How Social Media Improves Lead Conversion

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.

October 12, 2009 Posted in Social Media by

  • http://blog.b2bcommunications.com/ rebekah donaldson

    I agree – the company and its site need to be ready to be helpful and effective — so the bottom on the 'funnel' is open and leads that go in the top can convert. Usually I see companies tackle that concurrently vs serially… or, I should say, usually it's an iterative process that's never done.

  • greatdealguru

    Hi Ben,
    Nice blog. From my personnel experience I have found that social media marketing leads are not very good converters. Maybe I just have bad luck lol

  • jennifert

    Isn't social media basically like like an opt in email list?

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Benjamin Yoskovitz

    An opt-in email list could be a part of a social media campaign, used as a conversion tool, and then a marketing tool thereafter. But social media marketing is much broader than that.

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Benjamin Yoskovitz

    I don't think it's bad luck – luck, in my experience, has very little to do with it. But it could be a question of misaligned goals / business objectives and tactics. For example if you invest all your energy on Twitter only to find that your target customer isn't on Twitter, that would lead to poor conversion numbers.

    Not all social media is created equal. It takes research, testing, analysis, and more.

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Benjamin Yoskovitz

    Rebekah – Thank you for the comment. I'm OK with the process being iterative, in terms of analyzing what's working, testing things out, tweaking, etc. But tackling lead generation and then optimizing too serially is a problem in the sense that it's “easier” to work on lead generation (often I hear people say, “Just buy more Google AdWords”). So it's a “throw money at the problem strategy”. That's much harder to try when it comes to optimization of existing leads.

  • http://www.mypersonaldevelopmentplan.com jorgeblanco

    I like social media, not only for its marketing value, but as a communication method as well. However, the two big trends, massive spamming and pointless (junk) chit-chat drive me away sometimes and might make a severe negative impact in the long run.

  • http://www.oal-law.com/ thomas

    We are looking into social media as our website has had great success! I believe personal interaction is key to conversions!

  • managedforexaccounts

    yeah interesting post. Social media definitely has it's place in online marketing campaigns nowadays, and has definitely become a popular bolt-on to SEO campaigns that I do for my clients. I'd have to agree that it's no use ploughing money into something without analyzing things first, tweaking and refining is the name of the game. Often people get too excited if their website is ranking top 10 for keywords, but their conversions may not have changed that much, indicating something is amiss onsite.

  • boostani

    hello.

  • Heryrhey

    product manager very essential in a company. them make a company be better to go moved.

  • shoespreviews

    Its a complete opposite for me, I'm enjoying higher conversion rates due to Social Media.

    About luck, I agree with Benjamin, You have to go through lot of trial and error to find the right target market.

  • http://www.austindivorcehelp.com/ Carmen Bennett

    I agree that social media can improve lead conversion but take note that having lots of friends/followers doesn't result to leads at all, you must have good content and must attract their attention to lead them to your site first and thats the hardest part.

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Benjamin Yoskovitz

    Carmen – I completely agree. It's not about accumulating followers and then being able to auto-magically convert them into leads / sales. It takes a lot more than that.

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Benjamin Yoskovitz

    I'm glad social media is working for you – but incidentally, I don't think luck has anything to do with (or at least not a lot to do) with trial and error testing to find the right target market. If I implied that, my mistake…

  • walkinclinic

    How Social Media Improve Lead Conversion

  • http://www.freerest.com/ Gizaz
  • http://www.Warmyourfloor.com/ Tom Nuheat floors

    I agree with you that Without leads no one can’t run a business, because no one can’t sell anything.

  • http://blog.b2bcommunications.com/ Rebekah "Red" Donaldson

    @ Benjamin I couldn't agree more. As you said in the original article, “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.”

    @ greatdealguru check out these charts showing visits and conversions by source for http://www.b2bcommunications.com

    http://bit.ly/blog-ROI
    http://bit.ly/leads-by-source

    For us, folks coming from social media sources have a far higher visit -> lead conversion rate than the next highest converting group.

    Also, check out the latest MarketingSherpa data about efficacy of social media:

    http://bit.ly/sm-for-leads

    - Red

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Benjamin Yoskovitz

    Rebekah – Thank you for this detailed response and information. Very valuable stuff.

  • http://blog.b2bcommunications.com/ Rebekah "Red" Donaldson

    Sure thing… I hesitate to give links that point off your site/blog but hope the content at those pages is worth it. — Red

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Benjamin Yoskovitz

    Rebekah – Thank you for this detailed response and information. Very valuable stuff.

  • http://blog.b2bcommunications.com/ Rebekah "Red" Donaldson

    Sure thing… I hesitate to give links that point off your site/blog but hope the content at those pages is worth it. — Red

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Ben Yoskovitz
I'm VP Product at Codified (makers of VarageSale).

I'm also a Founding Partner at Year One Labs, an early stage accelerator in Montreal. Previously I founded Standout Jobs (and sold it).

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