digital marketing, social media, strategy

Which Are You Better At…Dating Or The Marketing Funnel?

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What attracted you to your spouse or partner? How long did it take before you were in a committed relationship? Now, think about your last marketing effort…How did you make your audience aware of your product or service? How long or what content did you provide them before you tried to make the sale? I want you to think about this as you read the following.

Back in the day we were so proud of our products that we would market our products primarily on technical specifications. Skipping many stages in the traditional marketing funnel and moving right to the question…”do you want to buy”?

What???!!! I equate this to just making eye contact with somebody, and they asked you if you want to go on a date, or worse yet if want to get married???!!! Hopefully, the latter has never happened. 🙂

But many times we do this exact thing when marketing to our customers. We go right to the question “Do you want to marry me?” without going through the dating process.

The relationship process is usually something like this.

  • They seem interesting, funny, caring, etc
  • They do care for me, they do so much for me, etc
  • That was a fun date
  • They are the best person I have ever met, they are a good match, we complement each other
  • They asked me to marry me!

OK, I have really oversimplified the relationship process so don’t bash me too bad for that. BUT you get the point, a relationship goes through several stages and this happens over a period of time. Sound familiar?…the marketing funnel has a lot of similarities. Here is one example of the marketing funnel and the similarities with dating.

  • Awareness – inspirational or broad appeal content such as customer stories, company history, projects, etc…
  • Consideration – content to help with research such as product comparisons, configuration tools, expert advice, how-to’s
  • Preference – factual content such as product details, specifications, product features
  • Action – closing the sale such as online purchase, lead generation form
  • Loyalty – “liking” the brand, following, subscribing
  • Advocacy – user reviews, ratings

The similarities between moving down the relationship process and marketing funnel are quite shocking once you sit back and look at it. This is what we need to REMEMBER…next time you are planning your next marketing campaign…HAVE patience and take the time to create a digital relationship with the potential customer. In my marketing roles we use multiple pieces of content and multiple channels to move the potential customer through the marketing funnel. Many times I am asked

“Where does social media work best in the marketing funnel”? For us social media works best in the Awareness and Consideration stages and then we move them to other channels for the Preference and Action stages.

In the Awareness and Consideration stages, we are taking advantage of social media’s ability to reach a wide audience and feed the funnel. For us, other channels work better further down the funnel to give more specific and personalized content to the potential customer.

Social media can be used in so many ways and this is an example how it can be used in the marketing funnel. How do you use social media in the marketing funnel? What has worked best for you?…and how are your relationships going? Follow me on Twitter at @kevingespinosa and let me know.

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digital marketing, social media, strategy

Defining a Social Media Strategy: It is Time for a Refresh

The road to social media success

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Years ago we were hearing things from our business units internally such as I need to be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and we need to create a viral video…and we would ask WHY???!!! Those were the days where we all quickly created our FIRST social media strategy to get things under control. HOPEFULLY, we are all here and ready to evaluate where we are now, and we are ready for a refresh. What have we learned in the past 5 years? I will give you my perspective.

We initially launched our social media efforts based on what we called “The 4 Pillars of Social Media”. Some of you may have seen me present on them:

  • Social Listening
  • Promotion
  • Thought Leadership
  • Customer Support

We thought we had invented sliced bread. We quickly learned as we tried to build momentum in the enterprise that we weren’t connecting with the business units within…

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digital marketing, social media, strategy

Defining a Social Media Strategy: It is Time for a Refresh

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Years ago we were hearing things from our business units internally such as I need to be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and we need to create a viral video…and we would ask WHY???!!! Those were the days where we all quickly created our FIRST social media strategy to get things under control. HOPEFULLY, we are past this phase of social media and ready to evaluate where we have been, and where do we go from here. What have we learned in the past 5 years? I will give you my perspective.

We initially launched our social media efforts based on what we called “The 4 Pillars of Social Media”. Some of you may have seen me present on them:

  • Social Listening
  • Promotion
  • Thought Leadership
  • Customer Support

We thought we had invented sliced bread. We quickly learned as we tried to build momentum in the enterprise that we weren’t connecting with the business units within our own company, and now looking back it makes a lot of sense that we missed something critical, and that was we weren’t helping our business units meet their business goals. Duh! If you want buy in within your organization you must help them achieve their goals or eliminate a pain point.

Number one and most important:

Your Strategy Must Align with What the Business is Trying to Accomplish!

This could be selling, generating leads, selling parts, providing service.

Second, your social media strategy must align with your marketing strategy…not the other way around,,,and social media can’t stand alone. Social media is one channel to engage your customers, and all channels (offline, web, PPC, etc…) must all work together to move people down the sales funnel.

Your Social Media Strategy is a component of your Overall Marketing Strategy!

With those simple principals you can now see how the “4 Pillars of Social Media” can help you achieve your business goals.

The Social listening Pillar can help you understand:

  • Who is talking about your company?
  • What are they talking about?
  • Where are the conversations happening?
  • What are your competitors doing?
  • Who are your key influencers?
  • What is the conversation sentiment?

Now I could write an entire book on what you do with this information so let me know if you would like to know more about social listening.

The Promotion Pillar can now:

  • Move potential customers down the sales funnel

Again that is a very simple statement, but has a lot of steps of execution. The Promotion Pillar really could be called the Content Marketing Pillar. It is really how do you use social media to make people aware of your products/services, and then get them to consider your product. This is really where social media becomes a piece of your content marketing strategy, and awareness and consideration is where social media adds the most value to the promotion pillar. Typically you would post some engaging content and get them to a call to action on a website and get them to a lead form with other pieces of content. This has to be subtle and not just a sell job. My next blog will be about this pillar…so stay tuned!

The Thought Leadership Pillar can:

  • Help your company establish themselves as a source of information relative to your business, and develop a relationship with potential customers that wasn’t possible before.

People are always looking for solutions to their problems, and those companies that are providing solutions and not selling all the time are going to win, and they also bring people into the top of the funnel in a new way without selling. Think about this…you do this all the time as a consumer.

And finally Customer Support can:

  • Help you be there for your customers when they need you. These days that has become social media.

Anytime you create a new channel the public will expect you to answer their questions and issues. You must be prepared. We have always had a Customer Interaction Center to help with questions and inquiries that came through our websites and the phone. So what was the logical thing to do? Integrate social media. So the same team that had always handled customer interactions started to take social media questions. It worked out great.

Now I have over simplified a social media strategy and everything that goes into your a “New Social Media Strategy” but I have done that for simplicity sake to show that it is more than platforms and that it is more than a viral video. In my opinion, we don’t ever talk about specific social platforms until we know what we want to do, we know where our customers are having those conversations, and we know how this fits into our overall marketing strategy. Let me know what you think. Follow me on Twitter @kevingespinosa. What has been your social media journey? I love comments…I learn a lot from them, and many of you are smarter than me so let me know your thoughts.

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digital marketing, social media, strategy

Technology is not the Holy Grail, but it does help you scale

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We have all been caught in the trap where we thought buying technology was going to take us to the promise land, or at least our leaders thought it was the solution. Many times somebody drinks the kool aid at the latest conference they went to…this is a blog in itself, but I will stay focused and not digress.

But I have learned that technology is not such a bad thing after all. What technology really does is it allows us to scale and take what is working for us to new heights. There is a great lesson here and that is…

  • Start with your hypothesis to address a business need and use minimal tools.
  • Test on a small use case. My experience is that this gives you the opportunity to prove or disprove your hypothesis, develop the processes for standard work, and gives the new capability credibility because you have proved it works in your company. This last point of credibility is critical because many times an agency/consultants will suggest things that have not been proven or developed within your own walls and it is tough to get buy in.

I could give you many real life examples but for the sake of simplicity let’s use social listening. In the early days of social media we wanted to understand what was:

  • Who is talking about us
  • What they are talking about
  • Where are they talking?
  • What our competitors are doing
  • Key influencers (individuals and sites)
  • Tone of conversations: positive, neutral or negative

We used many free tools to better understand the goals above and worked with one business unit. These initial reports were well received and they started to drive the business units marketing plans and product managers started to use them for Voice of the Customer in their product development. We communicated these results to other business units and product managers to test their interest and they were all in. This is when we need a more robust tool and one that would allow us to scale…thus the purchase of a platform, and since then social listening has been a critical component in all that we do.

I have seen this done with web analytics, marketing automation, and almost every other platform where you could pay a small fortune for.

Using this approach will keep you out of the dog house and will give you the “try before you buy” insurance before you make the big leap to a very expensive platform.

Let me know what your experience is in jumping head first into the “promise land”. Have you been caught in this trap? Or did you take the logical approach? Follow me on Twitter at @kevingespinosa and let me know your thoughts.

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digital marketing, social media, strategy

Social Media ROI Anxiety

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Your management is asking you “What are we getting out of social media?”, “What is our ROI?”, “How many sales has it produced?”. Does this sound familiar to you? There are a couple of important things you need to remember when you are asked this question.

First, social media is a component of the overall marketing strategy, and to effectively use social media it has to be integrated with other marketing efforts and it has to be used for what it does best.

Social media is best for top of the funnel stages. More specifically awareness and consideration stages. This doesn’t mean it can’t be used for lower funnel stages but it isn’t where it works best. For Awareness content, this would be aspiration/engaging content such as customer stories, company/product history, interesting projects, community services, etc… This draws people into the sales funnel without “selling”.

Next is consideration content. This can be financial calculators, tips, expert advice…this content should help the consumer see how the product could help them be more productive at their job. We should all have solution mentality when we think how we can serve our customers.

This awareness and consideration content should drive them to a specific call to action…such as product specifications, a product video, and eventually a lead form. Then you can measure what is driving the most traffic to your calls to action at the lowest cost and the highest conversion. Is it social, Google AdWords, banner ads, organic search, etc…?

This is a key ROI measurement. Many times we think how is social media directly impacting sales, and if you have a real content marketing strategy it will go through other channels to produce the sales that your management is concerned about…and rightly so.

This is food for thought so you don’t get social media ROI anxiety. I would love to know your thoughts. Give me a shout on Twitter at @kevingespinosa and let me know your thoughts.

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digital marketing, social media, strategy

Common Questions a B2B Social Media Manager Gets Asked

As a B2B Social Media Manager for a big Brand I am often asked a lot of questions regarding our approach to social media. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.

How do brands constantly stay innovative when it comes to social media?

It’s not so much as becoming innovative but more about becoming more relevant to people in social media. At the end of the day people still want to engage with something that interests them. So we can’t send a landscaper information on the latest mining truck. Innovation does have a role when it comes to integrating your marketing efforts and platforms so they are working together. From a visual perspective this would be the channels you use in each stage of the funnel to move the customer to the purchase stage. It is a science.

What does social media success look like for Caterpillar?

We want to build and strengthen customer relationships on social media. Our strategy is built on 4 pillars:

  • Listening – this enables us to understand the customer’s needs
  • Promotion – gives us the opportunity to make our customers aware of our offerings and new products
  • Thought Leadership – this is where we can give our customers solutions and make them better at their job or more successful in their business
  • Customer Support – real time answers to customer inquiries

If we do these right, we will build customer loyalty and better understand our customers.

How do you choose the right social media channels for your brand?

Because of our use of social listening we know who is using social media, where, and what they are talking about. This varies by industry, the type of activity (customer questions, marketing, etc.), and specific products. This has led us to Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, blogging, and customer communities. Resources also play a factor in our decision. We want to make sure we have the proper resources for each channel we are using.

What advice would you give another B2B looking to succeed at social?

You must have a strategy that addresses your business needs. We have an over arching social media strategy, but we tweak this for each industry (Mining, Electric Power, etc.) or part of the business we are working with (HR, Public Affairs, etc.). So from a strategy perspective, one size doesn’t fit all. The other important thing to realize is that you aren’t going to build a successful social media program because of your centralized efforts. The power of social media is in all the people within your company. They have the thought leadership, they know customers’ needs, they know the answers to the questions being asked. So empower them with a tool set so they can be successful.

I hope this gave you some insight. Please DM me on Twitter if you would like to know more @kevingespinosa.

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digital marketing, social media, strategy, Uncategorized

Look Both Ways Before Becoming Social

There are a lot of reasons to get into social media from a business perspective but there are some questions you must first ask yourself. These six questions will help your marketing team begin to get ready for their social media journey.

  1. What are your business objectives and how would social media help you achieve them? Like with any other communications platform your group would leverage, you will need to understand what you’re trying to achieve as a business and how social will help you reach these goals.
  2. What perspective or expert opinion do we have? It is important that you add value to your audience. This would be things such as: how to’s, best practices, etc.. If they don’t see your content as relevant or adding value, it won’t be long before they tune you out.
  3. Do you have the necessary resources to successfully participate in social media? Social media is not a one-time event. Day 180 is more important than day 1. You must have the resources to manage the content, engagement, and moderation of the conversation.
  4. What content do you have and what will you need to create? You must have a content strategy that is based on your objectives and story territories that you want to base your content on. Then you need to understand where that content is going to come from. Does it already exist in some other format or do you have to create it, and if you have to create it who is going to do it on an ongoing basis?
  5. What approvals do we need and how do we manage that process? You must understand the Governance processes at your company. Do I need to get this approved by a centralized group? What is the process to get content approved? How is Brand and Legal involved. It is best to work with corporate processes and not against them…that is if they exist. J
  6. What does success look like for you? Be sure to set up a process to measure your social media activities against KPIs that align with your business objectives. This again goes back to what are to accomplish in the first place.

These are our some key questions you must ask yourself and your team before you start the social media journey. The most important question is what business opportunity/problem are you going to address with your efforts?

Let me know your thoughts. Did I miss some key steps that you took?

Tweet me at @kevingespinosa on Twitter or let’s connect on LinkedIn.

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