B2B Social Listening: How to Tune In

Good listening skills are paramount to any relationship and the same is true when it comes to B2B social listening. When done correctly, social listening skills can not only improve your social media interactions but also provide current, up-to-the-minute insights into the needs and pains of your audience, which will add depth and dimension to your marketing strategy.

Social listening B2B

What is B2B social listening? 

B2B social listening, also known as social media monitoring, is the process of listening and evaluating online discussions, to find out what customers, industry leaders, and competitors are saying about a company, brand, product, or concept. A study conducted by JD Power and Associates reported that 42% of companies listed social listening in their top three priorities for 2013. Compared to more traditional research tools like focus groups, interviews, and surveys, social listening often yields fresher, more current data, usually with less effort involved.

Social listening can be used to track relevant conversations that businesses can use to:

  • Connect with new prospects
  • Identify conversations and topics that will connect to your customers’ needs and pains
  • Identify and connect with potential partners / resellers
  • Monitor competitive activity
  • Support and engage with current clients and / or people who have participated in their programs

It’s a good idea to prioritize and rank these objectives according to what you are trying to achieve with your social listening strategy. This will help to determine which keywords to track.

What tools should I use for B2B social listening?

There are many tools available for identifying and aggregating data from public platforms. Examples include:

These tools deliver data, though—they do not interpret it.

While some tools are capable of organizing data by category and sentiment, technology cannot accurately translate the subtlety of sarcasm, clichés, and colloquial expressions. Human analysis is still necessary to interpret significance from the aggregated content. Technology is useful to expose the conversation, however it won’t do the interactive footwork for you.

How should marketers use B2B social listening to track relevant conversations?

 1.    Choose a platform (Brainrider recommends Argyle social, but there are many great tools available).

2.    Choose the keywords you want to track. These should be based on searches that are relevant to both your target audience’s problem, and your value proposition. You should also include competitor’s brand names, product names, solution names, or specific technical concepts unique to the industry.

3.    Set up keyword tracking.

4.    Set up campaign classification for your business’ content. Brainrider does this by defining the needs and pains of your customer, classifying those pains into 4-5 content categories, and then filtering those categories back through your value proposition, to ensure your keywords are connected to your business. You can tag assets within a campaign, and then track which campaigns are the most engaging.

5.    Set aside 30 mins – 1 hr/week to review and read conversations. Set aside 10-15 minutes every day to engage with 2-3 conversations each week. For example, you can engage is by offering resources to demonstrate subject matter expertise.

6.    Review your keyword in chosen platform, looking for relevant conversations.

7. Identify relevant conversations. Here’s some criteria Brainrider uses:

  • The message comes from one of your target audiences, prospects, potential partners / resellers, competitors, or current clients
  • The message is relevant to your business’s value proposition (someone is looking for a tool similar to what you provide, or trying to solve a problem that your business could solve).
  • The message shares something of value.

8.    If you spot valuable, relevant content being shared by a third party, share it with your followers.

9.    Continually cull your keyword list down to focus on those with a higher yield.

 What should you do next?

Download this content marketing strategy template to align your content development with your business objectives.

B2B Lead Generation Trends for 2013

A look at three B2B lead generation trends from this year’s B2B Technology Marketers B2B Lead Generation Report worth incorporating into your marketing programs.  For information on how to execute better B2B marketing including adopting these trends visit the B2b Lead Generation and Nurturing services page.


B2B Lead Generation Trend #1: Metrics

As more B2B marketers move to integrated Sales CRM and Marketing Automation platforms B2B marketing performance measurement increasing in importance. The LinkedIn Technology Marketing Group has provided metrics benchmarks that provide insight into how B2B technology marketers are using metrics to evaluate marketing performance.

B2B Lead Generation Trends: What Metrics are Being Used To Evaluate ROI - Cost Per Lead, Revenue, and Lead Volume

When measuring lead generation marketing performance our recommendation is to:

  1. Focus on measuring and reporting against your marketing objectives: attracting prospects, acquiring prospects, nurturing prospectsm, qualifying sales readiness.
  2. Use diagnostic metrics such as Click Through Rates to improve tactical performance not to report marketing results.
  3. Start with the built-in reports provided by your marketing automation platform.  These will give you consistent and comparable data.
  4. Marketing contribution to revenue generation is a challenging number to establish.  Focus on a revenue “touched by marketing” metric to support marketing’s business contribution.

Here are the core B2B Lead Generation performance metrics we track and what they measure.

Objective

Metric  from Pardot, Google Analytics, & SEOmoz

Business Objectives

Revenue Revenue Touched By Marketing

Marketing Objectives

Overall and By Program

Attract Prospects # of Visitors
Acquire Prospects # of Prospects
Nurture Prospects # of Active Prospects
Qualify Sales Readiness # of Assigned Prospects

Marketing Diagnostics

By Execution

 Program Diagnostics Cost Per Lead
Click Through Rates
Form Completion Rates
Visitors per channel
Content Diagnostics LandingPages
PageViews
Downloads
Form Completions
Click Through Rates
Pages Per Visit
Time on Site
Website Diagnostics Domain Authority
Page Authority
PageRank
Targeted Keyword Rank

B2B Lead Generation Trend #2: Compelling Content Targeting Decision Stages

While the report identifies content as a key email tactic, better B2B Content Marketing is an essential lead generation tactic in all marketing programs.  Most B2B marketing campaigns are under-investing in content development and merchandizing that targets different buyer decision stages.  This chart will help your evaluate your content strategy by decision stage:

If Your Customer Is Asking

What’s My Problem

How Do I Fix My Problem

Are You Right For Me

They Want:

Education & Thought Leadership Solutions & Product Suitability Credentials & Decision Support

What To Share With Them:

    • Trends
    • Benchmarks
    • Analyst coverage
    • 101 Education
    • How to guides
    • How other people are solving this?
    • What is the solution & how does it work?
    • Solution comparisons
    • Pitfall analysis
    • Readiness & suitability assessments
    • How do I choose a vendor?
    • Pricing
    • Bench strength demonstration
    • Case studies
    • ROI/TCO
    • How to buy
    • Working with us


B2B Lead Generation Trend #3: B2B Social Media

Social Media has arrived as an effective B2B marketing tactic.  But to produce measurable results you need to focus on the basics: blogging, influencer relations, and posting high-value content on social sharing sites like LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr/Picassa, and Google+.

B2B Lead Generation Trends: B2B Social Media Marketing

That is a quick recap of three key B2B Lead Generation trends you should include in your marketing budget.  There are several other interesting trends highlighted in the research.  See below for the full study results.

Thought leadership and content marketing: 4 practical tips

Thought leadership (some times called content marketing) is one of the most powerful but challenging tools in the B2B Marketing toolbox: here are 4 practical tips on how to get started.

As the very smart Chris Koch points out in this terrific blog post on idea marketing, many companies have given up trying to create valuable content and started dressing up product brochures as thought leadership.  But with the right approach B2B companies large and small can leverage their Subject Matter Expertise (SME) and create valuable content that will connect with their customers and drive business results.

4 Practical Tips from ITSMA’s Chris Koch

At the end of his post, Chris offers 4 practical tips on how to do a better job of thought leadership marketing. We thought they were worth highlighting for you:
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B2B Blogging Best Practices

If you have not seen Jeff Cohen’s terrific presentation on 16 Best Practices of B2B Corporate Blogging is is worth checking out (see below).

 

Our best practice recommendation:
Start with a content framework

All of Jeff’s recommendations are valuable but the first 7 can be addressed in a practical way by creating a simple content strategy/framework that answers the following questions:

  • What business are you really in?
  • Who is your target?
  • What are their needs and pains?
  • What is your value proposition?
  • What does your customer really want to know, broken out into main categories?
  • What are the key purchase decision stages?
  • What Keywords should you target?

(more…)

Marketing Content Development: Top 5 Tactics

B2B marketing content development can be expensive in terms of dollars and time spent — and some tactics are better than others.  According to CMO council research on content ROI “only 22 percent of respondents say they are very satisfied with the caliber of technology content” and this issue is not just limited to technology brands.  But smart companies have learned how to tackle the challenge efficiently and effectively.  How do they do it?

(more…)

B2B Buyer Decision Map: Understanding Decision Stages

Understanding the B2B buyer decision map and the decision stages B2B customers go through as they decide to buy from you and developing the content they are looking for at each stage is an essential B2B Marketing best practice.  Creating and sharing the information your customers want at each stage of their decision process will dramatically improve the findability, relevance, and ultimately the value of your content and increase qualified traffic, visitor engagement, and conversions. (more…)

B2B Marketing Content: website, sales collateral, email, blog, and more

This resource looks at how to plan B2B marketing content for your website, sales collateral, nurturing emails, blog, and social media.

Today’s B2B Marketing Best Practices include many powerful tools to help you acquire, nurture, profile and convert new customers. Marketing automation, lead nurturing, digital sales collateral, and social media can acquire and convert more customers for your business.

They’re all fueled with content.  Of course, the better your content the harder they work. Yet we often hear clients say things like:

“The content on our website is out of date but I’m not sure what to put on it.” “We need to update our sales collateral and I can’t find the time.” “We need a new case study and white paper but I’m having trouble choosing a topic.” “I started blogging but stopped after a few weeks after I ran out of ideas for posts.”

There’s more: “Where do we get content for our marketing automation, email marketing, or lead nurturing programs?” “I am not sure that Social Media like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube or SlideShare are worth the time and effort. How do I know if they’re working?” (more…)

Using Your Existing B2B Marketing Budget To Increase Engagement & Double Your Online Leads

Generating more qualified leads, increasing their engagement, and getting more customers doesn’t always require a bigger B2B marketing budget.  Instead you should look at optimizing how your budget is spent.  Here is a case study of a client project that delivered double the leads without increasing their budget.

Objective: Better B2B lead generation results from AdWords

While AdWords can efficiently drive traffic it is often a very blunt demand generation tool.  AdWords performance is generally measured by cost per click but for most B2B marketers higher traffic volumes rarely translate into better lead generation.  The real objective should be optimizing all of your marketing, including your AdWords spend, to capture and convert more qualified leads. (more…)