For decades, marketing was seen as a science based on the sales funnel. This path to purchase was tasked to take prospects from first look to final sale and then repeat the process over and over. Eventually, the sales funnel got hit hard by the software age and this spawned a new industry called customer relationship management (CRM.) This merged the traditional with the digital to leverage software to help companies locate and land leads, and then proceed through the steps of the sales funnel. Soon after, social media networked its way into our lives and now that social media has gone viral, the sales funnel has become a relic and reminder of a simpler time before customers began following their own trail to sale and discovering products in their own personal ways. The path to purchase is no longer direct, but rather directed by distractions, recommendations, promotions, and emotions that are all the result of social media. The sale used to be the final step, but it’s now just the start of the journey. So what are marketers to do when their traditional tactics based on the sales strategies of yesterday don’t click with the social times of today? Inc.com offered advice on updating traditional marketing methods to reflect and connect with our social media mindset.
Social networks like Facebook and Twitter offer a new and nonlinear way for consumers to contact brands and to discover and compare their products. While this consumer-driven interaction makes it difficult for marketers to track and react to every social media mention, there’s no denying that social media can be extremely effective at leading more prospects into the top of the sales funnel. Social media may redirect control of the purchasing path away from marketers and toward consumers, but it also streamlines the entire sales cycle and offers many more entry and exit points.
Where awareness used to be created through TV and print ads, it’s now being formed through friendly recommendations on Facebook and Twitter. Online friends and followers share their experiences and introduce others to their products and preferences. And once consumers reach the research phase, they turn to blogs and online reviews to learn about others’ first-hand experiences. These stories are viewed as helpful and truthful, which gives them the power to influence consumers. By the time most consumers get to the store or visit a brand’s website, they’re already deep in the sales funnel and their views have been skewed by words on the Web. The sales staff barely stands a chance against all of this social media input.
So since the good-old sales funnel seems gone for good and social media carries such clout, marketers need to update their ways by getting on board with—and on the message boards of—social media.
One way for marketers to join the social scene and influence the conversation is by placing strategic social media ads on consumers’ social pages, whether as native ads in their Facebook News Feeds or as product pictures within their Instagram mosaics.
Another is to monitor the Web for social mentions and then respond to consumers who discuss the brand. This can range from joining into a Twitter discussion to leaving comments on blog posts that bring up the brand or its industry. The goal is to get involved in any and all social dialogue regarding the brand and connect with the consumers making the mentions.
And new purpose-built social CRM tools are enabling marketers to catalogue different customer touch points and tap into the treasure trove of public social information. After all, each social interaction offers insight into consumers’ attitudes and actions at every stage of the sales funnel. This allows marketers to send the right messages to the right consumers at the right time, which is right in line with what consumers want from their brands.
While social media may have completely changed the traditional sales funnel, it has also introduced new and exciting ways to personalize the purchasing process and made it more efficient for everyone, every step of the way.
See what social media marketing can do for your brand and your business. Contact MDG Advertising.
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