The Informed Marketer

October 6, 2011  4:50 PM

“Can Social Media Produce ROI?” co-author Paul Dunay from Networked Insights

MarilouBarsam Profile: MarilouBarsam

We just completed our TechTarget Online ROI Summit in San Francisco last week. As mentioned in an earlier blog, the main theme of the Summit revolved around the convergence of social media with your branding and lead generation activities, with specific focus on measurement and return on your investment in social media. To elaborate on this last point, we had a great panel with 3 of the industry’s top leaders in the world of Social Media. We had Paul DunayChief Marketing Officer of Networked Insights, author of four “Dummies” books and author of Buzz Marketing for Technology, an award winning blog. We also had Jonathan Lister, VP of Marketing Solutions for LinkedIn and Gail Moody-Byrd, Sr. Director Community Network Marketing for SAP.


In a recent TechTarget media consumption study, we’ve determined that 98% of IT pros cite IT communities as an integral part of their search process, but 68% of companies don’t know or can’t measure if they received ROI.


In a recent Marketing Sherpa study*, 62% of CMO’s believe that social media is a promising tactic that will produce an ROI … eventually! They want to invest and are going to, but at this point, they will invest conservatively. And, only 3% cite that social media is unlikely to produce ROI. That says that Social Media is crucial to any marketing campaign.


So where does this lead us? How do you prove that your social media efforts are effective? Here are some great tips offered by Paul Dunay on how to generate ROI….

1.      Use Social Media to create Community with your external customers

2.      Use Social Media to provide Customer Support

3.      Use Social Media to shift your PR from focusing on Publications to focusing on Conversations

4.      Use Social Media to find Intent to Purchase Leads by using both competitive and non-competitive search terms to reveal buyers

5.       Use Social Media to harness the power of your brand advocates by getting them to make recommendations and build your brand with the power of their voice.


So what’s the takeaway? Social media is a must buy as part of your marketing endeavors.  Without it, you will be lost on a deserted island. It’s only getting stronger, better and more efficient as our experts have told us. If a company with very limited funding such as a non-profit organization, all the way to a large enterprise like SAP, feels that an investment in social is a must do, then join the bandwagon and make sure your social, branding and lead gen activities are fully integrated.



*2011 MarketingSherpa Social Marketing Benchmark Survey Methodology Fielded February 2011.

** Paul Dunay is an award-winning B2B marketing expert, Chief Marketing Officer of Networked Insights, and author of four “Dummies” books: Facebook Marketing for DummiesSocial Media and the Contact Center for DummiesFacebook Advertising for Dummies and Facebook Marketing for Dummies 2nd Edition. You can also find more on Paul’s industry outlook on the award winning blog Buzz Marketing for Technology


October 4, 2011  5:19 PM

The Technology Buyer’s Purchase Cycle has Shrunk….

MarilouBarsam Profile: MarilouBarsam

At our Online ROI Summit in San Francisco last week, I covered the highlights of the findings from our latest Media Consumption Research in which we compare responses from IT buyers versus BtoB/prosumer buyers. The upshot of the study revealed that there are indeed more apparent similarities between the 2 audiences in terms of how they peruse online information and media.

However, the finding that got the most attention, was the response to the question we’ve been asking for 5 years now, namely, how long is your purchase cycle from when you identify a business problem, to researching it online, to making a final decision on a vendor to solve your problem.

Historically, the response has always been up to 12 months and more. This latest sample of 4,000 now tells us it is up to six months max-huge drop. At the Summit I speculated as to what the external factors are that have brought about this dramatic change. The marketer audience was most intrigued with how that compressed buy cycle now dovetails with their existing sales cycles?

Does anyone want to venture an opinion on what has happened here?

For a full report of the research:

September 26, 2011  2:06 PM

The Implications of Convergence

MarilouBarsam Profile: MarilouBarsam

In a couple of days I will be headed off to San Francisco for our annual Online ROI Summit. The theme I’ve chosen for this Summit is “convergence” as it seems to be the next chapter in defining how online marketers should approach their marketing activities online.

Actually, converged is not far removed from an integrated approach but the real time aspect of social discussions weighing in somehow begs for a word like converge.

I think IT marketers are still struggling with how to plan a holistic approach to their campaigns incorporating social in a way that will help the bottom-line and improve ROI.

Another thought we will put forward is that the industry needs to wrap their arms around engagement as a lead metric for calculating ROI and consequently figure out how to elicit engaged users/audience in a way that impacts branding awareness as well as lead gen as well as positive social interactions. The trick is to do this in a way that is acceptable to their target audiences and on a platform that makes it easy to engage with a sponsor’s content.

Of course, we plan to have plenty of pragmatic ways to do just that…hope to see some of you there 🙂

June 16, 2011  6:36 PM

The Value in Creating Audience Engagement Online

MarilouBarsam Profile: MarilouBarsam

There is a lot of conversation around the term “engagement” recently. Some see it as the new proof point and metric for success in an online marketing campaign. If a marketer has successfully captured the attention of a prospective buyer and kept them engaged for longer periods of time while they peruse their content then this is deemed as good as gold.

However, other pundits challenge that “engagement” is not measurable , especially in a social environment. They argue that it is too abstract and can’t be quantified like hard core profile data on a reg form.

I’d suggest that the need for valuing “engagement” is a dynamic fueled by the realities of Internet marketing that can’t be ignored. There are so many competitive distractions vying for the attention of any online prospect that it is almost an imperative that marketers find ways to engage online audiences for longer periods of time over the duration of their buy cycle.

The simple fact is that if a vendor is successful in capturing the prospect’s attention for a single interaction (like downloading a white paper and getting them to register), right after this action occurrs  the prospect may then interact with yet another vendor and yet another . We actually have observed this level of activity with our audiences and it forces the question-what will stop them in their tracks and get them to spend more time with one brand over another.

The logical answer would seem to be around creating  a dynamic that encourages them to interact with multiple versions of content so that they can in fact self-educate themselves on the topic in question and the vendor sponsoring that educational discussion in the most efficient manner possible.

Our most recent research suggests that BtoB and IT audiences’ buy cycles are even more compressed  than ever before with average buy cycles being noted as 6 months and less. This reflects that a solid strategy online begs for ways to accelerate prospect interaction with key marketer content assets, such as white papers, videos and webcasts with integration to key social streams that help the education process and inform the prospect. By creating enhanced engagement opportunities, marketers achieve several goals simultaneously covering off on brand awareness, building solution preference, and providing social validation for their products and services. Additionally,  they can also accelerate the prospect’s buy cycle by way of introducing more content that engages and moves the prospect downstream.

Understanding that the former is a real marketer pain point, TechTarget just announced a set of solutions aimed at doing just this. To find out more- download: 

May 19, 2011  1:08 PM

The complexity of content mapping

MarilouBarsam Profile: MarilouBarsam

I really enjoyed Stephanie’s recent post on Fiberlink’s content strategy especially in reference to how Fiberlink is mindful of mapping content to a buyer’s stage. My team and I have spent considerable time interviewing IT buyers and running research studies related to this subject.  Findings over the years have consistently pointed to how predictably a prospect’s media consumption habits online point to where they are in a buy cycle.

Educational content is particularly effective in what marketers consider awareness stage, solution specific content , validating third party case studies and product collateral are in demand during their consideration phase and content that compares one vendors’ solutions to others is the most popular in end/decision stage for the prospect . Interestingly enough, whereas trial downloads used to be sought out primarily in end stage, our recent studies show they are as popular early stage as well. Primary interviews have revealed that prospects sometimes like to check out the “real deliverable” before they even start considering the vendor.

The most recent complexity we see associated with marketers filing their pipelines with nurturing content is that this type of content needs to be stratified based on the prospect’s most recent activity around a topic and their vertical interests. This of course, necessitates triaging of content streams to address the particular stage, interests and industry orientation of a prospect. Undoubtedly, content streams and management of them continue to evolve.

In our position, working with lots of customers running lead gen campaigns, we find it’s best to lay out a “content  matrix” mapped to the ultimate objective of a campaign; the more complex the prospect target goal the more complex the content needed to fulfill on delivering that prospect, especially related to the nurturing aspects of the campaign.

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