Where does the social networking world fit in the B2B e-mail marketer's plan? If you build it, will they come? Is Facebook or Twitter the right fit for your brand? Will your customers find value in your cross-channel engagement efforts?
This holiday season shows that cross-channel marketing is a growing part of a standard B2C e-mail-marketing plan. Friends-and-family offers that typically were announced only in e-mail are now a staple of Facebook and Twitter posts. More retailers are sending SMS notices to alert customers when high-demand products are back in stock.
Many B2B e-mail marketers are integrating mobile and social media marketing tactics successfully into their playbooks, too. This success is measured in stronger brand awareness, better search engine placement, and more website traffic.
How can you match their success? By choosing the types of messaging, the channels, and the approaches that resonate with your audience and in turn bring you the most success.
Consider the following tips as you take your e-mail marketing efforts cross-channel.
Find the Right Target for Social and Mobile
Your mobile and social media marketing efforts will be wasted if you don't reach your customers and prospects. As with e-mail, your success will be measured on what kind of response you receive from your efforts.
Measuring response with cross-channel marketing is fairly easy. When you post some content that connects with your audience, people will respond with comments and visits to your website. In most cases, the feedback will be immediate.
How do you know if your post connected with the right people? The key is to pay attention to those who leave comments or visit your site from your posts and to continually test to optimize your campaigns.
Create Compelling Content for the Channel
The most successful and compelling cross-channel content usually focuses on one of three topics. It offers an "insider" VIP experience; it is time-sensitive information; or it is geographic-centric. Keep these goals in mind when planning content for your cross-channel campaigns.
Loyalty and trust in B2B marketing carry a lot of weight. Start with your trade shows, new product releases, webinars, or special events. Determine how you can offer your mobile and social subscribers immediate access to the latest information. Put your loyal subscribers in a position to be in the know about your latest news, and empower them to share with more like-minded people.
However, don't get carried away with the informality of most social media channels. Always keep in mind that B2B audiences do expect a level of professionalism from you, no matter where you are interacting with them. A lapse in professionalism could damage some relationships you need to maintain.
Choose the Right Channels for Your Message
Maintaining a LinkedIn group that you can invite subscribers to join via e-mail often makes a lot of sense for B2B brands because LinkedIn is a well-established professional space. But what other social networking channels make sense for your brand: Facebook? Twitter? Your own brand blog? A customer community?
Facebook is becoming more important in the B2B space as your subscribers become more connected to colleagues from all aspects of their careers on traditionally personal social spaces. An emerging trend is for adults to use Facebook primarily as a professional networking tool.
More brands and professionals are using Facebook posts to get the word out about upcoming business events and to learn the latest news of their professions.
Building a presence on Facebook is a perfect way to begin your cross-channel marketing strategy. It will allow you to build trust with your followers and help them become more comfortable with interacting with your brand in the social media space. This will pave the way for you to expand your customer and prospects relationships to other sites.
Execute Effective Tactics in the Channel
The goal of your cross-channel marketing efforts should be to drive the conversation with your customers and prospects, not just placing "share" links in e-mails. Adding "share with your network" (SWYN) links is the minimum you can do for cross-channel marketing.
To drive the conversation, you need to build the relationship with your subscribers. Invite your e-mail subscribers to join your group, follow your tweets, become your fan, etc. in your e-mail marketing, on a regular basis. Answer your subscribers' questions with what the connection will do for them and what they can expect to get in return. Then make sure you deliver on your promises with relevant and compelling content.
The Last Word
Many B2B marketers have delayed moving into cross-channel marketing because the value of mobile and social media marketing strategies is often difficult to directly link to sales. However, MarketingSherpa recently found that social media is one of the strongest drivers for building and communicating brand reputation.
Subscribers who are experienced in relating with B2C brands in social media are beginning to extend that experience to the B2B arena.
Delaying work on your social media marketing presence and mobile marketing strategy will cause you to lag behind your competition.
More importantly, you'll miss important opportunities to nurture brand awareness and reputation, increase engagement, and add value to your subscribers' experiences.
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Mike Hotz is a senior strategic consultant for Responsys, working with clients to design, develop, and execute cross-channel digital marketing strategies that contribute to their cross-channel digital marketing success. As an industry veteran, Mike has worked in e-mail marketing since 1998, designing, building, and executing e-mail and multichannel direct marketing strategies focusing on increasing customer engagement, nurturing leads, supporting sales organizations, and driving revenue for companies such as CDW, OfficeMax, Grant Thornton, and Digitalwork.com.
December 12, 2013
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