Social media marketing ~ what’s the single most important ingredient for success?
What’s the one thing you can’t be successful without and yet most companies try and use as little as possible and avoid if they can?
You’d be surprised how many business owners and even marketing professionals don’t understand this.
They don’t think-through what’s necessary to successfully market a business online ~ so that their website actually generates new business.
So, what is this absolutely critical factor?
Did you think I’d say advanced keyword research, inbound marketing, multivariate landing page testing or viral video production? Or maybe some of those other cool buzzwords?
Let me tell you why its so critical.
Its important to plan your Internet marketing strategy before launching or relaunching your site. And very few web design firms you might got to (for very few, read ‘almost none’), are equipped to build a website so it’s capable of generating business for their clients.
That’s not what they do. They build websites.
It might look great, but it won’t do the business. That’s something else entirely, and this is where YOUR experience, knowledge and time comes in.
Want to save some time and a lot of money?
If you’re a small to mid-sized organisation and you truly want to turn your website into a lead generation machine, there are basically 3 techniques available to you:
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Pay Per Click Advertising
- Blogging & Social Media Marketing
It’s almost impossible to completely outsource these activities to an Internet marketing firm or consultant who does not know your business, market, customer and products, so what I would ask them is this…
What will you need from me in order to successfully increase the number of leads our website generates month over month?
A website design and development company is typically going to just say, “You’ll need content, good design, nice colors and cool pictures.”
Which is the wrong answer!
Don’t hire these guys.
Here’s the right answer: Your Time!
Why your time?
Because the Internet isn’t like traditional advertising where you hire a designer to produce an ad for you and you pay a media company to get the ad in front of some eyeballs. That’s just wastes a load of money in this day and age.
Since social media marketing came along, the Internet doesn’t work that any more.
Social media marketing isn’t a service someone can just do for you, like advertising used to be. And anyone who wants to sell you a social media marketing package, more often than not, is more interested in what they get, than what you will.
“But, what will I be spending my time doing?”, you may well ask. And I’m glad you did.
Let’s take a look at each of the internet marketing techniques above and see.
Search engine optimisation requires your time!
Most people still think SEO is something their web designer does once when the site is designed.
The Internet, your competitors and your own needs are changing all the time.
Only when your SEO keeps up with these changes, will you continue to see your ROI increase, your cost-per-lead continue to drop, and be able to fully leverage inbound marketing for lead acquisition.
SEO requires continuous monitoring and improvement, because with with all these variables changing daily, success on the Internet is never a set-it-and-forget-it, one-off event.
Only organisations that commit to ongoing SEO reap ongoing rewards.
Who knows your business, your customers, your market, the problems you solve, the solutions you provide ~ better than anyone else? Hopefully you.
Aren’t you the best one to find the keywords your prospects would type at Google? Aren’t you the best one to produce content which is relevant to your prospects?
If you haven’t done link building beyond directory submissions, you won’t understand this. But doing link building well requires your time too.
Trust me. If anyone tells you they’ll get you 100 new links per month but they don’t ask you for press release ideas, article ideas and a list of the leading bloggers, forums and trade publications in your industry ~ do not hire them. The SEO tricks they intend to use will eventually get your site sand-boxed by Google, or even worse.
Pay per click advertising requires your time too!
PPC doesn’t take a lot of time, but the time you spend managing your search engine marketing pay per click advertising campaigns is critical, if you want the best possible ROI, that is.
PPC advertising is probably the most efficient form of advertising ever devised, but it’s won’t be efficient, and will burn through a shed load of money, unless you spend time constantly improving its efficiency.
If you’re new to PPC you should read a primer on running PPC campaigns. Suffice to say, I probably speak to at least one prospective client each week who has no idea about the ROI on their PPC spend.
And some of them even spend tens of thousands of pounds per month.
Would you hire a salesperson and not monitor how much profitable revenue they produce? Would you not tell them what an ideal prospect looks like before they start making calls? Would you let them guess what a good positioning statement should be, when they get in front of a prospect? Would you not train them on what problems your product or service solves and what questions to ask? Would you not help them devise a presentation to a prospect?
All these things sound silly, I know, but why isn’t it silly to let someone who doesn’t know your product, service or market as intimately as you do… pick keywords to bid on, write ad copy to try and capture hearts and minds, design landing pages etc., and then not monitor conversion rates and measure ROI?
Blogging and Social Media Marketing Requires A Lot of Your Time!
This should be obvious too.
But surprisingly, the most common reason given businesses don’t start a blog is because they “don’t have the time” to regularly write articles and answer questions.
Which we both know is an excuse.
If you are one of the clever ones, and you do make the really, really, really smart decision to start a business blog, you should find a company or someone to help you who truly has experience writing their own successful blog.
Blogging for business isn’t really something you can advise someone to do without doing it yourself first,so you can show them how its done professionally. There are many secrets to getting people to even read your blog; never mind to actually do what you want them to, and tell their friends about you.
Too many marketing professionals think blogging is the same as writing press releases or articles. It’s not. It’s about hosting a dynamic conversation with your market. It requires a mix of writing, sales, networking and marketing skills if it’s going to be done successfully. Not to mention the importance of knowing a lot about your business and the challenges faced by both your customers and your mission. The odd piece when you feel like it, and one or two press release won’t cut it.
And as far as social media marketing goes, I’m not sure how you’d even begin to outsource that completely.
The value of sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon and Twitter is that you can connect and interact with prospects and clients. All of your sales people and marketing people ~ heck, all of your employees ~ should be actively engaging with the market through these sites.
So if you want to get some ideas how to marshal the troops, check out these articles on how to create your Social Media Marketing Plan, and learn here from the best examples how to develop your own Social Media Guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way.
Measuring Results and Improving ROI Requires Your Time!
We haven’t even talked about how blogging and social media marketing can support search engine optimisation.
We haven’t talked about how you can use PPC advertising to refine your SEO keyword strategy in order to maximize conversion rates from both.
There’s a lot to Internet marketing which requires your time.
If you want to do it successfully, you should seek professional help to get you focussed on the right stuff first and make sure you don’t make mistakes and waste your time and money.
Personally, I give each of my clients one day per month of free consultancy to explore these issues. Sometimes that one day per month, saves a fortune, and is all the client needs.
But it should be obvious by now, I hope, it will also take a fairly significant investment of your time if you want to pull it off successfully.
If that’s the case, it’s only natural that you should ask your potential employees or consultants…
How are we going to measure our Internet marketing success?
The correct answer?
First you’ll need to decide exactly what it is you want to achieve, but you’ll then need the right online marketing and analytical tools to measure which marketing activities, keywords, social media activities, PPC campaigns ~ actually generate new business ~ and which just cost you money.
And you’ll, of course, need to devote time to revue and evaluate your success periodically, so you can constantly improve your Internet marketing results.
So, How Much Time Will I Need?
This would be the appropriate question for you to ask, after the company you’re interviewing tells you that “time” is the most important criteria for your online success.
But if they answer right away, off the top of their heads, don’t hire them.
There’s no standard answer to “how much time you’ll need”. It all depends what you want to achieve. And there are a lot of factors which go into figuring out how hard it will be, in your particular case, to generate leads from the Internet marketing techniques listed above.
Even someone who already has experience of doing these things successfully, for an organisation similar to yours, would need to do significant keyword and competition research to determine how much investment in time and money will be necessary, before any success can be expected.
It’s certainly not something you can just calculate in your head and snap out an answer. So a good answer is ~ “The more time you put in, the more business you’ll get out.”
Now, granted, that may not be a very satisfying answer, but many years of experience have taught me, its the truth.
And I think you would rather have the truth, than a sales pitch. Right?