Every business is trying to figure out a way to get potential customers from social media to their checkout page. We have an insane number of tips for generating leads from social media and converting them into loyal customers. These tips have been chewed and spat out many times, but sadly our conversion rates refuse to budge.
If you have tried every possible trick in the book to increase conversions with little or no luck, don’t you think it’s time to change the pattern of your thinking?
Well then, read on. For the next 10 minutes, I want you to stop thinking (obsessing?) about conversions completely, as if they were never a part of your business goals. Instead, stick with me while I take you through a step-by-step process for excelling at the whole conversion-conversation game and then reveal the true reason behind this exercise.
Catch Them Young
As soon as visitors land on your website, start hooking them in. From newsletter signups to social follow buttons, make sure you lay out all possible venues where you can have conversations with them. A lot of digital strategy consultants believe social buttons shouldn’t go in homepage headers, as your social media channels are not as important as your business website.
However, unless you are Apple or Nike, people won’t be crowding your social media pages. So, if you want to create a sticky relationship with your potential customers, catch them young. Here are a few ways you can do this, along with some key points to keep in mind…
A study by Nielsen Norman Group shows that the way most people read resembles an “F” pattern. They first read horizontally, which makes up your header, and then they scroll down past your banner or above-fold content, and then they read horizontally again. Looking at the example below, it is clear that, odds are, your social buttons are not within the peripheral vision of your visitors.
If you are worried that your visitors might not convert to customers if you shift their focus to your social pages, stop worrying. The latest social buttons do a very good job of keeping visitors on your page.
If you are regularly churning out good content or daily deals, newsletter signups are very important. In such cases, consider keeping the Sign Up box above the fold. This is one of the most common e-commerce practices. Men’s Health magazine’s Sign Up box is in the sidebar, which also is a common practice.
Your Call-to-Action (CTA) text is the next important aspect here. Make sure your CTA text is conversational and inviting. See how Men’s Health magazine’s CTA is short and matches the theme of their website.
I especially like Upworthy’s description of what a Like button does (quite cheeky).
The exit pop-up from Priceonomics hits the nail on the head with a long CTA. It might not be right for everyone, but since Priceonomics specializes in long-form content, it talks in the language their target audience loves.
If you are looking for some sign-up magic, offer an extra incentive to persuade visitors to sign up for your newsletters. See how Swanson offers a flat 10% discount on signups.
Last but not the least, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you were shopping in a hurry or your sole intent was to complete a purchase, would you click on the follow buttons on the homepage or product page? I’ll bet not. So make sure you keep social buttons everywhere, including your landing pages, blogs, thank you page, exit pop-ups, etc.
Build a Community
Once you get your website visitors to sign up for your newsletters or to join your social media channels, try building a community. From Reddit to Facebook, there are several places where you can engage your customers in conversation.
The best part about community is that the onus of keeping the conversation going does not lie solely on you. Sure, things might get out of hand once in a while, but most of the time, community members take care of matters concerning rules, tone, and acceptable behavior.
Black Milk is living proof of the success of community-based engagement strategy. The Black Milk community is active on Facebook, Instagram, and even Reddit. They have established large online groups known as tribes, and the members are known as sharkies.
Black Milk marketing and operations manager Cameron Parker knows the value of engagement, and he said, by way of explanation, “If customers are there posting content, then we should be there having a conversation.”
He further added that Black Milk is committed to one-on-one conversations with fans using a human approach. “We’re in fashion, so we want to sound like a friend.” They even have SharkieCons and Sharkieunite events where Black Milk customers and staff meet for a fun day. All in all, they are putting themselves out there to build a strong community.
Black Milk is a classic example of “Build it and they will come!”
It isn’t only retail or apparel brands that this applies to. Community building can help the automobile, entertainment, and gaming sectors. Here are a few tips for building a strong, infallible community like Black Milk:
- Remember, keeping your customers engaged can be taxing, so invest in a good team that can devote the necessary time and effort.
- I am repeating myself, but there’s no way you can build a community without the help of social media. Black Milk started off as a blog, but soon they saw the potential of Facebook and wasted no time in moving there. Today, they are super active on Instagram, as they saw a massive number of user-generated posts on Instagram with hashtag #blackmilk, and realized the potential of the platform.
- Half the success of the Black Milk community can be attributed to their passionate admins who are really devoted to the groups. Choose your community admin wisely. If they suck at communication, you might have a difficult time keeping tabs and keeping communication flowing among various groups.
Start a Conversation
There are a number of different types of conversations you can have with potential customers. Let’s go over some of them:
Even social media and communities can’t replace the influence of email marketing when it comes to having one-on-one conversations with customers.
Your customer’s inbox is more than a place to send discount emails every Friday. It is a place where you can have one-on-one conversations with them (without creeping them out, though).
It’s a sad plight that we see so many bad marketing emails today. Personalization is just a buzzword that has been overused, but never truly understood. The same can be said about conversations.
There are a few exceptions, however, such as these emails from HolidayIQ:
The following is an example of how important it is to have a conversational tone with your customers:
If you want to keep your customers engaged with you and become repeat customers, don’t underestimate the power of email marketing. Here are a few ways to spark conversations with your customers:
As we saw in the above example, ask for feedback or reviews. It is one of the best ways to hear what your customers have to say and engage with them.
You can also strike up a conversation with your customers through polls, secret spills about some upcoming collection or feature, or simply sending them best wishes on their birthday, not those automated emails but personalized messages.
An advance birthday email is much more thoughtful than a same day offer, as your customer can buy something for their special day in advance.
I also like this Shopify email. It shares customer success stories and invites you to share your own story. This is a great way to get your existing customers to engage with you.
“It’s a fine day for a walk!”
Most people don’t put much stock in small talk. They want a long, deep, meaningful conversation. But when it comes to your customers, even small talk can help in a big way. Here are a few ways to engage in small talk:
Twitter is the best place for small talk. Make the 140-character limit your best friend with small talk.
Apparently, a lot of small talk is also happening on Snapchat. Brands and influencers are using the image + text format to communicate using small talk. So, take advantage of that.
Organizing small scale contests is another way to engage in small talk with your customers. Make sure you comment on each and every submission, even if it’s just to say thank you for the time.
Feel Good Talk
Remember seeing those Monday motivation posters and tweets. Wonder why businesses do that? Motivational or pep talk gives off positive vibes to your customers, creating a strong association of positivity with your brand.
Also, a lot of businesses donate a small percentage of their profits to charity or ask customers to do so. If one of your customers does that – let’s say contributes to save a tree – engage them in feel-good talk over email, share it over social media, or just get a tree to thank them.
Ok, so my 10 minutes are up… Thank you for patiently reading and making it to here. But bear with me for a few more seconds as I reveal why you need to follow this exercise.
We have been told over and over how to use social media influence to woo potential customers. However, we need to quit this line of thinking, as a better approach would be to get our customers to sign up for our emails and follow us on social media. After that, we should be so good at it that they become our repeat customers, because customers are valuable, duh.
The best part is we don’t need to reinvent the wheel or do a 180° turn. We just need to change the pattern of our thinking, unlearn everything we know about customer engagement, social media, and conversions, and start fresh.
We need to shift focus from a conversion strategy to a conversation strategy and trust that conversions will come.
About the Author: Harsh Agrawal, a blog scientist and CEO of ShoutDreams Media, started his entrepreneurship journey in 2008. His superpower is his passion for blogging & interest in understanding customer psychology. He is a speaker and spoke at numerous event such as WordCamp, IBM Business Connect, Socialathon to name a few. His award-winning blog ShoutMeLoud.com has more than 832K subscribers and receives 1 million Pageviews per month.