When the concept of inbound marketing burst onto the scene, marketers were immediately drawn to the notion of attracting new leads that actually requested their content. B2B marketers grew especially fond of content marketing, as it gave them an opportunity to not only add to their lead databases, but also to demonstrate their company's leadership and subject matter expertise with well-crafted white papers, how-to guides, blogs, videos, and more. Some of these even got picked up by the media, offering a one-two punch of both marketing and PR success.
However, many marketers have come to discover that content marketing isn't quite as easy as it sounds. Generating quality content on a sustainable schedule is time consuming and costly, driving down the return on investment and forcing lean organizations to reconsider putting all of their eggs in the content marketing basket.
Seeking a more cost-efficient and effective marketing mix, savvy B2B marketers have begun to realize that a smarter strategy is one that combines the audience-enticing tactics of an inbound strategy with an intelligent outbound marketing strategy that ensures the right message hits the right leads at the right time. But how?
The use of automation technologies to identify and classify new, targeted leads is making even "old school" tactics like cold calling and direct mail/email effective and profitable once again. But rather than relying solely on stale data from list brokers and professional databases, a new technique, social lead targeting, is enabling marketers to mine the vast expanse of the social Web to hone in on potential leads who are a near-perfect fit.
Based on data culled from multiple sources across the Web, social lead targeting gives marketers the ability to precisely target leads and craft their messages based on what the ideal buyer of their product or service is writing or posting about online, their stated areas of expertise, work areas, job functions, and other details. This real-time data provides valuable insight that can dramatically improve lead-generation and sales results, even for outbound efforts, breathing new life into marketing techniques once considered antiquated.
In one example of this approach, Zerto, developer of the first hypervisor-based disaster recovery and data replication software for virtual and cloud IT environments, has used social lead targeting techniques to ratchet up its outbound marketing success through the use of cold calling, and drive up inbound response results at the same time.
Because of the nature of its business, Zerto found that identifying the right contact within an organization could be somewhat challenging. While inbound marketing helped to some degree, "it's reactive in nature, and it doesn't always mean you have the best prospects coming to you," says Wes Schifone, Zerto's director of marketing and sales development. "With outbound marketing, you don't pick up the phone and call unless you know you're calling the right person." But finding that person wasn't so simple.
To accelerate growth, Zerto began by identifying its ideal buyer. It looked at its current client roster and uncovered the individuals with the specialties, skills, technologies, and titles that align most closely with those who have already purchased the Zerto solution. Based on this ideal buyer persona, Zerto used a social lead targeting solution to scour the social Web and multiple contact databases in real time to identify new leads that most closely match the ideal buyer characteristics.
Once identified, Zerto reached out to some leads with specifically targeted automated emails. However, Schifone says, "We've found the leads to be so valuable, we prefer to use them only for outbound calls." That's right—they're cold calling, and with an impressive success rate.
At the same time, this technique has helped Zerto optimize its inbound marketing lead development as well. When users enter contact details on the Zerto Web site, download a white paper, or access other content, their data is automatically screened against the ideal buyer profile. This allows Zerto to concentrate its outreach efforts only on the leads that most closely align with the ideal buyer profile.
Zerto can also screen prospect lists from other sources against the social lead targeting tool. For example, it can input the top 200 boutique investment banks and receive contact details for the top two leads within each company, netting a bulk of 400 qualified leads.
Social lead targeting is providing an efficient, automated way to tap into the vast, yet incredibly valuable sea of data generated in the social Web to precisely target, prioritize, and segment leads. At the same time, it allows marketing and sales teams to finally get on the same page when it comes to identifying exactly who they should be targeting. As a result, marketing teams can now funnel leads that are much more likely to convert to the sales team to close the deal, making old school tactics like cold calling, direct mail, and other outbound strategies much more efficient and effective.
Ran Gishri is vice president of marketing for Leadspace, which specializes in social lead targeting. He has 20 years of experience in software marketing and product management with start-ups and large corporations, and helped introduce social lead targeting to brands including Marketo, Jive, Badgeville, and Stylesight. Contact him at @/rgishri on Twitter or visit www.leadspace.com.