How Social Media Can Support the Lead Management Process

Engaging customers and prospects across a variety of marketing channels isn’t necessarily difficult. But without methodically thinking through how customer interactions (regardless of channel) collectively educate, influence, and drive prospects to action, your lead management process may be doing more harm than good. And how do new and emerging channels like social media fit into the mix?

According to research from the Social Media Examiner (April 2012, n=3800) 93% of B2B marketers used social media to market their business. In fact, in a growing trend, over half of B2B respondents reported using social media for demand generation efforts.

In a complex sales cycle, social media gives buyers access to customer reviews, peers, colleagues, and competitors like never before. It’s ultimately made buyers very savvy and, at times, maybe even more knowledgeable than your own sales reps. But, social media also provides 24×7 access to real-time engagement with your brand – engagement that is highly relevant and timely given the specific needs of the prospect. The trick is, learning to tap into the benefits of social media within your lead management processes.

Social media provides a vehicle for engaging your target audience in real-time, no matter where they are in the buying or sales cycle. Therefore, it’s a good idea to blend social media engagement with different stages and processes of your lead management efforts:

Using Social Media for Lead Generation

How Social Media Can Support the Lead Management Process image iStock 000017047977XSmallHow Social Media Can Support the Lead Management ProcessIn the complex sale, content is king. Promote content assets and events via social media to drive traffic to landing pages with opt-in forms. Keep in mind, prospects will engage with content they find relevant, personal, and timely. The more relevant content is the more likely prospects and customers will share it with other like-minded individuals in their networks.

These days you can also acquire new opt-in contacts directly from social media channels. For example, social marketing software that leverages the Facebook Connect API would allow you to capture leads directly from Facebook rather than re-directing individuals to a separate landing page. What many of our clients have discovered is that the quality of data captured through these opt-in techniques is vastly superior to other channels.

Incorporate Social Media in Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is a process whereby conversational marketing platforms apply business rules to customer engagement. These rules aggregate and numerically track customer behavior over time to infer purchase intent and qualify the hottest short-term prospects. Social media could play an important role in lead scoring, in addition to website and email interactions. For instance, comments/ tweets and social sharing involving your brand could contribute to an increase in a prospect’s score.

Changes in lead scores may even be configured to trigger timely communications with prospects via social, email, mobile, or a direct conversation with sales.

Complement Lead Nurturing Campaigns with Social Media

Lead nurturing helps your organization become a trusted adviser to prospects during the buying cycle. Promote thought leadership and content assets via social media. This allows prospects to find and engage in content outside of the inbox, and increases the likelihood of content getting shared, liked, or tweeted. Social activity, such as tweets about your brand or a competitor, could also be used as a trigger for behavioral messaging on other channels.

Lastly, leverage interaction management capabilities to provide dynamic content recommendations on social and other inbound channels based on the buyer and the stage in the sales cycle. As an example, specific tabs on Facebook brand pages could be personalized in real time with relevant content assets for each known visitor.

Use Social Media to Optimize Lead Routing

After collecting social profile information from prospects, add this information to the contact record in the CRM system. This can happen as part of the lead routing process that alerts sales reps of highly qualified opportunities in CRM/SFA. This provides an additional layer of intelligence for sales and an opportunity to connect via social channels. Some companies even use triggered notifications to alert sales of key social media activity. This is common with web and email activity, but can and should be expanded to include social media interactions.

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