The Social Age

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the January 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

The Social Age is here. If you’re not taking full advantage of the tools and technologies that social platforms have to offer, you and your company are likely to be left behind as the competition leaps ahead. Now well into its infancy, the Social Age is and will be making a tremendous impact on the sales industry, especially within the world of direct selling. The changes already cannot be ignored.

Technology drives everything—recruitment, retention and revenue—for most companies. Those businesses that realize what they can achieve when all of their internal, back office, social media, field tools and software systems work together are equipped to innovate and leverage essential data that will let them thrive in the future.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram are potent tools that companies and consultants are learning to use as they build connections with customers and grow sales. Other apps such as Periscope and Google Hangout are gaining traction, too. Yet many executives and companies are slow to embrace these advances. A study from and Domo finds that 68 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence. Among the 30 percent who do, they only use one social channel. Here LinkedIn was the chosen platform.

In contrast to that study, it does appear that C-level executives within direct selling are more plugged in to the benefits of these engagement tools. A recent study conducted among members by the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA), titled The 2015 Managing Your Company’s Web Presence and Technology Systems Survey, indicates that nearly six in 10 companies surveyed report that one or more of their chief-level executives have company-associated social media accounts that they actively engage in
(57 percent).

Additionally, over half of those also indicate that the chief executives create the content for those accounts. At Scentsy, the Idaho-based wickless candle company, it’s common for an executive to personally respond to field achievements or post in conversations on Facebook, the social media platform most used by Scentsy Consultants.

Rick Stambaugh, Chief Information Officer at Utah-based company USANA, refers to the focus of today as “Digital Humanism.” He says, “The consumer-driven Internet of things has many components, but the most prominent one is social.”

As direct sellers work toward more fully embracing the Social Age and everything that comes with it, a few things are clear…

Click here to read the full article in Direct Selling News.


Facebook Taps Stella & Dot in Trial Run of New Business Offering

“Facebook” and “work” might seem like a contradiction in terms, but the social media giant is looking to unite the two with the rollout of its new service, Facebook At Work. The company’s San Francisco Bay Area neighbor Stella & Dot is one of several businesses testing the product ahead of its official launch.

Facebook At Work, an enterprise version of the classic network, is Facebook’s answer to popular collaboration tools such as Microsoft’s Yammer, Slack, Asana, and Chatter at Salesforce. The service enables companies to create their own networks, with employee profiles that resemble regular Facebook profiles. The color scheme—one of Facebook At Work’s few distinguishing characteristics—might help to ease the minds of those in management. Profiles on the new interface are shaded white instead of the company’s signature blue.

The team at accessories seller Stella & Dot has always embraced social media in its day-to-day business, according to Vice President of Product Meera Bhatia. Field-facing employees heavily use Facebook, in particular, to communicate with the brand’s Independent Business Owners, who often build their businesses via social media. Earlier this year, Facebook approached Stella & Dot about leveraging the platform internally in a pilot of its new enterprise team software.

“Employees instantly gravitated towards using Facebook At Work and made it their own,” Bhatia told DSN. “It’s really helping teams stay connected in an unstructured way and helping to build the sense of community across our global offices.”

Stella & Dot rolled out Facebook At Work to its full team of about 400 employees in August. To access the platform, users sign in through a separate portal on the desktop or the Facebook At Work apps for iOS and Android devices. Like the classic version, the service features a company-wide News Feed, individual and group chat, Groups and Events. Employees also can communicate through direct messages, voice and video calls, and screen-sharing capabilities.

“Employees have created many affinity groups for purposes ranging from inter-team communication to developing a running club,” said Bhatia. “Our most popular group by far is ‘Stella Shout Outs,’ where employees call out their fellow employees for different accomplishments. It’s great to see this happening at the employee level versus being driven by management.”

Though Facebook unveiled the B2B offering in January, no date has been set for an official launch. The company did announce Monday that it is bringing on its biggest business yet, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which plans to connect all 30,000 of its employees to the network by March 2016. RBS participated in a trial of Facebook At Work that yielded a 90 percent adoption rate among employees, the company told TechCrunch. Facebook is not yet charging companies for the service, but the social network plans to monetize around a freemium business model.

The Future of Direct Selling in the U.S.

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the October 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Direct selling in the United States is undergoing a transformation fueled by innovative approaches rooted in classic business practices. The power generators leading the way for direct selling as a channel of distribution can be found in what Direct Selling News has identified as the upper middle market: those companies with annual sales roughly between $300 million and $1 billion.

Because most direct selling companies are privately held and many decline to disclose their financial results, it is difficult to create a definitive list. Our research honed in on a group of more than 30 U.S.-based companies, most of which are experiencing significant growth. Some of them are on the cusp of reaching $300 million, and some likely have recently passed the $1 billion mark. But together they are critical to direct selling’s competitiveness and future. They tend to be among the fastest growing when it comes to revenue, and they account for a large slice of the job creation pie.

An in-depth analysis of this group reveals a high level of consistency when it comes to executing on key common strengths. The ability of these companies to focus in on products, customers, serving their salesforce and creating a culture that reinforces a sense of family put them on track to shape the future of direct selling in the U.S.

Companies emphasize each area in different ways, but in general these leaders:

  • Harness data. The upper middle market knows how to mine the data it has to gain insights that lead to more and better sales. Executives train leaders and consultants to use data to open doors that might otherwise remain closed.
  • Stay true to classic business practices. Technology and social media do not replace person-to-person interactions, they complement them. Upper mid-market firms build relationships with customers that maintain the consultant-client affiliation but also allow the customer to have a connection with the company itself.
  • Use compensation plans that span all levels of engagement. To cultivate trust and long-term relationships, comp plans are created to appeal to new customers, product enthusiasts, fierce advocates and influencers—all the way up to the entrepreneur who is all in. Payments also follow a more modern schedule.
  • Foster an entrepreneurial spirit. Consultants are allowed and encouraged to go far with personal marketing (think YouTube videos) while maintaining brand identity. Companies deliver superior and frequent training and messaging to make this happen.
  • Maintain a laser-focus on selling. The sale of a product, a group experience or an opportunity all lead to more sales, which generate positive results.

No matter the specific approach, one thing all upper middle market companies excel at is …

Click here to read the full article at Direct Selling News.



Q&A: Younique Opens for Business in Germany

Younique, the fast-growing beauty brand known for its virtual parties, is opening this month in Germany, its second European market. Outside the U.S., the company also operates in the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Founded in September 2012, Younique identifies as a mission-first beauty company dedicated to uplifting, empowering and validating women through its products and business opportunity. The Utah-based brand currently has more than 265,000 Presenters marketing its wares via social media. Younique’s Director of International Market Development, Jordan Meyer, spoke to DSN about bringing the virtual business to a new market.

DSN: What does launching a new market on social media look like? How do you get the momentum going?

JM: We have an army of women who are on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. When we launch a new market, they’ve all got their various strategies, and they don’t let the barrier of a new country stop them from their business activities. Social media platforms are really conducive to cross-border growth.

DSN: What makes Germany a good fit for Younique?

JM: When we select markets, we choose places where our Presenters can be successful, where consumers in those markets use the same social media platforms our current Presenters use. We look at a variety of metrics, such as social media footprint, makeup market size, direct selling makeup market size, and especially how much e-commerce happens in the country. We also look for markets where our current presenters have relationships and business ties.

DSN: When it comes to international expansions, what is the most significant challenge you’ve encountered so far?

JM: International expansion is just hard. It’s hard when you’re talking about new languages, and as a company this year we’re entering Mexico and Germany. The whole organization has to adapt when we’re using a new language, and because we don’t know the language we feel like we lose some control. To sum it up in one word, localization is a big challenge.

DSN: Younique is in a pre-launch phase in Mexico, where you’ll officially open in October. Are there any other expansions on the horizon?

JM: Yes! At our recent convention, we announced that we will be opening in France next year. We’re looking at the first half of 2016.

Guts Lead to Glory at Usborne Books & More

by Barbara Seale

Click here to order the March 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profile

Founded: 1989
Headquarters: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Executives: Founder and CEO Randall White and Vice President Heather Cobb
Products: Educational children’s books

 Randall White and Heather Cobb

Randall White and Heather Cobb

It was a David and Goliath decision—one that would make any direct seller proud. More importantly, it set the stage for growth for Usborne Books & More, one of the direct selling industry’s few book sellers.

Usborne Books & More (UBAM) is the direct selling division of Educational Development Corp. (EDC), which has been in business in the United States since 1978. It sells children’s educational books primarily at parties, and some of the consultants also sell at book fairs, as well as to libraries and schools. UBAM has always been a bit of a rebel-with-a-cause, gaining its first steady market of home schoolers and being led by outspoken EDC CEO and Usborne Books & More Founder Randall White. The thorn in its side:

Amazon was buying EDC’s books primarily from a wholesaler and slashing the retail price to the bone, including large orders sold to libraries and schools. If you’ve ever thumbed through a book at a retail store but then purchased it online at Amazon to save a couple of bucks, you have done what some Usborne Books & More customers have also done—much to the chagrin of UBAM consultants.

When the Usborne Books & More consultants who sold to schools and libraries—about 20 percent of the company’s business—encountered the practice, it didn’t just frustrate them. It threatened their business. The consultant might have gone through layers and layers of administration, making repeated presentations on book collections, getting enthusiastic, positive feedback, only to have the library make its final purchase through Amazon. It’s not a situation that leads to consultant retention. By 2012 the practice hit the company hard. Consultants started quitting, and sales dropped 20 percent.

By early 2012 White had had enough. He asked the wholesaler, which at the time accounted for 20 percent of EDC’s sales, to stop selling the company’s books through the online retailer. The wholesaler refused, but White was determined. He cancelled its account, all but eliminating the sale of EDC’s books directly from

Usborne Books & More has now recorded 19 consecutive months of growth, with the past six months each posting monthly gains in excess of 40 percent over the same months in 2013.

Growth Genesis

The action was bold, and it spoke loudly to UBAM’s consultants. They loved it. It told them that White had their backs. Even though slinging a stone at giant Amazon was a risky move, as White told The New York Times in his characteristic style, “You never have the chance to make 7,000 women happy in one day.”

White calls it the most important action he, as the company’s founder, has ever taken. Consultants were energized to hold more parties and approach more schools and libraries, knowing that consumers would purchase from them, rather than online. That confidence led to recruiting, as well. Fueled by additional incentives from Usborne Books & More, selling and recruiting have increased, creating a snowball effect. Growth has hit an all-time high. Since its low point in 2012, the company more than doubled its number of active consultants by the end of 2014 and now has 8,000 active consultants. More importantly, growth has continued.

From February to June 2014 revenue grew more than … Click here to read the full story at Direct Selling News.

Party Plans on Fire

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the December 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Ignited by emotional connections forged with customers, access to products once only available at expensive salons and an embrace of social media, a handful of party plan companies are seeing their business boom—with no signs of a slowdown.

Nail wrap creator Jamberry, beauty products firm Younique, personalized jewelry maker Origami Owl and two newcomers—jewelry boutique Chelsea Row and nontoxic cosmetics maker Beautycounter—are experiencing significant advances in profits and popularity at a time when overall growth for the party plan model is stuck in a plateau.

Data from the U.S. Direct Selling Association’s 2014 growth and outlook report reveals that between 2008 and 2013, party plans dropped from 26 percent to 23 percent of market share as a direct selling platform.

“Home parties in terms of their success are fairly cyclical,” says DSA President Joe Mariano. “When we think it is hitting a low point that is when we see a rebirth.”

While 40 million business-related fan pages exist on Facebook, only 17 percent are equipped to sell directly through the social media channel. This is where direct selling has an edge.

Top-Ranked Companies

These five standout companies are evidence of that resurgence. Two of them—Jamberry and Younique—are in the Top 10 six-month trend rankings at and, which track public interest and Internet popularity of most party plan direct sellers.

Jamberry reports revenue is more than $10 million a year. Younique’s distributors have said the company sold more than $25 million in September, up from $1 million in December 2013.

Origami Owl is consistently listed in the Top 5 for overall rankings at both sites. It posted 2013 revenue of $233 million and grew by 870 percent for the year. As a reflection of this growth it was ranked at No. 50 on the 2014 DSN Global 100 and received the DSN Bravo Growth Award Based on Percentage this year.

Chelsea Row, launched in September 2014, is too new to have its own rankings. A spinoff of e-commerce selling platform company Kitsy Lane, Chelsea Row is turning the traditional home party on its head with vParty—a truly immersive, real-time virtual party that lets guests shop together online while being connected on audio and video.

Beautycounter launched in March 2013 and offers a safe and nontoxic line of skincare products that work. The company now counts 4,000 consultants in more than 44 states, with 23 percent average monthly revenue growth. Between January and October 2014, Beautycounter posted 424 percent sales growth.

Beautycounter’s “Never List” is “a robust roundup of ingredients that you will never find in Beautycounter products,” as many are known or believed to cause irritation, allergic reactions or cancer.

Embracing Social Media

The founding philosophies of these companies are rooted in a desire to better the lives of women by empowering them with products that aid self-expression and by providing the flexibility, resources and training needed to build a career. Each utilizes social media such as Facebook to drive sales, although the strategy is different for each business.

To maintain growth, diving deep into social media selling is likely to yield even larger dividends. Here’s why: An analysis by marketing firm Vocus projects that by 2015, half of all web transactions will occur through social media, accounting for an estimated $30 billion in sales. While 40 million business-related fan pages exist on Facebook, only 17 percent are equipped to sell directly through the social media channel. This is where direct selling has an edge.

The Power of Virtual Parties

Jamberry, Younique and Origami Owl use the Facebook event model to host virtual parties.

Younique sells almost exclusively on social media. Jamberry and Origami Owl independent consultants use Facebook events to supplement the home party experience. Origami Owl Chief Sales Officer Sandy Spielmaker says the technology “extends the reach of the home party.”

Best known for its 3D fiber lashes, Younique built its selling model on virtual parties for two reasons, Co-Founder Melanie Huscroft says. “The overall feeling among women was they are so over the traditional home party and having to clean the house, make the food and send their husband and kids away,” she says. “The virtual platform allows the invite list to be limitless, and location doesn’t matter.”

Virtual parties typically run for seven to 10 days, with independent consultants making frequent posts to encourage interest and spotlight products. Consultants do not carry inventory. They sell through their own branded e-commerce websites.

Many consultants also create videos or use those provided by Younique, Jamberry or Origami Owl to explain how to use the products and suggest ways to mix them up to create new styles. Guests link to these videos through the Facebook event page for their specific party.

The model is working for Younique. In the near future, its virtual party model will also work on other social media platforms, such as Twitter and Pinterest. At 2 years old, Younique now counts 121,285 presenters in five markets. When it entered the U.K. on Oct. 1, 999 presenters signed up within 26 minutes.

Huscroft says people want to sell Younique because of its “simple and generous” compensation plan. Younique pays presenters within three hours of making a sale. Each presenter receives a bank account and a Younique debit card.

“It doesn’t matter what the compensation plan is from a corporate perspective. Everyone pays out … Click here to read the full article





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3 Keys to a Powerful Event Experience

by John Killacky

Click here to order the September 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Another year, another convention. How will this year’s event be different? What can you do to bring fresh excitement and new energy? It’s not as daunting as it may seem. Take a deep breath. You got this.

When you focus on three important elements of your event, you can provide your guests (and even those who can’t come) an impactful, meaningful—and fun—event experience. Let’s start by identifying your event’s stakeholders and what’s important to each of them.

The Players

Your guests: Each consultant who registers for, travels to, and attends your event comes in search of something. Information, celebration, fun—whatever it is, they’ll take it back home with them, and it will affect their business. So it’d better be good.

Your organization: You have important messaging to deliver. That means what’s said, how it’s said, how it looks and how it feels to the audience.

Your boss: C-suite execs want to see that the number of attendees is robust, their enjoyment is obvious, the event is polished and effective, and the budget remains intact. No pressure.

Can all those objectives be met? Absolutely, when you focus on three simple elements: pre-event prep, fabulous recognition and social media.

Plan Ahead

The importance of thorough pre-event preparation can’t be overstated. Once you’ve determined the “skeleton” of your event—who, what, when, where—you can begin talking with production companies. You know what’s most important to your company and this specific event; ask the questions that matter most, and listen carefully when they talk about their experience. Have they worked with companies in your industry? What do they bring to the table that others don’t? What kind of people are they; what’s their corporate culture? How do they handle changes in direction, and onsite challenges?

Ask for samples of their work and references from other clients—and then take a few minutes to call those clients. And, do a gut-check: Would you enjoy working with them? This is a big decision; you’re entrusting the success of your event in large part to this company. Again, no pressure.

The importance of thorough pre-event preparation can’t be overstated.

Let’s assume now that you’ve chosen an event partner that fits. Congratulations! Now, make full use of the partnership—that’s why you have them. Give them full access to your team and execs; being fully invested in the partnership will make your event even stronger. Ensure that they know your company, your mission and your execs (and what’s important to each of them). Collaborate with your production partner to create meaningful content. In your event “skeleton,” you’ve determined the direction, the tone and the look you want. Work with your event team to bring those concepts to life in onstage content, video and graphic support. Push them to make it everything you’ve envisioned. That’s their job.

Rock-Star Treatment

One of the most important parts of an annual convention or an incentive trip is recognition—the sweet sound of applause (and their own name) as honorees take their walk of fame. What could be better?

Doing recognition right is so important! It’s exciting for the individuals being recognized, it’s aspirational for the guests watching the awards ceremony, and it’s a chance for your company to truly thank and honor those individuals who make you shine. Your top achievers are the face of your company to their customers; you want those faces to be smiling and happy.

Your production company should know how important recognition is to your audience and honorees, and make it a priority in pre-event planning. Creating a memorable experience start-to-finish for each honoree is important. It can—and should—be awesome from backstage to onstage. There are very real and very important reasons that they’re onstage. They’ve racked up incredible sales or sponsoring numbers. They’ve met goals, they’ve made new commitments or they’ve partnered with your organization’s charitable efforts to change the world. Whatever it is, they’ve excelled. And their moment in the spotlight should be all excitement, and zero stress.

Make sure your event partner takes care with each honoree so that they’re comfortable and know what’s going to happen. Where they’ll wait backstage, how they’ll know it’s time to walk out, who will escort them, where they should stand. The more they know, the more they can relax and enjoy the experience. And the harder they’ll work to get back onstage next year!

Also there’s this: Check, double-check, and triple-check that names are spelled and pronounced correctly. Amazingly, this doesn’t always get checked, and it’s a real downer for the honoree when that happens. Do whatever it takes to make them feel like the rock stars they are!

Pin, Post, Tweet, Share

Social media: It’s not just for breakfast anymore. You’ve used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and your company’s website to drive attendance to your event. Now you’re done, right? Actually, you’re just getting started.

Social media can be a living, evolving, exciting part of your event, throughout the entire event experience. It seems appropriate to use a statistic now, so here it is: Nearly 75 percent of all Americans are actively engaged in social media, including your guests. Don’t tell them to turn off their phones—engage them!

There are many different social media platforms, and you should know those that your consultants use the most. Just think: Each platform is a new way to directly reach consumers, consultants and event attendees. You’re nodding your head. Yes, that makes sense. But few organizations use social media to its maximum advantage at their events.

Just about everything you do for event guests can also be accessed and enjoyed by those who couldn’t come. They’ll stay connected to the event and to your organization, and—fingers crossed—they’ll make sure they attend the event next year.

Post (and tag!) photos of new products, displays, field presenters and crowd excitement on Facebook. Keep your YouTube channel up-to-the-minute current with videos of the CEO’s speech, an amazing recognition segment, new product reveals and all of the excitement in the convention center hallways. You may want to consider creating an app specific to your event—for instance, the event agenda. It’s hip, happenin’ and green. All the cool kids are doing it.

Create a fun, interactive digital scavenger hunt in which attendees earn points throughout the event by “checking in” at different displays or sessions, or taking a selfie with a sales field leader, or scanning a product display. Draw for prizes on Twitter rather than on the stage. Have the CEO or other execs answer questions via live tweets throughout the event. Create an event-specific hashtag.

Sometimes social media is considered “anti-social” because we’re all looking down at our phones, clicking and scrolling. Done the right way, it can actually create a more communal experience at your event—and well beyond.

Nearly 75 percent of all Americans are actively engaged in social media, including your guests. Don’t tell them to turn off their phones—engage them!

It’s a Wrap

So there you go. The three ways you can ensure a great event experience for your guests and a solid return on the investment you’ve made.

  • Solid pre-event prep
  • Rock-star recognition
  • Effective use of social media

Do your homework, trust your event partner and enjoy building an event that’ll leave them more excited—and more productive—than ever.

Jeff Turney

John Killacky is Managing Director, National Sales & Marketing at Bartha. Bartha is a leading provider of high-quality events, production and staging for the direct selling industry.

Today’s Shifting Direct Selling Landscape

by Michelle Larter

Click here to order the July 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Increasingly, brands are using mobile and social as channels to interact and engage with customers and prospects. In the direct selling industry, consultants and brands continue to embrace the opportunities each provides to better run their businesses and drive leads. But just how much have these two impacted the way direct selling organizations do business—and what further changes can we expect to see this year?

Three shifts we are already seeing can be found in the use of social media, mobile devices and analytics.

Social Media Shift: From Facebook to More Private Channels

Social media today has become one of the primary ways that messages are getting out now. Any brand lacking a social media strategy today is at risk of becoming obsolete, as consumers increasingly discover and interact with brands through these channels. However, the social media landscape is changing, and what has worked in the past couple of years is no longer a guaranteed approach.

Consider Facebook. The popular social media site’s saturation has caused 20- to 30-somethings to increasingly utilize more “private” channels, including Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest, to connect with peers. In fact, according to Nate Elliott, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc., consumers interact with brand posts on Instagram at a rate that far surpasses the interaction rates produced on Facebook and Twitter. This could mean that while Facebook has helped direct selling organizations and their consultants drive customer acquisition and sales with 20- to 30-somethings in recent years, it may not continue to generate the same level of results—and establishing or growing a presence on other social media platforms will be more effective.

The key for maintaining a successful social media presence is to understand where your customers are most active and provide them with valuable and relevant messages tailored to each social media outlet in order to cultivate those relationships. Instagram, for instance, provides an opportunity for a jewelry consultant to provide images of each piece being worn in order to showcase the versatility and real-life appearance of the jewelry for sale. On Pinterest, the same consultant can not only create boards showcasing all of the jewelry looks, but can also show her individual style suggestions. This enables her to show her creative side and projects an image to her customers that she can be a resource for accessorizing.

The key for maintaining a successful social media presence is to understand where your customers are most active and provide them with valuable and relevant messages in order to cultivate those relationships.

The content-sharing opportunities made possible through social media are compelling, and direct selling organizations and consultants who use them strategically can find that they truly engage with customers and prospects in new and fun ways, even as their social media preferences change.

Mobility Shift: Consumers—and Consultants—Are Always On

Mobile devices are increasingly an integral part of everyday life. And while mobile devices serve many purposes, both personal and professional, one of their most common uses is to access email anytime, anywhere. This can be an important point for the direct selling industry. The key is providing relevant and engaging content to keep them interested and informed.

But it’s not just consumers who are impacted by the increasingly mobile landscape. Consultants are using iPads and tablets to run their businesses—conducting presentations on them at parties and using them for order management. We are starting to see a shift where printed materials—catalogs, order forms, invoices—are increasingly becoming electronic.

Think about the advantages: If you are hosting a party, you can easily look up information and show additional products that may not be showcased in the catalogs or as part of the live demonstration. Even if they are, it’s likely that online you can show multiple product images, giving the potential customer a clearer picture of the product. Order management is easier for both parties and processing is quicker, as well.

Outside of parties, consultants are more likely to be prepared for anytime sales, since most won’t leave home without their mobile devices (but may leave home without their product portfolio and paper order forms). The ability to immediately show customers what you are selling, even in moments when you least expect a potential sale, is changing the direct selling game!

Analytics Shift: Tracking ROI and Driving Leads

Consultants who are serious about marketing are increasingly using tools to help track ROI and drive leads. Along with managing their own social sites, consultants are increasingly tracking ROI on Google Analytics to see what’s working and what’s not by examining where their site visitors are coming from, how long they are staying on their site and how many are converting to leads. They’re using Facebook Graph Search as a new way to find new prospects and drive leads. This service helps users find more of the people, places and things they’re looking for and discover new connections based on what others have shared with them. They’re measuring the success of each of their email newsletters by examining open and click-through rates. All of this data is more readily available to consultants, who are increasingly empowered to track their successes and determine the most effective strategies for driving leads and sales. As more and more data analytics tools become available, the direct selling industry will continue to be impacted by the insight they provide.

As direct selling continues to evolve, the same overarching lessons remain true: Staying in front of the customer, delivering relevance and engaging with them via their preferred channels will be the key for driving direct selling success. While technology shifts can impact the communication channels, the same best practices ring true.

Michele LarterMichelle Larter is the Worldwide Director, Direct Selling, at IMN Inc. Larter has more than 20 years of experience in sales, including more than 10 years specifically with direct sales. She is a contributing writer to direct selling and technology publications and a frequent speaker at industry events. IMN Inc. was awarded the prestigious 2013 DSA Ethos Award for Partnership.