HOW TO: Optimize Your Social Media Marketing Strategy
There’s nothing like the basics to help bring things back into focus when you feel lost. In “Marketing 101,” the acronym AIDA stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action. This is the most simple and rudimentary of sales and marketing funnels and is still incredibly relevant today when it comes to social media and Internet marketing strategies.
Each section of AIDA represents a section of your sales and marketing process and can help you set your expectations, decide what to monitor, and visualize the relationships between each part. Understanding the flow of the tools and tactics will also help you get your measurements and analytics in line with your goals.
Here’s a closer look at the breakdown of this marketing funnel, some tips on how to apply it to your social media strategy, and a look at how the model is evolving in the social media age.
Awareness is social media’s bread and butter. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and other networks are built for this. You can’t easily display your inventory via Twitter, set up a shopping cart on LinkedIn, or fill orders through YouTube. These networks are not going to be your point of sale. Instead, they are your communication and outreach tools — the spokes that lead back to your hub (sales page, blog, site, etc.) where you will be making your conversions.
Awareness can take many forms, but its main goal is getting people to know you exist and that you can solve a problem they might have. At this level, conversations, interaction and content are king. A few metrics you might want to measure around your brand are conversation frequency, increased mentions and sentiment.
Now that you have their attention, you need to get customers interested in your product. You can bolster interest with offers and compelling reasons why you’re better than the competition, and how you can solve customers’ problems. Features and benefits weigh heavily in this level, and social media can help you kick their interest into high gear.
If you’re running a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign and have some targeted landing pages set up for your products or services, those are what you want to link to — not your homepage. Even if you’re not utilizing paid ads, the same strategy of linking to targeted pages through social media is applicable. A few of the metrics you will want to look at here are CTR (click through rate), retweets (of deals and links), and conversations about specific products.
Social media can help bolster desire through communication and engagement, but to fully satisfy someone’s desire to buy, you need to have a site that is streamlined and optimized. Recently, I tried using a popular car rental site to make a reservation, but it was so difficult to navigate that I gave up, despite having a great discount code. The unmanageable user interface killed my desire in two minutes flat, and my business went straight to the competition. Your site makes a huge impression, and people will judge your company by it.
Take the time to go through your site and optimize the presentation and the shopping cart experience. Testimonials gathered from linkable social profiles are a great asset.
Take the customer from interest to desire with a clean, easy to navigate, info rich, and functional site. Some of the metrics that matter at this level are bounce rate, time on site, pages viewed and incoming links.
Now that your customers are itching to buy your product, and their money is burning a hole in their PayPal pocket, you need to seal the deal. At this point, your site is your number one tool, and while social media can influence the action through the previous levels, it’s not going to have the same influence here. You need to make it easy and obvious for your customer to complete your desired action (purchase, sign up, lead form, etc.).
The action is also where you can finally calculate some of your end metrics, like conversion rate and ROI. This is where you can see how everything is performing and the final impact your work is having. Often, these are the metrics that your boss (and your boss’s boss) are looking for.
New Additions to the Marketing Funnel
Over the years, the traditional AIDA has evolved and added two extra levels. These levels represent not only a shift in the technology and methods that are used to market, but the people behind it.
How are you getting your customers to buy from you again? One very simple way to stave off any buyer’s remorse is to follow up via the same social media you used to get customers in the first place. If you know they purchased via a link on Facebook, send them a Facebook message saying “thanks,” and provide them with your customer service contact info.
Perform customer service on Twitter. Monitor the online conversations around people who are already using your product and see if they have any questions or problems that you can resolve quickly. You can build social loyalty programs and use the communities you create to keep customers coming back. This is where CRM (Customer Relationship Management) can play a leading role, and many social CRM solutions are emerging to fill that need. A few things you might want to monitor here are repeat buyers, the use of loyalty codes, sentiment of mentions post-purchase and sentiment of specific products.
Advocacy is the dream of any marketer. It’s the “sweet spot,” where your customers do your marketing for you. It’s when customers love your products, brand, services and people so much that they can’t help but talk about you. This is why you want to make it easy for people to share your brand. Any hindrance to this — be it a bad website interface or an anti-social company ethic — will really discourage this extremely valuable source of traffic and interest.
If it’s an option, I’m far more inclined to click on a “Tweet This” or “Like” button than I am to take the link, shorten it in bit.ly, and post it to my various social networks. Remove any barriers to advocacy and then both encourage and reward it. Some metrics to look at here are mentions, conversations and referrals.
The problem with AIDA
As you can see, the levels of our old friend AIDA can get a bit muddy, especially when it comes to the areas of awareness and interest. This has given birth to dozens, probably even hundreds, of fresh interpretations. The main thing to remember is how the funnels flow and to set your measurement and expectations accordingly.
You also don’t need to live and die by this funnel. People can easily skip a level or go through multiple levels at once. It’s not a perfect model, but then nothing is. But keep AIDA in mind as you shape your social marketing strategy. It should help you focus and prioritize your goals for success.
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