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SiteSpect's King speaks about software vendor's social media play

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CMO Close-Up: What's your primary marketing goal this year?

King: This year we're all about demand generation, which includes lead generation, lead qualification and lead nurturing. Everything else, like brand awareness or sales readiness, would be secondary to that. But, really, it's about driving deal flow and revenue through demand generation.

CMO Close-Up: Being a software company, you've seen a lot of the IT publications go away. How are you dealing with that and continuing to reach your intended audiences?

King: You know, it's interesting, because I think marketing is becoming more like publishing as traditional publishing and trades are going away. We've seen, actually, a huge channel in content marketing, which we've done in social media.

CMO Close-Up: Was it just what's happening in the publishing business or was it that plus something else that drove you to content marketing?

King: That was certainly a part of the trigger—the demise of traditional media. It's also a huge trend in marketing in general, not just in the b-to-c world but also in the b-to-b world. There's a company called HubSpot that's taken the lead in this notion of inbound marketing. While we're not a HubSpot customer, they've done a terrific job of letting people know what you can do in pull marketing rather than the traditional push, outbound marketing.

CMO Close-Up: Let's talk about your social media channels. When did you establish the Facebook page, how did it get started and how is it doing?

King: I don't think [Facebook] is the most successful project we've had. We've been much more successful at Twitter. But here's where we are: We started a Facebook group in 2008 and just recently realized—literally in the past quarter—that it needed to be a Fan page. So we converted to a Fan page and pulled some of our subscribers over. We're also doing some advertising on Facebook. Having said that, it's not a huge place where people get their information about SiteSpect. We have only several dozen followers on Facebook. On the other hand, on Twitter, we've been able to attract a much wider following of several thousand folk because people will follow the hash tag “multivariate,” “testing,” “measure” or that kind of thing. So they can find us much more easily, and I think that's the place where business conversation is really happening. Between that and also YouTube, [where we put] videos about multivariate testing, it gives us another channel to communicate with customers and prospects that we didn't have before.

CMO Close-Up: Are you able to tie back closed business to your social media efforts?

King: We have a closed-loop system where, for example, you can see Twitter being a very large driver of traffic to our website and you can see the leads coming from Twitter. So we know who's captured, who came from Twitter, how many folks in general, what the traffic's been. You can ascribe a portion of the marketing success to our social media channels.

CMO Close-Up: Twitter has other applications, too, such as customer service. Are you using it for that as well?

King: You know, it's funny, we have seen a couple of times, not that often but maybe once a month, where someone might have a question about SiteSpect and it may be a prospect or customer, so we're always checking to see who is asking about us on Twitter and see what we need to do to answer those questions.

CMO Close-Up: And then there's, if you will, the dark side of Twitter, the negative tweets. Do you have a policy for dealing with those?

King: Absolutely. For example, someone did tweet a few months ago that they didn't like our home page—it wasn't very easy to use or something about the form. We were able to get back to him and get more information, and it turns out [our site] wasn't working for him. That was an important user experience to capture. What's fascinating about it is that that person used Twitter to communicate rather than the “Contact us” button on the website or e-mail. It was an indirect direct question.

CMO Close-Up: You mentioned YouTube a moment ago. When did you get started? What are you using it for?

King: We started with YouTube last year, and basically we're using it as part of our social media program, very much to drive thought leadership and, again, traffic back to the website. [Our video] isn't product- or company-specific. It's very much about testing and targeting, things you should know, words you should know, concepts you should know, the whole idea of how to get started with a testing program. We've developed the YouTube channel on multivariate testing; we've got a number of videos there. We also have those videos embedded on our resources page on our website, and so we drive traffic to our resources page.

CMO Close-Up: Do you have any advice about the video executions?

King: What's interesting about video, and something that may seem not quite intuitive, is that in the past, it was all about expensive, high-quality, externally produced video. That is not the case these days. Today, it's about the information and about that content. [Among] the things we've learned—although haven't put into practice yet—is the idea that, if you can make [the video] funny or humorous, that gives it an added relevancy in some way.

CMO Close-Up: You need a sock puppet. ...

King: We've been thinking of doing some funny tests on video, like which chocolates people prefer. We could do an A-B test, sort of a street thing. Who knows, we might end up doing something cute like that.

CMO Close-Up: One thing about video, websites and landing pages is this tension between getting the word out and collecting the demographics and firmagraphics of visitors. How do you balance those two things?

King: Most of our content, you don't have to identify yourself. I know a lot of b-to-b companies where you have to register upfront to see the smallest little piece of information. We don't do that. We have one or two places with premier content on our website where you have to register. We promote thorough Twitter and Facebook, and we do a lot of SEO PPC to bring [traffic] back to our website, where you can read anything. It's all free. If you care to get more information, it's easy to register. It's really about making it easy for people to opt in or self-select, rather than forcing them to do that upfront because that just creates bad feelings.

CMO Close-Up: Final question: What big changes are coming to your market?

King: There are two pieces to the puzzle. A few years ago, there were quite a few mergers that took a lot of competition out of the marketplace, which has been great for us. But the bigger thing is that a lot of people still aren't testing. They may be doing Web analytics, they all have websites, [but] they haven't moved up the food chain.

CMO Close-Up: They know what's happening, but because they're not testing, they can't …

King: They're looking back rather than looking ahead. They haven't gone down the funnel to say, “How do we optimize these conversions. We have a website that works this great. We know how many people clicked on this.” They haven't really gotten to, “Well, how do we make it better?” So for us, I think there's a huge change that's coming down the turnpike in, say, one to four years. We have not even seen the crest of the wave yet, and we're really looking forward to that.

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