By Barton Goldenberg
How well does your company nurture its sales leads? Prospects at all stages of the buying journey are interacting with your brand. They’re visiting your website, attending your events and consuming your content. How do you keep them engaged and keep in touch with them as they progress down the sales funnel toward conversion? Conventional, public social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn are not the answer.
Advantages Over Public Communities
For the past 10 years, my colleagues and I have designed, built and monitored successful private, branded B2B, B2C and B2B2C communities for companies like ExxonMobil, Kraft Heinz, AAA and others. A private, or ‘branded’ social media community has many advantages over public communities like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter for companies seeking to engage with customers or other constituents. In a nutshell:
- It’s private: A private community is purposely not open to the public. Your company invites only whom you want to participate: customers only, customers and distributors, third party subject matter experts (SMEs), or some other mix. This keeps out competitors and troublemakers.
- You own it: You own the data, which you can mine and exploit to ensure your private community remains healthy. The URL is based on your domain, which means it isn’t blocked in places like China, or in some workplaces.
- You control it: You build and monitor a private community using a technology platform like those used for public communities. You control the content and moderate the discussions.
Our hands-on experience has shown us that There is no better way to nurture leads than from within a private community. Let me explain why:
- Leads want independent and/or expert opinions: Today, rightly or wrongly, buyers often trust the opinions of third parties more than those of a company, and they seek independent confirmation that your products and services perform well. This is the sweet spot of a private community: leads can ask community members – domestic or international — questions and receive a range of objective responses. Leads may also want to hear from company SMEs, and an ‘Ask the Expert’ section of a private community is the ideal place to connect.
- You can better customize content: eNewsletters and other content can be customized and sent to each lead based on the community groups they belong to, the threads they subscribe to, etc. The goal is to entice the lead to keep returning to the community, and ultimately to move the lead down the sales pipeline.
- Visibility throughout the journey: Every activity a lead takes within your community is digitally documented, providing a wealth of information for understanding a lead’s current position along their customer journey. Properly-timed triggers can alert you to new activity, help qualify evolving leads and prompt you reach out to them to guide them toward next steps. A critical component of any initiative is return on investment, and one the most striking takeaways from our experience with private communities is the large amount of new sales that they generate. Payback of community costs can occur in less than 2 years, while building strong customer engagement, loyalty and advocacy along the way. If you are not yet using private, branded social media communities to drive your lead nurturing process, perhaps now is the time to consider this truly remarkable option.
A critical component of any initiative is return on investment, and one the most striking takeaways from our experience with private communities is the large amount of new sales that they generate. Payback of community costs can occur in less than 2 years, while building strong customer engagement, loyalty and advocacy along the way. If you are not yet using private, branded social media communities to drive your lead nurturing process, perhaps now is the time to consider this truly remarkable option.
Learn more about how ISM can help you create a Private Social Media Communities. ISM has been creating and implementing customer-centric strategies to maximize customer engagement for world-class companies since 1985. Give us a call and let’s discuss your organization’s unique challenges and opportunities.