How to drive MQLs and SQLs through social media?

If you’re being challenged to deliver SQLs this year, then this blog is for you – and there is a video about it on our Facebook channel too, here, if you prefer watching a video, to reading a blog.

Last week’s Serious Social Live saw me take to my home office chair and share my thoughts on a developing conversation that’s resonating across B2B.

“The business is completely focused on demand gen this year. We have to prove the value of social media!”

Speaking candidly, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a boardroom focusing on post-COVID recoveries. The boardroom’s role is to focus us on the business requirements. Their job is to direct us on what we need to be delivering. It’s our job to detail how best to get there. It’s our job to highlight that we cannot only publish classic ‘try now’, ‘learn more’ or ‘buy now’ content. It’ll only end in declining conversion metrics.

I believe the absolute key to marketing is problem-solving. And I don’t mean waiting for a ‘problem’ to arise and fixing it. I mean being curious enough to create a comprehensive list of questions around the business need, the required activity and its deliverables, and how you’re going to prove success back to the business. If we define and address enough questions, then you’ll be well on your way to having a successful marketing campaign. However, if you just act on direction without being curious, you will likely cut innocent corners that have the potential to penalise your campaign significantly. Those penalties increase if you’re not also curious about the channel you’re deploying in.

To create the right programmes that deliver against our internal requirements, we must understand how the external channels work; how the algorithms reward content engagements, and also how they penalise reach and engagements. Being blind to these elements, and not addressing the challenges posed by the platforms, results in us throwing mud against walls.

In the case of B2B marketing, that mud could be a white paper that took months to produce; a high-value report that’s flush with important insight. It could be an important blog, crafted by a guest author. My point? Whilst our organisations may see high value and business-critical collateral, with boardrooms particularly appreciating the value of their investments, if we don’t package and distribute these crown jewels correctly, then it all becomes mud that our prospects don’t value.

Ask yourself, when was the last time you bought or engaged a service offering based upon a series of salesy posts? Also, ask yourself this: when was the last time you looked something up after a resonating question landed with you?

Our job is to connect our brands with audiences who have the potential to be intrigued by our offerings. Our role is to show how we can both solve challenges they face and also how we can help them to unlock business value from the very solutions posed. Our job is to create intrigue.

Boardrooms want revenue: they will say ‘we need SQLs! We need more traffic to generate more MQLs, so our sales team can convert more SQLs’, or words to that effect. The simplicity of that sequence is correct for boardroom vernacular, but when it comes to executing, it is our role to put the business case forward about how we achieve the increased MQLs.

We have to appreciate the lens through which the boardroom look. We also have to appreciate the lens through which our potential customers look – the all-important ‘customer view’. Of course, we have to appreciate the demands of the social channels and how they work best to drive and reward incremental engagement and reach.

Our job is to be the puppet masters in the middle, appreciating everyone’s view and then create the solution that delivers the desired outcomes. A solution that delivers content that our audience actually CARE about, without leaving them feeling spammed. It also means publishing content that gets rewarded by social channels, delivering the boost and a reward on reach and engagement.

At IF, we call this solution nudge nurture. The business case you put to your boardroom will detail how you aim to deliver incremental results through a series of contents that pulls apart your high-value collateral, creating a story of resonating industry challenges and the very solutions you bring to the table. The content will speak to the achievable business value your customer’s boardrooms can unlock if using your solutions. The content DOES NOT speak to the product or service USPs. The content speaks to the success and values your customer’s customer will experience.

The content won’t be a series of posts pushing ‘demos’ or ‘buy now’ messages. The content will take the guise of thought-leadership, showcasing the high-quality IP your collective staff, and the brand hold; it will evidence you as being a brand that understands the very challenges facing boardrooms and businesses today and showcase how you solve those very problems, by unlocking business value. The content series will comprise multiple touchpoints, using multiple content types, and when looked at as a collective, there will be a contextual story that evolves throughout. It won’t be a series of spammy messages. The evolving stories will continue to ‘nudge nurture’ your audience to the belief that they need your organisation’s assistance.

The nudge nurture campaign will be loved by the social channels as their algorithms have aligned to the customer journey. The varying Ad goals all have different algorithms. There are algos optimised for Reach, to give us the initial brand awareness. There are algos optimised for engagements – which help nudge nurture our audience through the consideration phase, and then there are Ad goals with algos optimised for conversions, that will take our nudged audience to a point of conversion – be that signing up for a webinar or engaging a salesperson.

The point, social media is now optimised for the customer journey. Social media isn’t Search marketing, you can’t just skip to those wanting to buy now – that’s your search marketing and sales teams’ task for today. Social media is about identifying prospects, high-value prospects who have the potential to engage with and trade with your organisation. You’re starting further up the funnel, but if you deliver the right story tell, and not spam, spam, spam, you WILL nurture more MQLs through the funnel to become incremental SQLs.

If our LinkedIn account manager was speaking to you, they would say ‘successful demand-gen campaigns need between 5 and 9 touchpoints.’ Those touchpoints come from the varying ads and the varying steps of the customer journey. You’ve taken your report and you’ve nudged and nurtured your audience from resonating challenges to discovering how you’ll solve their challenge. You’ve nudged them through an understanding of how you will unlock business value, and you’ve got them to the SQL for your teams to develop and ultimately convert.

Our most successful campaigns in 2020 were not demand generation campaigns. They were nudge nurture thought leadership campaigns that drive conversion through retargeting. It was the social channels that told us we had set the benchmark. Boardrooms want revenue and they want to utilise the investments made. Your job is to appreciate that and put forward the business case for them to invest in that delivers their desired revenue.

Marketing is about problem-solving. Identify and solve enough ‘problems’ and you have a smash-hit campaign on your hands.

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