Jean-Marie Bonthous, Seamless Social
73% of CEOS do not believe their marketers drive revenues. How can marketers fix this? By generating more leads is the most direct route. Here are some highlights from the presentation by HubSpot’s Kipp Bodnar at HUGS2011.
The touchstone in social media: landing pages
B2B companies have long sales cycles: it may take months before a client spends money. Marketers need leads as the initial proxy to show the lead to customer rate, and to predict how many revenues are being generated. Thinking of leads as proxy revenues also helps create a perception that revenue generation is at the center of the marketing agenda.
Can social media help with lead generation? Social media a way to communicate like email or search engine marketing. But Social revenue that does not revenue does not last. In social media, there is not a linear path to lead generation, but many possible routes, like: from Tweet to landing page to form to lead, or from Google + to call to action to landing page. These paths all have one thing in common: landing pages. You may have created an eBook, some awesome piece of information that would have sold as a book 10 years ago. Now all that you ask people is some information, and if they give it to you, you give them some content. A landing page is a part of the path toward making money through social media.
Here are 5 ways to generate leads through social media.
1) Grow your audience
You need visitors that will consume what you share. You need to build your reach. A group, a community of people. Inbound marketing is a great way to build reach. Share a lot of links. Research by hubSpot’s Dan Zarella shows that just replying does not create leads, but sharing information does. Every time you create a piece of valuable information, share it and expand your social media reach. Leverage your existing contacts. Send an email suggesting to your email contacts to follow you in social media. Email can be a powerful tool to increase your reach.
2) Put your content in front of many people
Get as many people as possible to see your content. You need to create regular content, share it consistently, dedicate time to monitoring how people are reacting to the content, re-sharing it or not.
Decide which of the people in your audience are worth your time to contact and engage them. Create a content calendar, decide how many blog posts and webinars for example you will create this month. It holds you honest and accountable. When you have it written down it’s a different kind of commitment. Take few minutes at the beginning of every month to decide what you will created.
Build your thank you pages for people who download your content and use them to spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin And if they click on it, it says gives the link to the eBook. And this way the people will share it with people they know.
This will help you have more people share your content consistently.The same links should be in the eBooks. Every footer of the eBook should have “Tweet this eBook”
Don’t spend more than 20 minutes a day monitoring social media. Start small and scale up, rather than the opposite. Maybe 10 minutes on Twitter and Facebook, 10 minutes in Linkedin Answers/Groups, and 10 minute in Google Alerts to see what’s being said about you.
Most of all, share content that is fresh: people want fresh new content. Make sure you share it. And then monitor. Research by Bit.Ly shows that the shelf life of a social media link is only 3 hours. You will need to create content frequently. See your role as running an educational publishing company, the role of which is to generate leads.
3) Create opportunities for conversion, everywhere
The most important of the 5 recommendations outlined in this article is to put calls to action everywhere. Make the marketing math work for you: have many calls to action so that visitors come across them wherever they go. Calls to action (CTAs) will be different. If visitors are looking at your product page, they are more down the road in the funnel that when they are on the home page. HubSpot for example has a button that creates calls to action with a few clicks and you see how many clicks it gets, how many leads it generates, and more. And if you use the HubSpot CMS to blog, CTA creation buttons do pop up. You can have calls to action in emails. This transforms your 600 words blog post, from a primer, into something more substantive that enables readers to move further their interest for your product.
4) Test often and fail fast
CTAs are a catalyst for testing marketing effectiveness. But the more important part is the failing. Failing sucks in that no one wants to fail, but you cant win at everything. To win at some things, you have to fail at others. Testing allows you to fail and to improve over time. To make the most of testing, set a clear qualitative objective. Set a methodology for gathering data for success criteria, conduct an experiment retrospective and set actions items following the experiment. The most important thing that testing does is to stop you from doing things that do not work.
5) Optimize to maximize leads
You have 2 levers to do that: traffic and conversion rates. You can get more people to the web site, or convert more of the people coming to your web site. These are the 2 levers. Social media followers convert slightly less than targeted PPC and slightly less than email, but a lot more than referrals, organic or direct. Hence the important to tap social for lead generation. Make sure you follow your visitor to lead rate, and your lead to customer rate. And see if this lead rate is in line with your industry. Many inbound marketing or marketing automation platforms will allow you do find this out with one click. If you have guest bloggers, check which bloggers have the highest visitor to lead conversion ratios, and promote them.
Conduct radical tests: too often tests assume that you have a general idea of what people want and then based on your assumption you end up with a product in the middle, but based on and limited by your assumptions.
If you want more traffic from social media, create more content. Repurposing existing content is a great way to maintain a steady publishing flow. Chris Brogan once said that if you want to maintain your readership, you need to publish three times a week. But if you want to increase it, you need to publish 2-3 times a day. Similarly, if you want to increase your lead generation machine, you need to increase your content publishing pace and you need to make sure that your content is optimized for sharing. And remember, online video is a great way to boost your content marketing ROI.
Recent research by HuSpot shows that 73% of CEOs think that their marketers to not contribute to lead generation. By applying the 5 principles above and generating more quality leads, you will stand a good chance to change this perception.
What has been your experience with generating leads? We would love to hear your experience.
Photo courtesy of nchosquealº via Flickr and Creative Commons
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