How to Measure the Return on Investment of Social Networking for You and Your Clients

SPiece of Puzzleidebar:  I just read the following article by Kathleen Cleary, copywriter and contributing AWAI author.  She provides some pragmatic suggestions to help everyone (pros and newbies) participate in social networking strategically.  I hope Kathleen’s insights provide you the rationale you need for how to use this evolving media for the benefit of your business.

Congratulations!  You’ve jumped on the Social Media bandwagon and set up your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts.  Perhaps you’ve even created a Facebook fan page and scouted out some niche-oriented sites to post comments to, answer questions, and start discussions on.

But wait … do you find yourself wondering if your Social Media efforts and time are really paying off? How do you measure the Return on Investment of relationship building and engagement?  How can you be sure you’re not sucking the time out of your most productive hours each day with little return?

If you are participating in Social Networks in a willy-nilly fashion — a tweet here, a blog post there — without much thought to what your true purpose is, you are just a ship without a rudder in the vast sea of Social Media.  And, you won’t be gaining the kind of attention which will drive business to you, or to a client you may be advising on how to effectively use Social Networks.

Establish Your Clear Defining Purpose So You Can Unmistakably Measure the Return on Your Social Media Time

To see results from your Social Media activities, it’s vital that you have a “clear defining purpose” for being there in the first place.  Let’s take a look at some of the common motivating factors to getting involved with Social Media …

  • Build brand visibility
  • Lead generation and list building
  • Education and awareness
  • Increased credibility and authority (Thought Leadership)
  • Increased blog/website traffic and leads
  • Promote products and services
  • SEO and link building
  • Gather insights into your community of interest (surveys, polls, market research)
  • As a copywriter, your defining purpose might be to “engage and add value to (your chosen niche) community in order to increase leads and work opportunities.”

If you are consulting with a client on how to participate in Social Media, you must help them define their primary purpose before creating an effective action plan.

Let’s say your client is a fitness center.  Their defining purpose might be to “provide education on the life-changing benefits of proper health and fitness activities for members and prospects as well as to increase leads for new memberships”.

If your client is a natural beauty product retailer, their defining purpose might be to “increase awareness of the lasting health benefits of using natural beauty products in order to increase the customer base for ‘X’ Brand”.

Once you are clear on your defining purpose, it’s time to set up specific and measurable goals, develop and execute a strategy, and then evaluate your Return on Investment.  Social Media actually provides two types of ROI.  There is the traditional Return on Investment, which looks at concrete dollars, customers, subscriptions, etc.  And, there is also the Return on Influence.  Both should be measured.

Return on Influence has more to do with brand authority/credibility and one’s levels of influence, engagement, and popularity in Social Media channels.  Positive outcomes here will eventually have a real impact on the measurable dollar amounts, which show up in the Return on Investment numbers.

So, back to setting your goals.  Be sure they are not too vague or hard to measure.  A weak goal for your fitness center client would be “Our goal is to raise our brand awareness and increase our total number of memberships.”

An example of a stronger goal could be “Our goal is to increase website traffic resulting in 75 new leads and 25 new memberships in the next six months.”

Perhaps your client is focused on connecting with influencers in their industry.  A weak goal would be “Our goal is to increase our brand visibility and unsolicited mentions of our company each month.”

A much stronger goal is “To achieve 15-20 unsolicited mentions of our company in industry blogs, publications, and forums each month”.

As a copywriter, a vague goal would be: “To increase my Facebook fan base and Twitter followers.”  A more specific and measurable copywriting goal could be “To acquire 50 new leads from Social Media and contract with five new clients in the next six months”.

In looking at the two types of ROI provided by Social Media activities, here are some suggested ideas of what you can measure:

Return on Investment examples:

  • 500 new subscribers
  • 50 new product sells
  • Six new clients
  • Five new joint venture partnerships
  • $10,000 increase in donations for a non-profit

Return on Influence examples:

  • 1,000 new Twitter followers
  • 2,500 participants in your Facebook Group
  • 1,500 fans to your Facebook fan page
  • 25 mentions per month in blogs, Twitter, niche social sites
  • 400 new RSS subscribers to your blog

Useful Tools to Help You Track Your Social Media ROI

Be sure to take advantage of these very useful tools available to help you track your ROI:

  1. Google Analytics – http://www.google.com/analytics (This is a very good tool to track website visitor traffic and conversion from Social Media sources).
  2. Feedburner – http://www.feedburner.com (Tracks the number of people subscribing to your RSS blog feed)
  3. Frogloop – http://www.frogloop.com/social-network-calculator (This cool Social Media calculator is designed for non-profit campaigns, but can be adapted for other business campaigns as well)
  4. BlogPulse – http://www.blopulse.com (Shows the growth in bloggers talking about your business/your client’s company and tracks the growth in blog posts regarding a particular domain name)
  5. Trendpedia – http://www.trendpedia.com (This is a comparative tool to track the number of blog posts that mentioned a particular keyword)
  6. Social Network Influence Statistics:
  • Increased numbers in Facebook fans on your/your client’s fan/business page;
  • Increase in Twitter conversations pertaining to your business/your client’s company;
  • Increase in Twitter follows, Facebook friend requests, and FriendFeed subscriptions.

End Note:

This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) Wealthy Web Writer, a free newsletter for learning how to effectively write online copy and market products on the Web.  For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/signup/web-writing.

 

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009.

A One-Two Approach to Improving Web Conversions

Sun WorshipSidebar: 

I just read the following article by Pam Foster, web copywriter and consultant.  I think it helps clarify some of the maze of information out there on web conversion.  I hope you find Pam’s insights helpful for improving the marketing effectiveness of your website.

Everyone’s talking about improving web conversion rates these days, but what exactly is a web conversion, and why does conversion-focused content make such a difference to the success of a website?

First, a quick explanation of a web conversion …

The goal of most business websites is to convert as many site visitors as possible into paying customers; and, ideally, improve those conversion rates over time.

Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say target prospects arrive at your client’s website via a Google search result, an email, a TV campaign, or other means of driving traffic.  If they’re delighted with your client’s site and they find exactly what they’re looking for, they’ll take the next step to make a purchase, subscribe to a service or newsletter, complete a survey, become a qualified sales lead, etc.

So through these actions, they convert from being a prospect to an active customer in some way.

Now for the second part of the question: Why does conversion-focused content make such a difference regarding the success of a web page?

Let me illustrate through an example.

Recently I decided to see what comes up in a Google search when I use a certain keyphrase related to SEO (search engine optimization) content … as if I were a businessperson looking for companies who provide SEO services.

The top two Google organic search results were for a specific company offering SEO services, as I’d expect.  But what happened next is my topic for today’s article.

Top search rankings do NOT equal conversion success.

Knowing this will help you be a hero to your clients … and give you an edge over copywriters or search-engine service providers who don’t understand this.

The Google organic search display for that SEO company I mentioned above was filled with the right keyphrases, such as “SEO company,” “SEO services,” etc.  But, when I clicked on the Google display and landed on the company’s website, I found content that included the same keywords repeated several times throughout the banner, the headline, the main text, the footer, etc.  It was practically unreadable.

This is what is known as keyword-stuffing or “spamdexing,” which is frowned upon in the search industry because it’s considered unethical or “black hat” SEO … its sole purpose is to drive traffic to a site, without considering what happens next to help web visitors find what they need once they arrive on the site.

(Important note:  Spamdexing can cost a company its ability to be found in search engines at all.  According to Wikipedia and other reliable sources, “Many search engines check for instances of spamdexing and will remove suspect pages from their indexes.”  This means companies who stuff keyphrases into web pages can lose their rankings entirely and even be banned by search engines!)

In addition to spamdexing, the company’s messages were all about how great the company is”.  We’re the world’s leading … we are unequaled … we have tons of clients … we’re number one,” we, we, we (you get the picture).

There was very little content about solving the visitors’ needs.

Visitors usually find no value in this kind of web content and they abandon the site as quickly as possible, looking for someone who can TRULY help them.

This example shows how a company achieving #1 and #2 Google search results for a certain keyphrase is actually useless to someone seeking real help.

Therefore, to make sure you’re writing web content which improves Google results AND ALSO converts site visitors into customers, you’ll want to follow these two best practices.

1.       Make sure your client’s web content weaves the 1-3 most relevant keyphrases into clear, helpful sales copy on any given page in an ethical, helpful manner, and 

2.     Make sure your client’s web content includes information that’s 100% focused on solving the site visitors’ needs.  Make them a promise they can’t resist … and make it easy for them to become customers! 

Yes, Google and other search engine results are very important.  But, they really only matter if your web content converts visitors into customers.

Conversion-focused content starts with a thorough understanding of your client’s target audience and the solutions they’re looking for … and how to keep them happy on the website … all while using SEO keywords in a smooth and balanced manner.

All web copywriters need at least a basic understanding of SEO copywriting techniques to create clear, persuasive web pages that WORK.

End Note:

This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) Wealthy Web Writer, a free newsletter for learning how to effectively write online copy and market products on the Web.  For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/signup/web-writing.

 

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009.

Build Your Sales Argument In a Simple, Straight Line

BulbSidebar:

I enjoyed reading the following article by Nick Usborne, Author of Million-Dollar Secrets to Online Copywriting and How to Write Your Own Money-Making Websites.  I thought you might draw some insights from it on how to improve the user-friendliness of your business website.

Once you have captured a reader’s attention with your headline, don’t assume that you will keep that attention after the first line, second line or third line.

Most readers won’t read your entire web page.  Most will bail well before the end.

How come?  Because something you write will make them feel that you are not taking them directly towards finding what they want.

Here are 3 ways to ensure that you keep moving forward in a straight line …

Follow these three guidelines and you will significantly increase the number of people who read all the copy on your page and, of course, you will increase the number of people who take action at the end of that page.

1.  Be clear about your page’s objective

Before you start writing, determine the objective of the page.  What is its purpose?

And if you’re thinking, “Well, there are a few things I want to achieve with this page”, be very careful.  Because by writing to a few different objectives, you are giving your readers a few different reasons to bail on you.

You’ll achieve far higher conversion rates by sticking to a single topic or message per page.

In fact, that’s why landing pages were invented.  Marketers understood that their general web pages were not converting very well.  So they started creating stand-alone pages, or landing pages, which were created with a single objective in mind.

The need for landing pages tells us we are not very good at creating and writing regular site pages that are focused on a single, clear objective.

2.  Let your readers see the final outcome, from the beginning

In other words, let your readers see where they are going.

For instance, if you want to sell me a vacation in Greenland, let me see the road ahead.

A typical way of doing this would be to write a headline that says something like, “5 reasons why Greenland has become the #1 travel destination for adventure lovers”.

When you write a headline like that, the reader knows where you’re taking them, and they know you are trying to sell them a vacation.  They even know there are exactly five steps between the beginning and end.

But if the headline were to say, “Greenland grabs hearts of outdoor adventurers,” then I don’t really know where you’re taking me.  Is this a general description of the country?  Is this about travel, or about conservation?  Are you trying to inform me?  Or sell a vacation package?

When you make the purpose and objective of the page clear from the beginning, the reader doesn’t have to be distracted by these questions.

3.  Write in a straight line, without detours.

When writing editorial there are some excellent reasons for taking the scenic route.

You can add character and depth to a story with a paragraph that begins with the words, “Which reminds me …” Or, “By the way …”

These scenic diversions make editorial content all the more interesting.

But when you are writing to sell, you would do better to take the direct route.

When people come to the web to make a purchase, they are task oriented, impatient and anxious to find what they want and get the task completed quickly.

This means readers want their sales information given to them straight.  No meandering.  No side trips.  Get to the meat of the message quickly, and tell them why your product and service will deliver exactly what they want and are looking for.

Conclusion

The reason behind the need to build your sales argument in a straight line can be found in that last section.

Compared to print or other offline media, users of the web are impatient and generally have a specific goal in mind before they even arrive at your page.  If they want to buy something, then they want to find what they want quickly.

No side shows.  No diversions.

Keep your sales pages direct, straight and uncomplicated.

End Note:

This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) Wealthy Web Writer, a free newsletter for learning how to effectively write online copy and market products on the Web.  For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/signup/web-writing.

 

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009.