So how exactly do we approach the topic of social, especially as we navigate the nuances of the needs of sales teams and the role of marketing teams, and how better alignment between sales and marketing means better results? Is social really all that important in the marketing big picture? I think so. And it’s more important now than ever. Here’s why.
On Social and On Mobile: It’s Where the People Are
You probably don’t need statistics to see how attached we’ve all become to our smartphones and social accounts these days—all you need to do is sit in a public place for five minutes and count the number of downturned heads. If you really want an eye-opener, go to an airport to do this research. You might think device obsession is for young people, but you’ll quickly find that people of all ages are immersed in their smartphones. The numbers back up the observations. Here are some interesting stats from Oracle’s Modern Marketing Blog:
- Facebook and Instagram activity accounts for one out of every five minutes Americans spend on their smartphones.
- Facebook drives almost 25 percent of all web traffic.
- Eighty-seven percent of people overall have a social media account, including 55 percent of those ages 45 to 54—a growing mobile demographic to consider (Because of these factors, organic social media is the second most common marketing channel.)
Those stats are every bit as impressive as you’d imagine, but what’s really important is breaking down what they mean for your sales and marketing efforts. At the end of the day, social—and mobile—is where the people are. Whatever your business is, I’m going to bet that you rely on people to grow it. Going to meet them where they already choose to spend their time are pretty basic sales marketing principles, and ones that can really pay off.
Measuring ROI Can Be Challenging, But Not Impossible
There are few absolutes in the business world, but here’s one exception: A successful business endeavor is one with a positive ROI that delivers as quickly as possible. Social gets a bit sticky when it comes to ROI because, while it can obviously be there, proving proves challenging for many marketers. How do you put a value on engagement? Sure, there are vanity metrics you can measure—like and follows, brand loyalty and increased exposure, but where are those all important dollar signs? But beyond engagement, there are many ways to measure the effectiveness of your team’s social media efforts, the most important of which is to integrate social into your CRM and track results there. Social can help position your business development team (or your senior executives) as thought leaders and problem solvers in your industry. Moreover, social can move the needle in specific ways like driving traffic to specific landing pages, spurring webinar registrations or whitepaper downloads, helping to build your email list, and fueling your lead generation efforts. The potential for tangible ROI is there–you just have to know what you’re doing and have a plan in place to measure and capture data.
Mobile’s Impact on Social
In their Modern Marketing Guide ebook, the team at Oracle points out that mobile adds an element to the equation that can make tracking more difficult. But they offer up some easy solutions, including:
- Choose a mobile marketing platform that has link tracking capabilities, allowing marketers to embed branded short URLs into SMS messages. This will provide click-through rates, click recency (recorded for individuals and good information for targeting), and conversions.
- Try creating a mobile-specific landing page based on a particular call to action from your social campaign. This will provide metrics including geotracking and device detection.
- Use the data you gather to prove the value of your efforts, making future campaigns all the more relevant.
Involving Your Team in Social Marketing is Good for Business
On average, consumers check their mobile devices 150 times per day. Think about that for a second. One hundred and fifty times each day! How often is your sales force doing the same? Probably pretty close to the same number of times—so, logic follows, involving them in your social marketing efforts should be an important part of your alignment efforts. In fact, it might even do the opposite—almost 73 percent of salespeople who use social media for work, for example, report outperforming their colleagues.
Taking this on will without question involve teaching or coaching your salespeople a bit on the best tactics and social for business etiquette, and it might even involve spoon-feeding them information and sharable content. But the time you spend training your sales team on the benefits of social selling, and helping them master social as part of their networking and prospecting efforts, will likely make a big difference come year-end. Your marketing team can’t (and shouldn’t) do this alone—so making sales part of the equation means that everyone wins.
Ten Benefits of Social Media Marketing
I talked about brand loyalty and exposure above, but there are other reasons to embrace a strategy with a robust social media marketing component. They include:
- Increased brand recognition. Even a small company can dominate when it comes to brand recognition, by building a strong brand in the social space. This can be a big boost to your sales team and help make their jobs easier.
- Improved brand loyalty. The customer relationship doesn’t stop with the sale. With social media as part of the equation, you have an opportunity to deepen your relationship and serve them on an ongoing basis.
- More opportunities to convert. Every piece of content you post to a social platform is an opportunity to serve your customers, provide them with information and resources that are helpful to them, and to convert them to cusomters in some fashion or another.
- Higher brand authority. More social media chatter by and about your business can have a big impact on your sales team and their effectiveness. More recognition, greater share of voice, more credibility and authority helps close deals.
- Increased inbound traffic. Social media campaigns can help you to reach more people. In the B2B space, many brands are having great luck with social media advertising, and this is often overlooked by marketing teams. Both Facebook and LinkedIn offer highly targeted, exceptionally cost-effective advertising and retargeting services. It’s cheaper, easier and, most importantly, more effective than you think. Do it!
- Better search engine rankings. A legitimate presence in the social media space (including a corporate LinkedIn page), fueled by regular status updates and engagement with your audience, can have an impact on your search engine rankings.
- Richer customer experiences. Social is all about communication. Your customers are out there, sharing information on social media channels about your brand and their experiences with it. When they have a problem and share their frustration online, and you’re there to fix it for them quickly, and efficiently, that leads to happier, more satisfied, more vocal customers. That’s a big win for you and your brand.
- Improved customer insights. Monitoring social media channels for brand mentions, using social for customer research, asking for customer feedback (and listening to it) can all help you better tailor sales and marketing efforts and campaigns in the future. The information is right there, for the taking, all you have to do is want to find and use it.
We work with clients all the time who aren’t yet there when it comes to the integration of social in meaningful ways into their marketing operations, especially those in the B2B space–midsize companies and often very, very large ones. And we realize the challenges they face—small internal teams, low budgets, not much internal expertise, lack of senior leadership buy-in, lack of interest/knowledge of sales team—you name it, we see it. But they’re getting there. One of the pieces of advice I give on a regular basis is to start small. Identify some areas where you can really make a difference, find a handful of internal adopters, and go make it happen. Once you’ve had some success, and you will, you’ve got a proof of concept that you can use to lobby for a bigger budget and wider adoption. It’s gotta start somewhere and you can make it happen.
What do you think? What has been your experience with the integration of social within your sales and marketing operations? Got any success stories to share? What about challenges or barriers to adoption that you’re grappling with? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this front.
Note: I’ve cited Oracle a couple of times here. I have no paid relationship with Oracle, I am just a fan of their content.
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