Thursday, May 10, 2012

Demand Generation Using Social Media

First let me say that I don't use the terms "lead generation" and "demand generation" interchangeably as I hear many people doing. I define "lead generation" as the steps taken to build a marketing database for follow up. This often takes the form of registration in exchange for information. I define "demand generation" as creating a demand for an organization's products or service using marketing tools. Both are legitimate ways to create business; however, demand generation is more big picture. Unfortunately, marketers tend to focus on lead generation because that's how they're measured. Social media is a type of content marketing that focuses on demand generation, as defined above.

Here's an interesting little tidbit for you – I use Google's Keyword Tool to get competition results for variations on every blog title I create. When working on this title there were virtually no searches for the combination of "demand generation" and "social media"; however, when I replaced "demand generation" with "lead generation" there were consistent "high" competition results. I see that quite often – marketers getting caught up in the daily minutiae and forgetting about the big picture, but then people are more often rewarded for managing daily activities rather than initiating long-term strategies.

I'm a big picture person and I like to create long-term success so I thought I'd share a few tips I've picked up over the years on creating demand generation and supporting the sales cycle using social media.

  1. Engage the Prospects

    This is developing a relationship with your prospects before they are leads. I cannot overemphasize this vital step. Nothing drives me crazier than having to register in order to see content, especially the first time I'm at a site. I don't know if the content is valuable and worth the extra effort. Companies lose me as a prospect all the time because I don't want to register just to find out the content isn't valuable. This doesn't mean that these prospects aren't qualified leads. They'll keep coming back for more information and be more willing to share their information with you. The goal is to nurture them in your social media as you would a known contact in your database.

  2. Target the Leads

    You've turned your prospect into a lead. The job's not done yet. Now you know something about them and it's time to target your online content and conversations to be more relevant. You also have the opportunity to track these leads through other customer engagement efforts and implement or integrate social media using multiple channels.

  3. Nurture the Sale

    You've been monitoring conversations and you see that a lead may be sales-ready. You've been paying attention to lead interactions and conversations and seen increased activity or intent. It's time to turn them over to a sales rep. Collaboration and communication is critical at this stage because there must be agreement on what a sales-ready lead is and when that lead needs to be turned back over to marketing to be further nurtured.

  4. Support the Customer

    Just because the customer has made the purchase doesn't mean you're done with them. It's a marketing tenet that it's more cost effective to keep an existing customer than to get a new one. This is all about customer lifetime value. You know how to reach and what they've purchased. Follow up and send them tutorials, affirmative e-mails, or just answer any questions they may be posting on your social media sites. They want to know they made the right decision and that you are there to support them if they have questions or issues.

Remember, social media is relevant through the entire buying cycle. The more you interact with your customers, the more likely they are to buy from you. They're looking for a reason to buy from you. Give them one. And once they buy, support them. This will position you as a trusted resource and a thought leader. Qualified prospects will reach out to you when they are ready. last small item – measure the results! Don't forget to have all your metrics in place so you can track where people are coming from, going to, and how much time they're spending on which pages. Just because this is social media that doesn't mean you can throw the analytics out the door. It's critical to be able to trace the path of your prospects as well as to be able to measure ROI, conversions, page views, click thru rates, etc.

If your social media effort feels like you're just goofing around probably are. ;-)

1 comment:

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