A recent study by GroupM Search and comScore looked at the relationship between search marketing and social media. It’s an interesting read.
The crux of the report is that people who are exposed to a brand via social media are more likely to search directly for that brand (or search terms that are lower level/closer to the brand) and/or click on paid search advertising (on search engines).
What that means is that social media plays a role in influencing how people search and use search engines. Here are some interesting data points:
- Consumers who are exposed to a brand’s social media efforts and paid search programs are 2.8x more likely to search for that brand’s products (compared to users who only saw paid search).
- 50% increase in clickthrough rates in paid search when consumers were exposed to influenced social media and paid search.
- The clickthrough rate on paid search for searchers using a brand’s product name in the query increased from 4.5% to 11.8% for those that were exposed to social media. And for organic search, the clickthrough rate increased 2.4x.
Chris Copeland, CEO of GroupM Search said:
As advertisers consider the allocation of paid media and the greatest opportunity for return, the topics of media discovery and influenced social discovery must be a part of the conversation. Blending paid, earned and owned media, and putting your brand in places where it can be discovered and part of the natural conversation, will enable advertisers to influence the outcome of intention expressed by consumers, and capture this heavily engaged audience.
None of this may huge, revolutionary news, but it does speak to the importance of looking at social media from an integrated perspective – combined with other elements of marketing via organic search, paid search, etc. And furthermore, the ROI in terms of lead generation can be measured.
But as I said yesterday, don’t increase leads until you’ve optimized conversion. And recently I was in a discussion about how social media increases conversion. Is that true? Can social media marketing increase conversions?
Based on the information in this report, it’s reasonable to argue that social media marketing can increase the quality of leads (and not just the volume). It’s possible to hone in on, and understand intent through search and how social media exposure affects that intent. And as people are exposed (and I would say involved with – since exposure sounds like you’re just broadcasting stuff at people, which isn’t what social media is about) to social media their intent is more focused and driven towards lead conversion.
Leads are great. Without leads you can’t run a business, because you can’t sell anything. But leads aren’t customers. They’re potential customers. And the real trick isn’t in generating more and more and more leads, it’s in converting them at the highest rate possible.
Once conversion rates are high, you can work to put as many leads as possible into the top of the funnel. Crank it up! But increasing lead generation won’t completely make up for a poorly converting site; it’s like trying to fill a straw with a waterfall, what’s the point? Better to find out how to make the straw bigger, then invest in the waterfall.