Despite the fact that social media is so embedded in our lives, social lead generation remains quite difficult for many businesses. Although the big social platforms have improved their targeting mechanisms, finding any target is far easier than finding the right target and converting them.
What I want to do in this post is take a look at best practices for social lead generation from people who are doing it well.
Nearly everyone would agree about the potential of social media to reach large numbers of customers, and it would also be a likely consensus that no one has it entirely figured out yet.
Hopefully this post gives you some ideas of how you can plan and execute social lead generation more effectively.
1. Know the tools
Social media platforms bend over backwards to give you access to segmented populations of their users…for a price. And some of the programs that they offer are really useful:
Mention.com‘s Brittany Berger wrote a recent piece explaining how to use the Twitter Lead Gen Card to get email leads through the Twitter platform. With Lead Gen cards you pay-per-lead in a variable cost auction (similar to AdWords, except that you only pay per conversion).
Facebook (by size, time-on-site and revenue per user) is still the behemoth social platform, yet lead generation with Pages is an exercise in futility.
Many people may not know that Facebook has a lead generation ad product that not only collects emails and names, but pre-fills the forms. And you also have the usual pay options for Facebook ads: while it probably makes sense to pay per click, maybe another pay model serves you better. In either event, Facebook can accommodate you.
LinkedIn is structured to help you find leads that have some connection to you (perhaps drawing inspiration from Granovetter’s “weak ties”). Email contacts, former colleagues, alumni, and even businesses can be targeted and contacted using LinkedIn’s targeting tools.
The only frustrating thing about LinkedIn can be how infrequently many users use the platform, making it easy to contact an influential person, but perhaps not easy to get them to reciprocate your contact.
I would be remiss not to mention such as Cision’s PR and social software which automate segmentation, timing, influencers and email campaigns (#2-#4 on the list). Sometimes we have a tendency to consider paid options on these platforms without thinking about how useful third-party applications can be to help accomplish our objectives.
2. Segment appropriately
The importance of segmentation probably doesn’t need to be restated, but a couple of insights may help to broaden your sense of what types of segmentation are possible.
While we oftentimes identify explicit attributes for segmentation, James Scherer of Wishpond describes an “implicit” type of segmentation that broadens a marketer’s/communicator’s toolkit:
“Characteristics of a lead or customer which are implied in their actions, demographics or purchase behavior… such as customers who downloaded the Guide to Landing Pages, and are likely to be interested in that subject, leads who viewed our pricing page twice in two days, and are likely to be interested in buying, customers who purchased a wet suit, and are likely to be interested in watersports…”
More often now, social platforms (Facebook especially) are offering more opportunity to segment implicitly rather than explicitly.
Not only are these “implicit” segmentation opportunities vital to meeting the needs of customers, but it’s important to consider segmentation for all of the communication that you do.
For example, Brooke Sellas of BSquared discusses the importance of segmenting content in addition to email. She writes that segmented email gets as many as 50 percent more clicks, and is sent to spam far less often.
3. Seize opportunities with timing
In his book, The Sales Acceleration Formula, Mark Roberge discusses the importance of timing to lead generation. Roberge would use a formula to rank leads, and then his sales folks would respond quickly when they believed the prospect was most likely to buy.
He also used data to pinpoint the optimized number of attempts for enterprise, mid-sized and small businesses (they found that you call enterprise clients more often, small businesses less), and programmed contact schedules into their CRM program.
While you may not have the resources to do all of the automation and data crunching to be a Mark Roberge, you can qualify leads, respond quickly and follow-up reliably to convert leads more effectively.
4. Transition away from social (give me something good)
You may wonder why would you pay to convert Twitter users or Facebook users to email subscribers? Because open rates for email are greater than 10 percent with click-through in the low-single digits, and impression rates on social run in the low single digits, with click-through in the low tenths of one percent. Email is a more reliable means to communicate with leads, and thus has a higher likelihood of conversion.
Another aspect of transitioning leads away from social to email is the quality of free content that you offer. White papers, ebooks, webinars nd case studies have all been successful ways for businesses to entice prospects to give up their email addresses.
That said, these tactics have probably been unsuccessful far more than they have been successful. It’s imperative to give your prospects something valuable for them, not just content for content’s sake.
Cision is a fantastic exemplar of lead generation content – from the quality of their whitepapers to the incredible webinars that they run – I say this as objectively as I can writing publishing to their blog – they create great lead gen content.
According to a couple of sources it costs between 400 percent and 1,000 percent to acquire a new customer as it does to retain a current customer. So in addition to proving that studies of this sort are quite imprecise, it also demonstrates that in nearly all circumstances you should plan to retain customers as well as to acquire them. As you send out content, as you segment, as you contact leads – you want to be able to share some of this resource to retain current customers as well.
Lead generation is something that nearly every business needs to do, and social media is something that nearly everyone in the world participates on (to some extent) – so it makes sense that social lead generation would be pretty straightforward. It’s not.
Social reach, the peculiarities of the platforms, the specific needs of customers and the cost of acquisition all make social lead generation difficult to accomplish. But there are tools and techniques that can make it more effective, the most counter-intuitive of them being email.