Build a Better Buyer Experience with Marketing Content #cmworld

September 9, 2011 by  
Filed under B2B, B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Online Marketing

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ardath albeeOne of the sessions I was most looking forward to at Content Marketing World was one given by Ardath Albee @ardath421 CEO of Marketing Interactions (blog) and Author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale.

It’s one thing to create a content marketing strategy, it’s another thing to execute it in a way that works out the way you planned.

Buyer experience is important! 43.7% of buyers say they’re taking more time to research purchases. (DemandGen Report) Each person receives 5,000 messages each day (and that stat is 2 years old) imagine what it is today. The amount of information that confronts each person online every day is overwhelming, so people begin to shut down or become better filters of information.

66% of buyers say the vendor’s website influenced their purchase decision (DemandGen Report). However, a problem exists when people SEO their website content so much that it’s not a compelling or useful user experience. Being found doesn’t mean much if the content doesn’t engage prospects.

Content is marketing currency

Attention is a capacity to maintain selective or sustained concentration. Instead of chasing a quantity of fans, friends and followers, focus on creating the best match between brand and social connections. Look at metrics like time on site, return visits, CTR on calls to action vs only how many Twitter followers or Facebook fans there are.

  • Cursory Attention: I might be interested
  • Misleading Attention: Thinking of your content but also 10 other things
  • Voluntary Attention: Every time I read their stuff I learn something useful. You need to cultivate these connections. They will not become buyers unless their attention becomes:
  • Intentional Attention: This information will help me solve a problem I’m dealing with. I wonder what else they can help me with…

The only way to guide prospects through these levels of attention is if you connect your content marketing to guide them through the experience.

Most marketers focus on pre marketing qualified leads and do not nurture. Most prospects don’t contact vendors until they’ve formed their shortlist.

The buying cycle starts with interest and attention, but it’s no longer a proper funnel. Especially in the middle where other people from the buying committee are brought in. Then it narrows again as the shortlist is narrowed.

B2B Buying Process: Status Quo, Priority, Research, Options, Step Back, Validation, Choice

Buyer Experience Funnel: Interest, Attention, Value, Engagement, Buying Committee Involvement, Conversation, Purchase

Ardath is big on marketing automation. Software is critical for nurturing and handling scale.

A key question when developing a content marketing strategy is: “What could cause the prospect to kill the deal?” When the buyer committee members that have not been involved in the buying process come in and start asking questions. When executing our content strategy, we need to have answers to those questions and potential objections. We need to empower the buyer champion so they can provide confidence to their peers.

The secrets to a better buyer experience:  Questions, Conversations & Stories

Questions initiate conversations. When prospects initiate their search for a solution, they often search. It’s essential to understand the overlay between Buyer Experience and Buying Stage. Anticipate corresponding Buyer Questions. Think of the questions your prospects will have in the varying stages of their experience and the stages they go through during the process.

Those questions will help you formulate meaningful content that stimulates conversations with prospects. Content can Simulate sales dialog, ask/answer questions and counter objections. Always remember what you want the prospect to do next.

The story companies tell:

Beginning: You need our products, we’re the leading provider
Middle: Look at our feeds and speeds. You looked – you want to buy?
End: FUD – You’ll perish without us. We can beat that price.

A lot of companies tell this story and nobody cares. Compare it to:

Beginning: We know the buyer. We educate the buyer that there’s a problem. Pain escalates.
Middle: The buyer seeks a resolution. They will encounter obstacles, so help them. They will seek to find expertise (hopefully yours).
End: Overcome challenges. Solve the problem. Buyer is the hero.

It’s not about your company. It’s about the buyer.

Content that builds a better buyer experience:

Education: Where, What, When, Why How (not about the product, about the problem that they’re solving)

Expertise: Industry Trends, Methodology, Strategic Insights, Futuristic. (Add your take on general trends – what does this mean to your customers and what they care about) Show that you have more to offer than the product. Are you a partner or a vendor? Give enough actionable information for prospects to implement and see an effect so they come back for the “rest of it”.

Evidence: Customer Stories, Analysts, Earned Media, Reputation, Credibility. Build trust – people buy from people they trust.

Mix up your format choices because it’s not so much the format, but the content.

Content Hubs Keep You On Track and help you get the most out of your content. Example: Webinar

Pre Event:

  • Registration page
  • Email invites
  • Tweets
  • LinkedIn
  • Press Release
  • BlogPosts

Post Event:

  • Slideshare
  • Email Archive Link
  • Q & A Blog Post
  • White Paper
  • Article Series
  • Podcast(s)

Build in Momentum Accelerators

  • Connected Content
  • Follow-on Offers
  • Calls to Action
  • Conversational Takeaways

If you answer a question with your content, make sure there’s a takeaway. This is how you get your ideas in conversations where you’re not present. If you can do that, you can facilitate the sales process.

This session was rich with great ideas and I wish I’d been able to get a few of the process and content hub slides. However, I did capture a ton of information as you’ve read above. The practical approach and attention to approaching content from a customer needs perspective.

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Build a Better Buyer Experience with Marketing Content #cmworld |

Intel Inside Out: How to Globalize Your Editorial Planning #cmworld

September 8, 2011 by  
Filed under B2B, B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Online Marketing

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Pam Didner IntelDay one of Content Marketing World was a great mix of catching up with old friends, making new ones and of course, great content. On the BtoB track I sat in on a session including speakers with two different presentations from SAS and Intel. Since they were so different, I split them into 2 posts. This is part two of that session.

Speaker: Pam Didner @pdidner Global Integrated Marketing Manager, Intel
Presentation: Intel Inside Out: How to Globalize Your Editorial Planning

Pam’s presentation covered her journey over the past year and a half to “try” and globalize Intel’s editorial planning.

Intel’s 2011 Marketing Objectives and Strategy:
– Objective: Increase Intel’s brand relevance
– The Hero (Product):  Intel Core Processors (i3, i5, i7)
– Audience: IT Managers
– Communications Strategy: Signal business advantages, Stimulate interests, Engage with IT.

The challenge is engagement, because Intel is an ingredient brand. Consumers cannot touch or feel their product directly, so how is Intel supposed to engage? Intel promotes with new product launches but afterwards, their promotion machine “goes dark” – no engagement.

Social and Search are rewriting the rules of audience engagement.

A Scalable Editorial Planning Process

The Holy Grail: Tight collaboration between HQ (Corporate Marketing) and the Geo (Geo is how Intel defines areas of business in other parts of the world)

1. Prioritize countries and topics (HQ w/geo feedback)
2. Finalize editorial timeline (HQ)
3. Create Geo editorial collatoral (HQ + Geo)
4a. Create topics marketing kit (HQ)
4b. Craft engagement plan (Geo)
5. Share engagement results (Geo)
6. Refine Editorial Planning, Marketing Kit (HQ w/geo feedback)

Once you develop a list of topics, you can consolidate, especially at a higher level.

Global Editorial Calendar:
Planned topics, Product launches
Geos should have the discretion at to which topics they want to focus on.

Real-time marketing is great, but planning is also very important. At Intel, the Global Editorial Calendar is established 6 months in advance.

Who owns content, Headquarters or Geographies? The answer is, “it depends”. For a small company, it might make more sense for the Geo to control content. For a big company like Intel, HQ needs to drive content, but with Geo collaboration.

Topic Maketing Kit
– What’s the Intel story? What does Intel have to say about the topic? (Legal approved)
Geos can take that story, copy and paste as they need to.
– Messaging and positioning: Long and short form, sound bites
– Search terms – what are the search phrases relevant and popular to the topic?
– A list of content pieces – Case studies, webinar, social media conversation guide

The kit is pretty comprehensive for the Geo it’s created for.

HQ creates the top level content but the Geos are responsible for localizing and marketing execution.

Topic Marketing Kit is the Hub, surrounded by engagement tactics: Search Optimization, Targeted Ads, Public Realtions, Landing Pages, Local Marketing, Direct Marketing, Co-Marketing

Key Learnings from Intel:
– There’s a long lead time necessary for producing a Topic Marketing Kit (12-14 weeks). Three topics is ideal.
– Get up and personal with all Geos. There need to be clear roles and responsibilities between HQ and the Geos
– Content is King and creative is the Queen. That means storytelling with simple creative that is headline driven. If you use people shots, understand you’ll need to customize for the region. Try to create compelling content that does not require a lot of customization.

The Geo’s job is to create an implementation plan and to execute, measure results.

– Getting Geos to customize content is difficult.
– How do you scale an editorial board to 5 geos? For U.S. the editorial board is working, but getting it to scale globally is not – yet.
– The marketing kit takes 12-14 weeks, so good luck with “real-time” marketing. When PR monitors social media and reaches out in certain situations, that’s real time marketing. But for marketing to monitor for opportunities and to react in a global fashion, it’s a lot more difficult.

These were some great Global or International Content Marketing insights from Pam. I think this is a huge area of growth as content marketing becomes a bigger part of mainstream online marketing in international markets.

Pam showed her quick wit and sense of humor when the projector showed double images, her reaction was that this was a 3D presentation and that we should have brought our 3D glasses.  :)  Great job Pam!

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Intel Inside Out: How to Globalize Your Editorial Planning #cmworld |

B2B & Social Media, Not As Different As You Think: Autodesk, Caterpillar at #DF11

September 1, 2011 by  
Filed under B2B, B2B Marketing, B2B social media, Online Marketing, Social Media

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B2B Social MediaOne of the big questions in the social media marketing space is whether social media is the place for B2B marketing. As companies begin to understand for every B2B company, there’s also a “C” aka people behind the business (@garyvee).

Once B2B companies realize that buyers discover, consume and share information on social channels just like any other “human” they seek to understand how social participation and marketing fits.

The session, “B2B Social Media: Not As Different As You Think” at Dreamforce in San Francisco aimed to help answer that question with presentations from three B2B Social Media Marketing practitioners. The speakers included: Gordon Evans from, Brian Stokoe from Caterpillar, and Maura Ginty from Autodesk.

Godon did introductions and opened things up with an audience poll, asking how many people were on Twitter, blog and have a social strategy.

First up is Maura Ginty from Autodesk, Senior Manager of Strategy and Innovation. Autodesk provides 3D software for architecture, engineering, manufacturing and entertainment industries. Maura has initiated search and social media programs at Autodesk. If you’ve sat in a building, used a product or watched a movie, you’ve probably been touched by Autodesk software.

How did Audodesk start with social media? Starting with individual tactics, they wanted to look at social a bit differently. They use a multiple hub and spoke model. Social Media Vision in the long term is to foster social media innovations.  This isn’t just in marketing, but across the organization.

The focus is social from product to marketing to sales and went experimental with 20 people to over 100 and a more formal social strategy in 2 years.  They added social features into a consumer product, they monitor Twitter for customer service opportunities and engage with a community on Facebook with over 500,000 fans.

Social isn’t about shouting, it’s about “answering the phone” from your customers

Next up is Brian Stokoe from Caterpillar who is responsible for all public facing social media there. Caterpillar has over 100,000 employees and revenues of over $40 billion. They have 24 brands and over 20 customer industry segments, so there is a diversity of considerations for how they participate on the social web.

Caterpillar started by creating a social presence on sites like Facebook and Twitter, which worked well because people familiar with the brand expected them there. But they had to take a step back and start to consider the variety of needs for their different customer segments. Previously, they would promote a message to Facebook, but that wasn’t necessarily relevant to all customer groups.

They look at each customer segment and decide what mix of social presence is appropriate: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Forums, etc. vs. publishing one destination for the whole company. By creating unique social destinations for each segment, Caterpillar better serves it’s customers with relevant information and experience.

Q and A on B2B Social Media:

Neither Brian or Maura are part of PR and Communications departments, which is in contrast with how social media is governed in most organizations. Maura mentioned that Autodesk social media efforts worked with PR from the start.

Brian mentioned one of the customer segments his social media efforts addresses are the the audience for PR and that Caterpillar has embraced PR use of social monitoring and engagement.

Gordon: Are your goals at your company to empower all employees to be ambassadors for your company?

Maura: We want to tap into that enthusiasm. We have guidelines for participation. It helps you

Brian: It goes back to the policy we have for employees regarding social media. We want employees to show their expertise, be smart about disclosure and proprietary information. On centralized sites like Facebook or Twitter, the expectation is that the message of Caterpillar be managed through a company spokesperson. But when it comes to forums, employees can jump in as appropriate.

Gordon: What’s a good listening strategy for B2B?

Maura: The first thing you can list for are brand keywords. What’s happening with the brands and other identifiers like the tasks prospects want to complete. There’s some back and forth between what words customer are using and how you want to be known for. Understanding the how customers see things is important.

Brian: With Caterpillar, there were challenges because of “cat” and “Caterpillar” meaning different things.  As for listening, attention is paid to the differences in customer segments.

Gordon: Do you monitor your competitors?

Brian: Yes

Maura: If you’re going to listen, why not listen to the industry?

Gordon: What are you measuring?

Brian: We have an extensive metrics program. We look at it as a value funnel. We gather info for awareness and put some context to it to identify value. As the interactions get further down the buying funnel, that’s where the rubber hits the road. It’s important to tie social media metrics to business objectives, not just reputation.

Maura: Our social media center of excellence collaborates to determine what we should measure.

Gordon: How important is your video strategy as a B2B company?

Brian: For us yes, much of what we do is very visual. One thing we’ve identified is that there’s no reason to re-create the wheel with video hosting – people watch videos on YouTube, so that’s what we use.

Maura: We determined that YouTube was a great place for use to participate through Net Promoter score. We have almost 14 million views on YouTube so far.

Brian: A lot of organizations come from a world of high video production and we’ve found authenticity is more important. Actual experiences and the rugged reality of using our product better connects with the audience.

Gordon: Can you give advice on how to evolve your channel or dealers through social media propgrams?

Maura: We include them in social media training. There’s more work to do there

Brian: Dealers are a critical part of Caterpillar. They carry their own brand in dealing with customers. It’s important to us that dealers have training and guidelines so customers have a congruent experience.

Audience Q: Do you actively pursue and engage key influencers?

Brian: Yes, especially in forums who help out. Whether it’s tossing them a CAT hat or publicly recognizing them, we strive to keep them involved.

Audience Q: How did you segment social media efforts by customer segment?

Brian: I borrowed somewhat from an Enterprise strategy that had similar considerations for the differences in customer groups.

There was more Q & A but I needed the time to wrap up this post so I’d have time to work on the morning keynote post.  A great session overall and good insights into how B2B companies have actually implemented social strategies in their companies. Along the lines of this topic, here are a few good posts that share specific resources for B2B social media: infographicsreports.

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B2B & Social Media, Not As Different As You Think: Autodesk, Caterpillar at #DF11 |

B2B Marketing Best Practices – MarketingSherpa 2011 Handbook

June 9, 2011 by  
Filed under B2B, B2B Marketing, Online Marketing

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MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing Advanced Handbook 2011

B2B Marketing Best Practices 2011

We’ve been fans of MarketingSherpa reports, guides and handbooks for many years, recently reviewing their SEO Benchmark Report for 2011. As passionate B2B Marketers, we’re always on the lookout for qualitative information to improve our B2B client marketing as well as our own. That’s why I’m pretty motivated by the new 2011 B2B Marketing Advanced Practices Handbook from MarketingSherpa.

Led by Senior Research Analyst, Jen Doyle, this Handbook is nearly 200 pages of research based best practices, graphs, worksheets and of course, their FUEL Methodology for elevating B2B Marketing effectiveness. Here’s a rundown of the report:

According to MarketingSherpa, the top concerns of B2B Marketers revolve around getting more value and revenue out of limited resources – all in a fast paced world of increasing competition. Prioritizing resources for maximum impact is critical and MarketingSherpa has developed a methodology called, FUEL that works as a blueprint for B2B Marketing success.

Here’s what the FUEL acronym stands for:

F: Find and attract leads – Strategy to personas to tactical plan.
U: Uncover qualified leads – Lead scoring, nurturing and management.
E: Establish automated marketing processes – Automate for efficiency and scale.
L: Lift results – Continuous improvement and C-Level reporting.

MarketingSherpa provides a model for B2B Marketers to determine their maturity level: Trial Phase, Transition Phase and Strategic Phase as a baseline for making strategic changes to improve process and efficiency. In MarketingSherpa’s research, 50% of participants were Strategic, 36% were in Transition and 14% were in Trial with no formal process or guidelines.

Effective B2B lead generation involves know which tactics are most effective.  MarketingSherpa’s research shows that websites, webinars, email and SEO are the most effective.

B2B Marketing Tactics

Within the area of B2B Search Engine Optimization tactics, the creation of content was rated by MarketingSherpa’s research as the most effective and requiring the most effort. I guess that’s why so many B2B companies hire TopRank :)  On page optimization, link building and blogging were also highly rated SEO tactics for their impact.

B2B SEO tactics

The research data, case studies, screenshots, worksheets and insights provided in this Handbook will require readers to roll up their virtual sleeves and do some honest assessment. But the payoff will be a much more effective program that is worth many multiples of the cost of the report, which is $347 for the pdf version.

In fact, here’s a list of the worksheets included in the Handbook to give you an idea of the range of content and outputs you’ll get:

  • Initial perceptions of buyer personas
  • Questions to ask internal departments in developing buyer personas
  • Questions to ask customers and prospects in developing buyer personas
  • Recruiting a marketing-sales alignment team
  • Qualities of qualified and unqualified leads
  • Questions to ask when selecting a marketing automation platform
  • Marketing automation vendor evaluation sheet
  • Evaluating lead generation performance
  • Questions to ask in evaluating marketing performance
  • Marketing performance benchmarks

While I think the B2B Marketing Advanced Practices Handbook is a great tool and source of information, the endorsement from our client, Jon Miller of Marketo, provides the best summary I’ve read yet:

“The 2011 B2B Marketing Advanced Practices Handbook is a great “all-in-one” resource for B2B marketers, especially those of us who are responsible for driving revenue for the sales team. The FUEL methodology and associated marketing maturity model provide best practices for companies regardless of whether they are starting out with no processes, maturing with informal processes, or undergoing strategic optimization. The handbook tells you which tactics work – and which don’t – for generating leads, and then it goes on to talk about how to turn those leads into revenue, including practical advice for lead nurturing and lead scoring, automating the processes using marketing automation, and measuring results. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shot to take your B2B marketing to the next level, this handbook is for you!”

To get a free preview of the report or for more information and to get a copy, visit the MarketingSherpa site.

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3 Benefits of Content Promotion for B2B Online Marketing

May 4, 2011 by  
Filed under B2B, B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Online Marketing

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B2B Marketing Content Promotion“Build it and they will come”.

It’s a well-known and often over-used quote from the movie, “Field of Dreams”, used to describe the fallacy of great content as a marketing tool. In my opinion, great content isn’t great until someone shares it. And they share it with their friends, and so on and so on.

With content marketing, great content is the beginning not the end objective. An effective content marketing strategy includes information about target buyer personas, search keywords and social topics, an editorial plan and a plan for promoting all the high quality content being created. Today’s Internet and social web are full of information overload. Buyers can easily be distracted and so it’s important to stand out and stay connected.

Here are 3 basic reasons for B2B marketers to plan content promotion:

  1. Many B2B buyers rely on information to be pushed to them because finding and trusting new sources on an ongoing basis isn’t practical.
  2. Promoting content through social channels can lead to exposure, traffic and links. Links from social channels and web pages can influence search engine visibility, adding an additional source of relevant traffic.
  3. Content promotion can inspire syndication and citations from other blogs and online media. Getting on the radar of other influential bloggers can lead to inclusion in future stories, blogroll links and engagement.

A particularly effective model for coordinated Social SEO and Content promotion is the Hub and Spoke. Depending on your content strategy and target audience, the hub might be a resource center, a blog, Facebook Fan Page, YouTube Channel or a Website. The spokes are distribution and promotion channels leading to off-site networks or communities. Each spoke has it’s own unique content and social network characteristics. When coordinated, relevant content promotion across the right mix of channels can amplify overall distribution, reach and engagement.

Understanding the communities of interest and involving them in both content development (crowdsourcing, social engagement, polls) and promotion (Retweets, shares, comments, links) keeps topics fresh and relevant as well as interesting for the community to promote to others.

If you’re a B2B online marketer, how are you including content promotion in your content marketing strategy? Do you plan targeted promotion or do you promote to the same channels every time? Do you plan on the repurposing of your content as well?

(Photo credit “arukasa” – Flickr)

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3 Benefits of Content Promotion for B2B Online Marketing |

5 Reports on B2B Social Media Marketing & New Media Trends

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B2B Social Media Marketing 2011Staying on top of social media and networking trends is essential for B2B marketers. Forrester Research predicts, “B2B companies will spend $54 million on social media marketing in 2014, up from just $11 million in 2009.” via eMarketer.  Data and research are key to forecasting and strategy development but not many B2B companies invest the time and effort into such initiatives outside of link-baity Infographics.


Luckily, there are many analysts and agencies that serve the B2B Marketing industry that do conduct regular research into topics like social media marketing.

Here are 5 meaty reports published in 2011 that can help B2B marketers understand the direction new media and social media is taking in terms of overall strategy, industry trends, unique audience and application differences between social media platforms and measurement.

B2B Technology & Social Media Report

B2B Tech Marketing and Social Media: Which Social Media Channels Reach Tech Buyers? Schwartz Communications. This report focuses on B2B tech marketing and which social channels do tech buyers engage. There’s a lack of strategy in most B2B social media efforts and understanding of unique focus and appropriate use for each distinct social channel. This report covers specific social media platforms for B2B including: Blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Report link (pdf)

The Infinite Dial 2011 Edison Arbitron Report

The Infinite Dial 2011: Navigating Digital Platforms. One of the keys to approaching social media strategy for B2B marketing programs is to understand industry trends. Since 1998 Arbitron and Edison Research have conducted a nationally representative survey focusing on trends in digital platforms exploring the expanding digital media and communications landscape. This new report includes data from 2011 and covers numerous platforms used in B2B social media marketing from Smartphones to iPads to Facebook. Report link (pdf)

2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report

2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report - How marketers are using social media to grow their business by Michael A. Stelzner of Social Media Examiner. This report looks at both B2B and B2C social media and how they differ including time of use (B2B have used social media longer than B2C), which tools are used (LinkedIn, Video & Blogs) and even SEO (B2B marketers are more likely to use SEO). Report Link (pdf).

B2B Social Media Marketing B2Bento

Social Media for B2B Marketing from B2Bento (Asuthosh Nair & Jaspreet Sidhu). This report covers why social media matters for B2B, tips on planning strategy, conducting research and establishing guidelines. It also proves b2b social media marketing examples including a product launch, demand generation & customer retention. Of course there’s also advice on monitoring and measuring results. Overall a good B2B Social Media primer. Report link (pdf).

Emerging Trends in B-to-B Social Media Marketing: Insights From the Field

Emerging Trends In B-to-B Social Media Marketing: Insights From the Field from BtoB Intelligence Center. This report is not free ($149) but chock full of charts (sample pdf) and insights into the current state of Social Media Marketing for B2B by answering questions about budgeting, strategies, tactics, metrics and integration. Specific attention is paid to dominant social channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Customer Communities and YouTube plus the all-important ROI.  Report landing page link.

What new reports on B2B social media marketing have you found to be useful? (paid or free). What sub-topics would you like to see covered?

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Understanding B2B Social Media Through Infographics

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B2B social mediaIt’s a persistent question: Is social media and networking appropriate for B2B marketing?  There are many ways to answer that question and one of the most engaging is through statistics and information presented as an infographic. My team knows I’m a big fan of using visual assets to persuade and I’ve been a fan of information graphics since XPLANE’s amazing work started appearing in popular business magazines years ago.

Besides using infographics to explain social media in the B2B space, there are a growing number of B2B marketers using infographics in their mix, such as this case study about Cisco.

Here are 5 useful B2B social media marketing infographics that help tell the tale of social media and B2B marketing working together. Click on each image for the large version.

B2B Social Media Landscape

B2B Social Media Landscape – If it was possible to simply open the window of the CEO’s office on the 18th floor and look out onto the B2B social media landscape, this is what you would see according to Elearning Examples.

Social Media Statistics B2B

Social Media Facts & Figures for B2B Sales – Understanding Fortune 100 social media involvement can be motivating for small companies looking for direction and leadership in their online marketing. This infographic shares a number of those stats including the most popular social media sites for generating B2B website traffic.

Quickstart Guide to Social Media for Business

Quickstart Guide to Social Media for Business – B2B Marketers love process as much as anyone, so this infographic from GETIT COMMS offers 14 steps on a B2B social media journey from establishing goals to measurement.

LinkedIn 100 Million Members

100 million members and counting – The “go to” B2B social network of choice for over 100 million professionals is of course, LinkedIn.  This infographic celebrates key statistics and milestones for LinkedIn that are worth a look. Did you know Brazil is the fastest growing market for LinkedIn? Or, did you know that Service, Finance and High Tech are the most represented industry sectors on LinkedIn. Last but not least, someone is hiring a “Martini Whisperer” on LinkedIn.

Do's & Dont's of Social Media for Business

Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media for Business – They say common sense is the least common thing and by the looking at the behavior of many brands on the social web, it’s easy to agree. This infographic spells out behaviors for B2B marketers on the social web that are pretty much common sense for individuals. The problem is, brands often forget the human aspect of social media, so these tips are worth revisiting.

For even more B2B and business social media infographics, check out this handy list of B2B infographics on Marketo’s blog (client).

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Understanding B2B Social Media Through Infographics |

Opportunity for Better B2B Marketing with Social Media & SEO

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B2B Content Marketing Social SEO

Oftentimes marketers budget, plan and implement online marketing tactics in silos. When it comes to SEO, Social and Content Marketing – integration is the best practice and that means a tremendous competitive opportunity. Why Social Media and SEO for B2B? The intersection of social media and search engine optimization is a perfect match for B2B Marketer for several reasons:

Long B2B buying cycles have always involved engagement through content. The opportunity for coordinated Social SEO is in part inspired by buyer information discovery, consumption and sharing habits that have changed with the influence of social technology and search.

Influence of Search & Social Media on Buyer BehaviorConsumers are increasingly using both search and social to discover content. In a recent study by GroupM and comScore, only 1% of consumers were led to a purchase via Social Media but 51% were channeled via search and 48% through a combination of search and social media.   I’ve heard B2B buyers are people too :) and these consumer behaviors are also reflected, to some degree, in the B2B space as well.

B2B companies have adapted well to implementing search marketing programs. They’ve also begun to experiment with social media marketing. In fact, according to the recent SME Social Media Industry Report (pdf), B2B marketers are significantly more likely to employ search engine optimization (71% B2B vs. 65% B2C) than B2C marketers.

According to Forrester, B2B social spend will hit 54m by 2014 and BtoB Magazine reports that 93% of B2B companies are using some kind of social media application.

However, there’s a big difference between testing social media marketing and effective implementation with Social SEO and content marketing.  Here is a video interview I did at SES London recently on this very topic with Tracy Falke. We discuss the intersection of Social SEO and Content (Content Marketing Optimization) as well as the importance of integration and how companies can leverage across an organization.

Click here to view the embedded video.

If you’re a long time SEO practitioner, are you coordinating content marketing and social media with search engine optimization? Does your social media SEO and content marketing extend beyond products and services content? What challenges do you face at getting the people responsible to implement a coordinated effort?

One of the reasons I ask that second question is because I’m speaking at ad:tech San Francisco tomorrow on the topic of Modern Search Engine Optimization, which is essentially going to be a holistic view of how Search, Social Media and Content intersect. I don’t believe a company can achieve great success in competitive categories without this triumvirate of tactics.

Consumers and B2B buyers alike search for more reasons than just to buy something and companies can realize business value by making sure their content is easily found through search for those myriad reasons.  Consider the customer lifecycle of content needs and it spells out the opportunities for optimization for better search visibility.  The result?  Increased revenue of course, but also reduced costs, improved efficiency and reach for things like Customer Service, Recruiting, Investor and Public Relations.

An integrated and holistic approach to Social Media, SEO and Content Marketing is a great opportunity for B2B marketers to boost their effectiveness and create competitive advantage. Hopefully corporate marketers can demonstrate the vision for coordinating disparate resources in the organization and realize the collective benefit outside of just marketing.

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Opportunity for Better B2B Marketing with Social Media & SEO |

How Can B2B Marketing Become More Social?

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b2b social media B2B marketers have joined the social media marketing movement in droves. In fact, Forrester Research predicts that B2B firms will spend $54 million on social media marketing in 2014, up from just $11 million in 2009 (eMarketer B2B Social Media Marketing Heats Up).

Unfortunately, many of those efforts are entirely tactical, methodical and without a true understanding of the “social” aspect of social media marketing.  B2B marketers that are early in their social media marketing maturity level tend to focus on message distribution such as Tweeting or posting Facebook links mostly to their own content vs. engaging with customers on a human level. That one-way communication profile doesn’t engender discussions and sharing, so social traffic level increases tend to plateau pretty early.

In order to grow and scale the return on social media marketing investments, B2B marketers need to think more about the “social” than the marketing. Here are a few thoughts on that:

Decide What You Stand for Topically

The social SEO benefits of being intentional about language that reflects your key business areas of focus as well as the conversations happening within your target community are essential. Topically fragmented blog and social networking content dilutes a company’s ability to “stand out” to customers amongst the sea of noise in social conversations as well as to search engines.

Practically, that means a strategy that identifies goals, customer personas, content & editorial plans and search/social keyword glossaries.  A content marketing strategy is the plan that executes what your company and brand stand for as well as how it will communicate those key messages. A social SEO keyword or topic plan filters into all relevant web and social content creation. It can also flavor social network topic engagement and conversations. That means a guide for which blogs to comment on, which influentials to network with, word choices for Tweets, blog posts and tags.

Do: Create and participate where your customers and influentials spend their time and with a content plan that supports your key topics of focus. Be useful and share social content that’s worth sharing (whether it’s your content or others’).

Don’t: Overly self promote and publish social content that is not directly or indirectly in alignment with your key topics of focus. That doesn’t mean everything you create is keyword optimized. It means everything you create and promote is thoughtful about where it fits in your social & content marketing plan.

The outcome and benefit is that your own content creation and promotion efforts are aligned to inspire discussion, sharing and links according to topics and keywords that are important to brand, business and marketing goals. An ideal manifestation is that your target audience sees your brand in a positive way everywhere they look for topics XYZ and 123 on social channels, when they search and even offline (inspired by online) word of mouth.

Plan to Win

If you enter a competition half-assed, guess what? No matter what your talent is, the chances of a win are pretty slim. Unfortunately a lot of B2B companies approach social media participation with an attitude of using the least amount of resources possible.  Oftentimes this means following structured best practices list from some self-professed social media guru. Checklist marketing works to make redundant tasks more efficient, but it’s no way to engage a community.

For example, one of the most common “plan to be mediocre” mistakes I see with B2B marketers is predictable social profile creation and publishing focused solely on LinkedIn, Twitter and a blog without researching those channels.  Such a plan also involves a focus on promoting company content and superficial (at best) engagement with the community.

Planning to win means having a plan for networking into influentials’ sphere of influence and knowing what to do once you get on their radar. It means creating social content that will inspire engagement and outcomes to further your business goals. It also means providing training within your organization to distribute and grow the role of social participation within your brand.

Practically, this means forecasting resources (people, process and technology) for social media marketing as significant marketing channel, not just an experiment or a checked box on a list. It means an integrated plan to dominate your category through growing social influence & networking, content, search, word of mouth and media plus the resources to execute and measure.

Do: Hypothesize, forecast and commit resources to test, develop processes and scale social media engagement within your business. What starts as social media marketing can turn into social business as the impact of social media engagement propagates from marketing to other departments and throughout the organization. Winning the social media game for B2B marketing doesn’t just mean increased sales, it means dominating your category.

Don’t: Think that social media content promotion as part of a Search Engine Optimization program is the same thing as social media marketing or social business.  It is not.

The outcome and benefit of planning to win in B2B social media is that you have enough resources to provide value to customers throughout the B2B buying and customer lifecycle. Additional benefits include facilitating awareness, trust, confidence, word of mouth, sales and referrals. On top of that you will have built/facilitated a community in alignment with your company’s goals.

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How Can B2B Marketing Become More Social? |

Essential Tips for Social Media & Content Marketing

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marketo user summitContent marketing is essential for B2B businesses providing both qualitative and quantitative returns.  And while 6 in 10 marketers are planning to increase content marketing spends this year, success-rates still vary greatly as it’s a new concept for most.

Maria Pergolino, director of marketing for Marketo (a TopRank Online Marketing client) shared a presentation at the Marketo User Summit on getting the message out, focused on social media and content marketing tips/tricks.

How do you succeed in content marketing?

  • Create content that sells
  • Create a content map
  • Optimize content for search
  • Repurpose content
  • Learn to succeed even in situations with little or no content

We need content for nurturing, as a lead solution, for lead scoring and risk mitigation.  A lot of people don’t even consider the risk mitigation aspect – by publishing content and making people feel like your company is providing great information and is a leader, they’ll choose you.  Without content, you’ll never even have the chance to be found.

What is content?

Content is not just white papers – it’s videos, it’s blog posts, it’s real-time updates, it’s FAQs.  B2B businesses need to think beyond just white papers.  Early when people are just learning about your product they are looking for different types of content.  For example, early in the buying cycle they may find you through blog posts.  Later on, they want demo videos or perhaps reinforcement about their decision from an analyst or third party.

The bottom line:  you need to carefully consider all the pieces of content you’ll need to create throughout the buying cycle.

6 rules of great content:

  1. Non-promotional
  2. Relevant to reader
  3. Closes a gap
  4. Well-written
  5. Relevant to your company
  6. Gives proof

And – equally important – don’t forget to promote.  Good content is not enough – you should be using a mix of channels from email and social media to PR and search engine marketing to promote your content.  You have to help it spread, good content isn’t going to get anywhere on its own.  You have to do everything you can to put the right material in front of the right people at the right time.

Free your content

Many B2B marketers will only put content up behind a login form.  But, you should actually use forms only when you really need them.  Consider removing forms from early stage content in order to make it accessible and get others to share it.  It’s so much more important early-stage content gets in the hands of everyone because even if it’s not directly applicable to them, they may share it with the right people at an organization.  Further, with forms use only what you really need on them – asking less is key to getting more form completes.

Secret to testing with content: even though testing on the web is pretty easy, you still need to know exactly what you’re testing for.

Content mapping

Content mapping is a vital part of the process – consider segmenting content for different buying stages – early through late.  Further, you also need to consider buying profiles when developing content, including industry, role, company size and geography.

When you do map, keep the following in mind:

  • Map your existing content
  • Blank cells determine your content roadmap
  • Short content is good and can be very effective, don’t always create long format content
  • Test and optimize
  • Start small, think big and adapt quickly

Optimize for search

Optimize your whole site categorically it for search.

  • Instead of grouping by “video, article and white paper” group by specific keyword concept
  • Optimize keywords in content, meta descriptions and title tag
  • Ensure meta descriptions aren’t just for search engines, make them compelling so users actually click through

If you’re going to create content, it is imperative you optimize it so people actually see it.  There’s no reason if you’re creating content online you shouldn’t consider search – it’s too important a channel to ignore.

Making content social

Add ratings, comments and ability to sort in order to let users decide the most popular content on your site.  Further, ensure you have share and bookmarking options on all content (and to networks that matter to your users).

Consider that social media is also more than just Twitter and Facebook.  Find the areas that are most important to your brand in social channels and spend your time there.  In many cases it may not be the most popular networks, especially if you are in more obscure categories.

Social sharing – customize your emails and landing pages so they have social options.  If you’re driving a lot of push traffic to pages, do everything you can to increase organic traffic as well.

Social validation – adds transparency and credibility for your brand.  If people are saying good things, leverage them as social proof by re-using them in other marketing materials and making sure they are visibility to prospects.  This can include quotes, endorsements, subscriber numbers, etc.

Social monitoring – start by monitoring the most popular social media sites, but figure out a way to monitor across platforms.  Make the best use of alerts and be sure you keep queries running on the terms that matter.

Final takeaway – learn the three 3’s R’s of content optimization:

Reorganize – take old content and be sure it’s organized and categorized.  If you remove a landing page, for example, be sure to redirect it (and use 301 redirects).

Rewrite – Rewrite content into different formats so you have maximum impact across channels.  For example, a webinar becomes a SlideShare becomes a blog post.  Optimize each for slight variations on the same topic.

Retire – when content is dated, be sure to archive but it does not need to be actively promoted any longer.  Move on to creating additional fresh, relevant content.

Bonus – Marketo actually published the presentation on SlideShare during the talk, which I thought was quite clever as it provided immediate context to the Tweets at the conference.  We’ve embedded it below to share the above concepts visually:

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© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Essential Tips for Social Media & Content Marketing |

How to: Use B2B Social Media for Lead Generation

Kipp Bodnar

Kipp Bodnar of HubSpot

This post is one of a series of liveblogs from the 2010 MIMA Summit.

B2B social media can be surprisingly successful with a specific focus on lead generation.  If social media is to be taken seriously for B2B by marketing decision makers, it needs to maintain a focus on business objectives and driving sales vs. “fluff”.

B2B companies are actually in a much better position to use social media as a marketing channel than B2C companies.  They often have a much clearer expectation for what a customer does and what they want.

B2B companies also have deep internal expertise.  It’s not uncommon for top B2B companies to employ thought leaders in their specific industry.  However, there’s a solid argument that for many B2B companies, online marketing and social media might not be a fit.

Instances where social media doesn’t make sense:

  • If you have a tiny customer base (perhaps you have only 5 customers).
  • If the people you are trying to talk to can’t access the internet.  Many people in regulated industries can’t access the outside internet from work. (i.e., some military/electric industry).
  • If you or your business don’t have an advocate that can help you.
  • Velocity and volume – tough for social media in the beginning.  You can potentially create quick velocity but quick volume would be difficult.
  • If you have a lack of resources you shouldn’t engage in social media.  This seems like a big pain point for organizations.  If you lack the time or resources it makes it difficult to be successful.

It’s important to classify what exactly a lead is.  According to Kip, a lead is when somebody expresses clear interest in working with your business.  If someone downloaded a whitepaper and gave full contact information, Kip classifies that as a lead.

Before anything else, it’s important to have the basics in place.  If the website isn’t usable and there are no landing pages to collect lead information, social media is going to have much less of an impact because the traffic won’t engage and convert with your content.

Content to build leads for B2B Online Marketing

Content is the building block for all online marketing as a B2B company.  Companies need to know how to talk to prospects in a way that is not promotional, solves their problems and provides value to them.

More content, in general, equals more entry points which should lead to increased leads.  Content creation correlates to organic lead growth.  One way to attain conversions is to ensure there are calls to action alongside content.

Leads stem from multiple social channels depending on industry and strategy. Discovering where your audience is matters.  Remember that engagement is not a goal, it’s something you do which helps facilitate a goal and should be measured as a KPI, not an outcome.

Blogging has been critical as it is a platform to create and publish content throughout many different networks and attract new visitors.

Headlines win – never before in history have we had so much information.  People are subscribing to blogs via email, Twitter LinkedIn, RSS, etc and headlines are the main call to action for content.  They’re the make-or-break detail if people read content or not.  HubSpot has found many of their most successful article headlines have numbers in them because people know they’ll be scanable.

Always optimize content with keywords so that you’re gaining additional organic visitors from search engines.

Social media and lead generation

CTAs (Calls to Action) – With a business blog, there are many different ways to get people to become a “lead” from a visitor.  For example: including buttons in the sidebar to talk to a representative, or text links within content to whitepaper landing pages or to download content.  HubSpot has found it successful to add calls to action at the end of content.

We have found that a majority of posts generating leads haven’t been published recently.  Older content is generating  leads.

It’s important to remember that your customers are more important than you are.  For example, HubSpot has a customer in Virginia that installs pools and spas.  All he does is share what someone might want to know when installing a pool.  He doesn’t directly sell his products, but that’s okay.  Even if people aren’t ready to buy, publishing value added content adds them into that consideration section.

Getting all team members involved in the business blog is vital.  People want content from people, not necessarily just companies.  Getting different people from different departments – i.e., research or product, allows marketers to expand the relevant information covered on a given blog to appeal to a larger subset of customers.

Business blogging drives leads and serves as a hub for search and social media visitors.  It doesn’t feel like they are visiting a website that hasn’t been updated in years.  A blog provides much better context for a business.

According to HubSpot’s research of its own customers, B2B is lagging behind B2C in terms of direct customer acquisition in social channels.  B2B is only winning in one tool: LinkedIn, which makes sense.  B2B organizations are acquiring customers through social channels, just not at the same rates as B2C.

Key tips and takeaways for B2B Social Media Marketing:

  • Email is the ultimate testing ground for social media because for most of those getting started in social media, email is the largest sample. Email is not being replaced by social.  You can use it as a testing ground to amplify the success of other marketing campaigns.
  • The CRM tool is essential to tracking.  Look at how a lead comes in, how it was converted and how it goes through the sales process.  By having your sales system and CRM tied in with analytics, it gives a clearer picture from visit to lead, which is essential to tracking.
  • Lead source – It’s important to understand what leads you get from different online channels to identify what sources are effective or not.
  • Measurement – With analytics in place to measure and provide insight around lead sources, you can figure out where to allocate budget, especially if you can measure from visit to customer.
  • Social + CRM is how you should think about ROI.  If you can have your web analytics and your CRM talking, you can have an understanding of how people are coming to your site and how different channels are performing to you, measuring it down to the customer level.
  • Acquisition cost reduction: Social media can equal more engaged and lower cost customers.

Thanks to Kipp Bodnar for presenting the above session during the 2010 MIMA Summit.  Kipp leads the content marketing team at HubSpot and writes for the Social Media B2B blog.

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How to: Use B2B Social Media for Lead Generation |

Seeking Venture Capital

September 16, 2010 by  
Filed under B2B Marketing

The doors to venture capital have finally begun to swing open once again. Many venture capitalists were burned in the global recession. Since 2008, the marketplace has changed quite a bit. It is imperative that entrepreneurs understand their options, the demands they will face and the intent of today? venture capitalist.

Venture capital comes in different forms and at different costs. Before running off to grab the necessary millions to launch the next Apple or IBM, the entrepreneur must fashion an organized plan of attack. Failure to be thorough and professional in the approach to raising venture capital has left many good ideas on the sidelines, mired in an endless pursuit of funding.

As the company prepares to launch its strategy and build a management team, conventional forms of financing are nearly impossible to obtain. The entrepreneur has five basic options in pursuing venture capital and each option comes with different specifications.

•Commercial Banks •Entrepreneurs with an existing business, a solid balance sheet and several years of verified profit and loss statements and with a deposit relationship with the lender can apply to a commercial bank for capital. The entrepreneur is usually asked to guarantee the loan with individual assets as collateral. Commercial banks rarely participate in launching a new business and the amount of the entrepreneur? loan will be a percentage of the entrepreneur? collateral. The new operation will also need to pay interest, which money could be better used to develop the business. When working with today? commercial lenders, a high degree of transparency is needed. In a commercial loan, the borrower assumes all the risk.

•Investment Banking Firms •Investment bankers are also called Vulture Capitalists. Often investment bankers only work in specific industries. If the entrepreneur needs funds for expansion of a working business in one of those industries, the investment banker may consider an application for funding. The investment banker looks for businesses with solid earnings in an industry with growth potential and a management team they like. Already with exposure in an industry, investment bankers can be extremely beneficial for a growing operation. When applying to investment bankers, the entrepreneur will need fairly precise projections and, of course, accurate financial records. Investment bankers are primarily interested in existing operations that seek a business partner and the vulture must always see a viable exit strategy.

•Venture Capital Groups •Venture Capital Groups are high wealth investors who have determined to take certain risks. These groups are looking for the next great product, service and miracle concept. The entrepreneur with a new concept will be required to post equity in the new company as collateral, and it could be a significant amount of equity. The entrepreneur will be forced to give up equity but will gain the funds needed to launch and a partner with proven moneymaking success. Venture Capitalists usually have specialist for each step of the company? growth, beginning with the Early Stage and advancing to the exciting Start-up Stage. When approaching a venture capitalist, the entrepreneur must be prepared. You may have 20 minutes to make a compelling first impression. Know your facts, have supporting projections, present your management team? credentials and explain why there will be demand for your product.

•Angels and Sophisticated Private Investors •Angels and private investors are out there. Sometimes they are under the same roof. These participants may offer enough funding for the early stage or for expansion, but they are rarely in for the long haul. Angels and investors may require a loan structure or may want equity. Be careful because doing business with friends has destroyed many a friendship.

•Wholesale Investor Magazine and Website •Wholesale Investor Magazine and Website was created to assist entrepreneurs needing venture capital and to provide a resource for venture capitalists. Entrepreneurs can post information, projections, concepts and charts about their venture in a private downloadable Information Memorandum format. Investors can download all information posted by the business and will be provided contact information to discuss the investment opportunity with the opportunity.

Businesses and business concepts must be approved and verified by the publisher before any information is posted.

Wholesale Investor is an IPO, Pre-IPO, Capital Raising and Venture Capital solution for Private Companies. Through an exclusive Magazine and Website that provides high net worth, CEO’s and professional investors with direct exposure to private investment opportunities, news and events in the private and unlisted space.

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