Archive for ‘General Marketing’

October 16th, 2014

An In-Depth Guide on How to Use Social Media for B2B Lead Generation

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A common complaint children have is that, while there’s a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, there’s no “Kid’s Day.” What’s worse, parents will always answer the same thing – “Every day is Kid’s Day!”

Why shouldn’t there be a “Kids Day”? There should be a day, week, or month to reflect on, or celebrate, any aspect of our lives that brings us great joy.

Do kids not bring us joy?

With this thought in mind, Oktopost (the company I work for) decided to take one month of the year and use it to reflect on the awesome benefits that social media provides us B2B marketers.

And thus was born Oktober.

So why would B2B social media marketing warrant an entire month? Think about how far we’ve come since the “old” days of B2B marketing. Think about the things we do today that could have never been done before. Think about the speed at which we can send out content to thousands of people, the doors that can be opened with the simple click of a button, the pinpointed audience targeting that we are able to achieve. None of these things would be possible without social media.

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So what really makes social media so great for B2B marketers?

Let’s me count the ways:

1. Networking

In business it is often more about who you know, rather than what you know. As such, networking was, is, and will most likely continue to be, the backbone of business. Historically, building a network required world travel, industry events, and requesting intros from friends. With the advent of social media, B2B marketers can grow their networks of connections from the comfort of their own homes.

They are called social networks for a reason; they are meant to be a place for people to connect with other like-minded people. It is certain that Mark Zuckerberg did not predict Facebook would one day become a channel for B2B marketers to distribute content and network with potential customers, but that’s exactly what happened.

People use the word “Rolodex” figuratively now, as in “He cultivated a huge Rolodex of connections.” The modern day Rolodex, at least for the individual, is his or her contacts on social networks (for a company, this would be its CRM).

For example, even with a network of 500+ connections, LinkedIn makes it extremely easy to sort through relevant contacts and reach out to them. Also, direct messaging your contacts through social networks can help you bypass the “gate-keeper” at the office.

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2. Engagement

It could be said that social media is the great equalizer. Just a few years ago, if you wanted to schedule a meeting with a CEO at a Fortune 500 company, or a top tier venture capitalist, unless you were “somebody,” this was highly unlikely to happen. You could stalk said person, or even try to approach them on the street, but that probably wouldn’t have gotten you very far (though you might have ended up in jail!).

With social networks such as Twitter, you can engage with, and get the attention of, anyone on earth. With Twitter, a simple “@” before a person’s handle could score you an interaction with someone you would never have been able to engage with previously.

If you sit back and think about it, it is truly amazing. The doors broken down for us by social media defy anything we could have imagined only a few years ago. For B2B, this means that connecting and engaging with a major thought leader in your industry is easier than ever.

For this, we must be grateful.

3. Content Distribution

It’s hard to fathom what marketers used to do with their content to get it in front of the right people. Before email, before social media, before the Internet – how did they do it? Branded magazines, even soap operas, were a few of the tactics used.

My how the times have changed.

The definition of “content,” in relation to B2B marketing, has changed significantly in the last two decades. If you had asked Don Draper from Mad Men what a blog was, he’d look at you like you had two heads. Nowadays, you would be hard pressed to find a marketer on earth who isn’t using a blog in one form or another.

We put the vast majority of our marketing resources towards content. Content creation is a cost-effective strategy that can boost lead generation and awareness far more than any other strategy. Writing one blog post a week doesn’t cut it thought. You have to put time and effort into all the various types of content that exist today. By doing this, you are casting a wider net to attract potential customers who consume different types of content.

It’s not only blogs; many other forms of content have been born as a result of “the digital age.” While white papers existed previously, in their digital form they’ve taken on a new dimension. Printing and binding costs for white papers have disappeared, and distribution can be done at a fraction of the price. What’s even better is that white papers can act as gated content, meaning potential readers have to fill out a form and submit their contact information to download and read it.

Did you know that 87% of B2B marketers use social media as a distribution channel for their content?

87%!!

Think about it, “social media” as we know it has only been around for 12 years, and B2B marketers have only utilized it for half that time. In less than a decade, nearly every single B2B marketer has embraced social media for content distribution.

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All of these users are potential consumers of content that is distributed through social media. A mind boggling one fourth of the world’s population is on one social media network or another. Even if you can get your content in front of .01% of that, you’ll get 1,780,000 people to see your content. That is un-freakin-believable.

LinkedIn is not the only social channel for B2B social media marketing. Believe it or not, Facebook is emerging as another great tool for B2B marketers to utilize.

In recent months, there have been reports of a monumental demographic shift happening on Facebook – teenagers are leaving in droves and are being replaced by an older, more business oriented crowd. This benefits B2B marketers because the audience we distribute content to is now more relevant than ever, even on Facebook.

4. Lead Generation

When it comes to B2B marketing, there’s really only one indicator of success – leads. That’s the underlying reason behind why B2B marketers have been skeptical of social media, and the value it offers, for such a long.

When asked the question, many people will tell you “there is no way to measure the ROI of social media.” In years past, this was what was taught to marketers, especially B2B.

Given that Oktopost is designed is to allow B2B marketers to manage their social media activities and measure ROI, this isn’t an answer we accept.

Social media is a lead generation tool, there is no denying it. Of all the social networks, LinkedIn reigns supreme for this purpose. We did some research earlier this year, and found that 80% of all leads generated from social media by B2B marketers came from LinkedIn.

5. Curation

Similar to other aspects of B2B content marketing, thought leadership is an extremely important goal to strive after. All too often, marketers will only share promotional content about their product or service. Not only will fail to benefit their marketing activities, it’s also counter-productive. Thought leadership is about providing value, and pushing blatant promotional content doesn’t accomplish that.

In addition to creating original content, content curation is now another powerful tool for marketers to use in their social media activities.

Content curation, in the context of social media, refers to the distribution of external content through your social networks. This is done in conjunction with the distribution of original content, in order to form a holistic content distribution strategy.

If you want to establish yourself as a thought leader on social media, curating valuable content is one of the best things you can do. If people see your social channels as a place where they can learn about important aspects of your industry, they will continue to come back for more. Given the longer sales cycle, this practice will keep your company at the top of their minds until it comes time to make a purchasing decision.

Social media makes it incredibly easy to carry out a successful content curation strategy. Twitter, in particular, is essentially the perfect outlet for content curation. It’s an “open” platform, meaning anyone can see your tweets – not just your followers. You can research valuable content on a regular basis and then, utilizing a third party platform, schedule tweets distributing that content over a period of time. This will increase your social presence and make you seem more active on social media than you already are.

We have come so far in such a short period of time; imagine where we’ll be in the next decade! Just as no one could have foreseen the current impact of social media on B2B, we are likely to encounter new tools for marketing in the next few years that none of us could have anticipated.

Regardless of what changes occur in the next few years, social media for B2B is here to stay, and will doubtlessly provide more and more value to B2B marketers as times goes on.

Have something to add? Comment below!

About the Author: Mark Lerner is the Director of Marketing & Head of Marketing Agency Partner Program at Oktopost, a social media management tool that allows you to bridge the gap between your social media programs and your ROI.

 

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Archive for ‘General Marketing’

October 14th, 2014

10 Key Statistics You Should Know About Social Media [Infographic]

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Did you know that 50% of the brands surveyed had members in the C-Suite who weren’t convinced of the value of social media?

That may come as a surprise, but not when you hear this — 85% of the companies surveyed don’t connect social media with business outcomes. In other words, they don’t tie their social media efforts to revenue.

I cover that topic in-depth in the new edition of my book How to Make Money with Social Media, but if you’re interested in a quick review of those fact (and others), check out the infographic below, brought to us by Outmarket.com (formerly Vocus Marketing Suite).

There are some great facts in the infographic that will both surprise and delight you.

Enjoy!

SocialMedia

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Archive for ‘General Marketing’

October 7th, 2014

Four Content Marketing Strategies to Help You Boost Revenues Quickly

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 6.05.24 PM Studies show that consumers buy products and services in channels where they are comfortable — on a traditional website, for example. But they look at other channels such as social, mobile, and search to support their decision making process.

To uncover which channels B2B and B2C companies are using to drive transactions, EPiServer conducted a survey at the 10th annual Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition, the world’s largest e-commerce event.

Survey respondents included CEOs, Vice Presidents, Directors and e-commerce Managers at more than 100 attending organizations including retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, catalogers, web-only merchants and local-retailer.

The findings reveal that B2B plans to go big on mobile, and they should! As long as they employ a content strategy that atomizes content into small chunks that’s easily consumed across channels and devices.

B2C plans to continue to go big on web and mobile, and they should also plan to employ an atomized content strategy that allows for bite-sized content that’s easily consumed on those devices.

So what type of content strategy should you use and where should you start?

In working with our customers within both B2B and B2C industries, I’ve made several noteworthy observations. If you need to jumpstart a content marketing campaign to drive transactions, consider the best practices below to help you create strong brand and customer loyalty:

  • Cater to the connected consumer: Consider how you use your own smartphone or tablet, or better yet how your customers use these devices. Do they read email on their phone? Do they follow links to articles? Do they follow updates on social networks for business or consumers? Thanks in part to mobile devices, the content discovery and consumption process has been completely altered. Consumers are more connected than ever, but they not only expect the right content to be instantly available on the device they’re holding—they also expect it to be consumable on the most convenient screen.
  • Leverage content and commerce: It all starts with optimizing and improving online customer experience online. That’s where you can engage current customers and develop long-term relationships to build brand loyalty—the core of selling. Once you have small, digestible content prepared for several channels, find a way to place your products or solutions close by. Many cutting-edge e-commerce sites are beginning to provide short content that informs the decision-making process with convenient “product placements” as we’ve seen done in the film and television entertainment industries for years, as well as offering an alternative to grid-style navigation.
  • Stop selling and start informing: You know all the great reasons you think someone should be interested in your product or service—but don’t forget to think from the customer view and ask what else might they want to know to help them make a purchase decision. Many times this information comes out in ratings and reviews, so consider creating this sort of user-generated content (UGC) if you’re not already doing so. Consumer demands are higher than ever, but by intertwining content and commerce to create meaningful experiences for and relationships with customers, marketers can “sell without selling.”
  • Develop shorter, more consumable content: Consumers need content and messaging that they can processes quickly and effectively. Small, “bite-sized” chunks of content instead of tedious, lengthy whitepapers hold the most weight and marketers must format content for consumability to impact purchasing decisions. We all have short attention spans in our busy work- and life-styles, so atomize the content as a starting point towards multi-channel experiences.

Many marketing leaders that I speak with have aspirations to achieve a “digital transformation,” preparing them to compete in a digitally transformed economy. But you don’t need to wait for a broad plan to be developed. Take a page from the agile marketing playbook by starting small and making regular progress. Think like a customer, prepare for atomized content, and then consider how to get all your digital channels to work together. Connected customers and connected workers have limited time yet an increasing desire to make the right decision the first time – let your content help them be successful.

About the Author: Bob Egner is the VP of Product Management at EPiServer, which connects ecommerce and digital marketing to help business create unique customer experiences which generate business results. 

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Archive for ‘General Marketing’

October 6th, 2014

Social Media Analytics: 3 Keys to Making the Most of Your Data

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These days, social media monitoring and listening is almost becoming standard for most brands. But if you’re a large brand with millions of customers, actually doing efficient and effective social analytics on all that data can be a challenge. How do you handle an avalanche of tweets, messages and more, and analyze it effectively?

Let’s take a look at three keys to maximizing the ROI of your social media monitoring and analytics efforts:

1: Use all your data. The first thing companies must realize about social media analytics is that it should not take place in a bubble. Instead, it’s crucial to cross-reference social media sources with surveys, emails, phone calls, your website, review sites and even competitors’ websites. With advanced analytics, this data-gathering should take place frequently too – once an hour, if possible, as opposed to once a day.

By taking such an ongoing and integrated approach to social media analytics, companies are better equipped to determine how important different pieces of social data are. You need to know whether something that springs up on social media is an isolated problem or a systemic one. If you cross-reference a negative tweet with other sources, like call logs, you can tell whether or not it needs to be addressed immediately or at all.

Considering the half-life of a tweet is less than five minutes, an isolated negative tweet can likely be ignored. On the flip side, a plethora of negative tweets about the same issue can actually serve as an early warning system; thanks to proactive social media analytics, you can resolve the issue before it gets to the call center, where it will be far more expensive.

2. Filter out the noise. Of course, using all your data is easier said than done. That’s the paradox of advanced analytics – companies have been told they need to be customer-centric and listen to everything. But now that they’ve started doing that, they’re drowning in data.

The solution isn’t to stop listening – it’s to find ways to focus on what matters and filter out what doesn’t. Once again, cross-referencing social media data with other sources is one way to do that. But even before you get to that stage, you need to filter out the noise that comes in your social monitoring alone. All social listening tools have some element of spam detection to filter out the obvious junk, but you also need to be able to tag social media data that lacks content value.

That might mean a link with no commentary, a tweet with just one word, or even commentary that isn’t operational. For example, a tweet that says “Going to Wendy’s for lunch” doesn’t add much value to your social media analytics or customer interactions. On the other hand, a tweet like “Had a Wendy’s triple for lunch, best burger in the business,” is very operational and therefore much more important.

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3. Consider context. Another key to successful social media analytics is to make sure you are integrating the unique characteristics of social language, from hashtags to emoticons to social-specific slang to industry-specific wording.

One aspect of this is a robust natural language processing platform that handles social media jargon. For example, the word “sick” is often negative, but it can be positive on social media in certain contexts. Your social media analytics system must be able to handle those nuances. Along the same lines, analytics that can handle emoticons and hashtags are becoming increasingly important for truly comprehensive social media analytics.

Another aspect of context is the acknowledgement that social media posts do not exist in a vacuum. Instead, they are usually part of a conversation – and your social media analytics must take this into consideration as well.

For example, let’s say Person A tweets about how she just bought L’Oreal’s newest lipstick shade, then Person B retweets it, adding something like “That’s awesome! So jealous.” Your social media analytics platform needs to understand that this is a conversation in order to understand what “that” is referring to and properly assess the sentiment being expressed. Without a nuanced social media platform, that detail will be overlooked.

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The Bottom Line

Once you’re got these three fundamentals down, your social media analytics are ready to lead to action and improved ROI. You’ll be able to find the answers to key questions, like: Does this person appear to be a risk for churn? Is Person C an influencer in my market segment – and is he or she talking about my competitors? And you’ll be able to use those answers to focus on the social media conversations and interactions that will have the most impact on your brand and business.

In fact, all the keys we just mentioned mean nothing if you don’t take what you’ve learned and then do something with it. By integrating your data, filtering out the noise and taking context into consideration, you’ll be well on your way to making all that gathering and analyzing of social media data more than worth it.

Susan Ganeshan About the Author: As leader of the Clarabridge marketing team, Susan Ganeshan defines the brand, leads the charge for educational, useful content, and enables both Clarabridge and its partners to promote and deliver on the promise of customer centricity. During her 25-year career, Susan has worked with organizations such as newBrandAnalytics, webMethods, Software AG, Deloitte Consulting, and Checkfree.

 

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Archive for ‘General Marketing’

October 1st, 2014

Why Visual Content is a Secret Weapon for Marketers Around the Globe

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I’m a visual learner, so I process and retain information much more readily when I see it rather than when I read it or hear it. In fact, I’m pretty sure I would have done much better in school if modern methods of teaching were in place when I was younger. (Today, teachers are much more aware of the different learning styles for students. When I was young, everything was done via lecture and chalkboard.)

Our friends at TollFreeForwarding.com have created an infographic (below) that explains the power of visual communication, especially as it relates to customer service.

Here are just some of the facts outlined in the infographic below:

  • By 2016, 55% of all traffic on the web will be visual
  • YouTube gets 4 billion video views each day
  • Engagement on Instagram is 15X higher than on Facebook
  • 7% of brands in the U.S. are currently using Vine for marketing

Long story short, visual communications is coming on strong, especially as it relates to customer service. Check out the infographic below for more details.

TFF-M5-SocialVisualCustomer-Service

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