I've been spending a lot of time with other marketers and consultants, and one question trips up everybody:
How do you prove you've given a return on investment to a customer?
For anyone who isn't familiar with return on investment (or ROI) an example would be this: a marketer is hired to attract customers and bring in the revenue. ROI is the belief that the marketer brings in more money than you've paid to have them. You've made an investment in them, and they give you more back in sales (or a return on your investment).
I ask my marketing colleagues how they prove they've delivered ROI to clients in various industries, and have gotten everything from half mumbled responses, to inaccurate answers, retorts that don't even answer the question and one marketer who admitted they had no idea how much money they were actually bringing in the door.
In fact, according to this article, only 15% of Marketers can prove with data how they are giving a return on investment and are worth their while.
That's a problem.
Who am I, Tim Campbell Marketing Strategist to ask you to pay anywhere around $5000 per year to attract customers and improve your social presence if I can't prove I brought in $5000 worth of business? I struggle with this too, and always try to come up with an answer to how I provide ROI.
And then it hit me.
I recently polled my some 700 Facebook friends how often they see ads, and how often they click on them. Their response? Average Facebook users see 1 ad for ever 5 posts in their news feed. On Twitter, it's sometimes 3 posts to 1 sponsored ad. How often users click? Not even once per week.
With social media in our lives on an hourly basis and so many businesses in our faces, a new phenomenon has occurred: content shock.
Do you know what happens when a computer is trying to do too much? When a person is given too many options and a demand is made? They stop.
Content shock works this way: we see so many ads, so many types of content with so many calls to action that we are in a state of content shock and we ignore, we stop and we do not take action. It's why yes social media marketing is so cheap, but is also so so so easy to do wrong and get no results.
In fact, a common belief among marketers is that Facebook and Twitter users are considered "low quality" as those users don't open these platforms to make a purchase, are early in the stages of the buying process and therefore far less likely to actually purchase while on the respective app.
What's the solution then?
Ironically, studies are showing that we (as western civilization) are reverting back to buying behaviours of the 1940's and 50's: we are relying on word of mouth and referrals by friends and family. We rely on, and in fact seek out affirmations of choices, or recommendations for alternatives. For more on this, I highly recommend the book Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital.
So what if social media marketing became less marketing, and more relationship building? This makes sense as the largest growing demographic of people are young (<29 y/o) and extremely interconnected and interdependent as a cohort.
We can make social media marketing became more personable, with an intimate touch and personalized communications so we foster positive relationships, instead of going for sales, sales, sales. This way we cultivate an attitude of gratitude among consumers, so that when they are ready to purchase they choose our business.
So how can we go from traditional marketing and targeted messages to trust building, that ultimately drive sales? Try:
1. Give value first, always.
Answer questions before they are asked, be helpful and polite, and always leave people better off than when they came to you.
2. Target a whole community.
Nobody makes decisions in isolation, so if you can get the trust of a whole group of people then one person is more likely to make a purchase with the confidence of their community. Plus, you'll create an advocate who refers business to you.
3. Create and share content others will want to share.
That's visually stimulating posts, content that entertains, shocks, inspires and educates. If people love what you've done for them and how you've made them feel, they'll refer it in their networks.
4. Have a call to action - that doesn't always involve money.
Encourage your audience to take a specific action, but one that is social in nature. Consider asking for comments, shares, likes, direct messages or phone calls...but do make sure to have a call to action.