Friday, February 26, 2016

3 Tips For B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy

I am sure 99% of digital marketing folks have heard (or read) that influencer marketing is the “next big thing” as we move forward into 2016.

But if you ask some of the seasoned marketers (or veterans, if you will), they will tell you that influencer marketing isn’t a new concept. It has been around since decades, being practised in various forms, which has now evolved into a proper Marketing discipline.

Brands have always used “influencers” in their traditional advertising strategy since decades for positioning themselves and thereby creating a spiral-effect to increase their product sales.

Moving on to the digital era, influencer marketing has penetrated here also in various forms. Digital savvy consumers have steadily and persuasively devoured feedbacks, star ratings, discussions, and many other methods of trying to get product and/or service “recommendations” from other consumers before taking the buying decision.

All these unstructured practices have now given rise to a structured Influencer Marketing model, which is nothing less than a strategic lever to digital marketing. Among other levers such as Social Media Marketing (SMM), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Display Advertising, Blogger Outreach, Link Building, Influencer Marketing also holds a very critical position now in 2016.

So, what are the key steps to an effective Influencer Marketing strategy for a typical B2B company?

1) Identify the Right Influencers

The biggest step is to identify the right influencers in your industry. Naturally, if the influencers that you identify and connect with don’t fit into the persona of your prospective customers, then all your efforts for influencing your prospects will be a waste.

For example, if you are into selling sports gear, your best bet will be to reign in an athlete. If you are launching a line of baby clothing, your influencer would be a famous actress who has had a baby; and if you are into B2B arena, then your influencers would be reputed consultants from your industry, columnists or product reviewers from the most popular online publishers.

You must also understand your influencers’ style of communication and check if it will fit with your overall brand’s communication strategy. This is important because the influencers would want to maintain their style of connecting with their followers; and if they lose this just because they need to “fit in” into your communication style, then all the efforts might just fizzle out.

Case in point: Would you consider Blogger Outreach as one of the Influencer Marketing strategies?

2) Build and Nurture the Relationship

Every relationship needs to be nurtured for it to persist. Once you have identified the right influencers, you need to build your relationships with them and nurture them.

To do this in the right manner, experts advise that you need to put in the personalized touch when interacting with them. You need to treat them as how you would treat your best friend! Take them out for lunches or give them small thoughtful gifts (everyone likes receiving gifts!).

3) Have a Structured Approach

When you are building your influencer marketing strategy, you must also build a structured approach for executing it. Some of the points to ponder are:
  1. Do you have your buyer persona in place so that you can find the right influencers for those target groups?
  2. What are you looking for from the influencers? Is it article-publishing in online publications of your industry? Or is it a product review that should be published?
  3. Do you have quarterly plan for your influencers that you can share and build upon further?
  4. How will you measure the impact?

Every marketer must delve deeper into these points and build a plan of action along with every influencer who is on board with you.

Your turn!

What are other ways to build an effective Influencer Marketing Strategy?

Friday, February 5, 2016

5 Easy Steps for Creating B2B Twitter Strategy

Are you starting your own venture and need to build a twitter strategy? Or is your twitter strategy not so well-rounded? In either case, you can strategically build your twitter community and leverage it as your “owned” communication channel for inbound marketing efforts. You should also utilize its advertising products to achieve your goal-based conversions.

The first and foremost thing is to understand the size of your twitter followership. Naturally, if your twitter followers are relevant and large in number, the engagement rate (total number of clicks, retweets, likes, and replies divided by total number of impressions), your reach and exposure for organic tweets will be high.

Step 1: Build your audience

To build a strong twitter followership start sending tweets with genuine value with relevant hashtags. For example, if you are providing online marketing services, then your tweets would informational around topics related to online marketing. Check out the following tweet from HubSpot and notice the relevant hashtag #SEO:

Remember, hashtags are the new keywords. People looking for information on SEO will see your tweet, know you through your twitter profile and are highly likely to follow you.

This is an ongoing, consistent method of gaining followership through your organic tweets; and this will take a few months to show big time results.

Move on to twitter advertising tools. Here you need to spend some moolah….Yes, nothing comes for free, you see.

For every paid activity on twitter, you must very clearly define your micro goals. This will not only help you in optimizing your campaigns but also help you measure the right metrics to gauge the impact.

Since your objective here is to build relevant followership, use Promoted Accounts and build two sub-campaigns for better optimization and measurement. Build following two campaigns with “Audience Features” as:
  1. Keywords targeting (+Add Keywords)
  2. @Username targeting (+Add Followers)

Also don’t forget to add interests while setting up your two micro campaigns. You will find a lot of details here in this link from twitter for promoted accounts.

Let this campaign run for at least a month to get measurable results.

Step 2: Engage

While your Promoted Accounts campaign is working for you, you can start a parallel campaign for engaging your followers and prospective followers. For this campaign, build promoted tweets with “Tweet Engagement” or “Website clicks or conversions” as campaign objectives. The campaign objective will depend upon your business type and your business objectives.  For example, if you are into IoT for b2b, then you might consider attaching a video file for better engagement. (You could directly choose “Video views” as objective and build a video card to promote). Check out the following tweet from SocialBakers:

But if you are in services sector, use “Website clicks or conversions” as the objective and provide a landing page which is relevant, engaging, and valuable for the visitors. You could also select old promoted tweets format also, but the key to note is to set up your targeting parameters based on keywords, interests and geographies, and ensure to include a landing page that can collect the contact details of your prospects. After all, your end goal is to achieve lead generation!

Tip: Use relevant industry hashtags as your keywords.

Step 3: Nurture

Once your campaign for engaging users has ended, you must plan your nurture campaign by building up similar two campaigns with “Audience Features” as:
  1. Keywords targeting (+Add Keywords)
  2. @Username targeting (+Add Followers)
This time use “Website clicks or conversions” as the objective and bring your prospects to a landing page that offers educational content clearly showing how your organization can solve a business need. Jump to your content marketing strategy and use any of the following content type on your landing page with a strong call-to-action (CTA):
  1. Invite prospects for a Webcast
  2. Invite prospects for a Podcast
  3. Analyst reports which speak about your strengths vis-à-vis your competition
I’d like to re-emphasise here that content marketing is very crucial for generating qualified leads from your social media advertising campaigns. You’ll find more about it here.

Step 4: Re-target/Convert

Let your “Nurture” stage campaign run for about 30 days, and then build another campaign for retargeting and converting your prospects.

At this stage, you could use the “Website clicks or conversions” as the objective to build a campaign using tailored audiences (+Add Tailored Audiences). You can use email ids and/or twitter handles of specific prospects that you have collected from various sources, such as a telephone enquiry, or a campaign from Facebook or LinkedIn.

Here too, bring prospects to a specific landing page, but this time the content should talk about following aspects:
  1. Vendor comparison or product comparison
  2. Successful case studies
  3. Download option for a demo/product trial
  4. Product literature/data sheet 
  5. A 5 minute on-page tour of product features
Tip: With every CTA remember to ask the prospect to register.

The email/phone number database collected from this campaign must now be nurtured further through email marketing strategies before they are categorized as sales qualified leads.

Step 5: Measure

With every stage here, you must remember to measure the performance of your campaigns with the metrics that capture all your KPIs. For example, gauging conversion rate is critical in all the campaigns, but in Step 1 campaign, measure the rate of getting new followers and in Step 2 campaign measure your ER, reach, and exposure.

Similarly, in the Step 5 campaign, calculate your lead qualification rate based on all the prospective leads that were captured right from the beginning of this master Twitter campaign.

Over to you now!

Do you have any more tweaks to suggest that can make an awesome B2B Twitter Strategy?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Twitter Advertising Hack for B2B Lead Generation

Twitter has been a good social network for engaging your community, but for many B2B marketers, it has not provided quality leads and therefore has generated weak lead qualification rate. But if right twitter ad product is chosen, then Twitter can generate better quality leads. Here’s how:

Stage 1:
Many of you would be attracted towards using “Leads on Twitter” or the twitter card for lead generation, but I’d recommend using “Website clicks or conversions”.

The key difference to note here is – With twitter card, the viewers of your tweet can send you their email at the click of a button.

But, with website clicks or conversions, any visitor who clicks on your tweet, will straight away go to your landing page where you can collect the information in a structured way. When the visitors land on your page, you get a chance to engage them and when they leave their credentials, odds are higher that these leads will qualify better. Here's how to proceed:

1. From the campaign dashboard, select the “Website conversions” as the objective of your new campaign.
2. Within one objective, build two different campaigns with different “Audience Features” in order to target your potential visitors more efficiently and to understand which type of targeting feature is getting better results.

Build two campaigns by setting up following specific targeting parameters:
  • Keyword targeting (+Add Keywords)
  • @username targeting (+Add Followers)
In the first option you can promote your tweet based on searches or users who tweet with words you enter. These will be the words (keywords) that you think your prospects might use to look for your product or service.

Targeting with @usernames allows you to reach users with interests similar to followers of any of those accounts (@usernames). You can enter your competitor’s @username here to start with. For example, if you are into providing software advice to companies, then enter @Better_Buys, @ERPCloudBlog, @Capterra, & @Cloudswave1. These are a few twitter accounts which talk about helping businesses find the right software. This will help you to target people who are interested in receiving advice for making a well-informed software purchase.

3. Once you set up your targeting, you can choose your creatives and compose a tweet. You must provide the landing page where you want your visitors to convert. Here's how your twitter ad will look once ready:

Click on the image for larger view. This image is only for illustration purpose here in this blog.

You can now launch your campaign and track it in twitter analytics. You should also set up the online conversion tracking for your campaign by generating a new HTML code snippet from twitter dashboard.

Stage 2:
With the above approach, you can generate a lot of quality traffic, which will have a direct impact on your top line. In stage 2, you can use the email ids collected from Stage 1 campaigns and retarget these specific visitors who are active on Twitter in a separate campaign. You now have a lead nurturing campaign on Twitter!

Go to "+Add tailored audiences" when you are setting up the audience for your lead nurturing campaign. When you set up the tailored audience with email ids, your records are matched with people who are active on Twitter so that you can target them in your campaigns. The important point to keep in mind for this campaign is that your lead nurturing campaign here should have promoted tweets around some of your educational content that highlights true benefits to your prospects.

What do you think about Twitter as a lead generating network?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

How to Generate Sales Qualified Leads With Lead Nurturing & Content Marketing

Digital marketers will agree that their biggest challenge (other than proving ROI, of course!) is to make sure that the leads generated by their inbound marketing efforts don’t slip through the cracks. But it happens in several cases.

There can be two main reasons for this to happen:

  1. Lead nurturing process is not streamlined, and/or it is not a part of the digital campaign management team
  2. Lead nurturing process is not mapped correctly with the organization’s content marketing strategy.
In this article I am going to focus on the strategy to develop your lead nurturing process that is well-mapped with your content marketing strategy; and my focus of discussion is keeping B2B organizations in mind. (I am assuming here that your organization has a proper content marketing strategy in place).

To start with, let us revisit the Inbound Marketing Funnel and see what digital marketing should achieve at each section of the funnel. Accordingly, we need to take actions for implementing our lead nurturing strategy.

Top of the funnel (ToFu) – Build, build, build, and build more! Build as much traffic as possible so that the odds are higher that the conversions of qualified leads will be higher. You need to do this through Social Media Marketing campaigns, AdWords campaigns, and your regular SEO best practices.

Middle of the funnel (MoFu) – Build a database based on how you have captured the leads. The database should be segmented based on the content type where the prospects have provided their contact details through your inbound efforts.

Your lead nurturing starts from this step onwards.

Use the segments that you’ve created for lead nurturing through Email Marketing OR Account Based Marketing through LinkedIn Sponsored Updates or through LinkedIn Sponsored Mails.

Bottom of the funnel (BoFu) – At this section, further segment the above database based on the actions taken by the prospects. Use Email Marketing for lead nurturing at this stage. Repeat segmenting the database of the prospects based on the actions that they take after every lead nurturing effort. Do this till your prospect is ready to meet the sales person for a demo. Your marketing qualified leads are now sales qualified leads.

Now that we have segmented database of marketing qualified leads, which content should be used at which stage? Here’s a figure which will help you understand just that.

Click on the image for larger view

It is evident that content marketing plays a big role in driving successful lead nurturing campaigns. There will always be an overlap of content type that you can use in your inbound marketing efforts, and as a fall-out, an overlap of content type that you can (rather should) use for your lead nurturing campaigns. As you proceed with your campaign and re-segmenting the database that you collect at various levels, you will realise that the content assets that you already have, can be (and should be) re-purposed.

With content marketing mapped with your inbound marketing funnel, you can have the following types of lead nurturing campaigns:
  1. Qualified leads whose details were captured through SEO
  2. Qualified leads captured through AdWords campaigns, and
  3. Qualified leads captured through Social Media Campaigns
For every email series (or for every lead nurturing campaign) you should divide your content based on the purpose that it serves. Your goal should be to build a matrix of targeted relevancy of content. Here are various types of content that you should utilize based on the purpose that they serve:
  1. Educational/Informational messages – send Whitepapers, blogs, videos, podcasts, invitation to Webinars, Infographics, and eBooks
  2. Testimonials – send customer testimonial videos, industry reports showing your leadership, case studies, Infographics, Newsletters
  3. Free product demo/trials, consultation request
With this you will have a sound lead nurturing process in place that will help reduce the sales cycle in your organization. A Demand Gen Report Survey shows that 61% of respondents found that with lead nurturing process they generate more warm and sales-ready leads. The study also highlights that nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads.

To maximize your inbound marketing efforts, look for an aligned lead nurturing process in your organization.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Measuring Marketing ROI with Social Media Vanity Metrics and Google Analytics

Measuring Social Media Marketing (SMM) efforts is the most difficult task in Digital Marketing. What the vanity metrics indicate is highly debatable and therefore, the ROI derived from social media is also a point of contention. Often times social media efforts are on the verge of getting culled out completely from the organization's marketing budgets!

To understand the ROI from social media it is important to identify goal-based KPIs and social media metrics before you launch your campaigns. For doing this, it is important that as a digital marketer, you should understand the analytics of social media metrics.

Several experts have provided consolidated interpretations of the vanity metrics. Check two articles here, here, and here.

The problem of nailing down the ROI from social media efforts can be done if you can generate a few reports along with your data from Google Analytics. I have built three cases here to explain how to understand and measure marketing ROI with social media vanity metrics and Google Analytics.

Goal: Position yourself as a “Thought Leader” in the industry
Content type: Whitepapers (ungated asset)
Content purpose: Provide industry trends or solutions point-of-view or provide information that will objectively explore alternative ways to solve a problem, and that the reader understands conclusively that your organization has the knowledge, expertise, and tools required to solve the problem.
Content format: Downloadable document
Channel: Twitter
Twitter Metrics: Number of Favourites/Likes
GA Metrics: % of new sessions from Social, Assisted Conversions Value, Assisted/Last click or Direct conversions ratio value greater than 1

Combined Analytics Explained: Users “Like” or “fav” a tweet for various reasons and these reasons work towards the way a “Thought Leader” would be perceived. In a study published by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence the main reasons highlighted for why people “fav” a tweet are:
  1. Bookmarking for later reference
  2. Silent Approval (when the user agrees with the tweet creator’s opinion)
  3. Tweet is informational
  4. Like because the user can relate to the tweet
  5. Tweet creator is a special person
  6. Tweet resonates at the emotional level

All these reasons conjure up to one thing – a high number of tweet favourites say that the tweet creator is perceived as a thought leader.

So, a number of tweet favourites, with increasing percentage of new sessions from social media, and increasing value in the Assisted Conversion Value will justify that social media has helped you achieve your goal of positioning yourself as a Thought Leader.

Another metric to note is about attribution modeling - Assisted/Last click or Direct Conversions (In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition>Social>Conversions>Click on Assisted vs. Last Interaction Analysis just below the Explorer tab). This ratio should be greater than 1 because if your social media has really built the impact, then it’s role as an assisted conversion channel should be higher.

After putting the above explanations in your reports, use the simple formula for the ROI:

ROI = (Total Conversion Value generated from Social - Total Amount spent on campaigns/Total Amount spent on campaigns

Goal: Brand Awareness
Content type: Story Telling with rich media
Content purpose: Emotive audience engagement & user experience so that the prospective buyers can relate to the benefits of the product or service
Content format: Video & Interactive Research Report
Channel: LinkedIn, Twitter & Google Adwords
LinkedIn Metrics: Engagement Rate
GA Metrics: Overall % of new users, % of new users through social media, % of new sessions from direct channel, goal conversion rate from social channels & AdWords, and Assisted/Last click or Direct Conversions ratio.

Combined analytics explained: Since our goal is to create brand awareness, it makes great sense to capture how “engaged” your prospects were with the content that you shared, and did we add new users to our overall bucket of visitors. This means that you have to strive for ER that is higher than the industry average, and for your selected time-period, the % of new users, % of new users through social media, % of new sessions from direct channel should show steady increase.

Secondly, we need to understand that if we have built awareness for our product/service, then the social conversions should contribute equally in Assisted and Last click capacity. Hence, the “Assisted/Last click or Direct Conversions ratio” should be close to 1.

You can revisit the metrics in Google Analytics 1 month after the campaign has stopped. If your “Brand Awareness” campaign has been impactful, then you should see an increase in “% of Returning Visitors”, “Assisted/Last click or Direct Conversions ratio” value > 1, and increase in % of new sessions from direct channel.

Also, use the following formula:

ROI = (Total Conversion Value generated from Social - Total Amount spent on campaigns) /Total Amount spent on campaigns

Your Turn! Build your explanation for Case 3:

Goal: Lead Generation
Content type: Landing Page/Microsite
Content purpose: Capture contact details
Content format: Microsite with strong CTA/eBook (gated asset)/free 30-day Trail
Channels: Twitter & LinkedIn
Twitter Metrics: Number of Link Clicks
LinkedIn Metrics: CTR
GA Metrics: Number of Last Click Conversions, Last Click Conversion Value & Assisted/Last click or Direct Conversions ratio should be 0.

While the social media metrics capture a lot of qualitative aspects of its user behaviour, and because of which you may find social media as highly elusive, but if you combine it with Google Analytics, you can justify your social media ROI as well.

Are there any other ways of measuring marketing ROI with social media vanity metrics and Google Analytics together? Share your thoughts.

Good day and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

6 Tips to Optimize Social Media Marketing Campaigns for Content Marketing

Social media marketing (SMM) is a process for attracting prospects at the top of your inbound marketing funnel. It acts as a conduit to run campaigns for your content marketing strategy, and digital marketers are much more confident than ever before that social media is important for their business.

With each passing year, digital marketers are getting more confident that they are able to measure their marketing ROI from social media marketing. According to 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report by Social Media Examiner, a whopping 92% of marketers said that social media was important for their businesses. Though only 42% agreed they are able to measure their social activities, but this data has also seen an upward trend. In 2014, 37% marketers indicated they could measure ROI and in 2013, it was only 26%.

So, if social media marketing is such an important channel, your efforts should be maximised to optimize your social media campaigns. Here are six simple ways to do it:

1) Build a sound content marketing strategy

Inbound Marketing Funnel
Social media can be used not only for the TOFU but also for MOFU and BOFU. You should first build your buyer persona and understand at what stage of buyers’ journey your prospects are at present. Map the stage of your buyers' journey with the objectives from your inbound marketing funnel. Basis this, do the following:
  • Identify social media channels that you should leverage
  • Build content according to the purpose, and decide on the type & format that will resonate better with your prospects at present.
  • Based on your goals and identified KPIs, decide whether you would like to build an organic campaign or a sponsored one on various social media channels that you have identified.

2) Test the headlines to increase conversion rate
I recently published a blog and shared it on social media which of course generated traffic and the social media post received engagements as well. But I was not happy with the conversion rate. (My goal-based conversion in this case was to get “link-clicks” through the social media efforts). Then I performed a simple split-test (A/B testing) on the headline. I changed it to “5 Google AdWords hacks to improve your conversion rate” from “5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign”, and it gave a 10% increase in the conversion rate!

3) Test optimal time and frequency of shares

In order to ensure that your content is giving you optimal conversions, check if the time and frequency of shares is the best that you could choose across different social media channels that you’ve identified for your campaign. Changing the time of share can improve the visibility of your tweets and posts, and therefore bring in higher engagements and conversions.

4) A/B test your snack-able content for engagement

This particular step will be helpful especially if you are running a sponsored social media campaign. Social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn offer their own analytics dashboards which help you in gauging the performance of your individual posts. If you are not happy with the engagement rate of your posts, then you can perform an A/B test. Pause a post and create another post by changing the snack-able part of the content only and not the creative. After a week, check back if the new version of your post has increased the engagement rate. Gauge the results and repeat.

5) Ensure you are able to track URLs

When setting up a social media campaign, you must ensure that the landing pages that you are going to share are trackable on Google Analytics. For a few situations, you may want to send out a pdf link directly with your social media post or a tweet. Make sure that these pdfs are traceable. The best way to do this is to use the link shortener tools such as or These services allow you to check the number of clicks that your links receive, and where they are coming from.

6) Use Google Analytics to identify optimization opportunities
In Google Analytics, use Acquisition>Social set of reports to understand the performance of your social media campaign. Here are the reports that can help you weigh the areas that need more focus to get higher conversions.

Overview: Here you will immediately be able to see the comparison between the number and monetary value of all goal completions versus those that resulted from social referrals. If you have to report about the impact of your campaign in silo, then you must consider Last Interaction Social Conversion metrics to judge the impact.

Network referral: Check engagement metrics such as pageviews, avg. session duration, pages/session for traffic from each social network. Here you can see which social networks referred the highest quality traffic. With this data you may want to increase your efforts for the social networks that referred fewer sessions but higher quality traffic.

Landing Pages: Here too check engagement for metrics like pageviews, avg. session duration, pages/session for each URL. You can click a URL in this report to see the originating social networks for that URL.

Conversions: This report shows the total number of conversions and the monetary value of conversions that occurred as a result of referrals from each network. Under this report, click Assisted vs. Last Interaction Analysis to see how each network contributed towards conversions and revenue. Since you would want to optimize your goal-based social media campaign, it is better to concentrate on Last Click or Direct Conversions and Last Click or Direct Conversion Value.

This is the number of last click or direct sales and conversions. The higher the numbers, the more important is the social network's role in driving completion of sales and conversions.

Another metric to follow is Assisted/Last Click or Direct Conversions. This ratio summarizes the social network's overall role. A value close to 0 indicates that the social network brought primarily the last click conversions. A value close to 1 indicates that the social network functioned equally in an assist and a last click capacity. The more this value exceeds 1, the more the social network functioned in an assist capacity.

Therefore, if you are getting a value closer to 0, then you can say that your social media campaigns are bringing the desired impact.

Visitor Flow: The Social Visitors Flow shows the initial paths that users from social networks took through your site. This is a good flow chart to show you if the visitors entered your website through the pages that you have used in your campaigns or not. This chart also shows you what the users did after they entered your website – whether they went on to other pages or dropped off after initial click.

Hope this guide helps you in optimizing your social media marketing (SMM) campaigns. If you have any more nuggets, then feel free to share them in the comments section.

Have a wonderful day!