Now that you’ve sourced a pool of amazing customers with stories to tell (see my post on 4 steps to sourcing amazing customer success stories) and have helped them create user-generated content (UGC) that’s sure to attract a ton of highly qualified leads, next comes content distribution.
Often, we’re so spent from creating that we don’t take the steps to maximize the ROI of our customer-created content. It takes a little time, but with the right distribution plan, your content can become a vital revenue driver.
In this post, I’ll discuss the best owned channels to get your content in front of prospects, which ones are best for what audience, and how to arm your sales team with UGC to overcome common sales objections.
At the heart of that plan should be social media. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook have more than 2.1 billion monthly active users, so by focusing on the big three, you can be sure you’re getting your content in front of the largest possible audience. Plus, social media is where we go to share what matters most to us from the people we admire, love, respect, etc.
By focusing our success story distribution efforts on social, we can speak to our customers and prospects as their peers. That’s why at Upshot we’ve automated the sharing of UGC through your customer’s social media accounts. This makes it easy to deliver content to the people who will get the most value out of it.
Upshot customer or not, there’s still much we, as marketers, can do to amplify the reach of customer case studies.
Customer success story distribution channels
The matrix below illustrates the effectiveness of the different types of paid, owned, and earned media for content distribution.
For our purposes, we’ll focus on a few of the largest ROI drivers for owned media, and show you exactly how to maximize the reach of your customer stories.
Instead of relying on the post-it-and-they-will-come mindset, use LinkedIn’s targeted updates feature to speak directly to specific audiences just like you would in email.
For example, you just finished a terrific piece of UGC that highlights the ROI of your product/service from the perspective of a customer in a specific industry. There’s no reason to bombard your entire LinkedIn audience with content that doesn’t speak to their use case. So, use the steps below to segment your audience based on industry, job function (whether your content speaks to the buyer or end user), and even company size.
Remember, sharing the content is just the beginning. The goal is to engage, and engagement is basically just a fancy word we use for conversation. Try asking a question along with your post to spark a discussion. Respond to comments on your post and reach out to those who share it to find out what they liked most. That will not only help you refine your customer stories in the future, but will also arm your sales team with the prospects’ major pain point once they reach out.
Don’t forget to repay the favor as well. If someone shares your content, give them a boost by sharing their posts and updates when and if it meshes with your brand or industry goals.
Twitter may have started out as a megaphone, but its current iteration is a public forum for discussion. And it is ripe for B2B marketing. Think about your buyer’s journey. They have a need, so they begin researching possible fixes—they Google the problem, ask their peers, and seek out reviews. Twitter is the original review site. Every great experience, as well as every poor one, gets blasted out for the world to see. So why not insert the voice of your customer into the conversation?
According to Moz, the prime lifetime of a tweet is only 18 minutes. That’s why Upshot automatically shares your UGC through the customer’s linked Twitter account three times over three days. To maintain the authenticity of the sentiments, we recommend retweeting your customer’s tweets instead of posting them yourself. This puts a little distance between your company and the content and upholds the credibility of their story.
If you don’t have Upshot, no worries. There are still ways to get your customers to share UGC on Twitter. Beyond facilitating content that adds so much value to the reader that they can’t help but share it, there are always incentives. You can offer company swag or coffee gift cards to customers who tweet, or run a longer campaign and reward the customer who tweets the most with a free or discounted pass to a user conference.
There are also gamification platforms, like Influitive, that make it easy to harness the power of advocacy, so if you get tired of manual outreach, perhaps a more all-inclusive platform might be just what you need.
Also, search for influencers in your industry and make note of the hashtags they use. Including these will allow you to piggyback on their reach while offering valuable content to a wider audience.
B2B has largely ignored Facebook as a content distribution channel, but considering more than one billion people are active on Facebook every day, neglecting this social media behemoth could be a costly decision. Facebook is no longer just a place to share baby pictures and listicles; it’s now the major source of news for nearly half of American adults.
Now, that doesn’t mean Facebook is where you want to post your latest Gartner whitepaper or product announcements, but it is the perfect avenue for distributing customer stories, especially if your customer sweet spot is SMB.
The best UGC puts the customer at the heart of the story, makes them the hero. These types of success stories work very well on Facebook. Plus, given that the peak times for Facebook traffic is between 1–4p.m. (see image below for best times to post to social media), readers are already primed to click on a story that can both distract them from work, while also giving them information on how to work smarter and be more productive.
If you decide to publish on Facebook often, check out Facebook Instant Articles. The interactive features, mobile-first design, and crazy fast loading times produce some pretty amazing engagement metrics. Here’s a helpful post by Social Media Examiner to get you started.
Email has a median ROI of 122%—more than four times higher than social media, direct mail and paid search. The only caveat—and this is why we recommend social as the best channel for customer story distribution—is you can only reach folks who have had some sort of interaction with your business already.
So, for brand awareness, email isn’t the best play, but it is perfect for nurturing leads down your sales funnel. Like with targeted LinkedIn updates, it’s better to segment your email newsletters and content distribution based on industry, location, and/or funnel stage for maximum impact. Also try A/B testing content to determine which piece produces better open, click-through rates (CTR), and conversion.
5. Sales Enablement
Want to know the true value of a customer case study? Ask your sales team.
They encounter sales objections daily, and if you offer them a single source to quickly grab content that overcomes these objects written in the voice of your happiest customers, not only will you be their hero, you’ll also get a better bead on which content is more useful in the field.
If you have a weekly or monthly sales newsletter, highlight your latest customer success stories and encourage your sales team to share through their personal social media accounts. Also point them to where they can download a hard copy to reference during face-to-face meetings, and ask for their feedback.
We don’t want to keep producing content just for the sake of meeting content quotas, so keep your sales team engaged and poll them to see which piece they use the most, ask them what they’re hearing in the field, and then tweak your content production based on their input. By giving sales the content they need to close deals, they will be more willing to nominate customers with great stories for your next piece of UGC.