10 B2B Marketing Lessons from Walt Disney World and Universal Studios

April 22, 2014

A few weeks ago, we took a spring break / time-to-thaw-out trip to Orlando. Five days, the GDP of a small country, and one sun-burnt family later, we returned with happy memories, several gigabytes of photos and video…and the following 10 lessons learned about B2B marketing from two enormously popular theme parks.

B2B lessons from Disney World and Universal StudiosBut first, to answer a couple of obvious questions: yes, theme parks really can teach B2B business lessons (see below); and no, writing a post like this doesn’t enable one to write off the trip as a business expense, unfortunately (I checked).

So, from out of the land of theme parks filled with 20-somethings who appear to have made bad life choices, 40-somethings who’ve obviously made good ones, children, tweens, teens, and the young at heart—come 10 B2B marketing business lessons from Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.

1. Be true to your brand. While few companies in the B2B or B2C worlds go quite to the lengths that Disney does in employee training and management–for example, referring to employees as “cast members” and requiring each cast member “to stay in their land as to not effect the ‘magical’ perspective of the guests (can you even imagine the psychic damage that could result from seeing Snow White hanging out with the ring-tailed lemurs in Animal Kingdom?)—but establishing and maintaining a strong brand is nonetheless vital.

Disney is “wholesome family entertainment,” while Universal Studios is more like “Disney for big kids.” There’s no rock n’ roll, and no alcohol, at Disney; you can find both at Universal.

Similarly, in the B2B marketing world, technology companies can get away with displaying attitude, an edge, even being a bit playful. Those attributes would be far less suitable for patent attorneys or accounting firms. Apple has asked users to “think different” while IBM’s products and services resolve around building a smarter planet.

Establish your brand attributes, then make them permeate every corner of your organization.

2. Know your competition–but don’t fear it. Why is Universal Studios located just miles from Walt Disney World? Wouldn’t it keep more business for itself if were located on the other side of the state, or even in another state?

Theme Parks in Orlando, FloridaWell, no. Theme parks (Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, LEGOLAND…) have congregated in and around Orlando for same reason stores cluster in malls; every venue benefits from the increased traffic drawn by giving customers an array of choices in a single location.

As noted above, while there are many similarities between Disney and Universal (rides, movie themes, iconic characters, marginal food), there are also distinct differences both in image (Disney’s Main Street USA has a distinct circa 1928 vibe; Universal is more like 1962) and offerings. Other area parks offer their own unique attractions and experiences.

The key in the B2B world is to understand your core market and make everything about your products and services ideal for that segment. This enables you to distinguish your company from competitors without disparaging them.

As MarketingSherpa recently noted, having no competition can actually be a bad thing. B2B marketers ” should tell customers more about the competition. You should help them make the best choice between you and the competition and provide them with something to compare your company to.” Competition provides a valuable frame of reference in the decision-making process for B2B buyers.

3. Don’t nickel and dime customers; consider “all-inclusive” pricing. Tickets to Disney and Universal are pricey to be sure, but once you are inside the park, pretty much everything other than food or trinkets is “free.”

This pricing model certainly doesn’t fit everywhere in the B2B world, but for products that command a premium price, and which buyers reasonably expect to include a certain “bundle” of additional items or services (e.g., implementation assistance, warranty coverage, some base level of support, etc.), the all-inclusive model can make sense.

This is also the logic behind “free” scheduled maintenance programs offered by some carmakers. The cost is built into the purchase price, but buyers feel as though they are getting a premium offering without being invoiced for every little add-on.

4. Price has many uses. On the other hand, while all-inclusive pricing has its place, it has its limitations and boundaries as well. For example, when buying a car, you wouldn’t expect to pay extra for the engine—that’s assumed to be part of the package. But you would expect to pay more for the larger, upgraded engine (and likely the beefier shocks, transmission and tires that go with it).

Price isn’t merely something you charge in order to generate revenue. It has numerous other uses as well, such as:

- Segmenting a market. For example, if there are two social media monitoring tools, one priced at $300 per month and one at $3,000 per month, you can infer quite a bit without knowing anything more about them. Unless it’s just horrendously mispriced, one would expect that the $3,000 tool is aimed at larger enterprises, more scalable, and with additional and more sophisticated features than the $300 application.

This is also commonly done with “freemium” tools. A free version is offered for those with very basic requirements, while more advanced and feature-rich versions are available for larger companies and more demanding users, at progressively higher price points.

- Guiding behavior. Theme parks are masterful at this. For example, a single-day pass may be priced at $95, while a three-day pass costs $235 and a four-day pass goes for $265. Not only is the price difference between a three-day and a four-day pass very small, the four-day is actually sold for less than the price of three one-day passes—making the fourth day “free!”

No doubt the parks have data showing that this model pays off. One presumes that multi-day visitors are more likely to stay for the entire day each time (thus eating more meals at the park), to buy souvenirs in the gift shops, and to tell their friends wonderful things about the experience.

B2B companies can similarly use price to influence behavior. Online self-service support options are generally free, or very low-cost, to encourage users to find their own answers via that route—while phone support is more expensive, and 24/7 phone support pricier yet. True, this is a reflection of costs, but the magnitude of the price differential is such that there are often behavioral considerations in the mix as well.

Prices can also, of course, be lowered to move excess inventory or speed market adoption of a new product, or raised to shift demand to an alternative offering.

- Capitalizing on value in context. In many instances, products and services have no absolute inherent value; what they are worth depends on the circumstances.

The same glass of wine will cost much more in a trendy upscale urban eatery than in a suburban mall chain restaurant.

A famous experiment in this realm was conducted in 2007 by the Washington Post. Virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell, who regularly sells out concert halls at $100 per seat, played for 43 minutes at a subway stop. He was playing a Stradivarius valued at $3.5 million. His take for 43 minutes of playing? $32.17. Context matters.

Disney princess trinketDisney gets this. Know what the item is in this photo? Neither do I. But inside the Disney princess gift shop, these sell for $24.95. Outside the gates of Disney, it’s unlikely one of these would fetch 25 cents.

In the B2B realm, think of what you to have to offer to customers that has unique, high value in the context of your relationship. What is it you do, or can, provide that has special value to customers in the context of using your products or services?

5. Optimize the entire buying experience. Approaching Disney’s Magic Kingdom is, well…magical. After parking and a short tram ride, you board a ferry for a short ride across a lagoon. This is what you see as you approach the other side.

The Cinderella castle in Disney's Magic Kingdomm

 

While ferry rides and castles would be awkward in the B2B realm, there is still more that B2B vendors can do to welcome new customers than just providing a “Download now” button and maybe sending in a consultant wearing blue jeans and a company polo.

A software company I worked for back in the 90′s shipped the product (at that time on multiple floppy disks) in enameled steel cases (many of which later ended up in customers’ garages—they made excellent tool boxes). As the media shrunk—to a handful of CDs rather than a box full of disks—the company switched to delivering the software, documentation, welcome letter, and a few other items in logo-emblazoned laptop bags, like this.

Fourth Shift Software Laptop Bag

 

There are lots of ways to welcome new customers—be creative! Even ideas that seem corny can be meaningful to a new customer and help start the relationship off on a positive note: a welcome letter, certificate, welcome phone call, email, video, access to a special customers-only community site, even old-fashioned tsotchkes like shirts, mugs, pens, USB drives, and desktop toys.

And just as the “magic’ of the Disney experience continues throughout the park visit, B2B vendors should work to optimize every customer touch point, making the entire customer experience as pleasant, efficient, and friction-free as possible.

6. Partner strategically to expand and extend your offerings. Disney actually appears to do little of this (at least in the Magic Kingdom), while Universal Studios does it extensively and brilliantly.

Universal Studios - partners

These partnerships are mutually beneficial, and the brands here both extend the dining options available to Universal visitors as well as support the theme park’s (unofficial) brand image of “Disney for big kids.”

The best B2B partnerships—whether to extend services, technology, or product functionality—similarly should benefit both vendors, enhance both brands, and increase value for buyers.

7. Use content to get people talking. Neither Disney nor Universal need to do much advertising for their theme parks. Their marketing is largely based on content (movies) and word of mouth.

While B2B marketers aren’t Hollywood studios, they can use video (and other content assets) to get people in their market talking. In the B2B realm, these can include free or freemium online tools (like HubSpot’s Marketing Grader); useful and share-worthy content like research findings and how-to guides; customer conferences (with associated SlideShare presentations and videos); online customer community sites; open source sharable components; and other forms of content.

8. Find ways to reward best / most loyal customers—without offending others. Disney does a fantastic job with this. Even single-day pass holders can choose three rides for which they will use the express line, thus bypassing wait times of up to an hour. Multi-day pass holders get additional perks, and families that stay in Disney hotels even more extras (such as early park admission); but the impact of these benefits doesn’t noticeably degrade the experience for day-pass buyers.

In the B2B world, special pricing is one obvious way to reward loyal customers, but be creative in developing other programs as well. For example, access is valuable, and heavy users of a product often have strong opinions of enhancements and changes they’d like to see made. Offerings like “dinner with the CEO” at company or industry conferences, and quarterly calls with a product manager or engineer can be very meaningful perks.

App showing wait times for rides in the Magic Kingdom9. Create an app to share timely information. Both Disney and Universal offer free apps that enable park visitors to check current wait times for any ride; a very cool and useful idea.

B2B software (and even hardware, in the internet-of-things era) products often offer opportunities for complementary free (see #3 above) or fee-based (see #4 above) apps. While no one is going to perform sophisticated data analysis on a smartphone, apps can be very useful at sharing key real-time information, such as total sales month-to-date; current inventory levels by item; service requests logged in the past week; or any myriad of other measures, levels, quantities, metrics, or figures.

10. Focus on continual improvement, not perfection. As impressive as the operation of its four Orlando theme parks is (70,000 employees, 40 square miles, 1 million guests per week; $100M year on maintenance; streets steam-cleaned every night) even Disney screws up sometimes.

And perhaps because so much of it done at Disney happens with elegant smoothness; such screw-ups are all the more jarring. One example is positioning visitors during parades. There are apparently very specific areas where guests are and are not permitted to stand or sit during parades, which are known by seemingly every Disney employee—but none of the guests. The result is annoyance on the part of guests (one woman was told she needed to move forward two inches in order to be in front of a specific crack in the sidewalk), and on occasion, rare displays of rudeness by Disney employees (who understandably get tired of having to give sometimes irate guests the same instructions, over and over).

And it’s not likely Disney shouldn’t know how to manage parades; they run several per day, every day, across their parks.

The key to process improvement is to examine the entire customer experience (see #5 above) and redesign processes, where needed, from the customer’s perspective. For example, that automated post-purchase online customer satisfaction survey that you send out by email—the one that has 59 different questions because every department in your business wants to hear “the voice of the customer”—is itself a source of customer dissatisfaction. Redesign it from the buyer’s perspective; what kind of feedback would they view as most important to provide? And keep it short, to respect buyers’ time.

Purchasing and implementing your B2B product or service may not be as much fun as a trip to Disney or Universal, but it will have much more significant, ongoing, long-lasting impacts on daily life for your customers. Use ideas from these phenomenally successful theme parks to enhance the overall experience for your buyers.

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21 Vital Mobile Marketing Facts and Statistics for 2014

April 16, 2014

Gone are the days when a mobile-enabled web presence was an afterthought. According to CNN, “Americans used smartphone and tablet apps more than PCs to access the Internet (in January 2014) — the first time that has ever happened.”

U.S. Smartphone Operating System Market ShareAlso, consider these stats from the compilation below: about half of all U.S. adults now own smartphones; that figure rises to 76% for millennials. Nearly half of consumers say they won’t return to a website if it doesn’t load properly on their mobile devices. And mobile payments aren’t just for buying lattes—three-quarters of B2B vendors say they plan to offer mobile commerce by the end of 2014.

What do advertisers need to know about mobile access? How large is the mobile share of social network traffic? How does the online use of tablet owners differ from PC users? What the key differences between mobile and desktop search?

Find the answers to these questions and more here in almost two dozen facts, statistics and research findings about mobile marketing and web use from the past several months.

1. There are now 143 million smart phones in use in the U.S., and 71 million tablets. (Heidi Cohen)

2. Mobile internet access enabled by smartphones and tablets has nearly doubled the amount of time spent online since 2010. (Heidi Cohen)

3. 91% of U.S. adults now own a mobile phone. 61% of those are smartphones. (Heidi Cohen)

4. Though according to another source, 18% of adults do not own a cellphone. (iMedia Connection)

5. Smart phone use varies by age group. 81% of U.S. adults age 25-34 own a smartphone, as do 70% of teens and half of adults age 55 and over. (Heidi Cohen)

6. The leading platforms for U.S. smartphone use are Android (53%) and iPhone (40%)). Blackberry now accounts for just 3% of the market.  (Heidi Cohen)

7. 189 million Facebook users (almost one out of five) are mobile-only, and mobile use accounts for 30% of Facebook ad revenue. (Fast Company)

8. And 751 million (nearly three-quarters of the total) Facebook users access the network from mobile devices at least some of the time. (Digital Buzz Blog)

9. Twitter has more than 500 million total users. 288 million users are active monthly, collectively sending out over 400 million tweets each day. (Digital Buzz Blog)

10. 25% of smartphone owners ages 18–44 say they “can’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t next to them.” (Fast Company)

11. 76% of millennials own a smartphone. 73% own a laptop. (The Social Media Hat)

12. Marketers spent $4.4 billion on mobile advertising in the U.S. in 2012. That figure doubled to $8.5 million in 2013; and that figure is projected to quadruple to $31.1 billion by 2017. Search advertising accounts for about half of the total. (Heidi Cohen)

13. Mobile ads perform 4-5 times better than online ads. (iMedia Connection)

14. 25% of Americans use mobile devices (primarily tablets) only to access the Internet. And there are five times as many cellphones in the world as there are PCs. (iMedia Connection)

15. Forget branded apps though. 93% of consumers say branded apps don’t contribute to their brand loyalty. (iMedia Connection)

16. And there’s this: “99% of apps only get used once. Unless your app does something amazing that no one else’s does, then the reality is that it will get downloaded, opened and forgotten about.” (The Social Media Hat)

17. 60% of Twitter users access the network from mobile devices at least some of the time. (Digital Buzz Blog)

18. Tablet users spend, on average, 50% more online than do PC users. (The Social Media Hat)

19. Nearly half of consumers say they won’t return to a website if it doesn’t load properly on their mobile devices. (The Social Media Hat)

20. On desktop searches, roughly one-third of clicks go to the top organic result. Average CTR on mobile devices tends to skew even more towards the first position, as smaller screens offers fewer listings at any one time. (Brent Carnduff)

21. Currently, about half of B2B vendors sell through mobile (including stores and applications), while 3 in 4 respondents plan to offer mobile commerce by the end of 2014. (MarketingCharts)

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83 Exceptional Social Media and Marketing Statistics for 2014

April 14, 2014

“Big data” is one of the trendiest buzzwordy terms in marketing/technology/business today.

So before it gets replaced by the next trendy buzzwordy term, here’s some marketing-related big data for you: 83 valuable facts, stats, and research findings covering strategy, social media, SEO, online advertising, email marketing, content, blogging, social networking, video and more.

B2B Content Marketing Trends

2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends–North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs

What do 40% of B2B buyers say about LinkedIn, that only 19% say about Twitter? Which “social” brands aren’t really social at all? What do only 48% of searches result in? What do 91% of B2B marketers do, but only 36% do well? (No, not that.) What do 73% of reporters say press releases should contain?

Find the answers to those questions and many, many more here in more than 80 social, content, search, and email marketing facts and statistics from the past few months.

4 Marketing Management and Measurement Stats

1. Just 35% of B2B marketing executives say they can calculate the ROI of their marketing spend most or all of the time. 42% say they can calculate ROI only some of the time, rarely or not at all. (B2B Marketing)

2. While two out of three U.S. CMOs say they feel pressure from the top to prove the value of marketing, just 51% of CEOs agree “that marketing’s financial value is clear to the business.” (MarketingCharts)

3. That’s likely because only 45% of CMOs are confident “that they know which metrics or business outcomes their key stakeholders care about.” (MarketingCharts)

4. “Data analytics are currently most commonly used by B2B marketing leaders to measure and report marketing’s performance (64%), as well as to justify (55%) and allocate (52%) the marketing budget. Analytics are least commonly used to fine-tune the marketing mix (14%).” (MarketingCharts)

4 B2B Marketing Stats

5. Consumerization of B2B marketing? 57% of B2B vendors say they are shifting their B2B commerce transactions from offline to online and self-service, and 44% agree “that B2B commerce is adopting B2C best practices in order to optimize the purchasing experience.” (MarketingCharts)

6. Online sales currently account for about 35% of total revenue for B2B vendors, though that’s higher (41%) among US companies. (MarketingCharts)

7. 40% of B2B buyers say LinkedIn is important when researching technologies and services to purchase; 19% say the same for Twitter. (Social Media Today)

8. B2B buyers today are 70%-90% of the way through their “buying journey” before they reach out to a vendor. (B2B Marketing)

6 Social Media Marketing Stats

9. Social media marketing budgets are projected to double in the next five years. (SocialTimes)

10. The top three social networks used by B2B marketers are LinkedIn (91%); Twitter (85%); and Facebook (81%). However, just 62% of marketers say that LinkedIn is effective, while 50% say the same for Twitter and only 30% of B2B marketers view Facebook as effective. (FlipCreator)

11. This one may surprise you: Google+ actually averages more visits per month than Facebook. Google+ receives 1.2 billion visits per month compared to Facebook’s 809 million. (iMedia Connection)

12. 83% of B2B marketers invest in social media to increase brand exposure; 69% to increase web traffic; and 65% to gain market insights. (Social Media Today)

13. Some brands perceived as social aren’t—at all. As of 2013, Apple had yet to claim a Twitter account, Facebook page, or any other type of social media presence. Ditto for Trader Joe’s. (iMedia Connection)

14. People spend, on average, 4X more time on Tumblr and Pinterest than they do on Twitter. (iMedia Connection)

7 SEO and Search Stats

15. Every month there are more than 10.3 billion Google searches, with 78% of U.S. internet users researching products and services online. (B2B Marketing)

16. 54% of B2B buyers begin their buying process with informal research about business problems; nearly 80% of the time spent researching is done line. (B2B Marketing)

17. 33% of organic search clicks go to the first result. (SocialTimes)

18. The top 4 positions, generally those considered to be “above the fold”, receive 83% of first page organic clicks. (Brent Carnduff)

(However, as noted here previously, “a lower position isn’t always bad. If the searcher clicks the ‘back’ button because the top result didn’t meet expectations, then he or she is 5-8 times more likely to click on a lower result than on the initial search.”)

19. It’s also important to consider that only 48% of searches result in an organic click. The remaining 52% result in either a click on a paid ad, leaving the search engine results page without clicking on any listing, or starting a new search. (Brent Carnduff)

20. In addition, as search intent becomes more detailed or specific (long-tail search phrases), the click distribution across the first page organic listings begins to even out, as searchers look for the best match or answer to their query. (Brent Carnduff)

21. And furthermore, long-tail searches have higher overall organic click-through rates. 56% of searches for phrases of four words or more result in a click on an organic result, compared to just 30% for single-word search queries. (Brent Carnduff)

7 Online Advertising Stats

22. Of the three major types of online advertising (search, display, and social), search is viewed as the best channel for driving direct sales, cited by 40% of marketers (vs. 26% who use display to drive sales and 18% using social). However, just over a third of marketers view each channel as valuable for lead generation. (eMarketer)

23. Landing page optimization is viewed as the most important tactic for optimizing the performance of paid search advertising, while targeting by segment is most important in optimizing display ad performance. (eMarketer)

24. 8% of Internet users account for 85% of online display ad clicks. (iMedia Connection)

25. In 2013, Internet advertising expenditures surpassed newspaper ad spending for the first time. Internet ads now account for 21% of all advertising dollars, second only to television at 40%. (Ad Age)

26. Of the 100 largest global advertisers, 41 are headquartered in the U.S., 36 in Europe, and 23 in Asia. Consumer electronics and technology is the fastest-growing ad category among the Global 100. (Ad Age)

27. The average click-through rate (CTR) for online display ads is 0.11% (roughly one click per one thousand views). CTRs aer highest in Malasia (0.30%) and Singapore (0.19%), and lowest in Australia and the U.K. (both at 0.07%). (Smart Insights)

28. Among different display ad formats, large rectangle ads (336 x 280 pixels) generate the highest CTRs on average at 0.21-0.33%, while full banners (468 x 6) generate the lowest at 0.04%. (Smart Insights)

3 Email Marketing Stats

29. Mobile matters. A lot. In 2013, 62% of emails were opened on a mobile device (48% on smartphones and 14% on tablets). (Heidi Cohen)

30. Adding social sharing buttons to email messages an increase click-through rates by more than 150%. (SocialTimes)

31. 48% of consumers say email is their preferred form of communication with brands. (iMedia Connection)

14 Content Marketing Facts and Stats

32. Though more than 90% of marketers now use content marketing, just 42% of B2B marketers and 34% of B2C marketers believe they are effective at this. (e-Strategy Trends)

33. Still, more than 70% of both B2B and B2C marketers plan to produce more content in 2014 than they did in 2013, and six out of ten plan to increase their content marketing budgets. (e-Strategy Trends)

34. 78% of CMOs believe custom content is the future of marketing. It’s not clear what the other 22% are thinking. (SocialTimes)

35. Customer testimonials are the most effective form of content marketing. (SocialTimes)

36. The top challenge for content marketers is “lack of time,’ according to 57% of B2C and 69% of B2B marketers (multiple responses permitted). (e-Strategy Trends)

37. When forced to choose only one “top challenge” in content marketing, 30% of marketers said “not enough time”; 11% said “producing enough content”; and another 11% said it was “producing engaging content.” (@Robert_Rose on SlideShare)

38. Content creation is taking an increasing share of marketing budgets. Nearly half of marketers devote at least 10% of their total budgets to content development. One in five spend 25% or more. (eMarketer)

39. The two most popular formats for marketing content are articles (including internal and guest blog posts), used by 76% of marketers, and video, used by 60%. (eMarketer)

40. 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing. But just 36% say they are effective at it. (FlipCreator)

41. The most effective B2B content marketers 1) have a documented strategy; 2) use more than a dozen different tactics; 3) use an average of seven different social media platforms; and 4) devote nearly 40% of their budgets to content marketing, as shown below. (FlipCreator)

B2B Content Marketing Statistics 2014

Image Credit: 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends–North America: Content Marketing Institute / MarketingProfs

42. The top three content marketing tactics used by B2B marketers are social media other than blogs (87%); articles on their own websites (83%); and e-newsletters (80%). (FlipCreator)

43. B2B marketers rate in-person events and case studies as the most effective content marketing tactics (see full list below). (FlipCreator)

2014 Top B2B Content Marketing Tactics

Image Credit: 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends–North America: Content Marketing Institute / MarketingProfs

44. The top three organizational goals for B2B content marketing are brand awareness (82% of companies); lead generation (74%); and customer acquisition (73%). The top three metrics used to measure success are website traffic (63%); sales lead quality (54%); and social media sharing (50%). (FlipCreator)

45. 60% of consumers feel more positive about a brand after consuming content from it. (iMedia Connection)

9 Social Networking Demographics Figures and Statistics

46. Pinterest is from Venus, Google+ is from Mars. Two-thirds of Google+ users are male. 69% of Pinterest users are female. (Digital Buzz Blog)

47. Women are more social than men. (Shocking, I know.) One-half (49.0%) of U.S. adult women visit social media sites at least a few times per day, versus one-third (34.0%) of men. (New Media and Marketing)

48. About three-quarters of all Internet users are members of at least one social network. (WordPress Hosting SEO)

49. Grandma and grandpa are crashing teenagers’ social media party. The fastest-growing age cohort on Twitter is 55-to-64 year-olds, up 79% since 2012. And the 45-54 age bracket is the fastest-growing group on both Facebook and Google+. (Fast Company)

50. But social media use is still much more common among the young. 89% of Internet users aged 18-29 are active on social networks, versus 43% of those 65 and older. (WordPress Hosting SEO)

51. Millennials, aka Gen Y, will account for 27% of the total U.S. population in 2014 (vs. 26% Baby Boomers), and 25% of the labor force (vs. 38% Boomers). (AllTwitter)

52. 56% of millennials won’t accept jobs from firms that prohibit the use of social media in the office, and more than eight in ten say that user generated content on company websites at least somewhat influences what they buy. (AllTwitter)

53. The collective spending power of millennials will surpass that of Baby Boomers by 2018, and millennials will comprise 75% of the global labor force by 2025. (AllTwitter)

54. Millennials are, in general, not loyal to employers (91% expect to stay in a job for less than three years) but are loyal to brands (95% want brands to court them actively).(AllTwitter)

7 Business Blogging Stats and Facts

55. 76% of B2B companies maintain blogs. (FlipCreator)

56. 52% of marketers say their company blog is an important channel for content marketing. (eMarketer)

57. B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than those that don’t. (SocialTimes)

58. 62% of B2B marketers rate blogging as an effective content marketing tactic. However, 79% of best-in-class marketers rank blogs as the most effective tactic, while just 29% of their least effective peers concur. (FlipCreator)

59. 57% of U.S. online adults read blogs. And of that group, two-thirds “say a brand mention or promotion within context of the blog influences their purchasing decisions.” (New Media and Marketing)

60. Among U.S. adults aged 18-34, four-fiths say bloggers “can be very or somewhat influential in shaping product or service purchasing decisions. (New Media and Marketing)

61. Though 62% of marketers blog or plan to blog in 2013, only 9% of US marketing companies employ a full-time blogger. (Fast Company)

3 Facebook Marketing Stats

62. Facebook now has nearly 1.2 billion total users. (Digital Buzz Blog)

63. 23% of Facebook users check their account more than five times per day. (Digital Buzz Blog)

64. 47% of marketers say Facebook is overrated as a marketing platform. (iMedia Connection)

3 LinkedIn Marketing Stats

65. 45% of B2B marketers have gained a customer through LinkedIn. (Social Media Today)

66. LinkedIn is adding, on average, two members per second. However – LinkedIn has a lower percentage of active users than Pinterest, Google+ (?), Twitter or Facebook, which means “you’re probably not going to have as good a response with participatory content on LinkedIn, like contests or polls, as you might on Facebook or Twitter…(though) passive content like blog posts or slide decks might be just right for your LinkedIn audience.” (Fast Company)

67. Only 20% of LinkedIn users are under the age of 30. (iMedia Connection)

3 Twitter Marketing Stats

68. B2B marketers who use Twitter generate, on average, twice as many leads as those who don’t. (Social Media Today)

69. 71% of tweets are ignored. Only 23% generate a reply. (iMedia Connection)

70. Advertising on Twitter costs nearly six times as much as Facebook ads on a CPM basis; however, the CTR for Twitter ads is 8-24 times higher. (Smart Insights)

3 Google+ Marketing Stats

71. Google+ has more than one billion total users, though only about a third (359 million) are active. (eConsultancy)

72. Users spend an average of three minutes per month on Google+. (iMedia Connection)

73. 70% of brands have a presence on Google+. (WordPress Hosting SEO)

6 Visual Content (Image and Video) Marketing Stats

74. Nearly two-thirds of people are visual learners, and visual data is processed much faster by the brain than is text. (SocialTimes)

75. Adding videos to landing pages can increase conversions by nearly 90%. (SocialTimes)

76. YouTube reaches more U.S. adults aged 18-34 than any cable network. (Fast Company)

77. More than three-quarters (77%) of brand posts shared on Facebook are photos. (iMedia Connection)

78. 73% of reporters say that press releases should contain images. (SocialTimes)

79. There are five million new businesses started each year. One out of 500 get funded and achieve a successful exit. (@Robert_Rose on SlideShare)

3 Marketing Career-Related Stats

80. 79% of B2B marketing executives report noticable skills gaps in the teams they manage. The top areas for skills gaps are in data analysis, customer insight, and digital marketing techniques. (B2B Marketing)

81. Social media experts are in demand. Job postings on LinkedIn for social media positions have grown 1,300% since 2010. (The Strategy Web)

82. Looking for a job in social media? The top five cities for job openings with “social media” in the title are:

  • • New York
  • • Los Angeles
  • • San Francisco
  • • London
  • • Chicago

(The Strategy Web)

(That social media job had better pay well though. NY, SF and LA are all among the top 10 most expensive US cities to live in and London is the 15th-most expensive city globally.)

And One Final Statistic that Simply Cannot be Categorized

83. Food is the top category on Pinterest; 57% of users discuss food-related content. Garlic Cheesy Bread is the most repinned Pinterest Pin. (Digital Buzz Blog)

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21 Fantastic Facebook Marketing Guides

April 8, 2014

Many (most?) marketers have a love-hate relationship with Facebook.

On one hand, not only is it an easy-to-use, low-cost platform with more than a billion members, but 77% of B2C companies and 43% of B2B vendors have acquired customers from Facebook, and the world’s largest social network drives 20% of all internet page views.

Markets Have Mixed Emotions About FacebookOn the other, marketers don’t “own” their presence on Facebook, consumers continue to have privacy concerns about the site, and Facebook is constantly making changes to its interface and other functionality, including recent modifications that have drastically reduced organic reach for brands.

But the bottom line is, as Amanda DiSilvestro notes in one of the posts highlighted below, “there are two online platforms (marketers) just can’t avoid: Google and Facebook.”

So with that in mind, how can brands optimize the limited organic visibility they still have? What are the best page apps for Facebook today? What can SMB marketers learn from the biggest brands on Facebook? What are the best practices for advertising on Facebook?

Find the answers to these questions any many more here in almost two dozen of the best guides to marketing on Facebook of the past year.

Best Facebook Marketing Guides

5 Painfully Obvious But Extremely Effective Facebook Tactics Nobody Told You About by unbouce

Stefanie-GrieserWriting that she’s “heard that it’s easier to get into Harvard than into someone’s Facebook news feed,” Stefanie Grieser shares a handful of tips to help get your content noticed by fans, such as creating a photo collage instead of just posting a single image, and asking questions only at the end of posts.

Is there value in #Organic #SMM after Facebook closes the “Like Economy”? by Social Media Marketing 4 Business

Gary SchirrPondering the impact of the death of EdgeRank, Gary (@ProfessorGary) Schirr ?notes that “a post by a brand’s Facebook page could expect to reach 16% of its fans” up until the fall of 2013; but “after the algorithm change that figure seems to be 2.5%!” Will content proliferation and advertising keep small companies from being successful with social media marketing?

Infographic: Ten Facebook Page best practices by leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal

Jim DoughertyJim Dougherty highlights an infographic detailing ten ways to boost a brand’s Facebook page agreement; for example by asking questions (ask fans to share consumer preferences or help name your new product), use images, use fan content (“People love to see their content & their friends’ content shared by brands”), keep posts simple, and have fun!

37 of the Best Facebook Page Apps for Brand Marketing by Pamorama

Pam DyerWriting that “One of the easiest ways to use your Facebook page to its fullest potential for social media marketing is to employ third-party Facebook applications,” Pam Dyer provides brief reviews of more than three dozen such apps here, from Facebook app suites like AgoraPlus to apps for creating tabs, ecommerce, posting/scheduling, contests and promotions, blog apps and more.

Easy-to-steal ideas from Facebook’s 10 biggest brands by iMedia Connection

Drew HubbardDrew Hubbard shares ideas from mega-brands that “can be stolen…by even the smallest brands,” such as showcasing sponsorship of a local cause or organization; using caption contests (Red Bull does this well); documenting an event in photos; sharing an image of a cute animal next to your product (you don’t really need a reason); or giving people a look “behind the scenes” at your brand or company.

Facebook: News Feed Visibility Changes and RIP EdgeRank via V3 Integrated Marketing

Katy-SchambergerKaty Ryan Schamberger explains that while the term “EdgeRank” is no longer officially used by Facebook, “the algorithm’s three determining factors—affinity, weight and time decay—still play a role in News Feed visibility, although today’s ranking algorithm is much more complex. After detailing other new features, she notes that the key to increasing Facebook visibility is to create content users find engaging.

7 Powerful Facebook statistics you should know for a more engaging Facebook page by The Buffer Blog
***** 5 STARS

Belle Beth CooperBelle Beth Cooper reveals some real-world findings about Facebook use that can help marketers optimize use of the social network, such as that photo posts get 39% more interaction; using emoticons increases comments by 33%; and question posts generate double the number of comments as the average post.

Facebook Finally Gets Hashtags: 10 Smart Ways to Help B2B Marketers by Inbound Visibility

Sunita BidduExplaining that “hashtags can help your business get noticed by putting your posts in the stream of what’s being said and bringing you together with other people that are talking about the same thing as you are,” Sunita Biddu shares tips for optimizing your posts with hashtags, among them: know your audience, be consistent in your communications, engage your fans, and be active during events: “Creating a custom hashtag for your event (e.g. fundraising, seminar, handmade trade, etc.) and sharing it with attendees is a great way of increasing your brand’s buzz online.”

Does Facebook Work for B2B Lead Generation? Hell Yes! by Marketo Blog

Jason MillerWriting to those “who say that Facebook is not an effective lead generation tool for B2B, I will tell them that they need a new strategy,” Jason Miller reveals how Marketo generates leads on Facebook and summarizes the experience with four helpful recommendations, among them: “Wittiness is terribly underrated. B2B marketers like to have fun too. They are not on Facebook to be sold to. Entertain them a bit, and then tie it back to something useful.”

Best Facebook Advertising Guides

Infographic: Facebook ad term glossary by Inside Facebook

Justin LaffertyJustin Lafferty presents an infographic that explains words and phases as used in the world of Facebook advertising, such as Broad Categories (“allows advertisers to target users who have information in their Timelines and actions taken related to a specific category of interests”), Conversion Specs, Custom Audience, and Offsite Pixel (“tracking code placed on an external success page which alerts Facebook” of a conversion).

The Complete Guide to Getting Started with Facebook Ads by buffer

Amanda DeSilvestroAmanda DiSilvestro provides an outstanding guide for those new to Facebook advertising, covering everything from the four different types of Facebook ads (and under what circumstances each option works best) and progressing through how to set up a Facebook ad, how to manage ads, and how to optimize campaigns once they are up and running.

Infographic: Facebook ad cheat sheet by leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal
***** 5 STARS

Jim Dougherty (again) showcases a phenomenally useful cheat sheet detailing all of the different Facebook ad sizes, types, positions, and options available. Beyond ad dimensions, this infographic also includes helpful tips, recommendations, and potential pitfalls to avoid.

20 Quick Facebook Ads QA Steps by FB PPC

Andrew FoxwellAndrew Foxwell lists 20 questions to ask if your Facebook ads aren’t performing well, or if performance takes a sudden dip. Among them: Does (the) mobile landing (or desktop) page stink? Are the targeting audiences too small? Does the client have an active Facebook page? And have you gone through the signup flow and seen if the parameters stick properly?

How to Setup Facebook Conversion Tracking and Why It Matters by SteamFeed

Writing that “the Facebook Conversion Tracking feature is a way for marketers to measure the return on investment (ROI) of their Facebook ads,” Amanda DiSilvestro (again) provides a concise, three-step process for setting up and using this capability.

A Guide to Facebook Advertising by Capture the Conversation

Leah LeskoConfused by “the ever-changing landscape of Facebook ad types”? You’re not alone. But Leah Lesko here helpfully sorts it all out, explaining the use of, details behind, and tips for sponsored stories, promoted posts, dark posts, Marketplace ads, and mobile app install ads.

Best Guides to Facebook Cover Photos

5 Ways to Turn your Facebook Cover Photo into a Call-to-Action that Converts by Wishpond

This post provides detailed and richly illustrated examples of five ways to drive conversions using Facebook cover photos, such as promoting a Facebook Page Tab, getting more “Likes,” or promoting gated content such as a white paper–though the post does point out that “it is not easy to fit content like ebooks and infographics inside of a Tab.”

Facebook Reduces Cover Image Restrictions by v3 Integrated Marketing

Shelly KramerShelly Kramer says that “the latest (Facebook changes) might just make your day. The site has quietly removed the majority of its cover image restrictions, making it easier for brands and businesses to use this valuable visual real estate to promote things like sales, events and the Facebook page itself.” She then details what elements brands are now permitted to use in cover images, including “Calls to action such as ‘Buy now,’ ‘Tell your friends,’ ‘Contact us,’ etc..”

How to Effectively Use CTAs on Your Brands Facebook Page Cover Photo by Ignite Social Media

Building on Shelly’s post above, Ross Wilson delves into the use of calls to action on Facebook page cover photos, offering six tips for writing a compelling CTA (such as “Front load them with subjects and verbs. With only 20 percent content allowed in your cover photo, your CTA will be approximately the length of a tweet”) and following up with a handful of illuminating real-world examples.

Best Guides to Facebook Graph Search

Infographic: How to optimize your business Page for Graph Search by leaderswest

Jim Dougherty (one more time) showcases a nine-step “cheat sheet” for optimizing a page for graph search, from the basics like choosing the right category and making sure your business address is listed correctly through posting and tagging photos and videos (“posting photos and videos and tagging your business page in them can improve Graph Search rankings”).

Introducing Graph Search: Help People Discover your Business by Facebook Studio

This brief post explains what Facebook Graph Search is, how it works, why it was developed, and how it will be rolled out. “With Graph Search, people can search the social graph by looking for things like ‘sushi restaurants that my friends have been to in Los Angeles,’ ‘hotels near the Eiffel Tower,’ or ‘TV shows my friends like.’”

Social Media: Why Facebook’s new Graph Search will change social media marketing by MarketingSherpa

John CockburnNoting that “The way Graph Search works is simple … it filters our search results by what our friends and neighbors have previously liked and shared with us,” John Cockburn explains that while graph search by no means heralds the end of marketing on Facebook, it does make relevance even more vital and means “companies will now have to find the right mix of creativity and incentives as they battle for check-ins and likes to maintain relevancy in consumer search listings.”

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Book Review: Social PR Secrets

March 31, 2014

One of the first things you’ll notice about Social PR Secrets: How to Optimize, Socialize, and Publicize Your Brand’s News by Lisa Buyer is how compact it is. Coming in at under 100 pages, this slim volume stands apart from most other business books simply by virtue of its slender profile.

Social PR Secrets by Lisa Buyer - Book CoverIt’s lack of bulk, however, is by no means due to lightweight content or skimping on ideas. It is, rather, a reflection of Lisa’s exceptional ability (invaluable to a top-notch public relations professional) to convey maximum information with minimal words. This is no wasted verbiage in this book, no fluff, no superfluous content. This is the bleach, the moonshine, the uranium of business books—powerful but highly concentrated.

In just eight dozen or so pages, Lisa demonstrates the impact that social media has had on the practice of public relations, and how professionals in the field need to adapt to these changes in order to thrive, changing the way they approach media relations; news release writing; content planning, creation and distribution; use of images and visuals; and the measurement and analysis of results.

A must-read for anyone in PR, the book is also of value to marketers, SEO professionals, social media managers, and executives who want to better understand the role PR plays in maximizing a brand’s total online visibility, credibility, and impact.

Indeed, while most PR professionals aren’t going to become webmasters (or vice versa), it’s vital for practitioners, and especially for marketing and PR executives, to understand how these roles as well as those of digital marketers, writers, graphic designers, social media, and advertising specialists need to be coordinated in order to optimize online presence.

As Google’s search algorithms have become more sophisticated, being highly “findable” and visible to relevant audiences online is no longer about tricks or gaming the system. Optimizing online results today requires creativity, great content, effective social interaction, and link-earning through relationships with key influencers, whoever those may be in your industry: journalists, analysts, bloggers, consultants, thought leaders and others.

Lisa Buyer

Lisa Buyer

Lisa doesn’t merely theorize about these developments; she has lived them, and her experiences both enliven the book and provide valuable examples that illustrate the concepts she details.

On the importance of content in both PR and SEO, for example, Lisa writes: “Everything in search” is about content, and “when you think about it, everything in public relations is about content—via a press release, media story, blog post, image, or executive bio.”

Each chapter helpfully contains “Social PR Secrets,” short paragraphs set off from the surrounding content in a different typeface. A few examples include:

  • • “Leverage the power of Facebook Ads to promote posts to the newsfeed and generate publicity using a blend of organic and paid social PR.”
  • • “Write three versions of a company press release: one for paid distribution version that includes a photo, logo, and video; another version for the company blog which might be shorter, a little more casual and have a different visual; and a website version…This will help index more content with search and avoid possible duplicate content issues.”
  • • “Always, always, always post a press release on your website first, before submitting to the ‘wires’ to maximize authorship benefits and authority in the discussion—which also enhances visibility in search.”
  • • “The simple application Buffer can be a secret weapon in bringing old blog content and news releases back to life and send new visits to otherwise dead pages.”
  • • “PDF press releases and all text press releases are OUT, so make sure your press releases are accompanied with a strong visual such as an image, video, infographic or chart. This goes for your press releases hosted on your own website’s online newsroom.”

In today’s era of content marketing and social PR, Lisa advises PR professionals to “write (more) like a reporter and less like a marketer” and to support these content strategies by developing editorial calendars. “Social media has dramatically increased a brand’s number of owned media outlets, so smart businesses need to make the mental shift to think more like publishers. Managing content with an editorial calendar is a necessity.”

Another core element of social PR is having an online newsroom on your corporate website. While these have become fairly common, not all are well-designed or maintained, and “today the online newsroom can be an organization’s social PR secret weapon.”

Journalists today expect companies to have online newsrooms, and these should include, among other elements, news releases; prominent PR or media contact information; executive and product photos; biographies of company leaders; and “vital statistics: It’s really surprising how many organizations fail at incorporating the basic facts, background information, history, and milestones into the press center. More advanced content could include industry hot buttons, facts, and figures.”

Most powerfully, the online newsroom serves as an equalizer between large and small companies: “Expertise in a subject comes in all sizes, with 87% of journalists (say) they visit both large and small-to-medium sized organizations’ online newsrooms…today’s online newsroom is the command central for all company news activity and helps level the playing field for small companies to compete with Fortune 100 companies.”

As helpful as all of the information in this book is, two chapters in particular stand out. Chapter 8: The Art and Science of Social Publishing is a concise but brilliant guide to both the hard and soft factors that determine the effectiveness of social outreach, with three pages devoted to helpful tips like:

“Write for the Retweet, +1, Share, Like, Klout, and Comment: Facts, stats, tips, reports, studies, and breaking and trending news are good triggers for prompting a share. Ending a post with a question increases a post’s impression and reach.”

And:

“The rise of visual social media marketing makes each image selection for a blog post critical and dictates that you must match each press release or media coverage recap…with an outstanding visual. Your article, blog post, and news release must be accompanied by a pinnable image to get your social PR news shared.”

Chapter 13: The Rise of Visual Reporting delves even deeper into the topic of matching relevant but compelling images to news content and announcements. Here, Lisa reports that “a recent PR Newswire analysis of its press release data revealed that press releases using multimedia assets garner significantly more visibility than text-only releases, up to 9.7 times more visibility.” She also provides a list of tools and apps that help with visual storytelling, as well as visual PR tips such as, “When launching a new product do not just have the ‘hero’ shot, take photos of the product in use or in application.”

And despite the book’s compact size, it covers an impressively wide range of topics. For example, Chapter 16: Avoiding a PR Disaster offers useful guidance on developing a social media policy that effectively supports PR: “To mitigate (risk of employees damaging an organization’s image on social networks), develop a company-wide policy that clearly defines both acceptable and unacceptable behavior on social media, and dictates how employees can effectively communicate your brand culture, voice, and message. Include guidelines about confidential and proprietary information and how each should be treated and balanced against the transparency that consumers increasingly expect from social media.”

Just a few pages later, she outlines her strategy for getting the most out of sessions at industry conferences: “I map out my session plan ahead of time and I always sit in the front row with my laptop or iPad, feverishly taking notes. Sitting in the front row gives you an advantage of having less distractions, more focus, and a better networking opportunity because most of the other front-runners are live bloggers or members of the media who are there to cover the session. Some of my best contacts and relationships have…been made sitting in the front row.”

Social PR Secrets packs an amazing quantity and range of practical, actionable knowledge into a thin, quickly digestible package. But it’s not a read-and-set-aside type book; you’ll want to keep this handy to refer back to key sections as your PR / content marketing / digital strategy develops. Anyone involved in PR, social media, digital marketing, content creation, or the management of a brand’s overall online presence will find this book an indispensable guide to working smarter and getting better results.

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