Website visitors are hard to win but easy to lose. Driving traffic takes a lot of time and energy. We all work hard to pull in visitors from social, search and email marketing. Our Analytics count these visitors one-by-one.
Driving traffic is like carrying water. Do it every day or your results dry up.
But a lot of websites are like leaky buckets, and visitors just pour out of them. This post is about integrating social media into your website without losing visitors. Here’s how to find (and fix) one of the most common social media traffic leaks.
I love social media. I love the direct connect with real people. I love the speed of interaction. And it’s a good (but spikey) source of traffic.
But social media can also cost you a lot of traffic. It can also be a leak in your bucket. The goal is to use to use social media to gain visitors, not lose them. In other words…
Traffic from social networks is good. Visitors leaving to go to social networks is bad.
Visitors leave websites and go to social networks all the time. That’s normal. But you don’t want to encourage it. Don’t make it easy for them by inviting them to leave your site.
Before you add a button to your website that sends the visitor to a social network, ask yourself…
Do you really want people to click that?
What’s on the page behind that click? Anything irrelevant?
After clicking that link, is the (former) visitor closer, or further from your contact form?
Are the likely to come back?
Sending a visitor to a social network puts them in the hands of a profit-driven, billion dollar company that is totally focused on keeping and monetizing that visitor. Is that good for your marketing?
A quick study done by Phil Nottingham of Distilled found that the clickthrough rate from YouTube to company websites is a measly .7%. In other words, fewer than one in a hundred visitors will make it from YouTube back to your site. Still want to send them to YouTube?
This video is on YouTube. Do you really want to send your visitors to a website that has this video?
Notice how I didn’t make that cute little guy clickable. I would have lost you for sure!
So here are three social media leaks and how to fix them…
Clients want them so designers add them. Most sites have social icons on their home pages. A study by Crayon found that 75% of websites have social media integration, with home pages featuring one or more social media link.
Different industries have websites that integrate with social media at different rates. Non-profits and sports companies add them the most. Regulated industries like financial, legal and gambling are less likely to add social media links. No surprise.
Not only do sites add this leak to their bucket, but many sites make the leak as big as possible. They add big, colorful candy-like social media icons to the header of every page.
The colors often make these buttons the most visually prominent part of the page. How is that a good thing for your traffic?
Imagine walking into a store where the biggest sign says ‘exit’
UPDATE: We did research on the top 50 marketing sites and learned that 26% have social media icons in the header.
Here is the full report on web design standards.
Here’s what it looks like…
If you want to add social media to your header, change the color so they aren’t so visually prominent. Here’s how Barry Feldman does it on his site…
Better yet, move them to the footer AND grey them out or change the color. Now they can be found by people who are looking to follow, share and mention, but they’ll leak as little as possible.
Notice how the signup button (which is a higher-value integration for the brand) is more visually prominent than the social media buttons?
Some sites will actually put a big Facebook button on their homepage carousel or as the featured image. Yikes!
We don’t need to say much about this one.
I can only assume that these marketers are more confident in their ability to engage with people on Facebook than their own website.
There are lots of ways to add social sharing buttons. One way is to grab one from a company that makes them. Often these are WordPress plugins, which make them super simple to add.
But be careful. These buttons sometimes add a little ad for themselves in the shared post. That may leak visitors away from your site and toward the company that developed the button.
Ideally, the share buttons are customized to mention your website and brand, not just the link. If you click the Twitter share button at the bottom of this post, you’ll see it adds a mention for @orbiteers to the tweet. Leak fixed!
Need a little help making this work? Social Media Examiner has a great post on how to create custom social sharing buttons.
There is definitely a time and place to send people to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It’s when that social network is a key part of your marketing strategy.
Before you punch holes in your bucket, ask yourself these two questions about each network. The answer should be “yes” to both.
You post content there regularly (active publishing channel)
There is at least as much relevant content on the social network as your website.
You engage with users on that social network regularly (active networking channel)
You’re not just present on that social network, but you’re interacting with people, networking and building relationships.
Bonus Tip! Another time you should encourage your visitors to follow a social network is after they become a lead or an ecommerce customer. Since they’ve already reached a goal and taken the desired action, why not send them to another site where they may “follow” or “like” your brand.
The “thank you” page is an opportunity to get more value from the same visitors.
It’s good when people visit your social media profiles. It’s good when they follow, like and +1 you …but not when it comes at the cost of your website traffic.
When a visitor leaves your website for a social network, they’re further from your lead generation form, your services pages, your blog. They’ve moved backwards, up the conversion funnel away from you.
Plug the social leaks, keep your visitors and maximize your chances for the highest value interactions: leads, subscribers and customers.