This past week was the first in a series of two great conferences, the MarketingSherpa's 6th Annual B2B Marketing Summit 2009 in San Francisco. Next week, Oct. 5 and 6, will be the Boston summit. Find me there and say hello.
We published the Top 20 tweets of each day of the conference here:
One of the speakers was Kim Albee, President of Genoo, a provider of online marketing tools. Her presentation about using LinkedIn successfully to generate leads was popular with the audience. Here is the second in a series of Thought Leader Interviews for MarketingSherpa.
Mike: Kim, I've been to four conferences since May and at all four the topic du jour was Social Media, so be ready for a great session! If you just had one slide to present, what would be on it?
Kim: I agree that social media has been the hot topic. We run a microsite, B2B Online Marketing Pros, for our B2B Online Marketing group on LinkedIn. We cover a different subject matter on the microsite every few months and social media garnered one of our best click-through rates for email sent to the group. If I had just one slide to present, it would talk about where social media fits in with all the marketing channels: Websites, blogs, and microsites, to podcasts, slideshare, video, email marketing, LinkedIn, Facebook, Public Relations, direct mail, and other efforts. They can all work together. The more you're out there and making friends in the social realm, the more you're able to get the word out to a broad audience. For example, we just launched Genoo into public release. We've been in beta for a little over a year, and we just announced it. We issued a press release, and we've gotten some great blog posts as well as Tweets - to both the blog posts, as well as the press release. When we looked at the statistics, we had 10 different people tweet about our launch to a total Twitter following of 40,013 people. Of those, about 10,471 are fairly well-targeted into our niche of B2B marketing. That's generated a good amount of traffic and leads.
Mike: I still wonder about b2b Facebook Fan Pages as a medium for generating leads, but I agree with you that twitter and LinkedIn are an incredible source.
As it pertains to a b2b company with big-ticket items and long sales cycles, what areas are you seeing some immediate value with from both an online community and a social media perspective?
Kim: When you've got a long sales cycle, you've got to keep building the relationship and trust with your leads by delivering them information they value - that means information that's relevant to them and explains the issues you can help them resolve. If you do good follow-up or lead nurturing, then studies show that you can keep and close more leads. No matter what technology you utilize -- Twitter, blogs, community participation, marketing automation tools, etc - if what you're saying is not relevant for your target audience, the technology won't make a difference. The technology is only an enabler - the content is the ticket. Having said that, I'm seeing a lot of value from using a combination of very targeted emails, including subscription-based emails, Twitter, and LinkedIn Answers and the blog community. If you have great content that people want to read, you can offer it via email and also use it on those other channels.
Mike: When it comes to demand generation, do you see social media at the top of the funnel, further down, or throughout?
Kim: I think social media can make a difference at the top of the funnel, but it can also be effective throughout. It can be used along with search engine optimization strategies to drive traffic to your site. If you already have leads and you're sending them relevant content, and they also see you actively out in the community they participate in, you can get a lot of traction in the trust-building department. And that can make a big difference - especially when there are buying committees. It just helps spread your reach and visibility.
Mike: Where does the human, outbound marketing effort come in? When do you switch from tweeting to appointment setting?
Kim: I don't think you ever stop social media when you start with the other. I'd recommend that for every new lead you get, you have a relevant follow-up sequence that provides valuable content that will help them. Pair that up with lead scoring and your definition of a "qualified" lead, and you will know when it's right to call them for an appointment. Tweeting, blogging, and other social media participation will continue, and if your leads are following you on any of them, it will only add to the value you provide to your leads. You'll approach it from a holistic viewpoint if you want to do it well. Social media is not a silver bullet for lead generation. In the world today, with all of the marketing avenues available, social is just part of the picture. Your competency to leverage the available options has got to be a lot more fluid. "Test" should be the mantra, so companies can figure out what works best for them. Whatever channels you choose, measure the response and test what your prospects are responding to.
Mike: People are bombarded with so many options. If you were to help someone in a small B2B business, what should they start with?
Kim: I would recommend that they start with their website and work outward from there. They need to have a website with great content that is a lead capture and follow-up machine. Then consider using a combination of some "warm" marketing like an email subscription with something to drive more leads, like either LinkedIn Answers, Groups, Twitter - or make friends with the bloggers that influence their target market. Then when they're comfortable with one of those, add another one.
Mike: Last question, the B2B Thought Leaders Curry Poll - do you prefer Red, Green or Yellow Curry?
Kim: For me it's Yellow for sure.