To get the most out of social media efforts, a tech company needs to leverage an array of B2B marketing funnel tactics at each level. The social media strategy should be designed so that each interaction naturally triggers the next step to move the interaction deeper into the funnel.
“When you are using social media for B2B [communications, it’s more of a professional relationship than B2C communications,” said Amie Burke, a social media director for Bernard & Company.
“You talk about what you do for the industry. This is the start of that marketing funnel – awareness.”
This is where marketing can provide the leads that sales doesn’t typically generate on its own, said Stephanie Chavez, global chief marketing officer for Zen Media.
“Marketing is always pushing out LinkedIn blogs, emails, promoting webinars and case studies on the corporate LinkedIn page, for example, which salespeople typically aren’t doing. And it’s such a powerful tool. You’re not trying to sell them on LinkedIn, you’re just establishing an initial relationship.”
To build awareness, Chavez recommends using not only LinkedIn, but also Facebook and other social media platforms, paying particular attention to different versions for different companies.
She also recommended joining various appropriate groups to heighten the awareness of the company, its products and its industry expertise.
“This helps provide a warm lead rather than a cold lead,” Chavez added. Once a warm lead is established, it’s much easier to move through the funnel.
Awareness is an essential first step that isn’t completed quickly.
Unlike a B2C initial interaction, where a consumer might be looking for a product that can be delivered in a couple of days to his or her home, B2B marketing tactics involve much more methodical means, and can take a longer time to move through different steps of the funnel.
Unless it expanding capacities or efficiencies by adding another identical piece to a “fleet,” such as a mobile robot, an additional forklift, or another piece of equipment that is the same model as what is already in place, the B2B buyer will be conducting serious due diligence at the awareness stage to help ensure that the product will meet the company’s needs – and is a better value due to price, capabilities, durability and other factors than a similar product offered by the competition.
“It’s a smaller, more personal relationship,” Burke said. “You are talking to people who are looking at their business and trying to figure out how you can help them.”
It’s not a hard sell approach, added Ioana Benea, a social media director for Bernard & Company.
“You’re providing content because [the customer] wants to be more informed to make a better decision to go through the marketing funnel. You’re just getting them acquainted with what your company does and who you are. And then as you go from there to the consideration stage.”
Blog posts work well at this stage of the marketing funnel, Burke added. “The first step that a lot of people take is to conduct a Google search for anything that they need.”
After the awareness stage, one very powerful tool is the voice message feature LinkedIn offers, Chavez added. LinkedIn voice messages will stand apart from the mountains of emails that integrators and potential customers receive every day.
Other stages of the marketing funnel include consideration, intent, evaluation and purchase. Once the customer becomes aware of the company and its products – which had been a function of trade shows as well until they came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic – the next step is the consideration stage.
At that stage, the customer is looking for specific information – what sets your tech company apart from the competition, according to Benea. “With social media, you can feature a snippet of a customer success story.”
Offer enough of the success story, perhaps a few bullet points, to draw in customers who have moved past the awareness stage, then provide links to the full article and to product information (i.e., your product(s) that the customer benefitted from).
“Social media really drives the consideration stage,” Burke said. “We’re talking about interactive posts, having videos of what you do on your social media page, webinars as well as offering educational ideas in that phase, then moving into the decision phase, where the sales really kicks in as well.”
If the marketing successfully engages the prospective customer at each successive level of the funnel, the further they progress, the more the propensity to purchase should increase.
Though this is primarily used for B2C marketing, an approach that also works for B2B tech marketing is offering a discount or additional service that may not be offered higher in the funnel, according to Benea.
It’s important to remember that the sale shouldn’t be considered the end of the marketing cycle for the new customer, Benea said. “You shouldn’t forget them after you make the sale. You should make them feel part of your community and engage with them. You can share tutorials with them.”
In addition to tutorials, offer a help center, blogs, frequently asked questions, etc., Burke added. “Definitely show that after the sale, you continue that relationship, and you’re not leaving that business out to fend for themselves.”
Benea added: “If you want the customer to be a bigger part of your community, and strengthen that relationship further, you can ask them to be a brand advocate, perhaps with a testimonial or case study (or snippet) to market to other prospects. They can ask others to follow your company and like your social media page.”
“You make them want to be your advocate by providing ongoing service,” Burke added. This can include details on best practices or new ways to derive the most benefits out of a product as well as troubleshooting steps and troubleshooting service.
Another way for both the customer and the company to benefit is to share information from each other’s LinkedIn pages and other social media platforms, Chavez said.