How Social Continues to Shape the Buyer's Journey: A Q&A With Marketo | Hootsuite Blog
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How Social Continues to Shape the Buyer’s Journey: A Q&A with Marketo

Think about the last big-ticket item that you bought. Chances are, you didn’t simply go to the store and pick out the first television that caught your eye. You probably spent some time researching the product and reading customer reviews so that you could make an informed decision.

Thanks to social media, today’s consumer is more educated and equipped than ever. To understand the impact this digital transformation has had on every stage of the buyer’s journey, we spoke to Lisa Marcyes, social media and marketing manager at Marketo.

Q&A with Lisa Marcyes from Marketo

What part of the buyer’s journey has social media had the biggest impact on?

One of the most exciting parts of my job is the fact that social media touches buyers at every stage of their journey. At the initial stages, we’re looking to increase new followers and drive awareness and engagement with our content. We’ve also seen customer support on social become a huge part of the digital buying journey.

People are expecting an answer from me within one hour maximum. Along with social listening and finding customers and potential customers discussing the brand, we’re able to build advocacy. The buying journey is impacted from beginning and discovery of the brand, to gaining valuable brand advocates.

Building this brand voice on social helps to establish you as a thought leader, an expert in the field, and a go-to for advice. With 55 percent of B2B buyers doing their research through social networks, social channels provide a real-time platform where they can share information, research products, and make informed buying decisions.

With engagement, you’re interacting and nurturing strategies to help nudge that potential customer toward a conversion. This is an especially critical time not to be too pushy or salesy, but rather informative and approaching with a ‘here’s some tips that could maybe help you’ stance. Great ways to approach this are with social targeting with paid, using organic listening and engagement, participating in chats, and responding to inquiries.

Once your buyer has converted into a customer, social is a great way to address retention and loyalty. Social really does give the perfect platform to create long-term relationships with your customers. Continue to provide them valuable content, provide customer service, and actively engage. You’ll find customers feel valued and listened to.

The goal in social is always to offer a great customer experience. And hopefully, if you make your customers feel valued, they’ll become advocates, share your content, and refer you to others.

What is the number one thing brands have to keep in mind as they look to engage customers and prospects on social media?

Know your audience. Whenever you’re posting, understand who your followers are and what they care about.

For example, if your brand is known for having cutting edge workout gear, your followers will most likely be interested in seeing posts that highlight how your product will make their workout better, workout tips and tricks, and how-tos. That’s not to say A/B testing isn’t warranted, just be strategic about your brand voice.

It’s also really important to pay attention to buyer behavior across all social channels and meet them where they are with omni-channel marketing. A big mistake I see brands making is going where they think their customers should be, rather than where they actually are.

Can you give us an example of a brand that understands the importance of connecting with customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey?

I’d have to say GE is one of my “go-tos” when I’m looking for a brand that does social engagement right. They’ve created the perfect balance of thought leadership and authenticity on their channels. They educate, use fun graphics and explain things in a way that their followers can understand. Education first and selling second is a principle I really stand by and believe in.

In addition, they’re great at responding to user inquiries and at trying to engage their audience through campaigns like their #IWantToInvent hashtag last year. They really make an effort to create content their users want and are engaging buyers at every stage of their journey, from awareness to advocacy.

How can brands measure their efforts to connect with customers on social media? What goals should be tracked and what tools can they use to do that?

Before you jump in and start implementing any social media marketing engagement plan, you need to take the time define your goals. They’ll help you map out the most relevant offers and content for your audience—whether that’s brand awareness or engagement.

For instance, if your goal is to acquire more leads and contacts, you will probably want to share whitepapers or other gated content. But if your goal is brand awareness, you might want to share ungated content such as an infographic or a fun video. It’s key to have a social relationship platform such as Hootsuite, for social publishing and listening on social networks.
To make this as clear as possible, I broke down the metrics into three stages.

Early Stage Metrics

  • Reach/impressions
  • Click-through rate (CTR)/engagement
  • Conversions
  • New names, cost per lead/acquisition

Mid Stage Metrics

  • Marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads
  • Opportunity and pipeline

Late Stage Metrics

  • Opportunities won
  • Revenue and return on investment (ROI)
  • Customer lifetime value

These metrics are important to pay attention to, because it can be difficult to define ROI with social. For a long time social media marketers were focusing solely on soft metrics, but now it’s great that we have the tools to track mid and late stage metrics too.

Can you describe how the buyer’s journey has changed and what you’ve done to adapt?

As much as 90 percent of a buyer’s journey is self-directed, so it’s clear that the modern buyer’s journey now begins with self-education. Due to this, there needs to be such a strong alignment between content and social at this juncture.

With that said, it’s loud out there. There’s a lot of content and we’re really seeing a challenge in getting and keeping customer’s attention. We need to be on top of the trends and understand what people are talking about, what they’re interested in, and develop our content throughout time to align with this information.

Buyers are looking for quality content, and they want it yesterday. They expect personal and engaging experiences from their social media. And social is a great platform for marketers to engage buyers at all stages of their journey in a way that is relevant and on their terms. At Marketo we are always looking to educate first, and sell second.

With this change comes the need to really understand what channels and programs are most effective at different stages and to have the right tools to collect and understand the data.

Brands are really having to broaden our listening strategies and adapt to real-time content publishing and responses. People didn’t have the voice they do now 10 years ago, or even five years ago. If somebody doesn’t get a response in two minutes from me on Twitter they move onto Facebook—that’s the way things work these days.

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