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Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

More on Social Media and B2B Buying Cycles

Posted by: Jonathan Block  /  Tags: , , , ,

In a previous post, I discussed our B2B buying cycle framework and the roles within it; in this post, I’ll cover how these buying cycle phases should influence your B2B social media efforts. Given the importance of buying cycles, better alignment of key social media activities with these cycles will result in more targeted, measurable results. Let’s look at it via the three macros buying cycle phases.

Education. Most organizations don’t have a lack of content; rather too much content is locked into specific pieces of collateral and never reused. Go through a whitepaper and highlight content that can be leveraged as tweets or posts within your Facebook and LinkedIn groups to drive more awareness about who you are and what you do. Also, the work that goes into securing quotes and data points for press releases and testimonials can be used to reinforce the connection between a specific offering and core business issues within a vertical (or sub-vertical) market.

Active Buying. The active buying stage finds buyers looking for solutions to problems they have decided are a priority, matching solution types to their specific needs and uncovering vendors that offer their solution of choice. Your social efforts should drive focused awareness and engagement not around your brand, but around specific decisions made by current customers that drove them to choose the solution you offer and, subsequently, your organization in particular. In addition to leveraging subject matter expertise for posts, content that was created to make key influencers aware of emerging issues can be recast to drive home the importance of problem solving at the beginning of buying cycles.

Closing. The closing phase includes activities such as negotiations and terms/conditions creation required to seal a deal. While there may be less social media potential here because prospects have much of the information they need, late-stage buyers often turn to their online social networks for validation, and the social reputation (or lack of) you’ve built through engagement will have a huge impact. Tracking and addressing any issues that a prospect may have about your organization could help tip a decision in your favor. Facilitating connections to stakeholders and influencers within your online network will help as well.

Social Media and the Buying Cycle: An Introduction

Posted by: Jonathan Block  /  Tags: ,

While methodologies and approaches abound for understanding where customers or prospects are in the social channel and how they use it, we’ve found no better guide than our buying cycle. I’ll use this post to cover our buying cycle concept and the roles within it, while a future post will discuss how these notions should play a key role in your social strategy and execution.

If an organization doesn’t understand — even at a basic level — the way prospects buy what it sells, it will never be able to use social media outlets and marketing to facilitate these decisions. This is due to the fact that as prospects move toward a purchase, the tone, message, offer and even communicator for a specific marketing effort should be altered.

Buyers don’t go through a straight-line process of getting information through the Web or social outlets, weighing one solution against another and finally making a decision. Instead, a typical B2B buying process comprises a series of smaller decisions involving a variety of audiences that move into and out of the buying process.

SiriusDecisions has created a model that describes six macro stages that B2B organizations typically go through (see diagram, below). These six stages can be rolled up into three higher-level phases: education, active buying and closing.

As you are identifying the distinct activity phases within a buying cycle, you should also be uncovering who the key “actors” are in each phase and the specific roles they play. Typical actors include champions, CXOs, influencers (can be external or internal to the company), users and ratifiers (usually purchasing, procurement or negotiations). It is common for groups to enter and leave regularly, and to play multiple — and very different — roles depending on the type of product or service being sold. While a CTO might play a significant role during the Exploring Possible Solutions stage in one case, he or she will wait for the Justifying the Decision stage in another. Users may be brought in early or late, while other executive groups play no role whatsoever.

An understanding of actors and roles by stage is a tremendous advantage to your sales and marketing teams; not only will they know whom to target (and who to ignore) and what channels (social or otherwise) to use, but messaging, programs and specific content can be developed and delivered at the right time. You also will avoid common mistakes such as targeting the CXO level with Loosening of the Status Quo and Committing to Change messages and demand creation efforts when these executives do not play any role at the beginning of the buying process.

Email Still the King for Online Sharing

Posted by: Shepherd Smith  /  Tags: , , , , , , , ,  /  Comments: 2

A December article by eMarketer cites two recent studies to show the continuing dominance of email (as opposed to Twitter, Facebook, etc.) as the most popular method used by individuals to share information via the web.

The following study findings are of particular interest:

1) email (as opposed to Twitter, Facebook, etc.) is still the most popular method used by individuals to share content with friends.

2) content shared via email leads to more page views than any other method

3) most significantly, content shared via email is far more likely to lead to a purchase, subscription, etc. – 36.8%, as opposed to just 3.2% for Facebook and 0.4% for Twitter.

There are positives for social media as a means for sharing content – links shared through Twitter, for example, have the highest click-through rate of any sharing method.

That said, it is clear that direct marketers should be aware that the the overwhelming majority of the actual business generated by social sharing of content comes not from the new wave of social media vehicles, but rather from our old friend, email.

Source: “Users still sharing by email

How Can You Use Social Media To Generate Leads?

Posted by: Brian Giese  /  Tags: , ,  /  Comments: 2

Social Media is discussed in marketing circles but largely misunderstood. I thought this was an interesting YouTube post from Adam Taha discussing the basics of social networking and how it can generate leads for sales. Take a look.