You might be forgiven for believing that somewhere buried in the avalanche of publicity surrounding social media that there has to be value in building up a loyal following on Twitter. I mean good old fashioned "value", otherwise known as MONEY! And there is. Its just not very high, due in the most part to the volume, brevity and simplicity of the message. Various studies have been conducted that suggest a Twitter follower is "worth" less than $5. Conversely a recent study conducted by IBM and MIT suggested that an email contact was worth slightly under $1,000 to an IBM consultant! As an ex industry analyst and researcher, I have learnt to be sceptical of sponsored research but even allowing for a 2,3 or 4x error factor the point remains valid. Email contacts are exponentially more valuable than Twitter followers.
In the world of B2B marketing, where the buyer's journey from unaware contact to loyal customer is characterised by complex decision making process, value to the selling organisation is equally complex.
Value = Complexity x intimacy
An email contact is very valuable as it provides smart eMarketers with the opportunity to extract structured data about the buyer and the buying organisation. By engaging in an email marketing campaign (with, it must be said, interesting and engaging content), the selling organisation in able to paint a complex picture of the opportunity, nurturing and qualifying the lead until the point where it is delivered to sales. This can demonstrably drive up close rates by 30+%, leading to real additional go to market effectiveness and real additional money! There are a number of smart automated marketing systems on the market, at g2m solutions we use StrategyMix ourselves and also for many of our clients.
Let me be clear, this does not mean that social media tools such as Twitter and especially blogs do not have value, they do, but not in such a demonstrably direct fashion. Social media activity is aimed at influencing the buyer. The buyer is increasingly taking control of the purchasing process and engaging in their own research, self selecting the vendors with which they wish to engage. Vendors can use social media tools to influence their target audience by blogging and tweeting about the problems near and dear to the buyer's heart, which if done well will create inbound activity from the buyer and at a fraction of the cost of "old fashioned" inbound techniques such as print advertising.
Social Media has a place as a networking and community building tool, but outbound eMarketing and particularly smart email marketing is a greatly superior lead nurturing and progression tactic and thus, ultimately deserving of its greatly increased value to selling organisations.
Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to hear more about how we help clients build powerful effective lead generation engines that combine inbound and outbound marketing techniques. If you have an opinion on this piece I encourage you to voice it here!