Bob Pearson is president of marketing agency W20 Group and author of Pre-Commerce: How Companies and Customers are Transforming Business Together. His next book, focusing on megatrends of social commerce, is due out in the fall. The industry veteran shared his social marketing outlook with BMA Buzz.
BMA Buzz: What will be the major 2013 social trend lines for b-to-b marketers?
Bob Pearson: I meet with hundreds of companies of all sizes each year. I see three key trends for b-to-b marketers. The first is the emergence of “forensic” analytics. Marketers should think of themselves as detectives. They should figure out what they need to know and then use customized analytics that often look back over several years to find clues that will create advantage. For example, they can stack-rank the efficiency of 10,000 resellers online—including web and all social channels—then determine exactly which one is most productive for their brand. They can know their competitors’ habits inside and out.
The second trend relates to a new concept that we call storytizing. Advertising has always been our attempt to interrupt someone, to get their attention and drive them to more information. With storytizing, we know where our customers are online, and we deliver a full story—video, slides, images, links, white papers—via new technology. This is a new concept and one that will be a powerhouse in the years ahead. Over time, storytizing will become more important than advertising.
The third relates to executives. I am seeing the most innovative companies step back and realize that they need to train all of their leaders to digitally transform themselves. When the top 10% of leaders of companies agree to evolve their thinking, a long-term transformation will be about to take place.
Buzz: Will b-to-b marketers be under more pressure to meld social channels with lead-generation revenue?
Pearson: Absolutely. More than 90% of customers lurk and learn, meaning that they never join the conversation. If we know how to profile them and build the right algorithms, we can determine where the next generation of customers resides today. This is what we call modern demand generation, and it is dependent on behavioral analytics. If we use the right technology, we can deliver videos, testimonials, special deals, slide decks and studies, all at the time of first click, whether it is via paid search, email or a website visit. First touch should deliver the full impact of your brand.
And, perhaps most importantly, we can track all of the touches that are occurring online, almost in real time. We can see the content that is preferred and the way that information is shared. Based on the patterns that we are seeing, we can then dynamically change the content in the market in real time.
Over the long term, we are becoming increasingly aware of how, where and with which audience content is shared. In a sense, we are building out a social cloud database, one that is far less expensive [than traditional databases] and fully reflective of what customers actually want.
It is time for lead generation to make the big leap into integration with social marketing techniques and tools. Higher conversion awaits us all.
Buzz: How will the dynamics of integrated marketing change in 2013?
Pearson: Brands will care less about likes, fans and impressions. Those were never the right indicators. Innovators are realizing that they can add value—and conversion—to emails, paid search, social media posts and even their websites if they are using the right technology and optimal analytics.
Like any marketplace trend, there is a lot of noise out there about social marketing. But as marketers increase their sophistication about what is truly possible, they will gravitate toward techniques that really drive sales and create valuable relationships. They will move away from the proliferation of apps, sites and relatively mindless engagement that doesn’t really move the needle.