By Alex Romanovich, Founder of EuroSpaClub International and Social2B
Integrated marketing has been the mantra of B2B marketers for many years, as they were busy deploying CRM systems in support of sales and marketing efforts and charting new strategies for integrated care centers and marketing automation. With the advent of social media, the balance of “integration” has shifted. More attention is now devoted to content creation and curation, management, analytics, sentiment analysis, search engine optimization, knowledge sharing, and ways to enlighten customers without the hard-sell approach.
So what’s a B2B marketer to do? Continue to integrate.
Inserting social media into the mix of the existing marketing portfolio requires some planning and consideration—and definitely strategy. Consider the following aspects of integration as you are trying to experiment with social media in a B2B environment:
- Diagnose the impact of social media on your overall marketing basket. Your biggest challenge is to come out of the integration effort with more efficient and effective execution and a faster route to results. The impact of inserting social media into the existing mix may have far-reaching consequences, ranging from impact on content creation and consumption by your customer base, product marketing and development, lead generation, and conversion. Having a good diagnostic exercise will outline your risk and reward areas as well.
- Analyze your social media value chain. If you are a Chief Marketing Officer or a head of marketing, you have a unique opportunity to drive integration throughout the enterprise. The impact of social media as a business process can have immediate impact on branding and the social responsibility grid—as well as bottom line results—as it touches multiple disciplines within an enterprise: human resources, customer service, sales, and even finance. The leadership agenda will now touch on strategies for metrics and measurements, enterprise integration, budget allocation, optimization, logistics, and other aspects of the entire value chain.
- Implement social media training. This is another great opportunity for B2B marketers to integrate training and education into the overall plan. Training has been an afterthought in many organizations but is a vital part in educating the value chain on the impact of emerging trends. The social media impact topics can range from SEO and social media integration, measurement, analytics, methodology, etc. Topics may also include how to hire social media resources and leadership and how to develop and train your teams for a successful outcome.
- Consider social media content management and curation. Content is still king, and leveraging it for successful engagement and conversion is an art form. B2B marketers, especially in the technology and service sectors, have no choice but to engage their audiences with valuable educational content, proving their mettle in a highly competitive environment. This can also enhance their SEO and SEM positions along the way.
- Review tools and management processes. There are a myriad of tools and platforms out there, and they all do different things. How do you decide which ones to invest in and what each will deliver in terms of data, actionable information, etc.? Building a tool reporting architecture is extremely important, as many decisions will be made from the results of those investments. It also gets marketing closer to IT and web analytics for better result discovery and faster decision making. Building an integrated marketing environment with analytics and scalability capabilities is a must for any forward-thinking marketing leader and his or her organization.
As you begin to enter the more advanced stages of integrating social media into the overall marketing mix, build the appropriate infrastructure and environment to capture and improve ROI metrics. It starts with integration and the above steps.