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The B2B social media book: become a marketing superstar by generating leads with blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, email, and more

Advance your B2B marketing plans with proven social media strategies

Learn social media's specific application to B2B companies and how it can be leveraged to drive leads and revenue. B2B marketers are undervalued and under appreciated in many companies. Social media and online marketing provide the right mix of rich data and reduction in marketing expenses to help transform a marketer into a superstar. The B2B Social Media Book provides B2B marketers with actionable advice on leveraging blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more, combined with key strategic imperatives that serve as the backbone of effective B2B social media strategies.
This book serves as the definitive reference for B2B marketers looking to master social media and take their career to the next level.

• Describes a methodology for generating leads using social media
• Details how to create content offers that increase conversion rates and drive leads from social media
• Offers practical advice for incorporating mobile strategies into the marketing mix
• Provides a step-by-step process for measuring the return on investment of B2B social media strategies

The B2B Social Media Book will help readers establish a strong social media marketing strategy to generate more leads, become a marketing superstar in the eye of company leaders, and most importantly, contribute to business growth.
Categories: Business\\Marketing
Year: 2012
Publisher: Wiley
Language: english
Pages: 218
ISBN 10: 1118167767
ISBN 13: 9781118214305
File: EPUB, 3.09 MB
Download (epub, 3.09 MB)

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Foreword: Ann Handley

Introduction: We Didn’t Wake Up One Day and Write This Book

Part I: The Fundamentals of Social Media Lead Generation

Chapter 1: Why B2B Is Better at Social Media Than B2C

The Marketing Status Quo

What Your Marketing Could Be

Five Reasons B2B Companies Are a Better Fit for Social Media Marketing Than B2C Companies

When Social Media Isn’t Right for B2B

B2B Social Media as an Annuity

Results Independent of Effort

Annuities Facilitate Scale

Social Media Is Only One Piece

Building a Next-Generation B2B Marketing Team

Storytelling + Data Analysis = Great Social Media Marketer

The Perfect B2B Marketing Leader

Three B2B Social Media Steps to Superstardom

Chapter 2: Five-Step Social Media Lead Generation Process

Step 1: Get the Basics Right

Step 2: Maximize Content Discovery

Step 3: Create Conversion Ubiquity

Step 4: Test and Fail Fast

Step 5: Optimize for Maximum Lead Flow

Three B2B Social Media Lead Generation Steps to Superstardom

Chapter 3: Yes, Chapter 3 in a Social Media Book Is about Search (It’s That Important!)

Evolution of Search

Context as the Foundation of Search

Four On-Page Optimization Opportunities

Authority Drives Ranking

Three Strategies for Link Building Success

Changing Authority

Social Search and B2B

Unified Keyword Strategy

Rank Is Dead

Search Isn’t Just Google

Three B2B Search Engine Optimization Steps to Superstardom

Chapter 4: How to Close the Loop of Social Media ROI

The Math of ROI

Calculating COCA

Understanding Total Lifetime Value

Social Media Is Good for COCA and TLV

Intent Is Attribution

First- versus Last-Action Attribution

Gathering the Data

Measuring to Superstardom

Integrating Marketing and Sales Databases

It Is Math, Not Hugs

Three B2B Social Media ROI Steps to Superstardom

Chapter 5: Reach: More Is Always Better

Being Targeted Isn’t Enough

Be Able to Sell Anything

Six Time-Tested Methods for Building Reach

Remarkable and Frequent Content Fuels Reach

Paying for Reach Is Okay

Nearsightedness Kills Great Marketing

Three B2B Social Media Reach Building Steps to Superstardom

Part II: Social Media Lead Generation in Action

Chapter 6: Creating Ebooks and Webinars That Prospects Love

Create Ebooks Everyone Wants

The 10-Step Blueprint to Ebook Awesomeness

Webinars Are Low-Cost Trade Shows

Five Steps for an Engaging Webinar

Marketing with Existing Sales Tools

Storytelling with Video

Three Commandments of B2B Video

To YouTube or Not to YouTube, That Is the Question

Being Interesting Is the New Black

Three B2B Social Media Content Offer Steps to Superstardom

Chapter 7: Why You Are Already a Business Blogging Expert

The Origins of Corporate Blogging

The Thinking Part of Setting Up Your Business Blog

The Content Part of Setting Up Your Blog

The Nuts and Bolts Part of Setting Up Your Blog

The Ultimate Business Blogging Checklist

Blog Content Drives Leads

Three B2B Blogging Steps to Superstardom

Chapter 8: Become a LinkedIn Lead Generation Superstar

Profiles Are Just the Beginning

Companies Can Get Recommendations Too

Business Value Through Sharing

Grouping Your Expertise: LinkedIn Groups

Answering the Questions: LinkedIn Answers

Professionals Need Advertising Too

Three B2B LinkedIn Steps to Superstardom

Chapter 9: Twitter: Leads in 140 Characters

Five Off-Platform Benefits of Twitter

Anatomy of a Tweet

Replies and Mentions


Direct Messages


Finding B2B Leads on Twitter

Setting Up a B2B Twitter Account

The 10-4-1 Rule of Social Sharing

14 Ways to Drive Leads with Content on Twitter

Five Ideas for Prospect Engagement for B2B Companies

Pushing the Twitter Envelope

Three B2B Twitter Steps to Superstardom

Chapter 10: Maximizing Facebook Lead Generation through Engagement

Profiles versus Pages

It Made Sense for Cisco to Join

Three Reasons to Create a B2B Presence on Facebook

Yes, Facebook Is for B2B

Understanding the EdgeRank Engagement Algorithm

10 Ways to Drive Leads on Facebook

Facebook Engagement Means Leads

Three B2B Social Media Facebook Steps to Superstardom

Chapter 11: E-Mail Is Social

Opt-In Is a Better Call to Action

Why Nobody Likes E-Mail

12 Ways to Get More Leads Out of E-Mail

Testing E-Mail Ideas Using Social Media

Four Ways to Socialize a Prospect’s Inbox

Social Profiles within the Inbox

Three B2B Social Media E-Mail Steps to Superstardom

Part III: Taking Social Media Lead Generation to the Next Level

Chapter 12: Stop Preparing for the Mobile Web; It’s Here

Getting Smart about Smartphones

Two Ways to Mobile-Optimize a Website

On the Go with Mobile Content

What Is the Context of Your Content?

Rethinking the Mobile Landing Page

B2B Mobile Apps Are for Suckers

Location Is for Sales, Not Marketing

Three B2B Social Media Mobile Marketing Steps to Superstardom

Chapter 13: Making Trade Shows Social

Driving Trade Show Leads with Social Media

Treat Trade Shows Like Comarketing

Five Steps to Instantly Make Your Trade Show More Social

Taking Over Physical and Digital Word of Mouth

Three Trade Show Takeaways from “DNS Is Sexy”

Using Location to Become the Best “Party” at a Trade Show

Virtual Conference

Three B2B Social Media Trade Show Steps to Superstardom

Chapter 14: Run a B2B Social Media Marketing Team Like a Start-Up

It All Starts with Passion

Where Does Passion Come From?

Knowing When to Ship

It Becomes Agile Marketing Anyway

Three Principles of Agile Marketing

When It’s Time to Look for Funding

What’s the Exit Strategy?

Three B2B Social Media Start-Up Steps to Superstardom

Chapter 15: 10 B2B Social Media Roadblocks

1. Legal Wants Full Approval—Of Everything

2. Social Network Access Is Blocked

3. Executive Support Is Lacking

4. The Customer Base Is Not Attuned to Social Media

5. But I Have a Real Job to Do

6. It Is Free, Right?

7. We Need the Right People for the Task

8. We Have Always Done It This Way

9. The Network Admin Is a Debbie Downer

10. You Don’t Know Where to Start

Three Clearing Roadblock Steps to Superstardom

Chapter 16: The Best Time Ever!

Social Media Marketing Is about Lead Generation

Be a Storyteller Who Uses Data

Second Is the First Loser

Useless Metrics

The Beginning, Not the End


About the Authors


Copyright © 2012 by Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey L. Cohen. All rights reserved.

Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.

Published simultaneously in Canada.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750–8400, fax (978) 646–8600, or on the web at Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, (201) 748–6011, fax (201) 748–6008, or online at

Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives or written sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

For general information on our other products and services or for technical support, please contact our Customer Care Department within the United States at (800) 762–2974, outside the United States at (317) 572–3993 or fax (317) 572–4002.

Wiley publishes in a variety of print and electronic formats and by print-on-demand. Some material included with standard print versions of this book may not be included in ebooks or in print-on-demand. If this book refers to media such as a CD or DVD that is not included in the version you purchased, you may download this material at For more information about Wiley products, visit

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:

Bodnar, Kipp, 1982-

The B2B social media book : become a marketing superstar by generating leads with blogging, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and more / Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey L. Cohen.

p. cm.

ISBN 978–1–118–16776–2 (cloth); ISBN 978–1–118–21378–0 (ebk);

ISBN 978–1–118–21393–3 (ebk); ISBN 978–1–118–21430–5 (ebk)

1. Internet marketing. 2. Social media—Economic aspects. 3. Online social networks—Economic aspects. I. Cohen, Jeffrey L., 1965- II. Title.

HF5415.1265.B633 2012



For my parents who taught me how to learn and teach. And for Tera, who constantly makes me better at both.


For Peter and Grace, even though you are not B2B marketers, you wound up in my book.



This is the book I’ve been waiting for.

Does that sound like a bloated overstatement? It’s not. It’s true.

Ever since social media tools started to emerge in the business world, they’ve been simultaneously pilloried and championed, scorned and lionized—depending on your point of view or the kind of business you’re in.

And that’s part of the problem, isn’t it?

Social tools and platforms have helped sell airline seats on Southwest, shoes on Zappos, T-shirts on Threadless, or laptops on But those high-profile consumer-based success stories are easily dismissed by business-to-business (B2B) types who don’t see the same link between social media and B2B sales.

How can a set of tools that puts butts in airline seats actually make a difference in the B2B world? How can a platform that racks up T-shirt sales matter to me? What works so well for one can’t possibly work for the other, right?

Wrong. This is why I started this foreword saying that this is a book I’ve been anticipating. (And I’m thrilled that it’s here and that you’re now reading it, of course.)

The truth is that social media can be as perfectly aligned to B2B sales as a ball bearing is to its groove. And here’s why.

B2B businesses don’t facilitate one-off deals like T-shirts or flip-flops. Rather, they build relationships for pricier, more complex, and longer-term sales. They educate their prospects and act as a resource to them throughout the decision process. In short, they lay the groundwork for a long-term relationship, not a one-off transaction.

In that way, as a B2B marketer you are way ahead of the curve—or at least your business-to-consumer (B2C) brethren. You are already in the business of generating leads and nurturing them. You already have a crystal clear understanding of who your customer is. You already have the kind of in-house expertise you need to create content that will resonate with your prospects because it’s what they crave. You already have a perspective and point of view that differentiates your brand.

Social media, then, is an opportunity—not a burden. Social media gives you a new way to reach more people, to hone what you already know and share it with your audience in a new way, to amplify what you already are saying, to engage and be enjoyably interesting, to be human, to have a little fun—and so to connect with your prospects and customers in a powerful way.

I didn’t use the phrase enjoyably interesting lightly in that last sentence. Creating fun and interesting content and amplifying its reach with social tools can humanize your business. It can give you an opportunity to show personality and point of view in an appealing, engaging way that sets you apart from your competitors. Since your content is often on the front lines—it’s what reaches your prospects even before your sales team—“enjoyably interesting” can be a differentiator in the B2B space. (See the stories in this book for more specifics on what I’m talking about.)

I didn’t use the word powerful in that previous paragraph lightly either. Because I believe that social media does indeed have the power to transform your B2B company in significant ways. The problem is that many companies get caught up in the tools: How can we possibly sell solder paste on Twitter? What’s the use of a Facebook group for our enterprise software solution? But the tools are merely that: tools. The real benefit—as with any other gizmo—comes from how you use it.

And that’s where this book comes in. This is the book that strips out the hype surrounding tools and platforms and shows you—with how-to blueprints and frameworks—how you can generate and nurture business leads through social media. It shows you how you can integrate social media with your existing programs. It shows you how you can use content you create to educate and nurture prospects. And—bonus!—it spells out how you, the B2B marketer, can be the hero at your company because the marketing department will be contributing to the bottom line in a tangible, measurable way.

As someone who has spent most of her career as a writer and editor for B2B publications, I’m practically allergic to content that doesn’t deliver on the how-to. I’m talking about books or articles or any kind of content that’s all strategy and theory and never quite manages to offer a blueprint or implementation framework.

Theory has its place, of course. But in my experience, businesses are more anxious to know how to do something (how to build a client base, how to create momentum, how to grow revenue) than they are interested in knowledge for the sake of pure intellectual curiosity.

Kipp Bodnar and Jeff Cohen are doers, and they deliver on their promise to show you how, not just why. I love that.

You’re going to love it, too. But more important, you’re going to use it. It’s going to matter. It’s going to make a difference. So . . . get to it!

—Ann Handley

Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs; Coauthor of Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2011);

Monthly Lead Gen columnist, Entrepreneur Magazine


We Didn’t Wake Up One Day and Write This Book

Welcome business-to-business (B2B) marketers!

The book you are reading didn’t happen overnight. We are so excited we can barely hold back the whoops and the high fives.

In a moment we will tell you how we got here, but to start we wanted to address two things.

First, for those of you who are considering buying this book, if you are happy with the status quo at work, don’t want to get noticed, and are not interested in adding to the bottom line of your B2B company, this book isn’t for you. We would rather you not buy this book than get frustrated with the possibilities of a future that you are unwilling to invest in. For the rest of you, again, welcome to the most important book you will read this year.

The second thing is to answer the question, Why? Why in the digital millennium, when everything is online, would two online guys write and distribute a traditional book about an online topic?

Even with all the changes that the social web has brought to marketers, from tools to opportunities, there is something comforting about a book. It can sit on your shelf. It can sit on your desk. You can read it at home or on a plane. You can easily share it with a colleague. You can share it with your boss. You can give a copy to your partners, vendors, and customers.

In the current work environment, traditional business books still make sense. The numbers from our publisher bear this out, but of course it is available in an electronic form as well.

How We Got Here

The story of this book starts in the fall of 2008. That’s more than three years ago. Think about that in the context of your social media planning. What was your B2B company doing with social media back then? Unless you work for a technology company or a marketing agency, it is unlikely that social media marketing was on your radar.

And what were we doing? After several years of being active in social media on a personal level, both of us were working for B2B marketing agencies, starting to explore how they could use blogging for business. We both knew that most B2B companies had not adopted social media strategies but that it would be coming. Kipp registered the domain Jeff was monitoring Twitter for mentions of B2B. There were only a handful every day.

Early in 2009 we discussed the possibility of starting a blog at Kipp’s domain. We were both marketers with a great understanding of social media. We knew that one way to influence adoption by B2B marketers was to share best practices, examples, and new ideas and platforms that could be leveraged for success. We also talked about how the blog could lead to speaking engagements at conferences. And one day could lead us to write a book. The book that we once dreamed of is the one you are holding right now.

We launched the site about a month later to little fanfare. Early posts were thoughtful but uneven as we tried to find both our voice and our audience. Some companies that were profiled at that time are included in this book (Boeing and Indium, to name two). So when we advise marketers that you need to start writing and power through the idea that nobody but your mom is reading, we did it too. Of course, our blog was about B2B marketing, so even our moms didn’t read it.

The more we wrote, the more we developed an audience. We started getting traffic from search. Our domain name was the topic of the site. We also made sure that post titles featured keywords. The audience continued to grow, and our voice as experts on social media for B2B companies began to spread. In the spring of 2011 we decided it was time to write this book.

Adoption of social media by B2B companies did not happen as fast as we had expected. Many companies that had started using social media didn’t understand why. They didn’t understand how to determine the return on investment (ROI). That’s because they weren’t focused on lead generation. If you are not driving revenue, or leads as their proxy, it is difficult to measure the return. That’s why lead generation is the cornerstone of this book.

If you don’t want to increase revenue, this book is not for you.

There are many things that social media can do to help a company, and there are many functions that can be enhanced by a social media approach. The problem is that management might not pay for it. Or they might not be able to afford it. If you can start by showing that social media can generate revenue, now you are onto something. Executives understand dollars.

This Book Is an Offer

The biggest difference between our blog and the lessons you will learn as you read this book is that we were focused on education on the blog, not our own lead generation. Our blog posts did not include offers and calls-to-action for almost three years. But guess what? If you bought this book through our site, you might have clicked on one of those calls-to-action. This book is now our offer, and you chose to accept it in exchange for your hard-earned dollars—and now your attention.

We spent three years giving away remarkable content and building an audience for that content. So when we released this book, its purchase became an easy exchange to pay us back for sharing our thoughts and knowledge about social media. The cost of this book is a small price to pay for up to three years of hundreds and hundreds of blog posts that have helped you understand social media in a B2B context.

This book is actionable, including exercises to complete along the way. Because of this, we hope that you will keep this book on your desk, not your bookshelf. We don’t want to be only top of mind, but top of desk. This will make it easier to make sure you are completing the steps to marketing superstardom.

You Want More Examples?

Many social media books are filled with interviews and examples of social media success. A good portion of this book establishes the framework and the fundamentals for using social media for lead generation. The examples and interviews we included represent those B2B companies and marketers who understand not just what they are doing but why they are doing it.

The adoption curve for social media for B2B companies has been a lot longer than we anticipated three years ago. On top of that, few companies are successfully using social media for lead generation. If you can master the ideas in this book, marketing superstardom is in your sights.

What Did We Miss?

Just over a month before we finalized this manuscript, Google launched their social network, Google+. It roared out of the gate with huge adoption and many wondered if it was a Facebook killer or a Twitter killer. Incorporating elements of both, plus a requirement to organize your connections from the start in a series of circles, many people enjoyed the experience of building personal profiles and sharing content with their new networks. Part of its early success was due to users’ familiarity with social networks. Others wondered where they would find the time for another social network.

Businesses were asked not to set up personal profiles, as robust business profiles were coming soon. As you are reading this, you probably know about business profiles, if Google stuck to their announced timeline. One of the compelling elements of publishing information on Google+ is that you can segment your information by using circles to divide prospects, leads, and customers. The principles of driving business through social media do not change with every new social network that opens.

Are You Ready to Go?

Get ready to learn how social media can change your business and make you a marketing superstar. This book focuses on social media for lead generation. We provide theory, strategy, and tactics, as well as actionable steps to get you started.

These are not small steps. They may be the biggest ones you will take in your career. They will change your perception of marketing. They will change others’ perception of you. Self-actualization and career advancement will be achieved through social media lead generation. Those are pretty huge goals for a book. We did our part. Now it’s your turn. It may not be an easy journey—and it won’t be a short-term prospect—but it will be worthwhile.

As you are reading the book, go to Oh yeah, we registered the complementary domain to our blog along the way. Seems like the perfect site to support a book called The B2B Social Media Book. All the endnotes and examples are on the site and organized by chapter. This way you can easily click for more details about reference materials and company examples. While you are there, subscribe to our regular updates to stay informed on the most recent B2B social media trends.

We have a second offer for you. Go to for a companion workbook to take the lessons from this book even further. If you want to learn to work even smarter, we have more information and guidance for you. Go get the workbook now!

We held back on offers for so long and they just keep coming. Join an exclusive group of B2B marketers who are willing to stand up and call themselves superstars. Go to to sign up for access to exclusive webinars, bonus material, and the ability to collaborate with other B2B superstars.

And finally, thank you. Whether you have been following our blog since the early days or you bought this book without having heard of, we really appreciate you letting us share these ideas with you.

We would love to hear what you think about our approach to social media lead generation. Please use #B2BSM whenever you mention the book online. This will let us easily find references to it, and will also start to link common conversations about B2B social media. And we definitely want to hear about your transformation into a marketing superstar. Please reach out to us and let us know how you liked the book.

We would also appreciate if you shared a review of the book on Amazon (

Thank you!

—Kipp Bodnar

—Jeffrey L. Cohen


The Fundamentals of Social Media Lead Generation

Chapter 1

Why B2B Is Better at Social Media Than B2C

Be a marketing superstar. It isn’t any more difficult than being ordinary. As a business-to-business (B2B) marketer, you are a core contributor to the growth and success of your company. It is your hard work, balancing the demands of generating quality leads on a limited budget that helps fuel the sales team. Unfortunately, this hard work and diligence often goes underappreciated.

Seventy-three percent of chief executive officers (CEOs) believe marketers are not able to demonstrate how their strategies and campaigns help increase their organizations’ top line in terms of more customer demand, sales, prospects, conversions, and market share. This is according to the “2011 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program”1 by Fournaise Marketing Group.

End this false perception today!

B2B social media marketing is a new set of marketing tools that integrates with existing marketing strategies to help you work smarter instead of harder. When done well, social media marketing can reduce marketing expense, increase lead volume, and provide a clear and measurable return on investment for your marketing dollars. Don’t fall victim to the marketing status quo.

The Marketing Status Quo

For decades, B2B marketers would start the year off with a marketing budget and then divide it among print publications, industry trade shows, and some direct mail campaigns. This process involved renting attention from someone else. Renting is expensive.

B2B marketing of the past has been about writing checks for fun ideas and interrupting potential customers with cold calling or direct mail. Enough is enough.

Today’s marketing should be about delivering measurable results for the business.

B2B marketing is at a crossroads. You, the marketer, now stand in the face of the most empowering moment of your career. It doesn’t matter if you are the chief marketing officer (CMO) or if you have just started your first job in marketing. This is your opportunity to be great at the career you love. Let business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers worry about coming up with the cute mascots.

What Your Marketing Could Be

Marketing greatness is at your fingertips. Open your hand and grab it. Tomorrow is a day in which B2B marketing attracts the best and brightest minds in business. Social media has ushered in a new tool set that complements the skills of B2B marketers more closely than any marketing innovation ever. This book will empower you with the social media tactics, keen content creation insights, data analysis, and reporting methods that will take you to a level of B2B marketing that few CEOs could even imagine.

B2B companies are better suited for social media marketing than B2C companies.

Stop. Go back. Read the last sentence again. It is true.

In the initial adoption of social media marketing, an unfortunate phenomenon happened. It become widely accepted that social media marketing was applicable only to B2C companies. This stereotype ignores five key ways in which social media marketing is better suited for B2B companies. If your boss questions why your B2B company should be using social media for marketing, simply share these five reasons with him or her.

Five Reasons B2B Companies Are a Better Fit for Social Media Marketing Than B2C Companies

1. Clear Understanding of Customers—Even more so than B2C marketers, B2B marketers are closely tuned to the behavior, habits, and desires of their prospects and customers. B2B marketers go far past demographic data. As a B2B marketing superstar, you have clear and detailed personas for every prospect you are working to reach. Having this level of familiarity and clarity is a major advantage in social media marketing.

2. Depth of Subject Matter Expertise—B2B companies are trailblazers. They develop new industries or innovate in existing ones. This type of leadership and disruption traditionally means that B2B companies’ employees are the leading experts within a particular industry. Because social media is often used as a platform for educating prospects through content and relationships, having the depth of knowledge is a clear boost in the quest for social media marketing success.

3. Need for Generating Higher Revenue with Lower Marketing Budgets—You are a miracle worker. You generate leads and brand recognition for your company sales team with a short-handed staff and less budget than you really need. B2B marketers are always looking for value on a quest to maximize cost per lead. Social media acts as a lever to help reduce cost per lead and enables you to do more with less.

4. Relationship-Based Sales—The B2B sales process is all about relationships. With large purchase prices and lengthy sales cycles, building strong relationships with sales leads is critical. The social web facilitates relationship building throughout the sales and marketing cycle to help improve lead quality and reduce sales cycle length.

5. Already Have Practice Doing It—B2B marketers have long been social media marketing pioneers, even though they might not have known it. Long before the social web, you were publishing newsletters, quarterly magazines, and other marketing tactics that map to many key social media marketing methods. B2B marketers have a history of telling business-focused stories and educating customers with content.

Don’t believe us?

Then believe a shipping logistics company that increased overall quote requests by 270 percent using social media and inbound marketing. Lynden, Inc. (, a transportation and logistics company that operates in some of the most remote areas of the world, has leveraged blogging, search engine optimization (SEO), and landing pages to increase quotes for their service online by 412 percent. These results seem astounding, so how did they do it?

Lynden has been blogging since 2009 and creating content to attract new website visits from search engines and social media channels. They use the data and performance from past blog posts to optimize and increase the performance of future content they create. They also track new inbound links that are created as a result of their blog posts and how they rank for specific keywords related to their business.

When Social Media Isn’t Right for B2B

This book isn’t about sugarplums and gumdrops. Don’t think of it as some idealized view of marketing. Instead, it is meant to serve as a reference, inspiration, and a compass for B2B marketers looking to improve and help drive more revenue for their business. Because this book isn’t another sugar-coated glamorization of social media, it is important early on to cover situations in which social media marketing isn’t right for a B2B company.

In these situations some aspects of social media could work and help support other inbound marketing objectives such as search and branding, but the truth is, when it comes to driving transactions, there are better options.

Do you answer yes to any of these questions?

Does your company have fewer than five potential customers? In the B2B space, some companies exist that have an extremely small niche. They fill a need by providing a product or service for only a handful of customers. When your customer base is so targeted, you have to be direct with your limited marketing budget. Regular face-to-face meetings, customer events, and other tactics are a better fit for this niche. Social media helps individuals and companies scale their social interaction. However, when your scale is small, you are less dependent on the scale that social media can provide.

Do purchasing decision makers spend all of their time behind a highly secure firewall? In situations in which you provide products or services to the military, electrical power grid, and others, key purchasing decision makers spend their time in a work environment that is secure and locked down from access to most or all of the information available online. If this is the case for your customer base, then using the Web won’t be a successful spend of your marketing budget. The success and engagement of social media depends on the ability to reach and connect with customers digitally and in person. For companies in this environment, the digital option should be a lower priority.

Is your company missing an internal advocate for social media? Sometimes it is not about your customers, but rather, about your organization. One thing that successful organizations have in common when it comes to leveraging social media and word-of-mouth effectively is that they have buy-in from key advocates within the company. At many companies it is the CEO, but at least it is a key decision maker within the organization who can supply the needed resources and leadership to allow the organization to be successful. If you don’t have this, then spend your time finding someone within your organization who can fill this role instead of rolling out a social media effort prematurely.

Does your company need to generate a high volume of short-term sales? Can social media drive sales? Yes. Can it drive targeted short-term high-volume sales? In most cases, it cannot. If you have a plan to sell x number of units of a product over the next three to four weeks, then social media isn’t the right choice for you. As Chris Brogan, coauthor of the book Trust Agents says, creating transactional opportunities on the Web takes trust, but trust takes time to establish. If you don’t have time, then you must go a different route. These are most likely direct response, pricing incentives, or enhanced sales support.

Does your company have the resources to be successful? A major issue with social media is that most people think that since most online platforms are free, it should be cheap to add social media to their marketing or communications mix. It isn’t cheap. Social media marketing done properly takes a lot of time and the support of staff who understand the business of their customers. Many organizations now are simply letting social media happen as an experiment. The problem with this is that, most of the time, these experiments are drastically underresourced and handicapped from the beginning. Understanding the resources that you need and having them in place is a critical factor for success. Hint: You will always need more time and money than you expect for executing your social media tactics.

We are not saying that companies in the situations outlined here, can’t use social media for their B2B organizations. Instead, we suggest that for these opportunities, there are better ways to leverage the limited pool of resources available and social media should be lower on the priority list.

B2B Social Media as an Annuity

The social web is not linear. Information and interactions happen across the social web in every direction. There is not one clear path. It is critical to understand this simple idea of a nonlinear communications channel. It is this idea that allows you and your organization to begin to think of marketing as an asset, instead of an expense. In the status quo world of marketing where B2B marketing is about renting eyeballs and writing checks, it is easy to view marketing as an expense. In a B2B social media world, marketing is an annuity.

According to Wikipedia, an annuity is used in finance theory to refer to any terminating stream of fixed payments over a specified period. B2B social media marketing functions as a marketing annuity. It delivers website visits, leads, and customers over time, long after the work and budget for the social media tactic have become a distant memory.

Unlike a financial annuity, social media’s annuity isn’t fixed. Instead, it is compounding. Each tactic stacks on top of the other for exponential results over time. Your management team understands annuities. Help them understand how your marketing budget can become one.

Results Independent of Effort

In traditional outbound B2B marketing such as direct mail and print advertising, 1 + 1 always equals 2. This is because you distribute an interruptive message for a fixed period. In today’s marketing world, a marketer budgets to support a company blog post. The output of results from the blog is not limited to a single day or even a fixed amount of time. Heck, it isn’t even limited to blogging. Search engine optimization and other inbound marketing tactics benefit as well. A major distinction here is the shift from renting to owning attention, because as a B2B marketer, you own and control your business blog.

Each and every article you publish has an infinite life span. An article you publish today has the potential to have a much larger compounded reach long-term than any initial promotion may have when it is first published. The reason for this is the 1 + 1 = 3 value of social media. Because a business owns its blog, it is likely to invest in promoting and marketing the blog long term to build an audience. This means that the potential pool of readers for each article is always increasing—to infinity, and beyond!

In addition, every topic and idea has an adoption curve. People seek and consume ideas at different times as they have new business problems to solve.

Annuities Facilitate Scale

Every business has goals. Marketing is a key driver of business revenue and the actualization of the overall growth of the business. The problem with traditional B2B marketing has been that scaling business growth has been completely dependent on spending more money, since many results had an assumed fixed cost. However, as B2B marketing shifts to social media and results become more like annuities, scale isn’t a function of marketing budget spend. Instead, scale becomes about consistency and efficiency. Taking actions such as consistently publishing blog content over time or building a LinkedIn Group, serve as an annuity to drive progressively larger results month after month.

Social Media Is Only One Piece

Social media isn’t a silver bullet. Many consultants and marketing agencies would like marketers to believe that social media is a magic tonic to solve marketing problems. The truth is that social media isn’t a cure-all. Instead, it is one piece of a well-planned and executed inbound marketing strategy that is tightly aligned to business objectives.

In this book when we discuss “business objectives” for marketers, we are talking about lead generation and sales. Although marketing can have other functions, lead generation is the fuel that helps a successful business grow and can speed your trip to marketing superstardom.

Integration wins! Great B2B marketers must solve for integration in every aspect of their work. Social media marketing results are amplified when integrated with e-mail marketing, event marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and other inbound marketing tactics that can be combined to maximize lead generation.

Building a Next-Generation B2B Marketing Team

Marketing superstars in the social media marketing world are incredible hybrids of many communications and business skills. Outbound marketing needed marketers who could set strategy, manage trade shows, work with an advertising agency, and deal with vendors. Notice something important missing in the job description of marketers in the past: customers. None of the skills directly solved the problem of understanding and working with customers.

Social media marketing injects customers directly into the marketing process, where they can accelerate or extinguish marketing efforts. Customers have moved front and center because the social web has democratized publishing. Anyone can publish information today. The cost and barrier to entry in publishing is almost zero. In this book, we will talk at length about leveraging the social web. One thing that should be clear is that the B2B marketing team of the future looks vastly different.

Storytelling + Data Analysis = Great Social Media Marketer

Marketers have historically come from varied educational backgrounds, with journalism and business schools leading the pack. The problem is that great marketers today need a mix of many skills. Great writing skills have long been a requirement for marketers, but being a great writer is no longer enough. A great B2B marketer today should be able to tell stories like an investigative journalist and be able to plow through pivot tables like an investment banker.

Marketing metrics are easier to track online. With automated tracking and data gathering come opportunities to analyze data to uncover ways to optimize and improve marketing results. However, there is nothing to optimize unless the marketing team has created and distributed interesting and engaging content. Think of a great B2B social media marketer as a brand journalist who can also crunch numbers to maximize the results of lead generation offers and calls-to-action. Don’t waste time looking for someone who knows how social media tools work. Instead, hire someone who has used social media to deliver quantifiable results. We will get into more detail about building and running a great next-generation marketing team in Chapter 14.

The Perfect B2B Marketing Leader

A great B2B marketing team is only as good as its leader. The job of a top-notch B2B CMO has both drastically changed and stayed the same. A CMO needs to be strategic and have a strong understanding of the industry and the business. In addition, in an online marketing world, a CMO needs to be great at marketing metrics and making strategic investment choices. However, there is one attribute—essential in today’s social media marketing world—that many CEOs may overlook: no fear of failure.

With the hurdles into publishing and sharing information now so low, it is harder than ever before for a company to stand out. A great CMO needs to take risks and try new things, while also ensuring that the entire marketing team understands that risk and polarization are accepted and encouraged for the success of the business.

You are the star. Now that we have introduced some important B2B social media principles, it is time to learn all about social media lead generation.

This book is designed to be highly actionable. In order to turn every chapter into actionable marketing activities, we have included a three-step to-do list at the end of each chapter. You should do them. And you need your laptop. They are for your own good. Ready? Go!

Three B2B Social Media Steps to Superstardom

1. Rally for support—Any business effort fails without financial and management support. Use the key arguments from the section on why B2B companies are a better fit for social media than B2C companies to build a brief presentation. Your presentation should consist of no more than five clear and concise slides with data. Use this presentation to build internal support for social media marketing within your company.

2. Integrate social media and traditional marketing—Remember that social media is only one piece. Integrating marketing is always more effective than taking a segmented approach. Examine both your social media and traditional marketing strategies and tactics. Schedule a two-hour block of time to look for integration points that connect your social media strategy, such as including links to your social media account on your direct mailings.

3. Build a winning team—It doesn’t matter what part of your marketing career you are in; you can shape the direction of your marketing team. Push for interview questions and criteria that involve both storytelling and data analysis. When your company has an open marketing position, take 10 minutes to look through your LinkedIn contacts to determine whether you know anyone who has the right skills for the job. If you do, invite that person to interview.



Chapter 2

Five-Step Social Media Lead Generation Process

Social media marketing isn’t about hugs, kisses, rainbows, or any other fluffy happy words that come to mind. For business-to-business (B2B) companies looking to grow their business, social media marketing is about one thing: leads. Leads are the lifeblood and success metric for every B2B marketing superstar. Leads serve as a foremost indicator of sales. Understanding the full online sales cycle from visit to sale (more on this in Chapter 4) allows you to see your entire marketing strategy in a brand new way.

This chapter’s sole focus is leads. We are going to give you all the information you need to generate leads with social media. It isn’t as hard as many “experts” say. Instead, we have condensed everything you need to know about social media lead generation into five simple steps.

Before we get into the five steps of social media lead generation, it is important that we define a lead. Businesses define leads differently. Marketing and sales must have a clear and shared agreement on that definition. A lead is someone who raises his or her hand—a person who demonstrates interest in something that a business has to offer.

The information exchanged by the lead prospect, like an ebook or webinar, is the most debated portion of defining a lead. A lead isn’t an e-mail address. Blog subscribers or e-mail newsletter subscribers have not yet raised their hands high enough, but they could!

For the purpose of this book, a lead is someone who provides the requested information for a piece of educational content, sales consultation, product demonstration, or offer closely related to a business’s product or service. The minimum information required for a lead is a name, company, e-mail address, and phone number. As a marketer, it is your job to test asking for additional relevant information. Asking for more information can help when grading lead quality and make life easier for the sales team. Conversely, having too many fields on a landing page can lower your conversion rate and overall volume of leads.

Step 1: Get the Basics Right

Generating leads using social media starts with three core elements that are the linchpin for the entire online lead generation process: offers, calls to action (CTAs), and landing page. The offer can range from an educational webinar or ebook to a free consultation with a salesperson. CTAs serve as advertisements that businesses use to send visitors to their landing page.

Think of a landing page as an information transaction. Your business provides some type of information and in exchange a visitor to that page provides some of their contact information. Landing pages traditionally do not have any site navigation and have only one goal: lead generation. Landing pages are pages of a business website that contain a form into which visitors can submit information in exchange for an offer.

Secrets to High-Converting Landing Pages

The conversion rate of a landing page is the percentage of visitors who complete and submit the form on the page divided by the total number of visitors to that page. Generating leads with social media can be increased in two ways. The first is by increasing the amount of traffic to a landing page. The second is to increase the conversion rate of a landing page to enable more of the visitors to become leads. Although improving conversion rates for a landing page is a long-term task, following best practices will help you start out with higher conversion rates and more leads.

Landing pages are different from website pages. Most of the pages on a business website are about education. Landing pages are about action. When a person visits a landing page, the most important aspect of the entire page is that it clearly directs the visitor to take an action. For B2B companies that action is to fill out a form in exchange for an offer.

When looking at a landing page, take a step back from the computer. Take a quick glance, really only a second. During that oh-so-brief time and from that further distance, is the action that should be taken on that page clear? Simplicity is key to many aspects of social media marketing, but most important when it comes to landing pages.

Go Naked

Part of creating simplicity on landing pages is removing options for the user. When talking about landing pages, going naked refers to removing the navigation of the website from the page in an effort to remove choices and improve clarity for the visitor. It is important to understand that providing too many choices is a bad thing. The more choices you include on a landing page, the higher the likelihood that the site visitor will do nothing and simply leave the page without becoming a lead.

Minimize form length. Reducing friction is key to increasing conversion rates. No, this isn’t high school science class where reducing friction is about adding WD-40 to a squeaky door. Reducing marketing friction is about removing any barriers that can stop a visitor from taking the desired action. One of the simplest ways to reduce friction is to reduce the number of fields on a form. The number of form fields is an elegant dance between maximizing leads and providing sales with the information they need. Review each field within a form to determine whether it is important to the sales process. If the answer is no, remove the field from the form.

Offers That Rock

Rock stars sell out arenas because they provide amazing content to their fans in the form of music, live spectacle, and an emotional connection. Part of creating the best B2B lead generation offers is to think like an artist and entertainer. The content of your offer is your art.

A major factor of a landing page’s conversion rate is how awesome the offer is. If an offer is truly compelling, the number of form fields and other landing page best practices become less important. The best offers solve a problem for the prospect. For example, a sheet metal roofing company could provide a free calculator that allows prospects to quickly and easily determine the amount of materials they will need for a project. This free calculator could then be placed behind a landing page for lead generation.

Rocking B2B offers should do three things well. The middle chapters of this book are dedicated to getting into the specifics of content creation and distribution. Until then, follow this checklist to ensure offers help drive high conversion rates. Does your offer:

1. Solve a problem for the prospect?

2. Align with the product or service of the business?

3. Provide unique information not easily found in other online resources?

Think Like a Publisher

Most media companies rely on advertising as a revenue source. On the social web, every company is a media company. To maximize business results, marketers should step into the shoes of publishers. The publishing industry has done much of the heavy lifting when it comes to understanding best practices for advertisements (CTAs for us in the B2B marketing world). However, marketers have slightly different needs than traditional publishers.

Most media companies work to maximize page views and advertisement clicks. What this focus ignores is who is clicking on the ads. As a B2B marketer, the most important part in leveraging CTAs for lead generation is solving for who is seeing and clicking on the CTAs. Although an online magazine doesn’t care if the same person comes back each day and clicks on an ad, you should.

Content Isn’t King; Context Is King

Context drives click-through rates for CTAs. Social media content such as blog posts, tweets, and LinkedIn shares act as social primers. When people look at social primers, they get a bite-sized piece of information on a subject that matters to their business. Having CTAs and offers that are closely aligned in subject matter with the content being shared on social media provides prospects with a way to easily go from introductory content to in-depth subject matter expertise. The more in-depth content customers or prospects consume, the further down the buying cycle they move.

When thinking about CTAs, think about two groups of people: website visitors who still need to be converted to a lead and leads who need to be moved further through the buying cycle. Although both are important, this section focuses on increasing the visitor-to-lead conversion rate of the first group.

B2B marketers need to focus on sending new unique visitors to their content and CTAs on a daily basis. Constantly working to find new visitors is hard. However, social media is a discovery mechanism. Think about how tools such as Facebook and Twitter work. For example, on Facebook, when you comment on or like an article on a company’s Facebook Page, that comment, as well as the article from that business, may be shown to other people in your network. Discovery is in the DNA of social media platforms. It is the online way companies such as LinkedIn and Facebook can continue to grow. Social media sharing is crucial to driving more new online leads for your business.

Build Social Media Reach

Landing pages, offers, and CTAs are the foundation of social media lead generation. So is building reach on your different social media platforms. We talk in detail about building reach in Chapter 5. However, it is important to note here that building reach in social media starts with an action. For example, to get more Twitter followers, you have to take the action to find and follow like-minded Twitter users via Twitter Search. The majority of this book is about building and extending social media reach, because it is important to understand that having a community to actually see your content is vital to generating leads with social media.

Step 2: Maximize Content Discovery

Great content has business value only if it is used and consumed by website visitors and leads. As a marketer, one of the most challenging parts of online lead generation can be getting your content seen and shared by others. Scaling social media lead generation and reducing cost of customer acquisition depend on leveraging others to spread your content. Maximizing content discovery can be done by producing awesome content and reducing fiction around sharing that content.

Be Remarkable

Remarkable content is simply that. It is content worth making a remark about. Yes, you’re right that that sounds cheesy, and it would be if we weren’t planning to help you understand what “remarkable” really means in an actionable way. The power of social media is that the remarks made about content are now public and shared with others online. Being remarkable drives traffic and leads for businesses.

According to Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, more information is created on the Internet in 48 hours today than was created by all humankind from the beginning of time until 2003. That is an astounding fact and one that underlines that we are now operating in a crowded marketing world in which the winners stand out.

The reason many businesses don’t produce remarkable content is fear—fear of giving away too much information, fear of saying something wrong, fear of giving competitors an advantage. These were all rational twentieth century fears. In the twenty-first century, these fears are the quickest path to failure.

Try these five strategies for removing fear in favor of being remarkable in your marketing content:

1. Pick a side—Publicly, whether in a blog post or social media message, explain why a certain side of an important industry issue is the right side. Do so in a rational and educated way. Taking one side of an issue creates polarization. Examine the last article you shared with a friend. Odds are that it had a polarizing component. Polarizing isn’t about being stupid. Instead, it is about showing that your business actually cares about the industry.

2. Say something new—Most B2B companies are full of innovation. Marketers should learn some of the new ideas being developed within a business. Using social media platforms, marketers can get real-time feedback on ideas and grow the marketing reach of the business.

3. Say something old in a new way—Most industries have many long-held practices and beliefs that guide businesses. Schedule 30 minutes for the marketing team (even if the marketing team is only you) to brainstorm new ways of presenting these ideas. One way would be to change the content format. Turn an old article into a compelling infographic or video. Another possibility is to discuss older principles in a new framework that adds fresh ideas for even more value.

For example, consider Texas Instruments. A pioneer of B2B innovation on the product side, Texas Instruments also gets it when it comes to social media content. With SMASH IT (, Texas Instruments employees channel Wayne’s World and destroy technology products and, in the process, demonstrate Texas Instruments’ impact on each product. Showing components in an end product is classic B2B marketing. With SMASH IT, Texas Instruments takes this classic idea and wraps it in a twenty-first century cover.

4. Talk about remarkable people—One hallmark of remarkable content is that it often connects to a person who is remarkable. When thinking about educating potential leads, find a connection to influential people in your industry or beyond. Have a content idea that can relate to the Beatles, Lady Gaga, or someone in pop culture? That is remarkable. In addition, interview industry influencers for your blog; this familiarizes them with your business while giving them something they want: added exposure.

5. Make it easy—Sometimes it isn’t what is said, but instead how it is said that matters. A trademark of remarkable content is that it is easy to consume and share. Some characteristics of easily consumable content are section headers, bullet points, links to additional information, pictures, and mobile device compatibility.

Build Reach Through Sharing

Prospects don’t want to hear about your products. They want solutions to their problems.

This simple idea is the one that most companies get wrong when it comes to social media marketing. Generating new leads for your business involves attracting new prospects. Providing solution-based content through social media is a powerful way to build reach for lead generation.

We have dedicated several chapters in this book to discussing the tactical execution of lead generation on platforms that are core to B2B marketers. However, all of these activities, regardless of the platform, will follow a simple framework for success. See our Content Discovery Framework in Figure 2.1.

FIGURE 2.1 Content Discovery Framework

Regular Content Creation—Have an editorial calendar that outlines the monthly creation and distribution of all lead generation content through social channels: e-mail, blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, forums, etc.

Consistent Sharing—Understanding how prospects want to consume information is key. Many people will opt to use one social channel to consume content from a company. Many social media “experts” will tell you that sharing a piece of content across all social platforms alienates the audience. These experts are wrong. Ask them for their data to support this recommendation. They won’t have it. Instead, share lead generation and supporting content across all social channels. However, make sure that the headline or description around the content is customized for the needs and habits of each social community.

Dedicated Monitoring—To optimize and improve social media lead generation, a marketer must be able to collect feedback and iterate. Monitoring social media and using Web analytics tools provide marketers with the feedback they need to improve lead generation month after month. Social media monitoring tools can range from free tools such as Google Alerts (, Twitter Search (, and Board Reader ( to paid tools such as Radian6 (, Alterian (, and CoTweet Enterprise ( When it comes to analytics, a similar distribution of free and paid tools exist. Google Analytics ( is the leading free Web analytics tool, whereas HubSpot ( and Omniture ( provide more business-focused analytic data for a fee. Dedicated monitoring doesn’t mean having a person who performs only these activities. Instead, it refers to the idea that everyone on a marketing team needs to collect feedback and iterate for each campaign.

Prioritized Engagement—Not every social media mention needs a response. This is a key principal of understanding that many businesses have yet to adopt. All marketing efforts are constrained by the number of people and amount of money available. If you have the time to respond to every social media mentioned, go for it. However, we recommend prioritizing social media engagement on factors such as commenter influence, reach, or dissatisfaction or stage in the buying cycle. Again, this book isn’t about blowing bubbles with your customers. It’s about generating revenue. Use common sense combined with customer relationship management tools to engage with people who are currently in, or can influence, the sales cycle.

Step 3: Create Conversion Ubiquity

Content is a magnet that pulls prospects closer to becoming sales leads. CTAs and landing pages act like a supermagnet that turns prospects into leads. The lack of conversion opportunities is the single biggest mistake that we see when speaking with B2B marketers working to leverage social media.

Think about the publishing industry. A trade magazine writes an article, then sells advertising alongside those articles, and finally distributes and promotes both the articles and advertisements to its audience. Today, B2B marketers should think of themselves as a vertically integrated publisher. Marketing needs to create content, display CTAs alongside that content, and promote the content to an audience.

Every B2B marketer should have the goal to become the best “trade magazine” for their industry.

However, instead of using costly print formats, marketers should use a blog, e-mail marketing, a LinkedIn Group, a Facebook Page, and a Twitter account. The blog serves as the magazine, and the other channels help promote content and build an audience.

The New York Times Is the Competition

Emulate the best, not your competitors. B2B companies are often placed in silos. In strategy meetings, company executives come up with ideas for emulating the best tactics of the competition. Doing this in the age of social media equates to failure. B2B customers aren’t robots. The people who sign your multimillion dollar purchase orders read the New York Times, buy digital goods from iTunes, and order shoes from Zappos. Aiming to beat a small group of competitors is a formula for failure.

The habits and expectations of B2B customers are being set by major business-to-consumer (B2C) brands. Aim higher the next time you build a marketing strategy. When looking to determine how to improve CTAs on the company blog, don’t look to a trade magazine website. Instead, look at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. The survival of these world-class media outlets depends on constantly increasing their advertising revenue both online and offline. Examine what these publications have learned and apply the best ideas to social media marketing CTAs.

Tweeting a Landing Page Doesn’t Kill a Puppy

Many social media “experts” would have companies believe that lead generation is a dirty word and that it stagnates the growth of building a successful online community. The experts try to convince marketers that sharing a lead generation offer in a blog post, tweet, or Facebook Page update, or through other social media channels, will result in the marketing equivalent of killing a cute and fluffy puppy. These experts are wrong. If you want more proof they are wrong, ask them for data that supports their recommendations.

When doing great social media marketing, many lead generation offers are educationally focused and provide additional insight into an idea. These offers, most often in the form of an ebook or webinar, help solve a prospect’s problem. Not sharing educational lead generation offers via social media channels is actually doing a disservice to the online community that the marketing team is working to build and foster. Allow prospects to obtain more in-depth information that can’t fit into a tweet, blog post, or Facebook update by sharing lead generation offers in social media.

Step 4: Test and Fail Fast

Iterating is everything. Waiting for perfection is the enemy. The Web is an inherently different medium than print. The Web isn’t linear. Users bounce from link to link, instead of flipping through pages. The days of pouring over a layout for hours to make sure no typos exist before the brochure goes to print are over.

One of the most important things a B2B marketer can do is to ship ideas and iterate. By shipping ideas, we mean publish a blog post the same day it was written instead of sending it to 20 people for review. It could also be coming up with a contest for LinkedIn Group members and launching it once budget and rules are approved. If you are a B2B chief marketing officer (CMO) or executive reading this book, please take away this one idea: Reducing approvals and empowering marketing to ship online content is the single biggest lever you can pull to increase lead generation.

Iterating allows you to take the most powerful action any marketer can do: Stop marketing that doesn’t work. You are too busy. It isn’t possible to add more hours in the day. The only way to get more time back for new marketing strategies, such as social media, is to stop strategies and tactics that don’t work. Stop now. This simple idea of stopping tactics that don’t work will instantly make you a better marketer.

Marketing Tactics Are Lab Rats

Have a methodology for marketing tests. Having a test for all marketing tactics will help ensure a stronger strategy. Testing will also help uncover flawed ideas and tactics earlier in the process, saving valuable time. The hardest part about testing is setting the right framework for the test before it starts. Luckily, we have done a lot of the heavy lifting for you and drafted a framework that we think . . . well . . . kicks ass. See our Social Media Lead Generation Testing Framework in Figure 2.2.

FIGURE 2.2 Social Media Lead Generation Testing Framework

A Kick-Ass Marketing Testing Framework

Note: To demonstrate how this framework would work for your business, we created a hypothetical Facebook contest to use as an example.

Step 1: Set a clear quantitative objective.

Example: If the Facebook contest generates 50 leads and 200 new page likes in 60 days, given the allocated amount of marketing team time and budget, it was successful.

Step 2: Set methodology for gathering data for success criteria.

Example: Use a unique landing page for the Facebook contest to measure leads generated directly from the contest. Look at Facebook’s Insights analytics tool to determine total growth in page likes during the 60-day period.

Step 3: Conduct an experiment retrospective.

Example: Gather all team members involved with the experiment for a quick 30-minute discussion. The discussion should include:

What worked?

What didn’t work?

What could be improved?

Did the test maintain its original scope?

Step 4: Set action items following the experiment.

Example: If objectives are met, plan a second Facebook contest and expand the percentage of the team’s time dedicated to Facebook.

If objectives are not met, reduce the current level of investment in Facebook for lead generation. Evaluate the viability of Facebook again in six months.

This framework isn’t absolute. Every business will have its own priorities and issues that may cause this framework to be adjusted. Use this structure as a basis for one that best fits the needs of your business.

If You Aren’t Failing, You’re Doing It Wrong

Marketing is often about choosing which risks to take. As marketers, we are competitive. We want to be great at the work we do. In order to win, the natural notion is to reduce the risk of a failed marketing effort. Learning to accept failure is one of the single most important things that a marketer can do to become a superstar.

Failure and greatness are oddly linked. Most great innovations at the start have an uncomfortably high perceived risk of failure. Think about all the employees who told Steve Jobs that people wouldn’t use a phone that had only one button and a touch screen. The problem with failure and our fear of it is that we rarely take the time to reflect on what birthed a historic innovation. Most often at the start of every major innovation was a core group of people close to the issue predicting its quick and dramatic failure. Think of all of the people who proclaimed that the Internet was “just a fad.”

It takes the same amount of effort to be great at something as it does to be only good. The difference between great and good exists in the vision, dedication, decision making, and acceptance of failure that great individuals and teams have.

Think with a Magic Wand

Imagine, as you are about to prioritize your next round of marketing activities, that you have a magic wand. That magic wand removes all roadblocks and ensures perfect execution of your plan. Now that worrying about the details is no longer an issue, thanks to the magic wand, take a minute to think about the results of the plan. If everything went perfectly, how would this idea affect the business? If the answer is a little bit or slightly better than current marketing tactics, then the fear of failure has crept in to the plan. Accepting failure opens you up to potential ideas and strategies that not only can meet the goals of the company but sometimes can far surpass them and transform the economics of the business. Embrace failing. Fail all the way to greatness.

Step 5: Optimize for Maximum Lead Flow

The last step of many good methodologies is kind of a rinse and repeat step. This methodology is no different. The previous four steps of this social media lead generation methodology are designed to provide everything needed to become a lead-generating machine. The fifth step is about amplifying the results and effectiveness of the previous four.

Leads are coming in through social media channels. So, what does the sales team say? “Wow! These new inbound leads are great. Can we get more of them?” This simple question brings both a smile and a tear to marketers everywhere. On one hand, sales trusts marketing and is reducing cold-calling in favor of the awesomeness of prospects raising their hands through social media and inbound channels. On the other hand, this love for inbound leads puts more pressure on the marketing team to deliver.

Uncovering Opportunities for Optimization

When the goal is to increase lead volume, two core levers can be pulled. The first is to drive more traffic to the top of the funnel. The second option is to optimize CTAs and landing pages to maximize the number of visitors who are converted into leads.

We believe that it is always better to start with the second option. By improving the visit-to-lead conversion rate for a website, we can take advantage of all future traffic increases and drive more leads per month. The first part of this process is to establish a benchmark for the landing page conversion rate.

Maximizing Landing Page and Call-to-Action Conversion Rates

Examine the conversion rate (percentage of visitors to that page who completed and submitted the lead form) rate for each of your landing pages. Look at the median conversion rate for all landing pages in an effort to avoid performance outliers. Add 5 percentage points to the median landing page conversion rate. This new number is now the goal conversion rate, often called a benchmark for all current and future landing pages. Optimization is one part art and one part science, but you don’t need oil paints and a Bunsen burner. Make adjustments and track them over time to determine best practices for your business to maximize conversion rate. Some items to test include reducing form length, changing the page headline or image location, differing images, and embedding a video.

CTAs can also be tested in the same way. Adjust placement, design, and colors of a CTA image or text to improve its click-through rate. Click-through rate is the number of people who click on the CTA button compared with the total number of people that see the page. By improving click-through rates of CTAs and conversion rates for landing pages, you can boost your visitor-to-lead percentage.

Filling the Top of the Funnel

Web analytics are the key to understanding how to drive more traffic to a website and landing pages. Understanding current and past visitor behavior through Web analytics enables you to prioritize efforts. Log into the Web analytics software for your business. Examine the traffic refers to the website and landing pages. What percentage of them are from search? Social media? Other websites? E-mail marketing?

Review the breakdown of website traffic. Then, dig a layer deeper. What factors are driving traffic from the top sources? It could be a link on a popular site, an e-mail marketing campaign, or something completely different. The objective is to understand what is working and apply that to other channels, with the goal of bringing more traffic to the site.

More than half of this book is about driving traffic to help fill the top of the funnel. Take these ideas along with the ones from future chapters to amplify and build the best social media lead generation process.

Lead generation isn’t the bane of a marketer’s existence. Instead, it is the fuel that allows you to help build a business, while showing a clear return on investment from marketing strategies. Let this lead generation process help power you to marketing superstardom.

Three B2B Social Media Lead Generation Steps to Superstardom

1. Build an online lead generation infrastructure—The rest of this book is useless without this pivotal step. Using the information outlined in Step 1 of the Five-Step Social Media Lead Generation Process, create a set of offers, landing pages, and CTAs related to your product or service. Check out Chapter 6 to learn more about creating great ebooks and webinars.

2. Implement the four steps of content discovery—Content is the fuel of social media lead generation. To maximize the return on your content investment, be sure to support regular content creation by creating an editorial calendar for your corporate blog with a plan of publishing at least one post per week. Set up automatic publishing from your blog to your social media accounts using tools such as Twitterfeed ( to facilitate consistent sharing. Set aside 10 minutes each day for dedicated monitoring. Take an additional five minutes to prioritize engagement and respond to any important brand or industry mentions.

3. Start testing—Testing facilitates iteration and improvement. Set up a test involving one of your social media marketing tactics. Remember to set a clear qualitative objective, set a methodology for gathering data for success criteria, conduct an experiment retrospective, and set action items following the experiment. Testing is all about the numbers. Make sure that at every point of your test, you have quantifiable metrics combined with data collection methods that are as automated as possible.

Chapter 3

Yes, Chapter 3 in a Social Media Book Is about Search (It’s That Important!)

Don’t close the book. No need to check the title. Yes, this is The B2B Social Media Book, and yes, the third chapter is about search. There are two reasons for this choice. First, search is at the core of any great business-to-business (B2B) social media strategy. Second, search is in the midst of a social evolution. No marketing channel is an island, especially social media. In marketing, integration always wins. As far as marketing integration opportunities go, search and social media are like peas and carrots. Wait, strike that. Who really eats peas and carrots together? Let’s go with a classic. Search and social media are the peanut butter and jelly of the online marketing world.

Evolution of Search

When search started, it wasn’t much more than a digital Yellow Pages, without the killing of trees and the heavy lifting. The problem that search tried to solve when online search engines first launched has remained the same: to provide users with the answers they are looking for as quickly as possible.

Context as the Foundation of Search

The first search engines (remember Lycos?) really used only one factor to judge which Web page could best answer a question: context. Keywords and the density of those keywords on a page were the information that search engines used to return results to users. Today, these techniques are called on-page search engine optimization (SEO). Although context was the dominant original search engine factor, it is now only a piece of the puzzle in increasing organic search traffic.

Think of yourself as a translator. You are trying to translate the theme, knowledge, and information of your company website into a format that search engines can understand. As a marketer it is important to take advantage of every opportunity to give search engines a clear understanding of the content on each page of a website. These optimization opportunities are not the only ways to point search engines in the right direction, but they are the most important and most often neglected.

Four On-Page Optimization Opportunities

1. URL Structure—Search engines look at the words that are in a URL of a Web page. Too often this text goes unoptimized, or even worse, doesn’t exist. Ever gone to a website and seen a page like this: Using numbers as the URL for Web pages is the default setting in many content management systems. The correct way to optimize a Web page to increase search engine traffic is If you sold construction equipment to manufacturers as one of your products, you would want the URL text of that product page to include your targeted keyword for that product:

2. Page Title—Look at the top of your Internet browser. Above the entry bar for the URL you will see some text. That text at the top center of your Web browser or on each tab is called the page title. The page title text is also the text that a user sees and clicks on when looking at results in a search engine. The page title is an opportunity for marketers to help search engines better understand the content of the page and to entice search engine users to click on the link. The page title should focus on the same targeted keyword as your URL and page text.

3. Page Text—The words you use in the text of a Web page and how often you use them matter. It isn’t the core determination for rankings, like it was in the early stage of search engines. Instead it is one of many signals a search engine puts into its ranking algorithm. Be sure to include target keywords in both headers and body text on a page. Don’t try to stuff keywords on the page, making the page copy confusing. Search engines are too smart for it. Plus, it hurts your ability to convert visitors to the page into leads. If your copy doesn’t sound natural, your keyword density is too high. See Figure 3.1 for a visual explanation of key website optimization aspects.

4. Meta Description—The meta description is a 160-character or less description of the page. Some content management systems allow you to easily customize this for every page. Check with your web developers to learn how to do this on your website. When search engines first started, it was an important factor for ranking well. No longer is that the case. The meta description may be a small factor in search engine ranking, but it serves a more important role today. When you use a search engine, the text that is displayed below the link for a search engine result is the meta description for that page. This means the meta description is a huge opportunity for enticing searchers to click the link for your result and visit that page. Focus on writing clear and engaging meta descriptions. Don’t bother stuffing them with keywords. See Figure 3.2 for an example of meta description in a search engine result listing.

FIGURE 3.1 Key Website Optimization Aspects

FIGURE 3.2 Meta Description in Search Results

Authority Drives Ranking

It wasn’t long before search engines realized that website owners could pack, cram, and jam their sites full of keywords to game the system. Still working to solve the problem of giving the right answer to the right user at the right time, search engines were forced to evolve. Search engines needed some way of determining which site was truly an authority on a subject. The answer to this problem was to combine contextual data with inbound linking data. An inbound link is when one website links to another website. Search engines look at these links as votes to determine which sites should be considered the authority or first search result for a keyword.

Think of a search engine like Google or Bing as a giant peer-review system where journals are replaced by websites and votes are cast with links. As in the academic world, not all votes are equal. If you are a researcher and someone from Harvard validates your research, it will likely have more impact than if the same vote of confidence came from a lesser-known institution. SEO works the same way. Votes from popular and authoritative websites, such as and other news websites, government websites, and education websites with .edu domains, are some of the best votes (inbound links) that business websites can secure. However, when it comes to SEO, both quality and quantity of links matter. The more links, the better. Higher-authority links act like jet fuel to amplify the impact to produce more search traffic in less time.

Three Strategies for Link Building Success

Increasing the quantity and quality of inbound links to a business website is one of the core challenges for online B2B marketers. Although it isn’t easy, it pays off in the way of sustainable long-term traffic and leads from search engines. These three strategies should aid in the hunt for inbound links to improve search engine rankings.

1. Blog—The single best thing a B2B business can do to increase its traffic from search engines is to have a company blog that is part of the main company website. For example, it could be or Every blog post is a new opportunity to bring in first-time visitors through search engines and social media. Discussing industry news, as well as mentioning top industry bloggers and publications, is a solid tactic for building targeted inbound links with a business blog. See Chapter 7 to learn how to become a world-class B2B blogger.

360 Signs (, a commercial signing company in Austin, Texas, has used blogging to generate more than 500 new inbound links to their website in one year. By creating regular blog content that was targeted at specific keywords and explaining sign industry issues, 360 Signs has increased search engine traffic to their website by more than 700 percent.

2. Ask Peers and Partners—A great B2B salesperson will say, “Ask for the close.” When it comes to inbound links, salespeople are right. Ask for inbound links. The best place to start building inbound links is with partners and vendors. Look at partner or vendor websites and see how they are currently linking to other businesses. For example, do they have a partner page or recommended vendors page? Identify the best way for your business to be included in their website strategy and ask them for the link. The important part of this process is to help the partner or vendor understand why it is beneficial to give you the link. For example, if it is a vendor and the link is on the company’s testimonials page, then it is valuable to that vendor because you are providing a public recommendation for its product or service.

3. Build It into Public Relations—In addition to asking partners and vendors for inbound links, it is also important to get the public relations team in on the link-building action. When the public relations team, whether it is an internal person or an agency, gains coverage about the company, have the team ask for a link to a specific page of the website in the online version of the article. Media sites have some of the highest authority on the Web, so getting an inbound link from one could greatly improve the rank of a Web page. This is why having them link to a specific page of the website, instead of the home page, is so powerful.

Changing Authority

Although links still hold a massive amount of authority for how search engines rank websites, the way search engines are measuring authority is quickly changing. Remember CD players, those clunky things that spun discs that had only 12 songs on them? Google’s ranking algorithm today is like a CD player, soon to be replaced by the iPod and on its way to becoming obsolete.

Using inbound links was a huge step forward from the keyword-stuffing early days of search. However, links aren’t the best solution for providing the right answer at the right time. First, although they are a good signal of credibility, they aren’t updated in real time. Think about how fast information travels today. Search engines need better signals to keep up with us, the searchers. Second, many questions posed in searches are personal. Two people may ask the same question in their searches, but they likely are seeking different answers. The current ranking algorithm used by Google doesn’t provide personalized context.

What function like links but are faster and more personal? Social media shares likes, updates, and content. Social media shares and mentions are quickly becoming the new inbound link. Bing, a major search engine, has deals in place with popular social media platforms to access data to display in search results. Do a quick search on Bing and you will find updates from Twitter and Facebook, along with many other social networks, displayed along website links and blog posts.

When Google rolled out its own social network, Google+, in mid-2011 news outlets were heralding it as the next great Facebook competitor. These writers simply missed the point. Google+ is about maintaining and expanding Google’s dominance in the search engine market. Google+ will likely never have as many users as Facebook, but that doesn’t matter. The value that Google+ holds is that it is a treasure trove of personalized signals of authority that Google owns and doesn’t have to lease from another company that could decide to cut Google off at any moment.

Google’s +1 feature and Facebook’s Like button are two ways that major Web companies are baiting users to provide more customer data and recommendations for content on the Web. SEOmoz has released data that show a correlation between the number of shares a blog post gets on Facebook to its position in Google’s search results. It is this type of data that demonstrates the desire to move away from links as the key determinant in search engines to a more personalized authority based on social connections across online networks.

Social Search and B2B

SEO is the number one reason a B2B company should be using social media marketing. Take a second. Read that sentence again. B2B companies understand that search engines drive valuable qualified traffic to their websites. Many companies are working on SEO efforts to increase this traffic. One of the most important ways to increase search engine traffic is to leverage social media. Social media isn’t the first thing a business should focus on to improve search traffic, but it is certainly part of long-term SEO success.

The social web isn’t a bunch of silos. Often, marketing experts talk about SEO, social media, e-mail marketing, and so on, as separate channels. Yes, they are different, but they all work together and amplify one another. As we have already talked about, search engines are starting to use signals from social media platforms to rank Web pages. One way to take advantage of this change in authority is to have a unified keyword strategy across SEO and social media marketing.

Unified Keyword Strategy

A keyword strategy is the first thing every B2B company should start working on when beginning both search and social media marketing efforts. A unified keyword strategy is a list of keywords that will be targeted for increasing search engine traffic, social media reach, and influencer engagement. By having one keyword strategy, it enables the amplification of results across search and social media. For example, if you are using the same keywords in social media messages that you are optimizing for search engines, then it amplifies to search engines and to social media followers that your business is an authority on that subject.

For example, take the Ecomagination initiative of General Electric (GE). Their Twitter handle ( frequently tweets about “smart grid” technology as a core term for their business. GE also ranks on the first page of search results in Google for the term smart grid, which shows their search and social media keyword strategies are unified.

To build a unified keyword strategy, first start by researching the popularity and competition for keywords specific to your business in search engines. This can be done with Google AdWords’ free keyword research tool,1 as well as with paid tools, including HubSpot ( and SEOmoz ( The major difference between free and paid tools is time savings and additional data. Many free tools can tell you how many people search for a keyword per month. However, they can’t examine your business website and tell you where you currently rank for that keyword and how hard it would be to increase that rank.

Once you have a solid list of keywords to focus on from an SEO perspective, then integrate those keywords into your social media engagement efforts. Use free URL tracking tools like bitly, as well as Web analytics, to determine which keywords and content are resonating most in social media. If you have Google Analytics installed on your website, make sure you use campaign codes to precisely track which social media updates and platforms drive website traffic.

Unified Keyword Action Item

Pick five common keywords that relate to your business. Write a blog post for each keyword, using the keyword in the title of each post. Then, share those blog posts on social networks, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Using website analytics software, review the traffic for each article, specifically traffic from social media sites. Looking at this data you can understand how each social media community reacts to each keyword.

By conducting the test from the action item previously discussed, data are created to better prioritize the unified keyword list. It is common to have a large list (500+) of keywords for SEO. A list that large is hard to manage. The 80/20 rule, when used in this case, would say that 80 percent of traffic is going to come from 20 percent of those 500+ keywords. But which 20 percent? This is why having the data from the previous action item is so powerful. Use a series of experiments combined with data on the number of people searching for a keyword to determine which are your best keyword phrases. When search and social media marketing are integrated, social media can be used to prioritize keywords. Finding the right 20 percent of keywords will help accelerate traffic and leads!

Rank Is Dead

The position for which a website ranks for a keyword doesn’t matter. Rank is the position of your website compared with competitors’ sites and other sites on a search engine’s result page for a specific keyword. Many B2B marketers who focus on SEO obsess over where their website ranks for each of their targeted keywords. Don’t do it. The reality is that we live in the age of the social web. Online experiences are becoming more personalized and contextual every day. Search is no different. Look at how you shop on sites like Amazon. They know who you are, what you have purchased, and what you have looked at, and they use that information to customize your shopping experience.

Keyword rank is dead for the same reason that Amazon knows you want a new coffee pot. Rank used to be a global item. It was the same for everyone everywhere. Now ranking of search results is based on your previous, personal search history.

Google serves up search results based on what you clicked on whether you are logged in or not. They also use the location you are searching from. Results change if you are in Phoenix or Boston. Google uses the IP address of Internet connections to provide location-focused search results, even if the searcher doesn’t include a location in their keyword phrase. Add in other factors such as friends and recommendations from social media, and search becomes closer and closer to shopping at Amazon. This level of customization makes keyword rank irrelevant. It makes social media reach, comments, and shares more important than ever. If you take one thing away from this chapter, it should be this: For a B2B company to have successful search engine marketing in 2012 and beyond, it must leverage social media.

Instead of spending hours each week focusing on search engine rank, work on building a community of active sharers of your content on social media. (More on this in future chapters!)

Search Isn’t Just Google

While you are still shaking your fist at us for demonstrating why search engine rank is no longer important, we have some other news for you. Google isn’t the only search engine. Sure, you know about Yahoo! and Bing. Their share of the search market has grown to a combined 30 percent. Microsoft handles all of the self-service search advertisements on Yahoo!, so as paid search goes, Microsoft has 30 percent of the market. However, Microsoft isn’t Google’s key concern. As a B2B online marketer, it is critical that you understand a current shift in the search engine industry.

Search is fracturing. Facebook, Yelp, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn have become powerful brokers of data and user searches. The future of search is about understanding that software platforms are becoming colossal data stores. Any company that holds the access to a large amount of interesting data has a card to play in the next round of search evolution. From a B2B standpoint, the industry has had niche search engines such as ThomasNet ( However, imagine a world in which is a search engine. It already is for many sales and marketing professionals for internal company data. But with their launch of, they are providing access to millions of contacts and company profiles within the platform. It has become a controlled search engine where the results are all signal and no noise. When it comes to search, the key point is to look forward, not back. Forget keyword stuffing and rank.

Embrace the future of search. It is social.

Social search is ripe with opportunities for B2B companies who can encourage customers and partners to connect their word of mouth online and offline. In a world of relationship sales and search engines where information is ranked on relationships, B2B companies have an inherent advantage over their business-to-consumer (B2C) counterparts. Social media and search, when combined, amplify marketing results unlike the integration of most offline tactics.

Three B2B Search Engine Optimization Steps to Superstardom

1. Build a unified keyword strategy—This strategy should leverage content and social media to help determine the keywords with the potential to drive the majority of search engine traffic. Filter your SEO keyword list to a unified list of fewer than 50 keywords and develop a strategy for driving more search and social traffic from those 50 keywords in the next six months through blogging and social media sharing.

2. Drop useless search metrics—Stop obsessing over keyword rank. Instead, look at the keywords that are driving the most leads and customers. Support these keywords with blog posts, lead generation offers, social media, and other inbound marketing tactics to drive meaningful business results.

3. Build links—Links still matter and will continue to matter even though social media will play a larger role in the ranking of search engine results. Follow the three tips for building links outlined in this chapter with the goal of adding 10 new inbound links to your website in the next 90 days. Use to measure your improvement in inbound links.



Chapter 4

How to Close the Loop of Social Media ROI

Social media marketing is about generating business-to-business (B2B) leads and revenue. It is not about generating buzz, creating content that goes viral, gaining positive mindshare, or using any other fluffy metric. Marketing’s job is to contribute to revenue generation, not be a cost center for superficial activities with no clear return on investment (ROI).

Determining the ROI of social media marketing isn’t some mythic quest that starts with you riding off on a white horse. It is actually much clearer than the ROI of many offline marketing efforts. This is the beauty of the Web. Actions are trackable. Social media marketing is measurable. You just need to understand what to measure.

Warning: This chapter contains math.

Being great at math and data analysis are keys to becoming a successful marketing superstar. We will weave strategies, theory, and math in an attempt to demystify B2B social media marketing ROI.

Before we go any further, let’s talk about access to your company’s financial data. If you work for a transparent company where you see monthly sales reports and marketing expenses, you are a-okay for the chapter ahead. But if you work for a company where financial data is available only via court order, you need to pause right now and set up a meeting with your supervisor, or whoever can authorize your access to this information. After reading this chapter, get this person in authority to read this chapter. Tell him or her that you want to show the ROI and that The B2B Social Media Book says you need this information. Put your finger right here and say, “Look, it says right here that this is what we need to do.”

The Math of ROI

As demonstrated in Figure 4.1, measuring the ROI of an overall B2B marketing team or even a single B2B campaign is a simple math problem. It is gathering the numbers to execute the math that is the challenge. To determine the ROI of any B2B marketing effort, follow this simple formula. (Note: This formula is to give you ROI as a percentage.)

FIGURE 4.1 Social Media ROI Formula

This simple formula is what separates good marketers from great ones—because although it is a simple problem to compute, the devil lies in the details of accurately calculating TLV and COCA.

Calculating COCA

COCA is the “I” in ROI.

COCA is all of the costs required to bring a customer in the door. This makes COCA typically a sales and marketing metric. To calculate COCA, add all marketing costs, including salaries and overhead of team members, outside agency costs, and contractor costs, and all paid advertising for a set period of time, whether it is a month, quarter, or year.

The next step is to combine all sales-related costs, such as commissions, operations costs, and other sales-related expenses, to understand the full COCA for your business. This number can then be divided by the revenue attributed to these marketing and sales efforts during the time you are measuring to determine the COCA per customer. When looking to determine the ROI of marketing by channel instead of the aggregate efforts, it is important to determine the COCA per channel.

For example, let’s say one of your marketing team members spends half of her time writing and editing the company blog. Her monthly salary is $3,000. Divide that monthly salary in half, $1,500; she only spends half of her time on the blog. Salary is only part of the cost. You have overhead costs that come with every employee and that normally averages between 40 and 50 percent. Let’s err on the high side and say this employee’s overhead is 50 percent. Take 50 percent of $1,500, which gives you an additional $750 for overhead cost. Then you need to determine any hard costs for operating your blog, such as hosting, design, or any other maintenance. For the sake of this example, let’s say that your monthly costs for your blog are $100. So, when you combine the costs—salary ($1,500) + employee overhead costs ($750) + technical costs ($1