Archive for the ‘Marketing Strategy’ Category

14 Key Takeaways from the B2B Content Marketing Report

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

The 2014 B2B Content Marketing Report is out, and no doubt will spur a number of blog posts. As usual, this year’s findings are a mix of the obvious (lead generation is the top goal of content marketing – as it has been for the last 10,000 years or so) and the somewhat surprising. For example, having a documented strategy makes companies much more successful–but only 30% of firms have a formally documented content strategy. And content marketing ROI remains difficult to measure.

2014 B2B Content Marketing ReportHere are more than a dozen noteworthy findings from the report.

1. Current customers may be under-valued. As noted above, lead generation is the top goal (59%) of content marketers; no surprise there. However, just 17% of survey respondents identified “Customer loyalty/retention” as a goal. Yet existing customers can be a company’s most effective and valuable advocates.

2. Content marketing is not about revenue. Just 16% of respondents said revenue generation was a top goal. Not surprising, as it’s never been easy to tie most marketing activities directly to dollars in. There are simply too many variables in the equation: price, product features, sales processes and skills, and the fact it takes multiple brand exposures (you’ve likely heard of the advertising rule of seven) before a prospect will buy.

Those seven (or eight, or 12) brand exposures can come through a variety of channels—industry news sites, social networks, blogs, online ads, analyst reports, search—which is why content development forms the base of a web presence optimization strategy.

3. Having a documented content marketing strategy is vital. Companies with a documented strategy are three times as likely as those without to describe their content marketing as “very” or “extremely” effective–and only one-third as likely to say they are “not sure” of its effectiveness.

4. Strategy means money… Nearly two-thirds (64%) of companies that have a documented content marketing strategy also have a dedicated content marketing budget. But just 14% of companies without a documented strategy have a dedicated budget for content creation and distribution.

5. …though often not enough money… Despite the importance of content marketing, 43% of companies devote less than 20% of their total marketing budget to content creation and distribution. More than a quarter spend 10% or less. Just 10% spend in the ideal range of 25-30%. On the other hand, more than three-quarters (77%) of marketers plan to increase spending on content production in the next 12 months.

6. …and strategy (often) includes automation. More than two-thirds (69%) of companies that have a documented content marketing strategy also use marketing automation. But just 42% of firms without a written strategy use such tools.

7. Content marketing starts with blogging. Blogging is the most commonly used content marketing format, with nearly two-thirds of survey respondents maintaining blogs. Rounding out the top five tactics are:

  • • Social media (64%)
  • • Case studies (64%)
  • • White papers (55%)
  • • Press releases (51%)

On the other hand, webinars/webcasts are used by less than half of b2b marketers. And less than 10% report using tactics like branded apps, podcasts, printed books, or games.

8. The C-suite is asking for metrics… Consistent with recent years, the top two content marketing challenges remain a lack of time/resources to create content, and the inability to create enough content variety and volume. However, this year’s report notes, “Measuring the effectiveness of content marketing has risen from the number six spot last year (28%) to number four (38%) reflecting increasing pressure to demonstrate results and justify investment in content marketing.”

Responding to those demands will require CMOs and marketing leaders to investigate a new class of tools designed to measure multi-channel web and competitive metrics, rather that relying on point solutions (social media monitoring, web metrics) that provide limited, siloed views.

9. …but ROI measurement remains elusive. Just 39% of marketers believe they are “at least somewhat successful at tracking content marketing ROI.” Yet as noted above, there is increasing pressure to provide such measurement. Closing this gap will require marketers to embrace a new breed of metrics to support improved marketing decision making.

10. The connections aren’t always clear. Not surprisingly, the top metrics used to measure content marketing success are website traffic (63%) and downloads / conversions (59%). More surprisingly though, just a third of marketers identify “social media sharing” or “SEO / search engine ranking” as key metrics—even though these are vital in supporting those top two metrics.

And just 19% cited “inbound links” as key metric, despite the fact that link earning through content marketing is essential to maintaining strong organic search presence in the post-Penguin world.

11. Outside talent can help. As noted above, most marketers say they are resource-constrained in producing enough volume or variety of content. Yet more than half (53%) rely on corporate marketing for content production. 36% depend on internal subject matter experts (SMEs, who have content knowledge, but not format knowledge) and just 30% on external agencies or consultants (the flipside of internal SMEs, with expertise in format but not product or service knowledge).

Connecting external resources with internal SMEs enables companies to produce more high-value content with less corporate or product marketing effort. And yet—25% of marketers don’t outsource any content creation, and less than 1-in-5 (19%) outsource half or more of all content development.

In terms of what types of content creation are outsourced, it’s not surprising that the majority of companies keeping blogging (76%) and case study writing (78%) in-house. But it is surprising that less than a quarter of marketers outsource the production of content formats requiring specialized skills, such as white papers, videos, and infographics.

12. Outside sources can help, too. 92% of companies create content internally (no surprise). But just 38% report that they “curate or syndicate third-party content.” An ideal content marketing strategy should contain a mix of internally and externally produced content, both to maximize the value of content to the company’s target audience and make the most efficient use of content development resources.

13. LinkedIn rules, Facebook…not so much. Per the report, “LinkedIn tops the list of the most effective social media platforms to deliver content and engage audiences (82%).” Just 41% of B2B marketers, however, say that Facebook is effective for content delivery. That’s nearly a mirror image of the B2C content marketing world, where 90% of marketers rely on Facebook but just 51% use LinkedIn.

14. Weekly content updates are the norm. 40% of marketers say they publish new content either “weekly” or “multiple times per month” (i.e., roughly weekly). 30% publish just once per month or less,  and 30% publish more than weekly (multiple times per week or daily).

There’s much more, so check out the complete 2014 B2B Content Marketing Report to review all of the findings.

Post to Twitter

Accomplish More, Stress Less – Five Ways to Be More Productive

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

If there’s one universal truth in business today, it’s that everyone is busy. This is what drives people to try to multitask (even though it’s not possible). It’s why we’re told that as marketers, we have only 30 seconds (or less) to get a reader’s attention, and why 40% of website visitors will abandon a page that takes more than three seconds to load (four or five seconds – who’s got that kind of time?!).

It’s certainly not the case that five years ago, workers had all the time in the world–that they could stresslessly ponder the ramifications of and reflect upon the results of each task. No, people were already very busy back in 2008-2009; but the great recession magnified this. Many large companies have discovered how much they can get done with how little, and are unlikely to relax demands much even in an improving employment climate.

Here then are five ways to get more done without simply working longer hours.

The Rock-Pebble-Sand-Water Model

The Rock-Pebble-Sand-Water ModelIf you’re not familiar with this model, it involves categorizing tasks as either rocks (large and important projects), pebbles (smaller, but still somewhat important activities), sand (the small stuff, e.g., checking email) and water (everything else). The idea is that if you think of your time as a jar and start by filling it with pebbles and sand, the rocks will never fit it.

But if you put the rocks into your “jar” first, the pebbles, sand and water will fill in the spaces.

This model is popular with management gurus, but can be challenging to implement. The key is to understand that, ultimately, you have to decide which of your tasks are really rocks–and which are pebbles, sand, or even something that just doesn’t belong in your jar at all.

The Eisenhower Decision Matrix

The Eisenhower Decision MatrixIn the Eisenhower Decision Matrix (originally developed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower but later popularized by Stephen Covey), tasks are organized into four boxes, with the degree of urgency on one scale and importance on the other.

Items that are both urgent and important (significant problems or opportunities) represent the largest “rocks” in the model above. Tasks that are important but not necessarily urgent (e.g., getting a blog post written for next week, catching up on project management organization) are smaller rocks. They have to get done, just not necessarily immediately.

Two important considerations when using this model are 1) making clear who decides which tasks are in which box (as it’s likely not everyone will agree on either the urgency or importance of any given task) and 2) properly setting expectations, particularly for those tasks which are important but not urgent.

Dayparting

Combine either or both of the models above with scheduling or day planning.

Once beyond college age, the majority of people are most mentally alert in the early morning hours. To take advantage of this, use the first part of the morning (i.e., from as early as you’re able to start work until about 10:00) to take care of “rocks” or urgent+important tasks, particularly those requiring significant mental effort.

Use the “core” hours of the day (10:00 to 4:00) for tasks involving communication and coordination with others, and late afternoon for tasks requiring time and effort but not strenuous mental exertion.

To help maintain this regimen, minimize checking email during the early morning and late afternoon time slots.

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique for productivityWhile there’s an entire book devoted to this strategy, to grossly oversimplify, the Pomodoro technique involves working in short 25-minute bursts of concentrated effort, punctuated by five-minute breaks. After four “pomodoros” (Italian for “tomatoes”) have passed, you take a longer (15-20 minute) break.

Writers and others who need to get and stay “in the zone” mentally for a bit longer in order to be optimally productive may opt for what could be called the “big tomato” or “ripe tomato” variation of this strategy: work for 60-90 minute periods, followed by a 10-15 minute break, with a 30-minute break after three such stretches.

Delegate

The most direct way to get more done is to get more people working. “Many hands make light work,” as your grandmother may have said.

Delegation is not only for those in management roles. Bloggers, for example,  can delegate by inviting guest posters to contribute content or asking experts to answer questions for a round-up post.

Freelancers can be hired, often at nominal cost, to perform specific tasks. And partnering with another individual–and sharing the credit–is a great way to double the end result of a project, or cut the effort required in half.

What productivity hacks do you find most useful?

Post to Twitter

11 Remarkable Guides to Marketing, Search, and Life

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

In addition to providing original content for marketing and PR professionals, this blog frequently highlights “best of” content across a variety of topic areas including search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, social PR, and web presence optimization (WPO)—the discipline that ties together these areas plus online advertising and content marketing.

In the process of curating noteworthy content from the industry’s best minds, some posts and articles are discovered which clearly merit recognition, but don’t fit neatly into any online marketing category.

Understanding B2B Buyer Behavior

Image credit: salesforce blog

Nevertheless, they answer important questions, such as: which old-school, offline marketing tactics are still most effective? What’s the best time to reach b2b sales prospects? How can you maximize results from event marketing (while minimizing the stress of travel)? And what really matters in life?

Find the answers to those questions and others here in almost a dozen of the best general marketing and hard-to-categorize articles and blogs posts of the past 18 months or so.

14 Simple Ways to Show Customers the Love by Blue Kite Marketing

Laura ClickLaura Click details more than a dozen ways to show your customers how much you appreciate them, from handwritten notes and and freebies to promoting their work: “As long as it’s not a conflict to do so, use your client’s products and services and look for ways to promote them. For instance, you could give them a shout out on social media channels, share their content, showcase their work at your office and talk them up to your other customers. Be their biggest advocate.”

19 Simple Marketing Tips That Won’t Break Your Advertising Budget by Branding Beat

Mandy KilinskisMandy Kilinskis details more than a dozen-and-a-half marketing tips categorized under social media, online advertising, offline advertising, networking, and referrals & customer service (e.g., partnering with other businesses for mutual referrals: “If you are a business coach then find some attorneys, bookkeepers, or website developers who are happy to refer you when they have clients who need what you have to offer. A nice 10% kick back will go a LONG way in the thank you department”).

5 Classic Marketing Tactics That Still Work by Millennial CEO

Steve OlenskiGuest author Steve Olenski explores a handful of old-school marketing practices that still generate results, including promotional gifts (a.k.a. tchotchkes, or trinkets & trash) bearing a company’s logo, mailing lists, and coupons and mailers (“The ability to send mailers to very specific locations, down to the zip code or neighborhood, allows many service companies to identify and target their best potential customers”).

B2B Buyer Behavior: Timing is Everything [INFOGRAPHIC] by salesforce Blog

Amanda L. NelsonNoting that “B2B buyer activity and research peaks at different times of the day, week, month and year,” Amanda Nelson showcases an infographic that reveals “when B2B buyers perform research on the web, when they convert on a website, and when you can get them on the phone.” For example, the best time to call is generally just before lunch time.

The 10 types of people you meet at marketing events by iMedia Connection

Josh DrellerJosh Dreller offers a zoological “list of 10 common industry stereotypes you might encounter while attending industry events, along with the dos and don’ts for engaging with each animal personality,” for example, worker bees: “Don’t bother engaging with these people. Learn to recognize the worker bees early and know that they don’t want to be bothered. Killer bees might actually attack if provoked. Do ask them for their drink tickets to the cocktail party that they don’t need.”

13 more of the coolest hidden Google tricks by memeburn

Lauren GrangerAs a followup to her post on 17 of the Coolest Google Tricks, Lauren Granger shares a baker’s dozen more Easter eggs and hidden tricks on Google — such as what happens when you search on the word “askew.” Sadly, Google appears to have “fixed” a few of these; for example, it no longer offers directions from Japan to China by jet ski.

6 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Google by Mix The Net

Unlike the post above which is mostly for amusement, the tips presented here by Darko Johnson are (mostly) actually useful: for example, how to avoid spam by creating unlimited disposable email addresses with Gmail; how to quickly find beautiful wallpapers; and how to find alternatives to all types of products.

The Complete A to Z Guide to Personal Branding [Infographic] by MarketingProfs
***** 5 STARS

Seth PriceSeth Price highlights a brilliantly clever infographic illustrating the “A to Z” of personal branding, from authenticity, blogging and content through “you” phrasing and zeal (“a strong feeling of interest and enthusiasm that makes one determined to do something. Without it, there’s no point in building a personal brand”).

A Personal Marketing Plan for the New Job Search by The Savvy Intern

Scott KeenanWhat used to work for job hunting and obtaining interviews no longer works, writes Scott Keenan, who recommends job seekers use social media to network and get noticed outside traditional channels, and also “find a way to stand out from the other candidates; to show recruiters you have the skills to solve their problems..those requirements can all easily be organized – and then satisfied – with a personal marketing plan” as he outlines.

Must-Have Gadgets For Carry-On Travel by Soulati-TUDE

Jayme SoulatiThe delightful Jayme Soulati reviews seven essential devices for the business traveler, including Tumi wheeled carry-on luggage, which she notes “are not cheap, but you’re not going to replace these bags for 20 years.” This post is from early 2013 so some of the models have been updated, but the brand recommendations remain solid.

(Infographic) The Top 10 Regrets In Life By Those About To Die by Addicted 2 Success
***** 5 STARS

Joel BrownThis may sound horribly depressing but it’s well worth a look. We spend so much time focusing on our careers, we can forget what’s truly important. The perspective offered in this infographic showcased by Joel Brown is invaluable. Be excellent at what you do, yes—but take time to enjoy life and enrich the lives of others along the way.

Post to Twitter

The Biggest Roadblock to Social Business Success

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Stories about how top executives just don’t “get” social media and the concept of social business were common four or five years ago. But it’s jarring to still come across such reports today.

Despite the fact that 82% of buyers say they trust a company more when its CEO and senior leadership team are active in social media, and 77% are more likely to buy from a company if its CEO uses social media (those stats themselves nearly two years old), “64% of CEOs do not use social media at all, with only 5% of all Fortune 500 company CEOs on Twitter,” according to The Guardian.

Don't fear social businessWorse, C-level executives who don’t use social media themselves are also much less likely to understand how to capitalize on the social media savvy and reach of their employees to benefit their companies. And those benefits can be considerable. Per recent research from GaggleAMP:

“Connecting your business with your employees in social media can boost your social media presence. Employee advocacy not only has the ability to acquire new leads, but also can help create original content and bump your search rankings on Google, Yahoo, and MSN…Prospective clients are more likely to recognize your brand when you’ve got a network of employee advocates helping to sell your product through social media. This can cut down on the time it takes to gain the trust of clients as well as help solidify the relationship more quickly.”

Expanding a company’s social presence through its employees’ networks requires some give and take. Employee participation must be voluntary. Employers will need to do some level of monitoring, in order to measure results, share best practices, and incentive employees for social amplification.

That monitoring activity needn’t be excessive or intrusive; it should be limited to work-related social media activities, and social networks on which employees are active on the company’s behalf (an individual employee may, for example, choose to use his or her Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to promote company content and interact with customers and prospects, but use Facebook strictly for personal relationships).

Yet too many companies, regardless of their progress as social businesses, already take or plan to take this monitoring to excessive, even downright creepy, levels. Per per research from PricewaterhouseCoopers:

“More employers plan to begin or increase their monitoring of employees’ social media use and other personal data over the next decade…the idea is frankly kind of Orwellian in that terrifying corporate kind of way: The data profiling that drives customer management will increasingly be replicated among employees as screening and monitoring move to a new level. Sensors check their location, performance and health. The monitoring may even stretch into their private lives in an extension of today’s drug tests. Periodic health screening gives way to real-time monitoring of health.”

Of course, employees need to actually be engaging in social media activities on a company’s behalf in order for their to be any social activity to monitor. Nearly as disturbing as excessive monitoring, more than a third (36%) of businesses block social networks completely within the office, and more than half (57%) permit workplace social media access only for select employees (e.g., marketing and HR).

The fundamental barrier to embracing a social business strategy seems to come down to one word: fear.

  • • Fear of bad, or even unmeasurable, results. While precise social media ROI may or may not be measurable, many indicators of success certainly are. Social media amplification is like any other business process: test, measure, improve, repeat.
  • • Fear that employees will waste time on social sites. Employees have been finding ways to distract themselves, and others, and generally waste time at work, for pretty much as long as groups of human beings have worked together. Employees intentionally wasting work time are a sign of poor hiring, poor motivation, and/or poor management. Those determined to waste work time will do so regardless of social media policy.
  • • Fear that employees will be unproductive. This is different than the point above; it’s not fear that employees will purposely waste time, but rather that employees, with the best of intentions, will use social networks inefficiently. Monitoring, measurement, and training are the answer.
  • • Fear that employees will say the wrong things. They’ll get brand messages wrong, or argue with customers, or reveal trade secrets, or disclose sensitive financial information, or bash competitors, or bash management, or tweet while drunk, or say something racist or sexist, or…whatever. Actually, in a healthy work environment, employees are far more likely to appreciate trust than to abuse it. And, backed up with training and clear policies, they deserve it.

Most fundamentally of all, however, is the fear that a surprising majority of companies still seem to have in acknowledging that they are staffed by actual people. Try this experiment: pick 10 business websites, from companies of any size, pretty much any industry. See if you can find a way to directly contact a specific individual (e.g., the head of marketing, the top HR exec, anyone in customer service, the webmaster, the VP of sales, even the CEO) at any of those companies, through information presented on the company’s website.

Many sites won’t list any individual employee or management names at all. Some will have “management team” pages that list a handful of top executives (though not with any direct contact information). Most will not provide any email addresses beyond the generic “info@” or “sales@” variety. Many will link to the company’s social media accounts—but not to the accounts of any individual employee, even if used strictly for business purposes. In some cases, you’ll be able to find contact information for the individual in charge of public relations—but often as not, this will be someone from an outside agency rather than a company employee.

That may be the most fundamental fear of all: being social means being human. That is what needs to change, first and foremost. As social media guru Ted Rubin notes, “A smart brand supports its employees in building their personal brands because it expands their reach right along with that of their employees.”

How do executives who want to overcome these fears and embrace social media start? Search for guidance and resources online, watch videos like this one, read books like The Social Employee by Cheryl and Mark Burgess (a veritable field guide to social business best practices, based on case studies of brand-name social enterprises), and begin by getting employees involved with the business socially internally, using tools like Yammer or Chatter.

But whatever you do, start. With regard to social business, the only rational fear top executives should have is fear of being left behind.

Post to Twitter

The Future of Digital Marketing According to the Giants

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Guest post by Clayton Wood.

Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft have been making acquisitions that could change the way digital marketing is done in the near future. What seemed to be objects of science-fiction books and shows are now being developed in the real world, and may be used for marketing. These companies have also made purchases that many people didn’t quite think were obvious, but perfectly made sense in hindsight.

But what do these purchases tell us about the direction digital marketing is going? Let’s have a look.

Digital Marketing will be about Heightened User Experiences

The giants are taking a page out of science fiction books to develop technology that will heighten and improve user experience. Virtual reality seems to be one of the hottest trends: Google has Google Glass, Facebook bought Oculus VR (which makes the virtual reality gaming headset Oculus Rift), and Yahoo! bought, absorbed, and shut down Cloud Party. These purchases forced Sony to announce Project Morpheus, their own take on virtual reality.

How Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Sony are changing the future of digital marketingThough these acquisitions don’t tell us much in terms of what exactly these giants have cooking, the firms have made generic statements about what they want to achieve, and these statements focus on heightened user experience.

We also know that whatever it is they are developing won’t materialize within the year—we need to give it a couple of years. We know one thing for sure: although they purchased VR gaming companies, the technological developments we can expect won’t be limited to gaming. These purchases tell us that real-time information delivery, social interaction, immersive content and improved ecommerce experiences are in store for us in the near future.

Take Mark Zuckerberg’s statement when Facebook purchased Oculus VR earlier this year:

Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home.

This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.

These are just some of the potential uses. By working with developers and partners across the industry, together we can build many more. One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people.

Data Tracking becomes a Strong Online Marketing Asset

We know how important data is to any marketing campaign, online or otherwise: without it, you cannot optimize the processes you have in place and improve the overall performance of your business. Google certainly knows this – their Webmaster Tools, Analytics and AdWords platforms belong to the most informative, readily available data tracking technology there is online.

It seems this year, they want to improve their platforms even further. They bought Adometry, a marketing analytics and optimization platform. Google explains that the acquisition “will build on the momentum of our existing measurement and analytics offerings, which include Google Analytics Premium as well as other products,” adding:

Attribution solutions, like Adometry’s, help businesses better understand the influence that different marketing tools — digital, offline, email, and more — have along their customers’ paths to purchase (http://goo.gl/tXTliw). This heightened understanding, in turn, enables businesses to measure marketing impact, allocate their resources more wisely, and provide people with ads and messages that they’re likely to care about.

This shows that digital marketing is likely moving to become more performance-based and accurately measurable. Data is becoming a strong online marketing asset, and marketers will likely devote a lot of effort and resources into analyzing and making the most of consumer data. Companies using performance models for growing channels, such as mobile and video, will soon be a common sight.

Human insights, combined with machine learning and real-time predictive analytics, will pave the way for easier, more data-driven marketing strategies.

Fun and Experience will be the Cornerstones of Most Marketing Strategies

In today’s ever-changing marketing world, it’s not enough to just get the attention of your consumers, you also have to give them something new—an experience. Consumers will be looking for something more than visually entertaining, they’ll want fun and experience.

Groundbreaking marketing creativity and innovation anchored on wearable technology and augmented reality can be expected. This will likely lead to digital marketing without boundaries; one that’s fueled by strategies focusing on fun, immersive experiences.

“Personal” Will Have a Whole New Meaning

Soon, it might not be enough for companies to just know what you want; they will likely also want to know when you’re most likely to want something. At the start of the year, Apple applied for a patent for a technology that would make inferences about the moods of people in real time.

“If an individual is preoccupied or unhappy, the individual may not be as receptive to certain types of content,” Apple explained.

Their solution? Figure out how a person is feeling at any given moment, and use that data to target content—or more accurately, ads—to be delivered at the right place and the right time.

Combining the technology on data tracking and analysis with the innovations in wearable technology, we can expect marketers to combine behavioral indicators—such as the rate of ‘likes’, comments, shares, the applications users open first, and the date, time, location and other specifics of their online interaction—with physical indicators tracked by a smartwatch or some other wearable gadget.

The word “personal” will have a whole new meaning, especially when it concerns digital marketing and online interactions.

Whatever updates and innovations may come, one thing is for sure: the digital marketing of today won’t certainly look the same as tomorrow’s. Companies clearly will be gearing for the future—are you?

How about you? What do you think is the future of digital marketing?

 

About the author: Clayton Wood is passionate about communicating the impact that technology has in online marketing. He is the Marketing Director of SEOReseller.com and managing partner of numerous successful online brands that offer white label SEO and other online marketing services. Clayton can be found on LinkedIn and Google+.

 

Post to Twitter