Since the B2B buying cycle is usually much longer than the average B2C buying cycle, building a real relationship with your potential customers is crucial to earning their business. It’s important that your company’s Internet marketing campaign (including content marketing and social media marketing) hits people at different points in the sales process, reminding your target audience of why they should work with your company. Social media marketing lets you connect with various influencers and buyers, and is the platform that will distribute the content used to nurture relationships. At the end of the day, B2B social engagement is another form of lead nurturing!
When it comes to connecting with B2B influencers and buyers, it’s important to remember that everyone has different goals. For instance, when I’m pitching a prospective B2B SEO client I have to tailor my messaging strategy depending on who I am meeting with. A marketing manager wants to know how SEO will help build their online brand, increase their visibility in the search engines and so forth. The CEO just wants to know what kind of return SEO can provide. They both know they need SEO, but they are looking for different benefits. In order to target everyone involved in the B2B buying process, companies should write unique content that targets each of those influencers and buyers and use their social networks to distribute that content and start interacting with their target audience.
The main point of lead nurturing is getting more qualified leads in the hands of your sales people so they have an easy time closing the deal. But how do you create a more “qualified” lead? With B2B social engagement! When someone connects with your company (or your personal profile) on LinkedIn, follows you on Twitter or likes your brand on Facebook, they are giving you permission to connect with them via social networking. They are essentially inviting you into their online world! Someone who connects with one of your social profiles has already taken one step closer to becoming a “qualified” lead; why would you follow a company you weren’t interested in learning more about/hearing from?
For instance, let’s say you were to write a whitepaper that outlines some industry best practice tips. When you post a snippet of that whitepaper to your Facebook wall and invite your social connections to download it, those that choose to download the whitepaper are identifying themselves as your target audience. They are not only interested in your industry, they are willing to listen to what your company has to say and want to know how you can help them. Your content is the first step in convincing them to work with your brand.
I’m not saying that just because someone follows you on Twitter they are ready to head into the sales funnel, but they are one step closer to becoming a customer than someone just beginning the search phase of the B2B buying cycle. B2B social engagement helps your brand connect with buyers and influencers that are interested in hearing your message and connecting with your company, resulting in more qualified leads for your company!