Brain Vibe

marketing muses to stay engaged

Social Media Insight to Optimize Paid Search and Display

What if you could target your search engine marketing (SEM) efforts in paid search and display the way you target your direct marketing efforts?  Analysis of your b2b social media networks may give you that edge.

In my quest to get more out of social media than just followers and a soapbox platform, I am looking at what content my network follows, reads, and shares more closely.  In my last post I talked about the analysis of hashtags in tweets, and how that could help me better understand the personas of my network.

Now I am looking at what else I can gather and what I could do with this.  In particular, I am interested in the content being shared: blogs, web pages, video, etc.  The titles tags, description meta tags, and urls all have keywords that tell a lot about interest areas and build a richer persona.  This step got me thinking, could I tighten alignment to my network by optimizing…?

  • My paid search to reflect keyword tendencies in shared content
  • My display placement based on sites aligned to my market offers
  • The SEO on my own website

Right now, SEM allows anonymity which creates challenges when you want to focus digital marketing efforts on existing customers or known prospects.  My paid search and media plans look at broad behavior, demographics, and firmographics but specifics on their web patters at the individual level is sketchy.  However, if I align my followers to my customer list and profile their specific personas compared to the broader market, I get much closer to a targeted campaign.  This makes my digital efforts more closely resemble my direct marketing efforts – smaller targets, highly relevant content shared, higher conversion.

Another reason to think about  b2b social media beyond influence marketing and make it work to drive revenue and customer relationships.

Filed under: b2b, blogging, customer relationship, social media marketing, Web Analytics, , , ,

More to Social Media than Influence?

How much conversation is really happening in B2B social media?  Almost every company is using it as a direct marketing vehicle to push white papers, events, and opinion.  There is evidence of readership in the tracking of views and clicks.  However, retweets, comments, or forwarding is another story.  There seems to be a select few that engage in this manner.  I have to wonder if social media and the measurement of influence really makes sense for B2B.  Or, is it just that B2B uses it wrong?

For the sake of argument, I am not including a company’s internal customer portal that is like a private social network and really just an updated user forum.  I am talking about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  These are the properties that are measurable for an overall perspective of market impact and not just customer experience.  Take Klout, Social Mention, Radian6, and the various Twitter tools, and it is all about who influences who and the sentiment buzz.  Great for PR, not so great when you have to measure social media to revenue.

I did an analysis of my immediate Twitter network with the help of my engineering husband.  I wanted to see engagement level and topics of interest and determine the influence factor of my friends.

First, my network is divided between marketers interested in B2B social media (no surprise there) and those that are focused on data management (where I spend my marketing time).  I have a rarely even spit between these groups.

  • Between the two groups, my data management connections are most prolific in posting, by 8:1.5.  Makes sense since this group consists of consultants, companies, and industry analysts/media.
  • The marketing connections appear to retweet more frequently by profile.  Although retweets in general are low and infrequent.
  • Hashtag analysis showed a higher tweet count related to events in data management, where marketing was more interested in general marketing terms such as social media and marketing.
  • Replies account for about 1/3 of my network activity and mostly in my data management group.

So what?  Well, as a marketer, I already knew who my influencers were without having to go do Twitter analysis or run a social media report. I also had a pretty good idea without the report that they gravitate and communicate highly at events – that is where they spend most of their time.

The interesting thing was for the marketing group this was more organically grown and appears to be made up of those that lurk over engage.  However, this doesn’t bother me and probably wouldn’t if I was marketing to this group.  What I do know about them is what topics interest them based on their hashtag use.  I also can watch the growth of my following to see if what I say socially matters to the market.  I don’t expect advocacy as they aren’t inclined to do that anyway.  So, for a circle in my social media world that is made up of “groupies”, influence matters little to me.

What do I care about?  Who else do marketers listen to and what is being said.  I can make some guesses at a high level – there are the key social media gurus out there that we all listen to.  There are also ways to understand my followers’ network and analyze this.

In the end, as a B2B marketer wanting to connect to my customers, what my followers follow and potentially share, tells me more about how to engage with them than the influence and sentiment analysis.

Filed under: b2b, social media, social media marketing, , ,

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, , , , ,

Can Social Media Communicate Your Passion?

Passion.  A marketing must.  If you don’t believe in what you are selling, will your customer?  Probably not.

Take a look around at social media in B2B.  Those that are embracing social media have passion.  They want to help the customer.  They think their solution and brand is the best.  They have confidence in what they do.  They know they are good at it.

Leading B2B brands get passion.  Think of Cisco, Intel, IBM, HP, and Google.  They have distinct ideas of who they are and what they offer.  They know their customer and align to their needs.  They speak their language across all vehicles and departments.

Best in breed B2B companies are incorporating social media mechanisms into their marketing strategy as much to get their thought leadership position out there and shape customer opinion as they are soliciting customer interaction and perspective.  IBM’s Twitter account for their IBM Cognos business intelligence solution is active and reciprocating.  It provides updates and information on events, thought leadership, and technology updates as well as responds to tweets from customers.  In fact, if it identifies interesting reads and content that align to its perspective, you can count on the fact the IBM Cognos will RT (re-tweet) to its followers.

Tech companies have known the power of social media even before social media had an identity.  They have fostered customer advisory groups, forums and open-source development for a decade or more.  In technology, networking and communities are recognized vehicles for growing your business and aligning your solutions to the market.  In fact, this has even driven venture capitalism (VC) investment strategies.  In the VC world, an idea isn’t enough.  Networking to gain buy in and adoption prior to building your solution is a must.  You build your market before there is an recognized market.  This is the tenet of social media success.

But, it all goes back to passion.  Passion is the cornerstone to success.  Passion is addicting.  Passion is infectious.

Customers are passionate about their business and its success.  If you don’t have that same passion and enthusiasm when you engage with the customer, you lost at 10 seconds.  In all other forms of maketing your passion is delivered through a “push” mechanism.  In social media, you have the opportunity to connect your passion to the customer’s passion.  It is only through social media marketing that you have the opportunity to engage even prior to a sales engagement.  You meet the customer prior or during their problem identification and need.  It is then that channeling your passion throught engaged social media will pre-convert customers or nurture them prior to the decision cycle.

Take the opportunity to throw away stale marketing vehicles that don’t  exude passion.  Leverage social media to deliver your passion.  Then, leverage your traditional vehicles to collaborate and further extend your passion.  After all, if you aren’t passionate, why should your customers be?

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Filed under: b2b, customer relationship, sales, sales 2.0, social media, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Giving Control of Social Media to Sales for B2B Marketing ROI

Here’s a thought.  What if marketing relinquished control of social media as a marketing tool and turned it into a sales enablement tool?

The age old issue with ROI for B2B direct marketing is the difficulty in linking to a dollar amount.   Social media marketing hinges on connecting directly with the customer and conversing.  This is more of a B2B sales role and responsibility.  It is at this stage that you see ROI.

Marketing’s expertise is in the creation of content or assets defining brand and credibility.  Communications from PR to direct marketing spreading the word in a peanut butter approach.  Social media, while in some perspectives a great tool to reach out to the masses, also creates the conundrum of personal connections so that a broad message is impersonal and too vague for a person to connect to.

How about creating mechanisms for sales to engage with customers through networks?

  • Marketing provides sales with content that is appropriate to send out using Twitter such as time limited offers, event notices, service renewals, and upgrade notices.
  • Salespeople have community pages to hold forums or presentations
  • Community pages could act as portals to connect customers, sales, and partners for collaborative solution-ing
  • Customers could influence content on sales community pages by rating or voting in topics and solutions that best apply

There is some precedent for this today.  Collaborative solutions exist from CRM companies that allow for internal social/professional networks.  As sales is becoming comfortable in these environments, it can be an easy leap to expand beyond internal and allow for external customer facing interactions.

Where is the ROI?  Sales touts the benefits, closure rates increase, increased sales.

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Filed under: b2b, brainstorm, marketing technology, networking, social media, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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