Need More B2B Sales Leads? Ignore This Research

According to recent research conducted by InsideSales.com and reported by MarketingProfs, websites,  blogs and search are among the most effective tactics for both lead generation and brand awareness. But social media (including Twitter, Pinterest and Google+), display ads and online video are among the worst activities for achieving either objective.

While the findings are interesting and no doubt reflect the experience of many b2b marketers, it’s crucial not to misinterpret the results. Whether one agrees with conclusions of the research or not, it clearly has one important flaw: ignoring the connections between tactics.

Top B2B Lead Generation Tactics

 

Business buyers obtain information from multiple online and offline sources when making significant purchase decisions. A study from Siriius Decisions found that b2b buyers are typically 70% of the way through their purchase process before they contact a vendor’s sales team.

That makes it crucial for companies to be as visible as possible during that research phase, before they even aware of a prospect’s potential interest. And given that more than 90% of b2b buyers use online sources in their buying decisions, it’s vital to maximize web presence.

In order to create a framework to optimize web presence and online visibility,  b2b marketers need to understand and capitalize on the connections between these different tactics. For example, just looking at four of the tactics in the “Established Value” quadrant:

Tradeshows and conferences: marketers can maximize their presence at these events by utilizing a button, badge or “ad” on the company website; direct mail; a blog post about the upcoming event; a notice in the company’s email newsletter; and through social media updates on Twitter and LinkedIn.

During the event, the company can use public relations tactics to meet with industry journalists and other influencers attending the show or conference.

And post-event, the company can keep buzz going by posting photos from the booth on Facebook and Pinterest, and if the show included a speaking opportunity, posting the presentation to SlideShare and possibly even video to YouTube.

Email or electronic newsletters: e-newsletters and marketing email messages serve two basic functions–to share information of value to recipients, and to persuade recipients to take action.

That information may be third-party links, but may also be hosted on the company’s website or blog. Newsletters themselves, new and archived, can be posted on the company website, where they provide search value. Both the email and web-hosted version of the newsletter should contain social links,  encouraging readers to share the content on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or other social networks.

Newsletter calls to action can include registration for executive events, virtual events, or webinars—all of which appear in the “underused” quadrant in this chart. They can also promote content downloads—reports, white papers, e-books and guides. Website visitors are often more likely to register for an event or download a white paper if the landing page includes a short online video (which is, for this and other reasons, best not a “being abandoned” tactic).

Company websites: these are of course at the core of digital marketing. The ultimate goal of all online tactics (and many offline ones) is to attract visitors to your website to learn more about your products and services, and take some action (purchase, subscribe, register, download, contact sales, or some other conversion action).

The single leading source of traffic for most b2b websites remains organic search. Driving search traffic requires ranking well, which in turn depends on relevant content, high-quality links, and social signals.

The content is going to be housed on company website pages, in the newsletter archive, and in posts on the company blog. It can include images, infographics, rich media, and online video in addition to text.

Some of the highest quality links come from influential industry blogs or news websites, which are supported by an active public relations program. Quality links also come from event sponsorships and industry association websites.

Social signals are driven by links from Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and even Pinterest. Indeed, recent research indicates that Google+, while not much of a social network, can be highly valuable in achieving the ranking that drives organic search traffic. “Abandon” such tactics at your own risk.

Website traffic can also be driven by offline tactics like radio, outdoor,  and direct mail. Codes can be assigned (e.g., “Visit company.com/radio to learn more”)—or in the case of direct mail, QR codes can be used—in order to track the effectiveness of these channels.

Sponsorships/Associations: event sponsorships as well as membership in and content contributions to industry and trade association websites are key components of industry presence, which can both drive targeted website traffic and create relevant, high-quality backlinks to the company website and/or blog. Event sponsorship can also drive increased booth traffic at tradeshows.

Industry associations also often offer opportunities for guest blog posts (which can then be promoted through social networks), participation and exposure in groups on LinkedIn, and even in some cases online display advertising—which can drive site traffic or targeted calls to action.

The bottom line is that,  while various online and offline tactics clearly differ in direct value and the amount of budget and effort they merit, it’s also vital to recognize and account for the connections between these tactics and how they support each other. This requires using cross-channel online marketing metrics to develop strategies, prioritize tactics, and execute effectively to support your organization’s ultimate online visibility and business goals.

Post to Twitter

102 Compelling Social Media and Online Marketing Stats and Facts for 2012 (and 2013)

With 92% of companies now incorporating social media into their marketing efforts, it’s no longer sufficient to just “be there” on social networks. Today’s most effective marketers are optimizing content across channels, coordinating search and social marketing activities with traditional PR, and measuring their web presence and performance with sophistication.

Social Media and Online Marketing StatisitcsThe first step to improving digital marketing results is to understand the emerging trends and best practices. This post, along with 79 Remarkable Social Media Marketing Facts and Statistics for 2012 and 87 More Vital Social Media Marketing Facts and Stats for 2012 previously published here, provide a solid foundation for that understanding.

What do buyers really want from social media marketers? What’s the key to generating more inbound marketing leads? What is the source of the largest share of social traffic to websites? (It’s not what you almost certainly think.)

Find the answers to these questions and many, many more here in over 100 engaging and intriguing social, search, content, inbound, email,  mobile and other marketing stats and facts from the past few months.

25 Social Media Facts and Statistics

1. While 76% of marketers believe “they know what their consumers want” in terms of social media content and interaction, only 34% have actually asked those buyers. (e-Strategy Trends)

2. At least on the B2C side, there is a disconnect between what marketers think consumers think is important and what consumers actually value. Marketers believe the highest consumer priorities on social media are insights for buying decisions (59%) and customer service (58%). Consumers actually place the highest value on deals and promotions (83%) and rewards programs (70%). (e-Strategy Trends)

3. B2B buyers are most likely to share useful vendor content via email (79%), followed by LinkedIn (53%), Twitter (39%) and Facebook (18%). (Earnest Agency)

4. While three-quarters of marketers consider measurement of social media impact important, 70% say that measuring those results is difficult. (Marketing Charts)

5. 79% of marketers measure website traffic from social media, and 68% track engagement metrics on social networks, but just 26% measure the relationship of social media activity to leads and sales. (Marketing Charts)

6. Just 4% of marketers said their companies were “very effective” at measuring social marketing in 2012. While 47% felt somewhat good at social measurement in 2011, just 38% said the same in 2012. “Nearly half of respondents (47%) feel they or their companies are either not very good at social marketing measurement, or do not measure well at all.” (Marketing Charts)

7. Ever feel frustrated and less productive than you’d like to be at work, even though you’re working hard and putting in a ton of hours? There’s a reason for that! Interruptions (like email and social media) are messing us up. Consider:

  • • The typical worker is interrupted once every 28 minutes on average.
  • • 28% of the average work day is spent on interruptions and recovery time.
  • • 45% of workers believe they are expected to work on too many things at once.
  • • And tasks done in parallel take on average 30% longer to complete than those performed in a sequence.

(Visual.ly)

8. Everyone knows women vastly outnumber men on Pinterest, but how about on other social networks? Women make up the larger share of users on Facebook (58% to 42%) and are a slightly larger share on Twitter (52% to 48%) while men are the predominate users of LinkedIn (63% to 37%) and Google+ (71% to 29%). Furthermore, half of all Google+ users are under 25 years old. (iMedia Connection)

9. Social CRM is still confusing. Only 16% of companies say they currently have a social CRM system in place. 21% plan to implement such a system in the coming year, but another 17% “don’t know what a social CRM system is and why businesses need it.” (Convince & Convert)

10. Only a quarter of all U.S. small businesses (20-99 employees) and a third of midsized companies say they use social media “to engage with customers and prospects in a strategic and structured way.” Another 20% of both groups say they use social media, but in an ad hoc manner. (eMarketer)

11. Despite growing interest in the concept of social business, less than 20% of U.S. companies have integrated social media with their customer service, sales, or product development processes. (eMarketer)

12. Worldwide, 86% of companies have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, while just over half use YouTube and Linked and only slightly more than a third have a presence on Pinterest and/or Google+. (eMarketer)

13. More than 80% of small to midsized businesses (SMBs) plan to increase their use of social media in 2013. Not suprising, considering that 87% of SMBs say that social media has helped them either somewhat or a great deal in th past year. Of those using this channel, social media accounts for 32% of SMB marketing activities. (Marketing Charts)

14. Okay, so most marketers have now embraced social media. But why? 84% of marketers say they use social media to “reach customers at multiple touchpoints,” while 62% want to reach customers where they spend time and 56% say that “customers expect them to be on social media.” (Marketing Charts)

15. Still, not every small business should be using social media—or at least not using it as they are currently. 79% of small business owners on Twitter post just once per day or even less frequently, yet one out of three want to spend less time on social media. These business owners would be best advised to either spend their time on other tactics or hire someone who knows and enjoys social media to interact on their businesses’ behalf. No deposit, no return. (Leaders West)

16. Social media may be good for 99 things, but lead generation ain’t one of them. According to research from MarketingSherpa, just 12% of marketers rate social media as “very effective” for lead gen while 27% say it is “not effective.” The only tactic that fares worse is print advertising (9% very effective vs. 30% not effective). (B2B Lead Blog)

17. Which social network sends the largest share of website traffic? The answer is…unknown. Literally. The well-known social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit account for, combined, on average, less than half of all social traffic. The majority (as much as 70%) is “dark social”—links shared through email or instant messaging that generally get lumped in with “direct” traffic in analytics programs like Google Analytics. (The Atlantic)

18. The most popular social media sites for distributing B2B content are LinkedIn (used by 83% of B2B marketers), Twitter (80%) and Facebook (also 80%). After that, it falls off sharply; 61% use YouTube, 39% are on Google+, 26% utilize Pinterest (really?) and 23% share content on SlideShare. (MarketingProfs)

19. Using social media boosts website traffic: companies gain a 185% lift in Web traffic after achieving 1,000 Facebook likes, and businesses with 51 to 100 Twitter followers generate 106% more traffic than those with 25 or fewer followers. (MarketingProfs)

20. 92% of U.S. companies now use social media in their marketing efforts. (Heidi Cohen)

21. Different social media channels serve different purposes. Blogging is generally seen as most valuable for SEO, YouTube for content marketing, and social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn most helpful for branding and engagement. (Heidi Cohen)

22. Globally, eight different social networks have now reached the 100 million user mark. Three of those (Weibo, the fourth-largest social nework, RenRen at #5 and Badoo at #7) are primarily used by non-English speakers. (WordPress Hosting SEO)

23. The average user spends nearly seven hours per month on Facebook, but just 21 minutes on Twitter, 17 on LinkedIn, and only three minutes on Google+. (WordPress Hosting SEO)

24. Social media now accounts for 18% of all time spent online, and the average American spends 6.9 hours per month on social networking. But we are spending less time on the phone, sending/reading email, and watching TV than we did just a few years ago. (WordPress Hosting SEO)

25. One-third of CEOs fail to consider their compananies’ social media reputation when making business decisions. (The Backup List)

12 WPO, Inbound and Content Marketing Stats

26. Leads from inbound marketing cost on average 61% less ($135 vs. $346) than outbound marketing leads. (Earnest Agency)

27. Though it varies across industries, of course, 24% of overall marketing spending last year was on digital/online marketing. Social media and SEO together account for 70% of that spending. (iMedia Connection)

28. Blogging generally gets the largest share of inbound marketing budgets, followed by social media, SEO (if calculated separately from blogging) and PPC advertising. Most outbound marketing spend is on telemarketing, followed by direct mail and trade shows. (iMedia Connection)

29. 57% of companies say they generated sales through their blogs, and an identical share have closed business through LinkedIn. 48% have generated customers through Twitter and 42% through Facebook. (iMedia Connection)

30. Why web presence optimization metrics are vital: half of marketers say tightening integration between social media and traditional marketing is a key goal for 2013, yet nearly a third identify that as one of their top social marketing challenges, and a whopping 57% way measuring social ROI is a challenge. (Convince & Convert)

31. 9 out of 10 marketers say they measure social presence (e.g., number of followers and fans) and social media-driven website traffic, but only about half measure share of voice and sentiment. (Convince & Convert)

32. Need more evidence that measuring social media ROI is hard? While about 90% of all companies do some form of social media marketing, just one out of eight measure the revenue impact directly from social media. (eMarketer)

33. The two biggest challenges faced by B2B content marketers are producing enough content (cited by 29% of marketers) and producing the kind of content that engages (18). Only 2% of marketers say that finding trained content marketing professionals is a big challenge. (MarketingProfs)

34. More content = more leads. On average, companies “with 51-100 web pages generate 48% more traffic than companies with 1-50 pages.” What’s interesting though is the differential is larges for very small companies (those with less than 10 employees), likely because larger companies make greater use of lead gen tactics like tradeshows, webinars and video. (Polaris B)

35. Lots more content = lots more leads. Companies with 101-200 web pages generate 2.5x more leads than those with 50 or fewer pages. More landing pages and more blog posts also mean more leads. On average, companies that have published 200 or more total blog posts generate 5X as much traffic as those with 10 posts or fewer. (Polaris B)

36. Inbound marketing leads cost on average 62% less than outbound-generated leads, and the “big three” inbound channels—blogs, social media and SEO—all cost less on average than any outbound channel. (Polaris B)

37. The financial services (75%), insurance (50%) and software (50%) industries are the most advanced when it comes to having separate content marketing strategies for each channel through which they distribute content. Companies in these industries are also the most likely to have formal content marketing editorial calendars. The automotive (14%) and banking sectors (14%) were the least likely to have separate strategies in place. (MediaPost)

8 SEO Stats and Facts

38. SEO has the biggest impact on lead generation for B2B companies. 59% of B2B marketers say SEO has the biggest impact on their lead gen goals, followed by social media (21%) and pay per click (20%). Not surprisingly, 98% of B2B marketers plan to maintain or increase SEO budgets next year. (Marketing Charts)

39. SEO also has the biggest impact on B2C lead gen. 49% of B2C marketers rank SEO tops for impact on lead generation, followed by pay per click (26%) and social media (25%). (Marketing Charts)

40. Agencies do SEO better. 21% of marketers who work with agencies on SEO report being highly satisfied with their program performance, compared with 11% of those who do SEO in-house. (Marketing Charts)

41. 78% of Internet users say they use the web for product research, and almost half (46%) of all searches on the average day for information on products and services (iMedia Connection)

42. Search is as popular as ever, but the percentage of searches actually done on search engines declined slightly in 2012 (by about 1%). More searches are taking place on websites (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, and on Amazon.com, which is the top destination for product search). Still, organic search on search engines drive 50% of all referring traffic, compared to less than 8% for social media. (MediaPost)

43. SEO is rated as the most effective lead generation tactic, with 34% of marketers calling it “very effective” while just 7% say it is not effective. The next-most-effective lead gen tactics are paid search (32% vs. 9%) and webinars (30% to 6%). (B2B Lead Blog)

44. Demand for SEO skills has never been greater. SEO job postings on job board indeed.com increased 1900% last year and people with ‘SEO’ in their LinkedIn profile have increased by 112%. Still, few SEO jobs pay six figures. (Conductor Blog)

45. The largest number of SEO job openings are in New York and San Francisco, with Boston at #5, Austin at #11 and my own Minneapolis at #12. (Conductor Blog)

3 SEM Facts

46. Think AdWords isn’t important? For “commercial” searches on Google, actual organic links can take up less than 20% of the screen real estate and links. (Founder’s Blog)

47. Agencies do SEM better. 20% of respondents working with agencies for PPC report being highly satisfied with their program’s performance, compared to 15% who manage pay-per-click programs in-house. (Marketing Charts).

48. Search (paid and organic) is a leading driver of new customer sales, while email matters most for repeat business. Social media isn’t a significant driver of either type of sale, though of course it is vital for support SEO, brand image (which leads to higher PPC click-through rates) and customer service. (Marketing Pilgrim)

3 Email Marketing Stats

49. There are 62 billion emails sent every day. The average worker receives 112 emails and spends 28 of his or her time on email each day. (Visual.ly)

50. Email is the most common lead gen tactic, used by 81% of marketers. (MarketingSherpa)

51. SEO drives traffic, but email drives conversions. While 43% of marketers say that organic search drives the greatest volume of traffic to their websites, only 29% say that traffic converts at the highest rate. On the other hand, though just 22% cite email as their largest web traffic generator, 25% say those visits convert at the highest rate. (MarketingSherpa)

7 Business Blogging Stats and Facts

52. Just 139 of the Fortune 500 corporations maintain public-facing blogs, only 29 more than in 2009. (e-Strategy Trends)

53. Only 185 of the Inc. 500 (fastest-growing companies) had a blog in 2011, down from 250 firms in 2010, despite the fact that 92% of all companies with blogs say it has been successful for their business. (e-Strategy Trends)

54. Meanwhile, 55% of small businesses have a blog. (Leaders West)

55. On average, companies that publish 15 or more blog articles per month generate five times more Web traffic than companies that don’t blog at all, and those that blog 9-15 times per month generate three times more traffic than companies that don’t maintain blogs. (MarketingProfs)

56. Companies that publish new blog posts just 1-2 times per month generate 70% more leads than companies that don’t blog at all. (MarketingProfs)

57. 57% of companies that blog have acquired a customer through their blogs. (Polaris B)

58. Blogs are the core of social media marketing. Among companies that use social media in their marketing efforts, 59% rank their company blog as critical or important to their business, higher than any other social sharing site or network. (Heidi Cohen)

8 Facebook Facts and Statistics

59. There are one billion posts per day made on Facebook. The average user spends nearly 7 hours per month on the social networking site, and one out of every five pageviews on the Internet is on…Facebook. (Visual.ly)

60. Three out of four American moms use Facebook. (iMedia Connection)

61. Facebook accounts for one out of every five pageviews on the Internet. It’s used by more than half of all people in North America, more than a third of all citizens in Australia and New Zealand, and more than a quarter of the population in Europe. (iMedia Connection)

62. Of Facebook’s one billion-plus users, 57% access the site at least occasionally from mobile devices. The most popular operating systems for mobile Facebook access are iOS (26%) and Android (21%). (Jeff Bullas)

63. Among Facebook marketers, 64% have used Facebook Events to inform fans about online or offline events, making this a far more widespread tool than display ads and targeted posts. (Marketing Charts)

64. 90% of small businesses are on Facebook, and roughly two-thirds post more than once per week. (Leaders West)

65. All of the Ad Age Top 100 Advertisers have now established Facebook pages for their brands. (WordPress Hosting SEO)

66. Facebook grew 18% in 2012 and accounted for more than half of all social content sharing. (AddThis Blog)

6 Twitter Stats

67. There are 400 million tweets per day on Twitter. A million new Twitter accounts are opened each day. The average user spends nearly and hour and a half on the site each month. (Visual.ly)

68. Twitter now has more than 500 million users worldwide, including more than 100 million in the U.S. Twitter’s second-largest user base is in Brazil. (Jeff Bullas)

69. Almost two-thirds (64%) of Twitter access is via Twitter.com (web access), while 16% of use is mobile and 10% is via Twitter clients like HootSuite and TweetDeck. (Jeff Bullas)

70. What’s the most popular marketing tactic on Twitter? 30% of marketers report using hashtags tied to specific campaigns, while 26% use Promoted Tweets. (Marketing Charts)

71. Twitter grew 55% in 2012 and accounted for 15% of all social content sharing. (AddThis Blog)

72. 42% of companies have acquired at least one customer through Twitter. (Polaris B)

6 LinkedIn Facts

73. LinkedIn has more than 150 million users, but less than 20% have reached the level of having 500 or more first-degree connections, and only 8% are using the paid premium version. (Jeff Bullas)

74. Also, only 51% of LinkedIn users have “complete” profiles, and just 52% spend two hours or more per week on the site. (Jeff Bullas)

75. The most popular use of LinkedIn is for researching people and companies (77%). Other popular uses include building relationships with industry influencers (50%), finding job opportunities (38%) and increasing brand recognition in the marketplace (37%). Just 28% of companies say they have generated identifiable business opportunities on the site. (Jeff Bullas)

76. The most popular marketing tactics on LinkedIn are the use of LinkedIn groups (cited by 33% of marketers) followed distantly by InMail messaging (14%), LinkedIn Events (13%) and LinkedIn ads (10%). (Marketing Charts)

77. LinkedIn is the most powerful social site for driving B2B sales. Pinterest is most valuable for driving B2C business. (Heidi Cohen)

78. Want to connect with top-level executives? 26% of Fortune 500 CEOs are on LinkedIn. Less than 8% are on Facebook. o% use Pinterest. (Heidi Cohen)

3 Google+ Statistics

79. Google+ has more than 400 million users, with 100 million accessing the site each month. The typical user is a male in his late 20s with a technical position or background. (Jeff Bullas)

80. Google+ users tend to be more technical than Facebook users. The top three brands on Google+ are Android, Mashable, and Chrome; on Facebook, the three most popular brands are Coca-Cola, Disney, and Starbucks. (Jeff Bullas)

81. 12 of the top 15 interest categories on Pinterest are related to commerce, including jewelry and accessories (#1), flowers and gifts (#2), food (#4), books (#7), travel (#8), apparel (#11), home furnishings (#14) and toys (#15). (Jeff Bullas)

3 Pinterest Facts

82. Mothers are 61% more likely to use Pinterest than the average American. Pinterest ranks as the #1 “family and lifestyle site” for moms – ahead of Disney Online. (iMedia Connection)

83. Pinterest’s user base is 79% female, and Apple-centric. The iPad is the most device for mobile access (55%), while an additional 17% of mobile access is through the iPhone. (Jeff Bullas)

84. Pinterest grew an astounding 379,599% in 2012. The biggest driver of growth was pins of food photos. (AddThis Blog)

6 B2B Marketing Facts and Stats

85. 9 out of 10 B2B buyers say when they are ready to make a purchase, they will find a vendor. 81% use search, 59% look for peer recommendations, and 41% read content from “thought leaders.” (Earnest Agency)

86. For purchases over $10,000, 70% of buyers review four or more pieces of content before making a decision. (That actually sounds quite low, doesn’t it?) The most popular type of content: white papers, read by 88% of buyers. (Earnest Agency)

87. Traditional marketing tactics are not dead. 74% of B2B marketers rate direct mail as very effective, while 72% say the same about live events and 71% call email marketing critical. (Earnest Agency)

88. 75% of B2B marketers use SEO for lead generation. 72% utilize social media, and 54% have embraced content marketing, while just 15% of marketers say they are using mobile marketing. (MarketingSherpa)

89. B2B marketers are spending more on content marketing. “On average, B2B content marketers are spending 33% of their marketing budgets on content marketing (in 2012), up from 26% (in 2011, and) 54% plan to increase content marketing spending next year.” (MarketingProfs)

90. The most popular B2B content marketing tactics are the use of social media other than blogs (used by 87% of B2B marketers), articles on their own websites (83%), eNewsletters (78%) and blogs (77%), followed by case studies, videos and externally published articles, all at about 70%. On the other end of the scale is gamification, used by just 11% of B2B marketers. (MarketingProfs)

3 Video Marketing Statistics

91. 75% of senior executives watch videos on business sites every week. 65% go on to visit a vendor’s website after watching a video. (Earnest Agency)

92. 71% of American Internet users watch online videos; 28% do so on a daily basis. (iMedia Connection)

93. YouTube is the world’s second largest social media site, with 800 million unique monthly visitors, and the second largest search engine. (Heidi Cohen)

6 Mobile Marketing Stats and Facts

94. Of the four billion mobile phones in use globally, more than a quarter (27%) are smartphones. Half of all local searches are performed on mobile devices. (iMedia Connection)

95. The top online uses of mobile phones are gaming (61% of users do this), checking the weather (55%), maps and search (50%) and social networking (49%). (iMedia Connection)

96. Despite the growing popularity of local mobile search and social activity, only 3% of U.S. small businesses use geolocation services. (eMarketer)

97. Mobile marketing is “becoming mainstream” for small to midsized businesses (SMBs). 18% said they were “very likely” and 31% “somewhat likely” to incorporate mobile elements in their advertising and marketing efforts to reach potential customers in the coming year. Meanwhile, 7 in 10 plan to either maintain or increase spending in this area (Marketing Charts)

98. Is mobile marketing effective for lead generation? The jury is still out. In a recent survey, 15% of marketers rated mobile marketing as “very effective” for lead gen while an identical share said mobile is not effective. (B2B Lead Blog)

99. 30% of all the time spent on mobile device use is on social networks. (MediaPost)

And Finally, 3 Other Miscellaneous Online Marketing Stats

100. While 45% of all B2B businesses have now implemented some type of marketing automation software, less than 20% of SMBs have done so. However, smaller companies that have embraced marketing process automation are nearly 50% more likely to report revenue growth above plan than those that haven’t. (MediaPost)

101. Half of all employed people in the U.S. have been with their current employer for less than five years. The average tenure for all employees is 4.6 years. Professionals in architecture and engineering (7 years) and management (6.3 years) tend to have the longest tenures, while occupations with the shortest tenures include food service (2.3 years) and sales (3.4 years). (westXdesigns)

102. Social media crisis management in crisis? More than 10% of companies report they will not take any action to respond to a damaging article or social media post. Worse, less than two-thirds of B2C executives and just 43% of B2B leaders even believe their companies could respond to a negative post within 24 hours. (The Backup List)

 

Post to Twitter

17 Tragically Common Copywriting Mistakes to Avoid

With more than 80% of b2b and high-value consumer purchasing decisions now starting with online research, content marketing is hot. Consider:

Buyers want content. According to J-P De Clerck, “87% of surveyed buyers look for advice before buying a product, service or solution. The first source when doing so: Web searches. With 71% of respondents who look for information, searches are by far the main source of information. Search and content are by definition very integrated.”

Marketers are producing more content. Recent research from MarketingProfs found:

  • • On average, B2B content marketers are spending 33% of their marketing budgets on content marketing, up from 26% last year.
  • • 54% plan to increase content marketing spending next year.
  • • All content tactics are being used more frequently than they were last year, with the use of research reports, videos, and mobile content having increased the most.

Content is replacing advertising. Writing in Forbes, Michael Brenner explains how content (which buyers seek out) is more valuable than advertising (which many buyers ignore or even try to avoid): “Great content and engaging stories help your company’s content get found and get shared. When great content is shared, commented on or liked, it is no longer your content alone. It is their content. And user-generated content is trusted more than advertising or promotion.”

As content proliferates, standing out becomes more difficult. It requires originality, deep understanding of customer needs and motivations, and the cultivation of a network to share and amplify it. But most fundamentally, it has to flow well,  to follow the basic rules of spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Faced with an overwhelming array of choices, buyers first prune their lists of any obvious “no” options. Vendors can be excluded out of hand for many possible reasons: their prices are too high, they lack expertise in the buyer’s industry, their products are missing critical features, or…their content is sloppy. It’s similar to a human resources manager reviewing a hundred resumes for a single open position: those with spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors get tossed in the first review cycle.

How to Write Good - Amusing but HelpfulThough marketing content can come in a wide variety of forms—text, video, podcasts, infographics, animation—virtually all content starts with writing. Poor writing leads to ineffective content; content that doesn’t get shared, doesn’t get ranked, doesn’t get (widely) read, and doesn’t compel action.

So, the basis of producing interesting, shareable, actionable content is solid writing. To help make your content “must read” rather than “just toss,” avoid these xx unfortunate, grating and all-too-common writing mistakes.

1. “A lot of.” Granted, there are times when it’s okay to use this phrase (and a lot of people would agree with that), but in general, it’s abused. Avoid unless it’s really the best fit in context. It’s informal and imprecise, e.g., “a lot of marketers are embracing content marketing.” That’s true, but not helpful. Is 100 “a lot” of marketers? Is 72%? Or better yet, 72% of b2b marketers in small to midsized companies?

2. “Things.” Ugh. This is bad—rarely do we write about “things.” Features, attributes, concepts, attitudes, perspectives, capabilities, options, topics, specifications, qualities, and benefits yes, but “things” no. This is particularly awful when combined with #1 above. Which is better? “A lot of things make XYZ software stand out” or “Several unique features make XYZ software stand out.”

3. “Good.” Double ugh. This is one of the most overused words in the English language, despite a wealth of superior and more precise synonyms. A “good” meal may be delicious, tasty, scrumptious, satisfying, delightful, lip-smacking, or even extraordinary. A “good” writer may be brilliant, skilled, creative, original, capable, expert, talented, accomplished, prodigious, adroit, adept, widely published, often-quoted…you get the idea.

4. Misuse of “over” vs. “more than.” This one is somewhat subjective and tricky, but one general rule of thumb is to use “more than” before numbers and “over” before units, e.g., “We got more than 12 inches of snow” but “we got over a foot of snow.” Grammar Girl does an excellent job of describing the subtleties in this word choice:

“The AP Stylebook encourages you to look at your particular sentence and then pick whichever phrase sounds best…You always want to evaluate your phrasing for each specific sentence you’re writing…The AP guide suggests that ‘She is over 30′ sounds better than ‘She is more than 30.’ The AP’s second example is ‘Their salaries went up more than $20 a week.’ I do think it would sound odd to say ‘Their salaries went up over $20 a week.’ I would definitely pick ‘more than’ in that sentence. If you choose to agree with the majority of the style pros and use more than and over interchangeably, always read over your work and make sure the phrase you’ve chosen sounds right in your particular sentence…There’s ‘more than one opinion’ about this. I do think it would have sounded odd if I’d said, ‘There’s over one opinion.’ Don’t you agree?”

5. Misuse of hard / difficult / challenging. As the Oxford English Dictionary makes clear, as with “over” and “more than” above, the use of “hard,” “difficult” and “challenging” is subjective and depends to a degree upon author preference and which word sounds best in a given context. There are no hard and fast rules (though one would never speak of “difficult and fast” or “challenging and fast” rules).

Generally, “hard” is used with physical actions (e.g., “it’s hard to move a pile of rocks by hand”), “difficult” implies trickiness (“maneuvering a large boat through a narrow waterway is difficult”) and “challenging” is used in intellectual and sporting situations (“it’s challenging to out-coach Bill Belichick”). Ultimately though, this word choice requires judgment; it can be hard, difficult or challenging to select the right word at times.

6. Misuse or non-use of adjectives. Too often, writers skip needed adjectives or use fluffy, pointless descriptors in place of meaningful words. “XYZ provides the best service in the industry” is an example of both sins. First, “best” in this case is worthless puffery. Now, if XYZ won a Best Customer Service award from a recognized organization, then by all means, let people know! Otherwise, skip the self aggrandizement.

Second, the sentence above begs the question: the best what service? Dental service? Excavation service? Software implementation service? Prospective customers actually search for phrases like those, so including the most specific adjective is essential for search optimization. But no visitor worth attracting ever searches for “the best service.”

7. Incorrect subject/verb agreement. Skilled writers knows what this means. See the problem?

8. Improper use of single vs. double quotation marks. “Quotes are always set within double quotation marks.” Single quotation marks are used only for quotes within quotes, e.g., as Chris Smith wrote, “in my interview with Pat Jones, Pat insisted ‘Capable writers understand the proper use of quotation marks.’ I think that’s true.”

9. Mistaking your vs. you’re. This is elementary English, yet it’s disturbing how often the wrong term is used in place of the other. “Your” is possessive, “you’re” is a contraction for “you are.” You’re going to look like an idiot if your writing includes this mistake.

10. Improper hyphenation. Hyphenation is another practice that’s not that difficult but nevertheless often done wrong. Hyphenate terms when using them as adjectives (“she’s attending a high-level meeting”) but not when using them at nouns (“he is performing at a high level”).

11. Mixing first-, second-, and third-person voice. No writer should mix voices, writing from different perspectives within one piece. We don’t often use first-person voice on this blog. You should be consistent in your writing.

12. Using passive vs active voice. Is it improper for one to employ the passive voice, needlessly adding words to a sentence? Yes, so use the active voice.

13. Incorrectly spelling out (or not spelling out) numbers. Spell out numbers less than 10 (one, two,  three) but use numerals for larger numbers (39, 139, 1,339, etc.).

14. Getting “you and me” vs. “you and I” wrong. This is another area of common confusion that should be easy. When in doubt,  leave out the “you” and then see whether “I” or “me” fits the sentence. “You and I should go to the park” is correct because “I should go to the park” is correct. “She sent it to you and me” is right because otherwise she would have sent it to me, not sent it to I.

15. Improper use of “who” vs. “whom.” So many people find this situation so confusing that the use of “whom” is rapidly disappearing. Shame though, as it’s a perfectly fine word, and the rules for using “whom” vs. “who” are in general no more complex than those for the proper use of “you and me” versus “you and I” above.

In this case, determine whether the sentence in question would make more sense using he/she versus him/her. For example, “To whom should I mail this?” (I should mail it to him.) “Who will sign for the package?” (She will sign for it.)

16. The unnecessary use of “that.” Unnecessary “that”—let me assure you that we don’t make this mistake. Necessary “that”—we don’t use this word improperly because that would be annoying.

17. Repetitive word usage. Consider the following two examples:

Facebook is on a roll. Facebook now has more than one billion users. It’s hard to imagine any competitor overtaking Facebook.

Facebook is on a roll. The world’s largest social network now has more than one billion users. It’s hard to imagine any competitor overtaking Mark Zuckerberg’s creation.

Synonyms are a writer’s (and reader’s) friend. Use them. Sometimes it requires a bit of creativity, other times it’s as simple as checking thesaurus.com, which should be a prominent bookmark in every writer’s browser.

Proper writing alone won’t win every battle for business or search engine rank, but shoddy, sloppily produced clients will often guarantee a loss. Avoiding the sometimes simple but too-common mistakes above is a baseline for content marketing success.

For an expanded and far more amusing list of common writing mistakes to avoid, check out How to Write Good. Among their words of wisdom:

  • • Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
  • • If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
  • • And always be sure to finish what

Post to Twitter

79 Remarkable Social Media Marketing Facts and Statistics for 2012

Note: a slightly shorter version of this compilation was recently published as a guest post on Jeff Bullas’ blog.

Social media and inbound marketing techniques have been a boon for marketers. Not only do leads generated through social and content marketing cost half as much as traditional outbound-generated leads (see below), they also close at higher rate (again, see below).

Social Media Marketing Facts and Statistics 2012And social media isn’t just about lead generation of course. While prospective buyers are using search and social to research products and services before making purchase decisions, marketers and PR professionals can use those same tools to research buyer wants and needs. And their competition. And…even social media itself.

Which brings us to this post. Wondering which social network is most effective at generating b2b leads? What marketing technique generates leads with the highest close ratio? What the best day of the week is for Facebook posting? Which U.S. city produces the largest share of “pins”on Pinterest?

Find the answers to those questions and many, many more in this collection of 72 fascinating social media marketing facts and stats for 2012.

Social Media / Social Networking

1. The average midsize or large company (1000 employees or more) has 178 “social media assets” (Twitter handles, employee blogs, etc.)–yet only 25% of companies offer social business training to their employees. (Marketingeasy)

2. B2b marketers believe social media is critical to organic search success. Marketers rate social media as the second-most imporant factor (64%) in search, behind only strong content (82%). (BtoB Magazine)

3. Although Facebook is the most important social media lead generation tool for b2c marketers (with 77% saying they had had acquired a customer through Facebook, compared to 60% for a company blog), among B2B companies, LinkedIn was the most effective, with 65% having acquired a customer through the professional network, followed by company blogs (60%), Facebook (43%), and Twitter (40%). (Marketing Charts)

4. The best way to “go viral” is to engage millions of users, each of whom share through small networks. “Online sharing, even at viral scale, takes place through many small groups, not via the single status post or tweet of a few influencers…Content goes viral when it spreads beyond a particular sphere of influence and spreads across the social web via ordinarily people sharing with their friends…the median ratio of Facebook views to shares (is) merely 9-to-1. This means that for every Facebook share, only nine people visited the story. Even the largest stories on Facebook are the product of lots of intimate sharing—not one person sharing and hundreds of thousands of people clicking.” (Ad Age)

5. LinkedIn generates more leads for b2b companies than Facebook, Twitter or blogs. Yet only 47% of b2b marketers say they are actively using LinkedIn vs. 90% on Facebook. (Social Media B2B)

6. One-third of global b2b buyers use social media to engage with their vendors, and 75% expect to use social media in future purchases processes. (Social Media B2B)

7. “Best in class” b2b companies are significantly more likely than average firms to integrate their social media efforts with their email marketing (65% vs. 51%), SEO (61% vs. 49%) and webinars (47% vs. 31%). (MarketingProfs)

8. As for “best in class” practices, 51% of best-in-Class companies use website social sharing tools, compared to 36% of average firms while 49% use keyword-based social media monitoring, compared with 39% of their more average peers. (MarketingProfs)

9. Top executives need to be involved in social media. 77% of buyers say they are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media. 94% said C-suite social media participation enhances a brand image. And 82% of employees say they trust a company more when the CEO and leadership team communicate via social media. (eMarketer)

10. 70% of marketers plan to increase the number of different social platforms they use in 2012. (ClickZ)

User Experience

Want more registrations on your website? Consider offering a social login (i.e., the ability for visitors to register at and log in to your site using one of their existing social network profiles rather than creating a new login):

11. 86% of people say they are bothered by the need to create new accounts at websites. (MarketingSherpa)

12. 77% responded that social login is “a good solution that should be offered.” (MarketingSherpa)

13. 21% of “best in class” companies use social sign-in, compared to 8% of average-performing firms. (MarketingProfs)

Lead Nurturing

14. Only 27% of B2B leads are sales-ready when first generated. This makes lead nurturing essential for capitalizing on the other 73%. But 65% of B2B marketers have not established lead nurturing campaigns. (MarketingSherpa)

15. SEO-driven leads have the highest lead-to-close rate (15%) among common lead generation sources. Paid search leads average a 7% rate, while outbound marketing leads (e.g., direct mail, telemarketing) close at a 2% rate. (Econsultancy)

Facebook

16. B2C Facebook interaction is 30% higher than average on Sundays. (Mindjumpers)

17. Though nearly every large charity and university in America has a Facebook presence, less than 60% of the Fortune 500 do. (Mindjumpers)

18. 95% of Facebook wall posts are not answered by brands. (Mindjumpers)

19. Though Facebook continues to add users, U.S. members are becoming less active there. Between mid-2009 and late 2011, “messaging friends declined 12%, searching for new contacts fell 17% and joining a group of Facebook users dropped 19% in the U.S.” (MediaPost)

20. 70% of local businesses use Facebook.The U.S. has the largest number of Facebook users. The country with the second-largest Facebook population: Indonesia.  (Jeff Bullas)

21. Facebook is the leading source of referred social media traffic to websites, at 26%. Twitter is second at 3.6%. (Pooky Shares)

22. Facebook marketing is a specialized skill. For those looking to outsource this function to a professional consultant, expect to pay $500-$1,500 for initial page setup and anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 per month for ongoing content management and curation. (Mack Collier)

23. 52% of consumers say they have stopped following a brand on Facebook because the information it posted had become “too repetitive and boring.” (SMI)

Twitter

24. There are now roughly 100 million active Twitter users (those who log in at least once per day). (Mindjumpers)

25. 34% of marketers have generated leads using Twitter, and 20% have closed deals. (Mindjumpers)

26. 40% of Twitter users rarely post anything but primarily consume content there. 55% access Twitter via a mobile device. (Mindjumpers)

27. 92% of retweets are based on “interesting content.” Only 26% are due to inclusion of “please RT!” in the tweet. (Mindjumpers)

28. Twitter now has 200 million users, including 8% of the U.S. population. About one-quarter of all users are considered “extremely active,” checking in several times per day. (Jeff Bullas)

29. 55% of all Twitter users use the service to share links to news stories, and 53% retweet others. (Jeff Bullas)

30. 77 of the world’s 100 largest companies maintain a corporate Twitter account. But media outlets are the most active users. (Jeff Bullas)

31. Meanwhile, 62% of the Fortune 500 have an active Twitter account. (Business Insider)

32. Most professional consultants charge $500-$1,000 to set up a Twitter account (optimized bio, custom background etc.) and $500-$1,500 per month for ongoing management (dependent on level of activity and amount of content). (Mack Collier)

Google and Google+

33. Google’s search engine is used by 85% of global Internet users every month. (MediaPost)

34. Google+ is expected to reach 400 million users by the end of 2012. It’s membership is 63% male, with the largest cohort in their mid-20s. While the largest block of users by country are in the U.S., the second largest is India. However, only 17% of users are considered “active.” (Jeff Bullas)

35. Google+ is the tool that most marketers (70%) say they want to learn more about in 2012, following by blogging (cited by 59%). (ClickZ)

Pinterest

36. The image-based social network has grown 4,000% in the past six months, now boasts more than 4 million users, and keeps those users engaged: the average Pinterest user spends nearly an hour-and-a-half per month on the site, behind only Facebook and Tumblr. (Jeff Bullas)

37. 83% of Pinterest users are women. In the U.S., the most popular categories are Fashion, Desserts, Clothes and Birthdays. (MediaPost)

38. But in the U.K., the five most popular topics on Pinterest are Venture Capital, Blogging Resources, Crafts, Web Analytics and SEO/Marketing. (Pooky Shares)

39. 22% of all pins come from New York, followed by Los Angeles at 15%. A higher percentage come from Minneapolis (10%) than from San Francisco (8%)–even though Pinterest is based in Palo Alto. (MediaPost)

40. Pinterest is virtually tied with Twitter (at 3.6%) for the amount of referred social traffic it sends to websites. (Pooky Shares)

Tumblr

41. Tumblr grew 900% in 2011 and now has 90 million users. However, just 2% of members account for more than 40% of all traffic. (Jeff Bullas)

42. The five most popular tags for Tumblr posts are GIF, LOL, Fashion, Art and Vintage. The U.S. has the largest share of users, followed by Brazil. (Jeff Bullas)

Mobile Marketing

43. 4.8 billion people now own mobile phones. Just 4.2 billion own a toothbrush. (Mindjumpers)

44. One-third of smartphones globally use the Android OS. (MediaPost)

45. The number of tablets in use in the U.S. rose from 34 million in 2011 to 55 million this year and is expected to reach 108 million by 2015. (TMGmedia)

46. Mobile commerce is projected to ten-fold from 2010 ($3 billion) to 2016 ($31 billion). (TMGmedia)

47. While three-quarters of b2b marketers are aware of the growing importance of mobile devices, only 23% rate mobile search as either “important” or “critical” to their search marketing objectives. (BtoB Magazine)

48. Just 16% of b2b marketers are producing mobile-specific content as part of their content marketing efforts. (Smart Insights)

49. Although the percentage of visits to b2b websites coming from smart phones has increased nearly 50% in the past year, they still represent only about 1 out of every 24 sites visits on average. (Webbiquity)

SEO and Search Marketing

50. 57% of B2B marketers say SEO has the biggest impact on their lead generation goals. (Mindjumpers)

51. Though half of all b2b digital spending is focused on search and most websites are organically optimized, only 65% of b2b marketers have ever used pay-per-click advertising. (BtoB Magazine)

52. Search provides the highest quality leads. According to research by HubSpot, “SEO leads have a 15% close rate, on par with the close rate for direct traffic, and ahead of referrals (9%), paid search (7%), social media (4%), and outbound leads (2%).” (Marketing Charts)

Blogging

53. Social media sites and blogs reach 80% of all U.S. internet users. (Mindjumpers)

54. Social networks and blogs account for 23% of all time spent online — twice as much as gaming. (Mindjumpers)

55. “Increased frequency of blogging correlates with increased customer acquisition, according to…HubSpot. 92% of of blog users who posted multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog, a figure that decreased to 66% for those who blogged monthly and 43% for those who posted less than monthly.” (Marketing Charts)

56. The most popular frequency for blog posting is weekly (60% of bloggers). Just 10% post daily. (Marketing Charts)

57. Blogs are the single most important inbound marketing tool. “When asked to rank the importance of the services they use, 25% of users rated their company blog as critical to their business, while a further 56% considered them either important (34%) or useful (22%)” for a total of 81%. (Marketing Charts)

58. B2B companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month on average than non-blogging firms. (Social Media B2B)

59. For those looking to outsource, a professional consultant will generally charge $1,000-$3,000 for setting up a blog, $1,000-$3,000 per month for ongoing content development/editing, and ballpark of $200 for a single guest post. (Mack Collier)

60. The average budget spent on company blogs and social media has nearly doubled in the last two years, and two-thirds of marketers say their company blog is “critical” or “important” to their business, since 57% of businesses have acquired a customer through their company blog. (Business2Community)

61. Only 23% of the Fortune 500 (largest companies) maintained a blog in 2011, while 37% of the Inc. 500 (fastest-growing companies) did so. (Business Insider)

Video and SlideShare

62. 52% of b2b marketers use video as part of their content marketing mix. (Smart Insights)

63. Video production costs vary widely, depending on length, quality, type of content and other factors. High-end animated videos can cost $20,000-$30,000, while simpler interview-type videos can be under $1,000. Common 2- to 3-minute videos with a mix of live action and simple animation typically cost $2,000-$5,000. (Mack Collier)

64. SlideShare draws 60 million visitors per month; but most importantly for b2b marketers, it attracts 3X more traffic from business owners than any other social media site. (Jeff Bullas)

Social Demographics

65. On social networking sites, men and women are about equally willing to share their real names (both about 87%), political and religious affiliation, and the brands they like (~77%), but men are far more likely than women to share their physical address (11% vs. 4%), their current location (35% vs. 20%), their phone number 15% vs. 4%), and their income level (16% vs. 5%). (AllTwitter)

66. Contrary to what you’ve probably been told, longer format video may actually drive higher engagement: “different types of content yield different sharing behaviors. Breaking down video behavior within StumbleUpon, videos viewed between two to three minutes found a spike in sharing out to social media, whereas videos viewed beyond four minutes see direct shares increase by five times. Longer, arguably more involved, content may drive viewers to more intimate sharing routes.” (Ad Age)

Inbound and Content Marketing

67. 90% of b2b marketers do some form of content marketing. 26% of b2b marketing budgets are invested in content, and 60% of b2b marketers say they plan to spend more on content marketing in the coming year. (Smart Insights)

68. The most popular content marketing tactics used by b2b marketers are article posting (used by 79% of b2b marketers), social media excluding blogs (74%), blogs (65%) and enewsletters (63%). Just 10% use virtual conferences. (Smart Insights)

69. The average cost to generate a lead through inbound marketing ($143) is about half the average for outbound marketing ($373). (Econsultancy)

70. Small businesses, on average, spend twice the share of their lead generation budget (43%) on inbound marketing as do large companies (21%). Small organiations spend more than twice as much on social media and 3X as much on blogging as their larger counterparts, while big businesses spend three times as much on trade shows and nearly twice the share of their budget on direct mail as do smaller firms. (Econsultancy)

71. More is (often at least) better. Businesses with 40+ different landing pages/offers generate 10X more leads than those with five or fewer landing pages, and those with 200 or more total blog posts generate 3.5X more leads than those whose blogs have 20 or fewer posts. (Econsultancy)

72. 84% of b2b companies are using some form of social media marketing. However, “best in class” companies generate over 3X their share of all leads (17% vs. 5%) from social media as do average performing companies. (MarketingProfs)

73. 90% of b2b marketers are doing some form of content marketing, and b2b marketers spend on average 26% of their marketing budgets on content. The most effective content marketers spend twice as much as their less effective peers on content development, and consider buying stage when developing content. (B2B Marketing Insider)

74. It shouldn’t be a surprise, but content has to be good in order to be effective. B2b buyers say that less than half of vendor content is useful–and vendors who produce such low-value content are 27% less likely to be considered and 40% less likely to win the business. “Good” content is concise, entertaining (includes stories), more educational than promotional, and is contextually personalized. (B2B Marketing Insider)

75. 59% of marketers plan to increase their frequency of content publishing this year. (ClickZ)

76. Why content marketing matters: 44% of traditional outbound direct mail is never opened, which is a waste of budget, paper and postage. 86% of people now skip through television commercials with a DVR. And 84% of 25 to 34 year olds have exited a favorite website because of an irrelevant or intrusive ad. (Business2Community)

Media and Online Advertising

77. Most “national” newspapers are still quite regional: the Chicago Tribune gets socially shared at above average levels only in Illinois, the Washington Post only in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland, and the New York Times only in a clump of northeastern states and Hawaii (though the Wall Street Journal is very popular in Arizona). Fox News is most popular in the southeastern U.S. plus Nevada and Alaska, while the Huffington Compost is widely share along the Interstate 35 corridor (Minnesota to Texas), Florida, Oregon, Maine and the rustbelt. (Forbes)

78. Online CPM rates have little correlation with actual advertiser value delivered. Nearly one-third of all display ads are never seen (defined as 50% of the pixels in view for at least one second). But contrary to popular belief, “below the fold” ads don’t necessarily have lower impression rates than those placed high on the page. (MediaPost)

79. Leaderboard (728 x 90 pixels) and medium rectangle (300 x 250) ad sizes have the highest view-in rates. Coupon and directory sites have the highest ad view rates, both over 80%. In contrast, a sponsor’s ads had just a 27% likelihood of being seen on pet-oriented sites. (MediaPost)

Post to Twitter

Riding the Social Media Struggle Bus? You’re Not Alone

Recent research from MarketingProfs shows that 84% of B2B companies use social media marketing in some form, and the figure is likely higher for B2C firms. But that’s a bit like saying that most Americans exercise regularly; it’s probably true, but there is a big difference between walking the dog around the block a couple of times per week and training for a triathlon.

Social medis can be a struggle

Image credit: The Far Side

And just as there are significant differences in the results one will obtain from an intense training regimen vs. the occasional stroll, the MarketingProfs study points out that the “best in class” B2B social media performers are producing more than three times the number of leads from this channel than are “laggard” firms. In fact, another recent study from HubSpot reveals that 63% of B2B companies aren’t generating leads from social media at all.

In social media, as in physical training, it takes time to see substantial results. And so, just as it’s easy to slip off a training schedule, it can be tempting for busy marketers who aren’t seeing an immediate payback from social media efforts to neglect those efforts. This is apparent from the large number of abandoned blogs, orphaned Facebook pages, silent Twitter feeds and the like littering the social media landscape.

Twit Cleaner shows inactive followersI recently did some “spring cleaning” on my Twitter account using Twit Cleaner and was stunned—though perhaps I shouldn’t have been—to discover that hundreds of those “following” me hadn’t tweeted a thing in the past 30 days, 90 days, 180 days, even a year or more.

Billy Mitchell recently commented on this phenomenon as well, writing that “Although social media marketing continues to be a hot topic among B2B marketing professionals, a surprising number of B2B companies are (either) not planning to start, late to get started, only going through the motions with little or no results (or) have already given up.”

The good news is that, just like there’s never a bad time to start exercising (unless you’re in a body cast perhaps), there’s never a wrong time to step back, reassess, and re-launch social media marketing efforts. The first step is to take a look at your social media program and determine if you’ve got a results problem that’s really an activity problem. And understand that if that’s the case, you’re not alone.

I recently conducted a competitive analysis on behalf of a client looking at 10 companies in the IT management software market. Note that these weren’t hair salons or auto body shops or some other type of business whose core isn’t the online world; these are companies whose buyers were trading messages using now-obscure online communication protocols since before the Internet had a name, and long before the term “social media” was introduced. This is a group of companies that, although primarily SMBs, should be fluent in online and social communications.

So while certainly not a scientifically valid sample, the findings about social media use among these 10 companies are nevertheless telling:

  • • Two of the vendors’ websites have no social media buttons/icons/links at all, and three have only a limited social presence on their sites (e.g. social account links only on their Home and Contact pages).
  • • Only four of the 10 have blogs, and of those, three have had a total of four or fewer new posts in the last 60 days.
  • • Three of the companies aren’t on Twitter. Of the seven who are, three have fewer than 100 followers. Six of the seven companies tweet, on average, less than once every four days.
  • • Though nine of the 10 companies are on LinkedIn, though only three have complete, optimized company profiles and product listings. Eight companies have 50 or fewer followers.
  • • All of the companies can be found on Facebook, but only three have complete or professionally designed pages. Three others have unmanaged “community pages” which the companies don’t maintain and may not even be aware of.   Four of the 10 pages have fewer than 10 “likes.” Four have no wall posts at all, and four more have fewer than 10 posts over the last 60 days.
  • • Seven of the ten companies have no presence on Google+, and only one has a complete, optimized profile there.

Creating social successWhat should you do if your company’s social media strategy isn’t firing on all cylinders, or how do you avoid this fate if your company is just getting started in social media?The topic of social media marketing could fill a book (and has in fact, several), but here is a seven-step approach to get things moving in the right direction.

1. Research your company’s social media landscape, so you understand where your prospective buyers are congregating and active.

2. Listen to the conversation for a while before jumping in, so you get a solid sense for the tone, etiquette and group dynamics of each social venue as well the popularity of various specific discussion topics.

3. Develop content that answers the questions you see being raised. The more relevant your content is to the concerns of your prospective buyers, the more likely it is to be read and shared. In order to produce content on a regular basis without breaking the bank, find ways to re-use and re-purpose existing content (e.g. a white paper can be re-used as a presentation, a couple of blog posts and a bylined article) and spread the workload among several internal subject matter experts, so one writer becomes overwhelmed.

4. Respond to questions and engage your buyers and influencers in social media. Reach out. Interact. Build relationships. That will encourage followers to share your content and  customers to reinforce your messages.

5. Convert followers to known prospects or even customers through targeted calls to action. This is where the “R” happens in social media ROI. Any time you are able to engage prospective buyers with your content, give them an easy (but not obnoxious) way to perform a conversion action: sign up for your newsletter, subscribe to your blog, register for a webinar, download a white paper, or start a free trial. Make the action fit the content. Experiment. Keep it fresh.

6. Measure. The ultimate measure of social media success is leads or sales, but there are dozens of intermediate measures that, while not success metrics in and of themselves, are crucial for letting you know how your current efforts are working. What should you do more of, less of, or do differently? Running a social media program without metrics is like driving a car with no gauges. Not a good plan.

7. Persist. Building readership for a blog takes time. Building a significant presence on any social network takes time too. Establishing credibility, cultivating relationships, optimizing your online presence…none of this happens overnight. Stick with it. The losers are those with abandoned blogs, silent Twitter accounts, orphaned Facebook pages. Those who score in social media are often those who just keep shooting.

While most companies have now adopted social media marketing practices of some sort, many are still struggling to see the hoped-for results. If your company is in that group, you aren’t alone. Keep at it. Learn. Experiment. Measure. Tweak. Prevail.

Post to Twitter