Blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest — more and more, these are the places where people are talking about goods and services. Technorati’s 2013 Digital Influence Report confirms the growing trend of consumers turning to blogs and social media when looking to make a purchase, thanks to the trust and clout carried by online influencers.
No one would argue against the power of blogs or social media to create awareness, but what about action? Are all those impressions really worth anything if the audience isn’t following through?
What about brands that are looking to trigger specific consumer activities: clicking a link, downloading an app, liking a Facebook page, signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase and so on?
Increasing a brand’s social reach through online promotions can be incredibly beneficial, but it’s possible to create an even bigger impact with a call-to-action. The key is to encourage readers to take that extra step — while maintaining the honesty, disclosure, and expertise that makes an influencer a trusted information source.
It’s All About The Right Kind Of (Native) Advertising
“Banner blindness” has sent display advertising CTR down the tubes, which means brands are looking for creative ways to reach their target demographic online. Enter native advertising with its many upsides: consumers are 25 percent more likely to look at a native ad than a banner, and they look at them 53 percent more frequently. Done well, native advertising produces click-through rates close to that of editorial content.
Authenticity and transparency are the key elements of a successful native campaign. Content-based marketing like sponsored blog posts are far more effective than traditional advertising, and that efficacy isn’t lessened by clear disclosure.
The best sponsored content feels authentic, in that it fits with the publisher’s brand and personal style. Even more critically, sponsored content should be transparent, because audiences don’t like being duped, and publishers don’t like feeling as though they’re trying to hide something.
When influencers have repeatedly connected with their audience and established their areas of expertise, they’re the right person to make the big ask: will you buy, sign up, download? Trust will encourage those actions, and that’s why you have to start with credibility.
Discounts Drive Results
When executed poorly, discounts have the potential to undermine perception of quality and hurt brand equity. On the flip side, they can also be an extremely effective tactic for boosting sales. Some points to consider when strategizing a discount campaign:
- Create A Single Call-To-Action. Whether it’s a “buy here” link, button, or other method of channeling the consumer to the intended destination, clear the path of any distractions. One click should get them where you want them to go.
- Offer A Compelling Incentive. A 20 percent discount on a purchase? A free month of a subscription service? This is where it can help to partner with an agency skilled in managing blog and social media promotions to find that pricing sweet spot.
- Give The Consumer Just Enough Time. Once the promotion’s been posted, your audience should have enough time to take part in the discount campaign — but not so lengthy of a deadline that it doesn’t encourage them to move quickly.
Use Giveaway Contests Wisely
Blog and social media giveaways can be amazing tools for boosting brand awareness and engagement, but they also have the potential to slow down purchases as readers wait to see if they won. Here’s a method to move consumers into the conversion tunnel: reward giveaway contestants for participating in a call-to-action.
As an example: RedEnvelope recently launched a sponsored post program and giveaway as part of their #WhatMomWants campaign (disclosure: RedEnvelope is a Sway Group client).
In this post on Whoorl.com, RedEnvelope offered three different $500 gift cards for Mother’s Day. Using the Rafflecopter service for managing online promotions, RedEnvelope gave Whoorl readers extra opportunities to win by leaving a blog comment, following RedEnvelope on Pinterest, liking RedEnvelope on Facebook, tweeting about the giveaway, or visiting the RedEnvelope website.
Giveaways are popular because they’re relatively easy to manage, with minimal investment. Plan your giveaway carefully, and follow these guidelines:
- Don’t require a ton of personal information from users to participate.
- Make the rules as clear and simple as possible.
- Avoid using social logins like Facebook Connect if possible, since people tend to mistrust these authorization requests.
- Ask for the sale. Yes, you’re giving something away, but follow up by encouraging readers to make a purchase.
Whether you’re offering a discount, a giveaway or other incentive, it’s good to partner with a mix of publishers: some for pure volume (like coupon or giveaway bloggers), others for their high-influence posts that tend to get shared across multiple platforms.
Get Creative With Immersive Social Media
Twitter scavenger hunts have grown in popularity lately, like the Bud Light/Justin Timberlake promotion held in 2013. Friend2Friend CEO Roger Katz says this of social scavenger hunts: “Done in the right way, a scavenger hunt can engage users in a way that gets them reinforcing the very behaviors and actions that the brand is interested in propagating (music, beverages, etc.). By emphasizing sharing in the promotion, ensures that those who participate help spread the brand message.”
While the offline activity involved in a large-scale Twitter scavenger hunt can make these promotions a challenge, some brands are turning to online-only hunts that spark consumer engagement. A branded Twitter promotion that encourages participants to search the brand website to answer a series of questions is a great example of inbound marketing that can lead directly to sales.
Follow Up Sales By Turning Customers Into Marketers
Once a consumer follows that call-to-action and you make the sale, how do you convert them into a company spokesperson? You can start by encouraging social shares with great content: pinnable images, fun videos, relevant articles.
Tell them how to share: Fresh Tops includes a card with every shipment that lists all their social profiles and a preferred hashtag for sharing. Target the influencers who participate in the unboxing phenomenon — like Stitch Fix customers and the bloggers who routinely review their monthly subscription shipments — and support them, through affiliate programs or other rewards.
Engaging Customers Pre-Purchase
Social media and blog promotions offer an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to building customer excitement and engagement pre-purchase. They’re also the perfect platforms for motivating prospects to take the next step; and with a little planning, action-oriented social campaigns can deliver outstanding, measurably successful results.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.