coffee Day, Fastrack, Kurkure, and Chumbak use Facebook ads to drive traffic to the community and increase subscriptions.
How echoVME Generates Leads for Workshops Through Facebook and LinkedIn Ads
Facebook.com/echoVME is a community to learn about social media and digital marketing on Facebook where my team from echoVME updates about our social media workshops, pictures of our work culture, pictures of the workshops, daily tips, and engagements models. The prime objective of hosting this page on Facebook is to:
- Gain Thought leadership on social media marketing
- Generate leads for the workshops on social media
- To keep the audience informed, engage them, and avail their feedback.
To meet the purpose of Gaining Thought leadership on social media marketing and keeping the audience engaged we regularly update about the recent happenings in the organization, latest happenings in the social media scenario, opinions, case studies, quizzes, polls, event pages, and sharing of links. To generate leads for the workshops and meet the objective of Generating leads for the workshops on social media we created a specific landing page with a form integrated and ran advertisements targeting the niche audience of only those cities where the workshop was to be hosted. The audience was defined on the basis of the age, education level, interests (designations, company, subjects), and advertisements were run as low as $10 budget a day.
Result of the Advertisement:
- By investing $10 a day, we have been successful in sourcing round about 20 leads a day.
- Besides 20 leads we have close to about 100–200 members joining our Facebook community through the same ads.
- The tickets of our workshop are mostly sold to the leads generated via the advertisements and most of the inquiries in the communities are raised by members who have joined the page via advertisements.
- As Facebook allows integrating conversion pixels with the process, it also becomes easy to track how many people have registered for the workshop.
4. Driving Sales Through Social Community Offers:
By now, you would have learnt that a continuous social media presence of a brand helps to develop a community or followers of groups of individuals who has believed or are looking for communication from the brand. A Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and Lithium global report on a survey taken by 1300 consumers and 120 CMOs shows about 65% of the consumer connect with brands to participate in games and contests and avail promotions, discounts that the brand offers where as only 33% of the CMOs perceives that as a purpose of consumer coming online. This shows that a brand’s presence on social media can go buzzing if it regularly introduces entertaining offers for its social media crowd.
Based on my experience, if you really want to get your community active, rolling a discount or offer can help you not only just create enthusiasm but also increase some quick revenue. Some of the popular Indian brands regularly announce offers and discounts on online platform encouraging more people to respond, purchase, and benefit from the offer (Table 10.3).
How Dominos Pizza Creates Buzz and Increases Sales on Social Media
Dominos Pizza India announces exclusive offers on the first day and the last day of the week via social media (Facebook and Twitter) and other digital means (SMS and digital banners). On the other regular days it offers regular special discounts. The discounts aims people to use the online sales channel of Dominos Pizza thus encouraging online purchase behavior. To track the sales the brand offers coupon codes through social media channels.
These offers not only just encourage online purchase but are also cost-effective strategy to increase sales without investing in traditional advertisements which is rather expensive. With these offers Dominos Pizza has been successful in creating its identity and increase sales by offering regular discounts.
A discount or an offer is an effective way to measure the enthusiasm of audience in community and to measure the reach of the communication both offline and online.
Some Relevant Social Media Case Studies:
How “Yatra” Created Its Facebook Presence and Increased Sales
Yatra.com is a very popular Indian travel portal generated about 1.5 Million from its social media presence especially Facebook. Yatra’s prime objective was to use social media channels to engage customers, create strong brand recall and source feedback from customers for products and services.
What did the brand do?
- Yatra positioned its Facebook page around “Happy Traveler’s Theme” with attractive cover picture made up of photos sent by its happy customers. The brand encouraged customers to use message feature on Facebook for inquiries.
- Yatra targeted its audience via Facebook advertisements, driving the traffic to the specific landing tabs and through sponsored stories to increase the number of likes.
- Yatra’s customer service team responded to queries within 12 hours.
- Brand regularly engaged with offers and promotions during festive season.
- Hosted applications like the “Happy Travel Jigsaw” which helped fans on the page solve puzzles.
- Posted regular engagements on weekend and on other days about travel destinations.
Result of Its Presence:
By promoting exclusive deals and engaging customers on day-to-day basis has helped them drive traffic to the online booking application resulting in sales of 1.5 million of Yatra products and services.