The separation of companies and their customers being by invisible walls and interfaces like distributors, retailers and stores is dwindling, as the entire market seems to be undergoing a major paradigm shift towards interaction through social media. The unchanged golden rule is that customers are influenced by word of mouth. What has changed, though, is the fact that social media marketing makes it much simpler for companies to spread word of mouth. Social stigmas are emerging each day as a large factor affecting consumer behavior, and most of this stigma arises from the cyberspace, as they sift through social media feeds, recommendations, blogs and other sources to decide what they want and what they will purchase. This gives rise to the need for companies to develop a social media conversion funnel to pitch products and attract customers.
Social Touch-points and Their Significance – The Conversion Funnel
A touch-point has been defined as a point of interaction or contact between a business and its consumers. Beyond being simple customers, online consumers have assumed the role of critics, advocates, influencers, reviewers and experts. There are several touch-points which exist in the present system allowing public opinion to be influenced, like:
• Discovery platforms or sites built for the purpose of reviewing and recommending new products or services.
• Online personalities or bloggers who have a large fan-following, thus making it even easier to get people to latch on to their recommendations.
• Affinity groups or forums and communities like Reddit, Yahoo! Groups or Facebook groups and many more are essentially groups of like-minded users. Any person viewing community posts could quite easily be influenced.
• Social networks, platforms and message boards like Facebook and Tumblr pages, Twitter feeds and others do essentially the same thing.
• Consumer reviews, on dedicated sites also go a long way, as consumers tend to prefer those services which have already been rated highly by their peers.
• Stores also communicate directly through advertising and also live chats on their website to recommend the best products to browsing customers.
For any firm, generating the buzz about a product or service through social media marketing requires elaborate planning, and the sketching out of a step-by-step process- a “funnel”, so to speak. Every step composes the funnel, and a certain number of customers slip through at every step. The end-result of the funnel is the conversion of consumers from laymen to your customers, or to buy your product over the rest. It is a thorough process which involves rigorous planning, channeling and analytics, but is tremendously effective as it allows you to leverage social platforms and advertising to build your brand. This also allows your brand to build and maintain a direct presence in the cyberspace.
How Touch-points are Disadvantageous to a SMM Company and How to Prevent Them
While touch-points are highly advantageous in so much that they make conversions in your social media conversion funnel all the more easy, they slow down the process. Between discovery and retention, too many touch-points interfere with the process and confuse most. The key to a good strategy is to improve your funnel by slashing excess touch-points.
Nullify Affinity Groups through Influencers
The issue with affinity groups is that they pave the way for a lot of friction, due to unnecessary clogging. For example, it is one thing to consult a group of users to see if you should buy a product and quite another to form a group having bought the product or other products of the same type to discuss implications and uses. This clogs the top end of the funnel. Instead of keeping this elaborate touch-point, you should consider influencers.
An influencer, as discussed is a popular or influential online personality, be it an actor, blogger, author or game show host. Instead of going through the whole SEO and SMM process separately and having to climb the ladder again, you could go to someone in the industry who is fairly high up the ladder himself, and ask him to promote your service on his blog/feed. Keep a landing page ready, because one referral from a good influencer could attract serious numbers onto your landing page.
Case Studies to Overrule Reviews
As buyers are nearing the bottom of your funnel, they will seek recommendations, referrals and product reviews from other users. This is one thing you really should be looking to avoid, because it is a major source of friction. You could go for self-promotion, but a smart customer could discern that.
Instead, opt for case studies, which show real statistics and metrics with relevant data, showing that the product indeed performs as promised. This eliminates extra foil which people tend to add to usually shallow testimonies. Keep checklists or open forms and then gather metrics.
Eliminate All Touch-points through Paid Tweets – Native Advertising
The most effective method of eliminating several touch-points at once is through paid tweets, or promoted tweets. This is an implementation of native advertising. Native advertising can boost direct purchases by a large amount, but paid tweets are the most effective form, proven to be thirty times (30x) more likely to generate direct purchases, as the users do not refer to any interactions or third party research.
Optimize your Landing Pages
There has been a misconception rooted in the minds of several entrepreneurs, even established ones, that there is no need to have separate social landing pages, and that the PPC landing pages will suffice. This is untrue, as PPC ads are built to direct customers to your page from the bottom reaches of the funnel. Your Best SMM Company landing page has to gather a large number of customers from near the top of the funnel, which is where social networks are. Quite simply, the purpose of a social landing page is to pitch an idea or an offer to a visitor who may not have heard of your brand or the product, while PPC landing pages are aimed at customers who already know they want to buy your product, and are waiting for the perfect opportunity. There are several services which can be optimized for both PPC and SMM purposes.
Social Requests- The True Last Leg of the Conversion Funnel
While one of the things you are definitely looking to get out of your social media funnel is increased conversions, the end goal is quite different. The end goal should ideally be achieving goodwill among the general public. The best way to do the same is to reach out to satisfied buyers and urge them to recommend your brand and share good experiences with their peers. This process of buyers becoming brand ambassadors is the ultimate step and signifies the very last step of any decision journey a customer may undertake through social media. By pulling this off, you can effectively eliminate several friction points and touch-points, ensuring public goodwill and increased conversions.
The fewer the steps in your social media conversion funnel between discovery, conversion and sharing, lesser the scope for friction. Hence, it is best to eliminate all unnecessary touch-points which could really be counterproductive, and keep only the customized, essential ones which work to your benefit. A customer should find it very easy to go from discovery to purchase, without hitting unnecessary hurdles.
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