B-to-b marketers still looking for return on tweets

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BtoB's survey of nearly 400 U.S. marketers found uneven satisfaction with Twitter's ROI as a marketing channel. Nearly half the respondents to the “Twitter in B2B Marketing” survey, which was conducted late last month, said they are dissatisfied with their return on tweets. That's despite the fact that nearly 70% said they spend less than 30 minutes per day managing their Twitter stream. Four of five marketers also said they could not directly attribute revenue to micro-blogging. “Twitter has proven to be an effective communications tool, but in all likelihood its relevance will fade over time,” said Mike Neumeier, principal at Arketi Group. “Twitter is not a marketing strategy, but rather a single communications channel.” To its enthusiasts, however, Twitter is a powerful channel. The survey revealed a striking contrast between occasional and heavy Twitter marketers. The 20% of respondents who attribute tangible revenue to Twitter are one-third more satisfied with their return than those who are still awaiting sales. And successful Twitter marketers are also more optimistic about Twitter's future. In addition, the survey suggested that marketers who generate revenue via Twitter are more active and commit more of their time to using Twitter, both to promote their own content and the work of those they want to influence. Indeed, some say Twitter is now more effective at driving traffic than search engine marketing. “It's the cheapest form of wide- spread advertising you can get,” said David Pittman, senior director of marketing communications at Initiate Systems. “It's extremely difficult to put a value on that, but we think it's high.” About half of the survey respondents said they tweet at least every other day; around the same percentage use the service weekly or less frequently. However, frequent users report higher overall satisfaction, more followers and higher overall spending on social media programs. One interesting paradox of the ROI equation is that so few respondents have figured out how to calculate it. In fact, “tracking ROI” was identified as the most challenging variable in the Twitter equation by a significant margin. On the other hand, marketers who report high overall satisfaction with Twitter don't seem to care too much about ROI metrics. In-depth interviews revealed that marketers who describe themselves as satisfied with Twitter's overall value also say they aren't paying significant attention to measuring returns. “We can't attribute any hard-dollar sales to Twitter, but that's not the point,” said Patrick Kusior, social media manager at Analog Devices. “We're building the image of Analog as a responsible organization.” In a series of case studies featured in the report, successful adopters outline some of their strategies for making the most of their tweets. Tactics include scheduling messages for optimal visibility, retweeting messages from influential bloggers, adopting a rigorous schedule for sending tweets and concentrating messages around important events. Printed production parts maker Industramark has fewer than 150 Twitter followers, but its use of Twitter as a way to promote its participation in a major plastics exposition has already put leads in the pipeline. “I'd say 90% of the prospects we contacted through Twitter actually showed up at our booth,” said Bob Sadowski, communications manager. “One told me that we were the only company who had approached them on Twitter. That intrigued and impressed them.” The “Twitter in B2B Marketing” survey was open from May 12 to May 24, using the online survey tool Zoomerang. Responses were solicited via e-mail, Twitter and mentions in BtoB. Of the 592 completed survey forms, 205 were screened out because the respondents said they did not use Twitter for business. The research results are based on 387 targeted responses, of which 92% identified themselves as being involved in b-to-b marketing.
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