5 Tips for Moving Social Media Leads Into the Sales Funnel

social media how toHave you been able to turn your fans and followers into active prospects?

Are you interested in monetizing the social media channel?

Keep reading for five tips to turn fans and followers into a revenue channel.

But first…

Do Fans Mean Business?

Marketers have made tremendous strides in growing their audiences on social media channels. There have been concerns over whether social media could only be successful in business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, but we’re starting to see great case studies in both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) brands.

In looking at the B2B software space, we can see tremendous success from companies like HubSpot, InfusionSoft and HootSuite that have grown large numbers of followers by providing valuable content to their target audiences.

In the B2C space, our passion for brands like Old Spice, Coca-Cola and Ford have been reignited by creative social media campaigns. But what now?

Have these large followings contributed to revenue for these brands? The next natural question for C-level executives and marketers is, “Can we monetize our social media following?”

As pressures have risen for solid measurements and a demonstration of social media ROI, more companies are recognizing that revenue generation has to be a top priority of social media strategies.

This doesn’t give license for tacky sales pitches on Twitter. Rather, it opens the door for a more strategic approach to social media content, content distribution and measurement.

To get started, there are a few things you’ll need to prepare for.

Tip #1: Understand Your Sales Funnel

It’s pretty difficult to place leads into the sales funnel if you don’t have a clear understanding of the sales process that supports it.

The first step in monetizing the social media channel is to have a clear understanding of which marketing channels are currently contributing leads to the funnel, what the sales follow-up process is and how long it takes to close the sale.

You’ll need to figure out where social media fits into the equation.

  • Will social media leads respond to existing sales processes?
  • Where are social media leads in the buying process?
  • Will they convert at the same rates?

To truly understand how social media leads behave, you’ll need to do some testing. It is unlikely that social media leads will perform the same way that other types of marketing leads do.

This is because with social media, more commonly you are reaching potential buyers earlier in the sales process, before your competition. Getting potential buyers’ attention early has tremendous value that can be overlooked if expectations haven’t been set for how the social media lead will perform.

If you compare social media with traditional sales, in essence social media adds three levels that extend your sales funnel to provide more opportunities for conversion.

funnel with goals

Social media adds three levels of brand awareness to the sales funnel, providing more opportunities to convert prospects.

Tip #2: Optimize Your Path to Conversion

It’s important to make sure it is super-easy for potential buyers to buy. We tend to be fairly lazy consumers and if we have to search out how to buy from you, we are less likely to convert.

Therefore, take a look at your Facebook page. Does a potential buyer have to click on the Info tab to find your website, then go to your website and figure out how to buy your products or services? If so, you are likely missing out on the opportunity to convert Facebook fans into purchasers.

Create a tab that allows fans to convert within Facebook and you’ll likely see a spike in new revenue.

Success in social media relies on having strong content to share on social networks, which many times resides on the corporate blog.

Look at your blog and make sure there are conversion points that will in essence turn every post into a landing page. Make sure you test multiple calls to action to figure out what works best at converting social media traffic.

funnel graphics

Understand the path to conversion from social media so you can optimize each step.

Tip #3: Provide Opportunities for Soft Conversion

The social media lead likely enters the sales funnel earlier in the buying process. He or she may not be ready to make a purchase; however, you have an opportunity to convert interested social media fans and followers into email subscribers.

Soft leads are people willing to provide their email address in exchange for highly valuable and relevant content. These are valuable leads who have said they are interested in your content; but they haven’t necessarily said they are interested in your product yet.

If you combine email marketing campaigns that provide a mix of content that helps to push them through the sales funnel while providing valuable information, you will have a better opportunity to convert social media’s soft leads into potential buyers.

Tip #4: Nurture the Social Media Lead Differently

It’s important to understand the difference between the social media lead and the traditional lead because traditional sales-related email campaigns will kill the sale with the social media buyer.

Because social media leads may enter the sales funnel at an earlier stage in the buying process, you will need to adjust your email campaigns to provide value and content that will help drive the decision-making process.

This will require a strategy that includes decision-making content. Decision-making content is designed to answer questions that commonly arise when purchasing your product, overcome objections that are frequently heard in the sales process and provide opportunities to convert into a hard lead.

A hard lead is someone who has taken an action that directly indicates he or she is now interested in your product. This means the lead is now in the research and consideration phase of the buying cycle and you have an opportunity to convert the lead into a buyer.

Through your other social media efforts, you have been able to develop trust with prospects; therefore, if you continue to show thought leadership in helping them to make a decision, they will be more likely to purchase from you rather than the competitor they don’t have a relationship with.

Having a combination of decision-making and topically relevant content that is sent to soft leads will help you identify when the lead makes the jump to product interest.

At that point, you can follow up with traditional product-based information and put the lead in the traditional sales processMany times you can recognize this transition if you identify pages and calls to action that indicate product interest, such as signing up for a product demonstration, attending a product-based webinar or downloading decision-making content.

Tip #5: Measure Your Results

Finally, the only way to identify where leads are in the sales process is to measure your efforts.

The quickest and most cost-effective way to monitor social media conversions is to apply Google analytics campaign tracking to the links you shorten and post on social networks.

The combination of Google Analytics and HootSuite Pro makes this easy. Once you have the data, it is important to put it into a format that tells the management team what they want to know.

Use these metrics to demonstrate success through the sales funnel:

  • Cost per impression
  • Cost per engagement
  • Cost per soft lead
  • Cost per hard lead
  • Cost per sale

What do you think? Have you successfully converted social media fans and followers into revenue? Are you still trying to figure out how to do this? Join the discussion and leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly is the president of SME Digital, the digital marketing division of Social Media Explorer. They provide digital marketing strategy, implementation and measurement using the Full Frontal ROI methodology. Other posts by »




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