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 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?

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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?

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Marketing Automation Agencies: How To Hire The Right Agency

Marketing Automation tools are so powerful they can help you efficiently overload your sales team, spam your market, publish lots of content no one will read, and then get accurate analytics on how your marketing investment has been wasted.  If you think this might be happening don’t feel alone.

B2B strategy and execution is just starting to catch up to the potential of the software.  The mix of skills and expertise needed to create success crosses different marketing disciplines from content, to web development, to campaign planning, to email marketing, to analytics and more.

This post reviews the different available service options, what to look for, and how to identify what you really need. (more…)

Marketo: The 7 stages of Marketo’s marketing automation pipeline

Jon Miller VP Marketing and Co-Founder at Marketo (@jonmiller2) outlines the 7 stages of Marketo’s marketing pipeline in the following video from softwareadvice.com an online resource for buyers of marketing automation software.

We love several of the concepts that Jon outlines in this process.  First that the names in your pipeline don’t start as active leads until they engage with your content and provide data to help segment and profile them.  The second is the concept of active nurturing and lead recycling.  This video is a great overview of how Marketo uses marketing automation as a tool for lead management and Jon goes on to share more at softwareadvice.com.

It Is Also A Terrific Example of Content and Programs

But how this video is executed  is also a terrific example of both content and programs. (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…)

Business Development Best Practice

The business development goal of “getting us more customers” is becoming more challenging because B2B customers are more connected to more information earlier in the business development process than ever before.  To succeed you need to market what you know not just who you are.

More than who you know – it’s what you know that counts

Traditionally business development required a large rolodex of personal contacts and enough charisma to network with those contacts 5-7 days a week.   However it is no longer just about who you know (although it still very important). What you know and how you connect what you know with the buyers in your market have become the keys to business development success. The IT Sales and Marketing Association (ITSMA) has done a great job of profiling this change for technology buyers in their study “How Customers Choose Solutions Providers”. And cross-category data from MarketingSherpa, Sirius Decisions as well as BrainRider’s client experience indicates that this trend applies to other solution oriented businesses including: professional services, agencies, high-tech, software, specialized manufacturing, etc. (more…)

How To Blog For B2B Marketing

Blogging can be a powerful B2B Marketing tool. If you aren’t already blogging, it might be time to start. If you are, there are plenty of good reasons to keep it up: they are great for SEO because Google love blog content, posting is quick and easy, they are ideal for sharing in other channels, and they are a proven way to connect with and convert more customers.

Here are a few quick blogging how to ideas to get you started:

Focus on what your customer wants to know Too many businesses use their Blog to talk about how great they are but the old dictum “remember your audience” is especially true when blogging. You only have a few short paragraphs to get a reader’s attention and make your point, so be relevant. Focus your post on one or two specific ideas that are relevant to the reader and offer practical recommendations. Link to other relevant resources on your site but don’t be afraid to link to 3rd sources as well. What you know about can be just as powerful as what you know.
 
Stick to your brand Whether your blog posts come from the CEO, a handful of subject matter experts, your marketing team or even a guest post, define your brand’s voice and then stick to it. Your bloggers may come and go, but so long as your posts stay true to your brand then you’re unlikely to run into any trouble.
 
Include a call to action One of the quickest ways to get customers to opt-in is your blog. So when you have your readers’ attention, make sure you invite them to subscribe. You can use a tool like Feedburner for a simple solution but contact us for best practices on how to integrate your blog into your marketing automation tool. Remember, the ultimate purpose of a marketing blog isn’t just to share your expertise; it’s to generate leads.
 
Schedule your posts You need fewer posts to get started than you think. Start with 2-3 posts a month. Use a tool like WordPress to bulk schedule your posts in advance. Don’t send them all at once but trickle them out and cross promote them on your home page, twitter feed and emails. You can blog in real time too, but scheduling ensures a steady stream and let’s you post more efficiently and strategically.
 
Use your analytics Here’s where you get the insights that makes Blogging so useful. Configure a tool like Google Analytics to track what categories, tags or posts are connecting with your audience . And then focus on those subjects in your content plan

More B2B Marketing Resources

Visit the BrainRider Knowledge Center for lots of free tools and best practices.