Maximizing Your Organization’s SME’s – Grow Traffic, Leads and Social Media Reach through Your Talented Employees

Most leading organizations have Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) that they turn to for things like heavy technical work, high profile speaking engagements, consulting jobs etc. Within many SME’s lies tremendous marketing potential. Also a characteristic of these tremendously talented industry thought leaders is their lack of knowing how to market themselves or how to transform their marketing potential into action. This is where a marketing team can step in to harness this power. With a few simple changes and steps a marketing team can use this power to their advantage and can charge forward with high return campaigns with relatively low involvement.

Build an Internal Affiliate Program for Lead Generation

The question that marketers have to ask here is; what is the best way to get in front of this traffic with the buy-in of the employee. The answer is an internal affiliate program. I have personal experience with creating this type of program and the buy-in is usually VERY easy to acquire. These SME’s typically don’t have any form of monetization on their sites. An affiliate program can change that for them. Setting this up is quite easy. Build an affiliate form with an offer attached to it and have the SME post it on their blog. The affiliate form can be built via iFrame, and in cases where the blogging platform rejects an active javascript form, you can have your affiliate form then default to a more simple text link that refers the traffic to an internal page on your site that captures the affiliate ID and gives the appropriate credit. Both functions of this form can be tracked through your analytics package and with your CRM. That way, you can automate monthly reports to show the SME how their affiliate campaign has performed. Depending on how much you want to invest in the function of the form, other features like dynamic ip address location recognition can be added to do things like optimize the message on the form. Since you are creating a relatively simple iFrame form, multiple versions of the form can be set up to allow easy A/B testing.

Obviously, in order to keep the program alive, you have to show results / commissions to the publishers. Your sales staff should be notified of the source and nature of the lead. It also helps if you have a Marketing Automation or Revenue Performance Management platform that will nurture the leads, depending on how direct your affiliate offer message is. Leads can be scored and then put into a salesperson’s hands when they meet the criteria to do so.

Get Traffic and Link Juice from Your SME’s

High levels of targeted web traffic is relatively hard or expensive to acquire. In most cases you either need to invest in developing a powerful SEO presence (this obviously doesn’t work over night) or you need to buy the traffic via ads or a few other referral sources, which can really bite a chunk out of the monthly marketing budget. So typically, you are looking at making a large investment however you get your traffic.

Most organizations do not think to tap a resource that they have in their back pocket, the network of websites that their employees own. Many SME’s run industry blogs where they talk about things that they come across in the day to day challenges of their job. Many of these blogs get steady, really really targeted traffic.

So, this is an easy one. Hopefully your company is running a content calendar or some form of high output on quality content, in the form of blog posts. Tap your SME’s blogs for traffic and link juice by offering content or content ideas and request appropriate pieces be placed as posts on your SME’s blogs.

Utilize their Social Media Potential

The first thing to do is to use the applications that are managed within your organization’s social media marketing team to build up the social media presence of your SME’s. SME’s carry an inherent ability to pick up followers because aspiring professionals in their field often want to follow the messages of these experts so that they can learn. Many of these followers have a network of friends and so on.

Create branded social media profiles for your SME’s, ie. include the company brand in their handles, always. Have them include these handles in all of their interaction, business cards, presentation boiler plates etc.

Your SME’s should be trained to acquire followers wherever they appear and wherever they go. Beyond this, the social media team should set the SME up to help build their following. A mature social media marketing team will have tools and applications in place that build social media followings for the company. Most of these platforms allow for multiple user management. The social media team should set campaigns and even automate certain activity at the discretion of the SME that will allow for following growth. Also, acquire the OK from the SME to very rarely promote certain things that the company is doing. This shouldn’t include sales pitches on products or services, but rather, the promotion of company lead gen assets like white papers, contact capture videos and free downloads.

Social following also builds PR outreach capabilities. The social media team can monitor the profiles of your SME’s following and identify people with PR potential (and other potential like websites, co-marketing opportunities etc.). Request the SME to reach out to these followers when an appropriate message needs to be moved. Press Releases, white papers etc. Much of social media is about relationships, as relationships build, favors can be asked.

This is how a marketing team can easily (and with scale) tap the resource that exists within their company SME’s.

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Engaging and Converting the Mobile User

Obviously, mobile web visitors makes up a widely growing base of overall visitors for many websites in many fields. Over the course of the last 12 months or so I started to pay close attention to mobile traffic on my website. I was watching the analytics closely, looking for sources, looking for conversion trends, looking at multi-channel attribution conversion trends, looking at overall conversion. I found nothing too stunning to say the least, except for these things.

1) The traffic looked very similar to traditional, non-mobile traffic. Sources, keywords, channels, landing pages, paths, etc., all very similar.

2) The traffic converted into a lead at approximately 50% the rate of traditional, non-mobile traffic. – WHOA, OPPORTUNITY!!!!

Item number 1 above has much to do with the industry I’m in. I have read reports to the contrary in many fields, but the industry I operate in and the way I choose to acquire my traffic leads to a user with a little more cut and dry purpose.

Item #2 is clearly the piece that grabbed the heck out of my attention and made dig in, much much more. I love discoering new opportunities for more leads, it excites me. Clearly, we could stand to make that number significantly better.

I immediately started my research and reached out to friends who I thought knew a thing or two about mobile marketing. Turns out, mobile marketing is pretty stinkin new in the grand scheme of all things marketing channel related. There aren’t many that know a whole lot about it. A friend of mine from college, however, is an expert in the field, and a bit of a thought leader in the space. In fact, he was one of the creators of Google’s Mobile Marketing Playbook, his name is Mark Hendrix. Mark was extremely helpful [Thanks man!].

Through my research I found many things that looked similar but different about the user interface and conversion strategy.  The mobile user needs different mechanisms laid out slightly differently with different methods of access than the traditional user. Creating the user interface on the mobile side of your site requires you to segment the mobile users even further than norm. Obviously, I can’t get too in depth about this because my competitors may be reading, but engaging the mobile user requires more than just a mobile responsive website (some people choose the mobile subdomain for their website, that’s way lame these days).

Engaging the Mobile User
– Take a brand first and foremost approach.
– Engage with calls to action / lead gen assets that are more comfortable in a mobile environment.
– Tell the mobile user more with easy access videos that define your product and your brand.
– Reduce copy on the mobile side that appears on the desktop side.
– Make related blog posts more accessible and make sharing via mobile device front and center (especially Twitter).
– Make following your Twitter (the most mobile friendly major social platform) account way easier!

Converting the Mobile User
– Reconsider your lead gen assets conversion approach (I basically took a whole new, internal, simplified approach and am rolling it out to both mobile and non-mobile visitors). Since the mobile user is much more likely to be turned away by multi-step conversion mechanisms, simplify the process, remove the opt-in email or off site second steps. Again, you are talking about a new non-traditional approach to conversion on your lead gen assets, it may be more difficult to set up, but worth the conversions.
– Choose lead gen asset / CTA’s that both fit the segment of the viewer based on landing page qualifications and fit your mobile segment. Not all assets will apply in the same manner as they do to non-mobile traffic. Easy targeted white papers, infographics and high value quick download videos are great here.
– Present a lead gen asset / CTA at the start of your landing page and show the simplicity of accessing the asset. Presenting the asset at the start of your content, before the body, makes it more visible to the viewer and is likely the first impression it leaves. Ideally you have a mobile responsive site, so from a cell phone, the content of the landing page is viewed in a singular column (in most cases), give them 1) the header, 2) the lead gen asset and then 3) the body.

Mobile conversion is optimized when you present a clear lead gen asset / call to action immediately in the hot zone without scrolling and  you do so with simplicity. That process is obviously a little more complex for non-mobile traffic, more conversion optimization techniques like trust building etc. can be added to that equation. However, in mobile, you don’t often have that luxury in many cases. If you take that approach, even as the user scrolls, they will know where to find what they want. Since a mobile responsive site pushes everything in one column, your call to action may get lost at the very bottom and that simply won’t cut it (unless you are my competitor).

So there you have it, engage and convert mobile users requires a little different thinking. Until next time!