One of the things I find small business owners struggle with the most is justifying that the time and money they're putting into things like social media is worthwhile. But what if you could make social media a significant source of new sales leads for your business? It wouldn't be too hard to justify that the business should carry on investing in social media if that were the case, would it?!
That’s why I'm so excited to be sharing these ideas with you today. I've seen how it can make a business owner’s day when they finally figure out which activities most successfully generate sales leads for their business. It’s like a huge weight is lifted from their shoulders, knowing what they need to invest in to achieve success. Better still is to go one step further. Show them they can even figure out which companies are on the verge of buying from them. That’s when a huge grin really erupts on their faces!
Now regular readers will know that elsewhere on this blog we've looked at lots of tactics for generating qualified leads from social media, with examples ranging from management consulting businesses right through to recruitment agencies. What I want to focus on today, though, is how any business can identify sales leads and chase down sales leads being generated through social media.
To do this, we're going to make use of two tools that you can have up and running in your business within a matter of hours - Google Analytics and Leadfeeder.
Before we dive into this, the first thing I would like you to do is think about your company website. If it's like many of our clients’ websites, there are probably lots of content pages, perhaps lots of blog posts, videos, podcasts. Alongside these, there are probably just a handful of pages that are the really critical ones that - if someone chooses to go to them - indicate the people who are most likely a potential prospect for your business.
The pages you'll be particularly excited for people to visit will be all those where people can find out about your services, book in for a demo, register their resume, request a price quote, read customer testimonials, schedule a call or check FAQs about your services. Because the only people who’d bother to go to these pages - besides your competitors - are people who have at least some interest in knowing what you do and how they might work with you.
If it helps you with thinking about this concept, consider our site as a classic example. We have a huge number of blog posts on a whole variety of topics for candidates, recruiters and small businesses. Many of the people reading those blogs are potential prospects for our business, but a great many are not - they were just drawn to our site by that particular blog topic. However, if someone then browses around our site to look at our pricing page, our testimonials, the pages describing the types of businesses we work with, etc then those people are of particular interest to us. They are the types of visitors who will typically go on to book in a call with us and ultimately become customers. So it’s getting more of that type of visitor - and then knowing who they are so we can convert them more effectively into customers - that we are most excited about.
For the purposes of the rest of this blog, I'm going to assume that you have some pages like this on your own website that can help you to differentiate between a run-of-the-mill website visitor and one who is much more likely to become a customer. If you don't have any such pages on your website - or you have a one-page website where everything is displayed to the visitor on your homepage - then clearly there is a little bit of work to be done to address this first. I’ll skip over that here though as reworking your website would be a lengthy blog post just on its own.
So, having identified the pages that are most likely to be read by people who are sales leads for your business, we then want to set up a means of tracking which sources of web traffic are producing that type of visitor. For example, business owners will argue all day long about whether or not Facebook can generate business leads for their company. I don't want to reach such conclusions based on assumptions, misinformation and hearsay. I want to decide where to invest my time and budget based on hard facts and evidence!! No doubt you do too...
Google Analytics is widely used on websites to track visitor numbers and behaviour. It's free and it's provided by Google, a combination which means it's highly likely your business already has Google Analytics on its website. If you don't, simply google search “google analytics” and you'll quickly be able to set up an account and get the code you need to add to your website to start collecting this visitor data (for free).
However, having Google Analytics enabled on your website is only scratching the surface. What we really want to do is set up goal conversions on Google Analytics. This sounds like it could be complicated but is in fact very straightforward to do. You simply create up to 20 goals or things you would like your website visitors to do and then you set rules on Google Analytics to monitor when that activity has been carried out by a visitor to your site.
By way of example, one key thing we look at on our website is if people end up on our pricing page. So we have a goal set up in Google Analytics to allow us to track how many people are going to our pricing page and crucially what the source of the traffic was of all the people who did that. Here's a snapshot of data for a period of activity on the Social Hire website, so you can see the types of web traffic and social media activities that converted well for us in that period.
Figure 1: Goal conversion tracking in Google Analytics
Now there are lots of insights we can get from this data. Firstly, we are very well known in the social media agency market and so a lot of people simply type “Social-Hire.com” into their web browser, come directly to our site and go on to check out our pricing page. That takes some time and perseverance in the market to achieve. We can also see the importance of our Google rankings, which again takes some time and effort to achieve.
But you can also see there are lots of social media sources of sales leads here too. The Quuu promotion platform allows us to have our blog content widely shared on social media and you can see that this is resulting in people not only reading our blogs, but going on to visit our pricing page too.
t.co, twdm and twitter are all people visiting our pricing page having initially seen or interacted with our tweets or received a direct message from us. We can also see that LinkedIn has referred lots of leads… and that Facebook is nowhere to be seen as a lead source. Don't read too much into this, though, as clearly these sources of lead activity are very much a function of what we ourselves have been doing across the social sites during this particular time window. If we’d run Facebook ads and been active in Facebook groups during this time period then we might very well be seeing different results.
Now what you can hopefully see from this data is the exciting prospect of being able to experiment with lots of different social media approaches to generating web traffic and interest. With this tracking in place, you can now see the success of each social media activity in terms of it actually generating the most valuable sales lead outcomes for your business. Knowing that, you can then take an informed decision about where you invest your time and money - and which activities you could drop because they simply aren't converting.
Of course the above insights leave you somewhat dangling! On the one hand, we now have a much better idea of how to drive more targeted sales leads to our business via social media (and indeed any other digital marketing channel you may wish to invest in). But who are these companies that are on the verge of wanting to buy from us?! Your sales team will doubtless want to know that so that they can put in the odd well-placed call to “catch up” with prospective clients.
That's where the second type of tool I mentioned comes in. You may well have heard of companies like Lead Forensics and HubSpot that can help with identifying and tracking leads on your website. We ourselves use Leadfeeder and can certainly recommend them to you if you want this additional level of sales lead visibility.
Let me cut to the chase and show you what you can expect if you implement a solution like this in your business (and keep in mind this takes just minutes if you already have Google Analytics on your website).
Below you can see a screenshot where Leadfeeder displays to me every business it's been able to identify that has visited our website in a defined time period. I have chosen to narrow the list to only look at companies that have visited our key sales pages, as these are the hottest prospects that I am most interested in (as opposed to blog readers who may or may not ever become good prospects for us - I’ll pay them attention if they return to the site and start looking more like genuine prospects in the future).
Figure 2: Identifying companies interested in buying your services using Leadfeeder
Anyway, you would ordinarily see that the left-hand column lists out all the companies that are potential leads and colour codes them as well to show the degree of interest they potentially have in our services. I have blurred out the information here for obvious reasons, as no doubt some of our social media agency competitors will be reading this blog at some point!!
Now when I select one of those companies, as I have done in this screenshot, I can then see full details of how that company came to be on our website - in this case via Twitter. I can also see which pages on our website they have viewed as I've circled in the screenshot - note I can see they browsed around several pages on our site that detail our various services and how we can help. So a promising lead. Plus, I can also see how long they spent on each of those pages - which again I’ve blurred in the screenshot above.
What is particularly powerful about these insights when you couple them with social media marketing activities is that often you may be able to figure out the exact person that this activity relates to. In this instance, for example, I know exactly which twitter exchange resulted in this person becoming interested in our services - and therefore am alerted to the potential value of following up with them.
Now if someone has come to your website from a Google search or because someone has recommended your business to them, all you would see here is that someone from company X has been to your site and looked at these pages and appears to be a prospect. Leadfeeder and other similar tools will suggest to you decision-maker contacts you might want to reach out to... to try and progress this lead further. That’s a sales model that works for some businesses, but not for all.
But imagine now that lots of these visits have been triggered by messages you have sent to people on social media, or by interactions you have had with people on social media, or as a result of targeted advertising campaigns you have run on say the LinkedIn ads platform. In these scenarios, you will more than likely know exactly who the prospect is and you now have a whole lot more visibility about their interest in your business. Rather than waiting for them to decide to buy, you now have the visibility you need to be more proactive and rekindle conversations with them on social media, via email or even with the good old phone!
Pretty exciting, I think you’ll agree. What’s particularly exciting is that you can have access to these insights in a matter of minutes. If you already have Google Analytics on your website, then all the data Leadfeeder needs has already been being collected and there’s literally no website work needs doing to access that information. They will also extract past data from Google Analytics, too - so your sales team doesn’t have to wait for the next weeks of website activity to get this initial sales lead data. Now, they can start trawling through all the lead activity from the last days and weeks that you hitherto were simply unaware of. How’s that for a quick win?!
I hope I've got your pulse racing with the prospect of generating more tangible sales lead results from your social media activities - and have shown you step-by-step how you could replicate the approaches we use in your own business. As ever, if you need any help from an external partner then we'd welcome the chance to work with you as your outsourced social media partner.
Footnote: two quick caveats with regards to Leadfeeder. Firstly, we get a small commission for recommending them. We’d recommend them in any case, based on our own experiences of using them. But wanted to be totally transparent about that.
The second caveat is just about the leads that tools like Leadfeeder will be able to identify for you. When you activate the tool, you’ll see all the visits from companies that have offices / their own IT infrastructure - plus universities, government departments and the like. Really impressive for consulting firms, recruitment businesses, technology companies and the like that sell into established businesses. But what it can’t pick up on are visits from tiny companies whose staff work from home or in a shared coworking space. So if you only work with very small businesses then tools like this are potentially not for you (although you have a free trial period, so can determine that for yourself in any case).
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