Social Media Marketing: How Do You Know It’s Working?

Social media marketing is too much workIs social media marketing too much work for small business owners?

Social media marketing is almost too much work for little gain, according to many of the business owners I’ve talked with recently. Their concerns include:

  • “I’ve already paid for a great web site but I don’t know if it’s doing any good”.
  • “My web site is out-dated but it’s expensive to fix. Will free social networking sites make my web site unnecessary?”
  • “I spend a lot of time working at Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Once I knew how to set up an account, there’s an endless amount of time needed to grow a “following” and stay in touch with my friends and followers. It’s a lot of work. I had no idea….”

Does social media marketing (and internet marketing) deliver results for small businesses?

At a Chamber of Commerce luncheon today, I heard a great presentation from McGregor’s Yellowbook, showing us (small business owners) how their new comprehensive suite of products work together to increase the number of “impressions” (eyeballs on your business) and calls (feet through your doors). It was impressive evidence from small local businesses with stats carefully tracked across phone book advertising, web sites, listings, and even direct mail. They even give away SEO/SEM consulting time and set up Pay-Per-Click campaigns. Their service to get a business listed with Google Places is free!

What’s wrong with this social media/internet marketing picture?

Nothing, from my perspective–EXCEPT–it doesn’t go far enough. The services provided and the tracking also provided only prove one thing:

You can get more eyeballs on your business. More people will see your ads. More people will end up on the phone and/or at your web site.

Where’s the strategy (and the proof) that leads to more buyers? (Marketers call this “conversions”.) How will you be in touch with prospective customers over time and how will you pre-sell your goods and/or services?

How will you convert lookers to buyers?

And once people are your customers, how will you keep them coming back?

What should small business owners expect from new marketing and advertising?

An article published by Practical eCommerce last month (6/28/2011) highlighted the current rate of conversion in general for web-based ecommerce:


That means that in general out of 100 new visitors to your website you can expect 2 to become buyers. And that’s if “all’s well” at your web site.

Now for the bad news. If you’re converting at 2%, that means for every 100 people who visit your site, 98 are leaving without making a purchase. Before worrying about pushing more people through your virtual doors, you should deal with the more pressing issue of why these people who all raised their hands and said “yes, I want to see what your site is all about” then left without placing an order. To really understand this, you have to look at your traffic patterns and ask yourself these questions:

  • Where are people entering your website?
  • Where are they exiting your website?
  • What is your bounce rate?
  • What percentage of your visitors are abandoning their shopping cart?
  • What percentage of your visitors are abandoning in the checkout process?

The reality of ecommerce is that there is no quick fix.

(Mike Feman. Come Get Some: Four Practical Basic Steps to Converting Lookers into Buyers. Practical eCommerce. June 28, 2011)

 Trust is the “secret sauce” of successful small business marketing.

There are many ways to build trust with your prospective customer and your new customers. At your web site, you can implement some changes (as suggested by Mike Feman in his article at Practical eCommerce):

  • Show the world your phone number.
  • Use trust and/or security logos.
  • Clearly display your return policy.
  • Don’t be anonymous. (Tell customers who you are and personalize the experience.)

Make relationships to build trust. You can use social networking strategies to make relationships with your web site visitors and your “friends” and “followers”. The most important thing about the social networking sites you choose is not their “cool” factor. The most important thing is to find where your customers are comfortable and hanging out online and connect with them and engage with them over time. 

More trust = $more sales. A “stay in touch” marketing plan builds relationships and builds trust. Internet and social media marketing strategies can provide you with a way to stay in touch and build relationships. But, YOU are the person in “personalize” and your web site and social media marketing plan will only work if you are participating and making those connections.

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2 Responses to Social Media Marketing: How Do You Know It’s Working?

  1. bwoj July 21, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    2% conversion rates sound to be in line with similar number reported by Google across all of Adsense. It seems like you should be able to get better conversion out of a well run social campaign because you’re building the trust and the relationships instead of just herding “traffic” from the internet.

  2. Ulysses E. Spellman July 29, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    Social media marketing is the new cold call. Great information, thanks for sharing!