Your customer is going through something right now…
And that something affects every area of their life – including how they interact with you, your product, your service.
Everything we do – from what we buy, keep or make for dinner – is affected by how we feel. By what’s going on in our lives.
Research gives us a snapshot of this context. When you run visitor or customer surveys, you get an idea of what your people are going through right now and how that affects the way they see you. Same with customer interviews and other qualitative data.
But this context changes. It fluctuates.
So how can you take a closer look at what those changes look like? And how can you use that knowledge to optimize your website?
The answer? Social media.
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Reddit show us a different side of our prospects and customers because we use it when we are happy, tired, frustrated, satisfied or full of energy.
We use it at work, on our phones, while watching Netflix or waiting in line at the grocery store.
Social platforms capture different sides of us as we go about our days – and this makes them an extraordinarily useful tool for conversion optimizers.
In this workshop, we’ll show you how to specifically use these insights to optimize your website.
Here’s what you don’t want to miss:
- How to turn social media into one of the most powerful research tools in your optimization kit,
- The different ways you can use social proof to help your customers convert,
- What data points to really pay attention to,
This workshop is all about using specific data you can gain from social media to optimize your website for conversions. I’m not going to spend too much time on things like social listening, or optimizing your social media strategy or anything like that. You can use social media for so many different parts of your marketing so if we got into all that, we’ll be here all day….
So instead, I’m going to focus on three specific things that social media is pretty useful for when it comes to, specifically, conversion optimization.
We’ll talk about the different ways you can use social media to optimize your website including:
- Using social media data to research your audience and support the other user research you’ve been doing. Then we’ll look at how to use that research to optimize your website and inform the kind of copy that should be on your pages in the first place
- Then we’ll talk about using social media to uncover different types of social proof you can use (with examples of how successful brands use it and how you can use it too.)
- And finally, we’ll dive into using two specific metrics from your social media reports to better understand what kind of content people need to see on your pages to convert.
Cool. Before we get into the specifics, I just want to very quickly cover why social media is so powerful. And also talk about some of the pitfalls to avoid- because like all other research tools we use, social media data definitely was a propensity towards bias.
Social media is a pretty useful and powerful research tool. It’s one of my favorite research methods because it lets you gage the mood of your users. It lets you see what’s really going on with them, how they are feeling and reacting while in a distracted state. Because a lot of other customer research happens when the lead or customer is being intentional.
So back in January, all the workshops on Get Uplift were around user research – there were great stuff on running surveys and running customer interviews. These methods are great because they let you dig into how your customers speak and think about you and your product.
However, they do have a downside that we should at least think about. Because they are very much an intentional, thought out act by your prospect, they tell you a specific side of the story.
Because no matter how unbiased your questions and how specific you get and how great you are at digging in and understanding people’s pains, a cognitive bias has been introduced already.
Because when you directly ask for someone’s opinion, they are still likely- especially if they already like you or feel another type of strong emotion towards you- to word their response in a way that’s close to what they believe you may want to hear (or not hear if they happen to just hate your brand).
This immediately introduces a bias. But wait… what I’m describing is basically how all human conversations work. So how is it possible to get unbiased data?
Bad news? You can’t. Slightly better news? Neither can anyone else.
Cognitive biases affect everything we do to some extent or other. However, you can minimize the effect by gathering data from multiple sources and then comparing that. That’s why the social media optimization strategies we’ll talk about today work really well with other types of user research like customer surveys, interviews etc and pairs up well with things like heuristic analysis, heat map analysis and all that stuff.
So, back to gathering customer data. Any conversation you have with customers, you have to dig beyond what you’re seeing at face value. Because what we say isn’t always what we think.
And that’s not because your customers and prospects are trying to hide something from you. In that moment when they take the survey or do the interview, what they say may be exactly what they think. However, what we think and how we act is often context- dependent. So while a person may feel one way when they talk to you, they may feel a different way when they actually land on your site.
Because their feelings are further affected by the greater context of what’s happening around them while on your site. Things like:
- Did they have a good day at work?
- What time of day is it?
- Are they on their phone or desktop?
All these things affect how people act.
And just like with the interview and survey answers you get, social media behavior isn’t exactly face value behavior either. It’s the result of a combination of factors about how your customers subconscious wants to be seen in this moment.
Let’s talk about the image of social media and the reality of your customers life for a sec. On the left, you’ve got a pretty typical holiday snap. Our subject is caught in a moment where the light is great, the background is historical looking and her life looks pretty awesome.
On the right…. well, this is a different reality of how we use social media. Maybe you haven’t taken your laptop to the bathroom with you but you’ve probably taken your phone…
The thing is, both of these reflect how your people use social media. Because our habits vary depending on the context.
Just think about your own habits. They probably vary depending on the type of week you are having, on how you are feeling and on a bunch of other small things. Sometimes you probably scroll Facebook on your desktop, sometimes while you are in the grocery line or even in the bathroom. And the way you respond to that depends – not just on marketing stuff like your stage of awareness and your customer journey – but also on how you happen to be feeling that day. On what is going on in your life.
Because here’s the thing about people. We are not always the same. We are driven by different things at different times of the day. Heck, it’s a bit like how you can get four seasons within an hour in certain cities (I’m looking at you Chicago) – people act differently depending on their context.
That’s why it’s vital to understand the context your customer is in when they are leaving comments, when they are interacting. Because their context will determine just how useful that information is to you and to your brand, product or service.
Why people buy from you
You know the now marketing cliche “People buy from you because of how you make them feel.” Well…. there’s a bit more to it than that. They also buy from you because of how what you are doing fits with how they already feel. With how they see themselves, the world and their place in it. And these things aren’t some magical constant. They fluctuate.
Social media gives you a window into those fluctuations.
Cool. So now that we’ve covered some of the biases that affect social media data, let’s dive into the first way you can use it to optimize your site- using social media as a research tool.
Social media helps you understand your visitor’s greater context
Social media shows you another side of that behavior equation. It gives you a different angle, a different insight into how people are thinking about your products, how they are thinking about similar services and products and how you can use that to optimize their experience on your site.
BodyBoss: Without context websites look like this
Let’s take BodyBoss as an example. BodyBoss is a 12 week exercise program- like most exercise programs it gives you specific workouts to do and it’s all mapped out for you for ease.
Their site follows a pretty traditional format. There’s the promise of a new you, then if you scroll further down there’s before and after images of women who’ve succeeded etc. Basically, nothing you haven’t seen a million times before with exercise programs.
However, one thing that BodyBoss does really well – which isn’t obvious on their home page or really anywhere on their website- is the creation of an active Facebook community.
Social media provides context
BodyBoss have a really active community where people share their struggles with the program, with getting fit, with doing the exercises (and those things are super hard) and then others jump in, post their experiences and support each other.
And these people post all sorts of questions and stories that relate to the greater context of following a workout regime.
Things like the best deodorant to use, what kind of food to try, what to do when they have an off day, what to do if the exercises are too hard… There’s all sorts of sharing of wins and struggles and support that shows what people using the program actually deal with.
And yet despite this access to a lot of data, the BodyBoss site doesn’t reflect what their customers are thinking and feeling. And it doesn’t deal with a lot of the common objections like:
- Can I do it?
- What do I do if I slip up?
- What happens when the exercises are too hard?
- I’m over x age, will this work for me?
Etc. Yet the Facebook group does an incredible job of dealing with all these objections.
Using this information to optimize your website
Ok. So you’ve got groups like these. How can you use this type of data to optimize your website?
This information helps you understand what questions people have and answer them in your copy.
Group discussions like those that happen in Facebook groups, Twitter chats and Slack groups often show a lot of vulnerability. Behind their keyboards, people often share stuff they won’t feel comfortable sharing in a different context.
This can help you uncover some genuine wants and needs that your prospects have as well as the struggles they experience.
You can then add these struggles (and show how you address them) at different points of your website. You can use those problems to add life to your copy. It can help your customers see themselves on your pages because they can see that you’re taking the time to talk to them (and you seem to magically understand them.)
Groups like these, as well as twitter chats, Slack groups and reddit threads can help you see your prospects’ contexts and understand their key struggles. Then you can address these struggles on the relevant page on your site.
And it doesn’t have to be your own Facebook group like here. You can go through groups of people that deal with similar challenges and issues and use that to come up with key questions you can answer on your site.
Let’s talk about the second way you can use data from social media to optimize your website- and that’s by leveraging user generated content.
User generated content- and this consists of the things people say about you on social media, the pictures they take with your products, the stuff they post. All that content is incredibly powerful and a wonderful piece of social proof. And it can be used to optimize conversions on your site in so many different ways for all sorts of brands, on all sorts of pages and in all kinds of contexts.
The power of seeing relatable people using your stuff
So let’s take a look at how a few different brands use this.
eCommerce brands – particularly anyone selling clothes, shoes and accessories – have access to what’s probably one of my favorite types of social proof both as a conversion copywriter and as a customer:
Pictures of people wearing or using the products in a real-world environment.
So one of the biggest frustrations I have about online shopping is that it’s so hard to tell what the actual item looks like on different people so that I can figure out what it might look like when I put it on.
The best way to do that? Using user generated content to show people what your products actually look like. Let’s take a look at Le Tote and how they handle this.
Le Tote is a monthly subscription service for renting your wardrobe. Every month, they send you a box with key pieces, you wear them, return them and get a new box the next month.
And here’s the description for a moto jacket they’ve got.
In these images, Le Tote gives us some pretty useful information. It tells us what size people are wearing and how tall they are. This helps you visualize what the item- in this case, this jacket – will look like on someone with your measurements.
But these pictures do more than just show you what things look like. It subconsciously highlights that other people use the service. And not only do they use it, they care enough to leave reviews and pictures and help others. So this type of social proof helps create a feeling of connection.
So Le Tote uses this type of content to optimize their product pages. And adding social media proof to product pages can be really useful for conversions because it can push you just over that edge into clicking buy.
Zenni Optical: Using Instagram content on your homepage
Ok. Now lets talk about Zenni Optical. They use user generated content to optimize a lot of different pages, including their home page. (That’s where this screenshot is from.)
Zenni optical have a hashtag #justgotmyzennis where they encourage people to snap a pic with their brand new glasses, post it to Instagram and add the hashtag with the premise that they may be featured on Zenni’s site.
Zenni use these images on their homepage and on each relevant product page as well, like in this next screenshot.
So when you are shopping for new glasses, you can see what the frames look like on different people doing different things- instead of on perfectly posed models. The diversity of images makes the glasses and the brand itself relatable to a wide variety of people- and the images give context to the frames.
They make it easier to see yourself wearing the glasses. Again, as great conversion oriented content goes, these images aren’t expected to do the heavy lifting all by themselves. They support all the other ways Zenni helps their customers decide what glasses to buy – like uploading a picture of themselves to the site to try different frames on, taking measurements and other stuff.
Plus, the pictures do more than just help you visualize frames on different faces. They are shoppable. So while scrolling through, you can click on your favorite and you’ll be directed to the relevant product page.
Aerie: using your customers in product marketing
Ok. Let’s look at one other brand that does a great job of using customer images and data from social media to optimize product pages.
One of the reasons this works so well for Aerie is because they tie in user generated content into their unique selling proposition which we’ll get into in a sec.
Aerie has done a pretty phenomenal job of gauging the changing buying habits of their audience. Like Zenni, they have a hashtag and encourage people to share images.
Their hashtag – and campaign – also ties into Aerie’s unique selling proposition: helping young women embrace their bodies as they are. Aerie is one of the first mainstream underwear brands to use models of different sizes, races, heights and body shapes to help their customers see themselves in the product.
As part of that USP, they don’t retouch the photos on their site. And so part of the social media campaign is to encourage customers to share their un-retouched photos wearing Aerie’s swimsuits with the hashtag #AerieREAL. They Aerie donate a dollar to a non-profit that supports those affected by eating disorders – something that directly ties into everything the brand stands for.
The customers are front and center
Aerie then use these images on their product pages, like here:
And the Aerie real gallery – pictures of people wearing and enjoying the products – is accessible (and highlighted on) almost every product page.
Almost everywhere on the Aerie site, the customer is front and center. While they’ve got pictures of models, you’re never too far from pictures of people, reviews and reminders of Aerie’s unique sales proposition: that it’s the women wearing the products that are the real heroes, and Aerie is just there to support them.
It’s the exact opposite approach that fashion brands – especially high fashion brands- take traditionally. Where the people wearing the clothes are mostly faceless and it’s the items that are really what’s important.
By turning that on its head – and by picking a fight with it using user generated content through social media – Aerie are doing a pretty great job of winning over their audience.
So like Aerie, Zenni Optical and Le Tote, you can incorporate user generated images with your products on product pages, on your home page and any other key places on your site where the product is front and center – you can use those images to optimize those pages for conversion. Just make sure you have relevant permissions of course.
How to use what people say about you
Ok. This next example is a little different. This is about using what people have said about you to optimize your pages.
This type of social proof adds believability to what you’re saying. It enhances your words, claims and any facts you use by making them feel more real. More potent.
This example comes from Tarzan Kay’s speaker page.
On this page, Tarzan uses comments she’s gotten through social media to directly support what this page is saying- that you should hire Tarzan to speak at your next event.
She uses direct screenshots from social media which does a very powerful thing. It makes the page feel more authentic and real because you can see people’s pictures and unedited reactions. This sends a message to your brain: oooh, that person is for real.
Just don’t make your social proof work in a vacuum
But what makes this social media proof work really well for Tarzan is that it compliments everything else on the page.
Because this is what the social proof is supporting – a video of real people sharing how hearing Tarzan talk affected them. Sharing how they felt about it.
The reason this works so well is because social media proof isn’t doing the heavy lifting in a vacuum. It’s supporting the rest of the content. It’s enhancing it by adding a certain level of realness.
Whenever you do add proof to your own pages, make sure it complements everything else that’s on the page. Because for a page to convert as well as it can, every element needs to support every other element. It basically needs to work together as a team.
Adding social media generated social proof to your website
The key when using user generated content like images or screenshots of what people have said about you is to use it to support the purpose of each page.
Your social media proof is there to add depth, to enhance and to inform. It’s not there to do it all by itself. So make sure anything you use fits with the goal for each page.
Alrighty. Now let’s talk about our third and final way of using social media data to optimize your website.
When it comes to using insights from your social media reports, a couple of metrics can help you optimize your site for conversions. We are going to look at two specific metrics to pay attention to if your goal is to optimize your website: engagement and clicks.
Let’s take a look at engagement first because it can reveal all sorts of things about your audience.
Engagement can be a bit of a soft metric. As social media marketing has become more “data driven” engagement has fallen a bit out of favor. But if you read it the right way, it can be a very powerful metric.
Because engagement can tell you what type of content your followers want and need to see on your site. It’s an especially powerful way to help you decide what kind of lead magnets to create and how to best market those.
Different ways to track engagement
Ok. Let’s talk examples. There are different types of engagement- there’s shares, likes, comments. In this case I’m going to focus on shares and comments in particular.
Your most shared content gives you a window into what’s popular
Social media content gets shared for all sorts of reasons. Maybe:
- It’s got a killer headline
- The image is great
- The post is timely so it really resonates with your people at this moment in time
- It’s picking a fight with a conventional wisdom… etc.
Whatever sparks people to share isn’t always clear, but one thing is clear. Your post has demanded attention.
To use those insights to optimize your site, you need to do some analysis.
First, identify your most popular posts. You can do that by checking your analytics. So if you’re using Facebook, you need to check the Insights Tab on your Facebook page.
If you’re using Twitter it’s the Analytics tab. So decide on the platform you are going to use and check your most popular posts.
For example, for Facebook Insights, just go to posts in the left hand side menu and you’ll see your most popular posts.
At this point, I like to make a list of usually the top 10-30 posts of the last 6 months and then I analyze them.
- I break them down into themes. Then I ask questions like: What’s the post about? What main problem does it solve? How does it fit into the various stages of awareness? Etc.
- Then I group the posts based on what they have in common
This helps you identify what people are responding strongly to. I do that for every channel because often people will respond to different types of posts on Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook.
So what happens after you’ve made your list?
Compare your themes – the kind of pain points, the topics and the solutions you’re addressing in your most popular points- to the topics addressed on your site. Are you addressing those topics in your content? Make a note of it on your spreadsheet.
But before we make any changes, we are going to look at one other engagement metric: your comments.
Engagement can reveal all sorts of things about your audience
Just like you did for the most shared posts, make a list of the top 10-30 posts that got the most comments. Comments can be incredibly useful for showing you how your prospects and customers feel and what they are passionate about.
Let’s take these post by Ramit Sethi as an example. He is the founder of I Will Teach You to be Rich and sells courses and digital products all about helping people make more money, build better businesses and be more productive. But his chief focus remains money.
He does a fantastic job of using Twitter to understand how his audience feels about specific issues just by asking questions. And he does this consistently. Here are some recent examples:
He asked questions like “how would you know when you made enough money? What does that look like?” These help dig into how people feel and the structure is similar to what you’ll use in surveys and interviews.
These posts get a lot of comments. And most of these comments are direct voice of customer data. You can use those insights to optimize your website, to create new content… because people are sharing how they feel.
Questions posts like this one can tell you exactly what kind of content your audience wants to see. It’s a great way to test out ideas before investing time in developing them.
So how do you use this engagement data?
Use engagement data to:
Engagement data is really useful for optimizing site content.
Now that you know what people are really responding to, experiment with adding those themes to your copy.
Of course, it should go without saying that you should focus on things that are related to your brand. If your audience is super passionate about cats it doesn’t mean you should cover your site in cats. Actually, please don’t do that.
Instead, use your most shared posts and your relevant comments to understand where your people are at. To understand the things that are bothering them and dig into their stage of awareness. Then optimize your content to match that stage.
Cool. Now let’s talk about the other metric you should pay attention to: tracking what people are clicking on and where they are going.
Track your traffic with UTM tracking codes
I can’t over emphasize the importance of tracking your traffic enough.
If you’re sharing any links to your website- like a link to a blog post or a specific landing page or an opt-in form – then track that traffic. Track the clicks. Because this shows you how good you are at getting people off social media and to your website.
And for a business, that should really be one of the ultimate goals. You want to get people off the platforms you don’t own- like Twitter or Facebook – and get them to your email list.
While social media platforms do offer some native metrics on clicks- you can get them under insights for Facebook and analytics for Twitter- you can get more accurate, richer results by using UTM codes.
Now I won’t get into these in too much depth – I’ll add a few links in the transcript that you can look up– but these Urchin Tracking Modules are really important, really powerful and really easy to set up.
How UTM codes work
So what are they? UTM codes basically tell you where your traffic is coming from. Here’s how they work.
This is the Google Analytics Campaign Builder, by the way. I’ll add the link to the transcript. You can use this to create custom UTM codes for any campaign you run.
So at the top where it says website URL: you put in the page you’d like to track. For this example I’m using the Get UpLift CRO training page.
When you are tracking organic traffic, you’re only going to use three parameters: the campaign source, the campaign medium and the campaign name. The other two parameters only apply to paid ads.
The campaign source refers to the source of traffic. So if you’re using social media that could be Twitter, or Facebook or Instagram or Quora.
The campaign medium is the type of channel your traffic is coming from. So when you are tracking social media posts, your channel name could be social-media or just social.
And then the name medium is just the name of the campaign this link is a part of. It makes it easier to keep track so just make sure you’re consistent with your naming when you set these up.
So why is tracking your traffic so important and how does it help you optimize your website?
Well, when you know where someone is coming from, you can design your message to the type of content they’ve already seen from you. This creates a feel of consistency.
For example, let’s say you’re an e-commerce company that specializes in selling eco friendly dish soap. You have an opt-in with 10 surprising ways you can use the dish soap to clean all sorts of things around your house.
So when you’re looking at your traffic, you notice that most downloads come from Twitter. That’s cool. So you start digging into the reasons- why are Twitter followers more active and engaged?
- Maybe it’s because you host a monthly twitter chat with your friend who runs a natural shampoo company and you guys talk about easy ways to be more environmentally friendly together
- Maybe it’s because you have a Twitter AMA every third Friday of the month where people can ask you anything about your product
You can use this information to add references to these events on your opt-in page because the likelihood that a large part of your audience comes from there is pretty high.
And you can use the conversations you’re having with your audience to optimize your opt-in page based on the questions and concerns they’ve been voicing.
This is going to make your Twitter followers feel like you’re reading their minds.
You can use this approach to optimize any page for the audience that’s landing on it. Because people coming from Twitter or Facebook or Instagram have a different relationship with you and your content because of the different nature of the platforms themselves.
If you are getting enough traffic and enough conversions to justify it, you can even consider creating slightly different landing pages for each traffic channel. Just something to think about 🙂
If you use a social media management software like Buffer, Agorapulse or Hootsuite or Sprout Social you may already have internal UTM tracking. Just check with your platform.
Cool. So we just covered three different ways you can use social media data to optimize specific pages on your site.
You can use it to research your audience, get social proof and use reports to understand how people interact with your content then use all those insights to optimize your site.