As more and more B2B companies venture into the interactive marketing realm they'll be inviting users to participate via comments, feedback, ratings, referrals and reviews. Your audience may tweet about you, blog about your content or company behavior and participate in email dialogues in regards to your nurturing campaigns. [Yes, that last one really can happen.]
[NOTE: This is of course dependent upon your content being relevant, fresh and valid from their perspective.]
Giving us all the benefit of the doubt on relevance, have you considered what you'll actually DO with what I'm calling user-participation content?
When marketing is out there creating interactions, they need to consider the value of each one. It's easy to respond and move on, but to embrace participation, you need to consider all the ways what you learn and experience can be used to enhance your emarketing strategy, the relationships and credibility you establish, and the progress your prospects make toward purchase.
The following are things you may want to think about:
Getting to Know your Audience: Every comment is derived from a response to your company - whether to a blog post, an article, the way your products are experienced, as well as their personal experience with your company.
Listening is a golden opportunity: You can learn a lot about the people your emarketing strategies are engaging.
- Are the interactions you're having with the audience you targeted - or have you found a potentially new market?
- Are you hearing positives, negatives or are people (gasp) neutral?
- What words are they using? Are those words the same ones you're using?
- Did your content or conversation raise questions? Do you have content that addresses them, or are you only responding to that one person with an answer?
Generosity and Grace: Are you acknowledging great ideas and interactions publicly where your community can watch and choose to jump in? Or are you taking them offline? Giving credit and thanks gracefully can earn points for authenticity. (you do have to mean it, though)
Tuning Personas: If you take an aggregate view of interactions, what do you see? Are similar comments showing up repeatedly? Are you seeing phrases used across the interactions that you haven't used in your content? Are the types of people you're attracting the ones you thought you'd get? Take a look at a good sampling of your interactions and see what you can learn to refine your persona and use those insights to improve the relevance of your content.
Here's a real example:
I just began working on an emarketing strategy process with a new client. Through a number of conversations they provided a list of titles and qualities about their target market and we discussed the problems that they believed were on that segment's radar.
We did some qualifying to double check our assumptions (you know how I feel about those, but we had to start somewhere). Here are a couple of things that became obvious very quickly:
- We'd missed a critical decision maker role - half the records we reviewed showed a title not on the list.
- We'd jumped in too far downstream in the problem-to-solution journey and needed to back up and add in some high-value educational pieces.
- We also learned some critical push-back points that we can proactively address to keep momentum moving forward, instead of stalling as we back up to handle objections we'd otherwise have been unprepared to deal with gracefully.
The point is that we learned these critical factors, and more, in less than a week. We reached out and invited dialogue before we developed content or set a plan into action. Now, we can roll up our sleeves and get to work with the knowledge that we're going in the right direction to connect with the audience we've got in sight.
Whether online, via email, or phone conversations, tracking what you learn and then really listening to the input can pay off in your ability to actively engage your prospects.
What are you doing with user-participation content?