We run a very successful ‘lead generation’ website that was put together in the early to mid 1990 by partner agency.
It deals with the ABL sector (Factoring, Invoice Finance etc.) & the site’s primary purpose is to generate leads for the offline sales team.
We wanted a ‘fresh’ look at our site with new activities that were not really available from our old Agency Moved to Freestyle in 2009 and launched new site in November 2009
Problems with getting a hosting provider – had to settle with internal hosting with staff that didn’t really understand external facing sites and the Ektron CMS system we decided to use.
Consequences: Can make it slow to get things done (site updates, architecture changes, features & functions on the site) Can makes it hard to get all the lead & sales data we need in a timely fashion, to properly assess campaign effectiveness
New Agency / New website (12 mnths old)
Financial services is traditionally a Sales orientated sector
Online presence is focused on driving traffic to a website & converting this traffic into sales leads Online quote calculators Request for Quote forms Or generating Call Centre traffic
- Educate about products & services
Tailor content according to the business need
Generate leads for the offline sales team – online or on the phone.
36% increase in traffic converted to ‘Request for Quote’ on 2009
However, early in 2010 we discovered 10% less traffic coming to the site than previous year And significantly lower conversion of leads to business (because of the quality of this traffic)
We needed to find out why?
In previous years we’ve relied heavily on traditional digital channels to target ‘in-market’ prospects
A key insight into the possible reason for the decline in traffic comes from looking at the search traffic we get to the site.
Brand & product related search terms drive most site traffic. Our site is heavily weighted towards product content so it’s not surprising that we perform well in search for these terms.
BUT, the people using these terms are already ‘in-market’, they’re already a significant way through their purchase decision making process.
They already know about LTSBCF They already know about the Asset Based Lending market (they know the products available)...
If you then look at general search volume across the UK on the same topic, you see a very different picture.
As you would expect there are far more generic search terms like ‘business loans’ than there are for specialist ABL terms. These are people with little or no knowledge about business finance products Who are probably just starting their research into the subject
This means a significant volume of ‘in-market’ prospects, who aren’t accessing our site early in their decision making process, and instead are getting their information from elsewhere.
67% of queries in the UK on this subject were at the top of the purchase funnel – they relate to informational queries around the sector.
At the bottom of the funnel 44% of searches are informational – people who now understand the products and the offering and are ready to search on product terminology to make a decision.
Traditionally all our efforts are focused on this 44% - missing out the 67% in the top bracket.
We needed to think about how to reach those people in the top of the funnel, and importantly how to educate then about our products & services with authority & trust.
We also needed to remember that people searching on business finance terms will visit a range of sites as part of their decision making process.
This will include brand owned and none brand owned channels, and particularly business forums & social channels which often perform well in natural search
In short - if wanted to reach these people earlier in their decision making process we needed to: Create content that spoke to an audience who didn’t know anything about the products Expose this content (& the brand) to people through environments other than the brand site
We commissioned FS to look at how we could engage with these audiences more effectively
Conclusions - pushing out a sales messages through PPC & Affiliate programmes hoping to hit people who are in market on that day, drives a certain amount of leads.
But, in order to tap into the wider commercial finance market we know is out there, we needed to develop a deeper relationship between prospects & the brand.
We needed to develop familiarity, demonstrate authority & build trust in our space – in order to be top of mind at the right time.
Using social environments (particularly sector communities & forums) we can have a richer conversation with the audience, and on an ongoing basis – a dialogue.
We can develop a deeper relationship over time (until the point where they do become ‘in market’ to buy) Building authority & trust for the brand in particular subject areas.
We chose to pilot using a series of forums & communities built around the Financial Services Introducer market to:
Engage with a primary audience Promote the LTSBCF brand Influence opinions about CF products
Finance Week – Larger Corporates Accountancy Age – Accountants (introducers) UK Business Forums – SME’s
Step 1 – the cover it live with Simon blogging
- talk about the issues we had setting up with 12 other people in the room and that we didn’t even let him type anything etc…
Relative success of that which gained buy in of MD to do more social work
Survey incentive: Win a laptop Get access to an exclusive white paper from Lloyds
Provides incite into the concerns & issues in the market Allows us to develop targeted content (the white paper), that can be used to re-engage thru email, and reused across other sites (including ltsbcf.co.uk, and offline)
469 people opted in to the survey
Example forum tab
Generated 25 leads thru to the LTSBCF site.
Next step was to have a complete look at the ‘social landscape’ & develop a complete SMM strategy – which we commissioned Freestyle to do.
A number of key lessons from this early pilot, which have fed directly into plans & strategies for later this year & into 2011.
Content is King (you need lots of new content to keep engaging with people regularly) Best & quickest way to get content is from inside the business (the people who know) So our people need to be trained on using the channels & creating the content Don’t underestimate the power of social media to influence natural search
Problems with legal and compliance and Group Media Office (Press Office) Produced plans and procedures to get around it keeping everyone happy
Creating enough content, frequently enough is not easy!
It needs to be compliant (signed off by the right people) It needs to be search optimised with the right keywords It needs to be right for the channel where it gets posted (tone of voice & format)
This is how we do it!
Here’s an example of the kind of content we can create from one approved press release or case study.
Decided to have a ‘full SMM activity plan’ for 2011 – show what that involves (training the exec / the marketing dept – bringing in our PR agency and their role / the FS role in this
There’s a big advantage for the brand site in becoming a part of the network:
Reach of our messages in as many places as possible (cheap, quick & relatively easy to repurpose & post existing content) Visibility of our content & the brand site in Google
The pilot used several sector specific forums & community sites. Moving forward, we’ll continue to do this, but we’ll add in branded social sites (e.g. FB, YouTube, LinkedIn) Corporate blogs & external influencer blog connections too.
Our agency provides the strategy & planning for content & engagement with communities.
Up to now they’ve also provided the support for creating & posting content, and managing conversations.
Over time we need to train key people in our own business how to: Use the social platforms Create search optimised content Manage dialogue with people AND importantly what to do in a crisis situation!
We plan activity on a quarterly basis What content will be produced & how we want to use it The themes & priorities for engagements
We have ‘Cheat Sheets’ that tell the people using this content how it should be used and what the framework for them to operate in is.
We also plan FOR Crisis Scenarios! Considering up front all the possible operational & PR crisis that might arise We plan responses & procedures for these scenarios & in some cases develop content to respond in an emergency.
One of the first pieces of content aready available to us, and ideally suited to an online audience is AoN – explain what this is.
Art of Nurture has it’s own site, linking to content across the Web...
Has it’s own Facebook page, with all the usual functions to boost community by sharing content with friends.
Twitter page, pushing out updates & linking to new content.
Establishing a voice on the subject of Art & young people – not just our competition.
Same content shared on YouTube & Flickr – extending the reach of this content and just as importantly building link equity for search results.
Content as gets pushed out to Blogs & sites relevant to the topic – again extending reach & promoting link equity for search.
So AoN campaign adds to the network of sites which Ltsbcf is a part of – ALL promoting the visibility of our AoN & Commercial Finance content through natural search .
Adding in lots of other content on lots of other sites over 2011 to grow the scope of this network: E.g. Client case studies/ testimonials Debates on the economic outlook Budget day debates Business help & advice
Developing relationships with out IT to ensure they get what we want – currently we have no internal access to any social site what so ever with the one exception of LinkedIn.
Getting IT waiver through group to allow a small team of 4 within the Digital team to have access is still ongoing
Need right people to have access to the right tools for them to use as part of their job! (e.g. Pushing out marketing content, engaging with sales leads, servicing customer queries)
Our expectations for 2011
The metrics we’re working with in the social space
A final thought:
Social isn’t a campaign in the traditional sense. If you’re going to do it properly, in the sense of building relationships & authority on a subject, you can’t just dip in and out. You need to constantly monitor what’s going on so that you can engage and deal with the bad, and develop the positive, as well as develop your own voice.
This requires investment in training, in resource, both people & equipment.
Here’s a quick example of a brand who are taking this investment seriously, perhaps a look to the future for all brands?
We’d love to come back in 12 months & tell you how it went.
Social Media in a Corporate Context 2010 - Community Development