Recently, I’ve noticed that demand generation teams and social media teams within B2B marketing organizations operate very differently.
For instance, demand generation teams rely on data to inform all of their programs. They use data to create targeted ads, send emails, improve their website, create content and plan for events. They understand the importance of segmentation and personalized communications. Demand generation programs are evaluated based on the number leads they generate and their ROI.
On the other hand, many B2B marketing organizations still think of social media as just a channel for generating brand awareness, not new leads. Social teams usually take a broadcast approach on social media posting blog articles, events, company news and product announcements; hoping that their target audience pays attention.
Social teams often measure activities like follower/fan growth, number of comments, shares, retweets, and clicks. They are often challenged in tying their effort to one of the most important metrics in B2B marketing orgs: new leads.
Assuming that social media is just an isolated channel for brand awareness is a mistake. If you look at social with a demand generation mindset, you’ll discover that social media has the ability to impact and improve results across a variety of channels.
What does it mean to approach social media with a demand generation mindset?
1. Targeting & Segmentation: Use Social Data to Identify and Segment Your Audience
In demand generation marketing, you always start with your audience. Who is in your target audience and what are their interests? What are their pain points?
You look to data to define your target prospects and figure out where they are in the buyer journey.
The good news is that you can turn to social networks to identify and reach out to your target audience proactively, rather than just posting messages on your company pages.
People share a lot about themselves on social. Most professionals today are using social networks to do research on solutions, read articles relevant to their roles, and talk to peers about issues related to their job function.
By using keywords including industry hot topics, brand handles, and influencer handles, you could identify your target prospects on social. Thanks to the public nature of social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn, you can use info that your prospects openly share online to craft relevant messages just for them. For example, this can be offering articles or resources aligned to their interests. By engaging specific prospects with relevant, one-to-one messaging, you can increase the likelihood of their conversion on your website.
Now compare the effectiveness of using proactive social outreach versus pay-per-click ads, which are a stable in many organizations’ marketing mix.
PPC ads (Google Adwords, LinkedIn ads, Facebook, etc.) come with the promise that you can efficiently reach your target audience. However, their pricing model actually leads to a lot of waste. Whether someone fit your target audience or not, you have to pay for every single click.
While you can define a target audience on LinkedIn or Facebook based on job titles, industries and other lead qualifying criteria, you have no information about whether these people are actively looking for a solution in your space.
At Socedo, we’ve ran LinkedIn sponsored updates as well as boosted Facebook posts to promote our webinars and blog posts. We’ve seen good reach and click through rates, yet only a very small handful of marketing qualified leads.
On Twitter, you can define your audience based on keywords in people’s bios (i.e. job title, location) as well as tweets, which provides a real-time indicator of people’s interests. By using private direct messages, you can drive this very targeted audience to your landing pages without having to pay for every click. Because these people are in your target audience, they are more likely to be interested in what you have to offer and convert at a higher rate.
Once you capture these people as visitors on your website, you can serve retargeting ads to this group as part of a multi-channel approach to nurture these leads. That’s a more effective approach to advertising than paying a lot to drive unqualified people to your website.
2. Personalizing Communications at Scale: Using Direct Messages to Engage with Prospects One on One
Demand generation marketers understand that personalized emails are way more effective at moving leads down the marketing funnel than generic email blasts. They put energy into creating tailored nurture programs for different buyers. So why don’t social media marketers take the same approach?
Instead of scheduling out a bunch of tweets every day and hoping that your target audience takes notice, you could use Twitter’s direct messaging feature, which provides a private, one-to-one engagement channel to your prospects.
Since direct messages are not limited to the 140-character rule, you can share more content through this feature. And because only the sender and recipient can see the message, the channel provides authentic, person-to-person interactions.
By using a personalized DM at the earlier stages of a customer’s journey, you can pierce through the noise of inbox spam to reach prospects as individuals, on their terms, in specific times of needs.
By looking through prospects tweets, follows and retweets, you can identify relevant content – an e-book or blog post, for example, targeted to their specific interests. You could send them a link to a piece of content to build trust with your target prospects, which helps move them more quickly to the active interest stage.
To create personalized communications, you need insights into your target audience. The data you get from social media activities can help you connect easier, send better emails, by getting a better look at your audience. Social activities data provide a real-time look into:
- The questions your prospects are asking as they’re starting their research process
- Sources they trust for information
- Topics they care about
- How they feel about your brand or your competitors
- Where a prospect is in the buying process
By tracking the social activities of your prospects, you’ll become better equipped to create email programs that convert.
For example, let’s say that your company did a webinar two weeks ago with an influencer in your industry. When a lead starts to follow that influencer or retweets the influencer, you could put them into an automated program to receive the on-demand recording from the webinar. Since the lead has already indicated that they respect this influencer’s opinion, you can expect the joint webinar to be well-received.
3. Lead scoring based on behavioral data: Social Activity Data Provide Signals of Interest in Real-Time
Demand generation marketers use quantitative methods to quality leads. Chances are, your organization is already using a lead scoring model that incorporates some behavioral data into the model. You might be increasing the lead scores of people who open your emails, download your whitepapers, register for your webinars or request a demo.
Not having social activity data in your lead scoring model means that you’re missing a key piece of demand generation data. Social activities provide the best indicators of top-of-funnel interest. With social media in your lead scoring model, you can identify prospects who are showing interest in your company. Here are a few types of activities to score:
- A click on a social post is equivalent to a click in an email campaign or paid ad.
- A retweet can be considered higher scoring than a click. You can assume the lead visited the content and is now endorsing it and actively engaging with it.
- A follow is a proactive step to subscribe to the content in your stream and should be equivalent to a blog or newsletter subscribe.
- A direct message reply requires a small amount of personal investment and shows specific interest, just like an email reply or registering for a webinar.
Whom your prospects follow on social can also provide insights into their mindset. Followers of certain Twitter handles (i.e. influencers in your space, senior executives in your company) or LinkedIn groups are expressions of interest you can score along posts and clicks.
4. Nurture Leads on Social as Part of a Multi-Channel Approach
Demand generation marketers understand that they must deploy multiple touch points to engage with their prospects to move them from one stage to the next state of the buying journey.
Although email marketing is the bread and butter within most B2B organizations, we can no longer rely on emails as the only channel for nurturing their leads. For one thing, nearly 80% of marketers say that their email open rates don’t exceed 20% (Source: The State of B2B Lead Nurturing Survey, Oracle). On top of that, 79% of marketing leads never convert to sales (source: Marketing Sherpa)
Smart marketers are taking a multi-channel approach to nurturing their leads. Social media represents an effective channel to reach out to your leads.
If you could see which leads are actively engaging with your brand, influencers or hot topics in your space, you can reach out to these leads on social, answer questions or offer help to move them further down the marketing funnel.
One of the challenges inherent to the B2B sales cycle is the majority of marketing captured leads aren’t ready to make a purchase within your target timeframe. Since you’ve worked hard to capture these leads, you definitely don’t want them to go cold or slip through the cracks.
Social media presents an opportunity to re-engage with cold leads.
For example, you could identify leads who have not visited your website in the last two weeks, have not opened your emails in the past 30 days, but have mentioned relevant keywords related to your product space in their tweets in the past week. You could reach out to these leads on social and send them a resource to keep lines of communication open.
5. Event Marketing: Use Social Media to Increase ROI on Your Events
Most B2B marketing organizations are investing at least some amount of resources into events, tradeshows or conferences to get face-to-face time with your prospects.
Traditionally, when it comes to events, marketers focus on a raw list of attendees and booth visitors. This list contains leads that will prove the ROI of the event and provide insights into whether or not to invest in this event next time. The best prospects at the events are the ones who engage in conversations with your staff, because discussing a problem and offering a solution brings a prospect further down the buyer’s journey.
Why not use social to create more of these types of conversations?
You’ve probably noticed that during an event or conference, hundreds of attendees will tweet out pictures of slides, quotes, or discuss strategies with the same hashtag.
You can follow the hashtag for every event your team attends, actively engaging with attendees who use that hashtag and ask them to stop by your booth for a conversation, or introduce them to your teammates who are in attendance.
You could also use the event hashtag plus other MQL characteristics like job titles or locations to discover people who attended the event. With a solution that brings these contacts into your marketing automation system, you can create a target list of people for your sales team to follow up with personally. If you provide your sales team with a link to the tweet from the event, sales reps can personalize the outreach and engage with the prospects on Twitter directly. This adds a new level of authenticity to the sales process and increases the likelihood of conversion.
At the end of the day, you want to make sure that all of your marketing activities are focused on bringing your sales team qualified prospects who are good fits, and ready to make a purchase. Social media provides new ways to discover, engage with, and nurture your prospects to bring new customers to your company.
If you want to learn more about how to make social media an ROI positive channel, take a look at our on-demand webinar.
To see how you can discover, engage and qualify leads through social media, start a free trial of Socedo today.