At this point, a vast majority of B2B marketing organizations have invested in social media in some way or form. Yet, 70% of companies do not know the ROI from social media.
The biggest reason for this problem is that when it comes to social media, most B2B marketers are still using a playbook developed by and designed for B2C businesses.
Consumer brands first jumped into social media when they saw the opportunity to use this channel to build their persona. They used a broadcast approach and focused on creating content with widespread appeal, which doesn’t reach a very specific audience. Consumer brands don’t need to tie their efforts completely back to ROI, the way we do in B2B marketing.
Most of us in B2B marketing have followed this same playbook, though our goals and set of tactics are very different from B2C brands. We still think of social media as a top of the funnel play, which is there for brand awareness. It’s a good way to get our messaging out there and a place where we can be around our competitors.
To make social media an ROI positive channel in a B2B context, we need to change that mindset and start to look at social media differently.
I recently wrote an article about this because I want B2B marketers to realize that looking at social media as just an isolated channel, or assuming that social is just a brand awareness play is keeping us from using social to its full potential.
In reality, social media isn’t just one single channel and it isn’t just for building brand awareness. Social media is ubiquitous, and in fact, can impact many of the activities your demand generation team is doing. Here’s why:
- Social provides a channel for personal, one-on-one engagement. You can leverage Twitter’s direct message feature or LinkedIn’s In-Mail feature to send personalized, thoughtful messages to prospects. It provides a new channel for communicating with buyers. In a world where buyers are inundated with brand messages through emails, smart marketers are using a multi-channel approach to engaging with their prospects.
- Social activity data is a vast source of real-time customer intelligence. By monitoring social media activity in your space, you’ll know when someone is entering a buying cycle and be able to reach out to them at the moment of need. If you have any doubt about the value of social data, know that the biggest technology company in the world – Microsoft – paid $26 billion to acquire LinkedIn – with the intent of adding a social data layer across its products.
When you think about social from these perspectives, it becomes apparent that social can help you get more leverage out of your existing marketing activities and deliver a positive return to your business.
If your goal is to turn social media into an ROI positive channel, and help your marketing leaders see the value of social in the same way that they see value from emails, events, content marketing and other lead generation programs, you need an action plan.
Below, I’ll offer four simple steps you can take to get started.
Step 1: Make a Plan
In the B2B space, you’re selling a product or service that solves a specific set of pain points for a specific audience.
You have to start with your target audience and figure out how you will reach them.
Your marketing team already has a buyer persona(s) that you’re going after. You know what your target audience’s pain points are, their biographical information like job titles and industries. You know which publications they read, the influencers they pay attention to. You know the questions they ask when they start to do research on the problem space your company plays in, as well as the keywords they use to search for solutions in your space. With all this information, use the insight to develop target keywords to search for this audience on social networks.
What is your demand generation team already doing?
Here are some areas to consider:
Chances are, your marketing team has experimented with content syndication programs to generate new leads. Why not use social media to find your target prospects and proactively reach out to them and offer them with valuable content, in the moment when they’re starting their research process?
Based on their interests and buyer persona, are there specific pieces of content, such as webinars or whitepapers that you can send to them? Your goal is to offer value and build trust with your target audience and through gated content, capture their contact information in your CRM or marketing automation system.
You can use social media to get more ROI from your events . As a business attending or sponsoring an event, the conference hashtag is your key to targeting, engaging and nurturing your qualified leads. By using the conference hashtag and other marketing qualified lead characteristics, you can identifying the best attendees for your business and invite them to your booth. Through Socedo, you can capture the tweets generated by your leads at that event in your CRM system so that your sales teams can personalize their outreach. At Socedo, we’ve used this approach to book all of our booth demos at Marketo Nation this year before the event even started.
In addition, Dynamic Signal, an employee advocacy and engagement platform company, took this approach to their events and doubled the amount of opportunities they generated in comparison to traditional post-event outreach.
Email Marketing and Lead Nurturing
Your marketing team is already using emails to nurture leads. Does it make sense to create new nurture programs based on the content of people’s tweets? What about turning to social media to nurture your existing leads to accelerate them through the sales cycle?
At Socedo, we see social data as a valuable tool to creating better emails. We’ve found that socially engaged leads have much higher email open and click-through rates compared to leads from other sources.
Your demand generation team probably has a lead scoring system in place. Do you want to use real-time social activity data to score your leads, so that you can pass more MQLs to sales?
To learn more about why it’s important to use social data in your lead scoring model, take a look at our guide “Building a Socially Minded Lead Scoring Model”.
How do you connect social media activities back to your systems of record?
As you make your plan, you’ll want to think about how you can connect social media activities back to your marketing automation system or CRM so that you can look at how social impacts demand generation metrics like leads, MQLs, SQLs, Opportunities and Revenue.
Will you be manually uploading new CSVs of leads from social into these systems? Or will you find technology that integrates your social media platform with your CRM or marketing automation system?
You also want to come up with a plan on how you follow up with these social leads. Will they go into an email nurture program? Will you serve them re-targeting ads? Who will reach out to these leads? Is it sales reps or your SDR team?
To make this plan a successful one, you need to get together with colleagues from your demand generation team. By initiating this collaboration, you’ll be seen a valuable partner and gain new respect in the eyes of your demand gen colleagues.
Step 2: Define Your KPIs
If you want your marketing leaders to care about social media, you can’t be reporting on traditional social media metrics like shares, comments, follower growth and clicks. You need to tie your social media efforts to the KPIs that your marketing leaders care about.
To determine those KPIs, bring your demand generation team into the process to get their input. They’ll know the core metrics your executives track on an on-going basis. It could be new leads each month and quarter, or marketing qualified leads (leads who have shown enough interest in your brand to get passed to sales).
Depending on the organization, it could be the number of closed won deals, and revenue amount from closed won deals influenced by marketing. It could also be funnel velocity: How effective each channel is at converting new customers and how long the average sales cycle is for leads from different channels.
Whatever KPIs are top of mind for your marketing organization, start there and look at the impact of social on these key metrics.
Step 3: Adopt Technology
To make social a weapon in your demand generation channel, you’ll need to think about what technology you can use to help identify prospects on social at scale and engage with them. You’ll also need a way to connect social into your marketing automation system or CRM so that you can get credits for finding new leads on social. As you evaluate technology to support your initiative, consider these elements:
- Targeting (find your target prospects on social): What technologies can you use to run the searches to find your target audience on social? Do you want to run these searches manually? Set up queues in your social media management platform? Or do you want a more advanced system that allows you to define a large, yet targeted audience with precision?
- Engagement workflow: You’ll be reaching out to prospects on social through a series of touches (i.e. follow someone, like their tweet, add them to a list, send them a direct message). You can do this manually. Or you can look to a system like Socedo that automatically engages with your target prospects once you define the touches within an engagement workflow.
- A/B testing: A/B testing on social is very difficult. When a post on social gets a lot of engagement, it’s hard to figure out what made it successful. It could be the time that you chose for publishing it. It could be the image you chose. It could be the message itself. But if you think about A/B testing through direct messages and one-to-one nurtures, you can continually A/B test your messages and get better. What are the systems that can help you do that A/B testing?
- Integrations: When someone follows your brand on social and engages with you through a direct message, you want to make sure that a new lead record is created in your marketing automation system or CRM system. You can do this manually by uploading a spreadsheet. But it’s better if you can integrate your social media platform directly with your marketing automation or CRM system. This allows you to see social as a lead source and track how social leads move through the marketing funnel and impacts revenue.
- Reports/Analytics: Where will you be pulling the reports you need? Can you generate the reports with the KPIs you need from your marketing automation system? Can you do it through your social media management platform? Or can you get it through a business intelligence platform like Tableau?
Step 4: Calculate ROI
Finally, you want to measure the ROI from social. The goal is to take these numbers back to your executive team and show them that social is an ROI positive channel. You can take a couple of approaches to measuring ROI.
The Comparative Cost Approach
The first approach is pretty simple. You’re just looking at what you would’ve paid for on the outcomes you drove out of social relative, to what you pay for outcomes generated from other channels.
In many B2B marketing organization, many of these cost targets may already be established. For example, your organization may have a cost per lead target. It may have a cost per contact target or a cost per registration (for a webinar or an event) target.
You can look at how many actions have been generated from social and determine the value associated with these actions. To determine the ROI, just put the value created on top of what you paid to generate those engagements and conversions.
For example, you can look at the number of followers generated from your social media efforts. If these followers truly fit your buyer persona, what value would you associate with each follower?
- Clicks: Your organization may already be using pay-per-click ads. You have a target cost for each click. If you’ve generated clicks to your gated content (i.e. webinar registration, whitepaper download) from social media, you can calculate the dollar value of these clicks.
- Registrations: Your organization uses gated landing pages to collect contact information in exchange for valuable content. Many B2B organizations leverage content syndication programs or cost-per-lead programs (i.e. Bright Talk, eMedia are two examples). The industry average is around $50 per lead (sometimes $100 per lead depending on the type of audience). Look at the number of registrations you’re driving from social to determine the dollar value of registrations.
- Contacts: Buying email lists or contact information from data providers is a standard practice in B2B marketing. If you can create new contacts from social media and put them into your marketing automation or CRM system, you should factor in the value.
To calculate ROI, find the difference between the value and the cost, and divide this figure by the cost.
The Revenue Contribution Approach
If you want, you can also tie social back to revenue contribution. This requires an integration between your social media platform and the system you’re using to report opportunities and revenue (usually a marketing automation or CRM system). There are a few steps involved.
First, put new contacts from social into your marketing automation or CRM system. Wait for a few sales cycles to go by.
Look at how much revenue has been generated, the opportunities associated with that revenue, and see how much of it was influenced by social. You can use one of these approaches:
- First touch: See how many leads came to your system where social media was the first touch point the lead had with your brand
- Last-touch: See how many leads engaged with you on social right before they became a Marketing Qualified Lead
- Multi-touch weighted approach: Your marketing automation or CRM system weights all the touches that happen to a lead, and calculates the proportion that social media contributes to moving that lead to a marketing qualified or sales qualified status.
To get ROI, take total revenue influenced by social, subtract the cost or the amount invested in social, and divide this figure by the cost. ROI (%) = (Revenue – Cost) / Revenue * 100
If you can identify social as a lead source and track leads to revenue in your marketing automation or CRM system, you can also slice and dice this data in other ways to show ROI.
For example, you could look at average revenue per customer per channel, and see whether socially-engaged leads that turned into customers bought more compared to customers influenced by other channels. You could look at conversion rate (MQL to Opportunity, Opportunity to Closed-Won) by channel.
To see how Socedo can help you use social to generate new leads and ROI, give our free trial a spin!