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.”
Also, 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)
“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.
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)
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)
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
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)
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.
On 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
Writing 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
Pondering 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 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!
Writing 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 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 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 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
Explaining 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
Writing 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 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).
Amanda 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 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?
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
Confused 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
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 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
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.’”
Noting 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.”
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.
It’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 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.”
“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.
Though the format is sometimes misused (i.e., documents are called white papers when they are really just extended marketing brochures), properly produced and promoted white papers remain an effective and vital marketing tool—particularly for b2b technology companies.
At their best, white papers accomplish two mutually beneficial goals:
- • They provide readers with valuable, actionable, vendor-agnostic (or at least mostly agnostic) information about a trend, concept or topic.
- • They provide vendors with a platform to showcase their subject matter expertise and thought leadership, thereby building brand credibility.
In the lead generation process, white papers can be extremely valuable because they identify prospective buyers while requiring a low level of commitment. In the hierarchy of lead generating assets and activities, white papers form the vital base, as illustrated below.
White papers are intended to provide value to a sophisticated audience, thereby enhancing the credibility and image of the brand behind them. Poorly crafted or overtly promotional white papers can actually have the opposite effect.
Here are six recommendations to help maximize the value of the (often considerable) investment in white papers, for both readers and vendors.
1. Solve a real problem. Too often, white papers topics are chosen by looking inward, reflecting subjects the vendor wants to talk about rather than trends and issues that matter to their sales prospects. There are many sources for identifying topics that matter to your market, including:
- • Search keywords used to find your website
- • Keywords and phrases used in site search on your website
- • Suggestions from your company’s consultants, customer service representatives, and sales people
- • Discussions with current and prospective customers
- • Social media (e.g., discussions in relevant LinkedIn groups, trending topics on Twitter)
- • Industry news sources and blogs
- • Industry analyst reports and briefings
- • Google Trends
To find the most impactful topics, triangulate input from multiple sources.
2. Do your research. It’s extraordinarily unlikely that your white paper will be the first ever written on a specific topic, so before diving in and writing, conduct some research to discover what’s already been written by analysts, journalists, bloggers, and competitors. Citing third-party sources that support your contentions is a great way to increase both the value of the white paper to the reader and your brand’s credibility.
Research also helps prevent potentially embarrassing mistakes. If your white paper adds nothing new to knowledge of the topic, it may not be worth writing. If it contradicts existing articles and reports, you’d better have strong evidence to back up your position. And most importantly, if you are going to cite statistics, try to verify figures between multiple, reliable sources first.
For example, this blog frequently publishes updated compilations of social media and digital marketing statistics. One particular statistic that’s been difficult to nail down is the percentage of companies that maintain corporate blogs. Part of the reason is wide variation between different industries and company sizes; another is the underlying survey methodology (e.g., a survey conducted via social media will inevitably produce a larger figure than one done via email).
But one infographic reported the figure at 95%—no qualification, no mention of who was surveyed or how. Just a cute little graphic showing that 95% of all businesses have blogs. That number is, of course, patent hogwash, and immediately destroyed the credibility of the source.
3. Promote white papers honestly. Use abstract text that is compelling and even creates a bit of intrigue, but keep it real. Don’t mislead potential downloaders or promise knowledge or insights the white paper doesn’t deliver.
Most of all, don’t promise a vendor-agnostic presentation of facts, then devote most of the copy to a product pitch.
There is a place for product information in white papers, of course. For example, one vendor of high-performance database software had developed an entirely new data model; to help prospective buyers understand how the software was different, the vendor produced a technical white paper describing the new data model and how it worked. There’s nothing inherently wrong with producing such product-oriented white papers, as long as the subject material is accurately disclosed on the download page.
4. Use graphics. Images not only add visual appeal and make copy more readable by breaking up long blocks of text, they are often a more concise and understandable way to communicate information.
For example, which gives the reader a more immediate and clear understanding of the trend in traffic growth on a b2b technology blog? A sentence like “after growing at a relatively modest pace, averaging about 8% per quarter for seven quarters starting early 2011, blog visits have increased substantially in past year, increasing by 218% since the final quarter of 2012″—or this graphic:
5. Publicize the white paper across a variety of media (blog posts, search ads, social, etc.). Creating high-quality white papers requires a significant investments of time, cost and effort. To maximize a white paper’s impact and ROI, a similar level of energy and resources should be devoted to promoting it.
White papers provide rich opportunities for repurposing content (and using these repurposed assets to promote downloads of the full white paper), into formats such as SlideShare presentations, infographics, blog posts, guest posts, and media articles. All of these assets, as well as the original white paper, can and should be shared through social channels like Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook. Images and infographics can also be shared on visually-oriented networks like Pinterest and Scoop.It.
6. Think beyond the PDF. Most white papers are still produced in static PDF format. Not only do PDFs have a number of limitations (e.g., they offer very limited capabilities for SEO and aren’t mobile-friendly), but they typically force marketers to choose between two less-than-ideal options:
- • “gating” the white paper behind a contact form generates raw leads, but also greatly diminishes distribution, as only one of twenty (on average) visitors to the download page will complete the form (and even fewer with accurate information); or
- • allowing the white paper to be freely downloaded, which maximizes reach but provides no names to follow up with or way to measure the success and productivity of the asset.
Fortunately, marketers are no longer limited to these two alternatives, as new technologies expand the possibilities for white paper dissemination.
One example is Docalytics, an online platform which extends the utility of PDF documents by adding analytics capabilities (e.g., how long did the reader spend with the white paper? How many pages did he or she read?); one-click social sharing and other follow-on calls to action; and “inline progressive capture”–the ability to display a contact form only after the reader has read the first two or three pages, which can significantly increase conversion rates.
Another option for white paper distribution, which goes beyond the PDF format completely, is Readz, a tool that converts PDFs or articles into responsive, mobile-friendly web content. Like Docalytics, it improves conversion rates and offers rich analytics, but in addition, the Readz platform does away with the need for Acrobat Reader; adapts to display properly on any device; provides SEO benefits; and integrates to popular email and marketing automation systems, like MailChimp and Infusionsoftt–as well as to Google Analytics.
Content published by Readz can be directly shared through a URL. Your prospects or customers click the link or button, and the app opens. You can share the link on your website, blog or social network or in your inbound marketing campaign on a landing page or in email. The company’s goal is to “make it easy to create the kind of content that’s shareable, measurable and usable.”
Readz content is also interactive, unlike PDF files. For example, you can add “action points” that expand into pop-up text boxes when clicked on by a reader. You can imbed SlideShare presentations, videos, or other similar content into a Readz document.
To see Readz in action, check out their white paper The Insider’s Guide to White Papers that get Higher Conversions, which offers helpful tips for how to write a professional white paper, promote white papers, increase readership, improve conversion rates, and more.
Thought the Readz system drives visitors to content hosted on their site, not yours, it does provide flexible options for branding so visitors have a consistent experience, and an option to embed code on external websites is currently in the works.
Danny Brown has written a detailed review of the Readz product here, which notes that “Pricing starts at $25 per month for up to two content pieces/whitepapers 10,000 page views, going up to $300 per month for 50 whitepapers with 100,000 page views.” So, even a modest increase in conversion rate more than pays for the tool.
The bottom line is that while white papers remain a vital lead generation mechanism in a variety of industries, but particularly for b2b technology vendors, the bar has been raised. Users have become somewhat jaded due to the proliferation, and in many cases misuse, of the format.
To stand out today and get the maximum value for the (not insignificant) investment required to produce quality white papers, vendors need to provide high-quality, objective content, promote it broadly, and evaluate new tools that can improve conversion rates, provide advanced analytics, and improve the user experience across desktop and mobile devices.
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Readz. However, all opinions are my own.