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How to Choose Who to Follow on Twitter

Although most of marketing, including Twitter marketing, is a big numbers game, that approach isn’t always successful: More leads don’t always equate to more sales. Choosing who to follow on Twitter helps you refine your audience so that you get better leads.

Direct mail typically has a response rate of 1 percent. So, for every 100 pieces of mail that you send out, one person responds. If you want to get 100 responses, you need to send out 10,000 pieces. If you want 1,000 responses, you need to send out 100,000 pieces, and so on.

When you use targeted direct mail, you send mail pieces only to people who are likely to buy your product, which can reduce the number of pieces you send and help improve your response rate.

Say that you sell gardening tools by catalog. You want to send those catalogs to people who do gardening because they’re more likely to buy your products. You probably send catalogs to everyone in a certain zip code, assuming that they have a certain level of disposable income based on the property values in that zip code.

However, doing a bit more research, you find out that people who do gardening are commonly either married women or retired men. You can use this information to narrow your target. But your chosen zip code still includes plenty of apartments; these folks probably don’t garden. And a lot of married women and retired men don’t garden, either.

To further enhance your list, you can consider other elements: people who fill out a survey indicating an interest in gardening, people who subscribe to a gardening magazine, and maybe even people who buy seeds from a seed catalog.

Just by defining and refining who your customers are, you can go from sending out 100,000 catalogs (at, say, $2 apiece to print, plus almost $1 per catalog for sorting and mailing costs) to sending out 5,000 catalogs only to people who are likely to buy from you. Instead of getting a typical 0.5 percent response rate (500 people responding to 100,000 catalogs) while spending nearly $300,000, targeted marketing makes you more likely to get a 10 percent response rate (still 500 people, but responding to only 5,000 catalogs), meaning that you have to spend only $15,000.

You can boost your Twitter click-through rate by using this same philosophy. Make sure that you only follow people who consider you worth following. Don’t try to boost your follower count by following anyone and everyone. Also, don’t get sucked into one of those get-followers-fast programs. If you have a small group of people who are interested in you, you’ll have a much higher click-through rate (and thus, higher sales) than you’d have with a Twitter “empire” of 10,000 followers who couldn’t care less about your tweets.

Take it one step further, and block the people who don’t add any value to your Twitter marketing efforts.

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