7 Awesome Email And B2B Social Media Integrations

B2B Social MediaGreat inbound marketing is integrated marketing.  Social media can’t be an isolated tactic and succeed. Instead it has to be part of an overall inbound marketing strategy that includes search engine optimization, blogging, email marketing, marketing automation, and other strategies.  One of the most powerful points of integration exists between email marketing and social media.

For most B2B marketers their email database is the most powerful tool with the biggest reach at their disposal. When teamed up with B2B social media, email becomes even more powerful. This integration lays the foundation for a future in which email is a less reliable source of lead generation.

7 Steps For Integrating Email With A B2B Social Media Strategy

1. Include Social Media Follow Links In Email Marketing Messages – It seems simple, but many B2B companies simply don’t do it. In all of your marketing email include clear and visible links for an email recipient to click on and follow your active social media accounts.

2. Use Social Media To Grow Your Email List – It isn’t enough to have a prospective customer only connected with you via social media. Getting them  on to your email marketing list will increase their likelihood of becoming a lead. Schedule regular updates to encourage social media connections to become part of your email community. Note: It is critical when doing this to set expectations. Let you social media followers know what information they will receive in your emails.

3. Test Email Marketing Offers In Social Media – Since your email list is your most significant marketing channel, you don’t want to waste it. Share a lead generation offer to your social media connections before your email list to determine if it converts visitors into leads at a high enough rate to merit an email send.

4. Use Email AND Social Media To Nurture Leads – Nurturing existing leads is about far more than email. Social media can be a valuable way to move leads through the sales funnel. Sharing content on social media that helps move leads from investigators to buyers. Use your marketing automation software to help you send custom social media messages to leads when they take an action on your website.

5. Source Email Content From Social Media – What are your social media connections talking about? Use hot topics in social media to fuel content for new email marketing offers and copy. Give people the information that want!

6. Make One Coordinated Push – When you send out an email marketing message for lead generation it should be part of a coordinated push. A blog post about the offer should go up that day and social media messages about the offer should be shared throughout the day. This coordinated push will help to maximize response rates and subsequently leads.

7. Source Leads Correctly – Make sure to use tracking URLs to understand which leads for a particular campaign are coming from social media versus email marketing. Data is powerful. Having clean data will allow you to make informed choices about future campaigns and  increase results.

Have you seen benefits from integrating your social media and email lead generation efforts?

6 Instant B2B Social Media Lead Generation Improvements

Social media that doesn’t drive revenue doesn’t last. As B2B marketers, focusing on generating leads and revenue is our top priority. Social media can help. It can help reduce cost of customer acquisition and provide sustainable long-term lead flow. As a marketer who is already leveraging social media, how do you supercharge your efforts to make sure that you maximize leads from your social media marketing time investment?

Their are tons of approaches to help do this, but let’s start with six that can provide an instant boost to your social media lead generation efforts.

6 Instant B2B Social Media Lead Generation Improvements

1. Add a Call-to-action to your Business Blog – One of the biggest mistakes B2B marketers make is forgetting to include a call-to-action on their blog. Have an upcoming webinar that you are using to drive leads? Put a link or image to drive registration in your blog sidebar or at the end of blog posts.

2. Share Lead Generation Offers in Social Media – Social media purists would tell you that tweeting out a landing page to an ebook or product demo shouldn’t happen. They are wrong. Prospects that have opted into your social media content want more information about industry best practices and your business. Sometimes this might be from a blog post or an email. Other times it will be from a more hearty lead generation offer. Go ahead and start sharing these in social media.

3. Test Paid Methods of Building Social Media Reach – Social media advertising is an interesting beast. Beyond doing pay-per-click lead generation, marketers can also use tools like Facebook’s promoted stories to increase the number of likes on a Facebook Page. The benefit to paying for reach is that unlikes of social media accounts is fairly low. So instead of paying per lead, B2B marketers can pay for a fan or follower that has the potential to drive multiple leads over their lifetime as a connection. You will need to do some math to determine how many leads a follower or fan generates for your business over their lifetime, but that is another post for another time.

4. Follow, Friend, and Connect – You have to have social media connections to see and spread your content in order to generate leads. A simple way to get more social media connections is to search for related connections on a social network and then connect with them. Taking the simple action of connecting exposes your social media accounts to new connections and results in reach growth over time.

5.  Leverage Email – Email is social. Make sure to include links in your email to make it easy for email list members to connect with your business in social media.

6. Analyze Offers – Marketing without data crunching only results in wasted effort. Look at your lead generation offers and see how they perform in different social media channels. Use this data to promote the best performing offers by channel. This should increase your overall lead flow by channel by making simple changes.

We cover this topic in MUCH more detail in The B2B Social Media Book, but these are a few simple action items to get started. What other lead generation suggestions would you make for B2B companies?

Photo credit: Flickr

Announcing the B2B Social Media Book

b2b-social-media-bookAnnouncing The B2B Social Media Book: Become a Marketing Superstar by Generating Leads with Blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and More (Wiley) by Kipp Bodnar of Hubspot and Jeffrey L. Cohen of Radian6, who are also the co-founders of SocialMediaB2B.com. We are so excited we can barely hold back the whoops and the high-fives.

Why Did We Write A B2B Social Media Book?
After almost 3 years and almost 500 posts, we have learned a lot about B2B marketers and their adoption of social media. Adoption of social media by B2B companies did not happen as fast as we had expected when we started this blog. Many companies that had started using social media didn’t understand why. They didn’t understand how to determine the ROI. That’s because they were not focused on lead generation. If you are not driving revenue, or leads as their proxy, it is difficult to measure the return. That’s why lead generation is the cornerstone of our new book.

And with all the changes that the social web has brought to marketers, from tools to opportunities, there is something comforting about a book. It can sit on your shelf. It can sit on your desk. You can read it at home or on a plane. You can easily share it with a colleague. You can share it with your boss. You can give a copy to your partners, vendors, or customers. In the current work environment, traditional business books still make sense. The numbers from our publisher bear this out, but of course it will be available in electronic form as well.

Why Did We Write A B2B Social Media Book Now?
Marketers have a major problem.

73% of CEOs don’t believe marketers drive demand for products and services, according to the Fournaise Marketing Group.

CEOs are wrong.

Our book will help marketers prove that they are a valuable business investment for growth, instead of merely the arts and crafts team that spends all day debating the subtleties of trade show booth design and paper stock.

Can You Help Us Change the World of B2B Marketing?
Congratulations on discovering this blog and being an early adopter of social media for your B2B company. No matter what published statistics say, even if you just discovered this blog today and are thinking about your approach to social media, you are an early adopter. And as an early adopter, we need your help.

Our goal was to help marketers understand how social media could impact their B2B companies. Our book has refined that goal. We are now focused on helping B2B marketers learn how they can use social media to drive leads and sales, thereby contributing to the company bottom line. Marketing needs to become a valued investment in a company’s future, not an expense.

While we would love it if you pre-order a copy of the book today, it would be great if you share this link to The B2B Social Media Book with your colleagues and other B2B marketers. You can benefit from this book. Your company can benefit. And by sharing these ideas, you can help other marketers advance their careers and impact their company’s revenue.

If you are interested in learning more about the book, discussing speaking opportunities for Kipp and Jeff, or even purchasing multiple copies of the book for your marketing team or event, go to The B2B Social Media Book site for more information.

We are asking a lot of you in this blog post, and we have one more ask. There will be many announcements over the next few months leading up to the book launch. Sign up for our B2B marketing email newsletter to make sure you don’t miss anything. We have some awesome things planned.

Thanks for your ongoing support of this site and your future support of our book. This is an exciting time and we are glad you are joining us for the ride.

7 Steps to Building A B2B Social Media Lead Generation Pipeline

Social media is about selling and can be directly monetized. I understand that this goes in the face of social media purists, but it is true. However, selling happens differently in B2B social media than it does in other channels.

When examining the lack of B2B social media adoption one of the core hurdles I have found is that B2B marketing executives are unsure how to build a lead generation pipeline using social media. Sure, social media lead generation strategy is different for every industry and business, but I would argue that any B2B social media lead generation pipeline shares some basic steps.

1. Understanding Online Analytics

Many people get caught up in much of the “shiny” aspects of the web and forget that its key benefit is data. Individual and companies that can best understand online data and use it to optimize their social media pipeline will be far ahead of the competition. Not only is understanding data from the web key to the development of B2B companies, it is also the first step in establishing a B2B social media pipeline.

Before you start a social media lead generation strategy, it is important to have some types of analytics connected to your Web site. Like man things on the web there are both free and paid web analytic tools that can be installed on your site. Google Analytics is the most popular free version, though services like Woopra and Clicky offer different approaches to web analytics. However, Google provides really good online video that explains analytics and you should watch it even if you don’t use their platform. I have embedded an introductory video that is a good resource for people who don’t understand the data available on the web.

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We aren’t done with analytics yet. One major mistake that is easy to make is the assumption that you are covered as long as you have a way to collect data on your corporate Web site. In the world of the social web data, and subsequently lead generation, is possible across the web. Looking at analytics could be an entire post in itself, and maybe it will be. But it is important to have analytics across social platforms, even if it is simple data collection tools like Bit.ly for Twitter and the built-in Facebook data provided for Fan pages. Data from across the web allow you to see a bigger picture and readjust efforts as needed.

2. Develop A Content Strategy
Social media lead generation begins and ends with content. Content is king. That is preached on the web daily, so I won’t harp. However, I am going to discuss the issue many organizations fail to prioritize. If the goal of social media for your business is to drive leads, then it is critical that you have a content strategy to determine what content drives leads and how to best distribute it. How do you do this?

First you need to use your understanding of your customers and influencers to begin to have an idea of the type of information they are looking for online. You need to then overlap this content with content distribution platforms: blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, User Forums, etc. In the first 90 days of your content execution you need to produce different types of content: text, audio and video and distribute them at different channels and at different times. During this period use the analytics as described earlier in this post to see which type of content, distribution methods and timing drives the most leads and engagement. Through this process you should be able to develop a content strategy that can be continually tweaked to drive lead generation.

3. Build An Infrastructure To Gather Leads

Content can drive qualified traffic, but if no infrastructure is in place to make clear calls to action and collect lead information, your content strategy is more of a branding play then it is lead generation. The first step is to determine what a lead is for your product. Is it an request for a sales call, a subscription to an e-mail newsletter, or maybe be a simple request for more information?

Once it is clear what the lead is, then it is important to plan how to best integrate this process in the simplest way possible across not only a blog or corporate Web site, but across all social outposts on the web. And don’t forget to coordinate this with offline distribution channels too. When putting this system into action, be sure to make it as easy as possible to change calls to action and messaging, as that will be continually optimized during the year.

4. Establishing Back-End To Manage Data
Leads don’t matter unless your business can get the information to the right person who can close the deal. So depending on the lead data, it may go different places, such as an e-mail list or a database of a CRM system. Beyond having a system like this established, a critical step is segmentation. If you are using a CRM system, then all the leads that come into the system need to be marked as sourced from social media. This segmentation is a key component of determining ROI of B2B social media, as it subsequently determines future investment in B2B social media lead generation. Though for many, these data systems seem basic, but it is how the data interacts with the system that is the true point of value.

5. Construct Workflow To Maximize Conversion
This step is about doing the daily and weekly steps needed to make lead generation better. When you are developing your content and lead generation strategy for leveraging social media it is important to plan how the tactics will be optimized. Think about the data you need to see from the web and the frequency in which you need to see it to improve the overall conversion rates of your strategy.

Social data provides information in real-time in many cases. The biggest mistake B2B companies can make when thinking about B2B social media lead generation is to think that this type of lead generation is like a Ron Popeil rotisserie “you set it and forget it”. This type of content focused lead generation is constantly changing and because of this a business must include this optimization step to see maximum ROI.

6. Institute “Social” Sales Follow Up and Nurturing
Leads are useless without an appropriately timed sales follow up and subsequent nurturing. The point of this step in the B2B social media lead generation pipeline is to realize that customers’ expectations are changing. While they may want a call to discuss a product, they also might want a question answered on platforms like Twitter, Facebook or their personal blog. In understanding these customer expectations, sales organizations need to make sure that they have team members who can facilitate these social interactions once the B2B social media pipeline has been started.

This is another part of the funnel where social CRM systems and social media monitoring systems become critical in facilitating social actions and providing the information sales teams need. Ask yourself what training your sales team needs to get “social.”

7. Establish An Autopsy
All good plans have a goal. All good plans can likely be done better a second time. When planning your pipeline development it is important to schedule an autopsy at the end of each goal time period. Though you optimize the pipeline constantly, it is this autopsy in which all stakeholders gather to discuss the successes and needed improvement at each point in the process. The lessons learned from the autopsy can then go to directly improving the process and establishment of new goals.

A B2B social media lead generation pipeline isn’t really that different from a traditional B2B sales funnel in terms of process. The biggest issue is speed. It happens faster then other lead pipelines and this timeliness needs to be supported appropriately.

Would you add other steps? How did you build your social media lead pipeline?