March 07, 2012
How To

B2B Marketing: 7 mobile and social media tactics


Recently we had the opportunity to speak with five experts in mobile and social media marketing. Last week’s B2B newsletter featured two of those experts. This week we have insights and advice from the other three industry thought leaders.

This article features seven tactics, ranging from why LinkedIn remains the top B2B social media platform, to utilizing QR codes in your mobile campaigns. These tactics include both broad-stroke practices and detailed ideas you can implement into your own efforts.

by David Kirkpatrick, Reporter

Last week’s B2B newsletter article -- B2B Marketing: A discussion about integrating mobile, email and social -- featured two experts who served as panelists at the recent MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2012 held in Las Vegas and offered tips and tactics on integrating mobile and social channels in B2B marketing.

This week is something of a continuation of the same topic with a different slant. This article features another panelist from the MarketingSherpa Email Summit, R.J. Talyor, Senior Director Mobile Products, ExactTarget, and two presenters from the recent Explore Dallas-Fort Worth digital marketing one-day workshop/bootcamp: Tim Hayden, CMO, 44Doors, and Nichole Kelly, CEO, Full Frontal ROI.

Read on for seven B2B mobile and social media marketing tactics including: QR codes, using content in these channels, integrating tracking and marketing automation, why LinkedIn still rules B2B marketing, mobile privacy and more.

Before we get into the tactics, it’s worth noting that the mobile and social channels are very interconnected because many people use mobile devices to manage their social media platforms. Hayden provided this very interesting, and pertinent, data point on mobile usage: "The Mobile Marketing Association says that 90%of Americans who have a mobile (device) have it within three feet of them 24 hours a day."

The moment of interest

Talyor explained what he sees as the key to mobile marketing, "The way I try to describe (mobile marketing) is identifying the moment that an individual is interacting with that marketing program -- one of the specific moments that we can hope turns the tide toward your marketing message, or drives them to the next step the long, complex sale."

Talyor provided an example in Siemens, a company using mobile at its trade shows to drive people to text in for updates, or text their email address to learn more or schedule an appointment.

"Siemens is a great example of a B2B marketer that is using mobile in the acquisition phase in a pretty dissected way," he said.

Tactic #1. Match content to buying stages

In a B2B buying funnel, different content is delivered at different stages. Someone entering the funnel from a social media channel is likely to be at a very early stage and needs to be provided appropriate content.

"Social media leads are earlier in the buying cycle," stated Kelly. "And because they are earlier in the buying cycle, if you start to send them these automated messages that are ‘buy now, buy now, buy now,’ it tends to turn the social media customer away."

She added, "Unfortunately, once that happens, they are never coming back."

Kelly explained that potential customers who become leads from social channels are usually higher in the sales funnel than the lead who is researching your company, and obviously higher than someone beginning to show purchase decision activity.

This means the content driven to leads generated from social media should be geared toward someone who might not have even made the decision they need a solution, much less yours, but they did see something of interest in your social content.

Mobile content

Given the data point from the intro of just how connected people are to their mobile devices, content pushed through the mobile channel will be reaching people at all stages of the buying process.

It’s entirely possible that someone becomes a lead through social marketing via a mobile device, and then remains in the mobile program all the way through the buying cycle. This prospect might even be interacting with your email program on the mobile device.

Hayden offered a few examples of different mobile content to consider:

  • Mobile-friendly video clip of the CEO delivering a message that’s not in the annual report
  • Financial reports
  • More inbound activities to take advantage of the immediate feedback element of mobile with things such as surveys or polls to get additional demographic and directional data from your audience

"In a B2B context, we see that the intermittent opportunity to exchange information with your customers and partners is something that mobile could be used for," said Hayden. "How do you put things in front of your audience that could be in print, direct mail or broadcast?"

He added it all comes down to value -- the exclusive how-to instruction, for example.

"It’s about content that is extremely special and relevant to your customer base, for your prospective customer base," stated Hayden.

For social channel leads, expect those leads to be very high in the funnel and in need of information, not sales pitches. With mobile, those leads may be interacting with your email marketing on that device as well, and you should know where they are in the buying cycle so you can provide them with content appropriate to their buying needs.

Tactic #2. Use QR codes to bring offline leads online

Going back to the idea of acquisition, or lead generation, B2B marketers often think about events or direct mail, and mobile is a way to go from offline to online very quickly said Talyor.

"Mailers with QR codes on them, or mailers with text-in options, really drive the offline target (to the) online and a more trackable world for the complex sale," he stated.

Hayden added that QR codes are an easy way for someone to use their mobile device to visit your website or get to a content piece.

Kelly concurred, "I think QR codes are a fantastic way to be able to convert print materials from trade shows and events. It’s super easy to scan a QR code, but it’s also important to recognize that there is a very small population that’s using QR codes right now. So if your audience isn’t one of these technology-savvy audiences, it’s more likely that they don’t know what a QR code is."

She said one advantage a SMS campaign has over QR codes is everyone knows how to use it and you get an equal amount of data back to tie into your automation systems and Web analytics. With the QR code, the person has to reach the landing page and then fill something out and submit it.

Tactic #3. Tie mobile and social into the marketing automation system or other tracking mechanisms

Marketing automation software is most likely a major piece in any B2B marketer's total strategy and execution. Getting information and data from the mobile and social channels into the automation solution is critical from an analysis and tracking standpoint.

Kelly explained a Facebook or Twitter status update provides a unique URL that you can track into the website so that when a visitor comes to the website from an update, you can track what activities they take on the site.

"The first question becomes ‘What are we using to post status updates and does that integrate with the Web analytics package?’" said Kelly.

She added, if it does integrate, then the Web analytics tool can track if these visitors are converting, filling out lead forms, or engaging in other activity.

To ensure this is possible, she suggested conducting an audit of the analytics, marketing automation and CRM systems to find out if the different parts can integrate and share data.

She provided an example that HootSuite integrates directly with Google Analytics, and Google Analytics integrates directly into many marketing automation solutions. (Note: see "Useful links" at the end of this article for a detailed how-to guide on this process from Kelly.)

When you can combine those social media, analytics and marketing automation platforms, she said, you can see where leads are coming from via social media channels and begin tailoring the content messaging for these to increase conversion rates and lower the cost-per-lead by optimizing for a specific success metric.

Hayden said mobile marketing also benefits from tracking. When someone visits a mobile site, the marketing automation or analytics system will learn:

  • How they landed there
  • If they used a search engine, the actual search terms
  • Location
  • Time of the day
  • Day of the week
  • IP address and GPS coordinate data

He provided an example of how a B2B marketer can leverage this information.

A hypothetical B2B company sends out 100,000 catalogs per quarter across the United States, and has 98,000 email addresses that match up with the catalog send. The direct mail send and email database are correlated through ZIP codes, along with other demographic data sets.

When someone is interacting with the catalog on mobile, such as scanning a QR code or visiting a particular product page on the website, the automation solution can be given a rule that if 1,000 clicks come from Chicago, everyone in Chicago gets "X" email to react to the interest in that geographic area.

The mobile interaction is tracked to allow the marketer to see real-time interaction with the direct mail piece and push relevant email to the corresponding demographic, in this case, using geographic data, but the tracking and email push could be tied to any demographic group in the database.

"That’s where you are getting into extremely smart, intelligent, real-time responses, and it all starts with that direct mail piece," stated Hayden.

He offered another example of that approach with 200 people in Pittsburgh interacting with Page 17 of the catalog. In that case, everyone in the email database from Pittsburgh would get an email promoting the products or content on Page 17 of the catalog.

Prove the worth of the mobile program

There are inferred metrics that prove the worth of a mobile program, such as ROI on print or direct mail where you can track interaction with a mobile device and show how many people engage with the physical piece and then continue their interaction online through a mobile device according to Talyor.

He said that mobile is almost at a disadvantage because email has created a marketing world full of very trackable metrics. He did add that where mobile can truly prove value is showing engagement and pipeline velocity.

"If you prove that mobile is helping drive more people into the funnel, or more people through the funnel through some metrics around speed, or increasing speed-to-sale, I think you can prove (mobile’s value)," said Talyor.

Tactic #4. Be aware of privacy considerations

Talyor said the Mobile Marketing Association has stated guidelines that marketers should adhere to -- mainly making certain the recipient of the mobile program is opting in directly to the communications they are being sent.

He added that it would be considered an opt-in if they text in to join. At that point, the new list member should receive information about:

  • The content of the messages they will be receiving
  • The number of messages per day
  • How to get help
  • How to unsubscribe

Talyor also said that having someone enter their mobile phone number on a Web form with a checkbox to "opt-in" is not considered enough. The recipient has to opt-in from the mobile device.

Tactic #5. Be "mobile friendly"

Hayden explained that mobile marketing is about the moment when someone decided to pull their phone out and complete some interactive action with your website, content or marketing channels.

He pointed out a few ways to be mobile friendly when that moment happens:

  • No one using a mobile device cares who is on your board of directors
  • No one wants to see your press releases on your mobile website
  • They are coming for specific information, like an events calendar, product update, or contact or address information

"There are specific, actionable things that they are looking for on the device, and you have to deliver that content succinctly," he said.

Deliver the content succinctly means reducing the main website content. If there are 200 words on the homepage, get that down to 20 words for the mobile site.

Hayden offered one caveat to that: there are geographic differences. In the Northeast and Midwest where people ride the train a lot, you can offer more content in longer forms. In the South and West where everyone is driving, expect people to use their mobile devices very intermittently and produce content with this in mind.

Tactic #6. Don’t overlook LinkedIn

"This may not be a popular or a fancy answer, but in the B2B world, I see the most value is on LinkedIn," stated Kelly.

She said the reasoning is because B2B is a very relationship-driven business and where being connected is valuable. On LinkedIn you can look a company up and see if your network of connections -- second- and third-level connections -- can help you get an introduction into that company.

Another reason Kelly likes LinkedIn as the best social platform for B2B marketing is the Groups offer an opportunity to add value to your messages because you can participate, answer questions, provide resources, and build new relationships.

One problem with LinkedIn is it is the most difficult platform to automate. You can’t automate being active in a Group.

"I know it’s not the most popular answer, but I still think LinkedIn is the gold mine for B2B marketers," Kelly said. "If you can get connected on LinkedIn, either through a Group or through a friend, the sales process is a lot easier."

Tactic #7. Make it easy to scan, text or click

Hayden provided one set of data on mobile marketing: scan, text or click?

He said these results are based on analyzing about one million 44Doors client interactions:

  • QR code scan - 30%
  • SMS text - 41%
  • URL (browser) - 29%

Hayden explained that his best practice is to offer all of the options, and not just put a QR code alone on something, such as a direct mail piece or event handout. He suggested putting a QR code with a URL and a SMS call-to-action.

"You’re giving the audience multiple ways to get to the content," said Hayden.

He continued, "There are some people that would just rather type the URL into their mobile browser, there are others who love scanning QR codes, and there are those who would rather send a text message."

Useful links related to this article

Mobile Marketing Association
B2B Marketing: A discussion about integrating mobile, email and social
Get Started in Mobile Marketing: 4 Insights to Guide Your Strategy
Email Summit 2012: Top 5 takeaways from the industry's largest research-based event





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