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Does Social Media Marketing ACTUALLY Drive Customer Behavior and Convert to Revenue?

Social Media, social media, social media – there, I said it three times into the mirror, now I just have to wait and see what happens . . .

That seems to be the approach many companies are taking to this relatively new phenomenon. The head in the sand approach might have some advantages in the long run, if recent data on the effectiveness of social media in driving customer behavior is to be believed. It seems that despite all the hype, and press, and sturm-und-drang in the digital media, minting new ‘social media gurus’ by the flock, digital media and it’s permutations don’t drive near as much revenue or even shopping behavior individually than they do when used together. Integration seems to be the real strength behind conversation marketing’s mechanics, and when the reams of data generated are used properly ACROSS multiple platforms, it seems to at least have the ability to drive a solid promotional campaign and boost response levels.

That said, here are some interesting tidbits of data, excerpted from a recent Gartner Group study:

  • 11% of polled consumers had read a company blog, and only 4% had commented on one.
  • Twice that many, or 23% had viewed a company provided video.
  • 45% said they planned to purchase based on a combination of brick and mortar, digital ads, and mobile marketing, but only 1% said they planned to do so based on mobile marketing alone.
  • Only 26% of consumers said they had clicked on a Search Results page paid ad – irrespective of engine brand.
  • Based on data from another similar study, only 6% said they had purchased based on a facebook ad
  • 40% said they had registered for a promotion or contest based on an e-mail or social media ad

Clearly, consumers want something for nothing (hence the contest results), but don’t want to work at it (read the blog data, reading a whole blog takes effort)

Also just as clearly, mobile marketing has not reached the level of credibility, trust or penetration it’s purveyors would have you believe, and while it may be the next big thing, it ain’t there yet, not without massive support from other media to reinforce it’s message and bolster its credibility.

Video seems to have made substantial inroads, but anyone who recognizes the level of involvement the TV generation needs to engage will see a clear correlation between the aging of the boomer TV generation and the level of importance video has attained. Add in the near ubiquity and availability of high-speed broadband Internet access allowing for video transmission at better fidelity and faster speeds, and video’s effectiveness becomes less mysterious. The fact that consumers would rather watch a video and have their eyeballs babysat rather than read and understand and digest and analyze a company blog to get their information is less than mysterious as well, when the audience is considered.

The trick with all this is to take the data it generates, and use it to form better customer profiles that can be used to not only drive behavior, but to predict it as well. If you can create a digitally integrated campaign that uses the initial brush with consumers to link to a behavior and transaction based profile, you can then draw that consumer along a continuum toward a purchase after several touch points are hit. That’s how integration beefs up the ROI equation. The development of such campaigns requires broad and detailed knowledge of the target audience, so that it can be set up to account for the wide variety of behaviors possible by consumers. If you can narrow the range of preferences and behaviors, and drive consumers down a narrower funnel, the ROI can be quite lucrative.

According to Gartner, ‘Companies using in-bound and event-triggered marketing techniques to draw consumers will see a 600% higher response rate compared to traditional outbound push campaigns’. That sounds pretty fantastic. I wonder if that will continue to be the case as more firms start to embrace this practice and it becomes more common. Will this type of campaign reduce the level of trust and credibility across the board, making consumers distrustful? Interesting to ponder, but I think not. To paraphrase W.C. Fields, “no one ever went broke underestimating the gullibility of the American public”.

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About David Poulos

Speaker, Consultant and Author David Poulos is known as the Marketing Doctor because of his proven ability to accurately diagnose and prescribe the most effective solutions for successful business growth with absolute surgical precision.

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