Today, most businesses have a website, and most owners understand two important two things: 1) More people will find their businesses if their websites are on Page 1 of Google’s search results; and 2) Facebook is becoming a household word. What is more difficult for them to grasp is what these facts actually mean when it comes to increasing sales.
Although Websites have been around for over 20 years, many business owners haven’t figured out how to make their websites effective sales tools. They hear about SEO, “algorithms” and “key words” and may follow their analytics, or even hire SEO companies to help them. But page 1 search engine placement will not help a company that has not implemented a website strategy that convinces people that the company has something worth buying and that the consumer should be buying it from them.
While businesses still struggle to identify ways their websites can be more effective, Social Media Marketing has added a new dimension.
While 88% of people begin their product searches on search engines, 79% of them say they follow brands on Facebook in order to get more information about the products and services they will ultimately purchase. Even more striking is that Facebook has been eroding the value of search engines. The latest research shows that over 62% of people ages 18-34 bypass search engines altogether and begin their search on Facebook.
Even though Facebook has allowed paid ads since 2007, many Social Media “experts” have been slow to advocate overt selling on Facebook, believing that Social Media is not the place for hawking products and services. The strategy seems to be “lead the horse to the water, but don’t ask him to drink.”
Because the prevailing thought was that Facebook (and other social media outlets) offered a venue to allow people to see the “human side” of the company, it seemed to be cheating to hire a social media professional to run advertising campaigns on these platforms. Pragmatic business owners had a hard time seeing the value in spending their precious time or money on an inbound marketing campaign that seemed to have nothing to do with selling their products.
Business Owners Still Struggle to Understand Facebook
Even though 40 million small businesses have added Facebook Pages, and even with the statistics that show that the lead to close ratio is 100% higher for social media (when done right) than traditional advertising, many business owners are still ambivalent. They hear they should be there, but aren’t sure why.
They are more comfortable using the bulk of their budgets on traditional marketing and advertising. When they fail to allocate the necessary time and budget to a properly run Social Media campaign, they achieve a self-fulfilling prophecy: Social Media doesn’t work.
Advertising is not a Dirty Word
Digital marketing, and social media marketing in particular, have fundamentally changed the way consumers approach their buying decisions, and a well-executed advertising program can tip the scale when it comes to the final sale.
One of the images Facebook has had to overcome is that they are a platform for the younger generation and women, who simply want to keep up with friends and relatives. It is difficult for some business owners to take it seriously. What they miss is that Facebook has captured an enormous amount of information, freely given to it by its members. Facebook uses this information to help businesses market to those people who will be most interested in the products being sold.
Facebook is committed to helping businesses succeed. This is not altruistic. Membership is free. A key element of Facebook’s business model has always been the collection of data, which can be used by them to generate revenue.
Using Facebook the Right Way
Features like the retargeting pixel, lookalike audiences, Search FYI, and Big Data are changing the face of advertising. While advertising on Facebook is quite economical, any marketing or advertising program that does not add to a company’s bottom line (even tangentially) it is not worth the price.
In order to succeed, businesses should allocate a reasonable budget to Facebook advertising. Competition for attention is fierce, so it is extremely important to have a professional design the ads with the right images, great headlines and appropriate text. Ads must have a defined goal and be targeted to the right audience. Consistency and persistence are the main ingredients of a good Facebook campaign.
One-off ads combined with uninteresting pages that are not regularly updated are a waste of time and money. Campaigns like this are the biggest reason that business owners fail at Facebook marketing.
Millennials surpass Baby Boomers
The world of marketing and advertising has changed. Everyone knows that. What is a little harder for business owners to comprehend is how fast things are changing, and how important it is to understand how customers make purchasing decisions. While all age groups are well represented on Facebook, it is the Millennials who will soon dominate. Millennials make up more than 25% of the population; 85% of them own smart phones and use them 45 times a day. Five out of six of them connect with companies via Social Media. Companies that are out of step with the real world of marketing may not survive for long.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community