Pause for a moment to think. Are you really making the most of your Google+ presence? As in, are you leveraging Google+ for all its lead gen potential? The most organic way to use Google+ to generate leads is by posting compelling content updates that include links back to your website.
And in order for this to work, you need marketing content that will interest your audience and capture their attention. This includes content such as blog posts, videos, webinars, ebooks and whitepapers, reports, and interviews. When you share compelling content on your Google+ business page, you'll not only engage your audience and generate discussions, but you'll also drive your followers back to your website where they can read/view the entire resource. And from there, you can convert them into leads!
In this article, which is an excerpt from our new, free ebook, 6 Ways to Generate Leads From Google+, featuring insights and best practices from Google+'s team itself, we'll walk you through the steps you should be taking to optimize your content updates and improve your organic lead generation from Google+.
Share Compelling Content
First and foremost, give your followers a reason to visit your page! Share content that grabs their attention and fulfills a need/want, whether it be in their family, personal, or professional lives. A data-driven approach to identifying the types of content you should share is to look at your marketing analytics and identify the most popular pages on your website. For instance, in HubSpot's software, we look at the Landing Page Analytics tool to figure out which marketing offers (e.g. ebooks, webinars, kits, presentations) are most popular. We sort these pages by views and check their conversion rates so we can easily pinpoint the type of content that our audience gravitates toward.
If you haven’t created many marketing offers or you don’t have access to such comprehensive landing page analytics, you can also check out the analytics for your blog. That should give you a good idea of which topics are most popular to your audience. Once you have identified the content that drives the most traffic, use them as fodder to share on Google+. Through this data-driven approach for selecting content, you'll increase the probability of grabbing the attention of your Google+ followers.
Optimize the Timing & Frequency of Your Updates
Posting all your updates at the same time isn't going to do anyone any good. You need to space them out; otherwise, your followers' Google+ feed will get overwhelmed with a sudden flow of content. If you intend to publish 3-4 posts per day, Google explains, make sure you stagger them throughout. This approach is very similar to a marketer’s behavior on other social channels, like Twitter and Facebook.
While there are general industry suggestions for optimal time and frequency of posting, it’s important to test your timing and frequency with your particular audience. You might find that your followers are a bit different in the way they access and engage with information. Look at your target persona(s), and take into consideration their locations, lifestyle habits, and activities. This context will point you in the right direction for discovering when and how often you should be posting content to your Google+ business page.
Google+ Tip: Create a posting schedule, and post an update at least once a day. (HubSpot has even created a customizable, free social media scheduling template to make this process very easy!) The best times to post are between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Remember to +mention (more on this later) others who you may add valuable commentary to your post so they feel the love and share your post with more people.
Learn From Other Successful Companies on Google+
Many companies, like the following two, are making a good use of Google+, using best practices like mentioning specific people in their updates and using hashtags.
The UK chocolate manufacturer Cadbury, which is liked by and in the Circles of close to 2 million people, presents a great case study for using Google+ effectively. Specifically, Cadbury is a good example of how to effectively incorporate hashtags in Google+ updates. You can easily create a hashtag — just start your keyword phrase with the # symbol and don’t use any spaces. While the post below is not designed to directly generate leads for the company, it certainly helps Cadbury increase its following on Google+. Just a few hours after going live, the update had generated more than 140 likes and 60 comments.
With its nearly 18,000 +1s and more than 15,000 followers, SEOmoz is another company that shows us a great example of using Google+ updates the right way. SEOmoz is consistent with its use of Google+ mentions. In the example below, SEOmoz has tagged the author of a blog post featured on its website. This adds a layer of personalization, as Google+ followers can learn more about the authority and experts behind SEOmoz’s writing.
Personalize Your Posts
It turns out that making your posts more personal is a best practice that Google strongly recommends. As we saw with SEOmoz, tagging other Google+ users in your updates is one way to achieve personalization. Let’s look at some other ways:
Mention Other Google+ Users by Adding the + Sign
Simply add a + sign in front of the name of the person who you want to tag, and select the right user profile. By mentioning other Google+ users and pages in your posts, your update will appear in search results when people look for them on Google+. This gives your content even greater reach.
Add Personal Signatures
At HubSpot's we've found that personalized signatures work great in our email marketing. So why don’t you try incorporating them in your Google+ updates? Signing your posts with your name gives your page more personality and enables the user to identify with the people behind your content.
Use Your Own Voice
Be consistent in the language and tone you use across the various different social networks you participate in, as well as on your blog and other marketing assets. Make sure that your voice represents the identity of your company, and also engages your audience so it sparks discussions.
Optimize Visual Content for Lead Generation
Visual content on Google+ can open up a lot of lead generation possibilities. Similar to Facebook's new timeline design, on Google+, you have the ability to add a cover photo and a profile image to your business page. You can also create albums with visuals, and leverage the 'Videos' tab to add clips. The trick -- for lead generation -- is to always accompany your visual content with a link back to a landing page on your site.
The important thing to remember with visual content and video, is that there are two pieces of real estate to which you can add your landing page link:
- Add a landing page link to the actual image/video.
- Add a landing page link to the description of the image/video.
By adding links to both of these locations, you'll increase the chances of Google+ users clicking on the link and visiting your landing page. In other words, you'll drive more traffic to your website that you can then focus on converting into leads. To make this work, of course, you need to share compelling visual and video content. Google+ recommends sharing exclusive photos and videos with your fans and followers. Don’t forget that you can edit your photos directly in Google+ and can even share animated GIF images — a great way to draw attention to your page.
Now let's look at a few great examples of companies using the above mentioned lead generation tactics in their visual and video content. We will also cover a few companies that have compelling cover and profile photos to instantly capture the attention of their Google+ visitors.
Adding Links to Image Descriptions
In its public album 'Trend Update, 2012,' H&M took advantage of the best practice to include links in the descriptions of its featured photos. The fashion brand not only showcases some of its trendy recommendations, but also tells people where they can learn more about these items and potentially purchase them. “See our latest trend collection at http://bit.ly/OsL5bT,” reads one call-to-action in H&M’s photo album.
Adding Links to Actual Images
Don’t forget that your visuals themselves can feature links! If you think that the message you're trying to convey can benefit from a reference to a specific page, then go ahead and feature a URL. This is especially easy to do if you're using an image of your logo for branding
purposes. Below, check out how The New York Times managed to incorporate a link right beneath its logo.
Adding Links to Your Videos
In this example, General Electric is featuring a video on its Google+ page. The company is following best practices by including a hashtag in its update and even mentioning specific Google+ users in the comments section. If you play the video, you will see that it features a link to get further engaged with G E— this is their call-to-action. One recommendation
we have for GE is to also include its desired link in the description of the video as they post it on Google+. This would increase the chances of people clicking through and learning more about the stories behind GE.
Etsy is another company that has shown us great use of video calls-to-action on Google+. In the example below, Etsy showcases its most recent product feature and also links to the page on its business' website where users can get access to the feature.
Surprise Users With Unique Visuals
You can also capture people’s attention with some creative and unorthodox visuals. Verizon, for instance, features five individual animated GIFs on its Google+ Page that come together to convey one message. Since this is something new and unexpected in this virtual environment, it grabs the attention of the user and directs them to take a specific action, which in this case would be to check out Verizon Wireless for faster movies, music, and apps.
Forever 21 is another company that used animated GIFs to make its cover picture stand out.
Are you effectively optimizing and leveraging your best content for maximum Google+ lead generation?
Originally published Jul 31, 2012 8:09:00 AM, updated March 21 2013