Why social selling is the next evolution of content marketing and social media

Below is my interview with Patricia Stamas-Jacoby, Publications Editor, at Frost & Sullivan in their Digital Marketing eBulletin. Part 1 of 2. Read part 2.

Matthew Royse will be presenting The Social Selling Revolution: 10 Tips to a Successful Social Selling Program That Drives Business Results at the 17th Annual Digital Marketing: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange in July. In anticipation of the event, we posed the following questions about the state of B2B Digital Marketing today.

A key takeaway: Marketing is no longer just a cost center, but can drive business transformation.

Frost & Sullivan: What is your working definition of digital marketing? 

Matthew Royse: Digital marketing is an umbrella term that is used in many different ways, depending on the context. Simply put, it is the shift in the “value prop” of marketing to digital. By taking advantage of digital technologies such as websites, email, social media, online ads, e-commerce and other forms of digital media, marketing can better reach its target audiences.

As the world becomes digitized, the value for businesses lies in using digital to its competitive advantage to grow and better serve customers or clients. The marketing team should be leading the charge to digital because marketing has become such a critical part of today’s business model. The most successful companies today are the ones that are so useful to their target audiences with their products and services that they will become a part of daily life of their customers.

What is your organization’s working definition of digital marketing?

The definition of digital marketing is different for every company. At Forsythe Technology, we documented our digital marketing strategy on one page in order to clearly communicate our perspective internally and with our partners.  As I will briefly discuss during my upcoming presentation, The Social Selling Revolution: 10 Tips to a Successful Social Selling Program That Drives Business Results, we outlined the following in one page: our digital marketing strategy summary statement, the current and future state of our digital marketing, our strategy timeline, our top five digital marketing initiatives and our underlying beliefs and assumptions about digital marketing. We treat the one-pager as a living document to be updated as our digital marketing strategy evolves and as our people, processes and technologies change.

What are your thoughts on where digital marketing is heading?

Digital marketing will become part of everyone’s job, just like social media. Social media was initially a separate area with social media specialists and strategists. Now, social media has become part of everyone’s job description. The same will happen for digital marketing. Digital marketing will just become marketing because successful marketing today requires marketers to be hybrid or T-shape professionals. Marketers should specialize in one area such as social media or content marketing but should know enough about search engine optimization, online advertising, influencer marketing, marketing programs and other marketing functions so they can understand the holistic view of marketing.

Marketing is becoming more data-driven and automated but marketing still needs the human element and the creative part of telling great stories. Companies that position themselves in the minds of customers as being helpful and useful are the ones that stay top of mind with them. One of the ways to stay top of mind with customers is through social selling.

Can you share your insights on how B2B (as opposed to B2C) organizations should leverage “social selling?” 

Contrary to popular opinion, B2B organizations have a bigger opportunity to utilize social selling than B2C for the following reasons: there are more decision makers in a purchase decision, the purchasing process takes longer, more money is involved in a purchase and the buyers are typically more informed with tons of research.

In my upcoming presentation, I will talk about how social selling is the next evolution of content marketing and social media. Social media and content marketing have become critical to sales. Social selling is a hybrid of these two important functions.

Social selling is a revolution for sales. The old sales model used to be about cold calls, qualifying leads and sales demos. The new sales model is about education, social networks, and engagement. According to the Corporate Executive Board and OgilyOne, 60 percent of B2B customer research is conducted before contacting sales and 71 percent of salespeople believe their role will be radically different in five years.

Sales is looking for a partner in marketing to help with this transition, and marketing is looking for more insight from sales on what works and what doesn’t. According to the Sales Management Association, two in three companies don’t have a social media strategy for sales, but 80 percent of sales teams would be more productive with a greater social media presence. And, according to Sirius Decisions, 60 to 70 percent of all company content goes unused. Social selling can help your company better understand what content your sales team is sharing with clients and prospects online and via social media. As marketing learns more and more about what content sales is using successfully, they can create better and more targeted content.

Can you outline the next phase of mobile marketing? 

The next phase of mobile marketing is where a company puts its mobile experience first, which is a challenge for many companies due to legacy thinking, systems and organizing the data so it is real-time and easier for consumers. Brands understand the importance of transforming to a mobile-first, digital strategy but they are not prepared for how quickly they need to adapt to make this happen. There are a lot of changes that need to be made to people, processes and technologies at large companies in a short amount of time. That is why smaller companies have a competitive advantage—they don’t have the legacy technology and processes in place. As a result, larger companies are moving toward creating their own enterprise “app store” so they can more quickly adapt to changes in the marketplace.

Your insights on moving from multi-channel marketing to omni-channel marketing? 

People can now engage with a company in a physical store, via the website or mobile app or through social media, fueling the shift toward omni-channel marketing to provide a seamless customer experience across all interactions. Where companies often go wrong with the customer experience is a lack of integration between teams. Bad marketing experiences occur at the consumer/end-user level when it becomes apparent that the company’s technology, people, and processes are not well integrated.

Your thoughts and good or bad experiences on integrating marketing across the organization? 

Yes, marketing should be definitely be integrated. That is one of the most important aspects of marketing today but often the most difficult. Marketing needs to ensure their department is integrated first and then work on improving integration across the organization. For example, contact centers have a wealth of information for marketers on the types of questions that they are being asked by customers. Do the contact centers record that information so that marketing can create helpful content to answer those questions? It sounds so simple. Yet, it is rarely done. Another example: Are marketing/PR teams prepared if the company gets hacked? Do they have a crisis communications and disaster recovery plan if it occurs? If so, can the company communicate it quickly?

The key for digital marketing and good customer experiences will be integration, strategy and a shift in mindset that marketing is more than a support function. Marketing is no longer a cost center but drives business transformation. As a result, marketing organizations should consistently have a seat the business table (and at the C-suite and board level) to drive digital transformation conversations, its value proposition to the company, and why its budget should grow.

To sum up, digital marketing and heightened customer expectations are changing how the modern marketing organization is structured. Marketing has become more holistic, aligns more closely with the business strategy, and is responsible for the overall customer experience. One company to learn from is Target. They built successful digital marketing department. They did not put their marketing teams into groups or silos. Instead, they brought everyone together as one big marketing team. This helped Target tell a cohesive brand story and attract top talent. An example we can all learn from.

Read the original “Discussing Digital Marketing” article.

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