Sigh! My biggest frustration after 12 years in social media marketing is the view that vanity metrics are the only way to place a value social. Only measuring followers, likes, engagement and fans misses the opportunity social presents to deliver into the pipeline – to ultimately drive revenues by being the oil in the demand generation engine.
Therefore it was a joy to be invited onto the Csuite podcast (hosted by the awesome Russell Goldsmith @RussGoldsmith) to talk about the part social plays in demand gen for B2B brands.
Being joined by the talented thought-leaders Carlos Hidalgo, CEO of ANNUITAS; Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute; and Joel Harrison, Editor-in-chief of B2B Marketing – well that was the icing on the cake.
The transatlantic chat (Joe and Carlos are from across the pond), is packed with advice that will resonate with B2B marketers.
Here are just 3 little nuggets to whet your appetite:
It’s a perpetual process
The buyer journey is not linear. It is more like a scribble. A scribble made up of ‘consensus buyers’ researching, sharing and collaborating to purchase. Buyers require relationships that take time to build and need consistency if you want to drive revenues and customer lifetime value.
Adding to this, as Joe says, the buying process is now mostly done before the customer connects with your brand. Placing even more value on the channels you use to connect with your target audience before the sale.
The podcasters were unanimous; demand gen is not a short term game – it only works when driven continuously. And social is a keystone in the process. Why? Because an always-on (or constant campaigning) mentality to social allows you to maintain touchpoints and accelerates demand.
No-one wants to be marginally effective
According to Carlos, research his company conducted shows 3% of B2B marketers consider they were highly effective at demand gen. Yes, that is 3%. The fact is that effectiveness is not being measured. Even Joel chipped in with his broad ‘inside’ knowledge of brands to tell us that it seems everyone is bad at measurement. Even getting a little bit better will make a big difference.
Measurement within channel is not enough. Attribution is the way forward. Looking at both quant and qual data across content and across channels allows you to understand the impact through a buyer journey. You can then test. Dialling up and down your activities to understand the effectiveness and, of course, the value to the bottom line.
As I said at the beginning, too often we see social metrics that focus on in-channel measures such as followers or likes. When you place social into a mixed channel or test content across your marketing touch points you get to see its impact. Where it raises awareness, meets buyer pain –points, how it impacts other channels, and more importantly, when it increases the velocity of purchase.
Don’t just be content producers be content marketers
Oh my, in this digital age, we are so focused on the content that we forget about delivery. We don’t need more producers, we need skilled marketers. Content marketers are grounded by an audience first approach; not the latest content format. They look at how content travels across channel, the value in the journey of each piece of content and how to align activity to maximise every opportunity.
Content marketers connect the data dots. Not always an easy process and sometimes a ‘duct-tape’ hotchpotch of technology, but always a slow inching towards a greater understanding of how to address buyer needs across the marketing mix.
Social lends itself to both a better understand of content performance and also behavioural knowledge of audiences. It delivers insights that inform activity across your demand generation programme.
Have a listen to the podcast. You’ll see how much a part social can play as the connector between channels alongside being a key driver of demand gen and revenues. Enjoy!