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Can social media be used for B2B lead nurturing?

Posted by Sheera Eby on July 9, 2013

Social media has become a critical channel for marketers. Three out of four marketers say that they are using social media. Social media has become a productive B2B channel for many marketers, with 43% of companies saying they have found a customer through LinkedIn.

Traditional B2B lead nurturing focuses on supporting the movement of decision makers through the sales funnel. The key to lead nurturing has always been providing the right messages at the right time to help overcome barriers.

So can social media be leveraged for lead nurturing purposes? The key is evolving your B2B social media strategy to social CRM. Social CRM can be effective in supporting B2B lead nurturing. And it can be accomplished by utilizing techniques that targeted marketers have been using for years: relevancy, personalization and targeting. By employing data and targeted mechanisms, social media can be transformed into a customized, behavior-based channel.

Here are four techniques to evolve your B2B social media strategy to support lead nurturing.

1. Analyze data and current behavior

Lead nurturing through social media is best achieved by migrating your social efforts to social CRM. The foundation of SCRM is creating a unified database that can marry engagement with behavior and other marketing data. For many B2B marketers, the easiest place to start is with analyzing current social media efforts on an aggregate level. Content should be analyzed, including what is driving engagement, social sharing, comments, reviews and information downloads.B2B #1

For marketers that have a social CRM or inbound marketing tool, you can also analyze content on a more microscopic level. This includes creating groups within the sales funnel and targeting those prospects based on what content they find engaging, and related information that can help deliver relevant messaging.

By better understanding what information is generating leads, you’ll have a better idea of what type of content should be considered for lead nurturing. Don’t ignore anecdotal information or other insights passed on by prospect- and customer-facing individuals. Marrying analytical information with insights is essential to setting a strong lead nurturing strategy.

2. Apply social behavior to deliver relevant communications

Once users engage, leverage behavior to develop targeted relevant communications. This is the biggest differentiator that transforms B2B social media marketing to SCRM, and it’s the real magic. Applying behavioral information to personalize outbound and follow-up communications takes the entire customer experience to the next level.

Leverage interactions to inform ongoing communications streams, including segmenting customers for follow-up post-engagement from social media marketing activities. This distinction is the cornerstone of SCRM. Technology and analytics provide the ability to identify engagement on a user level and categorize users for future communications follow-up.
B2B #2For example, the user’s information on the left shows that a lead downloaded an ebook on direct mail best practices. Targeting this individual with a series of related content would be the next step for lead nurturing.
3. Integrate social with email for lead nurturing

Email is the one of the most effective formats for lead nurturing. Identify the most common barriers to purchase and develop a series of content that overcomes these barriers. If you’re uncertain as to the barriers, talk with front-line sales, review search data and, most importantly, talk to prospects and customers!

B2B #3Leverage email to reach out to prospects in an educational and expert manner. Incorporate or highlight content within email to deliver ongoing educational messaging, demonstrate expertise and overcome barriers. Content can be in the form of blog articles, videos, polls, infographics, ebooks and white papers.

The way to elevate B2B social media efforts to the next level is to ensure current activities continue to inform communications going forward. Tracking what messaging is driving the highest level of engagement and which types of users are interacting with different content ensures the evolution to SCRM.

Transforming B2B social media into a lead machine workshop. Reserve space.

4. Measure based on moving leads to a sales-ready position

Today it’s all about ROI. And that’s a topic that many marketers are still wrestling with in relation to social media. Tying a B2B social media strategy to the sales funnel, and in particular lead nurturing, provides a set of tangible, measurable outcomes. One of the key metrics is the ability to move leads to a “sales ready” state. Leveraging this type of process for evaluating social investment ensures a clear understanding of social ROI.

Lead nurturing is an area of the sales funnel that marketing can support. Marrying B2B social media efforts with email can support an effective lead nurturing strategy. B2B marketers will need to elevate their use of data, segmenting and personalization to break through the clutter.

To learn about how to transform your B2B social media strategy, download our B2B social CRM ebook.

Transforming your B2B social media efforts into a social CRM strategy

Topics: Social Media Marketing

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