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Social Selling Advice for Product Sales

Jenna asks, “What’s a tactic you’ve used on social media that has boosted product sales the most?”

Three things work on social media for me to drive product sales. None is actually selling something on social channels themselves.

Before we begin, let’s clarify: this is what works for me. This is not universal advice. This is not even a recommendation. This is what I have seen work based on the data I have to work with, and based on what I sell, like books, courses, and marketing consulting services.

Build Your Brand To Sell Stuff

First, social media is a conduit to build brand. As mentioned previously, brand is the true heart of inbound marketing – and inbound selling. If no one remembers who you are, what you do, or why they should trust you, you won’t sell a thing. Building your brand on social media by following the 3 Es is mission #1.

For those who haven’t heard it, the three Es are:

  • Educate
  • Engage
  • Entertain

If you don’t do at least one of those three, your social media efforts will be rather fruitless.

Drive the Alternate Sale

The second thing that works on social media to drive sales for me is the alternate sale: email. I’ve been saying this since my days at Blue Sky Factory 11 years ago – email is the alternate sale. If you can’t get someone to buy something, get someone to subscribe to your email list, so that you stay in touch. 11 years ago, social media algorithms were already fickle. Today, powered by massive neural networks and advanced AI, they’re almost completely opaque. The chances of us being able to rely on unpaid or even paid social media reach are small and growing smaller by the day.

So, when you have someone’s attention, present them with a low-barrier, no-cost sale – subscribing to an email list (or text messaging list, or some means of communication that you own). Heck, these days, if you have the budget for it, you could even ask someone to subscribe with a postal mail address – the amount of marketing material in direct physical mail is relatively low and you might even capture someone’s attention.

Once you’ve earned the right to reach out to someone, send them high quality content and include your sales outreach there. Put ads in your own newsletter for yourself. Occasionally send a hard sales pitch (like the intentionally terrible one I sent out recently just asking people what they needed help with). For the last 2 years, email has been the strongest driver of sales by a very wide margin for my company.

Examine Your Own Data

The third thing that works is to not blindly listen to advice. Look at your own data. What works for me will not necessarily work for you. What will work for you is lurking already in your data and analytics, as long as you’re collecting the right data.

Here’s an example. These are the channels that convert on my personal website:

Google Analytics attribution model

Organic search drives the most conversions, followed by email, followed by my social shares. Now, one would think my company would look similar, right?

Google Analytics attribution model 2

VERY different! Slack, which is absent from my personal website’s attribution model, is the most prominent non-email channel in the company’s attribution model.

If I blindly followed just my own personal website’s data – which would not be an unreasonable thing to do – I would potentially miss out on other things that convert even better. These two digital entities, despite being very closely related, have radically different attribution models and need different strategies to create sales.

If two closely related things operate so differently, can you imagine blindly following advice from an entity that isn’t closely related to your business?

Test, Test, Test

All this advice shouldn’t be taken blindly. No advice ever should. Take the ideas shared here and test in your company. Measure carefully what works and what doesn’t work to move product sales.


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