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Monday, January 25, 2010

An Email, A Tweet, Some Retweets and A Sale - How Twitter Can Impact Your B2B Sales


Case Study - How Twitter Can Impact Your B2B SalesI think many heavy Twitter users hear the same jokes and comments from people not using the service. “I don’t see any value in tweeting my ideas”, “Why would I want tell people what I had for breakfast”, “140 character updates, I don’t get it…”, “Why do I want to communicate with total strangers?”, so on and so forth. After hearing comments like this, it usually only takes me a few minutes to give real world examples of how Twitter is NOT what they were thinking and how they could use the service to help grow their own businesses. Those real world case studies go a long way when you are explaining a service that can be foreign to other people (even for people in marketing who aren’t that involved with social media.) So, I’m always on the lookout for more great examples of how Twitter (and social media) can impact companies, marketers, customers, etc. As you might guess, I’ve a got a good one that I’ve decided to share. :)

The Social Media Chain Reaction Needs a Spark
A few weeks ago, a blog post was published detailing some of the top software applications for a niche in an industry. The post included a startup that had recently just launched their new application. The founder of the startup was proud (as he should be) and blasted out an email newsletter announcing that they were included in the list of top apps. I’m not sure how many people were on the email list, but I can only imagine it wasn’t a large list (as the company recently just launched).

It wasn’t long before a link to the blog post hit the Twittersphere. The company in question has a very small Twitter following, so blasting out an email could only help get the word out. A quick review of their Twitter stream shows they are doing the right things, but they haven’t reached critical mass to make a significant impact. Some of the tweets linking to the blog post were from people who definitely have a strong Twitter following. Retweets soon followed and the word started to get out about the list of top apps. By no means was this a retweet extravaganza that I’ve seen with other posts, but it did get passed around quite a bit.

The Results: Email, Tweet, Retweet, Sale
It's sometimes funny how tweets end up finding the right people. It's similar to WOM, where several generations of communication can occur (stemming from the initial tweet). In a nutshell, the startup ended up landing its first international client in less than 12 hours from one of the initial tweets. The new customer saw the tweet (either by directly following a Twitter user or by tracking keywords in Twitter), clicked through to the blog post, and then chose to learn more about the startup's app. They obviously took the next step and inquired about the service and then pulled the trigger (all in less than 12 hours.) Oh by the way, this all cost nothing for the startup, nada, $0). And when B2B sales can generate thousands of dollars per customer (or tens of thousands of dollars depending on what you sell), you cannot downplay how powerful this Twitter example is.

A Quick Tangent About Email Marketing:
I wanted to point out that an email actually started the communication process. There’s quite a bit of buzz about social networking (and for good reason), but I still believe a strong and scrubbed in-house email list is worth its weight in gold.

Seeing the “Twitter” Light
For the startup, they now see the power of Twitter (and social media in general). But in my opinion, the company was somewhat lucky with what happened. Don’t get me wrong, their software solution looks impressive (especially for the industry they focus on). But, having cool software doesn’t necessarily translate to business success, especially with all the noise in today’s marketplace. It’s great that the blog post made its way to the right people, but the startup could have better facilitated the communication on social networks. No, you cannot control where the message ends up and how it gets passed along, but you can help get the word out to the right people during the launch via followers, fans, influencers, etc. That’s where having a strong presence on social networks like Twitter and Facebook can be extremely powerful.

In order to maximize their efforts and continually engage targeted users, the startup needs to tackle social media marketing on several fronts. Although they saw some success due to Twitter that day, they had to rely on someone else getting the word out. Imagine if they already had a strong following on Twitter and Facebook. What if they already had a global readership on their blog, and had connections with dozens of powerful bloggers in their industry? It’s not a stretch to think that the startup could have landed five or ten new customers versus one. The problem is that it takes time to build up a following, which I have written about several times before. Currently, the startup is in the initial stages of launching their social media marketing efforts. They are fighting the black hole of blogging and Twitter, but they are doing the right things. If they don’t get frustrated and keep driving forward, social media could end up being very powerful for them. They could end up driving the communication versus hoping someone else drives it for them.

In Order to Reap the Rewards of Social Media, Make Sure You’re in the Game
In order to make sure you can benefit from a situation like what I explained above, there are some initial steps you can take. First, develop a strategy for utilizing social media to engage targeted users. This includes understanding the people you want to reach, which types of content they want to see, which social networks you should be active on, how to gain real followers and not just zombie followers, etc. Second, join Twitter. You need to take the leap and join in order to get things moving. Once you join, you’ll need to work through the black hole of blogging and Twitter (like I mentioned above). You won’t build a strong following overnight, but if you do the right things consistently over time, you can end up building a targeted following. And those followers could have a profound impact on your business.

Track everything you can. Track your tweets, follower counts, blog posts, website activity from social networks, and conversion. Note, conversion doesn’t always mean a sale or an email registration (macro-conversions). It can be micro-conversions like downloads, videos viewed, content viewed, email links, etc. You need to understand how your social media marketing efforts are performing in order to make adjustments and grow your following.

Form relationships and not just followers. Yes, that’s the “social” part of social media. I’m not saying you have to be best friends with every follower and fan, but there will be a subset of your followers that you will definitely connect with. Once you form those relationships, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to rely on some of your followers to help your business. And by the way, you’ll probably be just as willing to help them too. Trust me, if you participate in Twitter the right way, you can’t help but meet really cool people with similar interests. Then it’s just a matter of how you engage your newfound friends and contacts.

Twitter Questions to Ponder
So, if you are one of those people asking “Why would I want to tell people what I had for breakfast on Twitter”, please read this post again. Then ask yourself the following questions:

1. How many new customers am I missing out on by not being on Twitter?
2. Are my competitors already there and doing the right things to engage targeted users?
3. How much time can I carve out during each day (yes, that’s every day) to participate on Twitter and other social networks?
4. Am I ready to engage other people and provide valuable content? Read this bullet again. Valuable tweets are NOT about promoting your own service ten times per day. It’s about providing information that your followers would find valuable.

A Final Note
There you have it. A pretty cool example of how email marketing led to a tweet, which led to retweets, and then ultimately a B2B sale (all in less than 12 hours). After reading this case study, you have to ask yourself the following question:

Are you going to be one of the people sitting on the sidelines and making fun of Twitter, or will you be landing new customers and growing your business?

Good question.

GG

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2 Comments:

  • At 7:25 PM, Anonymous Seth Goldstein said…

    Glenn,

    Great post and examples that will help all of us with explaining the value of Twitter and other social media platforms to people.

     
  • At 7:45 PM, Blogger Glenn Gabe said…

    Thanks Seth. It was pretty amazing to see the speed at which it occurred (in this example). The link to the post found its way to the right person (a decision maker) pretty darn quickly. :)

    GG

     

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