Are you doing your digital marketing incorrectly? Do you know if you’re going about it the right or wrong way?

A lot of the SME businesses I’ve met in the last 3 years were wasting their company’s money doing various social media tasks that were not realising a ROI for them. Its been my experience that a lot of SME companies approach their online marketing ad-hoc with the Sheep Strategy, or no strategy at all.

“Our competitors all have a Facebook so we need one”. 
“I hate Twitter because I don’t care what my neighbours cat had for breakfast, BUT everyone else has a Twitter page, so our company needs one too…”

The above or any number of variations of the above are things people regularly say to me when we get into what they are doing online to promote and grow their businesses. This is what I call the Sheep Strategy, but that’s not really fair because its not a strategy at all.

The best you can hope for, if you make decisions based on what everyone else is doing, is that you will do the right thing for the wrong reason. The problem with that is even if you are doing the right thing, you are probably not doing it the right way.

The only KPI that matters

I have met a number of businesses through the Digital Marketing Ireland meetup group who were completely focused on building fans and followers on their social media accounts and had no email strategy in place. Unfortunately not having a comprehensive, well thought out plan that covers social, email and the other digital marketing channels is all too common.

As plans go, not having one on a scale of crazy is only one or maybe two steps away from dressing yourself in speedos and wellies, strapping some cymbals to your head and running around the city centre warning people of impending doom, whilst hitting yourself in the cymbals with a very large carrot.

Facebook and all the social networks are sleeping giants. Your business doesn’t “own” your fans and followers. As social media expert Amanda Webb points out in this excellent post we should all be focused on getting leads from social media. Leads are the only KPI that really matters.

In the context of le Web, “leads” should mean more than simply having a prospect’s name and phone number. It should mean you are able to contact these prospects whenever you want to. By that reasoning a real digital marketing lead come in one of the following four flavours:

  • Somebody has completed and submitted the contact form on your website
  • Someone has subscribed to your email list
  • Someone has phoned in and said that they found you either via social media or a Google search
  • Someone turns up at your premises to buy something having found you on the web

Please do not make the mistake of thinking that a Facebook fan or Twitter follower is a digital marketing lead, because they are not.

Why Fans & Followers Are A Bad KPI

I could probably write another post just addressing this issue. However for today suffice to say that the main reasons are:

  • Any social network can close down your page/account without warning or recourse. It doesn’t matter how big your page is or how many people follow it.
  • Social networks rise and fall in favour.
  • On social networks typically only the people who are online at the time of you posting to the social network will see your update.
  • Once upon a time most of your Facebook fans saw your page updates when you put them up if they were online at the time. This number has been in decline since Facebook’s IPO and their monetization began. Now you can expect between 1% and 5% according to this article.

Making a sweeping statement like “Facebook is a bad idea for all small businesses”, is like saying “chocolate underpants are a good idea for diabetics”. That Forbes article only speaks to one businesses experience and there are a lot of factors that could influence the results they experienced, which might not make their results typical, irrespective of how scientific their methodology.

However, the article above is not the first I’ve read quoting numbers in the range of 5%.

A lead is not a lead if you can’t get in contact with them whenever you want. This ability to contact is fundamental to the Lead Nurturing process and why social and email marketing should always go hand in hand.

Lend me your imagination for a moment. Imagine that you had a list of 100 email addresses of people who had expressed an interest in your products and services. Now imagine you sent them out an email with a special offer promotion you were running that you knew would blow their socks off.

How would you feel if only between 1 and 5 of the people you emailed actually got your email? Would you be happy?

I doubt it, but  likely that’s what’s happening when you post a Facebook status update from your page. Well, unless you are paying to promote it of course.

Email Marketing’s Role

First an infographic (this infographic is courtesy of Sample Emails and Designed by Graphs):

Email marketing is not without its challenges because it has to be conducted correctly if you want to get results, continue to have your email delivered, and stay out of trouble with the authorities. That said email is still more widely used than Social Media and if you do it right, the vast majority of your subscribers will at least get the choice to look at what you’ve sent them and decide for themselves if they want to read it and engage with you.

With Mailchimp offering free email marketing systems that will ensure you are compliant (by managing double opt-ins and unsubscriptions for your business), there really is no reason not to take the opportunity to build a solid lead capturing and nurturing machine.

How effective is your digital marketing?

This part is really easy, just answer one simple question:

Do you have a Digital Marketing, or Inbound Marketing Plan in place?

If the answer is no, then you are not doing it right! ????

Okay so my tongue is in my cheek, but below I’ve created an exercise for you to quickly determine how effective what you are doing online to promote your business is.

The Exercise:

  1. Go find some quiet space, grab the person who is responsible for the marketing activities of your firm and bring them with you
  2. Grab a pen and paper, or fire up your word processor
  3. Jot down a list of everything that’s been done in the last month to promote your business online
  4. Write down the total time spent on it – its okay to guesstimate if this isn’t being tracked. Don’t be conservative with your estimates because Facebook is a little bit like cigarettes – you want to believe you are on it less than you probably actually are.
  5. Now write down how many leads all that effort has generated (remember fans and followers are NOT leads)
  6. Multiply the person’s wage by the number of hours spent
  7. Divide the numbers you arrived at in #6 by the answer to #5

The final number is your Direct Cost Per Lead.  This is an important metric to keep in mind as a marketer and as a business owner.

As a business owner you should also consider what your conversion rate of Leads To Sales is particularly in line with your Profit Per Sale metrics.

Conclusion

Social Media and Email Marketing go together like coffee and chocolate. Throw in some blogging and link building and you have an orgy of digital marketing delight on your hands…or “Inbound Marketing” as we like to call it! ????

Any digital marketing you are doing ad-hoc and without a plan that includes both email and social, is more than likely a waste of your companies funds. Don’t take my word for that though…please do the exercise above and find out for sure.

In my opinion, effective digital marketing (just like effective web design) realises a Return On Investment, builds your digital asset base and positions your company for the best possible chance of increasing revenues in the future.

Of course that’s just my opinion….what do you think?