Hi everyone, and Welcome to another amazing interview of NOCvoiz. In today’s interview we are featuring an author, podcaster, an entrepreneur and a popular keynote speaker who has spoken across a dozen countries. Neal Schaffer is the founder of the Digital Marketing Consultancy PDCA Social, and has authored four books, including his most recent “The Age of Influence”, a ground-breaking book redefining digital influence. Let’s ask him some questions about digital marketing, branding and how he is helping people around the world.
Honestly, the story of how I started my career in marketing would be very long. Let’s just say that my background is primarily in B2B sales and business development, but I often worked for startups or was in charge of developing sales in new regions in Asia where I had to wear a lot of hats, including marketing. I realized that storytelling, engaging with customers and potential clients at industry events, and ultimately developing relationships that went beyond a specific sale, equipped me with a very holistic view of business and marketing. It was when I wrote my first book on LinkedIn back in 2009 when various companies reached out to me for help with their social media, and at that stage and today, social media marketing simply has a greater demand than social selling, so that is when I shifted my career to social media and most recently, digital marketing.
I am not trying to become a successful influencer, but I just want to share with the world what I’ve learned in hopes of serving people better. It is that passion and motivation which keeps me creating content in many different forms, and if as a result of that I yield more business and influence, all the better, but since I’ve been doing this since 2008, you can imagine that I am very much in it for the long haul.
I think that B2B brands need to focus on a few things today:
The first thing is very obvious, potential buyers are on social media and on the Internet looking for content that’s going to help them make a better purchasing decision. I see way too much B2B content that is very focused on the company or the company’s products instead of providing a solution to the potential buyer’s problems. It is a realignment of content that, in order to be successful in content marketing, B2B brands need to do sooner rather than later.
Better customer engagement using content marketing should revolve around providing customers the right content that they need at the right time. I find content marketing is most successful when it is selfless. In other words, you’re not trying to directly sell a product, but by helping your customer, you are securing more business in the future. So, it’s a combination of truly creating user-centric content and then having a marketing automation tool and messaging sequences in place that can best deliver the most relevant content at the right time to the right people. This obviously is a very complex and challenging thing to do, but I think if you always take the customer perspective into play, you can leverage content marketing and marketing automation to enable much better customer engagement.
Content marketing and advertising continue to evolve the way we use the Internet and consume content. Content now includes short-form video formats, which can perform very well when done right in social media, and advertising has more opportunities on various social media platforms while at the same time a challenge with new privacy laws and recent moves by Apple to limit the ability to track Internet users.
I don’t think there’s any one type of content that is going to be the best in terms of sales and growth for every company. Like everything else in marketing, it requires a data-driven approach with a lot of A/B testing to find the perfect formula for your company.
It’s hard to convert customers into brand evangelists because it requires you to not only provide a customer experience that they would want to share with others, but also getting back to the common adage “Customer is the King.”
Let’s divide this answer into these two statements.
First of all, you need to create a customer experience worth sharing. For retail stores, this is providing “Instagrammable” scenery. As for B2B SaaS companies, it might be more about the customer experience during the onboarding process to help your customers uncover the killer features of your platform that they would want to share with others. Just because the sale is made doesn’t mean your work and customer experience is over. It is just the beginning, and having that mentality around how you communicate with your customers will provide fresh ideas in improving the customer experience, and in the long run, convert your customers into brand ambassadors.
The other statement I made was that the customer is King. Do you truly treat your customers as Kings and Queens? If they follow you on social media, do you reach out and thank them? When they reply or comment on your social media posts, do you reply to them? Do you go out of your way to proactively go to their profiles and comment on their photos and videos? Very few brands actively engage with consumers on social media, so be one of those few brands that does. And in building relationships with your customers on social media, it will become much easier to convert them into customer advocates in the long run.
To be honest with you, I believe that most marketers still think of social media as a broadcasting platform. Instead, companies should look at social media as an incredible place to develop relationships with employees, customers, fans, and influencers. Once we start thinking about the user, instead of our company, and publish content and engage with them to serve them, can we begin to reap the maximum benefits that social media can provide for any business.
The only way to encourage the creation of user-generated content is to develop better relationships with your employees, customers, fans, and influencers and ideally funnel them through an employee advocacy and/or brand advocacy program. User-generated content has been shown to perform better across all marketing channels as compared to content that is created by the brand. I would try to aim for 100% user-generated content on your organic social media channels, but if that is not possible, you need to incite word-of-mouth by activating more social media users to become advocates of your brand.
Calculating the ROI of your social media strategy is actually very easy. You first try to figure out what you’re trying to get out of your social media strategy, and what your objectives are, and then decide what measurements you can create that will show you whether or not you reached your targets. Creating sophisticated links with UTM parameters and tracking your content across all digital marketing channels is going to give you a really good idea of the impact that your social media strategy has on your bottom line. Most companies don’t have specific objectives for social media strategy and therefore don’t know what to measure and end up not having a clue as to what the effects of their social media strategy are. Hopefully reading this advice will help you avoid that situation.