News

Do B2B Companies Really Need to Be on Facebook?

Social Media B2B - Thu, 2014-07-24 07:16

Many B2B companies start their social media efforts by gravitating to the large, common platforms and setting up profiles. Step 1: Twitter. Step 2: Facebook. Step 3: LinkedIn. And once these boxes are checked, they struggle to find the right content to post to each of these platforms. And marketers wonder if they should even be on all these platforms, especially Facebook, as organic reach has deteriorated.

This approach ignores several important marketing questions that B2B marketers should be asking about Facebook.

1. What are you trying to accomplish with social media?

B2B companies need to use these social media platforms to achieve higher level business goals that others in the organization are tracking and supporting. Note that I said business goals, not social media goals. Getting more followers is not a business goal. Increasing sales is a business goal. Increasing the number of leads from online sources, especially social media, is a way to track success against that goal. Make sure you have properly framed social media in a business context to evaluate Facebook as an appropriate platform.

2. Are your customers on Facebook?

This is a critical question in evaluating the platform, but you have to do so in a business context. Even though 71% of online adults are on Facebook, many B2B buyers may not use Facebook during the day or like Business Pages. While there are B2B companies that have large followings on Facebook and have generated traffic and leads, if you are struggling to build an audience there, you may be chasing shadows. And even if you do get people to like your Page, if they don’t engage with your content, Facebook is less likely to display it in their newsfeed.

3. Are you able to provide value to customers and prospects through your content?

If you are creating content to educate, inform and entertain customers and prospects, that is the first step. If you see that your content is being downloaded and shared on any platform, then you know that the content is appropriate for your audience. At any point during this evaluation process, you can ask select customers or prospects about the value of your content. It is easy to make a list of the topics you think would connect with your audience and would drive action, but without direct feedback, it’s possible to miss the mark. And don’t survey them, ask them.

4. How do you reach them without advertising?

Facebook only shows the most interesting posts in the newsfeed, as determined by its algorithm. Interesting is defined as posts that people will interact with (like, comment, share, click). You need to use as many off-Facebook techniques to get people to interact with your content so Facebook will show them more of it. If you get good engagement on Twitter, then post exclusive content on Facebook and use Twitter to drive traffic to it. People need to know what’s there and to like it so they will see future posts. And don’t forget email signatures, newsletters and phone conversations. “We just posted this really fun picture of the sales team on our Facebook Page. You should like it.”

5. Can a B2B company quit Facebook?

And now the biggest question of all. What if your customers really are not on Facebook in a business context, those that are don’t engage with your content, Facebook doesn’t show your updates to many people who like your Page, and you just can’t justify advertising to increase reach, can you really delete your Page and leave Facebook altogether? Do your customers expect you to be on Facebook? Is there a stigma attached to not being on Facebook? If Twitter or LinkedIn are working for you, driving traffic and leads, and otherwise serving your business and its goals, and Facebook is not, it is time to leave. If you have tried everything and it’s only getting worse, you can go. There is more of an expectation for B2B companies to be on Twitter than Facebook. And when you leave Facebook, write a blog post about all your efforts and share the numbers of your lack of success. Nobody will fault you for dedicating your resources to platforms that have business value. One final thing to consider before leaving: It makes some sense to keep the Page alive, but not active, to keep the custom Facebook URL. If you do this, post a note on the Page where people can find you and your current content.

If you have Facebook success stories about your B2B company, please share it in the comments below, especially if you have turned around a low-performing page.

B2B Sales Teams Can Use Content Marketing to Generate Leads

Social Media B2B - Thu, 2014-07-17 07:00

My friend Tom Skotidas and I talked about what can finally bridge the gap between sales and marketing. He is the founder of Skotidas, Asia Pacific’s leader in B2B Social Media Lead Generation. We have been talking about the intersection of sales and content marketing for B2B companies. A lot of people call this social selling, but we talked about a situation where the sales team can actually generate leads with content marketing.

Some of the highlights of our conversation:

  • How to use content within a LinkedIn profile to generate leads
  • What happens when B2B sales teams start to understand what content converts
  • How sharing content through individuals targets audience segments
  • And the sharing of this content is trackable. You will know which of your B2B salespeople have results.

Photo credit: Flickr

9 B2B Marketing Lessons from Judging Online Campaigns

Social Media B2B - Thu, 2014-07-10 07:00

I recently judged the online marketing category of an internal marketing competition for a B2B company. The marketers chose their best online marketing campaigns and submitted the details of their strategies, activities, creative work and metrics of success. There were a lot of great ideas and great effort on the part of the marketers. The following lessons are derived from my feedback to the entrants and some reminders for all marketers that occurred to me as I reviewed their entries.

1. Marketing Goals Must Align with Business Goals

Marketing cannot exist in a silo. This is one of the biggest issues that marketers, especially social media marketers, have. They create their own set of goals that are not important to anyone else in the company. While those goals may be important to the marketing team, you also need goals that relate to the high level business goals. These are the things that executives care about. These are the things that you must report on. These are the things that have material impact on the business.

2. Tactics without Strategy Will Only Get You So Far

It is easy for marketers to do things to look effective, and maybe on small levels, they are effective. But unless those small tactics add up to the overall strategy, you will never truly grow the business. Can you get more people to like your Facebook? Sure, but how does it relate to growing sales or improving the customer experience? You need to make sure you understand how to leverage that larger audience to meet the strategic goals. Grow your audience for the sake of having a bigger audience is not going to win any points with anyone. And if your boss wants a bigger online audience just so the numbers look bigger, tell them they are wrong. It’s about more than that.

3. SMART Goals are the Best Way Ensure Solid Marketing

Make your marketing goals:
Specific
Measurable
Actionable
Relevant
Timely

4. Great Results Don’t Count if They’re Not Against Your Goals

Every so often fantastic things happen as a result of a marketing campaign. Maybe you achieved a big bump in sales that you weren’t counting on. Whether or not you can attribute this to your marketing efforts, or it just occurred in the measured time period, you cannot take credit for this success if it wasn’t one of your goals. The point of goals are to plan what is going to happen and what success looks like. So that success can become repeatable. Happy accidents are not repeatable. Your boss might be happy with the extra sales, but if you don’t know how to make them happen again, they are not one of the success points of the campaign.

5. Present the Context of Your Success

Measurement is a key to understanding your success. Did you meet your goals? Did you grow your business? Did you drive traffic back to your website in significant numbers to make the effort worth it? Just like marketing doesn’t work in a silo, neither do metrics. How do your increases compare to a similar period? That could be the previous period or the same one last year. This context is required to understand the success of your marketing. And if you are doing something new, look to industry averages as your baseline. Even if a click-through-rate sounds good to your gut, you need to compare it an industry benchmark to know if it really is good.

6. Let Your Customers Tell You What They Want

Your customers are your marketing audience. Even if you are trying reach new prospects, they are like your current customers. Make sure you know what things are important to them. And not just as they relate to your products and services, but in the running of their business. What are their typical business problems? How do they like to receive information? And how do they communicate back with you? Thankfully we have stopped using fax machines to communicate.

7. If You Can’t Explain the Value of Your Efforts to Your Boss, What Are You Doing?

One of the more interesting evaluation elements of the marketing contest was to view the submission from the perspective of a company executive. This is very different from looking at it from a marketing perspective. Does your boss understand what you are doing? Do they understand the value of it to the business. If not, there could be one of two main problems. There could be a communication problem. You are just not explaining it very well. The other is that your efforts just don’t have real value to the business. This happens when you are chasing the wrong things. The ones that don’t have enough business impact, or they don’t lead to something with business impact.

8. Focus on One Core Campaign for the Best Results

Sometimes marketers get caught up in big, complicated campaigns with lots of moving parts. Not only are these expensive, but they are harder to measure. Marketing campaigns should have a core strategy and all the elements pointing in one direction. Successful campaigns should have multiple elements, but they’ll be more successful if they are ultimately trying to do the same thing.

9. Don’t Get Left Behind Best Practices

Today’s marketers need to keep up with trends in the marketplace. This means paying attention to their own industry verticals, but also marketing trends in general. Social media practices have evolved over the last 5 years and what made sense then no longer makes sense. For example, merely growing your social media followers as an end goal is one of those activities. Nobody cares how many people like your Facebook page. But if you are growing your audience on Facebook and other platforms as a means better serve your customers and drive prospect traffic to your website, that makes sense. As overloaded everyone is, you need to make a little time in your day to dip into some of the top marketing blogs. You will get a better sense of what other marketers are doing and where they are finding success.

Photo credit: Flickr

Give Your B2B Customers Clear Calls-To-Action on Social Media

Social Media B2B - Thu, 2014-06-26 07:00

Sometimes B2B marketers focus all their efforts on creating the best content, the ultimate customer experience, the perfectly nuanced status update to drive traffic back to their website or blog, but they forget to provide a clear call-to-action for the visitor.

The other extreme is to create a complex series of Rube Goldberg-inspired steps to get a visitor to the right place that is very nearly personalized for their interests, industry and stage in the buying cycle. This is not a bad idea in theory, but an overcomplicated process confuses prospects and they may never convert to a customer.

I was on vacation in Alaska for the past week and stopped at Meier’s Lake Roadhouse to get gas (click the picture above to enlarge it). This remote roadside stop understands the difference between just telling their customers something and providing clear instructions what action they would like them to take.

“Meiers Lake Roadhouse is now on Facebook,” reads a simple printed sign (shown below).

As a traveler passing through, and unlikely to ever return, I would not gain much value from liking their Facebook page. But maybe it was the perfect spot in this remote area to get gas before running out. Or maybe I ate at their restaurant, stayed in a cabin or bought the perfect souvenir to remember my trip. Maybe I just enjoyed my interactions with this Alaskan independent businessman.

“We appreciate your reviews,” was the second and only other thing on this sign.

Liking their Facebook page is not the action they want you to take. It is just a means to get to the call-to-action. They are asking you to leave a review. If this was a good place for you to stop, then it might be a good place for others. And the owner of Meier’s Lake Roadhouse wants you to let others know about your experience. It is a simple ask, and it is very clear.

There is no need to beat this idea into the ground, especially since I am just back from vacation. Here are the two social media lessons from this Alaskan roadside business:

1. Make sure you give prospects, customers and visitors an obvious call-to-action, by telling them what you want them to do.

2. Make it simple and clear.

And even though these are lessons for social media and online activities, they definitely apply for physical interactions.

B2B Sales Pros Need to Create Demand with Content Marketing

Social Media B2B - Wed, 2014-06-18 07:00

I recorded another video conversation with my friend Tom Skotidas. He is the founder of Skotidas, Asia Pacific’s leader in B2B Social Media Lead Generation. We have been talking about the intersection of sales and content marketing for B2B companies. A lot of people call this social selling, but that really oversimplifies the process.

Today’s conversation is about demand generation. Tom smartly points out that no matter how much content you create or share, if you are not creating demand for your product or service, nobody will want to buy it.

Highlights of the Conversation:

  • Without demand, there are no buyers.
  • Use authoritative third-party content to create demand for your products or services.
  • Create hybrid content that “wraps” your own content in someone else’s authority.
  • Speak the language of your prospects and customers.

How are your sales teams using content to drive demand for your B2B products or services?

Photo credit: Flickr

YouTube Insights for B2B from the Frozen Food Master

Social Media B2B - Tue, 2014-06-10 07:00

Gregory Ng is the CMO of Brooks Bell, an optimization firm focused on enterprise-level A/B split testing, targeting and optimization services. But at night he opens the freezer, cranks up the microwave and transforms into the Frozen Food Master. Greg has been reviewing frozen food on Freezerburns since 2008. In that time he has learned quite a bit about YouTube. Combining that with his understanding of B2B marketing and optimization, he shared his insights for B2B companies in the interview below.

Most of the biggest YouTube channels are run by individuals, not corporate brands. It seems that the promise of “anyone can be a publisher” really has taken hold on this platform. Does this make YouTube different from other social platforms?

I believe that most of the big YouTube channels are run by individuals because they don’t have the politics or red tape to publish like corporations have. YouTubers like honest messaging. They like genuine interaction and raw emotion. They tend to dislike brand marketing messages and paid endorsement material. If you want to create a beautiful brand anthem spot, definitely publish it on YouTube. But don’t expect the same type of engagement you would get by publishing on video sites like Vimeo that celebrate the art of video and have a community that appreciates video as an art form. The promise of “anyone can be a publisher” really took off when Blogger made a free blog platform. But while this allowed people to publish thoughts, the written word did not have the cache and sexiness of making you feel like a TV or movie star. YouTube provided a free way for people to publish a movie or a music video or a video diary for all to see. It is the promise of celebrity that inspires people to push out content on this platform.

Corporate brands could totally leverage the audience of this platform but typically they approach it in one of two ways, which are both ineffectual to this audience:

1. The Brand Advertising Method: They post every one of their commercials on YouTube and hope they go viral. While consumers expect to find those ad campaigns online, they do not engage with the channel, but they engage with the specific video. That’s why you will see well-known brands have videos with millions of views but only thousands of subscribers. This is not leveraging the platform correctly.

2. The “No Value to Anyone But the Sales Team” Method: They post product demos and video brochures. Again, this does not welcome community engagement and it is nether entertaining nor is it useful content.

So the reason why the biggest YouTube channels are run by individuals is because those individuals interact with their audience and their content is engaging.

You have built an audience on YouTube by focusing on one niche and consistently publishing videos. Would the same strategy work for a B2B company? Is there a business audience there?

No question YouTube has an audience large enough for whatever business you are in! In fact, YouTube has a big enough audience to support every single niche you can think of! If you are passionate about something (no matter how specific) there is bound to be a couple hundred thousand people in this world that are equally passionate. Consistently publishing videos in that niche is how those hundred thousand people find you. But growing audiences and creating awareness does not come from owning a niche and publishing consistently. Staying true to your niche simply helps you own the category so competitors can’t jump in. Consistently publishing simply keeps your content relevant and current.

The real key to building an audience is to provide value to your viewer. For me, this means reviewing food so customers are informed before buying something. This works for me because I do not own or work for any of the products that I review. For B2B it is a bit trickier. YouTubers do not like to be sold to. So the way to reach an audience is to provide value. For example, if you sell marketing automation software you won’t have much of an audience for tons of videos talking about the features of your product. But there is a huge audience for a web series highlighting success stories from your customers using your software. Jay Baer’s book, YOUtility covers this idea at great length and it is worth a read when creating your YouTube presence.

How can B2B marketers use video to support their overall content marketing efforts?

Uploading video content on YouTube can have multiple benefits towards your content marketing efforts. Video can capture a moment like no other medium can. You can use video to capture customer testimonials that mean a whole lot more than just a quote written in text. You can document an event or interview a team member. You can produce video demos or explain an FAQ using video. In all of these examples you can give a prospect, a customer, and investor a better idea of what your company is all about and instill more trust and confidence in the messages you are producing.

From a tactical standpoint uploading a video to YouTube means you can cultivate a new audience on the YouTube platform as well as embed the content on your website, blog and other social networks.

Does a YouTube channel let B2B companies tell their stories in a different way, or does it let them reach a whole new audience segment?

YouTube definitely allows B2B marketers to communicate a message in a more personal way. Instead of a message coming from a press release, it could be the same message delivered by the CMO. Have an endorsement from a partner vendor? Instead of dropping in a text testimonial, how about having their CEO put it on camera? There is potential for a whole new audience segment in YouTube, but it requires focus and commitment to realize that potential. There are 24 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute! The only way to stand out is to put in as much as you expect to receive from the platform. Like Twitter, it requires engagement and community management in addition to quality focused content.

What are the analytics you focus on for your YouTube channel, and would B2B marketers focus on the same ones?

Fortunately YouTube has been making great strides in the analytics they provide (for free) for YouTube channels. My primary metric is engagement per video. This means out of the total number of people that see the video, how long into the video do they watch until they bounce. Also, do they Like, Comment, add to playlist, or subscribe as a result of that video. My secondary metric is the time of day that my video is watched. This is important to me because I have an international audience and it helps me strategize when in the day to publish my videos. This also helps when I schedule live video events and decide on the start and end times of contests and promotions.

My advice to B2B marketers is to think about what your primary goal is for your YouTube channel and then report on the metrics that influence that goal. Like Google Analytics you can gain insight into different metrics through your YouTube Analytics dashboard. But just because you can measure it, doesn’t mean it matters to you. And just because it is important to one channel doesn’t mean it matters to others.

It can be overwhelming to sit down in front of a camera and start talking. What are some tips you can provide for getting started with video content?

For some people, putting yourself on camera is easy. For others it is the most terrifying thing imaginable. But video content doesn’t have to just be someone talking into a camera! You can be very successful using voiceover over a product demo. Or you can get even more creative (and still be professional if used correctly) using animation, whiteboard drawings, and even puppets. The key is to find a method that is on brand, cost-effective to execute and something you believe in enough to commit to!

And can you really shoot good quality video with a smartphone, provided you turn it horizontally and you stabilize it by setting it down on a table?

Five years ago I wouldn’t have been able to say this, but yes, you can shoot perfectly fine, professional quality video with your phone. In fact, full movies have been shot using just an iPhone camera! The key is to use a tripod or a steady cam rig, and make sure your sound is great. People would much rather tolerate a low definition video if the sound is clear and the video isn’t shaky.

If you want some frozen food advice from Greg to go along with his YouTube advice, here is his list of the 50 Best Frozen Foods in 60 seconds:

11 B2B Social Media Takeaways from BMA14

Social Media B2B - Wed, 2014-06-04 07:34

B2B marketers from across the world gathered together for BMA14, the Business Marketing Association’s annual conference in Chicago from May 28th-30th. During those 3 days, approximately 1,000 business-to-business marketers were exposed to the latest B2B marketing trends, thinking, research, technology, case studies and best practices.

Although the conference covered a wide range of topics, social media was a key theme in many presentations.

What was perhaps most interesting is how many brands were using a variety of techniques and social channels to spread and amplify their message.

Here are some interesting B2B social media insights and takeaways from #BMA14.

1. General Electric’s use of Vine, Instagram and Tumblr

Linda Boff, Executive Director Global Brand Marketing at GE, mentioned that General Electric has found Instagram, Vine and Tumblr as platforms where the GE brand has found its voice by sharing groundbreaking research and simple science experiments.

Creating great content that tells a story is key to attracting an audience that consumes and shares via social networks.  Some examples of GE’s successful social campaigns include #6SecondScience, #SpringBreakIt and #GravityDay on Tumblr and Vine, and their 170,000 follower Instagram account.

2. Social Selling Gets Results

Could “social selling” be the next big thing in marketing? Many attendees of BMA14 believe so. Sales people need to be aware that they can be more influential and effective when using social selling techniques. Jill Rowley presented a powerful case for social selling by sharing how sales people always need to be connecting and curating quality content. 78% of sales professionals using social media outsell their peers that use traditional selling techniques.

Want a bit more info on social selling? Watch Jill’s “Traditional Selling vs. Social Selling” video.

3. Make your presentations tweet-worthy

Jay Baer, author of “Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help, Not Hype” is always good for an entertaining and informative presentation, and his BMA14 keynote was no exception. Jay had perhaps the most tweet-worthy presentation at BMA14, largely because he includes tweet-worthy content.

Here are a few examples:
- Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it. (View tweet)
- Youtility comes from the wizard, not the wand. (View tweet)
- Inspiration doesn’t respond to meeting requests. (View tweet)
- Content that is only about your products and services isn’t a Youtility, it’s a brochure. (View tweet)
- We are surrounded by data but starved for insights. (View tweet)

4. WhatsApp as a business tool

Lisa Abbatiello, CEO of Leo Burnett Business, New York, mentioned that they use WhatsApp for engaging among global groups and Twitter to highlight their team’s point of view on their client’s industries.

5. Market like its 2014. Use the tools available.

Keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk roused the BMA14 attendees with his edgy presentation style. Gary urged marketers to jab first (engage customers) before using a right hook (going for a sale). He urged marketers to use the tools available to them and to stop marketing like they did years ago.

He practiced what he preached by sharing stories about how he used social media to determine a prospect’s interests then used that information to start a conversation. This resulted in several big sales.

6. Use LinkedIn to make C-level connections

Scott Salkin, CEO and founder of IDS Marketing Technology, says LinkedIn is the most effective B2B social media platform. “It’s become a very credible way to connect with people and reach out directly to C-level executives.” Scott has achieved an impressive response rate of around 80 to 90%.

7. Social Media is Mobile

Marketers are aware of how mobile is impacting their business, but they may not be aware how much. Mobile was still one of the big topics at BMA14, and the speakers from the social media focused sessions had a lot of eye-opening mobile takeaways.  Here’s a few:

“Facebook and The Move to Mobile” presented by Gary Briggs, Chief Marketing Officer, Facebook

- Facebook has 1 billion+ monthly actives on mobile, 609m+ people using Facebook on mobile every day. (View tweet)
- Every team has to be mobile. At Facebook, every team is the mobile team. (View tweet)
- 200 million people use Instagram each month. That’s twice the number of books in the Library of Congress. (View tweet)
- 85% of global mobile devices have WhatsApp. (View tweet)

“Mastering the Moment: the Live Opportunity for B2B Marketers on Twitter” presented by Richard Alfonsi, VP Global Online Sales, Twitter

- 80% of Twitter users access via mobile. (View tweet)
- There are 135,000 new users on Twitter every day. Chances are your customers are among them. (View tweet)
- Wednesday is when the most B2B conversations happen on Twitter. (View tweet)

“Tell Better Stories, Build A Better Business” presented by Nick Besbeas, VP Marketing and Customer Support, LinkedIn

- Over 300M professionals are on LinkedIn. (View tweet)
- LinkedIn is no longer a jobs site, it’s a content site. Users consume content 7x more than job listings. (View tweet)

8. Storytelling has an important role in Social Media Globalization

Social media took center stage during a panel discussion about the impact of social media globalization. While a brand’s logo and mission statement are consistent globally, its social media has to be flexible to address the interests of individual cultures while maintaining a cohesive voice.

For example, social selling is much more popular in Asia, as personal relationships matter to the point where people won’t do business with brands they don’t know. Brands should consider using visual storytelling to break down language barriers.

9. Game mechanics promotes participation and engagement

The attendees at the BMA14 conference were encouraged to use an event application called LiveCube. LiveCube fuses game mechanics and audience participation to promote participation and engagement. When synced to your Twitter account, the application would allow you to tweet, retweet and follow users through their interface, as well as get session information, participate in real-time polls and surveys and much more. And when you did so, you accumulated points for the various activities. In short, it made participation fun.

And the numbers showed it worked. By the end of the conference, the 1,000 attendees had generated 17,269 Twitter mentions which had an overall reach of 63.7 million impressions.

10. Facebook is still relevant in B2B

During the “Understand the DNA of a Growth Marketer” panel session, Mark Rentschler, Head of Marketing at machine tool company Makino, mentioned his shock over the last year regarding Facebook. “Facebook folks are converting at more than double the rate of normal marketing activity, and are spending from 10 to 30 minutes on our website.”

11. People love a good selfie.

When you have a conference that has as much mobile and social media content as BMA14, there’s no better way to wrap it up than with an Ellen-inspired selfie.

The Business Marketing Association (BMA) is the premiere marketing organization for B2B marketers. The BMA offers unparalleled access to the knowledge and network you need to be the best B2B marketer possible.  What can the BMA do for you?  Watch the video and find out.

B2B Social Media Lead Generation Advice from Experts

Social Media B2B - Thu, 2014-05-29 07:00

Lead generation is a key element of many B2B social media efforts. Marketer and blogger Heidi Cohen asked 25 experts to answer a number of questions on the topic. Below are my answers to each question, plus links to each post containing lots of advice from others. Feel free to share your own advice about social media lead generation below.

What is the best way to use social media to generate leads?
The best way to use social media to generate leads is to create a business blog that answers prospects’ questions and solves customers’ problems. These blog posts need to relate to longer form content, like ebooks and webinars, so visitors can click through to a lead form and provide their contact information in exchange for the asset. It is better to focus your lead generation program on a platform that you own, like a blog, and use social media channels to expand your reach, grow your audience and amplify your content.
Read more from other experts: Social Media Lead Generation: Best Tips From The Experts

What is the best way to use content marketing to generate leads?
The best way to use content marketing to generate leads is to create a series of gated assets that solve your prospects’ business problems. They will exchange their contact information for these assets and your can build a relationship with them. A percentage of these prospects will become leads.
Read more from other experts: Content Marketing Lead Generation: 22 Expert Tips

What is the biggest lead generation mistake that marketers make?
Many marketers view content-generated leads in the same way as traditional leads. Just because someone fills out a lead form to download an ebook does make him or her sales-ready. This is the beginning of a trust-building relationship. And that relationship must be nurtured before you have the right to contact them in a sales context.
Read more from other experts: 25 Biggest Lead Generation Mistakes (& What You Do About Them!!)

What is one effective marketing tip that you’d offer for stellar lead generation?
You must include calls-to-action on blog posts to give visitors the opportunity to raise their hand and express interest in your company and its ideas. Too many blogs do nothing to try to convert their hard-earned blog visitors to leads.
Read more from other experts: The Best Lead Generation Tips Ever

Marketing Team Drives B2B Social Selling Success

Social Media B2B - Thu, 2014-05-22 07:00

My friend Tom Skotidas and I recorded a video conversation defining social selling. He is the founder of Skotidas, Asia Pacific’s leader in B2B Social Media Lead Generation.

Social selling, or #socialselling, is a term that is used by lots of people to mean lots of different things. It is more than my definition of sales people using the tools and approach of social media. Watch the video to hear Tom’s definition.

Some highlights of the conversation:

  • Social selling is really a social marketing program for sales enablement.
  • It is a hybrid approach between marketing and sales.
  • Conversations about social selling should always start with marketing. Not only because they bring the strategy, the skills and the process to move the market, but they also bring the budget.
  • A well-executed program lets sales people connect more effectively, get more meetings and build more pipeline.

How do you define social selling?

Photo credit: Flickr

7 Awesome iPad Apps for the B2B Road Warrior

Social Media B2B - Tue, 2014-05-13 07:00

I don’t know about you, but I use my iPad as a replacement for a laptop when on the road. Even before Microsoft released Office for iPad I stopped lugging my thousand pound beast with me when traveling.

Not only have I discovered apps that make it easy, but I added a keyboard case to close the laptop replacement loop. I use one made by ZAGG. It is lightweight, responsive, and looks great. The fact that airport security doesn’t make me take my iPad out of my bag is a major bonus.

But this post is about apps, so here are my top 7 for conducting “business as usual” while on the road.

1. Document Storage

To make a mobile device truly productive, you need to store your files in the cloud. I’ve been using Box for years – even before I had my iPad. It’s highly intuitive, can sync folders and files from your computer, and the iPad app plays well with other business apps to create a fairly seamless file storage experience. You can get a 50GB personal account for free with more storage and business accounts available. New functionality is added regularly with one of the latest versions providing a highly functional file viewer that allows you to read those files locally. Though I haven’t tried any yet, Box “One Cloud” offers a myriad of other integrated business apps.

2. Word Processing and Spreadsheets

I’ve used Quickoffice for as long as I’ve owned an iPad. My only rub with Quickoffice was the Powerpoint functionality and I’ve got an excellent solution for that below. Recently purchased by Google, Quickoffice provides all the word processing and spreadsheet functionality I need. It allows you to open, edit, and save Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files in the latest formats. Quickoffice integrates with Google Drive for document storage and Box (and other apps) allow you to easily open documents stored in the cloud in Quickoffice. Quickoffice allows you to store files locally as well, but I recommend storing most docs in the cloud so as not to use up your precious iPad storage. Quickoffice is free though it may not be for long.

3. Presentations

If you despise Powerpoint as I do, you’ll love Haiku Deck. Haiku Deck is built on the premise that presentations are about how we engage with the audience not with the number of animated bullet points a presentation has. Haiku Deck has numerous, beautifully designed templates to choose from as well as a library of high quality royalty free photos. You can create beautiful, visually oriented presentations in minutes and share and edit them in the cloud. Added bonus – Haiku Deck will display and promote them on their site and via Twitter. The app is free but there are in-app purchases for some of the templates and photos.

4. PDFs

iAnnotate PDF enables PDF editing and more. Anything you can do with a Word doc you can do with a PDF in iAnnotate. You can actually open up to 8 PDFs at once and work on them concurrently in a well-designed, easy to use interface. iAnnotate seamlessly connects with Box as well as other cloud-based services. You can create new PDFs and easily share them. There is also PDF security available. Added bonus – you can do all of the above for .DOC, .PPT and image files. Though iAnnotate PDF costs $9.99, you’ll find it to be well worth it.

5. Desktop Access

LogMeIn Ignition may be my favorite app for the road warrior. LogMeIn enables you to quickly and easily remotely log in to a PC or Mac as long as you can connect to the internet. It takes only a few minutes to set up, and access is even faster. Though I haven’t tried it Internationally, I’ve accessed my home computer (in Iowa) from both coasts and everywhere in-between. I primarily use it for file transfers though I have used it for remote printing and controlling programs that live on my PC. When I first discovered LogMeIn it was free. Now it costs a minimum of $64.99 a year with other pricing plans available. Though one of the more expensive iPad apps, if you truly are a road warrior you won’t want to leave home without it.

6. Digital Signatures

DocuSign makes an iPad app which enables you to quickly and easily sign and deliver documents while on the road. You can sign documents for free though full functionality costs as little as $9.99 per month for individuals. Docusign conforms with the e-sign act, so signatures utilized on these documents are acceptable by law firms and financial firms – I closed a mortgage with mine. The functionality is incredible as you can sign without a writing implement, send documents to multiple people to sign, and even complete face to face signing with multiple signers! You can also send and store your signed documents via this extensible app.

7. Project Management

Trello is a free app whose tagline is “organize anything.” Trello allows you to create “cards” where you can establish lists, task lists, images, documents, and enables team-based communication around those items. Cloud-based, it flawlessly syncs across multiple devices. I’ve just started to test this with my team but I’m betting I’ll love this as much as the other apps on this list – which is why it made it to number 7!

Ok road warriors, what indispensable apps have I missed?

Photo credit: Flickr

What’s the Difference Between a B2B Blog Post Topic and an Ebook Topic?

Social Media B2B - Thu, 2014-05-08 07:00

B2B marketers are trying to produce and publish more content than ever before. More social media channels mean more content. More followers mean more content. More content from others means more content. And ever increasing goals mean more content.

In this ongoing battle between more content and better content, B2B marketers sometimes choose the volume side of the fence. When your boss is looking for more leads for the sales team, one way to get there is by producing more ebooks. Even though this can sometimes create an unsustainable model of content that can spiral out of control, I have seen the result of heading down this path.

Blog posts masquerading as ebooks.

Since ebooks are often gated content hiding behind lead forms, it is easy to think that you should turn some of your blog posts straight into ebooks. But that is not the way to build trust in your content or your company. Blog posts drive traffic to your site and the ebook offer converts the visitor. They are not likely to fill out a lead form for lightweight content. The ebook offer needs to provide more depth to the blog post topic, not just be a blog post prettied up by a designer and converted to a PDF.

Here are 10 characteristics of a good B2B blog post topic (Tweet This)
  1. It is about one simple idea.
  2. It can be based on another blog post.
  3. It can be based on one product update.
  4. It can solve one customer problem.
  5. It can easily be divided up into several small sections.
  6. It can easily be presented as a short list.
  7. It doesn’t need complex graphs or charts to explain it.
  8. It doesn’t require more than one author.
  9. It can easily be read on a mobile device…
  10. in a short amount of time.
Here are 10 characteristics of a good B2B ebook topic (Tweet This)
  1. It is about a big or complex idea.
  2. it can be based on several blog posts.
  3. It can be about something one level more general than your product category.
  4. It can solve several customer problems, or one big problem with multiple steps.
  5. It can be divided into multiple chapters.
  6. It can contain lists as examples within chapters.
  7. It can use charts, graphs or graphical elements to better explain or divide it up.
  8. It can have multiple authors to bring multiple perspectives to it.
  9. It is substantial enough that it needs to be downloaded…
  10. and maybe even printed out to read it.

Have you considered creating a PDF of a single blog post idea just to get leads? Did the short term result of leads pay off in the long run with sales?

Photo Credit: Flickr

How B2B Professionals Can Use Content for Personal Branding

Social Media B2B - Wed, 2014-04-30 07:00

I recently recorded a video conversation with my friend Tom Skotidas. He is the founder of Skotidas, Asia Pacific’s leader in B2B Social Media Lead Generation. This is the first of several conversations that we recorded on the topic of social selling, but the topic really is broader than that.

The video below is about personal branding. If you are a B2B sales person, the conversation is perfect for you and gives you some things to start thinking about as you begin to incorporate social selling into your approach. But if you are a marketer, the concepts of personal branding that we talk about are appropriate for you too.

The big ideas we talked about are:

  • Building trust through awareness and familiarity
  • Modeling your personal branding consistency and positioning after known corporate brands
  • Understanding what success looks like in a personal brand

How do you approach your personal brand and are you consistent about it?

Photo credit: Flickr

It’s Time for B2B Companies to Update their Twitter Profiles

Social Media B2B - Thu, 2014-04-24 11:50

Twitter has rolled out new profile pages for everyone, but B2B companies have to log in to your account and accept the new profile. This means that for the time being your profile will not switch automatically and re-size your images, making them pixelated. This means you can update your profile when you have a new larger header image prepared and ready to upload. That is a good thing. Thanks, Twitter.

How big is the new Twitter image?

It is 1500 pixels wide x 500 pixels high.

What else has changed about Twitter profiles?
  • The profile photo is now 400 pixels by 400 pixels.
  • The background image has gone away.
  • You can now pin a Tweet to the top of your stream.
  • Tweets with more engagement (retweets, replies and favorites) now appear bigger.
  • Favorites now have a prominent position on your profile page.
Why did Twitter make these changes to Profile Pages?

Twitter is trying to appeal more to the mainstream public who visit Twitter.com pages for specific companies, brands and celebrities. These are people who are interested in what you post, but do not create an account or follow anyone if they do. The new profiles, especially the larger image, are for them. Every time they visit your Twitter profile they will see this large image. This is a very different audience from the active Twitter user who comes to your profile one time to follow you, and thereafter only sees your updates in their stream. They are not going to come back to your profile page. Keep these two audiences in mind as you create your own image.

How do the new Twitter Header Images Look on Mobile?

This change is promoted by Twitter as a change to the web profiles, but these header images also show up on your Twitter profile on mobile devices. Not only are they smaller, but your header image is cropped and has your profile photo in the middle of it. If you have text in your image, it likely will not be readable on a mobile device, thereby reducing its impact. Make sure you look at your image on several mobile devices with different screen sizes before you call it done.

10 B2B Companies with Updated Twitter Header Images 1. Marketo


@Marketo

Header Image: Traditional brand
Mobile Friendly: No

2. ADP


@ADP

Header Image: Traditional brand
Mobile Friendly: No

3. MailChimp


@MailChimp

Header Image: Logo/Mascot image
Mobile Friendly: Yes

4. Introhive


@Introhive

Header Image: Product shot
Mobile Friendly: Yes

5. Caterpillar


@CaterpillarInc

Header Image: Product in environment
Mobile Friendly: Yes

6. ExactTarget


@ExactTarget

Header Image: Lifestyle
Mobile Friendly: No

7. SAP


@SAP

Header Image: Expressive photo
Mobile Friendly: Yes

8. Intel


@Intel

Header Image: Expressive graphic
Mobile Friendly: Yes

9. General Electric


@GeneralElectric

Header Image: Social media campaign
Mobile Friendly: No

10. Jobsite UK


@JobSiteUK

Header Image: Contest promotion
Mobile Friendly: No

What other B2B companies have you seen that have updated their Twitter header images?

3 Ways to Generate Leads With LinkedIn Groups |

Business Online Communities - Thu, 2014-04-24 11:35

LinkedIn Groups: Find out how filtering group search to identify prospects, personalizing connection requests and posting tactics can generate leads.

See it on Scoop.it, via Business Online Communities

A Beginner's Social Media Guide for Small Businesses |

Business Online Communities - Thu, 2014-04-24 11:35

Follow this seven-step social media guide to help you get started with social media and learn how to use it to promote your products and services.

See it on Scoop.it, via Business Online Communities

Grow Your B2B Audience by Considering Size, Engagement and Value

Social Media B2B - Thu, 2014-04-17 07:00

Jeffrey K. Rohrs is the Vice President of Marketing Insights at ExactTarget, a salesforce.com company, and the author of the new book, Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans & Followers. I had the chance to talk to him about the importance of audience development in B2B marketing and how this idea needs to be considered as a crucial part of achieving success across social media, email and more.

What’s the premise of your book Audience?

Lots of people say every company is a publisher. Every company is a broadcaster. And we’ve seen some companies really embrace that quite well, and do some wonderful things through content marketing.

But what’s been gnawing at me for a while is that I go to a lot of the content marketing shows, and I hear people speak about what they’re doing in content marketing, and they have what I call Audience Assumption Disorder.

They think their beautiful, well-thought-out content; their wonderful ebooks; and their tremendous videos are just automatically going to get traffic. And it reminds me very much of the early days of website development, where people had that “build it and they will come” mentality. That’s simply no way to build traffic.

The days of “built it and they will come” never really existed in the internet, and yet people continue to operate under that assumption. So what I’m trying to do with Audience is reflect on my experience with email, mobile, and social, and boil it down into some thinking that parallels the growth of content marketing.

Newspapers and magazines have editorial, but then they have a nice wall, and over on the other side of the wall is audience development and circulation. And that’s true of broadcasting as well. There are people who are constantly thinking about how they can bring more people to the table so that when we do have content, they’re going to consume and share and amplify.

And right now, if you look across marketing organizations, you really don’t have audience development professionals, even though every single part of marketing is very dependent on audiences. These are audiences that we can build through email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, SMS and contests.

All these channels are siloed because as each new channel came around, you developed a tactical approach to it. How are we going to leverage this? Are we going to leverage this? I call it the Pre-cambrian period of marketing, where we had this explosion of all of these new, evolved states of direct communication in the last five to ten years.

After dust settles on all of these new channels and we know what we should do from a tactical and a strategic standpoint, there’s going to be a rise in new responsibility, and that is audience development. Without audience, content is a tree falling in the forest with nobody to hear it. And without content, the audience has nothing to consume and engage with, and doesn’t develop loyalty or interest in the brand.

So this duality of content and audience is very intriguing to me. Content marketing is still at its early stages of development. And you have great folks proselytizing out there, like Joe Pulizzi and Jay Baer and Ann Handley, but there’s nobody similarly carrying the torch of audience development.

And therefore we’ve been left to siloed responsibilities, where you have people who are in charge of email marketing, and in the back of their mind — or maybe it’s their third or fourth or fifth responsibility, they’re supposed to grow the email audience. But they often don’t have any influence across all of the different marketing tactics that they could use to grow the email audience.

The same is true with social media. It gets a little bit more traction because it’s visible in public how many fans and followers you have, so there is a little more top-line focus on audience growth. But across all these channels, growth is really a three-dimensional kind of object. It has size, both in terms of absolute number and quality and caliber of the data.

The second is engagement, which is always so touchy-feeling in social media. But what it means in terms of audience growth is you actually have an audience that’s paying attention, and ready to pay attention the next time you have something important to say.

And the third part is value. We measure the value, or ROI, of these channels focused on campaigns, instead of saying, “What is the aggregate value of this audience on an annualized basis?” If you look at your audience in terms of what it brings you over a non-audience member, for example, a customer versus a customer who’s an email subscriber, you start to see the value of that audience as an asset.

And it’s that asset-based mentality towards proprietary audience development that marketers need to develop. We can’t just look at the individual ROI. We can’t be so tactically focused all the time. We need somebody who’s looking horizontally across all of the different audiences as their focus. This role develop into a director, or a senior director, or a VP level of audience development.

You need to look out across every single channel and understand which channels produce the best audiences in terms of value. And then maximize what you’re doing across all those different channels to grow those audiences by those three dimensions of size, engagement and value.

B2B marketers approach social content, and even all of their marketing, from a persona-based perspective. How does the idea of personas layer on top of this view of audience development?

What I see is that your persona-based development now has to take place with consideration of where those personas live and what they are willing to do to become a part of your audience. When you’re thinking about creating your persona for Jamie, a small business owner and mother of two, or Bill, the 20-something Millennial who’s unattached and has a decent income, you’re not just thinking about their interests, their income level and where they live. You’re also thinking about where do they live in the virtual world, and what are the channels that they’re willing to engage with brands through. That becomes an important part of the development of the actual persona, which then translates into which channels you should prioritize in order to build those direct relationships, and build these audiences and assets.

That’s a perfect world scenario, because if you develop your personas absent an understanding of the channels they live in, then you’re apt to have some inefficiencies in your paid advertising and your owned media efforts. You’re also not going to get as much earned media out of it, because you’re perhaps chasing them in the wrong places.

So relative to B2B folks, it’s a matter of making sure your personas are also looking at what types of channels they’re looking at. The kneejerk reaction with B2B is to say, “Oh, well, you should consider LinkedIn.” Which is very, very true. But those personas may deal in some places where you might find that Facebook’s going to have some interests for you on maybe the HR employee development side of things. Twitter’s going to have certain implications for you beyond just your advocates and influencers. Instagram could have an amazing place in the world for certain personas.

Jay Baer cited the Maersk Shipping Company in his book, Youtility. Look at what they’ve done with photography, these giant vessels, and explaining what their industry is. And out of the woodwork come folks who really appreciate that industry and are willing to share it in what are ostensibly personal social networks like Facebook, as opposed to just professional ones like LinkedIn.

So I think my bottom line is to make sure that your persona is taking into consideration the channels through which your audiences are willing to have those two-way communications with you.

How does a content-based call to action sit alongside the idea of overall audience development?

This brings up the larger question of how large your audience needs to be so that you actually get results of people taking that action.

The first thing is that you really need to take a step back and decide, are we investing as much time in audience development and distribution as we should be relative to content creation?

You’ve got a lot of companies who have it upside-down, who are out there creating content, creating content, creating content, and they’re not measuring results efficiently to understand that they might be creating the most beautiful content in the world, but they’re influencing such a small percentage of the available broader audience out there that their efforts would be much better directed towards more efficient activities.

This is called the Audience Imperative. We need to use our paid, owned and earned media to not just sell in the short-term but to increase the size, engagement and value of our proprietary audiences over the long-term. So the content is a carrot at the end of the stick. It certainly does attract people to us. But it often attracts three types of audiences: seekers, amplifiers, and joiners.

Data often attracts seekers. It attracts people who are looking for information or entertainment. But those are temporal audiences. They’re there. They’re gone. Once they get entertained or they find information, they leave. We know these people as Google searchers. We know them as television viewers, radio listeners, window shoppers.

The amplifier audience is the one that we most closely associate with social media. It really is just any sort of word of mouth. Social media just technologically enables word of mouth.

But again, with amplifiers, they don’t have to have a relationship with you. They can be there, and they can be gone in a split second of a retweet. They see some sentiment that they like and they retweet it. Somebody who follows them retweets that. They’re an amplifier. So they’re an audience of yours. They’re an amplifier of yours. But you have no relationship with them.

So with both seekers and amplifiers, we should be looking to convert them over to the joiners. The ultimate joiner, of course, is a customer.

Short of that, we’ve got these subscribers and the followers, and all these different types of channels that have different expectations and needs. And job number one of marketing is to make the sale, but one of our jobs now is to get more out of what we do with paid, owned and earned media. That means we need a secondary call to action, or in some instances a primary call to action, to join our audiences.

And that way, the next time you go out with content, you’ve got a bigger audience to impress. Content marketers don’t have the kind of collaborative relationship that they need with email, mobile, and social teams who are managing these very siloed audiences.

This is why I think there’s going to be a director of audience development at some point, because that becomes the person who is the peer to whomever is in charge of content marketing, and those who work hand in glove to say, “All right, how am I going to get you a bigger audience?”

That might mean advertising. It may be that I go over to the brand folks and say, “That ad you’re about to run, just having our logo at the end isn’t sufficient. I want you to have a really clear call to action to come join us on this site. Follow us, or subscribe, or what have you.”

Those conversations will start off the org chart conversations among people who understand this. Content marketing will play a really important role. Email and social media play an important role.

And out of that we begin to understand that if we’re truly going to appreciate and build our audience as assets, we need a leader of audience development. We need a person who can think about this. And it’s only going to benefit the content marketers, because they are going to get broader distribution.

Work in B2B? LinkedIn Can Supercharge Your Personal Brand

Social Media B2B - Thu, 2014-04-10 07:00

Employees at B2B companies know that LinkedIn is the B2B network. It can meet a host of individual and business objectives such as increasing awareness, enhancing SEO, driving website traffic, dripping on prospects and lead generation.

In 2004, when I was running digital marketing for a financial services company, one of my project managers told me he had joined LinkedIn. I asked him what it was. His answer? It’s kind of a digital rolodex that connects people. I didn’t really get it at the time but since I was the guy in charge, and supposed to be leading the digital efforts, how could I not join?

Well, a decade later, I am a believer. LinkedIn is more like a rolodex on steroids and then some.

I’ve used it for all of the things mentioned above, but today I’ll focus on a couple of my favorite tips which helped me become one of LinkedIn’s top 1% most viewed profiles and will help you to supercharge your personal brand.

Start Them Up With Your Summary

Your summary is the first piece of content your profile visitors will see. It’s where you can clearly differentiate yourself from others in your field. What you do in your profession are table stakes. For example, a financial advisor will typically help clients save for retirement, or create financial plans to increase wealth. If every advisor in town does the same thing, how does one rise above the rest? That’s where the summary comes in.

Think of your summary as the place to tell your story. Not in a static resume kind of way, as that’s what the rest of your profile is for, but in a more dynamic and engaging manner. Start by considering simple questions beyond who you are and what you do. What do you stand for? What have you done that’s cool, fun or different? How can you showcase your personality? And why would someone care? Consider what you write as the value proposition of your personal brand. Your value prop separates you from everyone else, so use that to pique your profile visitor’s interest and generate immediate interest in you.

Before you finalize it, consider your keywords. That’s right. Not unlike your website, consider the keywords you want people to find you with – not only via LinkedIn searches, but web searches. Search engines pay attention to LinkedIn profiles and using them as indicators of relevance so choose those keywords carefully and you’ll enhance both your search engine optimization (SEO) and your awareness generation efforts.

Stay Top of Mind with Status Updates

Businesspeople are starting to use the status update feature but there is plenty of room for more. In fact, LinkedIn is allowing people like you and me the opportunity to blog on LinkedIn as another form of status updates.

Status updates appear on the home page of your connections and group members. They can be shared, liked and commented on which will expand your reach even further. Your updates will get noticed if you post enough relevant and engaging content.

To be successful, begin with a content strategy. Decide what you want to post based on your value proposition and what you want to be known for. You can post original content, share other content, curate content – there are a lot of ways to do it, just choose what’s best for you.

I’m a content curator. I research content every day to source content that my network and prospects will find interesting. I schedule my posts a day in advance using HootSuite, and post every two hours starting at 7:00 am. I chose this schedule based on research I did about when my prospects are online and engaging with content. Though I may not get as many views and shares as Jeff Weiner or Richard Branson, I know my content is seen, as I’ll have people stop me in the supermarket asking to chat about something I shared.

Increase awareness, stay relevant, and support your brand with status updates.

What else have you done to supercharge your personal brand on LinkedIn?

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