Ask any two salespeople and you’ll get two unique answers: which part of the funnel is the hardest to move leads through? For some, lead generation is the sticking point while, for others, it’s that mid-point in the funnel when the walls are narrowing, and things seem to slow down no matter how much you’re pulling from the other end.
After all, as much as we’d all like it to be, the funnel isn’t a waterslide; more often than not, a lead will dangle their legs over the edge, or, even more frustrating, wedge themselves right at that narrowest point and refuse to budge, no matter how much time you’ve invested into pushing them through.
There are plenty of ways to push leads into (and through) the funnel. That’s what successful sales is all about – being the kind of person who can keep the movement steady and prevent any unwanted blockages from ruining an otherwise strong track record. From calls-to-action to some good old-fashioned schmoozing, salespeople have plenty of tricks up their sleeves.
But that doesn’t mean they need to work alone. Their marketing team is there alongside them, perfectly placed to encourage leads through the funnel and out the other side through good social media publishing and community management. Here’s how…
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Step 1: Awareness
You want people to know you exist. No, scratch that – you need people to know you exist – without that, what have you got to build on?
Social media is perfect for this. Think of a single billboard posted along the Santa Ana Freeway – how many thousands of people (of the 220,000 that drive it every single day) will be exposed to a brand’s name, logo, and maybe a sentence (or, at the very most, two) that explains what they do. Billboards have been a big business since the introduction of roads way back when, and for good reason.
Now imagine a freeway that’s thousands of times busier than the Santa Ana Freeway – how much brands would be willing to pay for a spot on that billboard.
That highway is called social media. With billions of users worldwide – and the majority logging into their platform(s) of choice every day – a prominent position offers B2B enterprises the opportunity to see an unprecedented influx of fresh, quality leads entering the funnel. And, with the right strategy, your social media can provide key insights for scoring leads and ensuring the most qualified prospects are bumped to the top of the list.
But, despite the fact that social media is the global highway most of us are riding every day, building awareness on social media isn’t easy. There are so many brands vying for attention, and users can’t give every worthy brand the same amount of attention. In B2B, the key is to build thought leadership (which means knowing how to create engaging social media content), create advocates of your employees and customers, encourage those customers to boost your share of voice through testimonials and UGC, arrest attention and beat the scroll with plenty of high quality, original social publishing to your channels, and continually invest into community management by re-engaging leads and customers in comments, tags, and DMs.
A lot to ask for, but that’s the secret to building awareness. There’s no cheat code. Effective lead generation via social content marketing is all about the strategy. Scheduling social media posts and preparing content that will hit emerging trends on target is paramount.
Step 2: Interest
How do you usually pick out a lead that’s demonstrating a clear interest in you? Plenty of behaviors hint toward that interest, but some are a lot more definitive than others. An inquiry form submitted through your website is a lot more definitive than one or two blogs read, or even a marketing email signup.
Most of us could rank those behaviors in terms of value when asked, and integrating them into a concrete lead-scoring system is the next step.
But what about the behaviors that take place beyond your website? Given the amount of time we collectively spend on social media, there’s a strong chance plenty of your leads will be demonstrating their interest there first, before they even click-through to your site.
Integrating those behaviors into your lead scoring system is how you use a social for leads, and getting them beyond the mouth of the funnel. If, for instance, leads are interacting with your posts through comments – or, alternatively, interacting with your employee advocates or any micro influencers you’re working with – then should be considered a strong signal to your sales team that a qualified lead needs attention.
Step 3: Consideration
When customers are seriously considering working with you, then they may reach out via email, phone call, or through the company’s live chat feature or inquiry form. These interactions will all be logged in your CRM as standard, and considered a key part of your lead nurturing strategy.
But what about customers who see your brand has an active presence on social media, and choose to reach out that way? This is a vital point in the funnel – the point at which valuable, qualified leads can turn tail and go back out the top of the funnel if their experience isn’t strong enough. A smooth, competent lead conversion strategy is key, and that’s why your CRM is one of the most important resources your sales team has.
But, unless your CRM and social media management are integrated together, something will always be missing. Consideration is the moment, and the more it takes place on social media, the more companies who haven’t integrated their CRM and social media management together will miss out on that moment.
With CRM and social media integrations, you can offer a more personalized, more targeted experience to leads and customers.
Step 4: Conversion
The end is in sight – the commission almost in-hand. And yet, this can be the trickiest part of the funnel to push leads through. Most B2B buying decisions are made by more than one person, and maintaining interest as the decision moves through the various levels of the business can be a difficult point for account managers.
But simple problems are often best solved with simple solutions: the right billboard, on the right freeway, at the right time.
Social media is the best place to post about any promotions or time-sensitive deals. With the right incentives and the right CTAs, you have an alternative for pushing well-qualified leads through the end of the funnel without having to resort to multiple email follow-ups or phone calls.
With social listening, you can also stay tuned-in to any promotions or deals your competitors are running – or any other relevant insights that could prompt you to take the next step.
Making Social Media Marketing Fit with Lead Nurturing
It’s no longer revolutionary to state that social media is a powerful force for acquiring and converting leads – but, even now, plenty of businesses are caught in the trap of underutilizing their social channels at the cost of moving leads through the funnel at greater speeds and volumes.
For social media to fit seamlessly with your existing processes for lead acquisition, you need to focus on integration between core tools like your CRM, BI, marketing automations and analytics platforms, and key B2B social publishing tools, or things will never quite gel.
This needs to prove smooth for your sales and marketing teams, so centralizing it all within a fully integrative social media management suite is key. Your marketing team needs to keep on top of content production – utilizing social listening to identify key moments for lead acquisition in real-time, and putting that insight to use in a flexible social posting strategy – and your sales team needs to be kept up-to-date on those insights, interactions, and turning points.
Boost Your Strategy with the Right Platform
Using social media for lead nurturing should now be considered a fundamental part of marketing and sales. It’s time to knock down that imaginary wall between your two departments, confer on a sound model for qualifying leads, and integrate your lead nurturing strategy with your social strategy. Cross platform social media posting is the best way to get your voice out there, and get heard by the right people – and, by now, it should be considered the backbone of all strong lead nurturing campaigns.
Publishing on social media is about so much more than getting your name out there, but that value comes at a price. Without the right social media publishing tools, it’s impossible to keep up with the demands of these channels.
We’ve been working hard to establish the best social media publishing tool – one that fits not just with your marketing team, but your sales team, too. From improving conversion rates for leads to boosting thought leadership where it counts, Oktopost’s social media publishing platform has it all.