Why You Should Be Afraid Of Social Media

I had scheduled a demand generation post for this week but came across this outstanding article from Tom Nixon and changed my mind.  Almost every day you meet someone who tries to deny the power and presence of Social Media.  I used to be one of them.  I am not sure if Social Media will always have the same impact it does today.  But today it HAS an impact. Social Media is going to be around for a while. Our customers who have implemented Social Media strategies are seeing dramatic increases in site visits, engagements and promotion responses.  Tom provides an insightful rationale as to why companies cannot ignore this new opportunity while providing some common mistakes in developing a Social Media approach.  Read on...

Pitfalls to Getting Your Email Opened

Whether you’re a channel manager or marketer, it’s important that your email messages get opened and read. Running your channel effectively and filling your lead pipeline often depends on it. Yet I think there are many cases where companies shoot themselves in the foot. Getting people to open your email isn’t so much an art as it is avoiding common pitfalls. Below are some of the common pitfalls you should avoid. Knowing them will help you increase open rates and get people to engage with your company in the way you desire. Note that this post doesn’t deal with infrastructure required to get email delivered and opened. That is a topic for another day.

Pitfall #1: Oversaturating Your Database

Sending too much email is an easy thing to do. Between newsletters, alerts, and promotions, you can “burn” your list very easily. If you don’t already have a single person or committee overseeing email priorities and frequencies, it’s time you do. With most email service or demand generation providers, you’ll be able to see how many people are opting out of future communication and who they are. Anything approaching the 5% range on a single email campaign should send up red flags. You’re sending email too often. On the flipside, a .1 to .5% opt-out rate may indicate you’re not sending enough email. Check the type of people that are opting out as well. Are they your ideal target or important contacts you shouldn’t be losing? If your open rates are plummeting, it’s likely another sign that you’re sending too much.

Pitfall #2: Using Lame Subject Lines

Subject lines are your primary hook for getting partners, prospects and customers to open your email. Put some time and effort into them. They should be succinct and stand out without being cheesy (i.e. looking like spam). 35 characters or less is a good target for length. You want immediate understanding of what the benefit is of opening your email. If someone can’t see the whole subject line because it’s cut off in their email client, you can’t accomplish this. Focus on your relationship with them, on something they would want to know or on an emotions-based need. If you haven’t done the research to know what these things are, it’s time to start.

Pitfall #3: Betraying Trust

When someone gives you their email address, there is generally a certain amount of trust that goes along with it. The unwritten expectation is that you will deliver content that is of interest. News Flash!—no one cares you opened a new office location, so stop sending this kind of content.

Pitfall #4: Failing to Target

Many channel managers and marketers fail because they don’t segment their database and produce targeted communication. Marketing and IT buyers are very different, as are C-Suite and middle manager audiences. You can’t send the same message to all of them and expect it to resonate. Many companies also send the same message multiple times. Both of these mistakes contribute to lower open rates and more unsubscribes. 

Pitfall #5: Failing to Educate 

You need to train people how to interact with your email and let them know it’s coming. Asking people to add you to their safe sender list or address book is the single best thing you can do for deliverability. In turn, it will also help you get in front of more people and give you the chance to have your message opened. You should also be using live events to help increase email open rates. Whether these events are webinars or things like user and partner conferences, make people aware of the email they will receive and what the value is. These little education and awareness opportunities go a long way in getting more people engaged with your email.

Pitfall #6: Delivering the Same Old Thing

If you consistently try to squeeze dollars out of your database through promotional email campaigns, your open rates will inevitably end up in the toilet. This applies specifically to B2B marketers and channel managers. The same is true if you don’t switch things up like your newsletter content or don’t have professional looking communication. The idea is you want to provide consistent and readily apparent value in your communication. That value might start with an educational webinar, industry quick guide or white paper, or industry news and events. What I’m really talking about here is content marketing. By becoming a trusted source for information, not promotional spam, you encourage higher open rates and recognition of both your expertise and point of view.

Pitfall #7: Not Leveraging the Power of Social Media

Most demand generation systems now offer at least rudimentary social media integration. If not, program the integration with social media sites manually. If your message is of value to your market, teaches them something or shows them how they can improve their business, many of them will post your message to social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. My daughter recently got a promotional email from a major clothing chain that she and a friend frequent. The first thing my daughter did was share it on her Facebook page. Enabling the sharing of your email is a great way to expand campaign reach and opens. (Download our “Using Social Media in Demand Generation” webinar for more information on this point.)

What pitfalls have you fallen into with your email? What have you experienced by avoiding them?

Traditional Outbound vs. The New Inbound Social Media Marketing

Many marketers today are trying to figure out a way to leverage the boom in social media technologies to create leads. But before an effective strategy can be developed, it’s critical to understand some key differences in how inbound social media marketing differs from traditional outbound marketing. 

Inbound marketing through social media sites requires building a community of followers (prospects) by providing content of interest. The key concept here is that inbound marketing prospects proactively seek out and discover a company because of the value they place in the content offered and the interactive relationship the company is able to form with their prospects, vs. being on the receiving end of an unwanted, sales-focused message through print or email advertising, for example. It’s about delivering exactly what the prospect wants, when they want it vs. disrupting their day with unwanted communication. 

Social media sites like YouTube, Twitter™, Facebook™, LinkedIn™ and others are perfect resources for those who leverage their networks to get the information they want, when they need it.  For savvy inbound marketers who know how to engage people and produce the right content for them, social media sites can be valuable tools to drive new prospects into the sales funnel. This blog is an example of inbound marketing.  

If the content is valuable and relevant, an inbound marketer has an opportunity to use it to drive awareness of his/her company and increase the likelihood that prospects will buy his/her products when and if there is need and budget to do so. It is important to note here that if all you do as an inbound marketer is use social media sites to publish messages to sell your products, you will fail. The key is to help educate, inform or even entertain potential buyers via social media in order to earn the right to be considered when a need develops for the products your company sells. 

Below is a short list of some of the ways inbound or social media marketing differs from traditional outbound marketing. What other differences do you see and how have you changed your mind set in approaching inbound marketing?

Finding The Business Value of Social Media

Welcome to my first blog post.  It had to happen sometime.  I am admittedly a laggard where social media is concerned, but like many of you, I can no longer afford to be.

Social media has been a buzzword for quite some time.  Everywhere you turn there is a new self-proclaimed guru touting its value.  I guess you can now add me to the list.  As a provider of a Demand Generation SaaS product, and more importantly, as leader of my own company, here’s what I’m really interested in: How do you dig through the hype and find a way to leverage business value out of social media?

For marketers, the possibility of exponentially spreading your promotional email to people outside your existing database, all by having respondents share it across social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, is a powerful thing.

If you consider that even the most shy among us can garner 100 followers on Twitter, friends on Facebook or colleagues on LinkedIn, the sharing of a promotion via social media could expand a database of 10,000 contacts to a potential reach of 1,000,000. This is a fact that those of us in the demand generation/marketing automation space cannot overlook.  

It stands to reason that by sheer chance alone increased reach will generate more leads.  Consider, however, that your company database is filled with like-minded, opted-in subscribers who have chosen to follow your company because it is of genuine interest to them.   Then consider they hang out with like minded friends.  These facts would lead one to believe that the amount of increased qualified leads from any campaign that integrated social media could be exponentially larger than if reach was achieved by more random means.

It’s an interesting concept to combine outbound marketing such as email or landing page components of a campaign with the inbound marketing strengths of social media. To make it possible, demand generation solutions need to create easy ways to include social media as a tool for campaigns. By doing this, marketers can also potentially increase opt-in subscribers to company communications. Interesting here as well that, as a result, reach expands not only for the current promotion, but for future ones as well.

In addition to reach, you may also be able to increase frequency.  If you consider that several of your prospects will reach the same contacts with their posts on multiple social media sites, you may hit some people several times. Even those of us who are old enough to remember Daren Stevens and Larry Tate can understand the value of increasing both reach and frequency.

But traffic for its own sake isn’t where the value in combining email, landing pages and social media really lies. Only by using a demand generation or marketing automation tool can you realize new sales now and set new prospects on a nurturing path for future sales later.  Here’s how it works: By using demand generation solutions that integrate social media tools, a prospect or customer shares your promotion. This drives traffic to a landing page and adds new respondents to your database. The demand generation system qualifies them, routes qualified leads directly to sales people or a CRM system, and gets new unqualified leads involved in a lead nurturing campaign.   

I’m a big believer in tying marketing campaigns to revenue.  Just integrating social media into a product for the sake of attaching your company to the latest fad is one thing.  Adding new functionality that can generate more qualified leads today and into the future is just plain good business.