Archives for posts with tag: demand generation

In our last post, we talked a bit about leveraging social media to drive demand and lead generation. Today, let’s start talking about the basic mechanisms behind that. It’s a pretty big topic and we want to try and get down to actionable how-to stuff for you, so we’ll have to do this in three or four parts. Today is Part 1.

1. Start with a great product.

Sure, this seems so simple that it goes without saying, but… well, it is overlooked more often than you think. Corners get cut, things get rushed, budgets fall short, companies miss their window of opportunity and the result is too little, too late, and the burden falls on marketing, PR, sales and the social media team to make it all work anyway. It happens every day and no company is immune, so we don’t want to pretend that it doesn’t happen.

Here’s the cold hard truth: if your product isn’t really valuable to your market, it’s just going to sit there on that shelf. It doesn’t matter much how much “social media” you put behind it. All that money you are spending in marketing and advertising to “build awareness” for your brand and product is being wasted on trying to put lipstick on a pig. What are the odds that you’ll actually be able to pull it off? How much money are you willing to throw at a problem that no amount of marketing or social media can fix?

More to the point, what happens when your newly acquired customers finally move from awareness to desire to purchase and… your product isn’t as great as they expected it to be? Do you think that more Facebook activity will help? (It won’t.) More digital monitoring? (Nope.) The best marketing and social media program in the world won’t save you if your product isn’t a winner. So before you put too much work into your social media program’s lead and demand generation strategy, make sure that you have something worthwhile to drive people to. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time and ultimately working to turn people off.

What makes a product a winner? It depends. It could be design. It could be price. It could be reliability. It could be the aura of quality that your brand provides, even if the product itself is only slightly better than your competition. It could have more to do with great customer service and shopping experiences than the product itself. It could solve a problem more effectively than anything else out there. It might just look nice, weigh less, work better, boot up faster, have better ergonomics… We could literally go on and on and on about what might give a product a definitive market advantage. The point is that it needs to have at least one, and the more of them, the better. Before you launch into a social media campaign, figure out what you want to talk about.

2. Make sure you aren’t focusing on the wrong outcomes.

We learned yesterday that 83% of B2B organizations using social media use it primarily to raise awareness, but that less than 35% use social media for demand generation. That’s shocking, so let’s change that right now.

You should know by now that beating a “like us” and “follow us” drum isn’t getting anyone very far. If you like giving away iPads and 20% off coupons, great. Do it. But be aware that a like drive on Facebook or a “follow us” campaign on Twitter don’t exactly focus on generating leads or demand. They focus on generating likes and followers. So before you spend a lot of time on convincing volumes of people to “like” your Facebook page even though many may never become your customers, spend some time thinking about the outcomes that these likes and follows are meant to drive. Remember that you aren’t on Facebook to attract likes. The value of a like to your business is precisely zero. A million likes on Facebook don’t alone drive the slightest bit of demand, so don’t kid yourself for one second about that.

If, however, you focus on attracting customers to Facebook so you can interact with them in a way that is valuable to them, then you will be able to convert some of those likes into actual dollars. Your business needs you to drive leads and demand, not likes and followers. It isn’t to say that your business shouldn’t try to grow its communities on social channels (it absolutely should), but remember to stay focused on the key business outcomes that your social activity will be driving.

3. Make the customer journey an integral part of your social demand generation program.

Understand where your fans, followers and subscribers are in their customer journey. The easiest way to do that is to divide them into three basic categories: a) not a customer yet, b) new customer (not loyal yet), and c) loyal customer. The types of behaviors you want to drive from members of each of these three groups are different, which means that the focus of your content, conversations and interactions will be different depending on which of these groups you happen to be targeting at any given time. (And yes, you will always be targeting all three simultaneously.)

Put simply, the core of your activities in social media (and elsewhere) will be split into three areas: a) customer acquisition, b) customer development and c) customer retention. Do you see how just by doing this, you change the focus of your social media efforts from likes and shares and clicks to actual business-focused outcomes?

Do a quick test: right now, are you able to select ten random likes (fans) on Facebook or ten random followers on Twitter and tell me where they belong on that a/b/c scale? Which ones are prospects?  Which ones are new customers? Which ones are long-term, loyal customers? If you have no way of determining that right now (no way to connect your CRM database to your social accounts or no account teams who can connect the dots for you), you need to fix that as quickly as possible. If you don’t, you won’t be able to legitimately generate demand and leads from your interactions across social channels.

One last tip: Don’t focus all of you efforts on like/follower and customer acquisition. Focus at least as much on customer development and customer retention. THAT is where social media channels truly shine anyway (mass media and traditional marketing often do a better job of creating quick mass awareness than social channels), and driving business from existing customers is a lot more cost-effective than driving business from new customers. How much more effective? Here is your answer (courtesy of Bain & Co):

On average, it is about 6x cheaper to drive a sale from existing customers than it costs to drive new business through customer acquisition. The question you have to answer now is “where are my money and attention better spent: on acquisition, or on development and retention?”

Think beyond the acquisition piece. It’s only one third of what you should be focusing on. Build value. Build relationships. Build loyalty. Build word-of-mouth channels. Work smarter in the social space.

We will revisit the topic of acquisition, development and loyalty again (and in more detail) in Part 2.

4. Make sure that you aren’t trying to drive the wrong conversations.

“Check out our latest blog post” is going to pull some traffic. And if you tweet about it every 78 minutes from 8:30am until 2:30pm, you will probably double the traffic you would have gotten had you not tweeted about it. Multiply that by 3-5 posts per week for over 50 weeks every year, and your blog’s “content strategy” (even if it efficiently rolls through the social media expert, journalist, PR maven, oversharer, affiliate community member, agency guy, blogger, SxSW speaker wheel of interest) is going to get old fast. What can you possibly write about almost every business day that will actually be of interest to your community? Your products don’t have that many features. Your office’s cupcake parties aren’t that interesting. There might not be a blizzard outside your HQ for another three months. So… how are you hitting all the right notes?

Here’s a tip: Listen. Listen to your community. Listen to online conversations. Browse comments in blog posts that relate to some problem your products help solve. The more you listen and read relevant content that isn’t your own, and the better you become at it, the easier it will be to figure out what you should be talking about, asking about, publishing and chatting about. Here is a short list of some of the things you should be listening for:

  • Complaints about your products and/or company.
  • Complaints about your competitors’ products and/or companies.
  • Wishes. (“I wish that my [insert product category here] would do [insert new value-add feature here].)
  • “How do I” questions relating to keywords relevant to your world. (If you are an airline, “what’s the best way to book a flight from my iPhone?” is the kind of question you want to look for. It prompts conversations that can help you introduce a prospective customer to your awesome smart-phone app.) Hint: help people solve problems. If you can’t solve them yet, work towards a way that you will be able to in 3 months. Or 6 months. Or a year. Listening to their problems and questions will help you build new centers of value that will in turn help make you more attractive to new and existing customers.
  • Comparison questions. (“iPhone or Droid?” tells you that someone is looking to buy something. If you’re a Samsung reseller and you look for those kinds of product mentions across a variety of social channels, you can reach out and perhaps influence a decision.)

Also look for discussion groups, user community groups, relevant hashtags, etc. It might take a little trial and error, but you will figure it out quickly enough. And if we can help with that piece of the puzzle, even better.

We might have to revisit this specific topic in more detail at a greater date, but you get the idea: Set up a listening practice whose purpose (at least partial purpose) is to look for demand and lead opportunities. If a question or topic comes up often enough, write a blog post or two about it. Produce a few videos and post them to YouTube. Create an infographic or a presentations that you can post to Pinterest or Slideshare. That way, every time it comes up from that point on, you can just link to it. Aside from the time-management piece and the SEO benefit of doing this, you will be sure that your content addresses actual questions and issues that consumers are dealing with in the real world. That’s valuable, and if you do it right, your social channels can become valuable all day long, every day of the week. So from now on, don’t just push marketing content on social channels. It isn’t enough.

Stay tuned for Part 2. We’ll get a little more tactical.

In the meantime, come by and say hello on Facebook, check out our no-spam zone on Twitter, and of course, check out our Tickr monitoring dashboard. (There’s a free version, a pro version and an enterprise version, so we have you covered.)

 Cheers,

The Tickr team.

Eloqua recently published the above infographic to highlight certain key elements of a study they conducted with B2B companies in regards to social media. We gloss through our share of data and infographics here at Tickr, but this one caught our eye for several reasons. The first is that it focuses on B2B, and that is always a plus in our book. Most of the studies being done on social business focus on B2C organizations, and folks who work in B2B tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to running into solid case studies and informative data about social business in B2B. So before we go any further, let’s give Eloqua a hand for doing this. (And doing it well.)

Second, the study doesn’t stick to just asking the usual questions. It manages to dig a little further than most and get to actionable insights. That’s what we like to see. (data is nice, but if you can’t really use it to do something better, faster, cheaper or smarter, what’s the point?) The first thing that caught our eye wasn’t that 34% of B2B companies STILL don’t use social media or that 83% of social media use is aimed at “increasing awareness.” (We’ll come back to that.) No, what first caught our attention was this: 26% of respondents said PR/communications owned social and 11% said the web team owned it. Remove that 37% of PR/Communications/Web, and you’re left with 63% of something else. Though the report states that only 23% of companies surveyed stated that social is being shared by departments, our hunch is that the number is far higher than that. This is good news.

Even if that 23% number is accurate, it means that the trend towards operationalizing social media usage across the organization is moving in the right direction. The days of social business really meaning “social marketing” are coming to an end. Organizations are learning and adapting to the reality of social business: Since it can be used for lead generation, business development, market research, PR, Marketing, user community management, etc., the management of the company’s social accounts has to be shared across departments. This is indicative of a natural evolution in the B2B social business space. Organizations are learning and adapting to these new channels and technologies. That is a very good sign.

The second thing that caught our eye was the fact that only 35% of organizations are currently using social media for lead/demand generation. 12% responded that they don’t know. That leaves 53% of companies not using social media for lead generation. Given the connective nature of social channels (and for B2B, we want to stress the importance of channels like LinkedIn), we found that surprising. Eloqua looked a little closer at this issue and found that 43% of B2B companies do not currently have a social media-friendly demand generation strategy in place.

43%.

33% of these same companies seemed to be unsure that social media can even be used for demand generation, and 25% responded that social media is simply not applicable to a demand generation funnel. 18% went as far as to say that they don’t have the tools.

These numbers surprised us. Why? Because 100% of B2B companies that currently use social media should be focusing their social media efforts on demand generation. And the 34% of companies that don’t should be looking into figuring out how to incorporate social channels into a demand generation model. So why is this not happening?

The clue might come from one of the first things we talked about today: 83% of the focus from B2B companies in social media is to “raise awareness” for the company or brand. In the same vein, 56% drive social sharing (to further grow that awareness). 55% focus on growing followers and likes, believing that this will increase trust in their brand.

Only 32% are using social channels as demand generation channels (although 35% responded that they are using social media for demand generation).

This tells us that when it comes to social media, B2B organizations are a) still focusing on the wrong things, and b) not leveraging social channels properly. If awareness is the focus of their activity but demand generation isn’t, they are still mostly doing marketing and PR on social channels. They are not truly engaged in building social business practices yet.

Another hint might come from the Top 3 channels part of the graphic, which tells us that 80% use Facebook and 78% use Twitter, but only 51% use LinkedIn. (Eloqua reminds us that LinkedIn has been shown to be 3x more effective at lead generation than Facebook or Twitter, so the impact of this slow adoption rate is compounded by that difference in effectiveness between channels.)

We will revisit the topic of lead/demand generation in a more “how to” format, but for now, here are a few quick takeaways:

1. If you have not yet incorporated social activity into your organization’s lead/demand generation mechanisms, you need to change that right away. Especially if you expect to be able to have a legitimate ROI discussion with the CFO or your sales managers at some point.

2. Use monitoring tools to listen for mentions of your brand, your competitors’ brands, your products, their products, and any keyword that is relevant to your category. Do this on as many social channels as possible. Listening for these mentions will open up a world of opportunities for you, ranging from market intelligence to (yes, you guessed it…) lead generation. This is how you will discover user communities, associations and discussion groups made up of people you need to be engaging with, and leave you open to product feature ideas you had not yet considered (to gain a market advantage) and possible partnerships that were not until then on your radar. (Distributors, manufacturers, service providers, OEM partners, new resellers, etc.)

3. Focus less on marketing and building awareness on social channels, and more on identifying opportunities to make meaningful connections with people and organizations whom you can have a mutually beneficial relationship with. Again, these may be new customers, sure, (though advertising and marketing may be more effective means of increasing your reach than social activity) but don’t underestimate the impact of connecting with existing distribution, manufacturing, reseller, technical and user communities. Find them and join them. Then use these communities to further connect people to each other (and your products). That is where the true value of your social activities lie, and where the seeds of true demand generation will take root.

4. Whether or not a B2B organization ends up using tools like the ones offered by Eloqua (by the way, how would you rate their use of social sharing to drive awareness and demand generation? See what they did there?), the opportunity to build a digital mission control center around a digital monitoring + brand awareness + demand generation + sales & conversion measurement practice might serve a B2B organization far better than… just having a Facebook and Twitter “awareness” strategy.

 Focus on the right things. Rethink your use of social media channels. Look beyond awareness. What is that awareness supposed to drive? Business. What kind of business? New business and existing business. Is your content driving demand? Are your interactions with people on social channels driving demand? Are your monitoring, response and engagement activities focused on driving business? If the answers to the last 3 questions aren’t “yes,” it’s time for a quick reboot of your social media program and get it back on the right track.

We’ll be back with more. In the meantime, why not check out the free version of our Tickr monitoring tool? If you weren’t yet monitoring with purpose, or if your monitoring tools left you a little confused, ours might make things easier and clearer for you. Let us know what you think.

Cheers,

The Tickr team.