4 Key Steps to Socialize Data in the REAL B2B World

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My piece last week generated some valuable feedback about Big Data and how it is, for many B2B marketers, a scary beast. The problem, as I said, is caused by a common misunderstanding of the concept and overly ambitious aspirations related to Big Data. Even more so in recent times because of the lop-sided emphasis on social media and social selling. Of course, the purpose of all customer analytics data is to dive deeper into our customers’ minds but that progression has to happen one step at a time.

You have to start slow and easy, building one strong relationship at a time with your purchase influencers. There needs to be a clearly defined process for mapping social behavioural data with existing data points in your CRM. Understand also, that there is a difference between a real-life influencer and being seen as an “influencer” by some convoluted algorithmic qualification such as your Klout Score. That one really gets my goat! How is a Klout Score of 100+, for instance, going to guarantee that I will be an influential thought leader in the non-algorithmic world? It’s the quality over quantity principle again—building meaningless numbers is of no use unless you can create a real impact on the people and companies that share, follow and like you in the social networks.

Online social circles create a buzz, generate interest in your brand and help boost visibility for your products and services. While you should be monitoring this social activity, it is critical to take things further. How will you socialize all the data available to you and use it to build relationships in the real B2B world?

Here are the important steps every B2B organization must follow in order to socialize data and follow the scent of the customer.

1. Take an integrated view of data points. A common misconception is that socializing data means gathering and analyzing data from social media. However, the social networks are only one source at the front end of your customer interface. Your website analytics, email marketing, webinar participation, offline marketing events, sales meetings, phone conferences, are all valuable sources of insights about customer behaviour. With a 360° view, you can start plotting key characteristics of your ideal target audience groups and plan your lead nurturing activities accordingly. In essence, start profiling your leads carefully and don’t forget to alert sales and marketing simultaneously about updates and changes to these profiles. These individuals within your organization are the ones most likely to directly interface with your customers in the real world.

2. Enable sharing and collaboration by making benefits obvious. In the B2C world, we see this happening all the time and with good success. Individuals are happy to share travel reviews, movie and book reviews, feedback on customer service at a local restaurant, shopping tips (especially on the best deals and bargains at this time of the year!), and more. B2C brands that can stay alert and think on their feet often strike gold with this type of social sharing. With B2B buying cycles being longer and a lot more complex, it is definitely more challenging to motivate influencers and get them to share information within their social network. They have to see the obvious benefit of doing it. For example, if you engage customers through social media by asking for feedback that you will use to create the next version or upgrade of your product, that’s to their advantage. They will look forward to seeing an enhanced offering—but make sure you sound convincing enough and actually keep your word. Don’t make online promises you can’t keep in the real, offline world. Jumpstart your B2B demand generation using these tried and tested best practices.

3. Craft laser-focused key messages. When you get to that point where you have the attention of the decision maker or most important purchasing influencer, be prepared. How can socializing data help you do that? It may be mostly unorganized, random posts, feedback on forums, Tweets,comments on a third-party blog, shared updates or any other form of free-flowing social activity, but the insights you can gather can be put to very clever use. For example, if a purchasing influencer you are going to have a phone discussion with has shared a recent LinkedIn update that is relevant to your industry, you should know about it. And know enough to engage the prospect in an interesting conversation that can lead to further insights, maybe even an indicative purchasing timeline. Nobody, particularly at the decision-making rungs of an organization today, has the time for small talk. Cut to the chase, talk sense, offer value, as quickly as you can. If you think the attention span of a customer is short online, it is even less in the non-virtual, real world. Read 6 ways to simplify and grow customer engagement.

4. Enable better decision-making. Based on what you learn about your customers through social media, step up your own social activity to establish greater thought-leadership. Stop selling and start adding value! Encourage your sales and marketing teams to make every interaction customer-centric—not focusing on persuading customers to buy but helping them decide whom to buy from and why, how to compare and evaluate different vendors and offerings in the marketplace. In a nutshell, keep in mind that today’s B2B buyer does not want to be sold. Instead, buyers want help to ensure they make the right buying decision. That is what you need to demonstrate. Win customer trust and confidence by tailoring your social content to serve customers’ explicitly or implicitly stated needs for concise, accurate and perspective-based information.

Stuck with a huge, cluttered mess of Big Data? Start now to socialize it and strengthen relationships in the real world of B2B marketing. Do you have any interesting experiences to share about this? Please leave me a comment.

About the author: Louis Foong View all posts by
Louis Foong is the founder and CEO of The ALEA Group Inc, one of North America’s most innovative B2B demand generation specialists. As a thought leader with more than three decades of experience in the field, Louis guides his team and ALEA’s clients through the dynamic, evolving lead generation landscape. His astute sense of marketing and sales along with a clear vision and ability to see the “big picture” has proved beneficial to numerous organizations, both small and large. With the right advice and a slew of result-driven services, he enables clients to gain maximum return on investment for their lead generation efforts. His clients include companies in the technology, telecommunications, software, healthcare and professional services industries. Prior to starting the ALEA Group, Louis Foong has held various senior executive positions within corporate America. Today he is known and well-respected as a thought leader and pioneer in this industry. Foong is a published blogger and among the top authors on CustomerThink, a global online community of business leaders.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Louis Foong
Louis Foong is the founder and CEO of The ALEA Group Inc., one of North America's most innovative B2B demand generation specialists. With more than three decades of experience in the field, Louis is a thought leader on trends, best practices and issues concerning marketing and lead generation. Louis' astute sense of marketing and sales along with a clear vision of the evolving lead generation landscape has proved beneficial to numerous organizations, both small and large.

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