18 Tips to Accelerate Social Media and Digital ROI

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In advance of the upcoming Digital Marketing Strategy Summit, I asked a few of our speakers to share their favorite advice for accelerating digital and social media ROI in 2013. Here's what they had to say:

1. Align your SEO efforts with cross functional marketing team strategies.

"In a recent online marketing industry report, one of the interesting findings was that search marketing continues to grow worldwide and that search marketing represents a key channel for digital marketers. Search spend in the United states grew by 13% while ROI steadily improved. Additionally growth rates for search spend are strong in the UK and Germany representing an 18% and 12 % increase respectively YOY. This highlights that that there is a significant potential ROI opportunity for companies to align SEO with cross functional marketing strategies, especially between SEO and paid search.

During my session, 'Google Ranking Factors: Live Critique and Demo', I’ll explain how Adobe used an advanced customer segmentation strategy that aligned with SEO strategy to drive 350% ROI increases. Plus, I'll also preview participant submitted websites and SEO best practices."

- Warren Lee, SEO Manager, Adobe

2. Focus on measuring quality, not just quantity.

"It’s a common pitfall in digital marketing– success is often measured by the old direct mail perspective of eyeballs, rather than level of engagement with the right audience. Companies will commonly judge social media success by the raw number of friends or followers they have, harkening back to the days of high school and wanting to be the most popular person in the class. Social media is about creating better ways to engage with the people who have an affinity for your brand. Not everyone on social media sites is going to LOVE your brand, but through authentic engagement, you have an opportunity to give them a positive perspective on it. Don’t focus on how many, focus on the conversation and type of people who want to let you into their personal community."

- Ryan Phelan, VP, Strategic Services, BlueHornet, @RyanPPhelan

3. It’s not always about the sale.

"Think about your favorite company or product. Now, mentally list out the top 3 reasons you love that brand. I am betting that none of the top 3 reasons were “because it’s cheap.” If this is true, why do we believe that the only message we have for our subscribers or customers is “It’s on sale!”? If you’re only communicating a sale or promotion, then you have a very limited relationship with your social connections. But if you start to have an authentic conversation with your social connections and form a real relationship, you can occasionally mention a sale or promotion, and also start to talk about the really cool things that are going on with your brand and company. Being that loved brand with your social fans and followers is work, but it has more long-term payoff than sales or promotions alone."

- Ryan Phelan, VP, Strategic Services, BlueHornet, @RyanPPhelan

4. Claim and optimize your Google+ Local page.

"Local search is growing fast and it's important that your Google listing is claimed and optimized so your business can be seen in the local results. When you optimize your page by adding categories, a keyword-enhanced description, photos, store hours, etc. you make it more attractive to search engines as well as your potential customers. Add an Offer to grab the attention of consumers and help you stand out from the rest of your competitors. According to comScore, 60% of a local searchers use offers and most return to businesses they've visited in the past. Also, encourage your customers to leave reviews. Good reviews help your rankings and inspire new customers to try your business."

- Steve Yeich, CEO, Local Splash

5. Align social data with CRM.

"Social marketing will continue to gain focus into 2013 and brands will face increasing pressure to (1) differentiate themselves across social channels and (2) demonstrate a repeatable social marketing ROI. Differentiation is difficult because on the social web brands don’t only complete with their direct competitors but with every other brands competing for the attention of the audience. Brands that will truly stand out on social channels will be those who leverage data to target and drive meaningful interactions with their audience. Aligning that data with CRM (or other customer management systems) will become a requirement to demonstrate repeatable and provable ROI across the social web."

- Mike Lewis, VP of Sales & Marketing, Awareness, Inc and Author of Stand Out Social Marketing (McGraw-Hill 11/2012), @bostonmike

6. Collect and leverage social data to make more intelligent, data driven decisions.

"The concept of social CRM is finally able to come to life with the technology advances over the past couple of years. There is so much data that can be collected from listening, social login and by monitoring the behavior on your website. All of this data can and should be analyzed to better understand your customers so that you can enrich their experience and ultimately build a better relationship with them. For example if John Smith connects to your site via social login you can pull down his social graph information and leverage his likes and interests to personalize your marketing messages. You can also broaden that view by brining in conversations he's having on the social web to better understand his interests and mood which can help build a better rapport."

- LaSandra Brill, Social Media Marketing Manager, Cisco, @LaSandraBrill

7. Build a social media command center.

"If you're still struggling with getting executive buy-in consider a social media command center. The visualizations bring the customer conversations to life in a way that no executive can ignore. For whatever reason when they see it in lights something clicks and they want to understand more."

- LaSandra Brill, Social Media Marketing Manager, Cisco, @LaSandraBrill

8. Harness multi-attribution modeling with web analytics.

"Multiple customer touch-points before you close a lead or sale is the rule not the exception these days. Are you using multi-attribution modeling with your web analytics so that you have a full picture of your sales funnel? You already understand what digital channels directly bring in sales/leads. Now understand how each digital channel serves to assist in that conversion. Knowing this will allow you to create an integrated digital marketing strategy and spend your money more wisely."

- Jamie Duklas, Director of Social Media, Booyah Online Advertising, @jduklas

9. Think email series, not email blasts.

"If you're structuring your email marketing program as a rapid-fire deployment of one-off communications, you're hindering email ROI on at least two fronts. First, conventional marketing wisdom tells us it takes at least seven touches to convert a cold prospect to a customer, and whether the magic number is seven or not, it's definitely true that new prospects need multiple chances to familiarize themselves with a brand, gather information and build trust before buying. Basically the more touches you have with a prospective customer in as many ways as possible, the more likely you are to build strong relationships and in turn sell your product or service. Email can play a major role in this process.

Second, not only should you think in terms of matching email messages to customer life stage, but structure your email program as a series of messages per stage rather than a single "blast". For example, new subscribers should be welcomed, and while one welcome message is better than none, an onboarding series of emails that welcome, educate and invite new prospects to make a first purchase (or advance the relationship toward purchase) is up to three times more effective than a single welcome message. For better email ROI, structure your program as a series of email "conversations" vs. one-way messages, and your subscribers will be far more engaged, confident and loyal in the long run."

- Karen Talavera, Synchronicity Marketing, @SyncMarketing

10. Deploy triggered email and dialog tracks.

"While you're thinking in terms of email series vs. single messages, it also pays to think in terms of email conversations. One size does not fit all when it comes to your list, so "blasting" everyone the same message without customized follow-up leaves money on the table. True, some subscribers will convert instantly (especially if they are existing customers who've bought before), while others need coaxing and incentives in the form of further messaging - or "conversations". Designing triggered follow–up email sequences for different response actions (open, click, or conversion) becomes a key way to continually nudge the undecided toward a clear yes or no response, nurture prospects into customers, and encourage customers to buy again."

- Karen Talavera, Synchronicity Marketing, @SyncMarketing

11. Create landing pages that seduce and convert.

"Landing pages are a critical component to the generating quality leads from PPC. You want to direct potential customers on their next steps. Do you want them to order? Contact you? Download more information? This is achieved by having a strong call-to-action (CTA) on the landing page that matches the messaging on PPC ad the visitor just clicked on. Make the primary CTA stand out visually with the use of a button or other eye-catching graphic. Think size, color, and placement of the CTA graphic for maximum benefit. It's amazing how many advertisers miss this important step, and it can make or break a campaign!"

- Lisa Raehsler, Big Click Co, @LisaRocksSEM

12. Take control of your data.

"Understand what data you have access to is good. But what is great is to appreciate all the data collected on your site. From widget companies to free analytics tools, there are many companies that collect data and which you don't necessarily can act upon. Run an inventory of data collected on your site and try to see what value they can bring to your web site and campaigns"

- Dax Hamman, Chief Revenue Officer, Chango, @daxhamman

13. Be smartly efficient about campaign testing.

Test only those elements which will net you the maximum ROI of time, energy and money. For small companies and/or those with limited resources, I'd focus on headline and calls-to-action testing (both copy and design.)
Roberta Rosenberg, Director of Marketing, Business Resources and Education, American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), @CopywriterMaven

14. Connect to the search psyche of your potential buying customer.

"Digital Marketing often becomes about speaking and communicating to robots, the search engines and the algorithms. My session is going to re-connect your marketing efforts, whether you are a small business or an agency, to the search psyche of your potential buying customer in Social Media Sites. You must know them first, write content to what they want and only then will conversions show up one tweet, follow, like or comment at a time!"

- Heather Lutze, CEO and Founder, Findability Group, @HeatherLutze

15. Always test your landing pages.
"Testing pays off. No matter how much you “think” you know your audience, always challenge what is working. Testing can be as easy as a multi-step page versus a single landing page – and the results can be significant. Know your results. They will sometimes surprise you."

- Sally Lowery, Director of Revenue Marketing, ion interactive, @sallymacnc

16. Develop a video marketing strategy.

"Video offers greater retention and recall: up to 5 times greater than the written word. So how to get started? Below is a list of recommendations to consider when developing a successful video marketing program, from strategic planning to measurement.

  • Benchmark the competition (analyze profile design, overall content and level of interaction)
  • Based on analysis of existing videos, the ideal duration to maximize engagement is 30-120 seconds
  • All videos should include a closing call-to-action (visit a website, subscribe, comment, share, etc.)
  • For trademarked or copyrighted content or improved measurability, consider digital watermarking
  • Create a text transcript for all videos (good for search engine optimization and ADA compliance)
  • Create an audio-only “podcast” for distribution on iTunes and other audio websites
  • Create still images from HD videos to post on Pinterest, Flickr, Facebook and other profiles
  • Don’t forget to set default sharing option to “public” or “allow all”
  • Use Comments, Hot Spots and A/B Testing as your virtual focus group (to determine future content and format ideas)
  • Based on new posting rules recently released by YouTube, be sure to use your Google+ profile when commenting on videos"

- Kent Lewis, President, Anvil Media, @kentjlewis

17. Secure proper budget for digital campaigns.

"So you’ve struggled to secure digital marketing budget to optimize your website, build out a pay-per-click advertising campaign or build a social media presence. Fear not. Even if you shared the benefits of digital marketing outlined above without success, there are three effective sales strategies you can use: appealing to logic, ego or simply begging for forgiveness."

- Kent Lewis, President, Anvil Media, @kentjlewis

18. Focus on the right social media metrics.

"While social metrics like growth in # of fans, followers or likes can certainly help set a baseline and provide trending for general reach and frequency, they can be misleading or misinterpreted as absolute values. One way to minimize the limitations of these metrics is to track them as ratios instead. The benefit of a ratio is that it focuses on relationships and relativity. For example, marketers shouldn’t care as much about the total number of Likes on Facebook; rather, they should care about the level of quality and engagement with those individuals. One way to do that is by looking at relationships like the average number of comments or shares-per-post."

- Kent Lewis, President, Anvil Media, @kentjlewis

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