Social Media Marketing: To tweet or to convert, that is the question


Having worked both in the Landing Page Optimization (a.k.a., Conversion Optimization) and Social Media sides of marketing, I am amazed how quickly the latter stole our hearts and minds, while the former continues to be a mystery for most marketers.

When I set out to write the LPO Benchmark Survey for MarketingSherpa this January (publication date: May 4), I naturally—and erroneously—assumed that just like all the past research partners I worked with at MarketingExperiments, and our workshop attendees, and our webinar audiences, the marketers that hear about our survey would be at least accustomed to LPO as a category.

The survey is out now (Editor’s note: the survey closed on Mar 1), but what has surprised me is the response rate, compared to the response rate to the Social Media Marketing benchmark survey, which was fielded only a month earlier.

One simple metric

I will not go too deep into the data we are gathering on survey response and completion patterns, but one simple metric (and I know, nothing in analytics is ever “simple,” but let’s pretend) is the bounce rate. On the LPO survey, it’s a steady 20% higher than it was on the Social Media one among MarketingSherpa’s subscribers.

Drop-off at the first substantive question (once the respondent gets past the initial “demographic” questions) is also higher. All this indicates that at least as a category, LPO is still not as hip and cool as Social, even though—unlike Social—it has some spectacular successes to boast, backed with concrete ROI figures.

Triple-digit conversion rate improvements

Since the initial printing of the Landing Page Optimization (LPO) Handbook by Marketing Sherpa in 2002, LPO has steadily gained momentum as an opportunity for marketers to improve the performance not only of their Web pages, but also of related marketing activities that drive traffic: from search and email to social media.

Growing sophistication and decreased cost of measurement (Web analytics and CRM) tools, availability of primary research from LPO thought leaders, and emerging testing expertise, have increasingly allowed marketers to justify their investment into LPO.

Triple-digit conversion rate improvements are still not infrequent in LPO, even a decade after optimization practices have started being applied systematically. As in other areas of marketing, demonstrating ROI has been the overriding concern, which LPO-savvy marketers have consistently met, numbers in hand.

Beyond the hype

Yet social media leads in one key area – the hype. This in no means is intended to suggest that the hype is not warranted: the nature of social media marketing is that is builds its own momentum. Perhaps if there were LPO platforms that created the world’s youngest billionaire out of a college dropout, we would see fawning coverage of bottom-line metrics on the cover of Time magazine.

In lieu of that, how can you combine the potential of social media with the proven ability of LPO to generate measurable profits for your organization? Here’s what I have observed in my past research (and look forward to learning more in my current research):

  • Social media as channel: If you ultimately want customers to do something on your website, look at social media as a traffic driver, not as an island in your marketing strategy
  • Measurement matters: Track visitors from different social media platforms, and from each social media link separately, just as you would for email/PPC/and other traditional channels of traffic
  • Go with what works: Apply LPO principles of relevance, continuity, friction, and value proposition to social media landing pages

Of course, we’re learning more every day…

LPO has also met unique challenges. In the survey, I ask marketers to share and weigh theirs.

I hope you fill out the survey and share yours, but on this blog I want to ask this question differently. Drawing not just on your own experience, but on your perception of the experiences of your colleagues at other companies, things you’ve read, and just general buzz (hey, Twitter is handy!), what do you see as everyone’s top challenges about getting into, or getting to success with LPO? Let’s see if your predictions here will be borne out in the survey data!

Related resources

Landing Page Optimization Survey

Social Marketing Architecture: Building a case for landing page optimization in social media

Social Media Marketing Optimization: Start small and test

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Photo by: Marco Bellucci
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  1. Gail Gardner says

    In a roundabout way I believe you explained why LPO is less “popular” than social media: it is vastly more complicated. While doing social media well is complicated especially if you wish to measure actual ROI it is vastly easier to understand and “do something” even if it is wrong or ineffective.

    You can not even get off the ground with LPO unless you can set up a test. Anyone can send out a Tweet.

    I have explained and blogged about and shared success stories with many ecommerce store owners including a very recent post on how Yahoo Stores Expert Rob Snell increased sales by $10,354,767 and still they do nothing (even after their traffic dropped from Google’s MayDay update – and came back – lulling them to sleep. I predict it drops again during the holiday shopping season!)

    Maybe it is just too complicated for them to understand or they just don’t believe conversion rates above 1-2% are possible or they do not trust anyone to actually do it and can’t do it themselves. Whatever the reason it is simply insane to NOT focus on landing page optimization and increasing conversions.

    No matter how much traffic I can drive to your store from Social Media, blogging, SEO, article marketing or any other strategy the MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR that multiplies profits is conversion rate and there ARE people who can double it, triple it or multiply it even higher!

  2. Tamara@Adaptive says

    Thanks for the post- I couldn’t agree any more. Social media channels are the perfect place to add a tid bit of value and then tell your followers “come over here” and guide them to your website where they can find out more.

    Creating websites and optimising them for search engines is one way to do online marketing. But not everybody looks for information the same way, or in the same places. The best part about social media channels like Twitter, is that they give a company personality. Some companies are witty, others more serious. Ultimately though, readers will be drawn to what works for them, and will regularly visit and talk about a website, if once led there, they found what they were looking for.

  3. Alex says

    I totally agree with Boris that Social media marketing can be a vehicle for traffic building yet not the key process for business building. No doubt LPO will be an important factor for today and always!

  4. Boris Grinkot says

    @Gail Gardner
    Great highlight of conversion optimization on your blog–are there any tactics specific to Yahoo Stores that we should pay attention to?

  5. Boris Grinkot says

    @Tamara @Adaptive
    Thank you for the comment! Optimizing for social media traffic as a digital marketing objective should be no less prominent than optimizing for search traffic–even though the two channels are very different in their purpose and “voice” (or lack thereof) as you pointed out.

  6. Boris Grinkot says

    Thanks for the support! I would say that building traffic is part of “business building”–just at the very top of the funnel. Social media is recognized as a PR and marketing channel, but the capability of directly connecting these efforts with what happens post-click is not as readily exercised.

  7. Jeff Molander says

    “How much engagement on Facebook is needed to see a return?” is the wrong question, Boris. Yet it is THE question. If we convince marketers to change it to “How can we *design* meaningful, relevant and purposeful interactions with customers that elicit questions from them — that our products and services answer?” then we’ve come a long way. Because that will mean the sex appeal is gone and people are ready to get to work.

    And that, I think, is what you’re saying. Making social media sell is work. But that’s not what’s being sold by the ‘social media experts’ who are promising, in essence, that ‘engaging’ (also known as a digital version of ‘branding’) will cause sales. ‘The experts’ are merely playing to the nature of humanity — short cuts and the tendency to prefer simple lies (overzealous social media edicts) over slightly complex truths (LPO).

    I’m just finishing up a manuscript on a book that asks the question you’re asking a bit ‘softer.’ This way: “Is understanding how to ‘do social media’ worthwhile –- without having a practical way to design it to pay you?”

    So far, I think most folks out there have answered this question ‘yes’ without really having to answer the question directly. And I think this is precisely what you’re getting at — LPO is about work. Lots of work. Math! But I’m trying to position it as more palatable — as ‘design.’ Form before function.

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