BlackBerry Challenges B2B Marketing Manager to Succeed

With last week’s launch of the new iPhone, I have wondered can I truly be a successful electronic marketing manager for a B2B company using a BlackBerry? There are a number of necessary attributes of the job worth examining and how they are influenced by my mobile phone.

Be Creative

At first, not having social media apps or location-based social gaming available for the BlackBerry drove me to read everything I could and absorb as much as possible. Without any available apps, I had to explore creative ways to monitor social media, get involved and stay with the goings-on in the evolving electronic marketing world. Sometimes this meant lugging my laptop to more places than I would have wanted, but you do what you must. In this sense, I learned to not let system limitations hold me back. Instead, I took a deeper look at our organization’s systems and the various social networks we were involved in, and found ways to track our social campaigns and traffic to our sites. I learned to not rely on my mobile device for notifications, and have a much better understanding of our systems, their capabilities, and their shortcomings because of it.

Be Ambitious/Passionate

Here is where the BlackBerry influence may be a little weaker. This is a personal quality or characteristic that I feel is vital to the success of any electronic marketing manager. In an environment this dynamic and ever-evolving if you do not eat, sleep, breathe and live the electronic world you will always be one step behind. I remember the initial struggle I had with social media and Twitter because it was not easily accessible (we are talking November 2007). And that is where as a BlackBerry user you are the 5 foot, 100 pound defensive end trying to walk onto a national powerhouse football team. No one is going to make it easy for you, and your iPhone counterparts will always have a leg up. You must have the heart and drive to go that extra mile to be successful.

Know Your Customer

This is a fundamental key success factor for any marketing professional. We all have such unique demographics of customers that I would never try to generalize any kind of advice on why you can or cannot accurately know your customer because of the platform you use. I will say though, with the ever increasing amount of traffic coming from iPhone and iPad users, can you truly say as a BlackBerry user that you can speak toward the user experience your customers have when they come to your website? How about what your tweets look like on their iPhone Twitter clients? How about Droid? It’s not easy. I have borrowed friends’ iPhones to test new pages or designs on our sites. I’ve even gone as far as driving to Best Buy on my lunch hour to test our site on an iPad.

That being said, my design mentality always has me thinking about design elements and user experiences. What troubles me the most is the environmental influences that lead us to feel more comfortable about one thing over another. We should not only take into account how things render on individual devices, but also how common elements in design lead iPhone users to certain expectations and preferences, while Droid and BlackBerry users may have completely different ones. So, as a BlackBerry user, do I truly know what my mobile users want?

Be Persistent and Persevere

So despite my negative portrayal of the BlackBerry platform and its limitations for electronic marketing managers, there is hope. We all have a network of resources at the tip of our fingers. Get to know the devices in your company. Know that you can walk down the hall and have a user test on this device or on that platform. Know that you can shoot a certain colleague a note to meet over lunch in return for a quick test of that new promotion. Simple. Easy. Cheap. My company president would be proud. Take advantage of features from email service providers that render your email marketing messages in various email clients and on various devices. Make sure your provider has this. It is critical.

Pay attention to your analytics. As a marketer for a high-ticket, once-a-year purchase item for B2B clients, mobile traffic to the sites I manage is sparse. I do, however, know that I expect to see a certain number of iPhone/iPad visits each month and I watch for trends in their traffic. If I see high exits or low site time on a particular page for mobile visitors, I’ll reach out to my networks and test to see if I can determine the problem. Get to know your mobile customers from a distance through analytics and, when combined with some first-hand testing on those various devices, you’ll be in pretty good shape.

Do I believe you can truly be a successful electronic marketing manager as a BlackBerry user…Yes. Do I think it is easy…No!!!

I believe BlackBerry users are highly handicapped by the platform when it comes to truly understanding the electronic marketing environment. We are a minority of the mobile web traffic on the internet and an even smaller minority in the social media world. The lack of apps available for us to fully participate in the social media community is binding and relegates us to outsiders in lots of social media events and conversations If you disagree, try attending an all day social media event and running out of battery with a BlackBerry.

Have you struggled in your marketing position with only a BlackBerry? Let me know in the comments below.

JT Moore is the Electronic Marketing Manager at ASPE, Inc., a national leader in providing skills-based training solutions for the Information Technology, Systems/Software Development Lifecycle, and Financial markets. Follow him on Twitter at @j_t_moore.

Testing…Testing: A Guide To Optimizing Social Media B2B Tactics

Let’s get down and dirty today. Many of my post focus on high level issues and strategy development, because that is so important to the success of any social media effort. Something else that is critical is trying stuff. Yes, I know that seems simple, but most people don’t do it. Organizations build a great strategy. Then approach the tactics and executions as if they were set in stone.

The problem is the strategy has to meet reality. Research can help this, but many times you need to look at tactical executions as a fluid event. The tactics are ever changing, depending on the reactions, or lack of reactions from your customers.

Start Out With a Test
Social media, like other marketing strategies, should be tested. However, you are looking for deeper indications than eyeballs. When talking about e-mail marketing, many marketers spend time determining what time they should send their messages for the best open rate. When thinking about social media, including e-mail, I think it is also important to determine times for the best “action rate”. Meaning what time during the week are your customers not only watching, but engaged.

Questions to ask when preparing for testing:
* When are my customers active on social networks?
* What days of the week have we typically had the most engagement?
* What time do we get the most retweets?
* What day do they leave the most blog comments?

I also recommend looking at previous campaigns, if available, to look for trending information. If you don’t have previous campaign information about the behavior of your customers, then you can get a baseline using some free online data tools. An example of this is a service called Trendrr to help you look at trending information.

Trendrr - _b2b social media marketing_ (Number of Blog Posts from Google)

For example the graph above shows the number of blog posts that mention “B2B Social Media Marketing” over the last month. If you were interested in reaching B2B marketers you could look at the days of the week with the most and least posts and then look at the commenting and sharing of some of those posts to help build a hypothesis for the engaged times of this audience. This information doesn’t tell you everything, but it may help reduce your testing time.

Set Regular Reviews

If you are an agency or within an organization the best way to ensure that you continue to optimize your social media tactics is to have a regular review with everyone involved in the execution. Determining the frequency of these is the hard part. Social media moves so fast that you may want to start out with multiple check-ins for the first few weeks and then can reduce frequency as you continue to fine tune.

People hate meetings. I know that I do. Have a set list of factors you are looking at when optimizing your tactics (this will probably be 4-8). This will help you run a short, tightly focused meeting that is no longer than 15 minutes. Use a timer and look through your campaign details quickly. This will help you get into a rhythm and allow you to make quick decisions about tweaks to the execution.

Timing Isn’t The Only Thing

I talked a lot about timing as examples when testing, but the truth is that content and listening to your customers online will help to make the most dramatic impact to your results. Look at the tone and the words used in your most engaging content and work to incorporate them into future efforts.

A successful plan requires constant listening, engagement and optimization. Organizations that are able and willing to change plans based on tactical reviews are the ones that will succeed in social media in the B2B space.