• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • Segmenting leads into targeted lists will allow your organization to be more relevant with your messaging and achieve greater engagement through your email marketing efforts.

    After embracing inbound marketing methodology within your organization, it is important to understand how to interact with your leads.  Many companies are pouring resources into creating an abundance of marketing materials that will influence conversions and generate leads, all the while not knowing what to do with the leads they’ve generated. What does your company do to nurture leads? Maybe a monthly newsletter? Or maybe the leads are automatically pushed through to the sales team with the belief that they are ready to purchase your product/service? Whatever the case, I’m here to share that you could be doing it better.

    Challenge/Opportunity

    Not all leads are the same! How is this statement a challenge and an opportunity? The challenge stems from the inability to look at your leads as one audience.  It is important to take the time to understand where individual leads are in the sales funnel. A conversion on your website could reflect a ready-to-buy mentality for a particular lead, while it just as easily could reflect a preliminary piece of research being conducted by a potential customer down the road. The messaging delivered to these leads should differ due to their stage in the sales funnel. Your marketing team must adhere to this variation and take the time to understand each lead’s status for proper segmentation. 

    Enter stage right – Opportunity! After accurate segmentation, your emails will be more targeted and focused than ever before. You now have the opportunity to tailor your messaging according to the commonality in your lead lists. 

    Some examples of segmented lead lists:

    Conversion Point

    How did a particular lead convert? There is a difference between a lead that requested a 30-day trial of your product/service compared to a lead that downloaded a whitepaper – readiness to buy.  Would you agree that the same messaging to these two leads doesn’t make a whole lot of sense?  Rather, adhere to their presumed status in the sales funnel and create messaging to meet them at their current location while pushing them down the funnel towards a purchase.

    Past Customers vs New Prospects

    Similar to the gap in potential conversion points, there lies a gap between past customers and new prospects. Don’t waste your time informing past customers about your organization, they already know who you are! Instead, the goal should be to increase their lifetime value to your company by focusing messaging on reengagement. New prospects, rather, may need to be informed about your organization. Leverage your value proposition and allow these leads to understand how you can benefit their lives. See the difference?

    Job Status

    For B2B companies, are you implementing the correct messaging in regards to job status? For example, when constructing email campaigns, it is important to understand who you are speaking to. Employees at the top of an organizational structure differ from the employees at the bottom, especially in regard to pain points. If you are constructing an email to leverage the pain points your company’s product/service will overcome, whose pain points are you leveraging? C-level employees have challenges and obstacles to overcome that other employees in the organization may have never even considered, and vice versa.

    Takeaway

    Segmentation is fundamental when nurturing leads and can completely change the outcome of your email marketing efforts. Segmenting leads into targeted lists will allow your organization to be more relevant with your messaging and, in turn, achieve deeper engagement through your campaigns. 

    To begin the process of segmentation, understand pain points that your product/service overcomes. Once you have those determined, recognize what types of organizations or people suffer from your identified pain points. Next, go through your lead list with a fine-tooth comb and identify characteristics to segment by. After segmentation is complete, create targeted email campaigns tailored to specific lead lists to enhance relevancy and engagement. Finally, measure your efforts with analytics and refine your segmentation and/or messaging.  

    Especially in the B2B world, where customer relationships mean everything, having feedback and data directly from your market sector can greatly influence your marketing and sales strategy. How can marketers conduct research using digital marketing techniques?

    Anyone who underestimates or doesn’t believe in the power of market research is seriously mistaken. Especially in the B2B world, where customer relationships mean everything, having feedback and data directly from your market sector can greatly influence your marketing and sales strategy.  Usually when B2B sales are low, managers will start saying there is a need to better understand the client. This is not done through instinct, but through solid market research and analysis.

    Market research can also be expensive  - telemarketing surveys, organizing focus groups, incentives for participation, etc. Good thing the Internet came along!

    Below are three ways to conduct market research using digital marketing techniques. Keep in mind that doing research digitally does not excuse you from implementing best practices:

    • Define the market research question/issue you want to answer
    • Define which digital tool will work best
    • Collect the data and analyze the results

    Surveys

    A survey is perhaps the most obvious market research tool that can be done online. A classic example is to create a survey using SurveyMonkey – customize it to fit your company’s branding – and distribute via various marketing channels. However, in a B2B marketing strategy we know that content marketing is everything. Make sure your survey is not just fluff or an obvious ploy to follow up with a sales call.

    Define industry specific questions that only a true professional would be able to answer and test the survey on your colleagues.

    Once the content is perfect, think about the best way to distribute the survey. Social media tools like LinkedIn and Twitter are an obvious platform to introduce your survey to the public, but people might be hesitant to click on surveys that are advertised publicly. Look to share in LinkedIn private groups or sending the survey via InMail on LinkedIn to a select group of participants.

    SurveyMonkey will track your data, including how the participant got to your survey, so it’s another great market research tool to see how your target audience sees your content.

        Webinars as the new Focus Group

    The webinar is a fantastic tool for B2B marketing, and recently I’ve discovered it can be discretely used to organize a focus group. In terms of marketing, the webinar can be used in B2B to showcase your company’s expertise and collect new leads.

    However, webinars can be formatted to include an open discussion after the lecture. This usually leads to participants asking the instructor questions about current projects they are working on or current challenges they are facing in the industry. Participants usually end up volunteering valuable market research information.

    Marketers should not only organize B2B webinars, but either participate as webinar facilitator or be sure to record and listen later. Structure is key to your webinar/focus group success. Schedule about one hour for the actual lecture (so participants stay interested) and then 30-45 minutes for Q&A or an open discussion. Let participants know they will have a chance to interact with the instructor after. However, if you are going to use the webinar as a focus group, keep the participation to a limit and send out exclusive invites.

        Personal Feedback via LinkedIn

    Another valuable market research tool has generally been personal interviews – especially for post-sale feedback and determining client satisfaction. Finding the time to schedule personal interviews can be difficult. There is also a cost burden in organizing and carrying out these interviews.

    LinkedIn is practically a virtual office space for B2B colleagues. A LinkedIn premium account is also your golden ticket to connect with people who aren’t even in your network through personal InMail.

    Check in with potential clients and even current clients on LinkedIn to see how things are going in their company. Write an email without even requesting a meeting, just to see how things are going. Ask them if they’ve seen the latest trend or hot topic in your industry and what they think.

    This type of qualitative research allows you to understand the mindset of your customers and how to approach them.

    As more millennials begin to enter the market and have cash to burn, the question raised is, "How can my company appeal to this tech-savvy generation?"

    There have been numerous articles written on the topic of millennials, with emerging focus given on how millennial adults are disrupting the corporate workforce. The New York Times recently published an article ‘Marketers Are Sizing Up the Millennials’, and the unanimous concern by marketers was the apparent lack of brand loyalty.  A generation that has more choices open to them than any generation before them, it has made it more difficult for marketers to predict their consumer behaviour patterns. McDonald’s Global Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook described Millennials as:

    “Promiscuous in their brand loyalty…it makes it harder work for all of us to earn the loyalty of the millennial generation."

    So why are millennials so fickle with their brand loyalty?

    This growing concern for marketers is tied to the unique characteristics of this generation. In a nutshell: millennials are overwhelmingly digital natives, increasingly concerned with corporate social responsibility, and as the generation that came of age during the GFC, more frugal than their predecessors. As more millennials begin to enter the market and have cash to burn, the question raised is- how can my company appeal to this tech-savvy generation?

    To no one’s surprise, much of the focus spent on engaging with millennials is via online avenues. A generation that has been raised to be interconnected in a global marketplace, millennials do their homework before committing to any brand or product.  More than any other generation, mobile technology and social media have transformed the spending habits of young people.  Social media in particular, has shaped how this generation ‘shares its thoughts and extends its influence over others.’ This has seen a rise of ‘social influencers’ unique to this generation, with the phenomenon of bloggers who have cultivated an authentic relationship with their readers, resonating with young people and influencing their purchasing decisions.

    In contrast with the baby boomers, millennials are more 'aware of a product’s and issues and therefore consumers are much less brand loyal.' Thus a smart company will be active on social media, demonstrating engagement with their consumers and show that they are 'keeping their consumers well informed and up to date, not just on what’s in the market now, but what coming next'. It is also no coincidence that fast-food chains that have rebranded themselves as socially responsible have fared better with young people. McDonalds’s key competitors Chipotle and Panera, largely responsible for McDonald’s ‘millennial problem’, have crafted an image of social responsibility through offering organic ingredients and pork from ‘naturally raised’ pigs.

    When marketing to a generation that is notoriously fickle with aligning itself with one brand, millennials place high value on companies that value corporate social responsibility and makes the effort to make the world a better place. While key characteristics can be made about this generation, Ad Age reports “size estimates for this demographic group range anywhere from 59 million to 80 million.” Indeed the lack of agreement on the precise age group of this generation has made it more confusing when attempting to market to a demographic with such a large age gap. Yet with millennials already representing $1.3 trillion in consumer spending, it is worthwhile for companies to approach marketing to this demographic with a renewed focus on appealing to their values, identifying their influencers, and strategic social media engagement.

     

    While there is an immense amount of power in an inspiring headline, there is success in an inspiring story. You can't change a user's behavior with one line, but with a story, you can change their life.
    As the buzz around Facebook's clickbait crackdown begins to hit mass media, it's apparent that many content marketers are taking action and trying to salvage their clever headlines that have brought many pieces of content to reach viral levels for their brand. Facebook launched an update last Monday that will help to weed out clickbait from users' news feeds. If clickbait has been such a successful marketing tactic, why remove it?
     
    "Facebook’s goal is to distinguish between good click bait — catchy headlines that deliver real stories that back up the tabloid lure — and evil click bait — catchy headlines that are nothing more than a traffic generating bait-and-switch.” (Salon.com) If you're not familiar with the term "clickbait", the first thing you need to know is that, as of this moment, you're a victim of it. Clickbait is a tactic that content marketers use to capture a reader's attention by enticing them with a highly engaging headline that gives a user just enough information to want to see the outcome, but cleverly disguises what they may actually experience. More often than not, we could easily replace the term "clickbait" with "clickbait & switch".
     
    If you are like me, you're always skeptical about reading articles that are the product of clickbait, and the majority of readers skip the intro paragraphs to get to the earth-shattering climax that the clickbait promised. This behavior is totally natural because the majority of us have come to realize that most clickbait-titled articles are 100% unfulfilling and taught us nothing new.
     
    It's true, many content marketers have abused the power of clickbait to catch readers' attention just enough to click a link, but could truthfully care less about whether or not anyone actually engaged in the content. It's all about clicks, shares and page views, right? Most marketers understand this mentality will destroy any content strategy. It's not enough to get users to quickly thumb through content, but to actually engage, become inspired, motivate action, and promote change.
     
    Being the cofounder of a content analytics platform, I constantly find myself hungry to enhance user experience as it relates to content marketing, and to never pursue any form of marketing that can't be measured. This isn't because I think unmeasurable forms of marketing don't work, rather, I believe that learning helps us to understand how to better serve our people and how to create more inspiring ideas that promote inspiration. While there is an immense amount of power in an inspiring headline, there is success in an inspiring story. You can't change a user's behavior with one line, but with a story, you can change their life. This is the exact reason Facebook is cracking down on clickbait. It's not necessarily because they are fed up with clickbait trespassing on users' newsfeeds, it's because Facebook wants to uphold their reputation of providing the most valuable content as it relates to each individual user. If there is a heavy amount of content that is loitering and performing bait and switch tactics on their users, they are taking action against what is demoting their image.
     
    Great content is one of the best tools to use for inspiring action among your target audience. When creating content, as marketers, let's focus on the root of inspiring user behavior, rather than focusing on topical tactics that will create short-lived vanity metrics and will never lead to brand affinity. 
    Suddenly typing stopped being a job or a career and it became a skill every entry-level employee needed to have. Eventually it worked its way up the corporate ladder and eventually even senior executives would type at least some of the own communications. Social media is a lot like typing.

    In the mid-twentieth century, you would find groups of women working side by side in what was known as a typing pool. Good professional typists could churn out 70 - 90 words a minute, which may not sound like an accomplishment on a computer keyboard, but try to do that on a manual typewriter without the keys locking up.

    These women controlled company communication. If they didn't type it, it didn't get disseminated. Only women took typing in highschool, and most executives were men, so few executives could type.

    Then along came word processors, and the women who embraced the new technology became even more important. They had job security. Well, at least until the arrival of the desktop computer.

    While most senior executives never learned how to use computers, younger managers did. Instead of waiting around to get the information typed and disseminated, they simply typed it themselves. If you could type, you could get your ideas in front of more people. Assuming they were good ideas, you moved ahead.

    Suddenly typing stopped being a job or a career and it became a skill every entry-level employee needed to have. Eventually it worked its way up the corporate ladder and eventually even senior executives would type at least some of the own communications.

    Social media is a lot like typing. As Facebook and Twitter burst on to the business scene, there was a feeling that this was something that you hired a specialist to do. Typically, someone young, who knew how to use that "Facebook stuff" was hired so business leaders could focus on the serious elements of business. But just like the advent of the personal computer, the role of social media is changing. Today, social media is not a job function, but a mandatory skill for every employee..

    Forget the excuses:

    You don’t have time to learn? Guess what, the senior manager who was passed over for the job I got at Carrier thought he didn't have time to learn to type either. While he was waiting for a secretary to type his report, my proposal was on the desk of the general manager.

    Social media is for young people. Seriously? Would you let a 17 year old manage your ad budget? Of course not, that is real money. Well, so the time spent on social media. If you want to know if the resource is being spent well you have to get in the game. You have to know enough to direct the activities.

    The change has come. Up and down the corporate ladder people are embracing social media, some more often than others, but any good CEO knows social media is now a required part of their skill set, just like typing.