Just about every b2b marketing executive is under pressure from their c-level leadership to explain and defend their digital strategy. So, you launch a Facebook and LinkedIn account, try your hand at blogging, and may even send out a tweet or two. You hire a full-time SEO / SEM expert that has about three years of experience or less because that is all your budget will allow.
After many months, you can theoretically claim that you have a digital strategy to your leadership. Now, from somewhere in the finance department someone runs a quick spreadsheet and determines that your digital marketing expenses and, more importantly, the internal labor hours spent don’t seem to equate to a significant increase in revenue.
It may seem obvious to those immersed in digital marketing, but the average marketer can easily fall prey to pitfalls which can easily be easily spotted by an outsider. Many of these pitfalls can be helped by a proper utilization of social media marketing.
If you want to use social media to increase your overall marketing ROI, your going to have to rethink your strategy:
- Content is critical. Not just any content, but meaningful content that is refreshed frequently. Writing is the foundation of your content, while design should come after. Make sure you have a good writer on staff. Have your content writer provide talking points and short blurbs about your products value proposition to your sales force to post and distribute to their prospects. I agree with David Meerman Scott, in his post, Building inbound marketing assets are not marketing expenses. David believes content should be considered as an asset, not a marketing expense.
- Focus your attention on prospects within the sales funnel not just to generate leads. As most marketers know, the lower in the funnel that you can help your sales team engage their clients in social marketing activities, the easier it is to demonstrate your social marketing strategy to customer acquisition and retention. This is important when you run into the CFO in the hallway, and he asks you why should we keep investing. Unlike the big brands, most corporations under $100 million in revenue tend to spend less on global brand value and more on lead generation and sales conversions.
- Help your sales executives have a content rich, accomplishment facing LinkedIn profile. More and more prospects look up the profile of their sales executive prior to a scheduled call or onsite sales presentation. Arm your sales executives by helping them market their expertise, credibility and savvy. Don’t worry if on occasion a sales executive may get recruited away from your company because you built them a great online profile. Again, this is another reason to invest in a content creator, as described by Scott in his post.
- Guest blog. Although most blog sites restrict companies from openly advertising their product, guest blogging can be a very effective way to drive your link strategy and position your company as an industry expert. Other sites need content to drive their readership as well, so seek out those avenues, read the rules and publish regularly, and this asset, will have a long shelf life.
- Re-architect your website. Before you spend a fortune on redesigning the look and feel of your website, consider hiring a proven, highly referenced SEO expert to take your existing content and just restructure your site to maximize search engine optimization. Baseline your website before and after. It’s a great way to demonstrate value quickly to your internal sponsors, and it allows your social marketing strategy to launch while you build your new web experience in parallel.
I really like how Scott presents a formula to estimate the value of content by comparing the investment to drive PPC verses content-driven Google ranking. As marketers, we can typically convince our internal sponsors to support launching a social marketing investment, but true value requires a consistent, sustainable effort that is difficult to fund if your ROI cannot be demonstrated early.