Thoughts on the Social Networking Marketing Funnel
Its often the easy things that depart the biggest mark on that which they touch. Looking at it from the other end, we can crack down any large, complex system and discover that it consists of nothing more than a handful of simple building blocks that provide a few basic functions. Take DNA, for example. At its core the stuff of life can be reduced to four protein substances assigned the codes A, T, C and G.
How these four sure substances are put together determines the species of the resulting organism, its characteristics and its behavior. This friendly of simplicity built into complexity happens quite abundantly in all aspects of human existence -- in nature, in human culture, in the dynamics of social interaction and even in business. Take the lowly funnel as an example.
Every single business uses the concept of a funnel in order to succeed. A funnel is nothing more than a pipe with a broad opening at one end that tapers off into a narrow stem. Its main purpose is to simply prevent substances -- often liquids -- from spilling out while being transferred to another container. Theres not much more you can do with a funnel.
But you could construct on it and use its inherent functionality as the engine to drive anything process you design around it. Funnels exist in many areas of any business. These are sets of procedures through which you drive your customers and your prospects. The marketing emails you send out to your prospects is a good example of a funnel. You send out a marketing message to thousands -- most likely even millions -- of prospective customers.
From this huge number of prospects a little percentage will be curious enough or compelled enough to take action and click the link back to your website. Of these initial respondents, a little percentage will actually read your sales letter and a little percentage of those who read will take action and attempt your product. Of those who sample your product, a small fragment will be satisfied enough to actually decide to buy your product.
So from the initial deluge of prospects, you have ended up with a trickle of actual customers after pushing them through a series of conversations and calls to action. This is a funnel. This friendly of funneling action can be found all throughout your business. Besides email marketing, you have funnels working in your trial offers and product samples; the sales cycles you have established are built atop a funnel, as are your checkout procedures.
Even the core use of your product is a funnel. The point is, they are there whether you are aware of them or not, and your business will thrive if you kill these business funnels correctly. On the other hand, poorly designed funnels will kill your company. These funnels enable you to influence peoples behavior over a series of steps. If the funnel executes this poorly then the company will not succeed.
There are three things you need to do to make definite your business funnels are working the way you want them to.
Describe it. As prescribed by Stephen Covey in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective Persons, you need to begin with the stop in mind. Describe in detail what a specific funnel needs to do for you. Without a sure characterize of how the funnel should work, how can it deliver what you expect?
Measure it. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. The only way you will ever be positive if your business funnels are delivering is by inspecting the numbers. As they say on CSI: the evidence cannot lie.
Optimize it. Once you have measured the results of your funnel, you now have the basis for tweaking, improving, adding, removing and all other manner of optimizing.
So knowing what you now know about business funnels in general, it is time to turn your attention to your companys social networking marketing funnel. The first thing you must note is that this social networking funnel does not function by itself; it sits on summit of the traditional marketing and sales funnel that your business has been using thus far.
It is important to recall and understand this distinction in order to set correct expectations about how social networking marketing can work for you. The social networking funnels job is to first initiate, identify and capture market interactions across your social networking channels. Then it pushes this information further down the line into some mechanism that categorizes these interactions and mines them for insight, allowing you to deliver relevant and timely content to your prospects and customers.