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Carry on conversations with social marketing

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Question: How can e-mail drive interest in social channels? Answer: We are seeing e-mail move farther back in the marketing cycle as b-to-b buyers have become inundated with messages that are unsolicited and don't speak to them about their true needs. But once you've created that bidirectional exchange and a prospect is moving further toward your sales funnel, social can be a great way to continue conversations more in line with personal preference. Content for most of the organizations I follow on Facebook tends to be more interesting than the e-mail communications I get daily from those same organizations. For example, being a Salesforce.com partner, I get about 100 e-mails per day on partner program updates, release notes, usage stats and so on. I read very few of them. But when I engage with Salesforce.com on Facebook, the content is more dynamic. Just the other day the company posted a video of [Salesforce.com CEO] Marc [Benioff] on CNBC's “Mad Money,” which I watched, all the way through. Good luck getting my attention with that during the day—or via e-mail. This tells me that behaviors change around the medium through which the message is distributed. Knowing this, why don't we just ask buyers how they would like to receive information, along with the types of information they would like to receive? For example, “Would you like us to communicate with you on LinkedIn instead of e-mail?” Now, we know that buyers aren't always honest with us because we are all evil salespeople. To address that challenge, we can also track these preferences and correlate them against behavioral info. What pages are they visiting on your site, what are they downloading, and are they watching your “Mad Money” video? Using that info, we can tailor follow-up marketing that is truly of interest. That's creating the conversation. Social is just another path to get it done—and sometimes it's a lot more stimulating exchange. Justin Gray is CEO and founder of LeadMD (www.leadmd.com), a marketing services firm focused on organic lead generation and the successful deployment of marketing automation. Originally published Sept. 16, 2010
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