B2B brands face numerous self-imposed difficulties when positioning their products and services, and in no other medium is this more evident than with a brand’s own website. In its 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, Optify revealed that although organic search was the top source of traffic (41%) to B2B SMB company websites in 2012, it exhibited a meager 1.45% conversion rate, trailing email (2.89%), referral (2.04%), paid search (1.96%) and direct (1.65%).
Underperforming organic traffic can be attributed in part to the use of search relative to the buyer’s journey: it usually comes first, and only after being retargeted do buyers come back to the website to reengage. However, unclear messaging of complex concepts—an unfortunate characteristic of many B2B tech properties—is as much to blame for organic traffic’s low position on the B2B conversion totem pole.
Luckily, the proliferation of media networks, platforms and channels over the last decade hasn’t just made it easier for marketers to reach prospects outside of their websites; it’s empowered them to connect with specific audiences through value-driven, relevant messages that ultimately drive purchase consideration.
Twitter is the marketing industry’s model of relevance, enforced by a 140-character limit and humanity’s collective attention deficit. The social network’s restrictions distinguish B2B marketers who condense owned content related to precisely their prospects’ values and needs from buzzword wizards and “prolific bloggers” that jam-pack their Twitter feeds with self-aggrandizing, self-promotional non-substance that repel potential clients.
Despite its relative unpopularity in B2B—54% of US B2B marketers use Twitter, compared to Facebook’s 65% and LinkedIn’s 79%—these restrictions have made Twitter the foremost social media network in B2B lead generation, according to Optify. Of the 600 small and medium-sized US B2B websites examined, Twitter was responsible for an overwhelming 82% of social-generated leads, while Facebook and LinkedIn garnered 9% each.
Twitter is advantageous as a marketing tool because it enables ongoing dialogue without interrupting logical thought flow. Directly addressing prospects through Facebook or LinkedIn is less effective because such messages are surrounded by so much noise. With Twitter—and with social listening platforms—marketers can identify valuable opportunities to position their products and services in a defined dialogue, reflecting a consultative, in-person sales approach.
To help marketers capitalize on these opportunities, Twitter began testing a new ad unit last week. Aiming to close the gap between conversation and conversion, the lead generation unit publishes content through Twitter Cards, the same feature that allows embedded photos and videos within tweets, and includes a button to access said content. While this trial product could give expert B2B Twitter marketers another tool to connect with users through relevant content, expect to see plenty of social media novices continue to miss the point entirely and use this as a purely self-promotional device—if the ad unit ever sees the light of day.
Regardless of what happens with Twitter’s advertising options, don’t neglect the prospects that are talking about issues related to your brand and industry right now. According to Forrester, sixty to seventy percent of content on the listening portion of Salesforce Marketing Cloud are tweets. Engaging these users while focusing on their concerns—not simply promoting your solution—is a major key to turning leads into customers into influencers.