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Socializing your lead-to-revenue process

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I have been poring over the data from Forrester’s most recent survey into marketing tactics and metrics, looking for nuanced changes in the lead-to-revenue management process. I was surprised (a wee bit, and happily so) to see that “social marketing” has moved into the top four most effective marketing techniques. Social marketing trails email, tradeshows and company sponsored events, and bests SEO and webinars. I shouldn’t have been surprised at all. As I talk to marketers (in companies large and small) about their lead-to-revenue processes, a frequent topic is leveraging social media in demand management programs. Here are common questions, along with my perspective:

Social media seems to be a B2C marketer’s game; why should a B2B marketer bother?

B2B marketers are sometimes turned off by the kind of creative tactics B2C marketers use to make an emotional connection: humor, games, contests, deals and entertainment. For many B2B marketers, those tactics seem inappropriate for serious business buyers who are buying serious business stuff!  But, social media are very well suited for B2B customer engagement. In B2B, people buy from people: It’s a relationship-based sale. B2B marketers who are not actively integrating social into their marketing programs are ignoring a powerful tool that can both exponentially spread their message and scale customer engagement.

Can social marketing drive revenue or is it really just about buzz?

The term "buzz" needs a good PR agent. It has inexplicably lost value in the B2B marketing lexicon. In Forrester surveys of buyer behavior, we consistently find that peers and colleagues are the most powerful sources of influence. Increasingly, those peers and colleagues are found outside the boundaries of the enterprise—in social networks, communities and forums. Getting your content shared in these social networks increases your digital presence, and your chance of being found by potential buyers. And that makes "buzz" pretty powerful stuff.

How can B2B marketers use social to improve lead origination and lead nurturing?

Today, most B2B purchases begin with a web search. Your social activities and advocacy increase your digital profile and are a factor in how prospective customers find you. Once they find you, please, please use tools like social sign-on to minimize form abandonment. Social sign-on allows people to use their Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter ID on your lead forms.

What are the three things a B2B marketer should absolutely be doing on social today?

If I, as a B2B marketer, could do only three things with social marketing, today, I would choose the following:

  1. First, I would design my campaigns to be socially sharable. I’d write content that is shareable, that adds to the discourse, that shakes it up, that shows an edge.  And I would use social sharing tools to get my content in play.
  2. Next, I would grow my prospecting network by mining social networks for likely prospective buyers and engage them.
  3. Finally,  I would develop a strategy to engage with social influencers. That is actually easier to do than it sounds, if I am getting that first bit right. If I am creating engaging and valuable content, then social influencers will engage with me. I might want to accelerate the process by identifying them first and commenting on their blogs or retweeting their tweets. If I am adding, in a positive way, to the discourse on an important topic, I am going to raise my digital and social profile.

Post a comment. Let us now about your successes with social marketing.

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