5 Key Insights to Prime Your Inbound Marketing Pipeline

June 28, 2012

Today, our best (highest quality and velocity) leads are coming from inbound marketing. In this post, you’ll learn about the business climate shaping this trend and important content creation insights that can maximize the value of your inbound marketing efforts.

1.  Inbound marketing is the new frontier for lead generation.

Today, buyers control the journey toward a closed deal. According to SiriusDecisions, by 2015, more than 71% of an organization’s leads will come via inbound marketing. Yet, their recent research brief “Inbound Marketing: Findings From Our Survey”  indicates that fewer than half of organizations today have defined an enterprise-wide inbound marketing strategy. This means that the playing field is wide open and you have an opportunity to become a B2B inbound marketing leader.

5 Components of Inbound Marketing, by Eric Wittlake

2.  Be found through the recommendation of others and delight everyone that finds you.

I believe that this recommendation offered by my esteemed colleague and celebrated B2B blogger Eric Wittlake in his blog post “5  Key Elements of Modern Inbound Marketing” will give you the greatest return on your inbound marketing efforts. In this post, Eric sums up the opportunities of inbound marketing today as follows:  Modern inbound marketing is built around the core of your content and the experience it is wrapped in. This content and experience is discovered through organic search, other people’s social media recommendations and earned coverage from media, analysts and other publishers. The rest of this post is focused on “delighting everyone that finds you” to ensure that you are found.

3.  Deliver content that has meaning for your audience.

Content becomes discoverable when it is relevant. When you understand the buyer’s pain points and produce content designed specifically to meet those needs, you maximize the odds that your content will be read—and shared. In fact, I advised a prospect today with limited money, time and resources that they’d get the most return on their marketing investment by discovering what kind of content their audience wants and then dedicating their resources to creating that content and leading that conversation.

4.  Stand in your buyer’s shoes.

Don’t forget that putting content at the heart of everything you do becomes powerful when you put the buyer at the heart of everything you say. Don’t stand in your own shoes and talk about your own agenda. Write content from a buyer-centric perspective—to help answer questions, solve problems and reveal opportunities for that buyer.

5.  Increase your buyer-centric marketing intelligence.

You can learn more about how to become a leader in inbound marketing in my post Take 4 Steps Back for 1 Giant Leap Forward: The Buyer-Centric Marketing Model where you can review the four (often overlooked) steps to attract savvy B2B buyers and increase pipeline efficiency.

In summary: When content is GREAT, it is inspired by what your prospect or customer cares about most. And they can’t wait to read it, apply its insights and then spread the word. This is the power source behind high-impact inbound marketing. Put this principle into play now and you’ll have a strategic advantage in satisfying buyers all the way to the purchase.




Two Major Building Blocks for Social Media Success in B2B Demand Generation

January 25, 2012

There’s no doubt that social media is an important part of any B2B marketer’s job. However, we need to be more cognizant about the prerequisites of a great social strategy. Social strategy is NOT defined by the social channels you choose for engaging  your audience. More importantly, it’s about ensuring your content strategy is stellar and aligned with buyer needs.

To build a successful B2B social media strategy, there are two major building blocks that all organizations must adopt:

1.      Think like a publisher

2.      Be a thought leader

In a recent Forrester survey, senior analyst Kim Celestre points to some misalignment between where marketers are spending the most time and money, and where tech buyers are spending the most time.

The chart below provides a great proof point. Many marketers are focusing their attention on high visibility social channels like Facebook and Twitter. Buyers are using other social networks, such as user forums and communities. In an interview with B2B magazine, Celestre shares:

Marketers need to understand customer social behaviors. We found that 86% of business technology buyers use social media during work. Business technology buyers are very social in how they interact with peers and go to online sources to get information. So knowing that and diving deeper to get an understanding of customer preferences will help the technology marketer start getting really strategic.

Chris Koch, Associate Vice President of Research and Thought Leadership for ITSMA (IT Services Marketing Association) summarizes the requirements for successful organizations:

For social media to get anywhere in B2B, companies must undergo a culture change in which they become as good at creating ideas as they are at creating products and services and at servicing customers.

In his latest blog post, Seven Prerequisites for Social Media Success—That Have Nothing to Do with Social Media Koch provides some compelling qualitative and quantitative data that supports the role of these two building blocks. Of his seven prerequisites, three in particular resonated with me:

1.      Social media participants contribute very little to conversations. Research from the Online Community Research Network shows that fewer than 10% of people in online communities ever say anything. And fewer than 2% take a leadership role in starting conversations. Therefore, if you want compelling and relevant content – it’s critical to have a content leader or practice who can think like a publisher and develop a strong editorial calendar.

 2.      ITSMA research shows that 66% of buyers seek information themselves rather than waiting to hear from providers. They seek that information through search. 79% of C-level executives do at least three searches per day. They are more likely to encounter your content through search than through the social media channels themselves. Again, this points back to the importance of content being well-targeted and relevant—and therefore easily found when doing a search.

3.      The business case doesn’t exist for social media, but it does for thought leadership. When [ITSMA] asked buyers last year how important good ideas are to the buying decision, 58% of executive-level buyers (people buying more than $500,000 worth of IT services) said that they are important or critical for making it onto the short list of providers. Buyers were then asked: If a provider brings you a good idea, would you be more likely to buy from them? 30% said yes. And, of that 30%, 54% said they’d consider sole sourcing the project. Social media are great for developing those ideas and for making them available to many more people. But first you have to have an engine for creating the ideas.

The bottom line: Organizations (and B2B marketers) need to focus on content, thought leadership and engaging B2B tech buyers in channels where they go to consume information. Marketing can help by understanding the buyers and the  thought leadership topics relevant to those buyers. Additionally, they can drive the editorial calendar and help orchestrate content development to delivery upon content requirements.

Market well!

Related links:

Roadmap to Buyer-Centric Marketing in B2B

Seven Prerequisites for Social Media Success—That Have Nothing to Do with Social Media

2011 Social Technographics® For Business Technology Buyers


A Knockout Social Media Guide for the B2B Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

March 4, 2011

Whether you’re a demand generation-focused CMO yourself or part of a CMO’s team, the following snips from Eloqua will support your case for CMO social media involvement.

Eloqua is offering an indispensable guide to social media for the CMO—and it’s an easy, engaging, skimmable read, too. Honestly, 14 pages never went so fast.

But if you just can’t face downloading yet another document for “later,” maybe the following excerpts will perk you up for the full read. I’ve explored three of the main topics in the guide as a sneak peek of all the good things that await.

What Is Social Media?

“Its promise is simple: converging friends, colleagues, partners and customers into one digital melting pot.”

The promise may be simple, but for the uber-busy CMO, the practice is not. In fact, this promise sounds like some executives’ worst nightmare. How do you target effectively, or direct others to do so, in a melting pot?

Yet the warning tone of the guide is clear: get onboard or get left behind—not a place any C-level professional wants to be.

Why Do CMOs Need to Understand Social Media Personally?

Most CMOs today still:

  • Leave social media to their junior staff; or
  • Set it and forget it—They register for Facebook or Twitter and then lapse—or
  • Get another department to handle it.

All of these are big no-nos. The Eloqua guide touches on several reasons why, but for me, the need for “positioning, messaging and strategy” from the senior marketing level is the best one.

If you’re the CMO, you’re the voice of experience, and you need to understand fully how to your project your voice through social media.

Why Does My Business Need to Understand Social Media?

If you don’t champion social media for your business as a whole, it’s like refusing an invitation the one party you can be sure all your customers, prospects, and competitors will attend. More specifically:

“Organized, executive-sponsored social engagement models provide companies with rich opportunities for intelligence-gathering, internal communications, public influence, competitive insights, customer service and media relations.

“Conversely, ad hoc programs can ultimately damage companies in all of these fundamental areas.”

There’s more to look forward to and keep close at hand, such as the 10 Dos and Don’ts, one CEO’s “Three tips for every CMO,” and the very handy Content Grid infographic.

And Eloqua has generously urged everyone to share the wealth of the guide freely, so here it is: Eloqua’s Grande Guide to the Social CMO.


Five Advantages Agencies Bring to Social Media Marketing

February 2, 2011

Number 5 is Alive!

Agencies can help ensure you get the most out of your investment in social media by advising on strategy, monitoring, content planning and development, analytics monitoring and tool training.

You can also have an agency do your tweeting and posting for you, but it’s better to have your in-house experts and spokespeople maintain direct dialogue with buyers and influencers through social media channels.

Social media strategy

An agency specializing in social media can help you direct your efforts where they’ll be mostly likely to pay off in engagement with your target audience.

Should you plant a flag in LinkedIn, Facebook, SlideShare, YouTube, Twitter, et al, or should you focus on fewer outlets? An objective assessment of your audience’s social media habits can save you a lot of emptyhanded trial and error.

Monitoring

An agency can also act as an extra pair of online eyes and ears, monitoring your market space for relevant trends and topics.

In addition to alerting you to what your target audience is talking about, your monitors-for-hire will also be able to clue you in on how they talk about their concerns. Using customer-centric language will help you tailor your messages to address customer concerns more effectively and authentically.

Content planning and production

An agency may not tweet or blog for you directly, but they can add tremendous value by helping you plan and produce the content you tweet and blog about. The customer insight they bring thanks to monitoring and strategic research will help you craft both the content and messaging of campaigns and content assets.

Analytics

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it—and if you don’t have web analytics resources in-house, outsourcing the task is a must. Yes, you can use a number of free tools to track views and clicks, but only a dedicated professional can monitor and distill the ever-changing results in a way that will and consistently fuel a successful strategy.

Training

An agency can help your in-house people learn best practices, advise on tools to use and generally educate them on how social media is different from traditional B2B marcomm. It’s easy to say that these are conversational channels, not so much broadcast channels, but it’s easier said than done to switch messaging gears.

What to look for in an social media ally

How can you make sure your agency is helping you effectively manage your social marketing? Start with this article, and, as always, feel free to contact me or comment with your own thoughts and questions.


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