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April 11, 2013

Understand the Buying Cycle for Success with Social Digital Marketing

Social media has changed the way an average person interacts with the world. We can keep in touch with friends and family with the push of a button, and can instantly gain access to other people’s thoughts on any subject imaginable. It’s also become an indispensable tool for business owners as an essential piece of any company’s overall marketing scheme.

To make money, a company must sell its merchandise. To sell merchandise, a company needs to have a client base. Being able to advertise on Twitter, Facebook, and countless other social networks has given businesses access to an enormous audience of engaged people at an incredibly low price. The only problem is, too many business owners do not understand how the social media model truly works, and expect to see results immediately after they put up their page or open their account.

Understanding the Stages of Social Media Marketing Growth

Social media marketing does not have the immediate impact that traditional television, radio, and print campaigns do. When Coca-Cola advertises a new brand of soda on TV, millions see it at once and (hopefully) go out and buy it. You will not have that same selling power when advertising on social media. And if you’re expecting immediate sales from a few Facebook or Twitter posts, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

Social media marketing campaigns follow the marketing pyramid, and the beginning stage is to create awareness for your business or product and to position yourself as a trusted source in the market.

So, what’s the first step? Simply getting consumers to look at your content. After that, begin to focus on moving potential customers up the marketing pyramid and through the stages of the sales cycle: Lead -> Qualified lead -> Customer -> Retention.

Let’s take a closer look at the stages of the sales cycles to truly understand how they will impact your social media marketing.

Search or lead stage

The search or lead stage is where potential customers become aware they have a need or problem that must be addressed. At this point, they’re usually interested in learning as much as they can about a topic, but they may have little idea about the different solutions out there. It’s your job to educate them.

These people are great potential customers because they will eventually need a service that you can provide. However, your goal at this stage is not to try to sell them anything, but to create content that will eventually lead them to your webpage or product page.

Conversion of qualified lead stage:

After you have gotten enough people to visit your website or social media page, the next step is to convert them into a lead by getting them to interact with your page. What does that mean? Things like having them like your Facebook page, follow your blog, retweet a few posts, or sign up for your e-mail list.

Accomplish that and you will have created “leads” that have shown a willingness to interact with you and your site in some form. From this point, your goal is to get this relationship to grow and turn them into paying customers down the road.

You do this by continuing the conversation: e-mail them coupons and information on sales, respond to comments and likes, and use analytics to better pinpoint what they are interested in. Eventually some of your leads will buy from you and become customers.

Customer stage

During this stage you have already turned a few leads into actual paying consumers, so don’t stop now. You want as many people as possible to buy your products, so continue to analyze your sales pitch and customer data. Figure out what percentage of people are visiting your page or viewing your posts compared to those actually purchasing products, and don’t be afraid to make changes to see if they improve your conversion rates.

Retention stage:

The retention stage is all about growth. It’s great that you have a customer base and even a few repeat clients, but that doesn’t mean it’s time lie back and watch the profits come in. Your focus should be on keeping customers coming back to your product and services, while also bringing in new clients and potential leads.

During this stage, your blog or social media posts should continue to do what they’ve been doing, but also add information about product updates, promotions, and anything else you can think of that will get people thinking about your company.

Remember, getting customers to move through the stages of the pyramid is a process that takes time, effort and patience. The best way to grow your brand is to keep learning about your audience and create high-quality content that reflects their interests and needs.

Shepard Morrow is the head of Location Traffic, an internet marketing and business consulting company in Pennington, New Jersey. He helps owner-operators to grow their businesses using a unique approach developed over 15 years in the internet marketing industry and from his experience running retail, wholesale, and internet businesses. Learn more at or call 609-737-8667.