There’s an ongoing debate about the ROI of social media marketing. Many of the conversations center around measuring social media as a branding and awareness tool, while others concentrate on the value of thought leadership.
Monitoring the metrics for thought leadership and branding are important, but many marketers make the mistake of using those metrics to support the success of their social media initiatives. This can result in C-level executives doubting the return on their investment in social media.
Simply put, your CEO is probably less interested in hearing about how many people are talking about your brand/product/service and more interested in learning how social media helped drive revenue.
As a sales person in the B2B Demand Generation space, I’ve invested countless hours researching, experimenting and testing various techniques.
Related Resource from B2CWebcast: PR Hacking: How Ideas Spread And What Marketers Need to Know
Based on my experience (almost all my sales wins in the past 2 years can be attributed to using social media marketing and sales techniques), the following are three steps marketers can take to directly attribute sales leads to their B2B social media marketing strategy:
1. Convert Thought Leadership Into “Offer Content”
Convert thought leadership into white papers, videos, or otherwise tangible “offer content” assets that are specifically written NOT to sell your company, product or services, but rather to SOLVE a business problem. (Problems that coincidentally, your product/service can assist with.)
Then, develop a plan to promote the content socially. Tactics can include lacing links to the offer content in relevant blog posts, posting bite-sized snippets of the content on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, and including links in the comments of related blog posts and community forums (but only when they add value, never spam links in unrelated posts).
If the nature of the content is meant for prospects in the early stage of the buying cycle, it’s a good idea to present it as “un-gated” (i.e. no registration required). For offer content that would be most interesting to audiences later in the buying cycle, it might be a good idea to have it accompanied by a landing page* (with registration form), a thank you page and/or a fulfillment email.*
*If your company has invested in a marketing automation (MA) solution like Marketo, visits to the content assets can be tracked, providing valuable sales and marketing intelligence.**
To learn more about choosing the right offer, download a free copy of the white paper “How To Choose Your Carrot: Effective Lead Generation Offers for High-Technology Marketers,” from the lead generation experts at Spear Marketing Group.
2. Dedicate Sales Time To Social Listening & Social Selling
Social selling is very similar to attending conferences, user groups and association meetings. Except you do it daily.
Your first job is to position yourself in online communities ripe with your target audience.
The second part of your job is to participate in conversations with solutions to their problems, make friends and be as helpful as possible – without coming across as “salesy.”
The third part is to always watch and listen. Keep an eye out for pains and needs that your product or service can solve. Watch for changes in jobs, industry news and other events that signal an opportunity for you to engage.
I’ll post later on more strategies to find your target audience, but in the meantime here are some suggestions on where/how to find your audience:
*LinkedIn Groups & Other Online Forums
3. Craft A Great Intro Email
Believe it or not, the Intro Email is quite possibly the most effective weapon of successful social selling. At some point, you’ll want to connect outside of social media to get the meeting, and good old-fashioned email (along with a follow-up call) still reigns king for that purpose. As with all good marketing emails, the subject line must bestow a benefit to the audience.
Example Subject Line: Learn how to improve your XXX
Once you have their interest, the body of the email needs to speak to their needs and business problems and demonstrate your credentials for offering a solution.
Example Email Body:
This email is to introduce you to ABC Corp, an XYZ company specializing in XXX. We help companies like [CompanyName] improve their XXX by assisting with:
<Distill your message to 3 points, maximum. Bullet point them here.>
I’m interested in learning whether you have any XXX initiatives upcoming. If you’re interested in discussing XXX or in learning more about XYZ company, please feel free to contact me directly.
<Pay attention, because here comes the important part>
P.S. If you’re interested in tips on maximizing your XXX, get a free copy of our [insert title of and link to business problem-solving offer content asset here].
Trust me, the P.S. works.
So, now that you have the basics, how will you integrate this strategy in your initiatives?
**[Full disclosure: The agency I work for is a Marketo partner.]