Social media is the most important gear in the sales and demand generation engine. Simply put, it’s the science of social media and lead generation physics. The bigger the gear size the harder the gear works. And the harder the gear works, the faster and more productive the machine will work to create revenue.
Do you remember riding a bike and you tried to pedal as fast as you could to make your bike go faster? You made sure you worked the highest gear to make the wheels get you to your destination faster. The same physics apply to demand generation. You need to work your biggest gear, social media, to make sure you successfully get to your goals.
I want to explain to you why it is important to integrate social media into your B2B demand generation strategy.
Inbound Marketing Is Critical for Demand Generation Success
In many demand generation environments, many B2B marketers only use paid media and email. Unfortunately, the new buyer journey tells us that decision-makers are using search and social channels to find their content. They are starting the demand generation process without the seller! In fact, SiriusDecisions report that 67% of the B2B buying experience is done digitally! So, we all need to figure out how to be a part of that digital and social selling experience, huh?
HubSpot reports that inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads than outbound marketing, so it makes sense to think about layering on social media to the demand generation strategy to build awareness, engagement and influence. And, they also report that inbound marketing delivers these inbound leads at a 50% lower cost, so getting these leads into the funnel is cheaper. And in my book, more and cheap is good.
The big difference between inbound and outbound leads though, reported by Gleanster, is that inbound leads take 30-40% longer to advance through the sales pipeline. With this lag, marketers need to figure out how to nurture these customers without bombarding them with email and telephone calls.
The Other Important Gears
A demand generation machine cannot work smoothly with just social media gears. Other inbound and outbound lead generation gears like search engine optimization (SEO), paid search (SEM), email and social selling all play a key role, too. Successful demand gen marketers will create an end-to-end approach to maximize the user experience and deliver the most customer-centric experience at each touch point.
5 Social Media Gears In The Demand Generation Machine
1. Reach = Getting Your Targeted Message Out To Your Target Audience.
Demand generation is a numbers game, so the more awareness a brand creates, the bigger the reach, the more effective impressions we can deliver with Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, YouTube, SlideShare and other content marketing tools. It’s like casting a large net using relevant content as the bait. But reach and impression metrics are only BIG VANITY METRICS unless we get customers to take a step closer to the brand by ‘voting’ on the demand gen-related information and content.
2. Engagement = Getting People to Indicate They Approve of Your Content and Messaging.
B2B marketing professionals need to do more than to get people to consume and view messages. A single ‘read’ might work for many, but you can’t really identify the impact that it has on the business. Measure the efficiency of this social media engagement gear by counting the shares, comments and likes. This is THE BEST INDICATOR to tell if social media is delivering engaging content. Customers will vote with their ‘like’ button. Engagement is one step closer to building a deeper relationship, and this is not really a linear or a cause-and-effect experience. We need to keep feeding the customer with a great experience to build our influence with them.
3. Influence = Nurturing.
Influencing the customer sits between the engagement and conversion stages. Remember, 57% of the buying journey is done before the customer reaches out to a vendors, reports Corporate Executive Board. This “57%” means that customers are finding, consuming and vetting information and content. 85% of B2B tech buyers say it takes 3 or more pieces of content to help make a decision, reported by Act-On. So, brands can affect influence with nurturing and delivering content on the customer’s term, instead of ‘pushing’ for an email registration. This sign-up activity will eventually happen at the ‘conversion’ stage.
4. Conversion = Getting Your Customer To Take A Step Toward Buying.
The demand generation machine is only as efficient as its weakest gear. In many instances, this conversion experience is a landing page where customers register. HubSpot reports that landing page conversion rates (for non-PPC lands) should be 20%. And they have coached many to convert up to 50%. If your lead generation conversion rates are languishing around 5%, then you may be making one of about 20 different mistakes – too many to talk about in this post! Take the time to audit your conversion experience to make sure your social media and other tactics are working hard for a payout!
5. Pipeline Acceleration = Staying Close To Your Customer By Delivering The Right Content At The Right Time.
Social media touches pipeline acceleration in the form of social selling. This is where sellers use their LinkedIn network, Twitter selling skills ,and content marketing expertise to stay in touch and communicate with customers on their terms.
Do you have a demand generation machine story to share? How do you make your social media gears work as hard as possible? If so, please share below. Or, reach out to me directly at MarketingThink.com or on Twitter, Google+ or on LinkedIn.
Get geared up to make social media work as hard as possible for your B2B demand generation machine, so you wont’ be pedaling up hill for sales.