How B2B Companies Can Use Awards as a Marketing Strategy

Social Media B2B - Thu, 2016-02-04 09:45

B2B companies compete every day for customers, and marketing is one of the ways that they wage that battle. Marketers in all B2B categories try to make their own business stand out from the crowd, to make it shine.

Awards, in any part of society, exist to show others what you are great at. Awards are a validation of your skillset and your trustworthiness. And business is no different.

But being good is not enough any more. You need to be able to prove that you are good.

Enter business awards.

Business awards are not just there to get your business a certificate that you can frame and put on the wall in your office (although that may help motivate your employees). Business awards are there to get your business public validation.

Why you absolutely need validation

Studies show that 70% of consumers claim to look at product reviews before they make a buying decision.

This means that 70% of your potential customers look for third party validation that you can do what you promise you can do. And if they cannot find validation, they will probably not buy anything from you. These 70% are the reason why so many landing pages show customer testimonials.

But testimonials aren’t a way of standing out. Everybody has them. They are only a way of showing that you aren’t too far behind the competition. And they often don’t sound very sincere.

Winning awards is different. Winning an award means that you ran in a competition and came out on top. Showing an award on your web page, marketing brochure or during the checkout process shows your customer that you were evaluated by experts – and that they not only deemed you worthy, but found that you are the best of the best (as cheesy as it may sound).

Awards provide you with social proof, trust seals and third party validation, all at once. But that’s not all.

Awards programs can be like a marketing and PR agency on steroids. Most awards programs run their own PR programs – and they pitch their winners. The story of success that is validated by the shiny awards you can win is a lot more compelling to journalists than your own pitch will ever be.

“But I’m not the best…”

Ok, I get it. Entering a business awards program may seem strange at first. Maybe even a little scary. Competing against others bears the risk of failing, right?

Right, but there is one thing that you need to keep in mind. Every company and every business is great at something. If it’s not, than it may not be in business long.

And this also means that almost every business that exists in this world has a chance of winning awards. Because you are the best, at least at something, then it’s more a matter of finding out what you are the best at.

There are thousands of different business awards programs worldwide. They range from free ones to ones that cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to enter. They range from locally-focused programs to programs that have an international reputation. And they offer many different categories to enroll in. You can win awards for any aspect of business life – from business development to product innovation, from marketing to customer service.

Ok, so you can win… how is that a marketing strategy?

Now, this is the real question. Just entering an awards program and possibly winning is not a marketing strategy. But business awards program can be a very successful marketing strategy!

Here is how you use business awards as a marketing strategy:

Phase 1: Preparations

As I said before, one key element of using business awards programs as a high potential marketing strategy is to identify what you are good at. What aspect of your business can win awards?

But you shouldn’t stop there – because you also need to identify which aspects of your company need third party validation? What you are after is the cross section of what you are great at and what you target audience wants to see validated!

This is not trivial – and it may require some research. Let’s say you have a cloud data storage service and you want more customers signing up. What validation do these customers need from you? It may be one of many different aspects of your business. These are things like data security and privacy, customer service and user experience. The key is that you should know these differentiators before you enroll in business awards programs.

Start researching business awards programs that fit your company, strengths, needs and budget. Make a list, filter it and finally select your first awards program to enroll in.

Phase 2: Enroll

Business awards, like any competition, have rules. Make sure to follow them! Usually you submit a written entry that highlights your strength. Expert judges will then review your application and determine whether you win or lose. Even small things, like going over the maximum wordcount can mean that you are disqualified.

One thing to keep in mind with your application is that you are pitching your business to the juror. Jurors, even though they are experts, like a good story. So tell a compelling story about your business!

Phase 3: Implement the results

Once you have submitted your application, then it’s out of your hands. You may win or lose, that’s not for you to decide any more. But the key to turning business awards into a marketing and business growth strategy is to accept that both of these options hold value. Value for your business.

If you win, great. It’s now time to profit. Stick your winning badge on your website or checkout page. Tell the story on social media. Enjoy the heightened press attention that you get from the press releases of the awards program itself and pitch the story to journalists yourself. Monitor the results. Find out whether the validation you got from this award was worth the effort.

But even if you lose, find out what the problem was! Most business awards programs will give you feedback. Was it your application? Did your story not relate to the juror? Or did the juror identify a flaw in your business?

Implement this feedback for next time. Your chances of success will improve drastically.

Phase 4: Repeat

A marketing strategy isn’t a strategy if you cannot scale it. You need to repeat the process with another awards program. With your results from the last awards program you participated in, the process should become easier. And at a certain point not too far in the future, the benefits will multiply!

Business awards can become your growth strategy, the integral part of your marketing strategy that elevates your business onto the next level.

Are you ready to win?

Content and Social Working Together for B2B

Social Media B2B - Wed, 2016-01-27 07:00

For every B2B marketer out there, content and social should go together like peanut butter and jelly. One cannot live without the other and it’s key for marketers to learn how to both create and curate great content and build a solid social platform from which it can launch.

Here we have a series of articles that go more into depth on the relationship between content and social media and how to build them up together. From scheduling to sourcing, measuring and leveraging, these should give you a good sense of how to juggle the two so they stay in synch.


How B2B CMOs Can Overcome the Content Challenge

From Branding Magazine

B2B content marketing has been a top buzzword for several years, a shiny new object on the marketing horizon, but after countless content conferences, books, and an endless stream of blogs, Slideshares, whitepapers, and videos, some potholes appear in the content fast lane. While there is a lot of spending going on, the number of B2B organizations who feel they are doing an effective job at content marketing is significantly lower to less than a third of all B2B marketers—and more than half aren’t even sure of what success looks like. Read more

How to Build Social Media Into Your Content Marketing Processes

From Content Marketing Institute

For a time, social media and content marketing may have seemed interchangeable, but they are actually quite different. In short, you really can’t have one without the other. In this fourth installment of the Back to Basics series, CMI will outline the basics of developing a content plan for social media, and will also share key elements of CMI’s plan as a working example. Read more

How to Crowdsource Your Blog Content: Tips for Finding and Collaborating with Your Crowd

From HubSpot Blog – Marketing

B2B marketing survives and thrives on the steam engine of content. But it can be hard to fuel that engine with constant inspiration day after day, and week after week. Nonetheless, you’ll still need to produce high-quality blog posts and articles on a regular basis to build credibility and visibility, with 91% of B2B marketers using content marketing and 84% using it to spread brand awareness. How do you keep up? One good answer is crowdsourcing. Read more

Measuring Content Performance for Higher Sales Conversions

From KissMetrics Blog

Analytics are the key to performance optimization. Real-time feedback on what is working empowers us to improve message quality, creative, channel and offers to quickly improve the outcome. Without accurate performance analytics, we’d be back in the Mad Men era of creating content and launching campaigns into a black hole with no idea if they worked. And yet, that is exactly the scenario in which most organizations find themselves today when it comes to content—no ability to measure whether their content has any impact at all. Read more

B2B Inside Sales Teams Leverage Social, Video And Data To Reach Top Prospects

From Demand Gen Report

The image of the B2B sales rep flying around the country to make in-person presentations — followed by long lunches with prospects — is fading. While most experts aren’t predicting the total elimination of B2B field sales reps, leading organizations are using tools such as social data mining, predictive technologies, video emails and more to bolster the success of their inside sales teams. Read more

Alright. So there you go! You should now feel better equipped to maintain a balanced social plan that is chock full of content and receiving positive feedback.


Image Credit: HubSpot

The Ever Changing Landscape of B2B Social Media

Social Media B2B - Tue, 2016-01-19 07:00

One thing we can all count on in this crazy world of ours is change. When it comes to B2B and social media plans, this can be a particularly challenging concept. Adapting and staying on top of this dynamic landscape is hard for an individual, let alone a larger business entity that needs to stay ahead of the curve to capture business leads and close sales. Below are a handful of articles that can equip you with the proper tools to chase leads and get those sales with your social media plan.


8 Ideas for Generating More Qualified B2B Leads on LinkedIn

From Whittington Consulting

According to a study conducted by HubSpot, LinkedIn produces a visitor-to-lead conversion rate of 2.74 percent — that’s 277 percent better than Twitter or Facebook. On top of that, more than 80 percent of B2B leads gathered via all social media efforts combined come from LinkedIn. LinkedIn currently has more than 396 million users, but how can your business take advantage of the platform to earn more leads? Here are 8 ideas you can try to get more traction and generate more leads using LinkedIn. Read More

A 5-Point B2B Digital Marketing Strategy for Engagement and Visibility in 2016

From Business2Community

With a recent survey indicating that 77% of companies increased their digital marketing budgets and trends indicating further rapid growth in 2016, competition for B2B visibility is increasing significantly. And what this means in terms of gaining competitive high ground in crowded B2B markets is the application of stand-out techniques in both new and existing B2B marketing channels. Read More

Are you compelling enough to close?

From Inflexion Point

It’s essential to separate B2B sales opportunities into two categories: inevitable and discretionary. In the first group, the customer is invariably going to buy something within a fairly tightly defined timeframe. The second group is far harder to predict and manage. It’s by no means inevitable that the customer will do anything. They could – and often do – end up sticking with the status quo. Identifying your purchaser and knowing how to represent your product to them will go a long way towards helping you close that sale. Read More

Social Media Works for B2B Sales, Too

From Harvard Business Review

Customers have gotten way ahead of B2B sales efforts. Too often, companies are not even getting invited to the dance. The wealth of information available online for prospective customers has effectively uncoupled buying cycles from selling cycles. Bain & Company recently surveyed 370 sales and marketing executives of large technology or industrial companies. Of this group, half acknowledged that digital marketing and sales channels are significantly changing customer behaviors, yet only 12% feel well prepared for the digital disruption. Read More

5 Smart Metrics To Measure B2B Content Marketing Success

From bizible

According to a recent survey by CMI and MarketingProfs, only 21% of content marketers are able to successfully measure their content marketing in terms of ROI. Seeing that stat is a big wake up call. In what other profession would that be ok? Read More

While these articles are a start to your toolkit, they aren’t the whole package deal. Keep looking forward and keep learning to stay relevant today, tomorrow, and beyond. Hopefully now you at least feel a little more secure in your current plan to tackle B2B social in 2016. If not, at least now you have a little more guidance on reaching success!


Photo credit: Whittington Consulting

10 B2B Social Media Marketing Resolutions for 2016

Social Media B2B - Fri, 2016-01-08 07:00

We are now 8 days into the new year and it is the end of the first work week. Just when you thought all this talk about resolutions was over, here’s another post about it. Gym attendance has already dropped off, but work is just getting started.

It’s always a bit of a slog coming back from a holiday break, but now it’s time to really get yourself energized for some great B2B marketing in 2016. With that in mind, here are some B2B social media marketing resolutions to meet those goals for the year. Oh, and remember that plan you made at the end of the year? It probably has a lot of good ideas in it. The trick is that you have to dig it back out of that drawer and follow it.

1. Establish measurable goals that everyone agrees to.
These are goals that other marketers are also trying to achieve. And yes, there are two parts to this one.

2. Use social media to generate engagement and grow your audience.
More followers is not a goal.

3. If you don’t yet have a blog, start one.
This is the best way to get new customers and serve existing ones.

4. If you have a blog, post one more day a week.
If you are already posting every business day of the week, you can skip this one.

5. Think about social media in the context of lead generation.
It’s what B2B marketers have always been responsible for.

6. Consider calls-to-action a required part of the process.
You can’t drive traffic to landing pages without them.

7. Create a simple metrics dashboard that tracks progress towards your goals.
Excel is ok, but something that lives in a collaborative space is better.

8. Overcommunicate your plans and successes.
Good marketing should be shouted from the rooftops.

9. B2B marketing should be all about your customers.
Don’t focus on your products or services.

10. Be positive, even in the face of adversity.
It’s too easy to get down or be negative when things don’t go your way. Be the shining example. Your co-workers will thank you.

Bonus: Eat better, exercise more, lose weight, spend more time with family and friends.
These will actually help you do your job better. Consider this your pep talk.

Share your own B2B social media marketing resolutions below or on Twitter with the hashtag #B2Bresolutions.

Photo credit: Flickr

Some Help with B2B Social Media for 2016

Social Media B2B - Thu, 2015-12-24 07:00

There’s a lot of information out there about B2B social media. With the internet you can find all the nitty gritty details you never knew you wanted to know. But what about the basics? Sometimes it’s the simple stuff that gets skimmed over and without that essential foundation, your fancy new marketing plan might be left hanging out to dry.

Here we have a small collection of articles to get you prepped and ready to not only implement a social marketing plan, but to act on the referrals and conversions that come in as a result of your hard work. From internal approaches to leadership to fine-tuning your SEO, these posts will give you some guidance on building up from the ground floor.

2016 B2B Digital Marketing R&D Imperative

From Business2Community

Why are today’s savvy CEOs more deeply involved in marketing strategy? We know from prior market research that digital marketing adoption is often the precursor to the creation and execution of a broad corporate-wide digital transformation agenda. As part of a customer webinar series, IDC recently shared their analyst predictions for 2016 and beyond, highlighting key marketing leadership issues that will impact the organizations that have set a goal to digitally transform themselves over the next one to three years. Read more

5 Things You Should Be Doing In Social Media Marketing In 2016

From Forbes – Entreprenuers

What new tactics should brands be leveraging in 2016? Here are five of the top social media efforts that marketing professionals should consider utilizing next year in order to make an impact and better connect with their audiences. Read more

Goodbye Keyword Optimization — Welcome To The Age of Topical Optimization

From SearchEngineLand

Gone are the days of sites producing truckloads of “thin” content of little value. And gone are the days of optimizing any given page for keywords and hoping it will rank. Instead, search engines are looking for authoritative content that is more topically optimized than keyword-optimized. Read more

Infographic: 17 Stats About B2B Referrals You Should Know (But Probably Don’t)

From Influitive

Many marketers and salespeople intuitively believe that referrals are the best leads they can get, and that they generate new business more efficiently as a result. But to what degree is that true for B2B organizations? In a survey of more than 600 B2B professionals from across North America – including sales, marketing, operations and executive leadership looking for the answer– Heinz Marketing’s research uncovered some striking findings about the impact of B2B referrals on sales pipeline and revenue growth. Read more

7 Insightful Questions to Boost Your Conversions

From Kissmetrics

The eCommerce marketplace is competitive. And every SaaS wants to be seen and heard by potential consumers. However, what if I told you that the competition isn’t external, but an internal problem? It’s time for an all-hands-on-deck meeting to correct this issue and here are a few questions your team should discuss to increase conversions today. Read more

Armed with these tools, you should be ready to get that 2016 marketing plan off the ground and on its way to success.


Photo credit: Pexels

B2B Content Marketing Report Reveals Huge Content Gap in 2016

Social Media B2B - Mon, 2015-12-21 07:00

Earlier this fall, the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs released their Content Marketing benchmark report to help B2B content marketers prepare for 2016. As we are wrapping up 2015, this is the perfect time to look at this report.

This study does a great job at revealing the huge content gap between those B2B marketers doing well, and those who are struggling. And the gap appears to be getting wider. Those who are doing well, are even more effective this year. And those who are struggling to figure this whole content marketing thing out are falling further behind.

With this focus on the content gap, let’s look at statistics that show the positive side of things and ones that show the negative. The holidays are a little on my brain and I’m tempted to call this naughty and nice, but that’s not quite the best description of what’s happening.

Overall Effectiveness

Overall: 30% of B2B marketers called their content marketing effective versus 38% last year (Tweet this)
Positive: 64% of the most experienced B2B marketers say their content marketing is effective (Tweet this)
Negative: Only 6% of the most inexperienced B2B marketers say their content marketing is effective (Tweet this)

Understand What Effective Looks Like

Overall: 44% of B2B marketers have clarity in what effective content marketing looks like (Tweet this)
Positive: 79% of the most effective B2B marketers have clarity in what effective content marketing looks like (Tweet this)
Negative: 77% of the least effective B2B marketers lack clarity in what effective content marketing looks like (Tweet this)

Documented Strategy

Overall: Only 32% of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy (Tweet this)
Positive: 53% of the most effective B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy (Tweet this)
Negative: 40% of the least effective B2B marketers have no strategy at all (Tweet this)

More, More, More

Overall: 76% of B2B marketers will produce more content in 2016 than they did in 2015 (Tweet this)
Positive: 73% of the most effective B2B marketers will produce more content in 2016 than they did in 2015 (Tweet this)
Negative: 81% of least B2B marketers will produce more content in 2016 than they did in 2015 (Tweet this)


Overall: 28% of the total B2B marketing budget is spent on content marketing (Tweet this)
Positive: 42% of the total B2B marketing budget is spent on content marketing by those most effective (Tweet this)
Negative: 15% of the total B2B marketing budget is spent on content marketing by those least effective (Tweet this)

Read the whole report for yourself below and to see where your B2B company is in the content gap.

Using Social Media to Remember The Consumer in B2B

Social Media B2B - Wed, 2015-12-09 09:51

Have you ever really thought about your buyer? I mean… REALLY thought about them beyond sales numbers? Sometimes as B2B marketers we can lose sight of the human consumer behind that second B. To remedy this, we can look to our B2C brethren on how to engage the business consumer on a personal level, earning their interest and dollars at the same time. Below is some reading to help you reorient your social to appeal on a B2C level for B2B sales. From emotions to education, SlideShare to WordPress… these articles will give you a deeper insight into B2B consumer behavior. We have also included a round-up of the top influencers in B2B marketing so you can see these tips in action.

The Customer Experience Is Key for B2B Success

From Marketing Land

It’s no secret that delivering a great customer experience is crucial for B2C companies. Columnist Loretta Jones explains why B2B brands need to hop on board and learn how to put the consumer first.

The Tao of B2B Buying Behavior – Why Emotion Trumps Logic

From Great B2B Marketing

The person who is your B2B prospect during the day is someone else’s B2C prospect when off duty. Yet, they have the same desires, interests and motivations. Give them what they want on a personal level and provide the right data, including ROI, to help them justify the purchase decision.

Top Influencers in B2B Marketing

From Marketing Insider Group

Marketing Insider Group analyzed the B2B marketing discussion last year and earlier this year, and wanted to continue with these reports to show how influencer trends map out over time. They took a closer look at the brands and the individuals who are most influential and driving impact in the online debate but this time they separated out the US and the UK brands and individuals.

Tips for Using Imagery in B2B Social Media Marketing

From Hinge Marketing

Many Professional Services Firms are just starting to realize the benefits of social media in terms of growing their brand, which in turn means growing their business. So the question might then become, how to create effective social media? One answer: imagery. Simply put, visual content is just more compelling.

How B2B Companies Can Leverage their WordPress Websites to Drive Content Visibility

From The Content Marketeer

With a strong emphasis on inbound marketing efforts, combined with more viable marketing channels and syndication options, B2B companies are fighting to get their messages into the marketplace and racing to develop content that gains attention and feeds the sales funnel. But all too often, these same organizations are losing fantastic content to a resources page on their website or blog, maybe sharing it out once or twice on social channels, and moving on to the next piece of content. Clearly, there are many missed opportunities here to drive additional engagement with this content—starting with your website.

Creating a successful social media plan is already difficult. Hopefully these articles can help take some of the guesswork out of the equation and get your content on the right track for success.

Photo credit: Flickr

5 Mistakes Every B2B Company Is Making On Facebook

Social Media B2B - Tue, 2015-12-01 07:00

While LinkedIn is often the preferred platform for B2B social media, Facebook can be the difference in the success of your marketing, if done right.

When it comes to B2B marketing, it’s crucial to find how your goals overlap with the functionality of the platform being used. In the case of Facebook, there are a range of opportunities to flip the traditionally B2C platform in your favor.

Keep reading to find out how to get B2B marketing right on Facebook.

1. Not using the Custom Audience feature

You already have a list of contacts built up in your database. Why not put those email addresses to good use and try to find more followers and potential buyers through Facebook? Many B2B businesses miss out on advertising opportunities because they haven’t narrowed down their audience successfully. The Custom Audience feature will help you do this.

The Custom Audiences feature lets you upload your database directly to Facebook. Using Facebook Ads Manager, you can create targeted ads and then send them to your email contacts. Facebook will then match your emailing list against the user accounts currently open. Because so many people use their personal email addresses for social media accounts and shopping accounts, there’s a good chance that your contacts use the same address for Facebook.

You can also reach out to new customers by creating a similar audience to your already existing Custom Audience. This is a great way to find new customers who are demographically similar to your current customers. Remember, not everyone wants to be your customer, so do your best to avoid marketing to those who have no interest in your company.

2. Letting posts get too sales-y

Getting people to like your page is one thing; getting them to stick around and interact with your posts is another. Some B2B marketers believe that posting on Facebook isn’t as important or necessary so long as you have those fans, but in reality, your posts say a lot about you as a company.

Your posts need to be engaging while providing industry-related information to your customers. This is how you show them that your company isn’t just about selling products and services. You care about your customers and you care about educating them. By showing them that you know your industry and will provide them with up-to-date information, you’re illustrating your company’s professionalism as well as its superior customer relations.

That’s not to say that you can never post any self-promotional material on Facebook, but remember the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your content should be useful blogs, articles, infographics, videos and other useful pages from third parties. The remaining 20 percent can be about your own promotions.

Remember this rule when your posting, and your customers will be more likely to interact with your posts. They’ll also appreciate not being bombarded with sales pitches.

3. Forgetting to tag or mention people

When you post from your own Facebook account, do you tag people in your posts or mention places that you’ve recently visited? If so, then why aren’t you doing this with your B2B Facebook posts?

Social media is all about creating dialogues and connecting with customers. Tagging well-known industry experts brings them into the conversation and offers readers new perspectives. Tagging your own followers is a great way to interact with customers and make them feel appreciated by your brand. Doing so gives readers more of an incentive to comment on your posts if they think you might answer them back.

Facebook’s tag and mention options allow you to pull people into your conversation and make them feel included. This is a great way to involve your customers and get them talking with you.

For example, a higher education institution might tag a student who was recently nominated for an award in his or her field and offer a hearty congratulations. This gets followers talking and shares the good news with other who might not be aware.

4. Focusing on selling rather than generating leads

One of the biggest misconceptions about Facebook marketing is that it’s all about selling, selling, selling. If you’re not generating sales from your Facebook marketing endeavors, then you’re doing something wrong.

The truth is Facebook just isn’t a good marketplace for selling your products and services. Facebook and other social media platforms are about building solid customer relationships and improving your brand. People come to Facebook to talk, not to shop, so if you’re focusing on getting people to buy your products on Facebook, then you may be wasting your time.

Facebook can be one of the most useful tools for generating great leads and nurturing them. By capturing email addresses, you build your database and expand your reach to new customers. Once you have them, you can begin marketing directly to them through Facebook.

As your leads become more invested, you can pass them on to your sales team and turn them from a lead to a valuable customer.

5. Ignoring metrics data

Recently, Facebook updated its Ads Manager, giving it a whole new look that was a little overwhelming for some. The main page now gives you a plethora of data telling you how successful your ads are. If you’re ignoring this data, then your campaigns probably won’t improve, and you won’t know what works and what doesn’t.

To help you better manage your budget, Facebook now lists your total spent over the course of the week at the top of the Ads Manager page. Now you can keep better tallies on your expenses and make sure you don’t go over your budget.

There are a number of ways to break down your campaigns, ad sets and ads so you can better see their successes and weak points. Don’t be afraid to click around and pull up new reports. It may be hard to track your ROI through Facebook marketing, but looking at your metrics is a good place to start.

Improve Your B2B Social Media Planning without a Mind Reader

Social Media B2B - Tue, 2015-11-24 10:38

Have you ever wished for a crystal ball so you could gaze deeply into the thoughts and needs of your customers? Sometimes B2B social media can feel like playing Go Fish with only half the deck. You’ve only got a dolphin and all they ever want is a shark. Nobody wins… much less your business. Luckily we have some articles here that can help you cut through the miasma of uncertainty and build a successful B2B social plan without employing a psychic.

Conducting a Social Media Audit

From Harvard Business Review
Social media marketing is not about completely giving up all control of the brand, but changing methods to maintain influence in the new consumer-controlled social media reality. The social media audit tool helps marketers make sense of the many opportunities these platforms offer by allowing marketers to see their brands from the perspective of the consumer. Read more

What B2B Marketers Can Learn About Buyers Without Trying Too Hard

From KO Marketing
People don’t always tell you what they’re thinking. In personal relationships, we use body language, tone of voice, micro expressions, actions, and other intangibles to infer someone’s perspective, attitude, intent, and desires. Business relationships rely on some of the same data points but are often distanced from targets and customers by geography, station (status in the food chain of the individual with final say-so) and decision-making protocols like RFP docs, requisition requests, and other confounding red tape. The separation between key stakeholders and those of us trying to escort them along the buyer journey presents some challenges. Separation may mean not knowing what matters most to a buyer, ending in our failure to deliver. There are ways we can learn about our prospects and buyers to improve opportunities for consideration and conversion. Read more

Making Content Marketing, Email and Social Media Work in Harmony for Your Small Business

From Vertical Response
Content marketing, email, and social marketing are each powerful tools for communicating with consumers and building your business. However, doing only one or two of these tactics isn’t going to get the job done. You need to do each well and ensure you’re using them in concert with each other. Read more

How to Overcome Objections to Get Your Company to Invest in B2B Inbound Marketing

From HubSpot – Marketing
A lot of marketing budget rejection can feel demoralizing. You may start to wonder if your company even believes in the power of marketing. The truth is that they may not. A 2014 study by The Fournaise Group found that 90% of marketers are not trained in marketing performance and marketing ROI. The same study says that 80% of marketers struggle to demonstrate the business effectiveness of their marketing activities to their top management. By taking the following recommendations, you’ll be able to build inbound marketing campaigns that your leadership will fall over themselves to fund. If you don’t already have much of a budget, then you may have to start small, but this should get you going in the right direction. Read more

How to Start Your Social Marketing Plan for 2016

From SimplyMeasured
It can be tough to plan the new year’s strategy for your brand on social, weeding through all your great ideas and trending concepts or coming up with new ones if you’re feeling a tad depleted — but we’ve got a fine place to start right here. Read more

As you can see, you hold the power to transforming your B2B social presence. With these tools and insights, you should be able to not only get started on a solid social plan for 2016 but also get some of that much needed buy-in from upstairs to support it.

Image Source: Harvard Business Review

How to Suck at B2B Social Media and More Thoughts on Engagement

Social Media B2B - Thu, 2015-11-12 07:00

The B2B chatter of late is around the evolving social media landscape and how to figure out if your engagement strategy is working. Is your focused Facebook campaign falling flat? Not sure why your B2B blog just isn’t working? Never fear. We have a slew of articles that can help you through the process of measuring the success of your campaign, realigning your approach, common social pitfalls, and some quick tips on how to get your content back on track.

 Channel Shift: Measuring B2B Efforts to Shift Customers Online

From Accenture 
A new study from Accenture Interactive finds that 68% of B2B buyers purchased goods or services online in 2014. According to the firm, resistance to change from long-term buyers is the top challenge standing in the way of online growth for B2B organizations.

How B2B CMOs Can Achieve Customer-Centric Marketing With Buyer Personas

From Tony Zambito
A recent survey by B2B Marketing, in conjunction with the UK-based agency Tomorrow People, indicated only 38% of marketers considered their content to be “very customer-centric” and 50% or more of marketers have not engaged in researching and creating buyer personas for their marketing efforts. Although the concept of buyer personas were founded nearly 14 years ago, these surveys show that the maturity of buyer persona development as a means to achieve customer-centric B2B marketing has some ways to go.

How To Suck At Social Media: An Indispensable Guide For Businesses

From Occam’s Razor
Take a seat for this one; it’s a long but solid read. The assumption is: Big Social Audiences + Big Pimping = Big Social Profits. This post looks at each social network to see what B2B and B2C brands are doing there today and from that draw lessons as to:

  1. If your business should be on that network, and…
  2. If yes, what should your content (and marketing) strategy be.
Twitter, Facebook and the likes won’t necessarily help you sell more. Here’s why.

From Financial Post
Social media has been in our professional lives for more than a decade and, according to Dave Burnett, the verdict is in when it comes to the tool’s utility for small to medium-sized businesses. Put simply, social media doesn’t help most business-to-business (B2B) focused SMBs boost sales.

How to Make Your B2B Content More Lovable: 9 Tips to Try

From Hubspot – Marketing
More B2B blogs are nailing it and putting forth the level and quality of content that B2B readers truly crave … but there is still progress to be made. Neil Patel has assembled this list of tips that can help you bring your B2B content up to the next level.

Take some time to marinate over these ideas and insights and you’ll be feeling better about your own strategy in no time.

Image Source: Hubspot

5 B2B Social Media Hacks to Increase Click Through Rates

Social Media B2B - Wed, 2015-10-28 06:00

The digital, social and mobile revolution has changed the world we live in. And not just our world, but that of our prospects as well.

There are now 2 million blog posts shared every single day, so getting your prospects to click-through to your content has become one of the toughest challenges B2B marketers face.

Social media is one of the most effective content promotion tools, allowing B2B marketers to drive their prospects’ attention to their website. But in order to do that, social media posts need to be engaging. And we have all read boring content from B2B companies.

Here are five hacks that will help you increase your click through rates on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

1. Use Hashtags

Hashtags are a great way to improve the visibility of your posts on social media.

Growing your social following organically is crucial to building brand awareness and finding new business opportunities. Hashtags allow people within your niche to find your content.

Most industries have their own specific hashtags that you can use to attract a relevant audience to your posts. Find out which hashtags your audience are using and experiment with them to see which ones attract the most readers.

2. Monitor Analytics

As with any element of marketing, checking your analytics will help you find out what works and what doesn’t, with your target audience.

Keeping track of key metrics will give you insight into how people are engaging with your posts. Understanding the language that resonates with your audience will help you tweak your posts to maximise click-through rates.

3. Use Great Images

Adding high quality, engaging images to your posts will help them rise above the noise on people’s timelines. This is one of the most effective ways of grabbing people’s attention, but as it’s not so much a secret, it’s important that you use great images.

Your images should be high resolution, relevant to the content you are posting, and in-keeping with your brand. There are a number of sites that offer free, high quality images for use on social media such as Death to Stock and Fancy Crave. These professional images will set your posts apart from the competition.

4. Post at Peak Times (and More Frequently)

Posting throughout the day when your audience are more likely to be online will result in more clicks.

Different studies show different results for when the best times to post are, as there are so many variables involved. It’s best to experiment and find out when your audience are more likely to click through to your posts.

You can use your social analytics to find out at what times your posts receive higher interaction, and Facebook insights even tells you what times most of your followers are usually online.

Posting your content more than once is also important, as your audience will be online at different times. Be careful not to post too often though, or you might appear spammy.

5. Use the Article Title

Good copywriters know that headlines make users click. You could spend hours creating the greatest content in your niche, but if the headline doesn’t sell it, nobody is going to read it.

This fundamental rule of clickable headlines also applies to clickable social media posts. Posts with higher click through rates tend to be short, include a superlative and often include numbers. Using your compelling titles will lead to more social clicks.

If you have other hacks to increase your click-through rates, share them below or on Twitter.

Photo credit: Flickr

34 Ways to Optimize B2B Content to Drive Traffic and Conversion

Social Media B2B - Thu, 2015-10-22 09:01

Content creation and sharing is critical in today’s online world. Informative B2B content can build awareness, help your business connect with your audience, enhance existing customers’ awareness, and bring in new customers.

At the same time, “more” is not always equivalent to “better.” The wise content marketing practitioner should optimize content to make it more search-friendly, user-friendly, and conversion-friendly.

MarketingProfs’ Dan Gorgone shared his wisdom on this very subject during MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum. Check out his actionable advice about optimizing B2B content.

Make your content useful for Google and for people

Start by developing a content marketing plan. Your plan should cover everything from the audience you want to reach to the topics you want to focus on to the types of content you will create from your initial concepts.

When you’re ready to create content, here is a list of writing basics:

  1. Avoid grammar errors and typos – How you write matters as much as what you write.
  2. Optimize content for Google – Check out Google Webmaster Guidelines.
  3. Remember your audience – Create content for both people and search engines. Keywords are important, but if your content doesn’t read naturally or contain useful information, it will not be effective.
  4. Link within and outside of your site – Linking to content adds value and helps your get found. The text within a link should be a short description of what you are linking to.
  5. Text length helps determine a page’s value – 500-1500 is optimal for search engines and readers.
  6. Make it scannable – Use bullet lists, headers, short sections, and relevant text to make website content more readable.
  7. Podcasts – 15-20 minutes is a good average length for a podcast (though you might go longer for more in-depth value). Note that you shouldn’t feel like once you start podcasting you have to do so forever. You can develop a podcast series (e.g., 6 episodes) and then take a break.
  8. eBooks – Reuse content from your blog and other sources to create eBooks. Once you post them, make sure you provide HTML content as well as the PDF or they won’t be searchable. Looking for some eBook samples to emulate? Look at what MailChimp or Glance Networks does.
  9. Presentations – Share remarks from events and workshops in slide decks and post them to SlideShare for an added traffic booster.
Visual engagement is key

Today’s audience is visually oriented. Whether you are talking static images, intricate graphics, recorded interaction, or live interaction, visual engagement is a must.

  1. Include at least one picture in your posts – When people share your content, make it easy for them to automatically include your eye-catching imagery in their posts.
  2. Don’t bury text inside visuals – Create HTML content to go with your visual pieces or they won’t be searchable. For example, type out an excerpt from your video or describe your infographic.
  3. Video done right captures audience interest – Keep most of your videos short – 3 minutes or less. Then intersperse longer videos if you want to take a deeper dive into a particular subject. Not sure where to start? Take a look at other companies who do video marketing well.
  4. Infographics are an instant hit – Infographics can be an extremely engaging way to capture your audience, making facts and figures more easily digestable. Not a graphic artist? Try Canva – a super easy graphics creation tool – to get you started.
  5. Keep it small – Reduce graphic file sizes to shorten website page load time.
  6. Include about live engagement – Webinars, presentations, and product walk-throughs are excellent for answering more detailed product questions or providing thought leadership. Consider using a cobrowsing or screen sharing tool for your live visual engagement efforts.
Ensure the back end is helping you

You may not be a programmer or an HTML expert, but there are some basics that every content marketer should be aware of.

  1. Robots.txt tells search engines what not to index (e.g., shopping carts, process pages).
  2. Noindex line of code tells search engines not to index a page (e.g., for the end of a process or conversion).
  3. 301 redirect sends people to a new page that is replacing a previously existing page.
  4. Canonical tag is good to use if you have multiple copies of a page and you want to assign SEO value to one of the pages (for instance, if you are doing A/B testing).
  5. XML sitemap helps Google to understand the structure of your site and define sitelinks.
  6. Rich snippets improve the look of search results and add specific details.
  7. Google Data Highlighter helps you highlight specific data.
  8. Your post’s URL should clearly state what the content of your article discusses.
  9. The title and description of your page should include keywords in a natural manner.
  10. Header tags are critical for creating a logical structure for the content on your page. Keep your headers reasonable short and to the point so they can be easily scanned.
Share content – and make it sharable

Once you’ve created your content, it’s time to share it!

  1. Make every page on your website impactful – Each page should drive traffic to your site.
  2. Leverage the power of all your channels – Social channels, email, newsletters, blog posts – use whatever you have in your arsenal to share website pages.
  3. Don’t post the same text on every social channel – Modify each post for each platform.
  4. Post multiple times via social media – Pull out your older yet still relevant pieces and post them. Post the same link several times during the week. Your audience is not always reading everything you post. Repetition gives them a chance to catch up.
  5. Add social media sharing buttons to your pages – If you don’t make it easy for your audience to share your content, they won’t.
  6. Look at social media from the audience’s point of view – Think about whether your social updates are helpful, valuable, easy to share, and unique.
Don’t forget your end goal

Driving traffic to your site is all well and good, but if you can’t convert any of it into business, you’re doing something wrong. That’s why a crucial step in optimizing content is making sure that the purchasing or sign-up processes are as painless as possible.

Here are some thoughts for how to achieve that goal:

  1. Test for ease of navigation – Give a partner a goal to accomplish on your site and see how easy or hard it is for him or her to complete it.
  2. Keep in mind the various stages of your buyer’s journey as you plan out your content. For example, during the discovery stage customers will ask, “What is this and why is it important to me?” During the consideration stage, customers might ask, “Why should I use you instead of your competitor?”
  3. Make it easy for customers to access content – Don’t hide all your content behind forms or you will erode customer trust.
Ongoing content optimization

I recognize that that’s a lot of steps to keep in mind. However, you should remember that optimizing content is a team effort. Include social, graphics, editorial, dev, data, finance, sales, and more in your process.

As you continue to create fantastic, optimized content, don’t forget to monitor the performance of your pieces so you’ll know what works and what doesn’t. While there are no guaranteed top rankings, if you continually work to optimize your content, you’ll be in excellent shape.

Photo credit: Flickr

The Most Effective B2B Content Types for Each Funnel Stage

Social Media B2B - Tue, 2015-10-20 06:00

I just came across a survey from Regalix from earlier this year, and published by eMarketer, that asked B2B marketers to indicate which content types are most effective at each stage of the funnel. I have long maintained that marketers need to envision a content funnel that sits next to the buyer’s funnel and matches each stage with appropriate content. This survey makes me happy because now we have some broader responses of exactly what types of content should be paired up with each stage.

Compare your own data to this survey data to see if your effectiveness numbers match these content types. If you are looking to shore up certain parts of your funnel, try using these tactics to do so.

The survey consisted of 285 senior marketing executives and business leaders. 72% were from North America. The most common titles were manager (40%), director (27%) and VP (17%), so these really were marketing leaders.

1. Awareness

Social Media (83%)
Blog Posts (81%)
Infographics (81%)

This is the top of the funnel. It’s where most content marketers live. Social media, blogs and infographics are all content types with wide reach. Blog posts are the perfect type to solve prospects’ problems and social media helps with the distribution. Infographics are easily shared on social media and can drive people back to your site to learn more about you.

2. Consideration

White Papers (78%)
Website (75%)
Web-based Events (72%)

Buyers are narrowing their search down to a handful of vendors, so they want to know how your products or services will solve their problems. It is at this stage where they will learn enough to reach out to your company after reviewing your content. This content gets more specific. White papers show a point of view of your B2B company and how you address problems. Websites are the tried and true method of getting product information. And web-based events let you show off your subject matter experts and your partners. This is a good way for buyers to determine company fit.

3. Purchase

Website (56%)
Case Studies (47%)
Research Reports (39%)
Video (39%)

Purchase is where the rubber hits the road from a content perspective. Some of this content is passed on from the sales team as they are dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s to close the deal. Senior executives indicate that the website is still the most effective content type to help at this stage. That one doesn’t sit so well with me. If prospects are still going to your website this late in the funnel, they have some unanswered questions. You need to find out what those are. The rest of these make sense. Case studies show other customers with their problems solved. Research reports, especially those of the analyst variety, can help justify a decision when a buyer is almost there. And finally video is a great medium to see your people and your customers talk about your products and services. That’s what this stage is all about: your products and services.

4. Loyalty

Newsletters (50%)
Social Media (39%)
Email (36%)
Mobile (36%)
Web-based Events (36%)

Once you have converted a prospect to a customer, it is time to keep them informed and happy. Newsletters and email keep them informed about the latest activities, product updates and relevant information. Social media points them to the most important content you are sharing. Mobile is a relevant content type as more executives spend more time on their smartphones. Web-based events are not usually conducted for customers, so this one surprises me being so high.

5. Advocacy

Social Media (47%)
Blog Posts (33%)
Videos (33%)

When your best customers become advocates for your company, brand and products, social media is the best way to communicate that advocacy. Both for them and for you. Blog posts also seem like a great way to share their love for your products and services. And of course, these are the ones who are tapped to speak in customer videos, so this makes a lot of sense as an effective tactic.

When you review the complete chart below, note that when there was duplication (social media sites vs. social media posts, blogs vs. blog posts) I took the higher performing content type.

Photo credit: Flickr

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