As an inbound marketing agency, one of our objectives is to lower cost per lead. There has been considerable discussion on the interwebs this year on the use of social media to generate leads. Our position for B2B marketing is that it should be introduced systematically as part of your lead conversion process.
The Social Media ‘Situation’ for B2B Marketing
- Decision makers project their personal social media usage onto that of customers and prospects. I resist editorializing here. The data do not support that position and marketers need to highlight examples from industry groups or competitors that ARE working.
- Decision makers use anecdotal evidence of the WORST social media tools and apply that to all social media opportunities. Not all social media tools are appropriate for all industries. LinkedIn and Twitter are the most effective B2B marketing platforms, so a cautious program will optimize these before attempting others.
- Decision makers need to understand that, unlike traditional outbound marketing, social media marketing is not a ‘linear’ process. You are expanding the reach of your message to an ‘audience of audiences’.
- Social media marketing continues to evolve. This may present an unacceptable level of ‘political risk’ to some, but understand that this river continues to flow whether or not you’ve put a boat in the water.
Assessment: Test and Collect Data; Repeat
In a perfect world, we would have a fully functional tool to measure and track our tests, but in most situations, Google Analytics will have to do the heavy lifting in the beginning. This will result in additional steps in marketing processes until we can justify full-featured marketing suites, such as Hubspot, Wildfire, etc.
Until a more sophisticated tracking suite is in place, Google Analytics is your tool to help track your data collection efforts. If you are new to this, Google has a great URL builder that will help Analytics identify the traffic sources attributable to your social media marketing efforts. Consistently adding a suffix to the links that you post to your LinkedIn and Twitter programs will help you identify:
- Medium (e.g., social, cpc, banner, email, blog),
- Source (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, newsletter4, blogpost39),
- Terms (for paid keywords),
- Content (to different among PPC ads), and/or
- Campaign (specific product, promo code or slogan).
The final link would look like this:
which can then be shortened by your favorite service, such as bitly.com. This will require you to build several links (one for each source), but this is how you will collect bullet proof data. URL tracking is an important piece of the social media marketing puzzle whether your starting a pilot project or have a full-time team of marketers working on it.
Measuring Marketing Response
A social media like/follow/+1 is more a prospective lead than a lead. We know that there is someone in near-earth-orbit that is interested in your company or product, but these are ‘top of the funnel’ leads that need to be brought further down into the sales funnel if possible.
In the B2B world, your objectives for a ‘social’ lead will require a different message than the hard-sell at the bottom of the funnel. A possible objective may be to collect their email address (on your website or at a trade show) via exclusive content, such as a white paper or other ‘exclusive’ content.
Google Analytics can be used to track visits, goal completions or ecommerce conversions of ‘top-of-the-funnel’ social leads. The updated Google Analytics dashboard has a new section for “Social” that should be monitored. Use the “Goals” function to track progress through paths designed to convert soft social leads into leads that sales can work with.
Social Media Marketing in Lead Conversion Metrics
Top-of-the-funnel leads needs to be a section in your lead generation and lead conversion metrics. Earlier this week, Social Media Examiner posted a great list of metrics to demonstrate success through the sales funnel:
Initially these costs will be higher than for your legacy marketing programs, but they will decrease over time and eventually show a savings. My suggestions may seem to be a lot of effort for a few leads, but your efforts will prove that, as a marketer, you are on top of your lead conversion game.
Contrecoup is always ready to help…
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