Last Wednesday at Dreamforce, I had the chance to attend the session entitled, Delivering B2B Marketing Excellence in a Socially Connected World. Forrester research analyst, Laura Ramos led a great presentation on how B2B’s can make best use of social media to drive demand.
She started the session by stating what marketers are struggling with including their needs to:
- Improve company reputation and standing
- Understand markets and opportunities
- Keep the pipeline filled with qualified leads
- Execute under increasing financial pressures
B2B marketers have struggled to move from traditional approaches to more digital methods. However, this is changing due to the fact that the economy has forced B2B companies to adjust strategies.- moving online and optimizing in order to do more with less. Laura discussed how different types of marketing activities are better for different marketing goals. She specifically suggested the following:
- Email, search and trade shows build brand
- Email, search and direct mail generate leads
- Social media usage is nascent
For those moving to online marketing, Laura discussed the importance of Web 2.0 and social media and how these two innovations place buyers in the ‘driver’s seat.’ She also emphasized how traditional media still plays a role in marketing and how marketing charters must shift from outbound and broadcast to inbound in order to build dialogue. Finally, for those shifting to online marketing, automating customer dialogue and the flow of information is essential in order to meet the challenges discussed.
She also stressed the importance of marketing automation and/or CRM. The benefits she shared include:
- Makes scarce resources more efficient
- Helps you uncover what buyers want, how they buy, where to engage them and to help you define your “best” customers
- Keeps the dialogue going
- Lets sales carry on the conversation
As buyers move online for social interaction and make business decisions, marketers must use automation to understand what customers want. Marketers will then be able to use this data, use assets more effectively, separate buyers from lookers through dialog and close the loop with sales.
Laura summarized the session with recommendations for B2B marketers. She discussed how many marketing teams struggle to meet all demands heaped upon it and how social media has shifted the power from sellers to buyers. She believes marketing automation provides marketers with a solution to many of their problems. Automation gives marketers a better way to reach out and start a dialogue with their target audience. It also demonstrates marketing’s impact in a more socially connected world. Laura suggested starting with objectives and picking tactics and technology last. It is most important to put your Web presence at the center of your strategy.