Scottsdale, Ariz.—Social media marketing is being transformed from an awareness tool to prompt inquiries into an instrument to address prospects at every stage of the demand waterfall, according to experts at the SiriusDecisions Summit 2011. But it takes a good degree of centralized organization to do it effectively.
Jonathan Block, VP-service director at SiriusDecisions, said that social media has become a key communications channel, on par with email or newsletters. Marketers must determine how customers and prospects wish to be contacted, then use the appropriate channel, he said.
“But we also have found that those companies that have integrated social media along with other channels have a 20%-to-30% lift in their response rates,” Block said.
Kirsten Watson, director of corporate marketing at supply chain software company Kinaxis, detailed how her company has leveraged its customer community, not only for customer support and service but also for search engine optimization benefits.
She said a first-year effort to optimize social content with pertinent keywords produced a 270% increase in website traffic in 2009 compared with 2008, a 320% increase in leads and a 530% increase in traffic to the company's blog site. Improvements continue, she said.
“I can't stress enough the importance of search engine optimization, integrated with social media marketing,” Watson said.
Audience concern over the time demands of social media was addressed by Eric Wittlake, senior director of media at agency Babcock Jenkins, Portland, Ore. While it takes time to engage in social media, he said, the social channels can easily replace other methods of gleaning essential business information marketers should normally take advantage of.
“And social media is a much faster way to get professional information,” Wittlake said. “For example, you can get information on Twitter much faster than any other way. It's all right there, and you have control over the way you're receiving information.”
Watson added that social has improved not only Kinaxis' SEO but also its lead-generation efforts.
“While the big wins for us were in increased Web traffic, we strive for conversions everywhere possible,” Watson said. “When we drive someone to a link via social media, we not only deliver the content they expect but also try to add something else, such as a white paper or on-demand webcast. Then we track conversions.
“All this creates awareness, of course, but it also allows us to know who our traffic is and to build our database with good prospects,” Watson said.