Archive for the ‘Marketing Strategy’ Category

Seven Ways to Humanize B2B Marketing

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

While B2C and B2B marketing practices are distinct in many ways, they both ultimately involve making your message resonate with people—meaning emotions a significant role. The notion that business buyers are dispassionate and coldly rational is overstated.

Certainly, practicality plays a large role in B2B procurement. Attributes like product functionality, ROI, total cost of ownership (TCO), fitness for purpose, and integration capabilities are undeniably important.

7 ways to humanize B2B marketing

But more personal, individual benefits also matter to business buyers, particularly as more consumer and consumer-like technologies make their way into the workplace. It’s nice that a piece of software “streamlines processes,” but 1) everyone says that (an exact phrase search on Google for that brings up more than 40,000 results); 2) no one would buy something that complicates processes(!); and 3) how exactly does that help the individual business buyer in his or her job?

Thing is, the core message of most B2B products and services revolves around how a vendor’s offering helps its customers (companies and government agencies) do things better-faster-cheaper. Those are vital benefits to be sure. They need to be part of the marketing message and backed up by case studies and other proof (not just claims).

The problem is those messages themselves often aren’t differentiating, and even when they do, product and service features are generally easy for competitors to copy. And, again, those messages are about organizational benefit (rationally appealing), but don’t address the personal, individual needs and wants of business buyers (emotionally appealing).

So how can a B2B vendor stand out, and potentially create more sustainable competitive advantage? Here are seven ideas.

Talk about personal benefits.

Go beyond better-faster-cheaper to address the personal needs of those on the buying team. What do they value? Getting home earlier in the evening? Increased status at work–maybe a raise or promotion? Reduced frustration?

The importance of emphasizing personal benefits in B2B marketing was noted in recent research from CEB, which found that when vendor messages are focused only on business benefits, “86% of B2B customers do not see enough difference between suppliers to pay more for it. However, our research also shows that ‘personal value’ is twice as powerful as business value in achieving a broad range of commercial objectives (including awareness, consideration, purchase intent, willingness to pay a premium, loyalty, willingness to recommend).”

This is because ‘B2B buyers must see sufficient personal value to overcome the risks they take on when advocating for a particular supplier’s solution.”

Determining the best messages requires really knowing your buyers, and using exercises like empathy mapping or creating buyer personas as detailed in the work of Tony Zambito and others.

Rental car companies and airlines do an excellent job with this, promoting cost-saving travel program messages at the business level while also promoting their simplicity and convenience to business travelers. One enterprise software vendor talks about making its IT customers into business heroes. Payroll and HR outsourcers emphasize how they take mundane, tedious tasks (like regulatory compliance) off the plates of small business owners and corporate HR staff alike.

Tell stories.

Though it’s vital to communicate product features and benefits (on both a business level and, as noted above, a personal level), stories are also very powerful. Stories help connect emotionally with buyers, and are also more memorable: research has found that after a presentation, 63% of attendees remember stories, while just 5% remember statistics.

Stories are used commonly in consumer marketing, but are also increasingly part of B2B marketing campaigns as well, with notable examples including GE, HubSpot, and Intel.

Use data to personalize messages intelligently.

Use whatever information you have at your disposal to make your emails and other communications as individualized as possible.

In a small company with a limited product line and contact database (as well as, generally, limited resources) this may be as simple as segmenting your list based on common characteristics like title and company size.

Marketers in mid-sized companies usually have marketing automation software installed (e.g., HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, Genoo, etc.). All of these are helpful in customizing messages for different market segments, if not quite down to the individual level.

Large enterprises can utilize sophisticated data mining to target messages to customers. However, the human element remains vital, to avoid over-reliance on data mining that can backfire and damage the brand’s image.

Optimize the customer experience.

The single most powerful and cost-effective form of marketing in existence is customer word-of-mouth (or word of mouse) advocacy.

Turning customers into stark, raving fans of your brand or product is something that can’t be purchased. It has to be earned. But it can be, by focusing not just marketing but company-wide efforts on creating a great customer experience, from the initial communications prospects receive through the buying process to ongoing customer service.

This is much more than a marketing campaign—it goes to the heart of the business and internal culture. A remarkable customer experience starts with creating an great employee experience.

Be a great place to work.

Employees are natural advocates for the business, and can be very influential. But their hearts will really only be in advocacy if you provide a great work environment.

Research has shown that happy employees make for happy customers—and both combined make for higher profitability.

Like happy customers, happy employees can’t be bought (at least not entirely). Compensation plays a role to be sure, but having managers who inspire and collaborate (rather than dictate and micromanage) is among the most important considerations, along with work environment and scheduling flexibility.

Prioritize integrity.

Trust goes a long way toward removing friction in marketing and sales. Like customer loyalty, it can’t be bought—it has to be earned. And it has to be consistent. Trust is challenging (but worthwhile) to earn, easy to lose, and almost impossible to regain once lost.

Which means integrity in all customer interactions, up and down the organization, has to be built into the culture. This may sound basic, even simplistic, but it’s more difficult than one may think. It’s easy to cut corners “just this once,” or tell prospective buyers “little white lies,” in order to make the quarterly numbers.

But short-term thinking can lead to long-term loss of respect—internally and externally. Integrity must be consistent to have value in humanizing a brand.

Be involved in the community.

Employees and customers alike want to work with organizations that act as part of a larger purpose. “Community” in this case can mean not just the local community, but also the industry community or even global “community.”

In the B2C world, Target’s corporate giving and TOMS Shoes One for One program are well known examples of community involvement. But community involvement can take many different forms, from a credit card company creating a forum to help small businesses to providing a platform for community-based technology organizations to companies that encourage employees to volunteer their time to worthy causes.

Sometimes (rarely) B2B marketing is simple: it’s about having the clearly best product, lowest price, or widest distribution network. Most often though, it’s not. It’s about differentiating your product or service in a crowded, competitive market. That’s when humanizing your marketing—and entire approach to doing business—can make all the difference.

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Are CMOs Putting Too Many Eggs in One Media Basket?

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

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.

paid owned earned shared media

Image credit: Pear Analytics


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!

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Looking for Surprises in the 2015 B2B Lead Generation Trend Report

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

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.

2015 B2B Lead Generation Report - Technology MarketingThe reports high-level findings were about as surprising as discovering there really is gambling going on in those casinos:

  • • 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.

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31 Sensational Social Media Marketing and PR Stats and Facts

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Business and consumer marketers are nearly unanimous in their belief in the importance of social media to marketing activities. As noted below, the money is following that belief: social media now accounts for about 11% of all digital marketing outlays, and spending on social media marketing will total nearly $10 billion this year.

Still, marketers sometimes struggle with strategy, tactics, and measurement in social media marketing. Here are five actionable takeaways from the two-and-a-half dozen noteworthy social media marketing and PR statistics and facts presented below:

Social media customer service growth

Image credit: i-SCOOP

Be responsive. People expect to hear back from the brands they interact with on Twitter and other social networks. And when they report a problem or issue, they expect to hear back quickly: 53% of consumers on Twitter expect a response within the hour. Furthermore, nearly half of all social media users share content with their friends, family and co-workers at least weekly; so if they have a bad experience with your brand, the word is likely to spread.

Strategize and measure. 88% of marketers believe social media marketing is important, and 75% of consumers say they use social media in the buying process. Yet nearly half of marketers only “somewhat agree” that analyzing social media engagement can help improve the bottom line. The key to making social media marketing effective at the business level is to have a strategy in place and measure key performance indicators. Unfortunately, strategy and measurement are cited as the top two challenges faced by social media marketers. They aren’t easy, but those who get these two areas right will succeed.

Know your market (B2B). Twitter is the place to engage with companies: While just 20 of the of Fortune 500 companies actually engage with their customers on Facebook, 83% have a presence on Twitter—as do 76% of the NASDAQ 100, 100% of Dow Jones companies, and 92% of the S&P 500. For reaching top executives though, LinkedIn is the place to be. Though only 32% of Fortune 500 CEOs have a presence on any major social network, the majority of those (25% of the total) are on LinkedIn. And 59% of executives prefer video content to text.

Know your market (B2C): Nearly three-quarters of adult Internet users in the U.S. are active on at least one social network (predominantly Facebook)—but not all use social media the same way or have the same expectations. For example, while just 2% of all consumers prefer social media over other channels for customer service, 27% of Gen Y-ers favor it. On the other hand, consumers aged 55-64 are more than twice as likely to engage with brand content as those younger than 28. Older social media users favor Facebook and Pinterest; the 34-and-under crowd dominates on Tumblr and Instagram.

Get social PR right. While journalists are open to connecting with and being contacted by PR pros using social media, they prefer email for pitches and follow up. But 76% of journalists say they feel pressure to think about their story’s potential for sharing on social media platforms—so make sure that’s part of the pitch.

There’s much more in this collection of two and half dozen sensational social media marketing and social PR facts and statistics.

16 Social Media Marketing Stats

1. People ages 55-64 are more than twice as likely to engage with a brands’ content than those 28 or younger. (Social Media Today)

2. People share content 49% more on weekdays than on weekends. (Social Media Today)

3. On average, social media accounts for 11% of digital marketing spending. (MarketingProfs)

4. 72% of adult internet users in the U.S. are now active on at least one social network, up from 67% in 2012. (Marissa’s Picks)

5. More than 70% of users expect to hear back from the brand they’re interacting with on Twitter, and 53% want a response within the hour. (Marissa’s Picks)

6. 49% of people say they share online content they like with friends, family or co-workers at least weekly. (Ber|Art)

Twitter social media marketing

Image credit: Ber|Art

7. 86% of marketers believe that social media is important for their business. (Ber|Art)

8. U.S. spending on social media marketing will reach $9.7 billion in 2015.  (MediaPost)

9. Although 88% of marketers believe social media marketing is important, nearly half (48%) only “somewhat agree” that analyzing social media engagement can help improve the bottom line, and 15% don’t think analyzing social engagement matters at all. (eMarketer)

10. The top four challenges faced by social media marketers worldwide are assessing the effectiveness of social media activities (cited by 67% of marketers); designing an overall social media strategy (62%); making social media data actionable (61%); and educating staff on how to use social media (59%). (eMarketer)

11. Product/brand recommendations on social media mean more to younger people. 28% of those aged 18-34 say they are “very” or “fairly” likely to make a purchase based on a friend’s social media post, while just 33% say they are “not at all likely” to do so. The first figure gets smaller and the second larger with age; among those 65 and over, just 4% are likely to make a purchase based on a social media recommendation, while 78% are not at all likely. (Heidi Cohen)

12. 75% of customers say they use social media as part of the buying process. (Biznology)

13. 56% of marketers do not use any form of paid promotions on social media. (Cision)

14. Consumers may use social media for customer service, but they don’t love it. Although 67% of consumers have already used a company’s social media channel for customer service, just 2% say they prefer it over other options. Phone and email remain the most popular channels (66% combined). (MediaPost)

15. However–27% of Gen Y-ers favor social media for customer service. (MediaPost)

social network user demographics 2015

Image credit: Social Media Today

16. Facebook and Pinterest are among the “oldest” social networks in terms of their member demographics; 63% of U.S. Facebook users and 58% of those on Pinterest are age 35 and older. On the other hand, the 34-and-under crowd dominate on Tumblr (just over 50%) and Instagram (60%). Twitter is more balanced. (Social Media Today)

6 Social PR Statistics and Facts

17. While many journalists say they’d like PR pros to contact them via social media, less than half of PR practitioners have successfully pitched a journalist or outlet via social. So while engaging on social is a great add-on, traditional methods such as using a media database to target specific beats remains ever-important. (Cision)

18. The top three measures used by PR pros to show social media success increased website traffic (64%), increased engagement (61%) and increased followers (59%). (Cision)

19. 88% of PR professionals say their businesses or clients regularly engage on Facebook—more than any other social media platform. Twitter came in a close second at 85%. (Cision)

Social media is the #1 activity on the web

Image credit: B2B PR Sense Blog

20. Journalists receive, on average, 50-100 press releases every week. 44% prefer to receive them in the morning. 68% just want the facts. (B2B PR Sense Blog)

21. 76% of journalists say they feel pressure to think about their story’s potential for sharing on social media platforms. 64% say they prefer that follow-up on “pitches” be done via email rather than phone. (BentoBox Media)

22. When using video, 74% of journalists prefer content created by their own organizations. Just 3% use corporate / branded videos. (BentoBox Media)

6 Facts and Stats About Executive and Enterprise Social Media Use

23. Just 32% of Fortune 500 CEOs have a presence on any of the major social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram). Most of those have a presence on only one platform, with the majority (25.4% of the total) on LinkedIn. Mark Zuckerberg is the only Fortune 500 CEO on all five major social networks — and he owns two of them. (MediaPost)

24. 59% of senior executives prefer video over text. (41 Stories)

25. Just 20 of the Fortune 100 comnpanies actually engage with their customers on Facebook. (i-SCOOP) [IMAGE maybe – good one – social customer service]

26. On a company level, 83% of the Fortune 500 had a Twitter presence in 2014, up from 77% the year before. 80% were on Facebook, up from 70%. (Sword and the Script)

27. Among 500 of the largest U.S. companies, Cisco and HP score first and second in their use of social media for corporate communications. But Facebook is only number 242, and Apple comes in 416th place. According to research by Investis, “Facebook was marked down because it did not engage with its corporate audience using the other social media platforms reviewed. Even on its own platform, Facebook’s investor relations page fell well short of best practice. For example, it does not use videos or hashtags and it does not appear to have responded to any of the posts left by users.” (Virtual Press Office)

28. Only 76% of Nasdaq 100 companies maintain a corporate Twitter account which compares with 100% of the Dow Jones and 92% of the S&P 100. (Virtual Press Office)

3 SMB Social Media Marketing Stats

29. 75% of SMBs use social media to promote their businesses–more than any other media category. (MediaPost)

30. Social media is not only number one in terms of utilization by SMBs, it is also number one in share of SMB media spending (21% of total media budgets). (MediaPost)

31. In the average firm of 100-500 employees, seven people are involved in a buying decision. (Biznology)

This was post #5 of Marketing Stats Summer (#statssummer) on Webbiquity.

#1: Welcome to Marketing Stats Summer!

#2: 34 Compelling Content Marketing Stats and Facts

#3: 21 Spectacular SEO and Search Marketing Stats and Facts

#4: Five Intriguing Inbound Marketing Stats [Infographic]

#5: 31 Sensational Social Media Marketing and PR Stats and Facts

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What CMOs Need to Know That Will Keep CEOs and CFOs Happy

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

This guest post from Kirsten Chapman was originally published on LinkedIn.

Modern marketing and business are defined by one thing: The Web.

It’s safe to say that CMOs, CEOs and CFOs are keenly aware of the huge hole when it comes to measuring the business value of web marketing. When they want to know if all the time and money they’re pouring into web marketing is working, they’re handed reports generated by campaign management systems—Hubspot, Marketo, Vocus, and even Salesforce come to mind. Invariably, the next question is: so where are the KPIs?

Good question. And the answer lies in how the Web is viewed.

Not truly understanding the dynamics of the Web is what leaves executives making strategic decisions using tactical information. Intuitively they know this is wrong, but they can’t quite put their finger on what to measure.

The Web is extraordinary. Never before have we seen anything quite like it—it’s a business, it’s a market, and it’s channel all rolled up into one enormous and complex package. And that’s what makes it a struggle to measure and manage.

The goal here is to lay out an argument—for the first time—that the Web is an economic market. It’s more than just a channel for generating leads and engaging people, it’s genuinely a market with competitive forces.

Why is this important? Because it finally opens up new ways to measure the Web’s strategic value using a standard set of web marketing key performance indicators (KPIs).

The Web is a Market

Don’t be scared off—this isn’t a treatise on microeconomics. The Web as a market isn’t a complicated concept. However, it’s an extremely powerful one for those who understand its strategic import and who want to be able to quantify the business value of web marketing beyond only lead generation and engagement.

The best way to demonstrate that the Web is a market is to analyze three key elements of a market—structure, competition, and information exchange—then examine whether or not the Web exhibits these elements.

  1. Structure: A market is a place where buyers and sellers come together for the purchase and sale of products and services.

>>Yes, the Web is a marketplace.

  1. Competition: A market has a competitive structure. There are several types of market structures, each defined by the number of buyers and sellers, barriers to entry and exit, product differentiation, and pricing power.

>>Yes, the Web has competitive forces.

  1. Information Flow: A market allows products and services to be evaluated and priced.

>>Yes, the Web facilitates decisions on product offerings and their prices.

The conclusion? The Web is truly a market—of the economic sort.

So, why isn’t the Web a market in the sense that it represents potential customers? Because it’s a thing (network of content), it has both buyers and sellers, and it’s not a person or group of persons to be studied, segmented and targeted.

But wait, what about web lead generation? Isn’t that about studying, segmenting and targeting people on the Web? Yes it is, which is why the Web is also a channel. But it is not a target market, which is distinguished from an economic market.

Web Marketing Performance Measurement

By viewing the Web as a market, it presents the opportunity for a much-needed standard set of KPIs that can measure market-level web performance.

There are two types of web marketing measurements:

  1. Channel-level metrics that measure campaigns
  2. Market-level KPIs that measure brand web presence

Nearly all web marketing performance is measured at the channel level—degree of engagement and number of leads are two that come to mind. But the purpose here isn’t to weigh in on channel-level measurement, so let’s get to the meat.

—Fundamental Assumption—

The web is a network of content, so web presence is the unit to be measured.

To be considered a KPI, it must:

  1. Measure market-level brand web presence, and
  2. Produce a trend that acts as a leading indicator of possible future business success.

There are three categories of web marketing indicators—Brand, Competitiveness, and Website—each category has two KPIs.

To illustrate, we’ll explore one of the KPIs in more detail: Competitive Webshare™—an indicator of a brand’s market competitiveness.

Competitive Webshare is the percentage of paid, owned, and earned web presence that a brand holds vis-à-vis a defined set of competitors. It’s a bit like market share but focuses on comparing a brand’s web footprint to its most important competitors. By isolating the competitive set, executives are able to focus on developing competitive strategies that are most impactful to the business.

Like market share, Competitive Webshare is a critical trend to track. If a brand’s percentage goes up over time, it’s a leading indicator that the prospect for sustained business growth is promising. On the other hand, if the percentage is deteriorating, the business outlook isn’t rosy.

Having a set of indicators that work together to track and measure important aspects of how a brand is faring on the Web is paramount. It helps executives understand whether their investments in web marketing are creating conditions that can help put and keep the business on a path for future success.


Much of today’s confusion about how to measure web marketing performance is attributable to not fully understanding that the Web is not just a channel for generating leads and engaging audiences but is also a market in its own right. Viewing the Web as a market with competitive forces introduces new ways to measure its strategic value.

Through the use of market-level web marketing KPIs in the areas of Brand, Competitiveness and Website, CMOs, CEOs, and CFOs are finally able to gauge how effectively their investment in the Web is paying off.

Kirsten Chapman is a 30-year veteran of technology b2b marketing and PR, co-founder of MeasureMyBrand—where she pioneered the development of four of the industry’s first standard web marketing KPIs—and principle of b2b marketing and PR agency KC Associates.

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