Among the many headlines that emerged from SMB Digital Marketing 2012 (CRM, digital loyalty, performance marketing), one that caught the attention of most in the room was the research return that social ROI is shifting dramatically toward customer acquisition. In fact, BIA/Kelsey’s LCM 16 survey highlights suggest that 42 percent of SMBs now turn to Facebook for acquisition first, retention and brand lift later.
This is big news in a domain where metrics have been mushy, business goals even mushier, and “experimentation” the word du jour for years. Not anymore. Social media energy (nearly half of SMBs have a Facebook Page) has evolved into social media expectation – deliver new customers.
Manta CEO Pamela Springer amplified this theme during her presentation at the conference. The SMB-focused network surveyed its members and found that more than half of small businesses are now spending more than 50 percent of their business networking time in online channels. There’s an opportunity cost for the time spent online and in social channels, and for small merchants, the result they expect to see in return is new customer traffic. In the Manta survey, 35 percent responded that their top benefit from online networking is “being found by new customers.” Another 14 percent voted up the “ability to engage with new prospects online.”
Of course, seeking new customers from social media does not a strategy make. There are still execution challenges aplenty, as the LCM data and Manta survey underscore. Even with the rising ubiquity of Facebook as a business channel, Manta found that 30 percent of SMBs “have a presence but don’t find it valuable.” Here, churn is inevitable, and the potential to upsell the business into a more robust digital portfolio is limited.
The upshot of all this data: more than ever, social conversations with SMBs must center around ROI, and that begins with customer acquisition. Whether it’s exclusive deals and offers, lead-generating content (and content distribution), contests and promotions, or social ad campaigns, the message is clear – move the customer down the funnel.