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Marketing is the method used to persuade your audience to act. Traditionally it was sending a message out over the few media options you had and keeping an eye on the sales reports to watch the numbers (ideally) go up. There weren't a lot of steps involved in converting your audience to customers and there wasn't a lot of data available. You either had to do your own research, track coupon codes, or make a correlation between your ad campaigns and sales.
Fast forward to now and take a look at digital marketing. There are hundreds of actions and steps that can be measured to move your audience from the level of being aware of you to becoming regular and loyal customers. To progress our audience through those steps we have to trigger specific actions. If you haven't already, you'll eventually need to set up a conversion funnel of your own. For now, we'll talk about the actions that you might include in it.
Starting Off: Worthless Marketing Actions
Anytime you get a customer or audience member to engage with your business or brand there's value. But, some of these engagements carry very little weight towards turning them into paying customers or clients. Let's first start with a few actions and metrics that you shouldn't care a whole lot about.
- Social Fans/Followers/Friends – Having a large audience is not the same thing as having an engaged audience. I've seen several brands with significant followings who are unable to reach or engage, or persuade over 90% of their ‘followers'.
- Likes/Favorites – There are several very low commitment social actions that do almost nothing for reach or exposure, we call these vanity metrics and at best they tell you if you're on the right track with your content strategy.
- Traffic Spikes – It's pretty easy, and reasonably affordable, to generate large spikes of traffic. While it may help with raising awareness and possibly lead to a few leads, you should be more focused on behavior and actual conversions. It's not uncommon to see a wave of traffic, organic or paid, with as low as a 5% (or less) conversion rate.
Social media tends to be the outermost level of engagement, meaning that it's the starting point for a series of actions that can lead to conversions. Here are the most important actions you want to inspire and why they matter.
- Comments or Replies – These actions usually come from someone who actually paid attention to what you were saying long enough to contemplate it and respond. The fact that they're engaging you in conversation presents opportunity to direct them to exactly the place they need to go. Granted all of your conversations won't easily connect to the offers you have available but the conversation itself creates a better relationship witht he existing or potential customer. You'll be on the top of their mind when they do need what you have to offer.
- Clicks – Social actions are easy and require little commitment or investment. Clicking on a link may seem trivial but you're really pulling that person's attention away from the social network they're choosing to use at that point in time, which is a much larger achievement than the mindless clicking of the ‘like' button. As we know, clicks=traffic which should mean exposure to conversion opportunities.
- Conversions – Without running offers or ad campaigns you usually won't see a lot of direct conversions from social, but you can always work to maximize it. Try introducing more conversion-focused content into your social channels and measure the response. Eventually you should be able to figure out the best way to keep these numbers going up.
For clarification: We're talking about the content you create that exists within your own site, not the content you find and share. Here are the actions you want to focus on triggering once you get your audience on to your site.
- Page Views – If things are working well, you're readers should view your content and then look for more. This could be views on other blogs or informational pages you've linked to, or, if you're lucky, it could be to a landing page/offer you've set up.
- Embeds/Back links – Ideally your content will be so good that other bloggers and publishers will want to share it or reference it to their own audiences. The links help to build your site's credibility and search rankings while the exposure brings your content, and business a significant addition to your current audience.
- Conversions – Between the internal linking in your articles, the CTAs within your site's design and natural discovery you should see a decent amount of your content consumers converting on some level. To ensure the best results, you should regularly be testing your CTAs and your offers. You can also look at a heat map to figure out the best places to put your CTAs.
Hopefully your site is showing up well for keywords and keywords phrases that tie in to what you have to offer. If this is the case, then people who find you through search already have a need or an interest and can be expected to be looking for information on what you offer or your company.
- Hits On Product/Services Pages – Even if they don't convert right away, the fact that they're spending time learning about your business, product, or service is a good thing. At that point you can implement remarketing/retargeting campaigns to stay in front of them when they're ready to pull the trigger.
- Contact or Information Requests – If they've gone through all the information you have on your site and still want to learn more you've got yourself a solid lead. This action indicates they're ready to talk to a person or, in other words, ready to be sold.
- Sales or Conversions – By now you should have noticed that ‘Conversions' are THE most important action in digital marketing. Your visitors from search are obviously looking for something, so it's on you to make sure they find it, or something that moves them forward.
There are a ridiculous amount of actions and metrics that you can track through numerous platforms but, if you don't know what the data means, what to do with it, or what value it actually has to your business, it's worthless. Every business is unique and requires a different combination of actions to result in a profitable digital marketing system. This is just a starting point to get you thinking about the right things or less about the wrong things.