Archive for the ‘Lead Generation’ Tag

10 Recommendations for Socially Enabling the Customer Lifecycle

We have had a lot of discussions as of late around how to socially enable the customer lifecyle. Also, begs the question “What does that mean?”

First, we are talking about how you manage customers from awareness, through interest, purchase, delivery, support, repeat, and referral. Depending upon your market, how complicated your sales process, channels, etc. this will vary to a degree, but we are talking about managing a customer from cradle to grave ( hopefully “not” grave). Companies are paying a lot of money for business intelligence systems, CRM systems, contact center, marketing and sales technologies to try and address the challenges around the heightened customer expectations.

Customers do not want the disjointed, endless closed loop frustrations of trying to manage a relationship with a company who doesn’t understand that customers choose from whom they receive “service”. This customer experience is bleeding through into marketing and sales with the ability to mass distribute customer complaints. We have all seen the blogs, tweets, viral videos, etc.

The company that can enable a sustained and coherent engaged relationship with a customer from introduction through purchase and repeat purchases will see a decline in customer churn, increase in referrals, and a decrease in the cost of customer acquisition. Bottom line is that better engagement with your customers leads to a better bottom line. The “means to an end” in this is through social media, online communities, collaboration, web 2.0, etc. type technologies that enable individuals to engage and interact online. Huge wins in terms of brand equity, customer satisfaction, and understanding of buyer behavior, beyond streamlining the service and support processes.

To that end, we spend a lot of time working with companies to design this roadmap since many are still trying to figure out how to get started, let alone walk or run. As we do a good number of presentations on what a roadmap looks like, we thought that we would share the high-level framework in the spirit of “give to get”; which is the basis of social marketing. Here is our recommendations:

  1. Find out what your market is saying. If you aren’t, you have no idea literally.
  2. Have a plan to engage with them on social networks, blogs, video, etc
  3. Build a good “fishing program” for lead generation
  4. Identify the top places, people, and discussions that your market is engaging
  5. Build relationships online as you would a good PR or business development program
  6. Build engaging content that will educate, entertain, or influence your market
  7. Build an online community for your customers, prospects,  and partners
  8. Listen to what they have to say, measure it, and respond to it
  9. Build an online community for your organization to collaborate and to engage employees
  10. Integrate your applications, corporate content, processes, and data into the community
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Every Conversation is Social

What does that mean? You ever wake up and remember a snippet of a dream? We work through problems in our sleep. If you don’t capture it, it is gone. Or at least for me. So, I wake up with this “Build it and they will come” message in my head…. “Every Conversation is Social”.

It is like my subconscious is trying to punch through to my conscious to get the message through. I am reminded of the 1960’s scifi movie where they shrunk the space ship and floated through someone’s body. If they didn’t get the host to do something, they would be trapped. What message what trying to get through?

Every Conversation is Social – Possible Meanings

Consulting – every conversation that I have had lately has been around how to socially enable the enterprise; customer lifecycles, lead generation, enterprise search and collaboration. I have been feeling guilty about not blogging more, but we have been so busy since the new year with speaking opportunities and client meetings… Maybe…

Social Market Audits – we have been doing a lot of social market audits; looking at the market for companies to assess how ready their market is for social marketing and how to leverage social media for lead generation, branding, and thought leadership. Maybe a reflection of our discussions about how to identify networks, influencers, and conversations in social media.

Partners – we had a conversation internally about how to better empower our business partners to have the social enablement conversation in their respective domains; business intelligence, CRM, call center, employee engagement.

Kids – could be just simply a random phrase. I have been joking with my 4 year old that he “gets older every day”. Maybe it is just a tru-ism…

Really Important Epiphany – maybe it is a garbled thought that I can’t remember anything other than the last thought of a great idea – Like the Lassie commercial on TV lately – “Lassie, go… blah,blah, blah… Farmer Brown… blah, blah, blah… help… blah, blah… COOKIE…” Maybe it is like…“Every…. Blah, blah… Conversation… blah, blah, blah… social.

Could be a title – possibly for a great book or seminar on “Social Marketing”.

Really Bad Epitaph? – I really hope this isn’t the highlight of my life, though.

•… Or just maybe I have social on the brain and it is a random thought

A Tale of 2 Marketing Programs: Social Media Versus Search Engines

Social media is going to take budget dollars away from search engine marketing. Already is in many major brands. Simple economics are driving this transition.

If a major ecommerce player is spending 50% of their budget on search engine marketing, website optimization, and link optimization programs, but is losing the war to bloggers in organic search. Why would the ecommerce player continue to spend massive amounts of money on advertising when they can focus on blogger outreach (ethical, not paid) for far less money. Better yet, fix their customer experience and get customers to evangelize on their behalf.  this slide says it all….

Additionally, as we analyze the various social media monitoring and metrics tools, the challenge is pretty evident. Search engines work off of structured data. I can run an advanced search and build filters for my search results. The challenge with social search is that the taxonomy isn’t defined. How you talk about a problem can be completely different than I talk about it. Potential buyers may not even recognize that the problem they are discussing on social media is even in the market. How do you build an automated tracking of taxonomy around unstructured data?

Effective lead generation program within social marketing require human knowledge of your solutions and also the ability to follow discussion threads to identify contextual relavence. Over time, you should be able to fine tune the algorithms for your social monitoring programs to become 80% accurate, but the most successful programs are leveraging human knowledge to make social marketing engagement programs to become discoverable, impactful, and actionable.

Otherwise, you get the the large number of costly “unqualified” leads that flood into websites similar to the search engine marketing programs. These programs either make it up in volume or work the “long tail” of key words to reach better qualified buyers. Social marketing can get you to the “long tail” faster as most buyers start with questions in the long tail when they do not know what they are looking for and leverage the expertise of others to become more specific as they learn what they don’t know.

2010: The Perfect Social Marketing Storm

So, if you believe 2010 is the year of the return, forget the “u” shaped recovery, etc. We are talking the “V” shaped RETURN.” The tsunami of pent of demand, the rise of social marketing as a recognized marketing channel, and the competitive pressures to outperform the market to validate your company’s supreme dominance will be firece. No problem, finding budget for marketing will be the least of your problems. Having to justify social marketing doesn’t seem as daunting when you have budget and sales are coming in… “Cool, where do I sign-up?” If not sure about 2010 being the roaring recovery, read further….

We know that social marketing is becoming mainstream. I think in 2o1o it will become table stakes. If you don’t have a facebook page, twitter account, and linkedin profiles; you are so 2009…. In reality, we are seeing major brands begin to increase their budgets for social marketing by a factor of 20% – 30% of budgets. One major CPC brand is dictating that a percentage of product innovation come from ideas from their community. Increasingly, we are not having conversations about “Why should I do it?”, but “How do I use it for competitive advantage?”

We know that most companies have stabilized the bleeding even though they had a mediocre year. Sales are off from their height, profitability is down, budgets are constrained, probably a layoffs/backfill hires not made/new positions not budgeted. Entering into another year of a multi-year recession means most organizations now expect that you will figure out how to do more with less and will not accept “the economy” as justification for underperforming results. The expectation is that you will figure out how to outperform the market.

However,  the real question is not whether the economy will recover with pent up demand in 2010, but what if it doesn’t? What if the recovery is a real dud?  Will the corporate boards be simpathetic to another year of mediocre performance? Will CEOs be calm with back-to-back mediocre years? The average tenure of CEOs. CMOs, and other senior executives is what? Will anyone accept the excuse that it “the economy”? Will the pressure ratchet up even more?

What if the market fundamentally is shifting towards social media and away from advertising and even search engine marketing?,What if I don’t shift our sales, markmarketing and customer management to reflect the market? What if the market slightly improves but we don’t improve with it? What if our competitors find a way to add a lot of new customers and revenue and we don’t?

 The best estimate is that it takes 3 to 6 months to establish a baseline measurement program for social marketing. That means that I need to build a program and execute within the first half of  2010 to give me time to see if it will work. That means 2010 is ALREADY HALF OVER in terms of impact.

We are not talking about setting up a twitter account and adding followers. I am talking about getting legitimate lead generation, customer retention, brand reputation, product development feedback, and team productivity using these tools. Someone tells you that you need a branded twitter account, ask “Why?” If you don’t hear a crisp answer related to a strategic initiative, then you should realize your return is probably equated to the time and cost you invested to set it up… Free Twitter Account Does Not Equal  to a Gazillian Free Leads…

Here are the Major Questions that you need to ask to determine if you need to invest in a social Marketing Strategy…

We can’t hit the marketing performance numbers? Not Necessarily. Your competitors may be slower to adopt than you.

 Can we get predictable and measurable results out of just doing tactical social media participation like having a twitter account and a facebook page? I don’t know, can you? How is it working for you now? Getting the results that you want? Seeing the strategic impact on revenues or customers?

 Can we build a social marketing strategy on our own? Sure, always a factor of core competencies, time, resources, and money. Give anyone enough time and money and resources and they usually build a plan.

Can my team execute a social marketing program effectively? Are they doing it now? We find with a little coaching, a clear plan, and training that organizations are able to drive execution to meet their business objectives.

 Can you tell me if you can tell me the 2010 social media forecast for my market? No, we would have to do a Social Market Audit to get a better idea. We can tell you …

  • If the market is adopting social media
  • How big your company’s footprint
  • How effective is your marketing messaging
  • How well are you doing against your competitors
  • How you can compete over social marketing better
  • Provide you with strategic marketing plan for executing and integrating social marketing

We find that our best partners in this are the folks who are already toe-dipping into social media. They have seen what works and what doesn’t. They recognize a sophisticated program will lead to better, more predictable results.

Self-serving? You betcha…. but also true.

Social Marketing Changes Everything Part 1 – Introduction

If I asked the question “Who wants better leads, increased revenues?” I would see every hand up in the room.

” Through social media?”  I would still see pretty much every hand in the room raised. 

If I told them that they would have to changes their approach to marketing, lead generation, customer satisfaction, and their view of their market, how many hands would stay up? If I told them that they would have to take some risks, expose themselves (metaphorically), do something unconventionally, challenge their team, etc. would you find any takers? a few…

Now, if I told them that every one of their competitors is planning on doing this and that they could choose to do it early to get “competitive advantaged” or they could wait and be a “me-too”. I would find the room in two camps, split between the optomists in the face of a economy poised to recover and the business convervatives who are trying to maintain what the have in the face of a recessed economy.

I read a lot online from social media “experts”, but other than they advocate the use of  social networks like Linkedin, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Youtube, etc. for business (Screaming ad-like tweets “You too can make money”…) I struggle to break through the noise to connect with the real innovators who have a strategic approach to integrating social media into their full marketing programs.

Here is my two cents worth – Social Media is fundamentally changing Marketing. In my mind, it is not about how you add the social networks to your marketing channels of communication (they should be thought of as channels), but rather how you rethink marketing and brand management. The initial wave of website in the mid-90’s started to a fundamental shift in marketing. I talk to a lot of companies about social media, Web 2.0, social CRM, social networking, etc. Some think it is a FAD, most think it is fun and interesting, some are trying to use it for business, but some are taking advantage of the rest to drive growth. This shift in marketing is happening again.

I am not talking about occasionally sending something out to the 132 people on Linkedin, 675 college buddies on Facebook, and the 3750 followers that you have built on twitter (these aren’t my numbers). I am not talking about building online forums into your website. Not talking about use meebo to chat occasionally with an ex-colleague. I can go on, but the point is that social-optimized, Web 2.0 interactions  are creeping into the way that we all do business. You can use them or you can rethink your approach to leverage them to “change the rules”.

If you are a “changes the rules” type, you will need to subscribe to the RSS feed and have to come back to read the rest of the series on Social Marketing Changes Everything Part 2 – 5. I can’t fit all of the explanation into the a single post. This multi-part series will provide information on social marketing and answer the following questions:

  • What is Social Marketing? (I can already hear, not another buzz word…. but think about my Web Marketing reference above)
  • Why is a new definition required beyond Social Media, Social Networking, Social CRM, or Web 2.0 Marketing? (gotcha there)
  • So what? Why should I  worry about this? Hint: Revenue Generation and Customer Referrals (I assumed this would be important to you)
  • What does a Social Marketing strategy look like?
  • What does a Social Marketing Roadmap look like for this?
  • How do I leverage what I am already doing?
  • How do I build a Social Marketing Business Case?
  • How do I measure Social Marketing?

Now that I got the major questions out of the way, let move next into the definitions;

Social Marketing – The re-orientation of traditional marketing to reflect the new post-digital,  network relationship oriented, and influencer-driven social interactions. Social Marketing leverages a multi-channel, multi-directional approach towards building relationships with a transition away from the structured marketing roles like; product management, marketing communications, PR, Channel Mktg, & sales support. Instead, marketing is reoriented around enabling the key interactions that support the awareness, influence, interest, buying, and referral processes. ( it is a mouthful, but I am working on getting it down to one simple sentence. Give me your thoughts and I will incorporate in my next post)

Social Media – Basically, you have the social networks that you participate and the online communities that you own which are built into your corporate website. See my post on Social Media is Like Fishing for more details.

Online Communities – communities of interest built upon a foundation of Web 2.0 social networking tools; profile, blog, wiki, social bookmarking, calendaring, media sharing, etc that enable the user to interact with other users and content through the website. See my post on Online Community Blueprint for more details.

Post-Digital – If everything is becoming digital, why does digital matter? The buyer doesn’t really care if the interaction is on the web, they just want to get what they need. A lot of marketing still segments online and offline which creates an artificial barrier to developing a seamless customer experience. Social Media is changing buyer behavior, coming more fluid, and marketing must adjust the model to to support the reflected changes. See my post on the Changing Role of the CMO for further explanation.

The next part of the series will explore a new model for thinking about reorienting marketing towards interactions.

Part 2 – Theory

Part 3 – Business Case

Online Community Lead Identification Part 3 – Corporate Community

Michael Thomas, CRMA President, and I created a generic community lead identification activities list as a continuation of  our series on leveraging corporate online communities for lead generation. This list is the baseline set of community activities that can be used to build a lead scoring system within a corporate community. It is unrealistic to assume that you will automatically be able to filter browsers from shoppers with this model, but the goal is to build a scoring foundation from which you can add company-specific indicators to identify interest.

This post will not address the actual mechanism of lead scoring in this post, but rather discuss the actual activities within a community that you could score to for lead identification.

The Top 10 Corporate Online Community Activities for Lead Identification

  1. Frequency of Tags from All Activities – the ability to aggregate all the tags from the pages viewed and assign scores based upon the frequency of tags = greater number of tags from content “hits” which indicates interest.
  2. Joined Groups – weighted score based upon # of groups with specific groups scored differently
  3. Content Posts – weighted score based upon frequency and which group posted
  4. Connections – weighted score based role of connection; employees (ie product manager higher than customer service, finance, etc) versus other customers
  5. Referrals – invite a friend submittals; higher score if same domain as referrer
  6. Profile Completeness
  7. # of connections – shows community activity and interest
  8. Visits per month – shows community activity and interest
  9. Time on site in last visit
  10. Forwards content to friend / email address

Your goal in leveraging these activities within a community is to identify interest beyond the cursory. You are looking to leverage implicit behaviors beyond the stated, explicit information the user provides in their profile. Market research has long identified that people will say one thing when asked directly, but will do something different when observed. “Yes, I would pay $10 for this”, but then never pick up the item when observed.

The goal of a lead identification system is to separate browsers from shoppers. The best systems eliminate false positives and false negatives. A false positive is a unqualified lead that sales has to follow up on, but in reality has no chance of closing. A false negative is a missed sales opportunity because the buyer was never approached and went somewhere else to satisfy their needs. You never knew they were really looking until it was too late.

The purpose of embedding a corporate online community into your corporate website is to create more interactions on the site. Marketers are always looking to convert a higher percentage of the web visitors that come to your website.  If you can engage more, keep them coming back, and help them qualify themselves; then your website has been significantly enhanced with an online community. Now, if you can do that and leverage the interactions and user generated content to drive better search optimization, even better.

Part 1 – https://rosenhaft.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/online-community-lead-scoring-part-1/

Part 2 – https://rosenhaft.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/community-lead-identification-part-2-linkedin-example/

Decoding Marketing: BtoB CMOs Integrating SM, SEO,Lead Gen, CRM, MCM, and M$trics for Success

What? Let me translate…

B-to-B = Business to Business

CMO = Chief Marketing Officer who has responsibility for Strategic Marketing, Product Management, Product Marketing, Channel Marketing, Marketing Communications, Lead Generation, & depending upon the nature of the company Customer Service.

SM = Social Marketing; both the external Social Media properties like FaceBook, Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube, etc, as well as, the branded online communities built as a part of the corporate website that leverage social media components and generate a ton of user content.

SEO = Organic Search. SEM is Search Engine Marketing whereby you pay-per-click for placement. SEO is better, but you have to be on the 1st page of organic search to really get placement. There are some really effective strategies leveraging online press releases, PR, cross-linking strategies, user generated content on your website, targeted meta-tagging, and more focused website content.

Lead Gen = Lead Generation, meaning the qualified stuff, not the “IP address 123.345.128 visited your page at 12:35am”. I mean the stuff sales organizations appreciate; qualified, interested, and clearly identified, preferrably educated, but ideally a referral. Inbound leads are a reflection of your outbound activities. If you are scatter-shotting your marketing activities, throwing stuff up against the wall, without a clearly coordinated call to action, you will have trouble with leads. Good marketing aircover involves multi-channel, clear value communications, and targeted to potential buyers where they buy. As a friend said the other day, “one message is ok, a campaign is better, a relationship is the best”. Relationships take time, multiple interactions, and can’t just be about the transaction….

CRM = heard about a new company doing Social CRM which brings all of your online social media contacts from multiple sites into your CRM. COOL! Now, take it one step further and find a way to bring those contacts into a dialogue on your website about attributes of your offering that is of interest to them… priceless…

MCM = Multi-channel communications, an essential tool in today’s world. Not the end-all, but a significant, important tool to managing your outbound marketing. The ability to coordinate marketing communications, target market specific interactions, and tie all of that into your CRM system is a strong foundation. I am talking with a leading Multi-channel Marketing firm this afternoon to find out there strategies for integration social media components into their lead scoring systems.

M$trics – A cute way of saying metrics. Marketing cannot get quantitative enough in my opinion. We need to make sure that we have clear ways to measure the impact on the business; whether through a direct ROI or the ability to affect the conversion from one stage of the sales process to the next. At the end of the day, Branding disconnected from the Business is hard to justify.

Success = Integrated marketing strategy that helps position the company & the product above the competition, drives awareness in the market, generated leads, and help position the company to get referrals and repeat purchases.

Plan = Without a destination, it is hard to figure out if you will arrive….

Marketer’s Dilemma

I have been following a good number of different bloggers on marketing. One of the challenges I find is that one are that I can’t seem to find really good information published out there is how to really break through the “marketing noise” on the internet. Let’s face it, there is a real problem out there for traditional marketing vehicles:

Changing Landscape of Online Lead Generation

Changing Landscape of Online Lead Generation

So, when I talk to other marketing professionals and a good number of CEOs, I get acknowledgment that there is a problem with SEO, email marketing, telemarketing, direct mail, tradeshows, webinars, etc. but I get a lot of different solutions:

A. Do more of the same

B. Cut budgets and focus on just the “free stuff”

C. Use social media “stuff” like twitter, blogs, and linkedin

D. Hire more sales people who have rolodexes

So, bottom line is that I have been asking a lot of hard questions and not getting a lot of good responses. On the other hand, there are some really good people who do get it that I will acknowledge in the next few posts.

The short answer, if you are wondering, is that the only real way to break through the “noise” is to concentrate your fire and use a multi-channel approach on the outbound that is coordinated, segmented, and integrated with your sales efforts. I will talk more about a multi-channel approach in subsequent posts.

On the in-bound side, you need to make sure that you build an online community that enables you to get your thought leadership and make sure your prospective audience can identify your differentiation. The new buyer paradigm “Google before Engagement” means that the potential buyers are doing research prior to engaging with your sales organization. If you are not found in their organic search results, the odds of hitting their buying window is small. Additionally, the likelyhood of catching their attention with outbound marketing messaging is also limited.

Online communities allow you to:

  • Galvenize your evangelism efforts
  • Coordinate your partner, employees, customers, etc to assist you in evangelizing
  • Provide a thought-leadership showcase for your differentiation and value proposition
  • Enable partners to assist in presenting a holistic solution
  • Provides a more engaging web experience for visitors to your website
  • Provides more behavioral information to identify “buyers” from “browsers”
  • Provides specific calls-to-action and credentialling for your outbound marketing vehicles
  • Provides an incredible amount of user generated content to feed/flood the search engines
  • Provide a centralized place to drive referrals and recommendations

Ok, so “I get it, but…”

There are plenty of objections, challenges, etc that I will review in the next couple of posts to assist you in understanding the role community should play in your new marketing playbook…

Bottom line is that the internet is evolving, the internet is changing marketing, changing sales, changing everything. Marketing’s role and focus within an organization must evolve to be relavent.

If done correctly, you should not only be able to keep pace in a down economy, but grow. You can’t score on defense….

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