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The Social Selling Blog

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on February 10, 2014

From Selling to Connecting: How to Leverage Social Strategy to Boost Sales

Did you know that the average consumer is exposed to 5,000 marketing messages each day (CBS)? To deal with this information overload, consumers are tuning out left and right: the average CTR for display ads is a mere .1% (HubSpot), average cold call success rates are about 2% at best (Marketing Success), and email CTR is at a dismal 3% in the US (SilverPop).

Let’s face it – in an age where your customers have more options than there are minutes in the day, the last thing they want to hear is another sales pitch. Too many businesses lose sight of the fact that on the other ends of these marketing messages are people. And connecting with these people on a 1:1 level, whether they are searching for a new customer database or pair of shoes, is far more effective than blasting them with generic mass messages.

Social networks give businesses the opportunity to connect closer with current and prospective customers on deeper and more personal levels at each point in the purchase funnel, effectively boosting conversion rates and lifetime customer value. Here are three ways to leverage social marketing to move from a selling approach to a connecting approach.

It’s all about who you know.

Social media is often thought of as a B2C marketing channel, but more and more B2B companies are discovering the value of social networks. Recent studies show that 84% of decision makers at B2B companies begin their buying process with referrals, and that over 78% of salespeople who use social media outsell their peers who do not (Social Media and Sales Quota Report).

Sales teams that leverage their individual social connections stand a greater chance of getting a “foot in the door” with potential clients and staying top of mind during the vetting process. Not to mention, paying attention to clients’ social activity presents opportunities to find meaningful conversation starters and common points of interest that help you stand out from the pack.

The Power of People

To Do: Make sure that your company has a system in place for identifying, tracking and leveraging employees’ social relationships, and implement a strategy for sales to connect and engage with clients and prospects across professional networks like LinkedIn.

Let your customers sell for you.

Customer reviews are trusted 12x more than descriptions that come from manufacturers (Brick Marketing). It’s no surprise that the fastest way to stand out from the crowd and get the attention of new customers is through word-of-mouth, and social networks are the perfect platform to spread awareness and let your customers do the selling for you.

81% of people say that posts by friends on social media influence their purchase decisions (Forbes), and marketers that maximize their social presence across networks will reap the benefits. However, simply updating your Facebook page with your latest company release isn’t enough. Successful brands are making their sites and apps inherently social, incorporating users’ social connections into on-site experiences and allowing them to move seamlessly back and forth between their web properties and social networks.

Pacsun Screenshot Provided by Gigya

To Do: Update your site or app with social sharing buttons for a number of networks so that consumers can share their favorite content and features with the click of a button. Be sure to provide plenty of opportunities for clients to leave feedback via on-site comments and reviews, and make these sharable as well.

Know what they need, when they need it.

Just imagine: you’re a single mother of three living in Southern California, and Daily Deal Site A sends you an offer for a romantic Napa getaway for two. Now, imagine you receive a voucher for free admission and lunch at the newest local amusement park from Daily Deal Site B. Which voucher would you be most likely to purchase, and which site’s emails would you be more likely to open in the future?

Smart brands go above and beyond the one-size-fits-all campaign approach to provide customers with the most timely and relevant user experiences possible. Showing your customers that you know and care about who they are, whether it’s greeting them by name when they login or tailoring product showcases to their personal needs and interests, is the key to establishing meaningful customer relationships that drive conversions. Leads who are nurtured with targeted content produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities (DemandGen).

Kate Spade Screenshot Provided by Gigya

To Do: Implement a flexible, robust database that seamlessly collects and aggregates consumer data to build complete, accurate user profiles. Make sure the database integrates with your current marketing platforms to enable more relevant and timely consumer experiences across channels and devices.

Transitioning from selling to connecting is not easy – it takes time, insight, strategy, and the right tools. But with the power of social networks, building personal, 1:1 relationships with buyers and consumers has never been more possible, and in the age of the connected consumer, it’s never been more necessary.

Guest Author Rachel Serpa is Content Marketing Manager at Gigya, where she helps spread the word about social infrastructure via blogs, white papers and social media. You can reach her by tweeting @gigya or dropping her a line on the Gigya blog.