The true litmus test for whether your blog is gaining traction isn’t just the almighty hit counter, or the amount of retweets your twitter promotional efforts get. At Lead Sift we feel that one of, if not the strongest indicator of the success of your blog should be the comments that your blog receives. Often times the most seasoned blog reader will scroll down to the comments before they even read the blog post itself to judge whether the post, or even website (if they found their way in indirectly, or through a back door, so to speak) is worth further exploration. So the importance of writing blog posts and following certain policies that promote comments is absolutely worth talking about, in fact we feel it is essential for any blogger that wishes for their audience to grow beyond a select few friends and family members. This is why we have compiled a top 5 list of tips that when applied regularly, will increase the number of quality comments that your blog gets.
Ask For Them
Seems kind of obvious, we know, but you would be surprised how many bloggers don’t open up this door. Perhaps some of them think it’s obvious enough having a comment box? Not so much, If you want something ask for it. So if comments are what you desire follow our lead (hint: read the last four sentences of this post) and ask for them! Tell the folks reading your post that you want to read their questions, opinions and even concerns and you might be surprised by what this invitation brings to the table.
However you want to put it; thinking outside of the box, being original etc. Your content in itself needs to be something worth commenting on. Taking a stance, explaining your opinion and engaging in people to join the debate is a great way to elicit those all important social comments. Word for the wise regarding this strategy, make sure to police your comments section and not allow it to get out of hand. The last thing you want is for your comments section to blow up into something similar to that found on a youtube justin bieber video, or the majority of youtube videos comments section for that matter!
Spread the Comment Love
Sometimes the most effective way to get comments on your blog is to be an active blogger! That doesn’t mean constantly pumping out content, it means you have to play an active role on other blogs, commenting and spreading your ideas and opinions. This action will have two results: 1) it will compel the author of the blog you are reading to check yours out and likely pay your commenting forward 2) it will compel the blogs readers who like what you have to say to check out your blog and possibly leave a comment.
Promote, Promote, Promote
It’s just as important as writing your blog. You have to spread the word about your posts, or upcoming posts or even past posts if they are relevant to a specific topic at hand. In your promotional efforts, whether it be on Twitter or Facebook, a great strategy is to say you want to hear the opinions of others. For example a good promotional post that promotes comments would read, “Here’s why Twitter is the best Social Media platform, and why Facebook is the worst http://examp.le Agree or disagree?”
Commit to Interaction
It is very important to go beyond simply saying you would like comments, you must respond to them and interact with the audience that is posting the comments. When you address someone directly, the chances of them returning to your blog is increased significantly as you have shown them that their opinion matters to you as the author. When you are first starting out, every comment you receive should be directly responded to. Even if someone writes a simple compliment, you need to strictly commit to providing a unique response that further promotes the interaction. As your blog develops and grows this policy should be adhered to for as long as feasibly possible, at which point responding to groups of comments is a good policy. For instance, if ten people write a comment that simply indicates they enjoyed the post, then you can thank the ten people as a group. Make sure your response promotes further comments however.
So there you have it, 5 sure-fire ways to ensure your blog is comment friendly. This is the part where it gets kind of awkward… now that we’ve revealed all of our tricks, we still have to apply them- otherwise we would look slightly phony. So here it goes… Like what you read? Have an opinion or any other tips you would like to share? Well we are all ears, erm…eyes, and would love to hear (see?) from you. So post your comments below and as sure as sure can be, we will respond to each and every one of them! That wasn’t so bad, was it?
What steps does one have to take to create a business with a healthy and effective lead system? You know, a business that develops a funnel that is agile yet consists of an ongoing flow of inbound and outbound leads….what does it take to develop a funnel like that?
Well, after chatting with a handful of businesses and working with them on developing their own lead systems for social media, we’ve identified consistent trends to what finds greats success. Here are a few steps that you can take to ensure success in lead development.
1) Define Smart & Specific Goals.
While it may sound backwards to some; it’s important for you start with the end goal in mind. You and the team must identify not only marketing goals but also goals as for your business as a whole. Don’t get caught up in generating more pageviews, developing more fans or increasing our number of followers and not focusing on the bigger picture like increasing overall sales, increasing the average transaction or the number of purchases made per customer. All of these things can be accomplished through customer relationship management and a smarter approach to marketing through content and social media.
2) Recognize & Audit Your Existing Channels.
If you’re a new business you can skip this step for now but be sure to consider it in six months time. You need to understand where you are today to develop a plan to get where you want to be tomorrow. Evaluate the channels you currently have in the public domain including but not limited to your Facebook Page, Twitter account, Blog and Forum. Maybe you’ve started a Tumblr account but haven’t given it much attention over the last few months? Once you’ve identified all the channels that you have already existing online, you need to identify whether or not these channels are necessary and whether your team has the ability to use these channels. If you’re going to use Twitter for example, it’s important to make the commitment to building relationships and communicating with people on a regular basis. If you don’t build relationships with customers and influencers; people will simply see you as a brand trying to make a sale. You need to be more than that. You need to be a brand trying to connect in an authentic way by building deep relationships with people.
3) Talk to Customers and Identify their Needs.
As I just highlighted in step #2, customers don’t want to be marketed to today. Yet, the success of your business through social media and other digital channels is directly related to your perception in the market place and how you connect with your audience. Recognizing this, it’s important to have conversations with your EXISTING customers to learn what you did right and POTENTIAL customers to learn what you can do better.
These conversations don’t have to happen by calling them on the phone during Christmas Dinner. All you need to do is embrace technology by implementing social plugins like qualaroo.com and learn from customers what Analytics simply cant tell you. Yet, that’s not where it ends. You can reach out to people through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, email, Pinterest, search engines, blogs, LinkedIn, mobile, and more.
Talk to them and figure out what you can do better. The more information you have, the better chances you can make a sale and tell a consistent story that is worth sharing and telling. And don’t forget, the Marketing team needs to talk to the sales team.
4) Create and Deliver a Lead Management Processs
If you’re a new business, the key for you to establish on social media is authority. In the eyes of many, if you don’t already have a business behind you or a published book; you’re a rookie. You’re new to the game and new to the industry. For that reason, you need to recognize that it’s important for you to establish authority through every tweet, update, email and blog post published. As you continue to share this content you develop your brand and ultimately establish yourself in a way that will drive leads.
The key however, is to figure out how you can manage those leads and nurture them into your business funnel. It’s important to use consistent content marketing to ensure your brand is positioned in a positive light. From there, it will be easier to find someone tweeting about a competitors product and join the conversation to drive additional leads into your funnel. How you manage these leads is just as important as generating them.
5) Develop a Content Strategy for Multiple Channels
Now that you understand the importance of creating content over the long term and have identified the channels that will work best for you – It’s time to create a content strategy for the various channels identified. Think about what kind of content you will be sharing from Twitter on a daily basis and what kind of content you can publish to your blog to spark shares and backlinks. All of this content should be seen as mini-sales pitches as together they combine to tell potential leads your value proposition while increasing your brands reputation.
In a digital world, content is becoming more and more fragmented. Thus, it’s important that we tell a consistent and cohesive story across all of these channels whether it’s through emails, blogs, tweets, video or ebooks. All of these pieces of content need to be linked back to the goals we identified in step one and the strategy you’ve developed in step five. Within this strategy you must also identify and create a content plan so you don’t run out of topics and leave your customers begging for more.
6) Embrace the Inner Mathelete
While it’s not sexy. Measurement and analytics is key to understanding what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong in executing an effective lead generation system. You must be willing to embrace everything from cost metrics to acquisition metrics to truly understand what’s going on for your business. Don’t fall into the trap of focusing on vanity metrics and ignoring those that are actually crucial to generating success and revenue. Remember when we identified goals in step 1?
Take those goals and record metrics that would be well aligned with accomplishing them.
Trust us, if you can take these steps and implement them for your business you will see a different in your process and bottom line.
One of the things we truly love about sales and social media in general is your ability to integrate the two to find meaningful measurable results. There’s no fluff, there’s no magic tricks, it’s business as usual with a slight twist.
Many organizations are still trying to get a grasp on how they can take that first step into using social media to generate sales. Well, look no further, here are four easy steps that any sales team can take to developing an excellent sales strategy for social media:
Establish Sales Goals & Objectives
Before you dive into developing a sales strategy for social media you need to understand what you’re trying to accomplish. Immediately you’re going to think that you’re trying to simply achieve an increase in sales. Incorrect. You need to understand the difference between leads, opportunities, visitors and actual customers.
Once you understand the business mechanics of a social media program such as the different types of conversions highlighted above you can start focusing on sales. To do this, start with the bottom line and make your way back to get to your goals. As you do this, integrate your understanding of the objectives and funnels to develop the KPI’s that will demonstrate if you’re on the right track.
Develop Soft Conversion Channels
Developing soft conversion channels is built around the idea of capturing a users attention before they make a buying decision. It’s a great tactic as many prospects may not be ready to make a purchase; however, with soft conversions you have an opportunity to convert relevant leads over time.
Soft leads are people who are willing to provide personal information like an email address or Facebook account in exchange for highly relevant and valued content. This content they see as valuable and relevant could range from an eBook to a Webinar that’s offered for the first 60 people who subscribe. These users are valuable leads who have demonstrated some form of interest in your content; but haven’t necessarily said they want to spend cash on your product.
Upon developing a compelling and relevant email marketing campaign, you will start to push these users through the sales funnel more effectively. As a result you will have a better opportunity to convert what was once a soft lead into a buyer and potential brand advocate.
Identify where leads are talking
Think about who it is you’re trying to target with your advertising. If you’re startup that sells velvet track-suits, you’re going to need to develop the persona for someone who would want this product. Start to think about the channels they use, start to think about how they interact with these channels and what type of content they would find valuable. From there, also understand your potential leads from a real world perspective – What are their general interests? Where do they live? What’s their name?
If you’re able to define your potential buyers it will allow you to be more strategic with your thinking and marketing approach. Defining their persona will help you in identifying your target customer and understand how they will actually search for your business online. This process seems quite simple and a bit silly but it’s one that can play a huge role in increasing your conversions.
Measure, Analyze and Report Stuff
Finally, you have to do something that a lot of people don’t want to talk about. It’s sort of like one of the rules from Fight Club except online marketing club. MARS. Measure – Analyze – Report Stuff.
It’s very important that you understand how you’re doing along the process to ensure you’re able to maximize your dollars spent. The quickest and most cost-effective way to monitor social media is by utilizing tools like Google analytics or Hootsuite Pro. The combination of these two tools will make your life a whole lot easier by demonstrating the number of click-throughs on various links.
Once you have received all the data and measured your results it’s time to analyze. During this phase you want to study cost per impressions, engagements, etc.. You also want to run a mini-SWOT analysis to show your team what strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are present. If you can do this, you will find success. It’s much more difficult to go somewhere without knowing where you’ve already been.
Have you been using Social Media for developing and generating leads? What have been some learnings from your approach? We’d love to hear your ideas and any learnings you’ve found in your career.