Thursday, July 7, 2011

B2B in the World of Social Media

.Top B2B players use social networks to help expand the reach of their marketing and demand creation initiativ

Does the hype that surrounds social media's influence on how and what consumers buy translate to the business environment? One can point to countless examples of how consumers have learned to block-out marketing messages, yet still put a lot of weight on the opinions of their social media "network," ultimately influencing the purchases they make. Since B2B buyers are, in fact, also "consumers," one might expect that the same behavior would carry over to their business purchases. But that's not always the case.

While business buyers are now starting to make heavy use of social media for business purposes, they still tend to rely heavily on "traditional" sources of information when making business purchase decisions — sources such as peers and colleagues, vendor rankings, magazines, reviews, consultants, analyst firms, and even vendors themselves. The appearance of "objectivity" means that the message is received with fewer "filters," and given greater credibility, than a similar message contained in traditional, sales-oriented marketing literature. A report by Forrester Research concluded that 84% of all B2B buyers are influenced by word of mouth... and social media presents an ideal platform for communicating this type of credible message.

The good news for marketers is that the business buyer is, without a doubt, increasingly "going social," starting from when when they first recognize that they have a problem which needs to be solved. As Forrester's Josh Bernoff says: "If you're a B2B marketer and you're not using social technologies in your marketing, it means you're late." Utilizing social media in much the same way they do in their personal lives, B2B purchasers are now looking to their social networks - and to social media, in general - to capitalize on the knowledge and experience of other users and experts in specific topic areas. Again, the search is for an objective, "credible" message.

One key to success for the B2B marketer is to interact with their target audiences much earlier in the decision-making cycle... this requires a big shift for many marketers, many of whom seem to be content to simply use social media to pump out the same old marketing messages. Success requires that marketers build trust and credibility early, long before prospective customers enter into an active buying cycle... Marketers need to demonstrate that they have expertise in the problem areas addressed by their products or services, and not just be pimps for their products.

Another — even more critical — component is creating (and nurturing) customer advocates for your product or service. Because the opinion of an actual user of your product or service carries far more credibility than that of you as a marketer. And this falls squarely in the realm of social media. But remember, the likelihood of a customer recommending you to a friend or colleague doesn't depend solely on the quality of your products and services or your efficiency... these are just qualifiers for your company to even be in the game. At the end of the day, it really depends on the genuine concern that you show them as stakeholders.

So, when formulating your social media marketing plan, you will want to concentrate on a couple of things:

  • Identify the Likely Online Venues (Facebook pages, blogs, etc.) where your target prospects might lurk. Look for any third-party research about social media usage specific to your industry. Conduct an informal study of your current customers to see where and how they get news and information, but more importantly, how they are influenced. At the same time, use a free search tool like Technorati, Google Blog Search, Board Reader, and Twitter Search to do some research of your own to determine influencers in your industry that are active online.
  • Determine Your Key Business Objectives. It doesn’t matter how viable social web channels are for your business, if you don’t align your efforts with clearly-defined business objectives, you're just wasting time and money. Schedule a meeting with all of your key stakeholders to review current marketing and business objectives, and determine how these online communications can be used to help support those objectives.
  • Develop a Plan for Tactical Execution. Social media marketing takes a lot of time. However, without a plan, you'll spend far more time than you need to. Make a list of all of the engagement work you need to be doing and all of the content that needs to be developing and then assign it on a daily or weekly calendar over the course of a month. This will be your guide and will help to ensure that your strategy is executed and your time — and money — is not wasted.
  • Identify and Nurture Customer Advocates, whom you can incorporate into your social media efforts, utilizing satisfied customer "quotes" and, if they are willing, even having them post their own comments, on your behalf.
  • Execute Your Plan. Make certain that you have the manpower to execute your social media marketing plan. Have you estimated how many hours per week it will take? Additionally, have you thought about other necessary resources, such as computers, video cameras, smart phones, and other items that will help facilitate online communications? If all the ducks are in a row, start posting your message to the venues you've identified.
  • Measure Your Results. With a clearly-defined objective, it's easy to measure your results. When it comes to social media, there are two very important reasons for measuring all of your efforts. The first is determine your ROI, to ensure that your initial strategy is delivering the needed results. The second is for determining how to tweak your focus, in order to improve the impact of your efforts. To properly measure your results, you'll need to capture as much data as possible. You'll need to ensure that your corporate web site is set up with analytic software such as Google Analytics, and that each and every web page and web-based collateral includes a "share this" function, to facilitate easy sharing of your product or service message; I use AddThis. Use a URL shortening service such as to help track clicks on each link shared on social platforms. And use all of the data that you collect to help evaluate — and refine — your efforts.

Social media is just one tool in the B2B marketer's tool box... but it's becoming more and more important with each day, so you really can't afford to discount its value. Proper planning and consistent execution will help to ensure that your efforts are productive and rewarding.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How Technology is Shaping the Future of Marketing - and everything else...

The role of technology in our business and personal lives has changed dramatically; No longer does it merely play a "supporting" role. Now, it's driving business performance and providing enrichment in our personal lives in a way that couldn't even have been imagined just 5 or 10 years ago. Over the next 5 years, Social platforms will evolve into new and timely sources of business intelligence. Company web sites might no longer be the first stop for customers interested in your product or service. This has the potential to disrupt the way many companies conduct their business, posing new challenges – and related opportunities – for IT, not the least of which are centered around data security.

Also, expect cloud computing to become so pervasive that the term itself becomes meaningless. The focus will shift from simple infrastructure solutions to the development of cloud strategies that deliver increased functionality and flexibility, utilizing a mix of public and private cloud-based application and platform services, to deliver user experiences that will satisfy the needs of a population that is growing ever more comfortable around technology in their business and personal lives.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Is Social Media Killing Email?

A recent study by ComScore suggests that traditional email is losing steam. They note that web-based email usage declined 8 percent from Dec '09 to Dec '10. But the largest decline - a whopping 59 percent - occurred among 12-17 year olds. The second largest decline, 18%, was in the "millennial" 25-34 age group. Communication habits are changing, and each new generation will find a way to supplant/replace email with new technologies.

Some suggest that the convenience of using a social network's built-in messaging tools are partially responsible for moving a lot of communication away from traditional email clients, especially for personal communication. Businesses still seem tethered to traditional email, and will likely continue to do so, until a) there is a petter mechanism for privacy within social networking messaging tools, and b) until the messaging tools become more robust. While these messaging tools are convenient, they have limited functionality and no real mechanism for filing and archiving records of communication... Look for more robust feature sets to begin showing-up in Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

In fact, Gartner goes as fas as to say that, by 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 percent of business users.

They contend that, the greater availability of social networking services - both inside and outside corporate firewall - coupled with changing demographics and work styles will lead roughly 20 percent of users to make a social network the "hub" of their business communications. During the next several years, companies will be building-out internal social networks and/or allowing business use of personal social network accounts. Social networking will prove to be more effective than e-mail for certain business activities such as status updates and expertise location.

Says Gartner's Matt Cain, vice president of research, “The rigid distinction between e-mail and social networks will erode. E-mail will take on many social attributes, such as contact brokering while social networks will develop richer e-mail capabilities." He adds, "While e-mail is already almost fully penetrated in the corporate space, we expect to see steep growth rates for sales of premises- and cloud-based social networking services."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

O&Y Launches New Web Site for Personetics

January 12, 2011 - Trenton, NJ - O&Y Partners announced today that it has launched a new web site for Personetics, Ltd. - - to promote their automated customer servicing solutions to the financial services vertical. Based in New York and with a development center in Tel Aviv, Israel, Personetics was founded by seasoned technology entrepreneurs with deep experience in providing enterprise financial services technology solutions. Personetics' offerings include Digital Personal Banker™, a revolutionary new platform for the automation of customer interactions in banking and financial services. In addition to the developing the web site, O&Y also developed their corporate ID and branding, and collateral materials.

Says O&Y founder David Z Orban, "Personetics needed to develop their web site and collateral materials under an extremely tight time frame. They came to O&Y, knowing that - with our deep experience in B2B technology marketing and with financial markets - we would be able to deliver an extremely high-quality product, quickly and with minimal direction. And they have been very pleased with the results." He added, "We are looking forward to helping them to further expand their marketing footprint, in the near future."

About O&Y Partners
Based in Trenton, NJ, O&Y provides a comprehensive range of marketing services to start-up and early-stage B2B technology providers. With a perspective formed by more than 25 years of real-world problem-solving in the B2B technology marketing arena, O&Y brings a level of strategic and tactical expertise that our clients find to be extremely valuable and highly effective. For more information, visit their website at

About Personetics
Based in New York, with operations in Tel Aviv, Israel, Personetics provides next-generation technology solutions that enable financial institutions to re-think and improve the way they interact with their customers. For more information, visit their website at

Friday, January 7, 2011

E-Mail Marketing: Yea or Nay?

Email marketing is all about creating a channel for meaningful communication between your company and your customers. The best email marketing delivers helpful, actionable messages to customers, resulting in increased brand awareness; enhanced good will; qualified leads; and new - or returning - sales.

A successful program of email marketing can result in a higher average order value; increased sales conversions, or increased repeat sales from existing customers. Email marketing keeps your brand or company in the minds of your customer. For businesses with both an online and bricks-and-mortar presence, email marketing can drive your online customers to make offline purchases from your brick and mortar store.

Is Email Marketing Effective?

Uh, yeah. 89% of retailers listed email as their most successful marketing tactic.

Should Email Marketing Be a Top Priority?

Both analyst firm Forrester and online retail research firm seem to think so, with more than 88% of the retailers surveyed placing email as a "high" priority, largely for retaining their current customers.

Is Email Marketing Growing?

According to email service provider ExactTarget, in 2010, they expect 54% of marketers plan to increase their budgets for email marketing nitiatives.

How Successful is Email Marketing?
  • According to a 2009 study by marketing services provider Epsilon, 67% of email subscribers say they’ve purchased products offline specifically as a result of receiving an email from a retail company
  • A 2007 study by marketing research firm Marketing Sherpa found that consumers who subscribed to email newsletters generated 34% more product sales than those who didn’t
  • Online retail experts found that the average order conversion rate for marketing emails is 6%
  • In 2009, the Direct Marketing Association estimated that, on average, email marketing generated an average Return on Investment of nearly $44 for every dollar spent
Here are some stats from email marketing service provider MailChimp:

Making the leap into email marketing is easy and relatively inexpensive; it can be launched extremely quickly; and it has been documented to be extremely effective. However, launching an email campaign must be done with some caution and common sense... you really don't want to flood your prospects with what might be perceived as unwanted "spam." Doing so can even get your IP address black-listed, and that's definitely not the result you're looking for. There are many reputable email marketing service providers (at all price levels) who can help you with the logistics of launching and managing a campaign. But perhaps the single most important component is the content of your emails... it can be simply informational, or provide an offer of some sort, but you want to make certain that whatever you are sending will be appealing to your target prospects... otherwise, it will be discarded before it's even opened.

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