Is Social Sales About Contacts, Context, Content or Conversions?

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Is Social Sales About Contacts, Context, Content or Conversions?

The simple answer is, it’s all 4. You need contacts to engage and convert and content to assist you in this process. What is often ignored is context which plays a huge role in defining relevance. It is simply not enough to blindly throw content at customers all day long in the hope that they might find it to be of value. That is a waste of your time, their time, and may even prove to be counterproductive (damaging) to your efforts. Nor is it effective to constantly bang them on the head with a hammer when this delicate surgery may require a scalpel and for you to have the skilled hands of a surgeon.

With that in mind, let’s call our components the “4 C’s” and take a closer look at each …

Contacts

Contrary to some popular opinions, I believe that it is not about the number of contacts that you have. Rather, I think that fewer, yet better, connections will trump the unwashed thousands when it comes to measurable results. It is more about servicing your best customers/prospects/referrers and doing so where the only acceptable goal is to exceed their expectations. This takes time and a focused, consistent, effort.

If you have thousands (or even millions) of people that you are trying to reach (or even if you do not), having the ability to segment them by a variety of parameters, will be tantamount to your success. This is important in terms of discovering, as well as later managing, these folks. It’s not difficult to create targeted lists based on say industry and location but, selling today has the potential of being able to add a social layer to this task. For example, “show me people who are influential in marketing, have a klout score of at least 50, and who work in the dental industry in the Los Angeles area.”

Context

We simply must be able to engage with our contacts and do so in manners that are relevant to them at any given specific time. Let’s start by looking at a common definition for context

“The set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.”

The current status exists due to other contributing factors and these additional conditions point to the context. For example, in sales we talk a lot about triggers Triggers are events that will cause a certain opportunity to present itself and triggers are one of the variables that can be used to correctly identify the context.

Keeping things in their suitable context is about having the ability to interpret all of the surrounding evidence that social sales provides and having that available at the right time and during the right opportunity. It is approaching things with that right context in mind that makes your actions relevant based on the evidence and this includes the content that you choose to share.

The proper context can only be determined by really getting to know people, their wants, interests, and desires and then by building a relationship on top of these foundational elements. It is your goal, your job, to uncover these insights prior to even reaching out to them. You review previous conversations and activities before proceeding in order to ensure that your following steps are taken in the proper context (applicable to their current status). What would you think about a salesperson contacting you about a service that might have been relevant to you but, two years ago? Better yet … you no longer even work in that industry. Impressive.

Much of this information should discoverable from within your well-maintained CRM (even better a Social CRM) and, if you are not using either, you are missing out on these insane opportunities. A good CRM becomes even more powerful with shared contact records that document your team’s’ activities with this account in addition to your own. Your only alternatives are to visit their social profiles individually in addition to your inbox, calendar, and that manila folder that holds all of your post it notes and scraps of paper. How many of us are willing to do that? Probably not many, including me, and certainly not for a lower value deal.

There is one thing that has always made understanding our contacts and their current situations to be an extremely difficult task. None of the insights that we may have been able to gather will remain static. Everybody and everything about them is dynamic and constantly changing. Social sales has the potential to excel in this arena as we now have the ability to monitor these movements that are occurring in the lives of our customers (business and personal) and we are able to do so in close to real-time.

Content

Just throwing content against the wall and hoping that some of it will stick (resonate with your customers) is pretty easy to do. If this method were easy and effective, winner winner chicken dinner but, few effective strategies are that painless. In fact, indiscriminate actions are no strategy at all. On the other hand, using the same search terms outlined in a previous paragraph, will help us to target specific content to specific contacts.

However, it still must be personalized (relevant, timely, and in context) for that specific account. Well, it doesn’t have to be but, you will be more successful if it is. Once again, a quality effort on your part will trump a flurry of ill-planned activities.

It’s not only about the relevancy of the content itself, it’s also when you share it. In order to maximize your success, your timing must be on the mark. Sharing good relevant content cements the fact that you are there to service your customer. This is behavior that would be exhibited by a team member rather than by a vendor and, who wants to be seen as a vendor?

Conversions

If we do everything correctly, the result will be increased conversions. Note that all of our previous activities are centered on education and getting to know and to understand our customers rather than on the pitch. Of course, the pitch will come some time and both that, and the conversion, will become much easier having first earned the right to ask for that order!

Rarely is it about “the close”. The close is the natural culmination to the sales process when the preceding steps have been completed effectively. They call it a sales funnel because the tiny hole at the bottom of it is just large enough for an order-signing pen to stick out of it.

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Why King Content Has Been Overthrown by Context

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With more than 5,000 consumer messages received per day, marketers stand a chance of breaking through the clutter only by delivering information exactly when the customer wants it or when it can be most helpful to them—in short, when the context is appropriate.

As marketers, we spend our time creating articles, emails, ads, infographics, videos, and other forms of content, but we should also be making sure the messages are delivered precisely when the customer needs.

To that end:

  • Technology enables advanced audience targeting and remarketing.
  • Audience targeting expands from in-market (actively shopping) customers to look-alike profiles in addition to keyword and behavioral targeting.
  • Remarketing involves placing a tracking code in your ad, on your website or app, or in an email, and then “following” that person with relevant content.
  • What’s more, the Internet of Things is expanding contextual—and “contentual”—abilities by enabling communications through various devices, providing myriad potential moments, or opportunities, to connect.

But how can the messaging strategy be effectively planned for the multimedia consumption of today’s consumer?

Because of cross-device content possibilities, determining the collateral can seem daunting. Fortunately, attribution models are powerful aids in understanding the role of each channel.

Typically, a customer learns about the brand offline, through display ads or search. For longer purchase paths, social, email, and search appear again in the middle of the interactions. Direct traffic frequently closes the sale because, at this point, the customer is familiar with the brand and finds the website directly.

Let’s see this with attribution and plan the content:

  1. First-touch attribution. The channels most frequently shown as the first interaction need information-driven content (the top of the AIDA purchase funnel). If display ads or organic search are the first touchpoints with a brand, then introductory information is needed. The most popular keywords driving traffic to the site should be included in this content—on the ads (display) or in the metas (organic).
  2. Linear variations of attribution or custom models that consider all interactions, except the first and last. The channels that perform best with these models need persuasion content. If social and email show the high with these models, here engagement content is most appropriate.
  3. Time-decay attribution. This reveals which channels drive the final sale. These channels need promotions or other incentive-based content. Using dynamic creatives with remarketing and smartly built segments (bidding/buying on recency and frequency, interest groups, CRM targeting) advertisers can deliver right-place, right-time targeting.

Take that understanding of appropriate content per channel, put it into context, and combine it with automation technologies for inbound marketing, remarketing segments based on recency and frequency, audience targeting, plus personalized messaging—and get contextual marketing at its best.

The customer journey for a smart phone campaign might look like this:

  1. Smart TV ads in the form of short-form commercials and in-show product placements coupled with simultaneous social advertising, or display banners, all seeking potential customers
  2. Search retargeting ads targeting keyword searches for the smart phone just after the start of the campaign
  3. Mobile or smart watch ads that work with retailers and beacon technology to target device-specific audience segments and send users a notification to their device while they’re out shopping, and in close proximity to a retailer that contains the new phone
  4. Digital outdoor ads, used with location-based targeting to deliver messaging to target customers waiting for their train or driving on the highway. (This geo-personalization can capture their attention with an invite to test the phone out in a nearby retail shop.)
  5. Don’t forget to include cross-device remarketing for recent website visitors. The more personal the content used, the better.

Increased types of ad inventory and distribution channels are quickly becoming available for media buying via programmatic buying and selling systems.

With so many devices and channels to implement in the media plan, efficiency, scalability, and measurability are a must. TVs and devices are becoming smarter by the minute and traditionally offline media channels are all becoming digital.

Moreover, with the ease of buying and selling enabled by programmatic systems, advertisers can increase revenue potential by selling the data to third-party (only after ensuring legal compliance) social networks or by selling the data for search retargeting campaigns.

Context now rules the marketing game.

Marketers can (and do) produce endless amounts of content, but if it isn’t delivered at the right place, right time, it’s just clutter. Though content is still important, without appropriate context marketers cannot win their marketing game.

So what does the modern marketer’s hand or house of cards look like?

  • Ace: Context, made possible by remarketing and marketing automation technologies
  • King: Content, from interactive video, to text, social posts, 3-D ads, and more
  • Queen: Channel, where the customer finds “right place, right time” content
  • Jack: Devices, getting smarter and more diverse, eventually all screens will be interconnected

As marketers, we’ve never been closer to reaching the customer. Wield this power through the tools, and achieve memorable, relevant marketing. Now, are you ready to ace your marketing?