The relationship between IT and marketing is symbolic of larger changes taking place in enterprise technology. The proliferation of sophisticated end-user software, often based in the cloud, has created deep technology expertise in functional areas such as marketing.
I asked the Chief Marketing Officer of LexisNexis, Steve Mann, for a snapshot of marketing innovation that intersects technology and business. He decided to write a guest post on Social Lead Management, which seeks to convert social media followers into sales leads. It’s important because social media gets much attention even though the ROI is often unclear and hard to justify. At the same, the marketing funnel and generating qualified leads are critical issues for any company, so the topic cannot be ignored.
According to a recent State of Digital Marketing report, only one-third of B2C and one-fifth of B2B companies create revenue from leads generated on social media. Although many organizations do create leads from their digital and social efforts, this report indicates they are not the correct leads – ones that will convert to revenue.
At the same time, executive management places pressure on the CMO and marketing organization to demonstrate value and ROI from social media. The unvarnished truth: for all the social media chest pounding, many CEOs still doubt marketing investments in developing and deploying a social strategy.
Social Lead Management
The big unknown in this social media morass is how to discover and motivate the “likely to buy” social followers to say, “yes, I’m interested”… so they enter the top of your demand funnel; or, for those already in the funnel, to accelerate them to close. Social Lead Management (SLM) can solve both problems.
SLM is an emerging discipline that has two components:
- Social Lead Prediction — to identify the individuals in your social demand funnel most likely to buy – people you haven’t been able to qualify through your traditional demand funnel, yet are throwing off buying signals left and right.
- Social Lead Conversion — to engage these likely-to-buy prospects, hoping they will convert to an inquiry or move further down your demand funnel.
For the relatively short time it’s been around, predictive analytics has focused in areas such as campaign yield optimization, lead scoring, and prioritizing “likely-to-buy” individuals in traditionaldemand funnels. Although vendors such as Lattice Engines, SAS and Inkiru (acquired by Walmart) focus here, implementation costs can be significant and successful deployment requires clean customer and prospect data. For these reasons, existing solutions are not ideal.
A new approach. While some analytic platforms have started to incorporate social data into their predictive models, it’s time for a new breed of company focused on Social Lead Prediction to emerge. These companies must analyze peer-to-peer and peer-to-brand social communications in real time, examining the composition of social communications utilizing both keyword analysis and predictive algorithms. All this analysis is aimed at determining which of your engaged followers are more or less likely to buy.
In addition to an analytics platform, a complete SLM solution must also offer social competency benchmarking inside the organization. Even though you may be successful building a group of engaged followers, converting them to leads requires the organization to possess a unique set of social marketing competencies. Therefore, a successful Social Lead Prediction initiative should also identify skills gaps and points of internal resistance, to ensure your organization possesses the full set of competencies needed to make Social Lead Management a reality.
The art of Social Lead Conversion. Although some CMO’s embrace predictive models as part of traditional marketing programs, few have applied these techniques to Social Lead Management. Lack of effective Social Lead Conversion tools and methodologies contribute significantly to this situation.
At LexisNexis, we are looking intensely at Social Lead Management tactics, with a special interest in bringing together external predictive analytics with critical internal organizational metrics to support an optimal social conversion strategy. Although we are very bullish using both internal and external metrics to refine marketing program execution, most companies still view analytics strictly with an external focus
Armed with both internal and external analytics, innovative marketing organizations can combine detailed offer, content, and conversation strategies to promote Social Lead Conversion. External analytics help drive efficiency and ROI while internal measures identify talent mismatches and competency gaps while improving social media governance.
Although it’s easy to focus on tools, remember that software does not convert social followers into leads or revenue – conversion results from brand engagement with fans and followers. Companies that offer a great customer experience at every touch point, from initial contact through purchase and even following the sale, will naturally achieve higher lead conversion rates. The smartest organizations combine customer delight with systematic, tool-based approaches to social media and lead conversion.
Thank you to Steve Mann for writing this guest post.
(Cross-posted @ ZDNet | Beyond IT Failure Blog)