content marketing

Developing a social media measurement plan could be a bit boring. But we think it’s OK to take a scientific approach to social media. Here’s why it’s OK to be the Rainman.

In my last Conversion Science column I introduced you to the social media landing page. This landing page has the power to bring social media conversations to a measurable, business-building conversion. Let me show you how to develop the perfect social media measurement plan.

Social media is very important to us at Conversion Sciences. We know that education is the key to changing the web into a place where people find what they are looking for and reward companies for being so darn helpful.

Social media is a great way for us to share our educational and (hopefully) helpful stories, posts, columns and presentations. But to know how our efforts are performing, we need to create a social media measurement plan.

Why It’s OK to be the Rainman of Social Media

However, we aren’t really that good at social media conversations. It may come as no surprise that, as scientists, we are like the Rainman of social media. Like Raymond from the move, we are capable of amazing feats of insight and intelligence, but we often miss important social cues, especially when interactions occur 140 characters at a time.

“I’m an excellent Tweeter”

Social media measurement plan: Why It's ok to be the Rainman.

“I’m an excellent dancer.”

Given the fact that people like us sometimes have awkward digital interactions, you may not invite us to your swanky party. However, you certainly want us to participate in your social graph.

People like us provide an important service to the social spheres. Our content-oriented social media strategy feeds those who rely on social media for education and elucidation.

If you spend the bulk of your social time interacting with individuals, you are probably using a conversation-oriented social media strategy.

Choose the right social strategy

A conversion is more than just a conversation without the T&A.

In our studies, we have observed two broad categories of social media behavior:

  1. Conversation-oriented social behavior
  2. Content-oriented social behavior

While the posts, pictures and pokes that make up an online conversation certainly qualify as “content,” we distinguish conversational content from content that is specifically designed to educate, entertain or inform on a particular subject area.

This article is “content.” The comments you will inevitably leave are “conversation.”

We have found that content-oriented social strategies lead to more measurable campaigns. Plus, many conversion scientists don’t have the social skills to implement a conversation-oriented strategy.

Conversation-oriented social media

This strategy centers around conversations. It typically involves one or more personalities that interact with individuals in the social graph. This strategy is ideal for improving customer support, building awareness, personal branding and image marketing.

Conversations may involve content, but it is the interactions that are front-and-center in this strategy.

Results are typically measured using predictive metrics, such as friends, followers, likes, bookmarks, retweets and reach. These soft metrics are often more satisfying to us than definitive metrics such as leads, sales, and conversion rate.

I admire people like Kate Buck Jr. who make this strategy really work for their business and their clients.

Content-oriented social media

Unlike conversation-oriented strategies, this approach focuses on content as we’ve defined it here: communication that is designed to educate, entertain or inform. This strategy is ideal for lead generation, thought-leadership and building targeted social channels.

Content-oriented conversations don’t focus on the authoring brand or individual. Instead, these conversations circle around the content itself. This content will spur conversations, and ideally will be passed around, expanding our reach.

Of greatest interest to conversion scientists is that content draws visitors to social landing pages, where conversion beacons can drive business-building conversions.

Develop the Perfect Social Media Measurement Plan

It’s possible to automate and centralize the measurement of social media marketing efforts, in part thanks to a wireless tracking device that we attach to each status update, tweet and email that ties conversions to specific social conversations. Here’s how.

Step 1: Create some content.

The catch with the content-oriented strategy is that you must create content. Frequency is up to you. In a sixty-plus day experiment conducted here in the labs, five articles and seven blog posts drove 145 status updates, tweets, emails, Flickr images, etc.

We focused on articles that I write at The Conversion Scientist blog, that I contribute here at Search Engine Land and that I contribute at other venues such as ClickZ and the Content Marketing Institute.

Step 2: Devise a way to measure results.

To measure results, traffic must arrive on one of our instrumented pages. However, some of the content we used lived on other sites.

Our strategy was to create a social media landing page for each of our “off-world” articles in the form of a blog post. These posts teased the article and linked to it.

While we announce each new article through our social networks, the bulk of our marketing drove friends and followers to the blog post.

Right now, Google Analytics is our favorite single point of collection because of its content filtering and segmented reports.

For click tracking, still can’t be beat for its flexibility and integration with so many tools.

Step 3: Market each content item as if each was its own product.

Each of these content items gets a multi-network, multi-touch treatment designed to expose the maximum number of our friends and followers to this content. We maintain small but targeted social graphs on Facebook (<1000), Twitter (<2000) and LinkedIn (>1000).

On Facebook we did a single status post to my profile as well as “The Conversion Scientist” and “Web Strategies for Business” pages.

On Twitter each content item got between two and four tweets. We tried simply repeating the tweets as well as composing a series of unique tweets.

We did one LinkedIn status update, but did not post discussions on LinkedIn groups because the process couldn’t be automated. We’re looking for tools to help with this.

Several items got supporting posts on our predecessor site, the Customer Chaos blog.

All of this may sound like a lot of work. That is why we need tools to automate the process. Right now, Austin-based Spredfast seems to have the best support of the social networks we use, as well as one great collection point for analytics from across our social graph. Hootsuite is an alternative for those focusing on Twitter.

Note: We turned off all of our cross-network services, such as to implement this strategy.

Step 4: Attach a wireless tracking device.

This is real Hollywood stuff.

The most important feature of our measurement strategy is a wireless tracking device that we attached to each post, tweet, email and image. This is the secret sauce that enables the report shown above. is the carrier for this wireless device. Google’s link tagging feature provides the micro circuitry.

Each post, tweet, image and email carries with it the following micro-coded information:

  • Campaign name and date
  • Send date
  • Delivery method (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • Medium (email, microblog, status update, etc.)
  • Format (text, html, image, video, etc.)
  • Identifier
  • Version (for split tests)
  • Keywords

As an example, here is the fully instrumented URL for the link-tagging spreadsheet offered in this column.

The URL builder provided by Google is quite unsatisfying for us, so we’ve developed a special Google Analytics link tagging spreadsheet that you can use to create and track your micro-coded addresses.

Next time, I’ll show you the queries and reports that reveal which content, social networks and conversations generate the most email subscriptions for us.

In the mean time, let me know the social media distribution and tracking tools that you use and love in the comments section below.

Article originally published on my Search Engine Land column “The Perfect Social Media Measurement Strategy.”


Brian Massey Signature rainman

Brian Massey

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

When we don’t consider what visitors expect when we offer them our content, we set a series of events in motion that results in our visitors feeling… dumb. Don’t let your content break promises to your readers.

These four ways set a series of events in motion that result in our visitors feeling… dumb. Make sure to keep your content promises to increase conversions.

Treat your content as a product

“Have you seen my sunglasses?’’ I yelled out to my wife as I was heading out the door.

“In our room on the night stand,” she yelled back.

Little did she know that she was setting in motion a series of events destined to ruin a fine Saturday.

You see, she unwittingly set an expectation in my mind, an expectation that my sunglasses would be there on the night stand beside the lamp and the book I read before bed.

But when I got to the bedroom, they weren’t there.

The series of events that unfolded next are classic human reactions, reactions that you may be creating in the way you present your content.

I entered stage one: I got angry. Not “throwing things” angry, but “disappointed because I just want to get out and do some errands but I’m attached to wearing my sunglasses when I’m out” angry.

Stage two: I got self conscious, so I looked all around the nightstand. Nothing.

Stage three: I got self righteous. I climbed down the stairs down to my wife, building my self-righteousness with every step.

“They’re not there,” I said, my voice dripping with thinly-masked disdain.

She looked at me with a face and stance that would have made our teenager proud.

“Did you look on my nightstand, too?”

Stage four: I questioned my very ability to function in the world. I slinked back up the stairs, retrieved the sunglasses and snuck out the door.

It was no fault of hers that I assumed the sunglasses would be on my night stand, but website visitors are coming with expectations.

When we don’t consider what visitors expect when we offer them our content, we set the exact same series of events in motion. This isn’t good for our business.

Keep Your Content Promises: What is the Psychological Price for Your Content

When you invite someone to read your content, you are making a promise. Your promise is that you will help them solve a problem or entertain them.

Our invitations, be they found in an email, a status update or a blog post must promise something or there would be no clicks.

Visitors may be finding and consuming our content just fine, but we can extract a severe price by making things unintuitive. Just because someone finds your content, doesn’t mean they’re happy about it.

Here are some of the innocent things we do to make our visitors feel frustrated.

1. The Drill Down

If your content link is sending your visitors to your home page or to a “resources” page, you’re setting them up for stage one anger.

Most people expect a click to take them to the very place that content exists. Don’t let them down.

Sure, you may have a logical navigation strategy.

“All they have to do is click on the White Papers menu item then select Case Studies, then pick the one they want,” you might say.

Visitors are saying, “All you had to do was put a link to it on the page you sent me to.”

My wife assumed I would look on both night stands. I assumed she’d have specified the “other” one if that was where it was.

2. The Scroll

For many many visitors, if the content headline isn’t above the “fold” on your page, then it doesn’t exist. Period.

What would push the headline down? Usually, it’s a BAH (big-ass header). The BAH is usually some large stock photo plastered across the top of the page. This is a common feature of websites and is found on both home pages and interior pages.

Bosses love this kind of thing, but it foils visitors.

Your headline and first paragraph should start as close to the top of the page as is politically possible.

3. The Unending Preview

Too often, one BAH isn’t enough, so designers have invented the “flash scroller” also called a “rotator box.” If you are employing one of these to present content choices, you are WAY over-estimating the patience of even the most interested visitor.

Don’t make us sit through a series of cross-fading options.

An image fades in, then we wait.

Another image fades in, then we wait.

Another fade, then we wait.

We won’t last long. I probably lost dozens of readers just writing those three sentences.

4. The Wall of Questions

One of the best ways to generate leads is to promise great content in exchange for contact information. However, you must look at this as a purchase, not a gratuitous grab for their email address. Don’t present them with a wall of form fields and ask them to fill out the form.

Keep your content promises and increase conversions. This page asks a lot, but doesn't promise much.

This page asks a lot, but doesn’t promise much.

You have to sell them.

To this end, a proper lead generation page will have the following components:

  1. A headline that is as identical to the promise of the ad or link as possible.
  2. A picture of the product. Even an eBook can be formatted to look like a publication, and visitors get it.
  3. Tell them very specifically what they will get when they complete the form. Don’t be afraid to lay some text on the page.
  4. Your form should only ask for information you absolutely need. Your content may not be “worth” their phone number and address in their eyes.NOTE: If you must ask for qualifying information, explain how it will be used and why it is needed.
  5. The text on the button should tell the visitor what is next. “Get Your Report” or “Subscribe” is much more clickable than “Submit”, especially if we aren’t sure to what we’re submitting ourselves.

This is what is expected when someone clicks on an invitation to read or view content.

Deviate from this basic formula only if you must. Otherwise, visitors may leave your site questioning their very ability to function in a digital world.

Brian Massey frustrated drawing.

Brian Massey

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Why do so many marketing departments have trouble turning personas into actionable marketing gold? I believe it is because traditional “buyer personas” are too broad in their definition.

In this post, I introduce you to Touchpoint Personas and identify their key components.

I will compare the concept of touchpoint personas vs buyer personas. If you are interested in user personas check them out on this article.

Personas are fictional representations of your customers designed to help you understand what to say to prospects and how to deliver content to them.

There is no better predictor of conversion success than the availability of personas.

“Your market research with an attitude, your analytics in a skirt.”

The Anatomy of a Great Online Persona

Melanie is your market research with an attitude, your analytics in a skirt. Bill is the voice that rings through the headsets of your customer service support people, unwavering in his desire to get what he wants. Amy is that segment of your house list who got distracted before she finished ordering online.

None of these people exist, but they are powerful guides for any business that wants to grow in an age of digital content.

Melanie, Bill and Amy are touchpoint personas, and they can walk right into any meeting you have and “lay down the law.” They know what they want, and they are your ally in getting the resources you need to deliver.

Read on to learn why a touchpoint persona is so powerful and to figure out what information you should include to help you understand the customer.

Creating online Touchpoint Personas for increased persuasion and conversions. Key components and differences with buyer personas. Read on.

Creating online Touchpoint Personas for increased persuasion and conversions.

How is a touchpoint persona different from a buyer persona?

Those businesses with the most effective content marketing strategies are using buyer personas as their guide. But, buyer personas have the following limitations when it comes to creating a customer journey and its implementation:

  • They may not be found in every channel. A buyer persona that visits your brick and mortar store may never buy online.
  • They often do not comprehend the limits and strengths of individual channels. In the store, the salesperson is the primary way customers interact with your brand. Online, there are far more communication options.
  • The demographics associated with each are open to interpretation. What kind of home does a person making $175,000 a year live in? Some may say a mansion. Some may say a small ranch.
  • Touchpoint personas focus the team on one channel: the store, the website, the phone, the social graph, etc. The result is fewer personas per channel and more specific personas, which means a more consistent effort on the part of your production teams.

Creating online touchpoint personas: the 7 Components

Here are the components of the touchpoint personas that Conversion Sciences creates for clients. Much of this has been adopted from the book Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg.


Demographics play only a small part in the touchpoint persona. Age and gender give us an idea of their technical savvy and possible communication styles. Business role will be important for B2B and some B2C sales.

Don’t muddy the water with demographics that don’t apply. For example, marital status may not be helpful in a B2B sale. If not, don’t include it.

2Customer Commentary

The customer commentary answers the question, “Why are they coming to this site at this time in their lives?”

Unlike buyer personas, the customer commentary is written in the voice of the persona. This helps the marketing team empathize with the people visiting your site. It provides the proper vocabulary for writing and keyword research. Answer this question, and you will know exactly how to create content and ad copy for them.

3Mode of Persuasion

The customer commentary will tell you much about the way a certain kind of visitor is going to make a decision, from which you can identify their mode of persuasion.

Will they decide to take action quickly or slowly? Will they seek to decide emotionally or logically? The Eisenbergs outline four primary modes of persuasion to guide your designers and writers: Competitive, Methodical, Humanist and Spontaneous.

4Funnel Points or Customer Touchpoints

What is bringing the persona to this touchpoint, and where are they arriving?

  • Did a referral drive them to type in your domain?
  • Did an online search bring them to your home page?
  • Did a banner ad or email bring them to a landing page?

List these scenarios here, and strive to get visitors close to their points of resolution as directly as possible. Don’t limit these touch points or funnel points to those currently in your marketing mix, but consider new outreach methods based on how these types of customers will find you.

5Points of Resolution

What are the important pieces of information this kind of visitor needs to feel comfortable and confident in taking action? This is your content guide, from which your editorial calendar will rise. Points of resolution may be as simple as “price and delivery” or as complex as “a full understanding of our manufacturing process.”

6Conversion Beacons and Conversion Points

The conversion beacon calls a visitor to action. A conversion point tells you that a visitor has taken action. In the online world, a big red button may serve as a conversion beacon, and a confirmation page may be the conversion point that tells you that a visitor has completed a form.

These map the visitors’ buying processes to the businesses’ selling processes. They also tell you which key performance indicators will gauge the success of your changes.


Touchpoint personas are quite thorough and will generate more ideas than can be reasonably implemented, but one conversion beacon or one content item may have a significant impact on leads and sales.

The Eisenbergs recommend listing out the actions generated from these personas. Estimate the minimum time, positive impact and smallest effort for each of them on a scale from one to five. Add these three values together and start working on those with the highest total.

Keep your customer personas out of the drawer

Your touchpoint personas should influence your decisions, and they should evolve as you learn what is working and what is not. Don’t put them in a drawer when you’re done. Print them out and put them in your conference room or break room.

Consider placing them on a collaborative system so that the organization can change them organically.

Like Frankenstein’s monster, it is easy to create personas and customer journey maps, but it is more difficult to breathe life into them.

To thoroughly explore the power of touchpoint personas, I strongly recommend the book Waiting for your Cat to Bark? by Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg. For more on touchpoints please read Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day by David Evans.

Do you use touchpoint personas or something similar? If so, are there additional things that you include?

The Anatomy of a Great Web Persona was originally published on a post for the Content Marketing Institute

Brian Massey

P. S. Get full access to the Lab when you join The Conversion Scientist email list.

Brian Massey Speaking • Advertising in Attention Managed Zones

BAM explaining • Advertising in Attention Managed Zones

My ten-year-old son gave me a valuable lesson in content marketing today.

Sean has a good friend who, to hear him tell it, rarely changes his expression. It’s just who he is.

However, Sean was sharing one of this friend’s more interesting ideas: to build a tall building and put a catapult at the top of it to deliver packages around town.

“Was he serious?” we asked.

“Yes,” said Sean. “He had his explaining face on.”

Clearly, when this boy puts on his ‘explaining face,’ you had better listen.

Sean gives words to an attitude that offers all of us a way to make our content more helpful, more interesting and more engaging.

We just need to put on our explaining face.

Your Selling Face or Your Explaining Face

I’ve got my explaining face on right now. It is different from my selling face.

When I have my explaining face on, my eyes are wider, my eyebrows go up, my jaw is drawn back to help me enunciate.

When I have my selling face on, my eyebrows come down and my forehead furrows. My jaw jets forward. I’m in your face.

How does your content change when you have your explaining face on? Mine does.

A Face for Every Occasion

There is a place for each of your faces.

You should use your explaining face when you are participating in what I call an Attention-managed Zone. As I write in my most recent ClickZ column, an attention-managed zone is a place where we have curated the participants or content.

Our Facebook page is an attention-managed zone. Our inbox and our feed reader are as well.

When you are communicating within one of these attention-managed zones, put on your explaining face.

However, when you have drawn someone to your site, to a landing page for instance, you will want to put on your selling face and be more persuasive. Visitors expect to learn about your offering in these places where they have no control over what they will see.

Advertising in an Attention-Managed Society

Attention management is not something that people think about, but it is what we do when we curate places like our inbox, social news streams, and RSS feed readers.

As marketers and advertisers, we are bombarded with statistics that tell us there is a shockingly small supply of time in the world.

  • “You only have eight seconds to catch a Web visitor’s attention.”
  • “The average person is bombarded with over 5,000 commercial messages a day.”
  • “Today’s multitasking Millennials are doing up to 10 things simultaneously.”
  • “You have to do something surprising every 10 minutes during your presentation to keep the audience awake.”

I would provide citations for these statistics, but “Article writers only have an average of 15 minutes for research, down from 30 minutes in 2007.” I made that last one up.

We believe we’re dealing with the scarcity of our prospects’ time, and are acting accordingly. Too often, we’re getting “all caps” on our audience, shouting louder, shouting more often, and shouting through more channels. I call that tossing “Jenny” around.

What if we worked the other end of the equation? What if we helped our prospects manage their time better? Could we get nine seconds instead of eight? Could we cut our Millennials down to five simultaneous activities?

Unfortunately, attempts at time management have been thwarted in large part by the social part of our brains, the part that says we need to be laced into the lives of others like tangled doilies.

  • “96 percent of Millennials have joined a social network.”
  • “Social media has overtaken pornography as the number one activity on the Web.”
  • While you read this, “100+ hours of video will be uploaded to YouTube.”

I can cite these quotes because they come from a “Socialnomics” video that is only four and a half minutes long.

The net of this is that we are spending more time on our digital social pursuits and less time on our commercial messages, such as those found in display advertising.

The Components of an Attention-Managed Zone

An attention-managed zone provides a cone of safety, like a playpen for our children. We check Facebook several times per day because it’s an attention-safe zone. The same is true of e-mail.

When my attention is focused on one of these safe places, I know that:

  1. It will be filled with offerings from people I have vetted at some level.
  2. I can use my time there to refine it, dropping and adding friends, groups, games, etc.
  3. It’s designed for a variety of moods. I can expect to find the informative as well as the entertaining.
  4. I can go there to relieve stress any time of the day or night.
  5. I can participate, helping others manage their attention.

Be Where Attention Falls

My good friend and client Maura Thomas, who is writing the book “Control Your Attention, Control Your Life,” has introduced me to a different way of looking at the time/attention equation that may benefit advertisers.

It seems that we are willing to “kill” time on social networks because it helps us manage our attention.

More and more, we rely on our social graph to keep us in the loop, often 140 characters at a time. Thomas puts this into the category of “attention management.”

The tools we choose and the people we follow make up our attention management strategy. Those places where we implement such strategies – Facebook, Twitter, and Groupon – are “attention-managed zones.”

“Attention wastelands” are those places in which we receive irrelevant information; places that are populated by people and brands that we don’t trust. Prospects must shun these wastelands lest their attention be squandered by fools.

Let me put on my selling face to help persuade you of its value.

Your selling face delivers what your business needs to grow and thrive. If you are afraid to promote your products your online marketing strategies will most likely fail.

Your selling face is a powerful, and you should put it on if you want:

  • More persuasive copy
  • Calls to action that deliver leads and sales
  • A clear focus on reader benefits and less focus on you

If you want captivating headings and pages that turn visitors into readers and then buyers, then put on your selling face today.

Act now and receive a Thinking Face at no additional charge.

Signs that You’re Wearing Your Explaining Face

If you’re new to face management, here are a few signals that you have your explaining face on:

  1. You find yourself telling stories in your writing
  2. You prefer simpler ways to convey a point
  3. You look for more interesting and colorful words
  4. The writing is fun
  5. You feel that you’re helping someone when you click “publish.”

Ironically, these are also the markers of good sales copy, when you should have your selling face on.

Nonetheless, I recommend that you mentally put on your explaining face when you want to write for social media, for your blog or anywhere else that your reader has control.

Your explaining face content will give them reason to stay tuned in.

P. S. Don’t for get to read my ClickZ column Advertising in an Attention-Managed Society.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.