By Joel Davis, chief executive, agency:2.
Much has been said and written about social media, in particular about its inexorable rise and its pervasiveness in today’s digital media environment.
Less practical commentary have been made about the trackability and proven effectiveness of social media, especially in the context of a direct comparison with other digital marketing methods such as e-mail marketing and banner advertising.
There are a number of ways of making these comparisons but within this piece my focus will be on click through rates for each channel and how they prove social media can engage with consumers and stand within the overcrowded digital media landscape.
Brands can talk directly to consumers
I’ve worked as a client side digital marketer and as an agency head for many years, but I am more excited than ever about the opportunities that are now available to marketers.
There are opportunities for brands to talk directly to their consumer audiences and learn from their consumers about their own brand perceptions.
Marketers can now, in real time, respond to customers and prospects through social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and social networking forums.
Emergent social media platforms allow personalised communications
Consumers are undoubtedly looking for more personalised communications with their favourite brands and are increasingly dismissive of unsolicited messages. The emergent social media platforms provide an ideal way to do this.
In addition, digital marketers have, for the past few years, been on a steep learning curve.
Not only have they had to learn the basic functionality of these new digital channels but there is now more pressure than ever to demonstrate that digital marketing strategies are providing a measurable ROI.
Social media can thrive in the recession
The declining economy and increasing consumer scepticism about marketing tactics provide the perfect environment in which social media can thrive. But how do marketers justify social media spend within a marketing strategy without knowledge of how to measure their investment?
As social media matures, agencies like ourselves who have been involved since the beginning, are now able to offer research and case study proof of higher interaction with the brand using an industry standard Click Through Rate (CTR) metric versus other digital channels.
Figure 1. Click Through Rates Compared
Statistics show that social media (CTR 7%) is twice as effective as email (CTR 3.9%) and 35 times more effective than banners (CTR 0.2%). But why are click through rates so much higher for social media?
1. Brands can find customers when they are actively looking for support or advice:
- Social Media Marketing talks to users in a digital environment where they are already searching for and purchasing products. Communications are therefore, by default, highly relevant and timely.
- Trends show an increase in the use of forums to get advice from other like-minded users prior to purchasing products.
2. Brands can interact with their target audience:
- Users spend quality time interacting within social networks and forums, this offers brands a unique opportunity to spend precious time with a captive audience.
- Social media marketing is less intrusive and allows for conversation with potential clients about products of interest.
- It is also more targeted as you often find that posts are written on specific forums of interest to a brand’s target group.
3. We are social beings and we like sharing ideas:
- Social proofing – recommendations from trusted friends or like-minded people lead to higher interaction.
- Social proofing works as proven by the incredible success of Twitter and the general rise in blogging in recent years.
Overall, although banner advertising and email marketing have seen a decline in the average click through rates over the last few years, I believe that click rates for social media are superior due to its conversational and less pushy or sales-focused nature.
That, as well as the power of targeted communications that social media is proving to offer, is going to be key to its continued success.
More and more sophisticated ways of measuring social media’s impact on sales will be critical but I’m confident that as long as social media marketing offers real value to the target audience we will continue to see click rates remain higher than traditional digital marketing channels.
If you want to learn more about social media, come to the UTalkMarketing Social Media Skills Accelerator training course where you will learn all the skills and practical knowledge you need.
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