Powering B2B Marketing with Social Selling in 2020
New buzzwords are somehow constantly appearing and entering circulation; mobile-first creative, psychographics, evergreen marketing and trampoline digitalisation (I made the last one up) being just a few of the many possible examples. Although the relative importance of knowing such terms is often overrated by marketing blogs, social selling is one of the few concepts that will actually help you grow your business in the tumultuous year that 2020 has become.
Don’t worry, social selling does not involve any type of close human contact (it had to be said considering we are in the era of social distancing), although it is often confused with other terms such as social media marketing. Social selling is the use of social networks to engage directly with prospects to nurture business relationships and generate sales opportunities. On the other hand, social media marketing is the use of social media to promote a product or service to a wide audience to build your brand, increase sales, and drive website traffic.
Due to today’s rapidly changing digital landscape, inbound marketing has somewhat taken the spotlight over outbound marketing methods. This is in part due to the increasing challenges that traditional lead generation methods such as calling and emailing are increasingly facing. Only 1% of cold calls actually lead to meetings, and this is no surprise considering that 73% of Millenials (who famously hate calls) are already involved in B2B purchase decisions with one third saying they are the sole decision-maker. Furthermore, emails are less feasible due to stricter GDPR regulations.
This is where social selling comes into the mix, as a new and effective way to proactively engage with your target customers through direct channels. Just last year we surveyed 480 B2B marketers and salespeople across a wide range of industries and countries and we found that: social selling users create 62% more opportunities than peers not using it and 82% of B2B marketers increased their social selling budget for 2020 compared to last year. Similarly, LinkedIn also found that social selling leaders are 51% more likely to reach quota and 78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media.
LinkedIn is the only relevant social network for direct engagement for most B2B-focused industries. It has 630 million professionals, of which 90 million senior-level influencers and 63 million are decision makers, and these numbers are growing quickly. Therefore, in this article we will be focusing specifically on LinkedIn, covering the reasons for its success, obstacles worth considering and use cases to make the most of social selling in a B2B marketing and sales context.
Reasons Behind the Rise of LinkedIn
There are a number of reasons for why LinkedIn is continuing to grow in popularity and success consistently throughout the professional world, some of these are outlined below:
– High data quality: due to the fact that LinkedIn is being used as a CV replacement, data quality is kept to a more rigorous standard than on other social media which have less professional consequences.
– Strong lock-in effects: business users don’t switch as quickly as members of other social media platforms.
– Acceptable to use at work: LinkedIn has a professional reputation, so being caught on it at work is not the same as being seen on Facebook or Instagram.
– New generations: Gen Z and Millennials are forming an increasing portion of the workforce and they are the biggest users of social networks.
Social Selling Challenges
Despite LinkedIn’s success, companies are lagging behind in implementing it in their existing structures, and this is due to a number of both individual and company-wide obstacles that have led to a lack of implementation:
– Usage is not empowered by employers: there is a lack of training and company-wide implementation strategies for social selling.
– Technological barriers & steep learning curve: it can be difficult to wrap your head around how to effectively generate consistent returns from social selling, especially if you are working in an older and larger company.
– Incentives and processes based on legacy channels: in many companies traditional marketing and sales channels are the standard, making it difficult to organise work structures and rewards around new methods.
– LinkedIn offers little social selling support: there is a lack of materials to understand how to make the most of LinkedIn tools and services for social selling.
– LinkedIn as a personal asset, not a company one: many companies view LinkedIn as a personal asset rather than as a tool that can bring benefits to the whole team.
– Difficult to orchestrate, track and report in a team: there are fewer tools to track and report on LinkedIn as there are for traditional lead generation methods such as calling, emailing or marketing campaigns.
Marketing Use Cases for Social Selling
Depending on your marketing objectives for the year, different social selling use cases will be relevant to your context, so we’ve listed the primary categories to make this choice easier:
– Lead generation: generate cost-effective high level leads fitting your ideal customer profile through advertising and sales solutions on LinkedIn.
– Webinar & event invites: gain access to a wide and high-quality professional audience to obtain relevant attendees for your events.
– C-Level thought leadership: grow your reach and engage with decision makers through content sharing and interactions.
– Inbound lead engagement: automatically engage with your inbound leads in real-time.
– Marketing opt-In creation: power your marketing campaigns in a GDPR compliant manner.
– Account-based marketing: engage with relevant decision makers by reaching the target account and identifying all key personas of a company through tools such as Sales Navigator.
– Social listening: monitor target audiences through saved account/lead lists to scale positive prospect interactions.
If you’re interested in learning more about social selling on LinkedIn, feel free to head over to our article on how to make the most of LinkedIn in a specifically sales context