Not a new topic for me, but I keep getting asked this question, together with an even more insistent one on measuring the actual return (Real ROI, not vapoROI) of SoMe.
As it usually happens, I may have a concept buzzing around my head, but it’s not until I need to complete an assignment for a Client that I find the time to line up my ducks in a neat row and see what comes out; today was exactly one of these days and as a bonus I now have a nice blog post I can share with my oceanic audience.
Insight for B2B
Doing our Insight analysis on B2B matters we initially found much lower volumes than on Consumer – which makes sense: fewer people are interested in Storage Systems than in soft drinks; however, we also found that people were hitting the web at various stages in their opinion forming process. Which also makes sense, when you think about it: the B2B sell cycle is much longer and much more complex than the B2C one, and forming an opinion requires many more inputs.
It is therefore only natural that people may come searching for different things at different times. looking at some of those findings we ended up identifying four stages for people to seek information or opinions on the web on a B2B topic, and you can find them in this chart:
It is perfectly obvious that if we are to take seriously our mantra of “Relevant content always wins”, we must respond to each of these needs with the appropriate answer, which is not at all difficult to identify:
So we can use this type of Insight to fine-tune our answer to the information needs expressed by our target audience, which in turn will improve the relevance of what we contribute and earn us awareness and consideration for our brand. But is this enough?
As we know, one of the objectives in investing in a SoMe program is the building of a community. This community will become more valuable over time as its members will move from a simple awareness condition (“I know there is a community of Widget Lovers”) to an engagement condition (“I want to participate in this poll run by the Widget Lovers community”).
So Engeged is better than Aware, but what is even better than Engaged? You got it: Sales Leads !
When I look at the charts above, somewhere between state “C” and state “D” a sale has occurred, maybe for my brand, maybe for a competitor’s; essentially, people in “B” and “C” are sales leads at different maturity levels:
How to use SoMe to generate Sales Leads
In a nutshell, the trick is pretty simple: once I recognize the three stages of maturation of a sales lead (in old parlance, as I follow people moving towards the bottom of the sales funnel) I can craft content on my online asset to mirror this evolution, making sure that as they shift from one phase to the other, they always find something of interest to them
Moreover, I can adapt my recruitment and promotion strategy (e.g. my AdWords campaigns) to go look for people who are at different stages pointing them to the relevant sections of my asset to make sure relevance is conserved: people interested in Scenario analysis will be driven to my “A” section, while people looking for benchmarks will be driven to my “C” section and so on.
All I need on top of that is some type of “extraction” mechanism that will allow me to sift my membership, incentivizing them to opt-in to a precise sales proposition; in other words have them opt-in to officially enter my sales funnel.
However, it is OK at this stage to splurge, because we have already discarded all the tire-kickers: these are the genuine hot leads, the people who are truly approaching the decision stage, and therefore, knowing who they are is certainly worth a material investment.
So our community is now serving a dual purpose: on one hand, it increases our brand’ awareness to the right target audience, but on the other it percolates users from a distant Scenario-gazing state into approaching a decision, offering concrete opportunities for sales closures.