How to: Use B2B Social Media for Lead Generation

Kipp Bodnar

Kipp Bodnar of HubSpot

This post is one of a series of liveblogs from the 2010 MIMA Summit.

B2B social media can be surprisingly successful with a specific focus on lead generation.  If social media is to be taken seriously for B2B by marketing decision makers, it needs to maintain a focus on business objectives and driving sales vs. “fluff”.

B2B companies are actually in a much better position to use social media as a marketing channel than B2C companies.  They often have a much clearer expectation for what a customer does and what they want.

B2B companies also have deep internal expertise.  It’s not uncommon for top B2B companies to employ thought leaders in their specific industry.  However, there’s a solid argument that for many B2B companies, online marketing and social media might not be a fit.

Instances where social media doesn’t make sense:

  • If you have a tiny customer base (perhaps you have only 5 customers).
  • If the people you are trying to talk to can’t access the internet.  Many people in regulated industries can’t access the outside internet from work. (i.e., some military/electric industry).
  • If you or your business don’t have an advocate that can help you.
  • Velocity and volume – tough for social media in the beginning.  You can potentially create quick velocity but quick volume would be difficult.
  • If you have a lack of resources you shouldn’t engage in social media.  This seems like a big pain point for organizations.  If you lack the time or resources it makes it difficult to be successful.

It’s important to classify what exactly a lead is.  According to Kip, a lead is when somebody expresses clear interest in working with your business.  If someone downloaded a whitepaper and gave full contact information, Kip classifies that as a lead.

Before anything else, it’s important to have the basics in place.  If the website isn’t usable and there are no landing pages to collect lead information, social media is going to have much less of an impact because the traffic won’t engage and convert with your content.

Content to build leads for B2B Online Marketing

Content is the building block for all online marketing as a B2B company.  Companies need to know how to talk to prospects in a way that is not promotional, solves their problems and provides value to them.

More content, in general, equals more entry points which should lead to increased leads.  Content creation correlates to organic lead growth.  One way to attain conversions is to ensure there are calls to action alongside content.

Leads stem from multiple social channels depending on industry and strategy. Discovering where your audience is matters.  Remember that engagement is not a goal, it’s something you do which helps facilitate a goal and should be measured as a KPI, not an outcome.

Blogging has been critical as it is a platform to create and publish content throughout many different networks and attract new visitors.

Headlines win – never before in history have we had so much information.  People are subscribing to blogs via email, Twitter LinkedIn, RSS, etc and headlines are the main call to action for content.  They’re the make-or-break detail if people read content or not.  HubSpot has found many of their most successful article headlines have numbers in them because people know they’ll be scanable.

Always optimize content with keywords so that you’re gaining additional organic visitors from search engines.

Social media and lead generation

CTAs (Calls to Action) – With a business blog, there are many different ways to get people to become a “lead” from a visitor.  For example: including buttons in the sidebar to talk to a representative, or text links within content to whitepaper landing pages or to download content.  HubSpot has found it successful to add calls to action at the end of content.

We have found that a majority of posts generating leads haven’t been published recently.  Older content is generating  leads.

It’s important to remember that your customers are more important than you are.  For example, HubSpot has a customer in Virginia that installs pools and spas.  All he does is share what someone might want to know when installing a pool.  He doesn’t directly sell his products, but that’s okay.  Even if people aren’t ready to buy, publishing value added content adds them into that consideration section.

Getting all team members involved in the business blog is vital.  People want content from people, not necessarily just companies.  Getting different people from different departments – i.e., research or product, allows marketers to expand the relevant information covered on a given blog to appeal to a larger subset of customers.

Business blogging drives leads and serves as a hub for search and social media visitors.  It doesn’t feel like they are visiting a website that hasn’t been updated in years.  A blog provides much better context for a business.

According to HubSpot’s research of its own customers, B2B is lagging behind B2C in terms of direct customer acquisition in social channels.  B2B is only winning in one tool: LinkedIn, which makes sense.  B2B organizations are acquiring customers through social channels, just not at the same rates as B2C.

Key tips and takeaways for B2B Social Media Marketing:

  • Email is the ultimate testing ground for social media because for most of those getting started in social media, email is the largest sample. Email is not being replaced by social.  You can use it as a testing ground to amplify the success of other marketing campaigns.
  • The CRM tool is essential to tracking.  Look at how a lead comes in, how it was converted and how it goes through the sales process.  By having your sales system and CRM tied in with analytics, it gives a clearer picture from visit to lead, which is essential to tracking.
  • Lead source – It’s important to understand what leads you get from different online channels to identify what sources are effective or not.
  • Measurement – With analytics in place to measure and provide insight around lead sources, you can figure out where to allocate budget, especially if you can measure from visit to customer.
  • Social + CRM is how you should think about ROI.  If you can have your web analytics and your CRM talking, you can have an understanding of how people are coming to your site and how different channels are performing to you, measuring it down to the customer level.
  • Acquisition cost reduction: Social media can equal more engaged and lower cost customers.

Thanks to Kipp Bodnar for presenting the above session during the 2010 MIMA Summit.  Kipp leads the content marketing team at HubSpot and writes for the Social Media B2B blog.

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How to: Use B2B Social Media for Lead Generation |

Google Not Guilty in YouTube Case

September 29, 2010 by  
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Earlier this week Google was cleared of any wrongdoing in a copyright infringement case brought against YouTube by Telecinco a Spanish broadcaster. Google owns the popular video sharing website which was accused of harboring copyrighted content. Telecinco filed the lawsuit claiming that YouTube should be responsible for the content that is uploaded to the site but that claim was rejected by a federal court in Madrid Spain….

6 Ways to Dive In to Analytics & User Experience

September 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Online Marketing, Web Analytics

This post is one of a series of liveblogs from the 2010 MIMA Summit.

Web Analytics is an excellent way to ensure your marketing efforts are not in vain. However, looking at Analytics without understanding user behavior may leave you treading water instead of creating a wake your competitors will fear.Web Analytics

One way to take your methods of measurement to the next level is to combine Analytics with User Experience (UX) information. What you stand to gain can be great whether you dip a toe or cannon ball into blended analytic waters.

To make sure you don’t sink, first understand that Analytics will tell you what’s happening on the site. User Experience Research then helps you understand why it’s happening by gaining insight into the behaviors and motivation of visitors.

When you combine both, you can start to understand the What and the Why of what’s happening on your website. This also allows any potential problems to float to the top more quickly, allowing you to see the problem you need to solve and what changes might do just that.

The following case study illustrates what you can find when you combine the power of Analytics and user behavior:

An insurance quoting website, which had a 14 page quote and purchase process was going through a website redesign and decided it was the perfect time to double check their form process.

The goal was to identify where in the funnel visitors were getting stuck and abandoning the process.

After understanding user experience and their reactions to what you are testing, the data should be compared to Analytics. Does Analytics show visitor ‘drop-off’ points in similar places as what was identified as confusing/irritating by the users?

To understand drop-off points and not spend time in lower-priority places, be sure to identify logical places for drop-off. In this example a make-sense drop off would be after the quote is delivered because you can expect that some visitors won’t like the quote they received and abandon to either get a different quote or purchase elsewhere.

Where you want to spend time is identifying the unexpected drop-offs. One such drop-off point for the health insurance quote form was the request for a social security number. Almost all users are cautious when giving such information online, but the problem in this particular case was that the information was asked for too early in the process before the person is invested.

As such, they identified an item to test. After placing the request for the social security number further into the funnel where the user was more invested and felt like it was OK to give their personal information, the abandonment rate decreased.

The next drop-off point was the question of where they attended college, which some – via the user experience testing – found offensive and/or didn’t understand how it was relevant to an insurance quote. The Analytics confirmed this and showed a higher than normal drop-off rate at the point that question was asked in the funnel.  Ask yourself, why is this question part of the form? Is it necessary? If not, remove it and improve the percent of visitors who get further in the funnel and closer to a sale.

Start getting more out of your website by diving deeper into the following 6 areas using both Analytics and User Experience Data:

1. Landing Page Optimization
Analytics: Bounce Rate, Conversion Rate
UX: Why people convert.

2. Site Navigation
Analytics: Top Content
UX: How they get there

3. Form Completion
Analytics: Abandonment, Page reloads
UX: Specific Objections

4. Content
5. Analytics: Time Spent on page
UX: Is it engaging?

5. Testing
Analytics: A/B Testing
UX: What to Test

6. Terminology
Analytics: Search Logs
UX: How people use language – what is your target marking using to search for you

In the case that you need to dip your toes, go old-school and simply sit behind someone and watch them navigate your website. Where do they go first, second, third, what do they avoid? Ask them why. Some data is better than no data.

Thank you to Fred Beecher and Andrew Janis of Evantage Consulting for presenting the above case study and tips on UX and Analytics during the 2010 MIMA Summit.

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© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
6 Ways to Dive In to Analytics & User Experience |

Baidu Search Engine Optimization Guide: A Second Look

September 28, 2010 by  
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In this second of two articles on Baidu search engine optimization you ll learn about the following important items website analytics data website trust and the importance of link popularity Baidu search engine penalty factors and how to recover from a penalty and some frequently asked questions regarding Baidu search engine optimization….

Recipe for Blogging Success at BlogWorld New Media Expo

social media SEO recipe for successMarketers like formulas and what better metaphor for successful online marketing with blogs than a recipe?

At the upcoming BlogWorldExpo conference in Las Vegas, I’ll be giving my recipe for success using Social Media and SEO in two ways:

First, I’ll be doing a solo presentation on Social Media SEO, giving bloggers a tested methodology for making the most of their content and social networks.

This presentation will focus on the value of combining SEO best practices with social media marketing to amplify the reach and traffic for blogs. I’ll outline and share examples of how to  build a Cycle of Social Media Interaction.  Specifics will include:

  • How bloggers can leverage keyword research to develop a blog editorial calendar
  • Best practices on creating and promote optimized content
  • How to increase exposure through social channels of distribution
  • Tips on organic growth of  fans/friends/subscribers and inbound links
  • How to increase search and social media traffic
  • How to mine community conversation data to further refine content strategy that continues the cycle

To see the detailed presentation, you’ll need to get out to Las Vegas  October 14-16 for BlogWorld New Media Expo 2010. In the meantime, here is a short version of the presentation I’ll be giving using the aforementioned recipe metaphor.

Second, I’m literally going to talk about SEO for recipes to food bloggers, “The Art & Science of Recipe Writing” on a panel with Jennifer Perillo, John Shiple and Sean Percival as part of the TECHmunch track. I believe it will be livestreamed so be sure to check in with @toprank for the link.

BlogWorld New Media Expo is a unique event bringing together online marketing professionals from a variety of disciplines ranging from public relations to SEO to affiliate marketing to food and military bloggers.  Be sure to subscribe for liveblogging coverage and video interviews during the event.

Now back to our metaphor: What’s your recipe to blogging success?

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© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Recipe for Blogging Success at BlogWorld New Media Expo |

Baidu Search Engine Optimization Guide

September 27, 2010 by  
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Thinking about doing business in China Then you d better start thinking about optimizing for Baidu. This China-based search engine is as dominant in that country as Google is in the US and its ambitions stretch beyond its country s borders. You can t approach SEO in the same way for Baidu that you do for Google however as this two-part article series reveals….

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SEO Hacker: The Interview on Social Media, Link Building, SEO Success, and Authority

September 24, 2010 by  
Filed under General, Social Media, Twitter

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Sean Si has been making a splash in the industry and what could be better than peaking into the mind of another successful SEO specialist? Let’s get right into this because it’s a great interview and I think of lot of people would benefit from reading this.
Sean Si is a blogger, writer, web developer and […]

22 Social Media Marketing Management Tools

social media management toolsWith every online marketing channel and discipline, there must be tools to make the task of marketing more efficient and effective. Social Media Marketing is no different. Over the past 6-9 months, I’ve been researching and reviewing a variety of social media management tools that help with everything from source network connections to campaign & social content management to monitoring & measurement. While there numerous tools that manage single platforms (like Twitter) this list includes services that manage multiple social network accounts, content and measurement.

At some point we’ll do more with individual reviews, but in the meantime, here is a list of 22 different social media marketing management tools, platforms and services to help manage and scale your online marketing efforts on the social web:

Shoutlet – Manages social media marketing communications with one platform for building, engaging and measuring social media. Includes multiple account and platform support, social CRM and ecommerce for Facebook, email marketing and mobile features.

direct message labs
Direct Message Lab – Provides consulting, implementation and a platform (REACH) for centralized management of social media promotions & contests, advertising and measurement.

objective marketer
Objective Marketer – Offers social media marketing and analytics with integrated campaign management (Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, YouTube), multi-channel execution, engagement reports and user management.

Wildfire Interactive – Platform for easy creation, implementation and management of branded interactive campaigns including: sweepstakes, contests and give-aways.

strongmail social media
StrongMail Social Studio – Comprehensive social media marketing platform with a referral marketing platform, social sharing tool and campaign management application. (Disclosure: StrongMail is a TopRank client)

Sprout social media
Sprout – Cloud-based visual authoring software used to build interactive Engage Ads and Engage Apps that deliver rich, interactive, and social content across the web and mobile devices.

Spredfast - Enterprise social media management system that allows an organization to manage, monitor, and measure its voices across multiple social media channels. Also offers a white label option for agencies.

socialTALK – allows brands to create (text, photos, videos), manage (customize workflow & approval process), publish (single source, scheduled publishing to multiple platforms) and measure (aggregated analytics dashboard) their content strategy and posting schedule.

Crowd Factory – Suite of social media marketing tools include Social Campaign, that enables marketers to acquire new customers through simple social gestures and custom social marketing campaigns while easily tracking ROI.

Awareness - Social marketing hub that centralizes social media content publishing, management, measurement and engagement. Also includes access to 7 white-labeled, best practice social networking applications.

this moment
@this moment – Built on the @this moment platform, DEC is a system for managing a brand’s presence across multiple online environments combining multimedia UGC, and a variety of real-time inputs which are distributed across social platforms including YouTube Brand Channels, Facebook Fan Pages, MySpace Brand Communities & the iPhone.

MediaFunnel – Offers a Business Social Media platform for Facebook and Twitter supporting multiple users per profile and editorial review. Includes monitoring and integrates with

Virtue – Works with clients and agencies through a Social Relationship Management (SEM) platform offering Facebook tabs & applications, a publishing feature for Facebook & Twitter and mobile solutions.

Sprinklr – Social media marketing platform and consulting services for consumer & B2B marketers as well as agencies. Provides social media audience research, acquisition, content promotion and measurement tools.

Janrain – Web based platform of tools including: Engage to make it easy for users to connect a site with their social networks, Federate to facilitate navigation across multiple web properties & partner sites with a single log-in (currently supports 16 networks), Capture to leverage user data for personalized experiences.

sprout social
Sprout Social – Affordable social media dashboard, monitoring, team workflow, influencer and contact management, performance metrics and daily or weekly email summaries. Supports Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp and Foursquare.

Sendible – Social media marketing platform that supports 30+ networks & services offering management of: accounts/profiles, messages & content, social contacts, content discovery, engagement, blog content & promotion, monitoring and analytics. Also offers a white label version for agencies.

KickApps – Self service social media web site authoring and social content management system system supporting video, social networking, social graph & activity streams, apps & analytics. Enables web publishers and marketers to develop branded communities, social applications and interactive widgets on their websites and across the social web. Solutions for small and large business.

Postling – Local business social media marketing platform to create content, stay organized and reach customers. Currently free for small business or personal use. Social Marketing –  A social marketing suite, including feed-enabled social gestures and widgets, social dashboard, segmentation tools, influencer identification, conversion tracking and built-in friend casting.

HootSuite - Social media dashboard for managing social content and engagement on multiple networks with team workflow and statistics.

Seesmic – Web and desktop tools to manage social marketing activity on Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, Google Buzz and Linkedin plus a plug-in marketplace for more social management options.

This list of social media marketing platforms & services “ad hoc” was compiled by bookmarking various services as they were discovered or pitched to us (we don’t reply to pitches).  Here’s another useful list of SMMS was compiled in March 2010 by Jeremiah Owyang.

What social media marketing dashboards, software and management tools from the list above have you tested or use? Reviews, observations, insights and questions are greatly appreciated!

Obviously, tools are only as good as the expertise of the people using them, so TopRank Marketing is always interested in helping companies develop their social media roadmap and recommend the right supporting software for implementation.

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© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
22 Social Media Marketing Management Tools |

2010 MIMA Summit with Gary Vaynerchuk & Baratunde Thurston

September 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Online Marketing

The Winning Tweets from TopRank  Online Marketing Ticket Giveaway for the 2010 MIMA Summit:

@danmonfre: Justin Bieber is NOT performing at this year’s #mimasummit He is being replaced by @garyvee and @baratunde @TopRank

@panelectric: RT! Help a geek win a seat with the cool kids @TopRank @garyvee@baratunde #mimasummit #SinceWereBeingHonest

Congratulations! See the Tweets that received the most votes at:  Winner: 2010 MIMA Summit Free Ticket from @TopRank

The 2010 MIMA Summit being held next week 9/27-28 will feature keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV and author of Crush It! (review). Once I heard @Garyvee was speaking in Minnesota I hoped to do a pre-event interview, but it didn’t work out.  Two years ago, Geoff Livingston introduced me to Gary at Blog World Expo and while I wasn’t familiar with who he was yet, my first impression was that he had a lot of energy and could pass for Joe Pesci’s nephew. :)

gary vaynerchuk

However, after people like Brian Solis and Jason Falls pointed out the amazing work he was doing, using social media to promote his business, I made sure I was in the front row to see Gary give the keynote presentation at Affiliate Summit West in 2009 (photos above). I liked his raw, “tell it like it is” presentation. That style of speaking in Minnesota will either be received as a nice kick in the pants or it could be met with indifferent silence. MIMA members are smart and can also be a tough crowd, so we’ll see.  I for one, am looking forward to it.

baratunde thurstonThis year’s MIMA Summit also features Baratunde Thurston from, amongst his numerous projects and media involvement, The Onion, for the afternoon keynote. I guess two years ago was the time to meet today’s social media rockstars, because it was at my first SXSW in Austin, Texas that I met and had lunch (with a group) with Baratunde.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo then, but found the handy glamour shot to the right on Flickr, along with many other great pics of Baratunde.

For a good sample of Baratunde’s presentation style, check out this video from Web 2.0 Expo: “There’s a #Hashtag for That” where he talks about some pretty amazing experiments with Twitter.

I’d expect both keynotes to be nothing less than thought provoking and entertaining. There’s a great lineup of speakers in the breakout sessions as well, which makes the MIMA Summit one of those events in Minnesota that you won’t want to miss.

Except you will miss it if you don’t have a ticket.   TopRank Online Marketing has purchased a corporate table at the MIMA Summit for the past 3-4 years and we usually reserve 1 ticket for a giveaway. This year is no different.

How to win a Free Ticket to the 9/28 full day 2010 MIMA Summit?

In a test of your micro-content writing skills, all you need to do is post a creative tweet using ALL of the following:
@TopRank @garyvee @baratunde #mimasummit

Example: RT to help me win a @TopRank #MIMASummit free pass to see @garyvee & @baratunde

That’s 64 characters used for the message leaving a generous 76 characters for your inspired Tweeting pleasure.  We’ll pick the best Tweet by Friday 9/24 end of day 5pm Central. Oh, and getting ReTweets is not required to win, but might help get your tweets noticed more often :)

The winner will be announced on this blog post.

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© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
2010 MIMA Summit with Gary Vaynerchuk & Baratunde Thurston |

B2B Online Marketing Trifecta: Content, Social Media & SEO

September 22, 2010 by  
Filed under B2B, Content Marketing, Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media

social seo content marketingB2B Marketing offers a variety of choices for reaching customers wherever they are in the buying cycle.  Make no mistake, buyer behaviors towards information discovery, consumption and sharing online have been significantly affected by changes in social technology.

At a conference I recently spoke at, an attendee made a statement that social media only works for consumer marketing. The reality many marketers forget, is that B2B buyers are people too.  They have the same social needs and influences as anyone else. Social media, in my opinion and experience, is a great fit for business to business marketing.

Marketing with content has been a core part of B2B marketing for years and as long as there are long sales cycles with the need for education, there will be a need for content.  Content that attracts readers through search engine optimization and social media channels can do its job of educating, persuading and guiding B2B buyers along the sales funnel.  That’s why, when it comes to online marketing, the combination of Content, Social Media and SEO provide serious competitive advantage.

Content - Pretty much all B2B marketing starts with content.  White papers, newsletters, blogs, video, presentations and any other text or media content types published online.   Without content, search engines wouldn’t exist. What is it that social communities share with each other? Content!  B2B marketers often find difficulty with continuously generating new blog content ideas, so generating more traffic and social interaction to existing content is essential for inspiring conversations and new topics to write about.

SEO – Any digital content that can be crawled, indexed and ranked by a search engine is an opportunity for optimization with keywords that customers use when searching for new vendors, partners and solutions.  Each unique content object with it’s own URL or web address, creates a destination for other websites to link to and an entry point for search engines and searchers.  A quantity of quality content that is easily and often shared socially creates a rich set of signals for search engines and B2B buyers. B2B SEO mistakes are pretty common, but can be overcome by expertise and experimentation. Based on a firm foundation, SEO can provide substantial lift on its own, but especially in combination with great content and social networking.

Social Media – Growing social networks, connecting with others through interactions and information sharing creates an audience that can support content promotion which might drive traffic and attract inbound links from other topically relevant websites. Links from other websites and blogs can serve as a signal for search engines to decide how to rank your content in the search results. Links from within social networks or media sharing sites can send B2B buyers directly to specific resource, product or services pages. Not every B2B company is ready for social media, but it’s likely that their customers and competitors are already there.

There’s a lot of common sense to the experienced marketer in this blog post, but after a very long time in the consulting business, I’ve found common sense to be the least common thing in most online marketing strategies.  It’s easy to be aware of how individual tactics work best for a company, but it’s useful to take a step back and observe how highly effective marketing, like content marketing, search engine optimization and social media, can best work together.

At TopRank Marketing, we’re working with B2B companies ranging from McKesson to Marketo and recently, MarketTools and StrongMail, to develop coordinated online marketing programs that emphasize efficient combinations of SEO, Social and Content that can prove themselves within existing marketing strategy. As part of our own Content Marketing, we share exclusive case studies, tips and best practices through a client newsletter and pull selected resources for sharing in our Tips from the Top Marketing Newsletter which you might find useful.

If you’re a B2B marketer, are you using content, SEO and social media in a coordinated online marketing effort?  As a buyer of business services, have you been influenced by content discovered by both searching and through social channels?

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© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
B2B Online Marketing Trifecta: Content, Social Media & SEO |

Google Instant Technical Observations for SEO

September 22, 2010 by  
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Google Instant is the latest Google innovation to have an effect on both users and SEO. But what kind of effect exactly This article will make some technical observations of Google Instant in action and examine the short- and long-term implications for SEO with a focus on keywords ….

Eliminate memory errors with eval guide Intel® Parallel Studio helps C/C++ developers find latent memory errors

Joomla Search Engine Optimization Tips for Webmasters

September 21, 2010 by  
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Joomla is one of the most commonly used CMS content management systems for websites. This is a short SEO guide for Joomla webmasters and users that explains how to deal with Joomla SEO problems and implement easy solutions….

Cloud Servers in Demand – GoGrid Start Small and Grow with Your Business. $0.10/hour

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