NOTE: This is the second post in a 3-part series that addresses the future of real-time, multi-channel marketing and the critical, driving role that social media plays in it.
In the first post, we discussed the critical role that marketing automation platforms play as the system of record for real-time integrated marketing. We also pointed out the gaps that must be closed with social media marketing to make real time, cross-channel marketing a reality.
In this post, we discuss how real-time social data can be used to make your organization more agile and responsive, across all channels – even if you don’t do a lot of social media marketing today.
Social Data = Real Time Intelligence
During the past couple of months, I’ve had the good fortune to talk with some of the brightest minds in the marketing automation and social media marketing industries about the future role of social media in enterprise marketing.
A question we explored was:
How should real-time social data be used in enterprise marketing to optimize bottom-line results (traffic, leads and sales)?
To stimulate our discussions, I shared the following diagram we prepared last year.
It illustrates how real-time social data – scored for commercial intent – can be used to drive all sorts of well-proven marketing actions like sending emails, alerting sales reps and more.
One thing we all agreed on: social data can and should be used to drive engagement in more marketing channels than social media.
Why would you want to do this? Because some channels are more suitable for listening and top-of-funnel engagement, while others are better at driving results and sales.
If an existing lead asks a question on Twitter about an issue your product addresses, then you might want to send them an email and update their lead score.
If you identify a new hot sales prospect on Facebook, then you might want to route the message to a call center or a rep for follow-up.
As hinted in the diagram above, there are many potential applications of real time social signals, especially when the data is scored for commercial intent.
Social Intent: The People and Posts That Matter Most
By “scored for commercial intent”, I mean that you have identified the people and posts that matter most to your business.
These are the people who are asking questions, sharing complaints, discussing explicit needs, talking about key trigger events and life events, etc. related to your business, your type of business or your competitors. They are indicating commercial intent about your business or about something you or your company can provide to them, such as your products, services, content and advice.
Whether they come from cookie data or from social media, signals of commercial intent represent new opportunities to engage, convince and sell.
- 14 Types of Commercial Intent on Twitter by NeedTagger (estimated)
In our experience, 3% to 5% of social media posts contain commercial intent. We monitor social intent on Twitter for thousands of businesses in 13 industries (B2C and B2B), so we know a little about this.
It’s important to note that analyzing social data for commercial intent is nothing new. It’s what your social media teams do every day as they monitor social streams for questions, complaints and prospects.
The Rise of the Machine: Surfacing Opportunities In Real Time
A big challenge faced by all marketers is sifting through the rising volume of social media posts to find those nuggets of intent. The volume of social data is currently growing faster than new users, because as a new user becomes acclimated to a network their posting activity typically increases.
For many companies, the volume of posts they have to mine is beyond their labor capacity to mine it. When peak times of day and major events are considered, most companies struggle mightily to keep up with social media monitoring in real time.
And, as we all know, responding to a prospect in real time makes all the difference, whether in lead generation, customer support or closing a sale.
Given that data volumes are overwhelming our labor constraints, machine-scoring of commercial intent makes a ton of sense. Using a machine to mine social media for commercial intent provides value to enterprise marketers in several ways, including:
Save time monitoring social media: it separates the few really important signals from the noise, saving your social media teams time.
Focus on the people and posts that matter: tagging your social data with intent makes it possible to focus on the people and posts that drive your business.
- Respond in real time: real-time responses produce better outcomes.
Behave consistently: auto-tagging posts with intent means they don’t have to wait for people to flag them.
To date, the challenge has been: how do you machine-classify commercial intent in real time? As any text analytics vendor will tell you, this requires a deeper level of machine analysis than keyword search or sentiment analysis.
A handful of data mining companies have taken on this challenge and now offer working platforms, including us.
We think we’ve cracked the code generically for all industries. But it’s early, and we learn something new every day.
Listen in Social; Engage Where It Pays
When you bring real time social signals of intent into your marketing automation platform, you can market in entirely new ways in whatever channel that works. And you can listen and respond in real time.
You can leverage social signals of intent to improve the responsiveness and performance of many tasks, including:
ad-targeting (by intent)
real-time alerts for sales reps to follow-up
For example, here are some specific ways your company could leverage real-time social signals in Marketo:
- Social Intent Unlocks New Marketing Capabilities
Let’s drill into some of these in detail:
Social-triggered emails: using social signals of commercial intent, you can identify when a lead discusses a very specific need or issue in social media that you can help them with and then reach out with a targeted email to address that issue (using a blog post or similar). This moves the lead closer to a sale. It’s also a lot less creepy than sending a message to someone who isn’t connected to you on that network.
Capture more prospects (social prospecting): identify people with the right profile discussing trigger events, complaining about competitors or outright looking for a solution like yours. Then, use these signals to send an email or alert your sales rep to engage with the prospect – right now. This is how most NeedTagger customers use our apps.
Target ads by needs/intent: identify the intent-laden language your prospects express in social media during each stage of their customer journey; then, use these keywords to place native ads in front of them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Score leads with social intent: use social expressions of intent – not just mentions of keywords – to update lead scores. Intent signals are much more precise, so they are better suited for this type of real-time marketing.
Monitor social demand: social expressions of purchase intent, questions and complaints are important signals of how your audience and market feel about your brand and products – they tell you a lot more about your market’s likely behavior than keyword mining or sentiment classification can.
All of the above are practical ways to compress sales cycles and to keep you engaged with prospects and customers during important moments of need. It’s is how you would probably behave in the real world, if you had access to this type of real time intelligence.
Moving forward, if you want to behave like a real time business, then real-time social signals (scored for intent) will need to be incorporated into your marketing applications and processes. Because social media is where you’ll find the most real-time signals, long term.
Still A Greenfield Opportunity
Listening to social media for signals of intent, then using them to trigger marketing actions in other channels makes a ton of sense.
But most marketers aren’t aware of how big the opportunity is.
If we consider the volume of commercial signals expressed on Twitter alone, it’s already really big.
Leading enterprise software vendors clearly understand the opportunity. They know intent-mining is important, as evidenced by their recent acquisitions & partnerships:
It’s time to start experimenting!
In our next post, we’ll show you how to leverage real-time social signals in your marketing systems today, so you can start driving real-time actions like the ones described above.