Even the best marketing message in the world is useless if it is in the middle of the desert where no one can see it. This is where prospect maps come in. You need to know where your prospects spend their time in order to grab their attention effectively.
You can have incredible data to work with, a prospect profile you know inside out, a stunning sales deck and the perfect message, tailored to your target audience, but all of that is pointless if you are serving that information somewhere they won’t see it.
Finding out where your ideal prospects spend time online is just as important as knowing about their life and career. Knowing where to focus your efforts allows you to make your marketing campaigns as effective as possible. If you guess incorrectly and end up off base you will be wasting your sales team’s time AND your own – and that could result in a lot of missed opportunities.
Focus your efforts on the platforms that you know your prospects are on by creating a prospect map. A prospect map helps you figure out where your prospects are most likely to engage with you and have a conversation about what you can offer them.
Before We Get Started – What Is An Online Community?
Online communities are the most effective way to create a direct link between you and your prospect. This usually includes social media sites, but it’s no use simply putting your message out everywhere. You have to use the information you’ve gathered in your prospect profile to best identify which sites your prospects are on because these are the sites you should focus on.
Instead of spreading your social media marketing efforts thinly across many channels, it is much more effective to focus your time and energy on one or two platforms where you know your prospects are most active and willing to engage.
How To Figure Out Which Social Platforms To Use
It’s all about research. Take the data that you have collected on your ideal prospect and look at it alongside the known demographics of each social media site. You will find lots of information about this online if you want to delve much deeper, but we have summarised the essentials.
- Facebook is the most frequented social media website on the internet. It tends to be more successful for B2C marketers, but you shouldn’t discount it too quickly. It has a huge pool of potential impressions given its 2.07 billion monthly active users – but given the intimate nature of the site, be aware that more intrusive advertising will likely not receive positive engagement as people think of the site as a personal space.
- LinkedIn is entirely business driven. It is a leading social platform for B2B advertising, and allows your brand to easily connect with partners, prospects, clients and peers when building a social network. With 106 million monthly active users globally (467 million users in total!) it is a sure way of creating a B2B online presence. B2C advertising performs less well in this space as prospects expect business-orientated messaging and engage positively with that on the site.
- Youtube is most heavily used by younger consumers. It is the fourth most utilized social platform (1.5 billion logged-in monthly users), but third most effective. It is the world’s second largest search engine and owned by Google, which means you could gain greater visibility due to organic search results. There could be of great value to B2B messaging in this space despite the younger demographic.
- Instagram is also most heavily used by younger consumers, however as a B2B space is more controversial. It is difficult to target a B2B persona here as it is more orientated to B2C and is so based in aesthetics (dining, travel, fashion). It does, however, have much higher engagement rates than Twitter or Facebook. Given its 800 million monthly active users, this could be key to a marketing strategy.
- Pinterest has mostly a female demographic. Similar to Instagram, though with a smaller (but still significant!) user base of 150 million monthly active users, it can be limited in terms of targeting and demographics for a B2B marketer, lending itself to more aesthetic, creative professions.
- Twitter is often used as a resource for news articles and offers users regular, bite-size updates. It boasts 328 active monthly users. Paid search capabilities are limited for the B2B marketer as targeting is difficult for business personas, lending itself more to B2C marketing (events, offers, new releases, sales etc.). Advertisements on Twitter are as interactive as any actual tweet – so users retweet and favourite your message increasing its reach. As they look like tweets, advertisements blend into the feed and can be less intrusive than Facebook or Instagram.
Once you have identified which platform you want to explore more, you’ll need to know how best to approach it. We have given you some practical advice on three of the most commonly used channels in the B2B space.
How To Use LinkedIn To Build A Prospect Map
This is the leading B2B marketing space. Prospects are on LinkedIn in a business capacity, they are in the right mindset to be approached with a business offering.
If you’re connected to one of your prospects on LinkedIn, research what they do there.
- Are they a member of any mutual groups? Spend some time browsing the group activity and joining in on conversations.
- Are they in any groups that you aren’t a member of? Go ahead and join them.
- Do they have any skills or endorsements? How could you best interact with them in this way?
- What articles have they read? Look at their activity and the content that they are sharing.
- What influencers and companies do they follow? Find out who they like and admire, and take inspiration from the marketing campaigns of those companies.
How To Use Facebook To Build A Prospect Map
Though it isn’t the best B2B channel, many companies still use Facebook to advertise. Be aware that with recent changes to the algorithm, Facebook is prioritising non-branded content in its newsfeeds, so adjust your organic strategy accordingly. Its paid features are still a powerful way of reaching the right people, and with the option to segment by interests, you can reach out to prospects you’d never have considered interested previously.
Here is how you go about it.
- Look at any FB groups you or your competitors are in. Get involved in conversations. Actively respond and build connections here.
- Are there any FB groups you should be in to converse with your target prospects? Join them.
- What types of content are your target prospects sharing? Look at the topics and patterns of ‘likes’. The paid features allow you to segment by interest.
- Who are they following? Who do they look up to and what other companies are they favouring? Look at the Facebook marketing from those companies.
- Look at your competitor’s Facebook activity. What is working and what isn’t? Where can you differentiate? Who seems to be following your competitors and why?
How To Use Twitter To Build A Prospect Map
Twitter is a powerful tool if your niche is active there. Some aren’t, some are. Take the time to do some initial research into how your topic is represented there, who is representing it, what kind of engagement numbers they are seeing before deciding on incorporating it.
- Compile a list of hashtags that are relevant to what you do and your topics you focus your content marketing around. Search for tweets using these and note any additional hashtags they are using. Build out a list of relevant hashtags for your audience.
- Some hashtags are used specifically when asking questions, such as #entrepreneurquestions. Find the relevant question hashtags for your niche and keep track of what your audience is asking. This lets you know who is of interest to you, who you can help and gives you an opportunity to reach out directly.
- Based on these hashtags, follow influencers that are dominating these spaces. What are they sharing? Who is engaging and how? Create a private Twitter list and follow topics of conversation, debate and breaking news. You can use this for your own account.
- Compile a Twitter list of competitors. This is a great way to keep tabs on any new releases, as well as ensure you are covering all the relevant news and content trends.
Before You Start Leveraging Your Findings…
Ensure your business page is professional and represents what you do clearly. It is a great place to showcase more emotional elements of your brand – your business culture, prizes won, progress made etc. This doesn’t contribute directly to your map, but you want to have a presence that is worth people following once you have reached out to them.
Share content and news updates from your company account and start building up an active presence. You need to be posting about products and services as well as just content updates. A balance here will ensure you aren’t annoying your audience, but that you are also promoting what you actually sell (not just interesting trends in the industry).
With Twitter, direct message new followers and ask if you can help them with anything specific or share an exclusive offering with them as a thank you for following you. There are ways of automating this using tools such as SocialOomph and CrowdFire. Unlike the other platforms, there is scope here to reach out directly to interested individuals on the web without the character count limit on LinkedIn or without invading a more personal space, which Facebook messenger is for many.
A Final Word On Prospect Maps
By thoroughly researching the activity within each platform, you’ll start to build up a map of where to access your ideal prospect. This will then allow you to know which areas to focus on, and how your prospects choose to communicate with others on these platforms.
Remember, your prospect map is always changing as new platforms emerge and new ways of communicating become prevalent, so get used to regularly reviewing your map to get the best engagement from your prospects.
Prospect maps are amazing for finding out where your prospects spend their time online and structuring a digital strategy around that, but if you are considering a more direct approach, and need advice on what the best outbound strategy is for your business, download our e-book ‘Outbound Strategy: Why Emails Deliver 11x More Meetings Than Calls’.