Thoughts on #Socialnomics 2014 by Erik Qualman

Erik Qualman is at it again, with an updated 2014 installment of his #Socialnomics video (see below). If you are still unsure of the impact social can have on your company, consider these statistics from the video:

  • “53% of people on twitter recommend products in their tweets”
  • “93% of shoppers’ buying decisions are influenced by social media”
  • “90% of consumers trust peer recommendations only 14% trust advertisements”

Whether or not your company is using social networks, your customers are — in order to inform their purchase decisions and opinions about your brand.  Being active on social media gives companies an opportunity to listen, connect and contribute to the opinions consumers form of their products. Or as Erik states “Goodbye 4Ps – hello 4 C’s of digital: creating, curating, connecting culture”.

What do you think?

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What You Want to Know Will Dictate What You Measure

Google Analytics Hacks

Google Analytics Hacks (Photo credit: Search Engine People Blog)

With so much data, it’s so easy to get caught up in all the numbers. Looking at the wrong numbers will result in faulty analysis and recommendations — you may fix things that aren’t broken, or not fix things that are. Or you may think you have the right solution to a problem, but not even be looking in the right place. While it may seem obvious, taking a step back to understand what you want to know first will help you choose the right measurements.

Step 1: State What You Want To Know

The first step is to state what it is you want to know — without using any measurements or metrics at all. For example, if a website has several links to its Careers page on the homepage, ‘We want to know what place on the homepage is sending the most traffic to our Careers page’. This is quite different from ‘We want to know where the most traffic is coming from that enters the site on our Careers page’. One is about the design of the homepage and the marketing there — the other is about external marketing efforts to the Careers page. We’re going to stick with the first for our example…

Step 2: Refine Your Data Needs

Now that we understand what we want to know, we can further refine our data needs to see if we have the right measurement in place. When we look at the homepage, we can see that there are actually 4 places that someone could click through to the Careers page: 1) Menu at the top of the page 2) Linked text in the middle of the page 3) Ad box in the sidebar 4) Menu in the footer of the page. Ok, so now we know there are 4 possible links a visitor could click, so in order to answer our ‘what we want to know’ question, we have to be able to tell the difference between each of these 4 links.

Step 3: Know Your Technologies

Unfortunately, the next step is fairly technical. In order to know if you can distinguish between the 4 links, you need to know 1) how your analytics package collects data and 2) how the links have been coded. In the case of Google Analytics, it treats all data that goes from one page to another as the same, if the links are the same (with a caveat explained in a second). This means that to Google Analytics, it can’t distinguish between the 4 links on the homepage in terms of how much traffic each sent to the Careers page. But there is hope… Google analytics allows you to add tags to links that can help you distinguish where traffic is coming from to the same web page. Which means that if the links were coded with these tags, the data will already be available. And if not, it can be if they are added. Other analytics tools may collect data differently and your content management system (CMS) can also impact how this works.

Step 4: Zero In on the Right Information

So now that we know what we’re trying to measure, what data refinements we need, and how our web technologies work, we can zero in on the right information in our analytics tool. In Google analytics, we’d look for traffic to the Careers page from each of the 4 tags on the homepage to provide information about what place on the homepage is sending the most traffic.

Good Measurement is In the Details

While this may seem complex, the first step — knowing what you want to know — is really vital for communicating your measurement needs to those that may help provide you with the metrics. Without this refinement, you may get back the wrong metrics, or your technologies may not be setup properly to provide them in the first place.

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Just Like Anything, Internet Marketing Takes Patience

Zen Beach Stones at Home

Zen Beach Stones at Home (Photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography)

In this instant-on world, where we can get access to just about any constant with a google search or an ipad app, we sometimes forget that not everything is instant. Good internet marketing is about providing the right message to the right people at the right time. Researching and figuring out what tactics and channels to use to find the right people takes time, and sometimes experimentation. Even with tactics in place, it takes time to build reputation, audience, and reach, all which may be in vain if the timing isn’t right. While internet marketing can provide results faster than many other channels, it still requires patience in execution.

Research Required

One of the benefits of internet marketing is the access to information that previously was either difficult or costly to attain. This valuable information can provide insights into where your audience is online, what they care about, and what they need.  Taking time to do research will help you tailor your messaging, tactics and even products to align more closely with what your potential customers want and need.

Experiment & Collect Data

Because the Internet moves so quickly, there is an opportunity to constantly experiment and collect data. Most marketing is a best guess based on research and previous experience. Internet marketing tactics allow marketers to test their theories relatively quickly and cheaply and collect data to improve results.

Analyze & Improve

The downside of so much information and data is that you can easily become overwhelmed with what to focus on. Analyze the data that provides direct information about how well your marketing is working — these should be your primary and secondary key performance indicators. Ask the ‘so what?’ question about each metric to move from a number to a recommendation on what to improve.

Patience Takes Dedication

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is to give up on marketing efforts before they have a chance to provide results. By being dedicated to patience and controlling expectations, internet marketing tactics can have the opportunity to show what they can do. Constant measuring and analysis along the way will help provide data that tactics are moving in the right direction.

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Leveraging Social Networking for B2B Lead Generation

Banking District

Banking District (Photo credit: bsterling)

Businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B) typically have much longer sales cycles than companies that sell to consumers (B2C). The products and services that are sold are usually much higher in cost, which requires more hand-holding during the sales process.  Salespeople are invaluable to B2B companies because they nurture relationships throughout the sales process. B2B companies, even when they do use social media, tend to overlook it as a relationship builder and a lead generation channel.

B2B Relationships Online Matter Too

If you’re building relationships with a customer in-person, and they’re online, that’s another opportunity to listen to their concerns, learn about their needs and provide value to the relationship. If you’re also online and your customers are connected to you and you’re not listening and responding, that can impact in-person relationships as well. In lead generation, referrals are often the best source, and social networking provides an opportunity to build relationships with those in your customers’ networks.

Your Customer’s Customers Are Your Customers

In B2B relationships, your customer also has customers. Social networking provides an opportunity to connect directly to your customer’s customers. This will help you understand your customer’s needs and wants and can help you provide them with valuable information for their own marketing and sales. Needs often will trickle up the sales channel, and social networking can give you advanced notice of benefits and features you need to build into your own products. In some sales channels, knowing when your customer’s customers are looking for a product can generate a lead for you that a customer may need a product or service from you.

Building B2B Brand Preference

Because B2B is built on relationships and trust, brand preference can be a strong driver of sales. Using social networking can help you build your brand’s reputation by helping your customers with questions and problems, as well as their customers. Increasing your reputation will help generate referrals.

Provide B2B Lead Generation Opportunities

One of the most difficult aspects of lead generation is knowing when a customer or potential customer is interested in your products. It’s obvious when they call or use a contact form, but there often is interest well before those touchpoints. Providing lead generation opportunities online and with social networking can help you tap into those who are earlier in the sales cycle, allowing you to provide valuable information to move them closer to a sale.  The easiest way to provide these opportunities is to build content that is valuable (hint: lose the marketing speak and opt for benefits and value instead) for those considering a sale and providing it through social channels, not only by posting on your online profiles, but by offering it directly to those who seem to have a question.

Closing the Sale

Just like in-person sales and marketing in B2B, social networking for B2B lead generation requires time and patience.  It means listening and responding to customers in a timely manner. If social networking is treated as an extension of in-person networking, it can be an extremely valuable lead generation tool for B2B companies.

How do you use social networking for B2B lead generation?

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Getting Caught Up in The Wrong Numbers

Numbers

Numbers (Photo credit: RichardBowen)

Numbers, Numbers everywhere! With every social network we sign up for, and every online service we subscribe to, we’re given numbers measuring everything from followers to likes to page views.  It’s so easy to get caught up in all these numbers and to start to try to make them bigger and better.  Bigger is better, right? While internet marketing does provide fairly easy measurement tactics, it’s vital to focus on the numbers that are important to your business and its goals.

Tie Measurements to Goals

Numbers that aren’t directly tied to goals are nice, but may obscure focus from what’s really important.  Look for measurements that will allow you to directly understand how you’re doing on your way to your goals.  Secondary measurements that help you understand what tactics are working, and how are also important.  These measurements, primary and secondary key performance indicators, are what you should focus on improving.

Measure with Value

Measurements need to help you understand how your business is doing.  Look for measurements tied to your goals that provide value in understanding how you’re doing — how each tactic is working and how it can be improved. Valuable measurements tend to also be easy to understand, but there are measurement tactics that do need more analysis to be valuable. The key is to do whatever number crunching or analysis needs to be done to make a measurement valuable — otherwise it’s just a number.

Measure to Drive Action

Measurement without action is useless. Measurements need to be analyzed to provide insights that can be acted upon. A good metrics will help you understand how your tactics are doing and what you should improve. It may take analysis to get to the point of actionable insights, but if a number doesn’t provide any insights, it’s not the right number.

Continuous Measurement for Improvement

Just like marketing and sales, measurement is something that has to be done constantly to be valuable to the business.  If you just look at some numbers every quarter, it’s hard to know if what you’re doing is helping you achieve your goals.  While it’s not necessary for most companies to measure daily, regularly measure and analyze to provide recommended actions for your business to take to improve performance.

How do you measure success for your internet marketing?

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