Social Media Marketing: To tweet or to convert, that is the question

Having worked both in the Landing Page Optimization (a.k.a., Conversion Optimization) and Social Media sides of marketing, I am amazed how quickly the latter stole our hearts and minds, while the former continues to be a mystery for most marketers.

When I set out to write the LPO Benchmark Survey for MarketingSherpa this January (publication date: May 4), I naturally—and erroneously—assumed that just like all the past research partners I worked with at MarketingExperiments, and our workshop attendees, and our webinar audiences, the marketers that hear about our survey would be at least accustomed to LPO as a category.question

The survey is out now (Editor’s note: the survey closed on Mar 1), but what has surprised me is the response rate, compared to the response rate to the Social Media Marketing benchmark survey, which was fielded only a month earlier.

One simple metric

I will not go too deep into the data we are gathering on survey response and completion patterns, but one simple metric (and I know, nothing in analytics is ever “simple,” but let’s pretend) is the bounce rate. On the LPO survey, it’s a steady 20% higher than it was on the Social Media one among MarketingSherpa’s subscribers.

Drop-off at the first substantive question (once the respondent gets past the initial “demographic” questions) is also higher. All this indicates that at least as a category, LPO is still not as hip and cool as Social, even though—unlike Social—it has some spectacular successes to boast, backed with concrete ROI figures.

Triple-digit conversion rate improvements

Since the initial printing of the Landing Page Optimization (LPO) Handbook by Marketing Sherpa in 2002, LPO has steadily gained momentum as an opportunity for marketers to improve the performance not only of their Web pages, but also of related marketing activities that drive traffic: from search and email to social media.

Growing sophistication and decreased cost of measurement (Web analytics and CRM) tools, availability of primary research from LPO thought leaders, and emerging testing expertise, have increasingly allowed marketers to justify their investment into LPO.

Triple-digit conversion rate improvements are still not infrequent in LPO, even a decade after optimization practices have started being applied systematically. As in other areas of marketing, demonstrating ROI has been the overriding concern, which LPO-savvy marketers have consistently met, numbers in hand.

Beyond the hype

Yet social media leads in one key area – the hype. This in no means is intended to suggest that the hype is not warranted: the nature of social media marketing is that is builds its own momentum. Perhaps if there were LPO platforms that created the world’s youngest billionaire out of a college dropout, we would see fawning coverage of bottom-line metrics on the cover of Time magazine.

In lieu of that, how can you combine the potential of social media with the proven ability of LPO to generate measurable profits for your organization? Here’s what I have observed in my past research (and look forward to learning more in my current research):

  • Social media as channel: If you ultimately want customers to do something on your website, look at social media as a traffic driver, not as an island in your marketing strategy
  • Measurement matters: Track visitors from different social media platforms, and from each social media link separately, just as you would for email/PPC/and other traditional channels of traffic
  • Go with what works: Apply LPO principles of relevance, continuity, friction, and value proposition to social media landing pages

Of course, we’re learning more every day…

About the Author

Boris Grinkot, Associate Director of Product Development at MECLABS / MarketingSherpaBoris Grinkgot is part social scientist, part techie, and part philosopher. With an academic background in social science research and a technology resume, he combined his passion for discovering human motives and the digital medium in conversion optimization. Boris’ work with Fortune 500 and international research partners included experimental design, business intelligence, competitive strategy, and lead generation. He has led optimization projects each generating tens of millions of dollars. Shifting his focus to writing in 2011, he has completed MarketingSherpa’s LPO Benchmark Report and continues to contribute to various blogs and webinars, as well as to teach LPO workshops across the country. Boris holds an MBA from the University of Florida and a! B.A. in Religious Studies with a cert. in International Relations from Cornell.

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