It’s 2021, and social media marketing is still widely touted as one of the greatest tools for brand awareness, audience building and lead generation. All of that is great, but there’s just one question lingering on everyone’s minds:
Does social media increase sales?
While brand awareness, audience building and lead generation are important, there can be a widespread bias towards these goals at the cost of sales.
Take the latest Statistica research, for example. Here, increased exposure is the most commonly cited advantage of using social media for marketing purposes among global industry professionals.
Similarly, HubSpot notes that improved traffic, lead generation, and growing fan loyalty are among the top reasons why marketers see value in employing social networks in their campaigns.
Meanwhile, social media sales statistics are a little harder to come by.
My social media marketing agency has used social media to reduce cost per sale by 45%–and today you’re going to learn how you can do the same. We used a dedicated social media sales strategy to go beyond brand awareness, audience building and lead generation to increase sales.
By the end of this blog, you’ll be on your way to measuring your own impressive social media marketing conversion rates.
Get to know your audience…again
If you haven’t done audience research before, now’s the time to start.
And if you have, it’s time to look at your audience with a fresh pair of eyes as part of your social media sales strategy.
Audience personas are a tried and tested starting place to humanise your demographic data.
For example, for an audience segment who are over 50, female and looking for a new home, you’d create a persona to symbolise that group. Give her a face, a name, and many other details until she feels real to you.
Fun fact: You’re about to get to know your audience better than you ever thought you could. You’ll build on your personas later when you start your lead generation campaign.
Revisit your platform choices
If you want to generate some really great social media sales statistics of your own, turn your attention to platforms.
It’s not enough simply to choose platforms where your audience hangs out. Instead, you’ll need to map and understand your buyers’ journey across multiple channels and how the experience needs to differ.
What are their common objections? What are their motivators? How can Instagram convince them in a way that Facebook can’t?
The journey to a sale is usually non-linear and your research may surprise you.
Case study example: While generating sales for an over 50s property developer in Australia, we created different channel strategies for Facebook and Google.
If your buyer’s journey is different across channels, then your content, ads, and timing should all vary according to platform too.
You can do this by split testing or A/B testing. More on this in a minute.
Create cracking content
When using social media to increase sales, your content needs to be high quality and tailored to your audience’s motivations and considerations for each stage of the journey – not just grabbing their attention at the start.
For sales, you’ll need to go beyond the brand awareness type content. When nurturing leads to sales, your content should focus on obstacles to purchase. Here’s where you address the objections they might make to choosing your product or service over someone else’s.
Always make sure the messaging is valuable and authentic, and experiment with new formats and post times to continue to refine the optimal journey.
Lead with lead gen
Lead generation will be your starting point for your social media sales strategy. This is where you can create tailored ad sets based on your audience segments.
Ads should direct audiences to a mobile-first landing page optimised for conversion. Here the user enters in their contact details and preference in exchange for an incentive, like a discount or brochure.
This needs to represent real value to your user in the form of information or behind the scenes access.
Back to our Lifestyle Communities case study, in this campaign we offered brochures with more details about the product and pricing— just what the audience wanted.
Pump your lead gen full of juice
Use your lead generation campaign to collect information about your audience that will specifically improve the sales process.
By collecting even more information about your audience via a lead form, you gain intel to hone your social media sales strategy to be more efficient, reducing cost and increasing conversions.
This is also a way of making your audience segments more specific.
For our case study, we were able to segment audiences by level of intent. This included: prospecting, high intent prospecting and retargeting audiences. Data points that indicate intent might include things like budget (can they afford your product right now?) and their time frame to purchase (when do they intend to purchase your product?)
Here are some ideas about more information you can gather to inform and improve your sales strategy:
- Product preferences
- Life stage
- Timeframe to purchase
- Key objections
By collecting this information at the lead generation stage, you gain so many benefits:
- Reduce ad spend
Social media advertising, particularly on platforms like Facebook, is becoming too expensive for many businesses and marketers.
But by improving the efficacy of your ads, you can drive that ad spend down, lowering the cost per click and getting the best bang for your buck.
Don’t underestimate the difference that personalisation can make.
By giving your audience the type of content that is most relevant to their needs and wants, your strategy will be more economical and effective.
Passing over a bucket full of leads is not much use to your sales team without a strategic way of prioritising those leads.
Gather information via lead forms that will help the sales team reach out to the right prospects at the right time.
Depending on your product or service, budget or timeframe to purchase could be decisive factors. This takes the guesswork out and helps your sales team spend their time more wisely with buyers with high intent to purchase.
A word to the wise: Align with user expectations
Be mindful about the data points you collect using your lead magnet forms. Too many intrusive questions could cause users to abandon the form.
One way to get around this is by asking questions that, from the user’s perspective, will clearly give them a better experience.
For example, by asking the leads in our Lifestyle Communities campaign how many bedrooms they want in their future home, we can give them content (emails, brochures, promotions, etc) about the 3 bedroom homes and not the 2 bedroom homes that they aren’t interested in.
Split test to be the best
If lead generation is the bread and butter to increasing sales, then split testing is the secret sauce.
It’s also known as A/B testing, but don’t let the marketing jargon put you off.
This strategic method is easy to master and highly effective at making your social media sales campaigns more efficient.
Split testing is where you grab two almost identical pieces of content, vary just one part (like heading, CTA), and run them simultaneously to see which performs better.
Use split testing to improve your:
- Calls to action
- Ad images/graphics
- Form length
- Form question types
- Email subject lines
Use split testing to test and hone as many parts of your campaign as you have time for, always prioritising the areas that will create the most impact.
Tip: It’s important to run split tests in the context of their journey stage. You might discover that one message works very well for sales qualified leads, or is best as the first touchpoint.
Does social media increase sales?
In this brave new world, it isn’t enough just to do social media marketing for brand awareness, hoping that those audiences will somehow make their way into a sales funnel and eventually convert.
Our social media marketing strategies can go beyond brand awareness and audience building to deliver serious ROI.
Join us in using social media for sales by getting to know your buyer’s journey and optimise your campaigns toward the sale with split testing.
BY GEORGE GLOVER George is the CEO and Co-Founder of digital marketing agency Social Garden. Social Garden specialises in lead generation and marketing automation to grow companies’ revenue in different verticals in Australia.
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