Editor’s note: this post was originally published on the MeasureMyBrand blog.
According to recent research, U.S. digital advertising revenues rose 16% last year, and the trend indicates another double-digit percentage rise this year as well. As the economy improves and marketing budgets increase, the dollars are flowing disproportionately to online ads.
Marketers last year spent $19 billion on search advertising, $7 billion on social media ads, and almost $4 billion on display (primarily banner ads).
But are these increases the best way for CMOs to spend (still hard-earned) marketing dollars? Or would a different allocation across channels contribute more to long-term brand success? And how can CMOs make such decisions?
There are several reasons for CMOs to take a hard look at digital advertising, particularly non-search ads, in the coming year.
First, as the IAB research also notes, increased competition for limited ad space has led to “higher prices in the cost per click for ads.” More bucks will be required to get the same bang.
Second, ad blocking software is a growing concern. A quarter of all Internet users, and 41% of millennials, now use ad-blocking browser plugins. That’s a lot of eyeballs not seeing ads.
Third, and most importantly, spending on digital advertising needs to be balanced against other channels, as paid presence is just one pillar of a paid-owned-earned-shared media strategy–and not always the best for achieving long-term brand objectives.
As noted here previously, the KPIs most important to CMOs fall into three groups: brand, competitive, and website performance measures.
Digital advertising can increase brand awareness, but must be created and targeted very carefully to have a chance of improving brand preference. Ads viewed as stalking or annoying (a significant concern, given the growing use of ad blockers noted above) can actually reduce brand preference.
Online ads can improve webshare (the competitive share of a brand’s web presence within a product/service category)—but it’s an expensive way to do so. And they can actually decrease website engagement, as ad landing pages often have high bounce rates.
None of this is to suggest brands should spend less on digital advertising, or even necessarily that they shouldn’t spend more. But CMOs do need to focus on the most revealing, future-looking KPIs in order to make the optimal decisions for their specific circumstances.
For more on this topic, download the Web Marketing KPIs white paper. Learn about web presence optimization as a web marketing strategy. And be sure to follow CMO Dave on his 2015 Measurement Odyssey on YouTube!
This year’s B2B Lead Generation Report from Holger Schulze of the B2B Technology Marketing Group on LinkedIn was recently published, detailing key trends, best practices, and challenges for B2B marketing professionals.
- • The top two priorities for B2B marketers are increasing lead quality and lead volume.
- • 59% of respondents said generating high quality leads is their biggest B2B lead generation challenge.
- • Lack of resources such as staff, funding and time remains the biggest obstacle to successful B2B lead generation.
So, were there any surprises in the findings? Here are several conclusions from the report that may be at least bit more unexpected and noteworthy.
Quality trumps cost. 68% of respondents identified “increasing lead quality” as their top priority for the coming year; just 14% said the same of “reducing the cost per lead.” Vendors are generally willing to spend more on marketing in 2016 if that results in leads with greater win potential.
Marketing becoming more about sales than PR? 42% of respondents said that converting leads into customers was among their top challenges. For high-value business products like enterprise software, servers, and production equipment, this is the job of sales. But for low-value, frequently purchased, commodity-type products, marketing often is sales. The same is often true for low-cost SaaS applications.
Meanwhile, just 17% indicated that “generating public relations and awareness buzz” was among their most challenging tasks. It isn’t clear if this is because the role of brand buzz is under-appreciated, or if most marketers simply don’t find this to be challenging.
Less signal, more noise. Just 16% of B2B marketing professionals rate their lead generation efforts as “very or extremely effective.” Ironically, the proliferation of new tools and channels for reaching potential buyers hasn’t made lead generation easier, but rather has made it more difficult for marketers to make their brand messages rise above the noise and stand out from the crowd.
High-touch beats high-tech. Conferences and trade shows were rated as the most effective lead generation (which mirrors findings reported here previously), with 88% of respondents using live events and 32% calling these efforts “very effective.” Meanwhile, just 4% of B2B marketers believe mobile marketing is a highly effective tactic—and 59% don’t use this medium at all.
SEO is valuable, but misunderstood. About 80% of B2B marketing pros rank their company website and/or SEO as very or somewhat effective for lead generation. Only about half say the same for tactics like PR, content syndication, blogging, or social media—though those efforts are vital in increasing a brand’s overall web presence, which is vital for improving search engine rankings and ultimately driving more website traffic.
99 problems, but the economy ain’t one. Finally, at least somewhat surprisingly, few marketers view current economic conditions as a significant problem. As noted above, lack of resources is cited as the top challenge in B2B lead generation. About 40% of marketers also identify lack of high-quality data and audience insights as key challenges. Just 12% cite the economic climate or lack of demand.
And there’s much more. Just 15% of respondents said marketing contributes half or more of company revenue. 24% just plain don’t know. Whitepaper and eBook downloads are by far the top producers of leads, according to 59% of respondents; just 4% say the same for podcasts. LinkedIn is viewed as the most effective social platform for lead generation; Vine is the least.
Download the full report for all the details.
As social media marketing has become ubiquitous (88% of marketers say social media is important for their businesses), hundreds of new tools have developed just in the past few years: tools for social media management, monitoring, measurement, automation, identifying influencers, creating graphical content, and more.
No one has time to put every one of those tools through its paces. Which are most worth investigating and investing in?
In the posts highlighted below, 20 (or so) social media marketing pros review more than 200 tools, ranging from popular, widely used tools like Buffer, Hootsuite and Feedly to intriguing but lesser-known apps.
12 Tools to Help You Optimize Your Social Media Marketing Results by TopRank Online Marketing Blog
***** 5 STARS
Noting that 26% “of marketers spend 6-10 hours a week on social media,” Debbie Friez proceeds to “explore twelve possible problems and the tools that can help solve those problems and make you more productive,” among them Directr, which lets you “easily create videos” and “includes tons of storyboards to help you organize your video”; Nuzzle “for Facebook and Twitter, tells you when your friends are sharing a piece of content and emails you with the details of the latest posts”; and Uprise.io for competitive research.
7 Social Media Tools to Boost Your Effectiveness in a Noisy World by Seriously Social
Based on one of his conference presentations, Ian Anderson Gray showcases seven tools “that can help you be more effective and efficient” at managing your social media marketing activities, such as Friends+Me (which is “similar to Buffer but allows you to repost to your Google+ profiles, pages, communities and collections. You can also post to Tumblr. It converts Google+ into a social media management tool”) and Agorapulse, a social media management tool that integrates with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
6 Free Social Media Tools for Startups to Build a Strong Social Media Presence by Duct Tape Marketing
Jessica Davis provides compact reviews of half a dozen helpful free tools for building a presence on social media, including DrumUp (“a smart content discovery tool that scours the web for relevant content based on the keywords you input. The tool acts as a central dashboard for your Twitter and Facebook profiles, letting you manage multiple accounts simultaneously”) and Easel.ly, an infographic creation tool which “offers ready-to-use infographic templates that are categorized by subject.”
John Koetsier reports on research conducted with more than 1,100 social media managers to determine the most-used social media tools. Among the findings: “For enterprise, Oracle is surprisingly good, as are Sprinklr and Komfo. For smaller companies, Meshfire, Sendible, and Hootsuite lead the pack. And for the midsize company, Sendible, Meshfire (again), and Oktopost are leaders. Other tools you can’t ignore? TweetDeck, Buffer, SocialFlow, Spredfast, and Crowdbooster.” And the most widely used tool of all? Check out this post.
26 Social Media Monitoring Tools [Reference Guide] by Razor Social
***** 5 STARS
Frequent best-of honoree Ian Cleary lists five different areas you should be monitoring on social media (brand, competition, your prospects…) then serves up concise but useful reviews of more than two dozen free and fee-based tools (with pricing), including Talkwalker, Trendspottr, and Trackur (“a social media monitoring tool that provides executive reporting, sentiment analysis and influence scoring. It’s unusual to have sentiment analysis available for a monitoring tool with a relatively low starting price” of under $100 per month).
5 Essential Social Media Monitoring Tools for Beginners by Social Marketing Writing
Joe Cox lays out the advantages, features and pricing of a handful of popular social media monitoring tools including Hootsuite, Buffer, and Followerwonk: “Twitter’s own built-in search tools are incredibly limited, and Followerwonk aims to correct this, making it easier to find the right people to engage with. If you have been struggling with Twitter because you find that the signal to noise ratio on the network is so poor, then Followerwonk could revolutionize how you use the service.”
Karianne Stinson explains how social listening can provide benefits in areas well beyond marketing, including customer support, competitive analysis, product development, crisis management, and sales support (“Social listening can give your sales team great insights on potential customers pain points”); details ways social listening can help achieve corporate goals like reducing customer service calls (by helping the brand produce “content that proactively answers questions”); and then lists 11 helpful and free or low-cost social listening tools.
3 Tools that help you Understand and outreach to your Audience by State of Digital
Bas van den Beld provides in-depth looks at three tools “that help me get a better grip of who I am targeting” as he puts it, including Peerreach (“Peerreach gives you a nice one page overview of someone. It shows you the topics the person is ‘all about’ and it will show you the interest areas their followers have. It also has a Chrome plugin to show on your Twitterfeed how ‘important’ the Twitterers are. And one nice thing is that you can compare them to other Twitterers by adding up to four handles to compare and see who has reach on what topic and whether or not they ‘fit’ your needs”).
16 Social Media Tools The Experts Swear By by Social Fresh
16 social media marketing pros (and past Social Fresh Conference speakers) briefly highlight their favorite tools, from Matthew Knell on Buffer (“We’re big fans of Buffer because of its simplicity and it’s ability to plug into a bunch of other content aggregation / curation tools (Feedly, Pocket, Mention) to make content easier to find”) to Eric Boggs on LinkedIn (“I get more value out of LinkedIn than any other tool or platform. It is a fantastic prospecting / sales resource for B2B marketers”).
Top 28 Social Media Tools to Make Your Job Easier by SlideShare
Catherine Pham presents the basics about a range of helpful social media tools in this slide deck, from commonly used platforms like HubSpot, Buffer and Hootsuite to more specialized tools such as Tweepi and Twitonomy for Twitter, viralWoot and Piqora for Pinterest and Instagram, and Circloscope for Google+.
15 Best Social Media Tools by CodeGeekz
The English is a tad rough but the list is solid as Gavin Matteo reviews “a list of Best Social Media Tools for our audience,” from Mention (Google Alerts on steroids) and BuzzSumo to Rapportive (which displays LinkedIn profiles for your contacts from inside Gmail) and Tagboard, a “multi-platform, free and highly useful tool. It offers an easy way to monitor social interactions and act on them quickly. You can also search for specified hashtags on several social networking systems, including Google+ and Vine.”
10 Free Online Tools to Monitor Your Social Media Influence by NoPassiveIncome
Erik Emanuelli offers compact reviews of free social media monitoring tools ranging from Google Analytics and YouTube Analytics to Twitter-specific tools like Tweetstats and Twitter Counter, which “is a useful service to measure some parameters of Twitter, like the followers growth rate, the average number of tweets per day, and more. It also allows you to compare different accounts, which means you can get an instant overview of your relationship with your competition and your overall progress.”
6 Super Quick Social Media Productivity Tips + 23 Tools to Help! by Maximize Social Business
Frequent best-of honoree Neal Schaffer here shares six strategies for accomplishing more with social media in less time; working “smarter, rather than longer” as he puts it. Each tip links to related tools. For example, to help schedule your posts, he recommends WordPress JetPack Publicize, CoSchedule and SMQueue.
16 DIY Tools for Social Media Management by Business2Community
Jim Belosic shares an infographic highlighting “16 tools that can help businesses with their social efforts,” and which is “helpful for folks who are preparing to migrate away from Wildfire and North Social” (both of which were acquired in 2014). The tools are categorized into three groups: social media messaging & scheduling; analytics; and social landing page tools.
6 top social media management tools by iMedia Connection
Greg Kihlstrom “discusses six tools that help you manage your communication and content delivery across one or more platforms. Their capabilities vary from managing content, to analyzing and reporting on the best times to post, to determining the effectiveness of campaigns,” including SocialFlow, Sprout Social and IFTTT.
Ian Cleary (again) summarizes a presentation he delivered covering “a range of tools to optimize social media performance…really interesting and useful tools to help you target the right people, get better results with your content, convert more traffic and improve results,” such as Leadpages, a landing page creation tool that “provides you with a range of landing pages that are known to convert very well with existing customers.”
5 Top Brand Monitoring Tools for Marketers by 60 Second Marketer
Jamie Turner provides concise but helpful reviews of a handful of popular social media monitoring tools, from Social Mention (which is free) to Brandwatch  (which isn’t–but is very powerful: “check out how many mentions your brand has across the internet, where they are coming from, and how far the comments have reached. The tool gathers data from a staggering 70+ million sources that include social networking platforms, forums, blogs and news sites”).
Marketers Adopt Social Media Analytics Tools by eMarketer
More than 60% of U.S. marketing groups have adopted social media analytics tools. The top three uses for such tools are campaign tracking (60%), brand analysis (48%) and competitive intelligence (40%). Yet more than half of those marketers still cite staffing/resources and linking measurements to objectives as significant challenges.
10 Tools to Make Your Social Media Management Easier by SteamFeed
Andrew Jenkins reviews 10 of the tools he uses “to consume and curate content as well as manage and interact with (his) community,” including commun.it (specific to Twitter, commun.it gives gentle prompts and reminders regarding who to engage, follow, unfollow, get back in touch with or acknowledge for the level of interaction and engagement you have had”) and Nimble (“Nimble takes what commun.it does for Twitter and carries it across LinkedIn and Facebook”).
16 Tools Every Social Media Manager Should Use by Visually
To maximize the business benefits of social media, Stephanie Castillo writes “you should develop a strategy, based on as much knowledge as possible about your audience and their behavior,” then outlines 16 tools to help in that effort, ranging from Visually’s own (very cool and free) Google Analytics Report to Tailwind, a tool that ‘tracks activity across Pinterest about your company, products and competitors.”
9 Tools to Discover Influencers in Your Industry by TopRank Online Marketing Blog
Noting that “people with a strong center of influence can provide valuable context and credibility to a company seeking to connect with an audience of buyers,” Lee Odden provides concise reviews of nine tools to help identify and engage with industry influencers. Among the tools: Traackr (a premium tool used by PR, communications and marketing pros), Buzzsumo, and Kred.
29 Social Media Tools Recommended by the Pros by Social Media Examiner
In this outstanding list of tools and star-studded post, Cindy King compiles reviews from 29 top social media marketing pros of their favorite tools. Among them: Mari Smith reviews Pocket, which “allows you to consume and save a wide variety of online articles, which you can then post to Twitter or Facebook, schedule via Buffer or review at a later time”; Ekaterina Walter covers ShareRoot (“an all-in-one solution for Pinterest”); and social media monitoring tool TalkWalker is reviewed by Gini Dietrich.
Guest post by Robert C. Johnson.
68% of B2B buyers now purchase goods online via their phone or tablet (and soon maybe their Apple watch). With many areas of B2B procurement beginning to look more like consumer transactions, 83% of B2B sellers understand long-term success is dependent upon implementing an omnichannel strategy; however, most have yet to create one.
As digital communications platforms change the way people communicate with each other, businesses have tried to keep up, using new capabilities to give customers more choices in how they interact with companies. A toll-free customer support line open only during local business hours used to be the norm. Now, most businesses offer other communication channels, including email, customer portals and chat windows, and some also use social media like Twitter and Facebook to communicate with customers and manage support.
In addition to new channels, more devices are also now used in the customer support mix, with companies and customers communicating on smartphones and tablets as well as desktops and laptops and traditional landline telephones. Most companies have adapted to the ongoing communication revolution in piecemeal fashion, setting up new channels and appointing customer support personnel to monitor them as new platforms gain widespread popularity.
But this ad hoc approach to customer support channels has significant drawbacks. It’s tough for the customer support group to manage numerous platforms simultaneously – when the person in charge of Twitter is out for a day, sometimes that channel simply goes unmonitored, or the colleagues who are already busy handling their own assigned channels have to take on extra work. For customers, an ad hoc approach means a lack of continuity, with customers forced to repeat their name, product and issue whenever they contact the company via a different channel.
An omni-channel approach is a better way to serve customers and drive growth. With an omni-channel approach, customers can contact customer support agents on their preferred channel, using their preferred device. But unlike with an ad hoc strategy, an omni-channel approach integrates the information customer support receives in a single repository that everyone in the company can access. That means customers don’t have to start over each time they choose a new communication platform, and agents can easily collaborate with colleagues to find solutions.
To optimize information sharing, an omni-channel support strategy requires several components, including a self-service knowledge base customers can access 24/7 to get the answers they need. It should also centralize customer information and service records received across all channels, including chat, email, phone and social media. To promote continuous improvement, an omni-channel support platform should enable the company to track ticket resolution by customer representatives and customer companies so that B2B service providers can understand the state of their relationship with individual customers as well as the businesses they serve.
An omni-channel support strategy makes sense in a changing business climate where more and more companies and consumers receive services via the cloud and communicate across multiple channels and devices. These days, delivering a great customer experience is a genuine marketplace differentiator, so companies that take a more rational, integrated approach to customer communication can gain a competitive edge.
As companies move beyond brick-and-mortar operations to deliver products and services via electronic channels, it is wise to rethink the support delivery approach to keep up with changing preferences. An omni-channel strategy makes it possible to collaborate to improve the customer experience, and that can result in greater long-term growth.
Robert C. Johnson is the co-founder and CEO of TeamSupport.com, a cloud-based, B2B software application built to help customer-facing support teams serve clients better through stronger collaboration, superior teamwork, and faster issue resolution. A seasoned executive and entrepreneur who has founded and invested in numerous software and high-tech companies, Robert’s industry experience as a business leader and a customer inspired him to create TeamSupport to give Support Desk teams the tools and best practices to enhance customer loyalty and positively impact product sales.
Prior to founding TeamSupport, Robert was President and CEO of Sundance Digital, one of the world’s leading providers of automation software to television and cable broadcasters. The company was sold in 2006 to Avid Technology (Nasdaq: AVID).
The brilliant Ann Smarty and her team at MyBlogU are launching a new blogging contest which could win your new blog a big prize—if you’re up for the challenge.
In The MyBlogU Blog Launchpad: Content Zero to Blogging Hero Challenge, participants will be required to start a brand new site (with a new domain; no expired domains or old blogs) and build up the content and traffic for six months (with the help and support of the MyBlogU community!)
After six months, entrants will compare results (traffic, subscribers, profit) and the MyBlogU team will pick the winner; then commit to work together to double the winning site’s results!
The contest offers an opportunity for blogging pros to build a new web presence and a great way for newbie bloggers to find ways to succeed!
Participants will share their results regularly, learning strategies and practices from each other as the contest progresses.
Think you’re ready to take this on? Check out all the details of the challenge here.