Constant Contact Helps SMBs Manage Social Media Marketing

Small business owners can drive social word-of-mouth with new a product called Social Campaigns.

Constant Contact (NASDAQ: CTCT) is a company well-known for its engagement marketing tools -- most notably for email marketing. This week it launched Social Campaigns, a new product that allows small businesses to create, run and manage social media marketing campaigns on Facebook and to syndicate those campaigns to other marketing channels.

Small businesses use social media sites -- Facebook in particular -- for marketing, and ecommerce site owners know the value in this massively popular online social site. According to Shop.org's 2011 Social Commerce Study, forty-two percent of online consumers have followed a retailer proactively through Facebook, Twitter or a retailer's blog, and the average person follows about six retailers.

For small business owners, the problem isn't in creating and using a Facebook Business Page, it's in knowing how to find real business results from the social media marketing investment.

"We know from our last Fall Attitudes and Outlook Survey that 81 percent of respondents use social media marketing," said Mark Schmulen, general manager of social media for Constant Contact. "The number of SMBs using social media marketing is enormous and it's on the rise -- but if you ask if they are finding success with it, most will tell you they're not really sure."

Other key findings from the "Fall 2011 Attitudes and Outlook Survey," is that of the small business respondents who use social media marketing, Facebook continues to be the tool of choice with 96 percent reporting that they use the tool.

With more than 800 million active users and increased usage of this popular social networking site by small businesses, Facebook social media marketing is the main focus of Constant Contact's Social Campaigns.

How It Works for Small Businesses

The new Social Campaigns tool is designed to help small businesses get real business results from social media marketing, primarily by creating a Facebook social marketing campaign. This consists of a professional-looking Facebook landing page to encourage users to "Like" you on the site and share your brand with their friends.

There are seven pre-designed campaigns to help get your small business marketing started quickly. Ecommerce businesses can choose one of the campaigns, such as coupon discount, downloadable content or a product showcase, depending on the specific marketing goal.  Social Campaigns includes a robust editor that lets you edit the campaign to include your own text, images, video and other assets to personalize the social message to your business and brand.

You can also syndicate the Social Campaign you create to other marketing channels, including email, LinkedIn and Twitter.  To help small business owners determine the value of their social media marketing efforts, Social Campaigns also provides reporting tools, something that is not always a standard feature in social marketing tools.

Typically, as a small business owner, you would use Facebook insights (Facebook's own reporting and analytics tool) to see how many people are engaging with your Facebook Page.  Back-end reporting, however, is extremely important to any small businesses owner trying to gauge the effectiveness of social media marketing efforts.

Reporting in Social Campaigns provides the details you want to see and what is directly related to campaign effectiveness. For example, you'll see things like how well your social campaign works in terms of growing your Facebook Likes, how well it helps you acquire mailing list subscribers and how many people visit a page as part of the campaign or how many participate and share it with their friends.

On your Facebook Page, the Social Campaigns product remains active, even when a specific campaign has ended so that your page always offers a professional-looking landing page for visitors to Like. This is a default "Welcome Campaign" that you can customize to encourage people to Like your page and to stay up-to-date on news and special offers.

"What's nice about this is when your campaign is over and you don't have another scheduled, the system automatically displays that default welcome," said Schmulen. "New visitors to your page will still be greeting by a beautiful and professional landing page that is designed to entice them to Like you on Facebook or join your mailing list."

Social Campaigns is currently available by private invitation but Constant Contact expects to release the product to the general public in early 2012. Pricing is not yet available.

More Facebook Small Business Ecommerce Tips

Looking to get a better handle on integrating Facebook into your small business ecommerce marketing plan? Try these Facebook tips and guides for small business ecommerce sites:

 Vangie Beal is a veteran online seller and frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com. You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG.

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