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.

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

B2B CRM: The Right Contact Mix for Your Customer Relationship

You’ve spent years gathering contacts into your databases.  You’ve implemented a data quality practice that is now starting to give you a solid picture of your universe.  It is now time to classify your contacts.

Invariably, your database is more than just purchasing/decision maker contacts.  All departments have gathered people’s information depending on the purpose.  It offers a window into your business dealings.  It also offers a window on your ability to market and sell.  Just as you consider vehicles, content, and message to deliver to your database, you also think about who you are reaching and who can be converted.

SOA and MDM initiatives are great because they bring together a full picture of interactions with the customer as well as who is part of those interactions.  But, not all contacts are created equal.  Just as not all customers or companies are created equal.  It is the first thing that is considered when determining targeting strategies.  The size of a database is typically determined based on the silo it is intended to help.  Marketing wants decision makers, finance wants accounts payable, customer support wants end users, investor relations wants analysts and media.  By themselves, these data silos serve a purpose.  Together, they can show a picture of where your awareness, message and brand really are.

A good  test once consolidation of data bases is done, or even within your CRM system alone if it receives lists and feeds from other internal sources, is to classify contacts based on their primary interaction with your company.  Everyone in your database has had a reason to connect.  Bringing these reasons into a standardized category will help determine the value they bring to a marketing program, customer relationship, or evangelist role.  Monitoring the ratios of these groups within a cusotmer relationship and firmographic data can give insight into the ability to grow a relationship, if it is at risk, or there is no relationship and the company serves another purpose.

While as marketers we typically look at the entire size of our database to determine if we have enough contacts to convert to leads, if those leads are weighted towards a low number of companies, or they are not the right contacts, then our efforts can be wasted.  With the cost to acquire customers and contacts expensive, having a mechanism to determine when to purchase lists and how much to purchase will refine the amount of resources and budget needed.  In addition, messaging and engagement strategies can be modified to align to the type of relationship outcome you intend.

So, rather than thinking about personas when you need to target, think about them strategically and as an indicator of the strength of relationship with your customer.

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Filed under: business intelligence, crm, data quality, marketing operations, , , , , , , , , , ,

Time to Aggregate Social Media

Let’s take a step back.  We are into the second quarter of 2009 and witnessing some of the highest adoption of social media tools ever.  For companies, it is time to start looking if social media is panning out like expected.  This could be a blog post on metrics and results, but I’m thinking that it may be time to look at how easy it is to manage social media across the vast number of tools and properties.  After all, isn’t part of marketing effectiveness efficiency?

Even in my own small and limited experience I have management problems.  There are a variety of tools and properties I utilize to connect with you: blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, blog communities, and a variety of analytic tools to track progress.  To be honest, it is a lot of work to manage all these tools.  No single venue provides everything and each offers a different twist on reaching and connecting with others.  The best way for me to manage everything is a big toolbar folder on my browser where I keep bookmarks for all the social media tools and communities I participate in.  Then I have other ways to manage content and connections within each community. In addition, I’m reusing content across multiple platforms duplicating steps.

This is all very inefficient.

Back in the day (wasn’t that only 3 years ago?) the best marketing solution out there was the CRM system.  Today that solution seems ancient and out dated.  Funny that a solution that is all about managing customer relationships is now almost a dinosaur in our social media marketing world.  Regardless, what is great about our CRM systems is that it can be a one stop shop for our customers lists, campaign activities, communication platform, and analytics platform.  In addition, it allows marketers to share program and campaign assets, communications and results with each other.  The biggest frustration is that after standardizing on CRM, I now have little use for it other than traditional marketing which is becoming less and less.  CRM has turned into more of a storage site than an solution.

However, I don’t think CRM is dead.  I think it offers a starting point to aggregate our social media marketing efforts.  Where it created efficiency in process, cataloguing, and communication, it can do the same to streamline our social media activities.  Salesforce.com has already integrated Twitter into its customer service platform.  Having the same ability to push blogs, microblogs, and participate in community discussions and forums would be a great next step.  Having the ability to also post interactive content like presentations and podcasts from a single point would also be better than having to go to YouTube, iTunes, and Slideshare as well as posting to my own website and corporate social network.

Maybe the answer isn’t completely held within the realm of CRM, but as a mainstay of marking, it certainly is a great starting point to help marketers participate socially with customers effectively and efficiently.  If it could consolidate participation and management of social media, reduction in redundancy and improvement in consolidated analytics would greatly improve ROI.

Filed under: b2b, customer relationship, marketing operations, marketing technology, social media, , , , , , , ,

Are Decision Makers Coming to Your Social Media Network?

Are you thinking about your social media profile management strategy?social media profile management

SEO measures for your B2B social media network is a fantastic way to measure potential influence in your market.  It’s the quiet ones that visit you wonder about.

I have a theory that it is the quite ones in the room that really make the decisions.  They don’t speak until it is in their interest to do so.  They guard their words and time because they know it is valuable.  They take it all in, analyzing the the situation across all perspectives.  They are the ones that when they do speak, it is with weight and importance.  If you consider that social media networks are about engagement, it goes without saying that of the 99% of those that visit and only read, there is a percentage of those that are your most important customer contacts.

What is great about today’s Email marketing, Web Analytics, and CRM is that it is established enough that you can clearly track the majority of customer contact profiles at various stages of engagement.  If they are in your database and they enter your website, cookies show what they looked at, how long they stayed, and brings them into your lead cycle.  The contact hasn’t had to do anything but visit in some cases.  Email going out has ids embedded that tie profiles together, populate cookies, and it is stored for future use.

When it comes to your social media network or ones that you participate in, what do you know about your customer?  In many cases there may not be any more information than who actually responds and engages in comments and discussions.  It’s the 99% you miss.  But, if they are entered into the network, they have profiles.  If they land on a blog post, their cookie still resides in their computer.  The key is how to harness their network ids and your cookies to feed back into your CRM system.

We think of ROI on social media in terms of metrics – link backs, engagement, etc.  There is still the issue that you don’t truly get at those visitors that are the silent majority and exude a huge influence over the decision to choose you as their solution provide in these metrics.  Engaged members may help open doors, they just may not be the ones that determine if you are the one for them.

You may be getting a lot of traffic to your social media properties. You may be getting a lot of link love and commenting.  The real understanding of what is working and what is not, is knowing who is coming to your social media properties.  If you are trying to sell multi-million dollar technology solutions and you get end-users and managers engaging and no executives, how are these participants transferring your message and knowledge to decision makers.  Are they?  Are they getting it right?

The tenet of marketing is proper targeting and engagement with the right customer contacts, not just the volume.  To do so, you need to consider how you are tracking and tying that back to your internal customer databases.

Related Article:  Social Media Profile Management

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Filed under: social media, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Go Mobile – B2B Sales Social Network

As marketing is trying to figure out how to leverage the current “it” technology of social media, where is sales in all this?  Quite possibly still trying to figure out how to generate enough business and maintain rockstar status to avoid the last technology they were forced to use – CRM/SFA.  Let’s face it, CRM/SFA at the end of the day probably benefits marketing and management more than it does sales.

When talking about social media, it is really less about the technology and more about new and better ways to connect to customers in a one to one manners.  This is what sales is all about.  Add to the fact that social media is also highly portable through mobile devices and you have a tool for sales that aligns nicely to what sales wants, better engagement with customers.  While it may be tempting and on the surface seem easier to integrate into existing web and business applications utilizing laptops as clients, sales is not about the laptop.  Sales is about its mobile phone.

Why go mobile media with sales:

  • The app is on the device sales uses most
  • Mobile apps are simple to understand, simple to use, and simple and fast to set up
  • The app is within touch of how sales interacts with the customer
  • Mobile apps already exist to mash into mobile network, CRM/SFA apps within the enterprise
  • Always “on” connection – wifi or mobile network

Getting sales to leverage social media is probably not going to be as much of an issue as it is adopting the mechanisms to do so.  Social networking is ultimately what sales does.  Simplicity is really the key.  I’ve worked with and know some extremely savvy and business oriented sales people that are the best because they are a consultant first, sales person second.  A good number of these friends and colleagues sell some of the most complex technology solutions out there.  Yet, when it comes to using anything more difficult than their Blackberry for a phone call or email, forget it.  If they can’t figure it out without using a manual, using it is never going to happen – unless under threat of docked commission.  It is no wonder The Sales 2.0 Network says that sales is still in the technological dark ages.

Providing usable tools that fit neatly into a sales persons favorite tool, their mobile phone, makes things familiar and accessible.  Today’s social media tools are simple to use, easy to understand, and ready to use in seconds.  Having these tools connected to account profiles, contacts, service records, transactions, and marketing content provides a mechanism for a more robust engagement with customers.  Social media becomes an extension of the consultative process.

Preassure on Enterprise Apps

Companies like Oracle, SAP, even Salesforce.com are on the hook to leverage mobile apps that integrate with CRM/SFA systems with simplistic interfaces that we have today.  Mobile technology with these enterprise applications is there, but needs to be mashed with social media apps and networks bringing sales closer to the customer.  Focusing requirement gathering efforts in marketing may seem the right path at first, but it is sales that actually could prove the wiser point of entry.  Marketing may be driving the need for social media integration but, leveraging sales leadership for insight into their relationship practices might yield better results for B2B organizations using social media.  After all, who is already networking and how similar is that to what social media and networks is all about.

Potential Cost Savings

Yet, even without tight integration with existing enterprise applications, today’s social media apps are already a powerful mechanism.  On top of that, there is a low or no cost of entry for companies.  Pilot programs to deploy these social media apps can act as the foundation to gather requirements for more robust and mature platforms.  In the process, marketing is also learning from these social media interactions to improve its own use.  It may even be cheaper having sales go mobile on social media than spending marketing dollars and also seeing ROI.

Related Article:  Giving Control of Social Media to Sales for B2B Marketing ROI

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Filed under: b2b, networking, social media, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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