Relevance is Not an Option


Share on LinkedIn

B2B marketers are focused on lead generation more than they are on lead nurturing. The problem is that without the nurturing, generating leads is merely an exercise in trying to scrape the 10% who may be ready to buy and then dumping the rest into an afterthought category.

Likewise, 78% of marketers say that they’re ramping up their social media use this year. One of their main metrics is the number of followers, likes or RSS feed subscriptions they can amass.

The problem with all of this isn’t the number of people who click to follow, it’s how marketers are going about engaging them.

Take a look at what happens when your messaging isn’t perceived as “relevant”:

  • 49% unsubcribed to email streams they’d opted into previously
  • 43% have “unliked” a company on Facebook, 38% due to irrelevance
  • 52% have unfollowed a brand on Twitter

[See the report The Social Media Breakup]

Part of what causes this is that companies make assumptions about what customers want via a relationship on social media. A new study by IBM found that the perception gap is likely wider than you think:


The study recommends that, “Instead of asking why your company should engage in social media, ask why a customer would choose to interact with your company in a social platform. Recast social interaction strategies to focus on giving customers the value they seek and the customer intimacy will come.

In other words, whether social media, email, blogging, articles, white papers, eBooks, videos, podcasts, etc., the perceived value of the content is what you’re being judged on every time. In all cases, just showing up is not going to work.

Before you set your expectations too high, consider that many customers in this study said they chose to interact with brands that they already had a strong relationship with. Perhaps the ramp up strategy for social media should actually be customer nurturing instead of new lead generation. Or, maybe it means using it later in your lead nurturing programs to create cross-over between channels once you’ve started building that relationship.

Those are just a few things to think about.

But the gist is that we do need to think about them. We need to listen and plan before we engage. We need to decide on which goals are the most appropriate for our company to pursue, given what we hear. And we need to make sure that the experience we offer across all our channels is consistently, well, relevant.

After all, 75% of executives say they believe that reaching out to customers via social media will improve customer advocacy. Unfortunately only 38% of customers agree.

I’d say we have some work to do.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist and the CEO of her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. She helps B2B companies with complex sales create and use persona-driven content marketing strategies to turn prospects into buyers and convince customers to stay. Ardath is the author of Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results and eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. She's also an in-demand industry speaker.


  1. [img_assist|nid=258492|title=Jim Burns, Avitage|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=70|height=100]Ardath, research must begin to make distinctions in the “what and how” people are buying. The process and information requirements are very different among: 1) routine, transactional buys, 2) infrequent but complex buys, 3) first time, innovative purchases.

    How we engage will also change dramatically among: 1) new prospects, 2) people with whom we have established some level of relationship, and 3) customers.

    We need to develop supporting frameworks to help us figure this out, and to guide us as we assess content creation.

    I do believe this game is ALL about deploying relevant content for buyers. Creating and deploying relevant content can require a lot of work as this short vignette demonstrates, so it’s important to figure out how to do it right.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here