Creating buzz and building engagement in the B2C world takes many forms. In B2B, one approach tends to trump all others when it comes to spurring interaction and word of mouth among customers and prospects: content marketing.
HubSpot and Adobe, for example, are especially considered about the content that they publish to their blogs and social media pages. The content is designed to keep customers informed; the companies publish articles about industry news, as well as tips and tricks. “We try to publish content that our customers would actually like to read. It’s less about our product and more about content that’s helpful to the marketer,” says Mike Volpe, CMO at marketing software provider HubSpot. “Your marketing has to show that you’re listening to the customer’s needs no matter whether you’re B2B or B2C.
Maria Poveromo, senior director of PR and social media at Adobe, adds that only with great content can channel strategies—like social media—maximize their efficacy.
Adobe always measures its audience reaction to its content and makes future content strategy decisions based on data. “If you don’t measure your efforts, you can’t prove your impact,” Poveromo says. “If you can’t do that, you may not have the resources and means to delight and engage your audience. But if you do measure, you could trigger a virtuous cycle whereby engagement leads to business value, which in turn leads to increased investment, which leads to better content and more engagement and so on.”
B2B companies also need bold creativity, collaboration, cross-channel integration. “A customer doesn’t see them as different channels, they just want to have a relationship with you,” Volpe explains. “They want you to know that you’ve sent an email if they call you on the phone.”
Poveromo adds, “If you aren’t organized internally, your ability to be successful externally is severely limited.”
(Hub)Spotting social opportunities
In the case of HubSpot and Adobe, getting digital marketing right is essential. As software providers of digital marketing technologies HubSpot and Adobe need to be experts in the approaches and tools they recommend to customers and prospects. Volpe knows that the stakes are much higher when his company launches a campaign—one that serves as both a marketing effort and a real-world example of the company’s solutions at work.
For example, if someone likes the HubSpot Facebook page or shares content posted on that page, he might get a follow-up email depending on implied purchase intent, which HubSpot determines based on what content that customer or prospect has interacted with.
While all HubSpot content is posted on its social sites, Volpe says, “we also try to link the social interactions back with our content database, so we can tell who’s clicked on our social messages, and we can use that information together to inform an email.”
To ensure proper attribution, HubSpot uses tracking codes on all of the links it publishes. If a customer visits its website and signs up to receive information, then the company is aware if that same person interacts with its social media pages. “Most marketers have this information, it just lives in different systems,” Volpe explains, adding that tracking codes are important to help build one central customer profile, which helps ensure that the customer has a consistent experience with the brand across multiple channels.
About 75% of HubSpot’s leads are from inbound marketing, in which the company created content that organically drew customers to its site. Inbound marketing leads cost the company 50% less and close at a rate three times higher than its paid lead generation efforts.
For HubSpot, traffic from LinkedIn converts to leads at a rate of 277% higher than Twitter and Facebook, though the company uses the latter two because of heavier traffic. Facebook, Volpe says, is a good forum to reach a wide audience, whereas Twitter is a forum to reach influencers.
This cross-channel digital marketing has been instrumental in helping HubSpot’s growth over the past five years. In 2007 the company’s revenue was less than $1 million. In 2012 its revenue reached past $50 million. Currently, HubSpot has more than 8,000 enterprise customers using its software.
Adobe gets creative with its cloud launch
Adobe’s new business model requires new marketing strategies. Its recent and significant shift from desktop to cloud applications required thinking differently about marketing. So, when the company launched Adobe Creative Suite 6 (CS6) and Creative Cloud, it used its own digital marketing tools to create a social media program focused on the manifesto,
“Create Now.” The strategy of the campaign was to generate global excitement for the new Creative Suite product. “Creative Cloud represented a significant shift in our business model, from a desktop to a membership cloud offering, so we wanted to educate the community on the benefits while highlighting great new features and functionality in a delightful and compelling way,” Adobe’s Poveromo says.
The program was designed to build excitement by giving Facebook fans sneak peaks of the product, tutorials, and special offers, and even incorporated offline scavenger hunts and sweepstakes. It involved coordinating more than 100 different social media accounts worldwide across different Adobe teams in vastly different regions and time zones. The marketing team built a strategic communications plan, which was executed across locations. This included getting employees in different offices to share content with business associates. Content included a scavenger hunt and an Adobe-produced video called “Why Do I Create?” in which creative professionals discuss their inspiration to create. The program included targeted content placed on Facebook and Adobe.com, A/B testing of landing pages that measured conversion rates for sweepstakes entries that came from social sites, and paid media, including Facebook Sponsored Stories.
Within the first two months of the CS6 launch, social media drove more than 3 million visits to Adobe.com. In addition, 13% of the visitors who viewed the social ads became Creative Cloud subscribers, and 4% of those subscribers also signed up for other Creative Suite products.