Brain Vibe

marketing muses to stay engaged

Does Data Quality Matter in Social Media?

Data driven marketing is reliant on high quality data, but with the introduction of social media and its pervasiveness in the marketing tool kit, it is easier to engage with your market without having to have correct emails, addresses, or profiles. It begs the question, does data quality matter anymore for marketing in a Web 2.0 world?

I think the answer is, “Yes, but…”

Direct marketing and bottom of the funnel mindset is what most B2B marketers work in as they have been more closely ties to sales goals.  Where sales won’t accept a lead without knowing who it is and the appropriate contact information at a minimum, it has to be collected at every opportunity.  Without this information, marketing also doesn’t have an adequate single view of the customer to profile and segment reliably.  In this context, data quality is critical as it determines if a lead is passed, how to pass the lead, and align the lead to existing opportunities or account profiles.  Name, company, location, phone, and email are the cornerstone to this.

Social media is not outreach, it is in-reach.  It isn’t lead generation, it is relationship generation.  You don’t collect details on your connections and contacts.  You cultivate engagement and conversation.  Without the need to maintain a list of connections in your CRM and the ability to leverage social media organizers like HootSuite to communicate to your community, contact information is somewhat irrelevant.

So, where is data quality necessary?  Having a single customer view that is inclusive of social media profiles and engagement. At some point, us B2B marketers do need to move relationships out of the 2.0 world and into face to face engagements, particularly for complex sales.  At this transition point, the social media profile becomes an invaluable part of the customer view.  Just as CRM captures order transactions, direct marketing interactions, and sale interactions, it also needs to show social media interactions.  Why? The social media interaction is probably more telling of your relationship with your customers than traditional interactions.

The catch? Linking a limited profile from LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook to a standard contact profile in CRM can be problematic.  Your CRM system may not have the ability or capability enabled to link the 2.0 world with your customer data. You may not have a social media platform that is capturing what is needed to integrate your customer data between online and CRM.  Or, it does, but integration needs to be established.  Those are just a few examples.

Ultimately, data quality will matter for social media as B2B marketers mature in their use and linkage of 2.0 activities to best practices for lead creation, nurture, and pipeline generation.  We live for now in customer relationship silos, but the real advantage and benefit of social media to show ROI for marketing will be improved integration and profile management across the entire relationship.  As soon as integration is introduced, just as in the past, data quality plays a critical role.


Filed under: b2b, CMO seat, crm, data quality, marketing technology, social media, , ,

Social Media Content – Too Big, Too Small, Just Right

B2B marketers are an interesting breed when it comes to social media. Our training is to create relevant content in the form of white papers, collateral, and deep websites.  When it is time to tackle the subject of content creation, out come the media, event, and campaign calendars.  Enter 140 characters on Twitter, blogs that should stay in the 300-500 word range, and video or audio that is less than 5 minutes and it is enough to drive us mad!

Certainly the venue will dictate a bit of what you actually post.  But, the B2B marketer will break the rules when possible.  We’ve got so much to say!  Don’t you want to know how smart we are and what great things our company provides?

Here are things I think about when creating content:

  • If you can’t use a single word to describe what you want to say, move on.  My word for this post, “Size”
  • If it takes longer than a minute to read what you write, people get bored and stop reading
  • If it needs to be read more than once, its only good if what you said was amazing (most of the time it is not…sorry)
  • If you need to think too hard about what to say, you are trying too hard
  • If you post multiple tweets in order to get your point across, it should have been a blog, email, or phone conversation

Social media isn’t complicated, there is no need to make it so. Live in Twitter for a while, it teaches you brevity and spontaneity.  Embrace the medium rather than fit it into what is comfortable to you.  And lastly, enjoy it.  Marketing is so much more fun when you break from the confines of structure and dogma.  Have a digital conversation.

What helps you get your content just right?

Filed under: blogging, social media, social media marketing, , , , ,

Digital Conversationalist

As a B2B marketer, social media success may still be allusive.  You blog, tweet, post on LinkedIn and Facebook. You are vested in the conversation.  But, are you really ready? How are you executing?

I am no expert.  By far, this is my most vexing question to date.  What I have done is really to start looking at what other companies seem to do, talk to fellow marketers, and try to figure out what works to build a vibrant community.  Here is what I’ve seen and taken away in my quest.

Entry level marketers and interns have typically been tasked to take on the social media effort.  In B2B, this can be a real challenge and barrier to realizing value from your initiative.  There is significant finesse, knowledge, and networking ability that is required.  Simply putting your brand, subject matter expertise, and yes, promotion out there is not for the inexperienced.

You can leverage a PR agency.  However, do they really know your business?  They do a great job of triangulating your message with experts and media.  They may even be there to ghost write.  This approach can get your effort up and running more effectively.  Over time, it is costly and slows the conversation.  Conversation is not sustained or maybe not achieved at all because of the bureaucracy to produce and eventually turns the social media effort into direct marketing and promotion or worse yet, the promotion and branding of external experts, not you.

You may have created a social media or blogging bureau and established a set of social media guidelines.  Subject matter experts are tasked with writing blogs and tweeting.  How is this working for you?  Do you have the steady stream of content?  Many times it is difficult to get people to commit to contributing if they are busy (I admit to this trap) or don’t see the value and return.

My conclusion is that what B2B companies need to start thinking about is how to be the Digital Conversationalist. Don’t just pay this lip service.  The best social media efforts are balanced between thought leadership and a vibrant customer driven community.

Here is my Digital Conversationalist job description:

This person is already versed and experienced in what you offer, is a good writer, but can also “pass the beer test” with a wide audience in your customer base.  This person can work the digital room and get discussion going.  They can balance thought provoking contribution with the ability to ask questions and get responses.  They utilize and test social media tools to illicit the most and best discussions.  They can turn lemons into lemonade, addressing discordant views and complaints in ways that promote your brand and give you insight you didn’t have.  A Digital Conversationalist knows they are only part of the conversation and not the center of attention.

Filed under: blogging, networking, social media, social media marketing, ,

Social Media Marketing and Sales Alignment

Incorporating social media into your B2B go to market strategy is a no brainer. Done correctly you get the conversation you want, the connections to customers you need, and position as a trusted advisor. Now it is time to nurture your new found groupies into engagements with sales. Again, all a part of the social media experience. Lastly, you get the all important meeting. You’ve done your job Marketing. Bring it home Sales!

It seemed pretty logical until I had a conversation with some colleagues about what the sales engagement looks like. The customer experience with social media is marketing to sales, not a starting point with sales. Disconnects can and will occur in the engagement with sales if the customer feels a distinct pass off and turn in the conversation from dialogue to promotion.

In the social media realm, it is a dialogue with the customer, not a one sided conversation with the provider doing all the talking. The conversation needs to continue in a more intimate and specific manner when Sales engages. The crux of Marketing and Sales alignment now has to be tighter than ever so as not to interrupt the conversation and continue to build credibility and value in the relationship. Failing to do so can disrupt and lend itself to disengagement.

A you bring on new products, solutions, and services, have you considered your conversation from the first Tweet or blog comment, to getting down to the business of solving your customer’s need?

Filed under: social media, ,

Death of a Landing Page

Let’s talk landing page optimization.  At it’s essence you optimize for the acquisition – lead capture, purchase.  Why does a landing page only have to be optimized for bottom of the funnel results?

That’s what I’ve been toying with of late for our b2b marketing efforts.  When I’ve bounced this off my fellow marketers they either look at me like I’m crazy, or nod their heads pretending to agree but, they think I’m crazy.

I’m looking at ways to engage the market along their buying process, not my sales engagement model.  Sometimes, people that gather information just aren’t ready to speak with a telemarketer or sales person. Why ruin the beginnings of a great relationship with a hard sell?

So, now I’m looking at our online marketing efforts (ppc and display) and thinking about killing landing pages.  Not in all cases, they are still useful for those that are ready to talk.  But, for campaigns that are aimed as top of the funnel engagement, why bother?

Here is my thinking, if I’m working a campaign that is top of the funnel, why not leverage a portal page design within my company’s website that are content rich with lots of interaction points, including bottom of the funnel captures.  How about designing the entry point to my products, solutions, and services areas so that they have landing page qualities positioning content options based on the visitor need – education, evaluation, community.  I should be doing this anyway, so why not leverage within the context of my online advertising efforts?

If done right,

  • visitors have options to engage with my company to build and deepen the relationship with us, increasing the chances they remain a customer or eventually buy our solutions and services
  • retargeting efforts for bottom of the funnel investment should improve in effectiveness and efficiency
  • I can track visitor behavior and improve my lead scoring providing higher quality leads to sales

The other reason I’m considering moving forward with this is that it provides a more integrated and consistent approach to communicating and interacting with the market.  It forces online advertising to better assimilate and integrate with marketing campaigns, improving overall effectiveness.  It also creates a seamlessness between online ads, social media, and the website.

The biggest push back I’m getting is from inside sales who think I’m going to dry up their lead queue.  I think that is nonsense.  If anything, it should not only increase the quality that is passed, but by building relationships vs. going in for the kill we have the opportunity not to loose leads in our process.  By thinking about the buying process overall, online advertising becomes richer in its ability to attract and interact across a wider audience increasing lead volume and producing a larger and more long term pool of customers for near and long term sales.

Have you tried this out in your b2b online marketing strategy?  Did it work?  Or, am I really crazy?

Filed under: Lead management, marketing/advertising, social media, , , , ,



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