Surveys Say: Still Room to Grow in B2B Social Media Marketing World

As we get set to usher in 2012, it is worth taking a few minutes to look back on the year that was 2011, seeing what transpired in the world of B2B social media marketing.

For starters, a number of surveys pointed out that more and more B2B marketers planned to and did incorporate additional social media efforts into their online marketing campaigns over the last 12 months.

According to a mid-year survey from iTracks, close to 90 percent of domestic B2B companies were incorporating social media marketing into their game plans. Sagefrog Marketing Group reported over the summer that close to 60 percent of national B2B marketers would identify themselves as LinkedIn users, 50 percent Facebook users and nearly 45 percent Twitter aficionados.

Among findings from a Social Media Examiner study of more than 3,300 marketers:

  • Ninety percent of marketers reported that social media is critical for their business;
  • One-third of all social media marketers want to understand how to oversee and measure the return on investment (ROI) of social media and integrate their social media activities;
  • A majority of marketers (58%) are using social media for 6 hours or more on a weekly basis, and more than a third (34%) invest 11 or more hours each week;
  • Just 28 percent of companies are outsourcing some degree of their social media marketing.

Meantime, a BtoB Magazine report stated that 93 percent of all B2B marketers took part in 2011 in some manner of social media marketing, the majority of who concentrate their efforts on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

That being said, more than two-thirds (70 percent) of B2B marketers claimed a shortage of resources was their greatest challenge to successfully integrating social media into their 2011 marketing campaigns. Marketers also reported ill-informed success metrics and critical performance indicators (57%), lack of depth regarding social media (44%) and management resistance (22%) as challenges they have faced this year. Maybe the most tell all stat was that close to three-fourths of those surveyed said they fail to measure the ROI in their social marketing programs.

As you go into 2012, stop and think about the impact a well-designed social media campaign can have on your B2B marketing efforts.

Odds are your business has regular contact with potential customers numerous times in trying to educate them on what your company has to offer. With a well-structured social media program, your business can interact with the potential client and nurture those interactions, making them more inclined to go with you at the time of purchase.

If you are still skeptical as to whether or not your B2B marketing campaigns should be employing more and not less social media, take note that Forrester Research forecasts B2B companies will allocate $54 million towards social media marketing in 2014, an increase of more than $40 million from as recently as 2009.

Still think the social media marketing world doesn’t have room to grow?

Tell us how you incorporated social media into your B2B marketing plan over the last 12 months.

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B2B Marketing Content Better Be Relevant or….

While the messenger is important, it is the message at the end of the day that determines whether your target audience will do business with you.

That being said, what is your B2B content telling clients about your business? Is it updated regularly? Does it provide informative ideas, news and tips, or is it like an old Washington politician, a retread?

A 2011 Marketing Sherpa e-mail Benchmark survey pointed out that providing relevant content in emails was pegged as the biggest challenge by close to 70 percent of B2B marketers.

Many marketers will be the first to admit that while content volume and diversity prove important, the relevancy of the content is by and large the most critical point to hammer home. To keep your audience engaged, it is critical to resist the urge to churn out content and posts just to get something out.

How Can I Provide More Relevant Content?

Successful B2B marketers must these factors into consideration:

  • Who are we marketing to? – This sounds like a dumb question, but it is important in order to provide better content for them. If you’re not studying the analytics of your audience, you are essentially winging it. Make it one of your goals going into the New Year to gather and analyze the data your metrics are providing you. If your metrics are not keeping up their end of the deal, then find software that better breaks down your client list. Once you have powerful metrics in your hands, use that data to identify what is of greatest interest to your clientele.
  • Employ both short and long-term goals for your clients – Use your content marketing to help solve issues for clients. Remember, their needs are your needs, so solve them with that approach in mind. Look at it as building a bridge that leads somewhere, preferably to a long-term relationship. Therefore, you need to connect with your clients via your content;
  • Diversity in your content approach – Content comes in many shapes and sizes, and this is especially important from a marketing stand point. Use a variety of mediums i.e. blogs, podcasts, videos, social media and more to connect with your clients. More often than not, think outside the box when it comes to your content. Sure, a blog post or two are great, but doesn’t just about every marketer do that? We’ve talked before about the advantages of things like webinars and videos, but are you using them? If not, why not? While the written content is important, the audio and visual content can be so much more impactful;
  • The shorter the better – Stop and ask yourself for a minute what you do when someone tries to market you with long and boring content. Do you flow to it with open arms or reject it? In guessing the answer is the latter, be sure to market your content in a neatly packaged form, with a focus on shorter is better. Companies are operating as lean as ever with most workers are short on time. Get your message across early on in the message, and then wrap it up with a call to action. If you do this, you improve the chances of your message being heard;
  • We are one – Lastly and most importantly, be in sync with your sales team. It is not the job of the marketer to sell, but to put clients in place to be sold on your product and/or services. Your marketing efforts should be just that, marketing. If you try and market and sell, you stand the risk of alienating more than just the client.

While these factors seem like child’s play to the seasoned marketer, it never hurts to review them.

Without relevant content, you are in essence irrelevant in the eyes of your customers.

Tell us how you are designing relevant content for your clients.

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Is Google+ Part of Your Social Media Plan for 2012?

Given your business can never get too much exposure, stop for a minute and ask yourself where the social media tool Google+ ranks in your B2B marketing plans for 2012.

According to recent research by BtoB Magazine, 93% of all B2B marketers are involved in social media marketing, with the majority placing their focus on the most popular channels (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter). No Google+? Well, not so fast there.

Unveiled earlier this year, Google’s new social network tool (reports indicate there are more than 40 million members) and its recently released business pages are a great instrument for constructing relationships with your company’s clients, potential clients, and referral sources online. Google’s “+1” button, the precursor to Google Plus, was unveiled months ahead of the actual social platform.


Building Marketing Plans around Google+

No matter what your B2B market is, there are potential clients waiting on Google+ to hear from you. According to the VP of Product for Google+, he expects brands will notice this (creating pages and using them to construct relationships) and will build marketing plans around it.”

If you have yet to create a Google+ page for your business, then make that one of your important New Year’s resolutions, especially given the simplicity of it.

All you have to do is:

  • Make a business gmail account that all of your business development team can access;
  • Go to:, and choose the option to create a Google+ Page. Follow the wizard, and select the closest option to label your business. Once there, you can select from options like local business or place, brand or product, company or organization, and so on;
  • Provide the basic details regarding your company name, business Web site URL, classification of page’s content and so on;
  • Next, customize your profile;
  • You then promote your business page;
  • Run some tests on your page and give it some content and feel before you put it out in front of the entire world to see.

Among the different benefits of Google+ for the B2B marketer are:

  • Circles – These give a marketer the ability to hyper segment. Marketers can communicate with groups which are segmented into leads, prospects, sales and lastly follow-ups;
  • Sparks – These are blog postings, videos and other forms of content crafted to an individual’s focused interests. This is a great way for the marketer to open a line of communication with other marketers and prospective customers;
  • Hangouts – This is essentially an online place for individuals to convene and chat about an array of topics. A company can place its sales team together nationwide in order to produce quality face-to-face time with sales leads;

The bottom line for your marketing efforts is pulling the different Google tools together with Google+ to leverage all at one time.

Having another tool to promote your product/s and interact with customers is something you do not have to Google when asking the best way to land more business.

Tell us how you’ve incorporated Google+ into your B2B marketing plan.

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Have You Reviewed Your List and checked it twice?

As the New Year prepares to descend on us, how will you as a B2B marketer take the bull by the horns and make 2012 the best year yet for your company?

Before doing that, keep in mind that the slower holiday period is the best time to crunch the numbers for the last 12 months, seeing where marketing tactics yielded positive results and where some campaigns came up short.

You would think that the majority of marketers would be reviewing their data in earnest this time of year, yes? Not always.

According to Marketing Sherpa’s 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report which interviewed more than 1,700 B2B marketers, 68 percent of them have not identified or optimized their sales and marketing funnels. Yes, nearly three-fourths failed to do that; rather staggering percentage if you ask me.

Other findings from the report noted:

  • Sixty-one percent continue to pass on leads, even non-qualified ones, straight on to sales;
  • Seventy-nine percent have failed to put together a lead scoring process;
  • Sixty-five percent fail to nurture and grow their leads.

Going forward in 2012, here are some tips to better utilize your B2B marketing efforts before the ball falls on New Year’s Eve:

  • Put together a year-end report of the each and every campaign you instituted and its results. Measure the ROI and use that data to guide your marketing planning. It is important that you look at the long-term and not just short-term satisfaction;
  • Determine what your key performance indicators (KPI) are for the first three months of 2012 (Q1). As you launch your first B2B marketing campaign in 2012, be sure ahead of time to define the KPIs in place to record the results. While the numbers are important, remember that you need to explain the data to each and everyone involved in the campaign. If a new marketing campaign has led to a 50 percent higher click through rate than the prior effort, demonstrate what that result means to the business as a whole in order to meet your company’s objectives;
  • Clean up contact data – How many times have you set out to conduct a marketing campaign, only to discover that your contact data is not refreshed? It happens more often than you would realize, meaning having up to date contact data is critical to getting a campaign off on the right foot. Use these last few weeks of 2011 to update your contact data and demographics for both customers and prospects. The data should be cleaned on a regular basis, but especially at year’s end so that you start the New Year off correctly;
  • Social media and its impact on campaigns – Even though some marketers have not been entirely sold on social media and its ability to move their marketing campaigns along, most know that SM plays an integral part in each and every endeavor. It is imperative to be able to deal with customers in a real-time mode so that you are not playing catch up to the competition. Be sure to set goals going into January for how you will utilize social media. Will you devote more time to sites like Facebook and Twitter? Will you put more emphasis on items like videos, podcasts, infographics etc. to market your products and services? How will you chart your social media efforts as far as recording the data than in previous years? If you have not been aggressively tracking the data, why is that? What good are your social media campaigns if you don’t know who is following you, where they are coming from, how often they are visiting and so on?

With the economy’s performance over the next year still hard for many financial experts to pin down, your marketing efforts should be clearly stated and ready to roll out Jan. 2.

Your boss is going to demand results sooner than later in order to justify the marketing department expenses.

With that being the case, be ready going into 2012 to provide evidence that the marketing campaigns you are and have been instituting will continue to be profitable for the business over the next 12 months.

Tell us how you are approaching year-end reporting and planning.

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Room for Improvement with Your B2B E-mail Newsletter

For the B2B marketer who thinks that their company’s email newsletter has gone as far as it can go, isn’t worth the time necessary to review and is not a vital part of the company’s marketing efforts, think again.

Given that the bulk of B2B e-mail newsletter subscribers tend to opt-in in search of things like tips, best practices, trends and more, the goal is simply to initiate or grow a relationship that is focused around useful product and service content. When that is the case, your readers typically navigate over to your Web site where they may seek more information, talk with a salesperson, download white papers and guides or more.

With a New Year right around the corner, now is a great time to set aside an hour or two and review your company’s e-mail newsletter.

Among the factors you want to review are:

  • What is working?
  • What is not working?
  • What can we do better in 2012?
  • Are we spending too little or not enough time on it in-house?
  • Should we shift the newsletter to an outside company to handle for us?
  • Are we crafting the newsletter so that it is social media friendly and allowing us maximum exposure on sites like Facebook, Twitter and more?

These are all questions that a marketing team should take into account so that everyone is on the same page going into the next 12 months.

Of course a fresh start in 2012 also allows the marketing team to consider new goals over the next 12 months, including the content, design, delivery and viability of the e-mail newsletter.

First and foremost, have you truly defined and understand your audience?

It sounds like a simple to answer question, but those marketers who have trouble answering it are also the ones who are likely seeing so-so traffic regarding their newsletters. The needs of your audience will change sooner than you think, so be sure to keep a handle on their requirements so that your targeted message stands a much better chance of not falling on deaf ears.

The message you send to your customers should be one that promotes your company as:

  • Authoritative in its respective industry
  • Providing fresh and relevant content
  • A trusted source
  • Always looking ahead and up to speed on not only the latest trends, but what the future of the industry is likely to bring

One other important aspect of the company e-mail newsletter that sometimes goes unnoticed is making sure it has a consistent ring to it.

From the content theme and design to the delivery of the newsletter, you stand a much better chance of being taken seriously in 2012 by your customers if you are consistent. Go about the newsletter in a hap-hazard way as far as content and publication, and you stand a much greater chance of being dismissed as irrelevant.

Lastly, what kind of metrics are you getting from your e-mail newsletter?

Wait, you’re not really delving into the numbers when it comes to monitoring who is reading and what they are reading?

All the time and effort you put into your company’s B2B e-mail newsletter is essentially wasted if you are not compiling and studying the data with each issue.

If this has been lacking in your approach up to now, take the time with a fresh start to the New Year to put analytics at the top of your wish list.

Your B2B e-mail newsletter can serve you in so many ways; it starts with knowing what and how you are marketing.

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