Today's blog post comes courtesy of Carmen Hill, of Babcock & Jenkins, an Eloqua partner and B2B marketing integrated agency focused on demand generation and pipeline acceleration. She's also a contributor the Grande Guide to Social Demand Generation.
Too often, different marketing functions operate in their own little silos—demand generation isn't supposed to play on the social playground and vice versa. But even if another team "owns" the executional aspects of some tactics, a winning strategy should anticipate opportunities for social media and demand generation tactics to play nicely together.
The key is to focus on the entire buyer's journey and to think holistically about the entire ecosystem of touch points—from brand to demand.
1. Early Stage: Drive traffic to demand gen content via social media.
Content is the fuel that keeps the demand gen engine running. According to a recent ITSMA study, 61% of B2B buyers spend an hour or more each workday consuming content. It’s a no-brainer that we need compelling content offers to drive response in our outbound marketing programs.
Social media exposes your content to potential buyers who are not yet in your database. When mapping and developing content for your demand gen campaigns, consider how it can be shared beyond your direct list of contacts. Create inbound "content pathways" that lead to your demand gen hub, whether that's a corporate website, long-lived microsite or blog.
Tip: Make it easy to share. More than 77% say “Share This” buttons make content either much more influential or somewhat more influential.
2. Mid-Stage: Engage prospects where they are and reduce friction for hand raisers.
B2B buyers complete up to 80% of their research before reaching out to vendors—research that often takes place in social channels. By monitoring conversations, answering questions and contributing relevant content, you can connect directly with buyers before they would otherwise have discovered you. Then, you can connect them back to your website.
Once you manage to get people interested in your content, don't pull up the bridge by locking everything behind a long registration form. Capture as much insight as possible from passive profiling methods such as web analytics, then provide a clear link to the next piece of content, where a prospect can be asked for more explicit qualifying information.
Tip: Social sign-on allows site visitors to log in via social accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This can dramatically lower barriers to conversion.
3. Late-Stage: Connect buyers with influencers, customers—and sales.
Looking beyond demand generation, our ultimate goal is to nurture relationships with buyers until they’re ready to make a purchase decision. Content strategist Rahel Bailie compares this process to the courtship before marriage. People want to know what kind of a partner you’ll be after the wedding, she says. They want to be reassured that you’re not going to ignore them while you “lay around on the couch drinking beer and watching football.”
Beyond case studies and implementation guides, consider giving committed prospects access to customer communities, where they can get a first-hand look at what they can expect.
Tip: Connect your customer community to other marketing and sales activities, and be ready to demonstrate the value to management. SAP Community Network Manager Chip Rodgers said in a Fast Company blog interview, "One of our KPIs is driving activity to webinars, and that turns into real pipeline opportunity dollars traceable back to activity in the community.”
For more tips on how to incorporate social media with demand generation, download our free Grande Guide to Social Demand Generation by clicking below.
How are you incorporating social media into your demand generation programs? What’s working and what’s not?