Everything You Need To Convince Your B2B Boardroom To Get On Board With Social Media

[ Ed: We are excited to feature B2B specialist Christina “CK” Kerley as a contributing blogger. A strong voice in modern B2B marketing, learn more about CK here ]

If you’re struggling against old mentalities vs. new objectives when it comes to integrating social media into your B2B marketing mix, here are 2 resources designed to win over even the most challenging of executive audiences.

First, the below presentation builds the B2B Social Media business case through 10 key benefits. Best viewed in ‘full-screen format’, the slides are also available for download right here.

B2B Social Media Marketing: Building the B2B Business Case for Social Media
View more presentations from Christina “CK” Kerley.

And to ensure you’re armed with a bunch of supporting statistics, this dynamic video, brilliantly executed by Earnest Agency, provides a compilation of statistics in a highly entertaining format:

Free Special Report: 20 Tips on Generating and Nurturing Leads

Business.com has partnered with Marketing Sherpa to offer you this free download, Special Report: 20 Tips on Generating and Nurturing Leads. This 22 page report is full of in-depth marketing tips on how to convert leads into sales, lead scoring, SEO, and social media. Additionally, this report offers valuable case studies that will sharpen  your understanding of how to improve your existing lead gen strategy and increase sales.

 Key takeaways from this free report are:

  • How to convert 11% more prospects in the final 72 hours of the buying cycle.
  • How to uncover new opportunities within your lead gen pipeline and convert those to sales.
  • Discover how a software company combined lead-gen revamp with automation and scoring tactics to deliver the most relevant information to prospects.
  • Learn how a marketing team at an accounting and consulting firm shook up their staid marketing tactics and adopted a new, online thought-leadership strategy

Click here to get the full version of 20 Tips on Generating and Nurturing Leads.

10 Ways to Leverage LinkedIn to Generate Business

[Ed: This post was written by guest blogger Kevin Gaither. To read more about Kevin, click here…]

Being a regular user of LinkedIn, I’m disappointed when I see marketers that are not utilizing LinkedIn effectively to share their brand (either business or personal).  If you take the simple and effective actions that I discuss below, you’ll be taking great steps to increase your marketing visibility and success that your competition is not taking…yet.

I recently attended one of MarketingProfs Take 10 webinars called “How to Build Your Reputation at LinkedIn (in a Few Minutes a Week)” which was hosted by Jason Alba.  Most people have a profile on LinkedIn but most people don’t know what to do once they get set up either because they’re overwhelmed with all the options or simply don’t have the time.  Here’s 10 actions he suggested to take that can help you build your reputation that are effective and time efficient.

4 One-Time Actions You Should Take

  1. Enhance your profile.  This is one action that is going to take more time than most of the others, perhaps a few hours. I’d recommend making sure that your employment and educational history is fleshed out as much as possible.  Pay particular attention to your ACCOMPLISHMENTS and less on your duties. How have you or your company helped other people/companies?  What results did you achieve?  Got testimonials? Ask for recommendations from trusted colleagues or customers.
  2. Modify your settings.  Make sure you have included multiple email addresses. Why? Should you switch companies, you want to be able to maintain control over your LinkedIn profile.  So have at least your business email and one of your personal email addresses. Also modify your Email Notification settings as you see fit. 
  3. Pick a few applications.  Applications are a great way for you to distinguish your brand/profile and share additional content with people viewing your profile.  Applications are added to your homepage and profile.  The host pointed out the BlogLink which allows your blog posts to be automatically posted to your LinkedIn profile. Promote your blog and develop your brand! I really like the SlideShare Presentations app. If your company creates pdf or power points presentations that you want to share, this is a great way to do that within LinkedIn.
  4. Join Groups.  This is powerful.  Joining groups allows you to communicate with people in the group that may not be part of your LinkedIn network.  This can be prospects or people you’re trying to recruit.  Think of Groups as targeted audiences. If you or your brand appeals to a particular demographic, find groups that are made up of that demographic.  You can join up to 50 groups and there are all kinds of groups from Professional Groups to Alumni Groups.  Check out the Groups Directory and use the Search Groups feature on the upper left-hand side.  

6 Ongoing Actions You Should Take

  1. Ask Questions.  This allows you to have a much bigger footprint within your network and to communicate in different ways with your 1st degree network.  For example, at least once per month ask a question about a problem you faced recently or if anybody else has heard of a particular vendor that called you the other day. If you have a big network, you can ask questions more frequently. 
  2. Answer Questions.  This is a great way to profile you/your brand and to generate leads and real business.  Remember, to be considered an “expert” in any particular area, you only need to know more than the person reading the answer! Get in there, search for questions that you think you can answer and answer them.
  3. Start Group Discussions.  Once you’ve joined some groups, go in there and participate in discussions that are happening or start group discussions. Remember that these are targeted audiences and people have joined these groups for a specific reason.  You can also set up notifications within the group so you get a digest of discussions that are happening within the groups you’ve joined.
  4. Do An Advanced People Search.  In the upper right hand corner click on Advanced.  Search for titles of people or people at companies that you may want to connect with.  My sales team is using this feature daily by searching for “marketing” titles at companies they’re trying to penetrate.
  5. Search for Companies.  In essence, this is competitive intelligence.  What are your competitors doing?  Who should you be connecting with?  What content are they publishing?  There’s a great new feature that was launched this year called Follow Company.  This feature “allows you to keep up on occurrences within those companies by sending you updates through your LinkedIn account” and gives you something to talk about with the contacts that you find.
  6. Update Your Network Status.  Do this once per week. Remember, this is not Facebook but status updates serve a similar purpose in a business context.  Status updates are essentially mini performances.  When you post a status update, you’re giving your network information about yourself or your brand.  Here’s a good example from one of my connections that I saw today:  “Fantastic article — The Difference Between B2B and B2C SEO – Proteus SEO.”  What does this tell me about the person that posted this?  He’s in the know.  He has access to information that might help me. His status update has elevated his profile in my mind as a possible expert in this area.

The author recommends that you actually place the six ongoing actions on your calendar so that you don’t waste time on other extraneous things within LinkedIn.  It’s easy to start browsing and get lost.  Stay focused.  Your competitors will be taking these actions soon (if they’re not already) so if you take these actions, they will help you share your brand and generate business in a different way.

Website Redesign Checklist for your Business

[Ed: Guest blogger Andrew Spoeth is an independent marketing consultant specializing in B2B demand generation, with emphasis on social media, marketing automation, and thought leadership strategy. 

Redesigning a website can be a lengthy, complicated process. Done properly, it can give a dramatic boost to your online presence. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure, and pain, of being a part of several redesign projects.

Here is a checklist for website redesign, a series of steps that developers will go through in a successful redesign project.

  1. Document the reasons you’re redesigning the website.
    Having these listed will act as a compass through the lengthy project. When things get stressful, you’ll want this reminder.
  2. Test the old site, e.g. with an online intercept survey.
    How easily can users find key parts of the site? Other testing methods include focus groups and eye tracking. For the survey, get enough data to make it statistically relevant. The qualitative, descriptive feedback from one-on-one sessions with customers is also very valuable.
  3. Conduct a baseline analysis of the old site.
    A baseline analysis is a document which sets the bar by which the future site will be measured. It should detail how the old site has performed over the past year, including key performance indicators like visitors, bounce rate, conversion rates, pages/visit, etc.
  4. Set targets for the new site.
    These should be actual numbers and be based on the baseline mentioned above.
  5. Hire a design company.
    Choose a company which has experience in your industry and has demonstrated success in the past. Do they ask you the right questions? Do they understand your customer? Do they deliver on budget and on schedule?
  6. Map out the new site’s architecture.
    Work on a whiteboard or a blank piece of paper. Use one box per web page, starting with the home page on top. Draw lines between the pages to show logical connections. An alternative process, called Card Sorting, starts with cue cards. Create one cue card per web page, lay them out on a large table and start grouping and arranging them.
    When mapping out the architecture, remember to keep the site compact, i.e. don’t create too many levels. This is bad for usability and bad for search engine optimization.
  7. Do keyword research.
    Consider words being used by your customers, at conferences, etc. Take a look at your old site’s analytics to determine which keywords have been bringing traffic from the search engines, especially traffic that converts into real business. Also consider third party tools like Google’s Search-based keyword tool, Seo Book’s Keyword Suggestion Tool. And don’t forget Google Trends.
    How long should your keyword list be? That depends on your business model. But in most circumstances, a list of 20-30 is a great start. If you are not sure, then contact an SEO consultant to help out.
  8. Audit all of your existing online collateral.
    This includes all old and existing web pages, online brochures, podcasts, etc. Make a list in Excel and leave a couple of columns for notes and an instructions, e.g. ‘keep’, ‘keep but edit’, or ‘throw away’. B2B sites should also make room for columns to describe the type of buyer that web page appeals to, e.g. technical buyer, economic buyer, and when in the buying process that web page would best be viewed, i.e. Phase I: Awareness of Problem, Phase II: Researching a Solution, etc.
  9. Write content for the new site.
    Each page should have a clear purpose, give an opportunity to continue, and be optimized for 1-2 keywords identified in number 7 above.
  10. Create wireframes, mock-ups, etc.
    Carried out for the most part by your design company, this is where your combined knowledge of the target market turns into a creative and user friendly design which works.  Have the design company give you at least a couple of unique designs for the home page to choose from.
  11. Test the mock-ups for usability.
    Let some customers loose on these mock-ups. The pages only need minor functionality for now, e.g. be able to click on a couple of key areas. Make note of how easily and quickly key parts can be found.
  12. Fix, adjust and iterate
    Based on the results of your tests, iterate until you have a design which you can live with for the next 2 – 3 years.
  13. Build out and populate pages.
    A lot of this may be handled by the web design company. Take all of the freshly written content and place it in the built pages. When choosing file and folder names for pages, consider using the keywords you identified in the keyword research stage above.
  14. Organic optimization (SEO)
    You’ve already written the content and used the right keywords. Now is the time to take it further by ensuring that each page’s title, description and header tags do the same. Include links between pages. Interlinking is great for usability and great for search engine spider ability.
    Don’t forget to create a sitemap. There are two types of sitemaps, one which is on your site and visible to the user, and one which is visible only to the search engines (an XML Sitemap).
    And, don’t forget inbound links coming to some of the old site’s pages. Put a redirect in place for each of those so the new visitors, and link power, know where to go.
  15. New inbound links
    A site redesign is a great time to think about an inbound linking strategy. Build relationships with like-minded sites and blogs to attract keyword-rich links. Also consider submitting your site to respected directories such as Business.com and DMOZ.
  16. Testing. Try to break it before the site is launched.
    Get a large group of people you trust to poke around, find broken links, etc. Use various browsers, operating systems, look at it on a smart phone.
  17. Add tracking code to each web page.
    This will ensure you can measure what’s happening with the new site. For tracking software like Google Analytics, it will be a fairly easy process, i.e. same tracking code on each page which can be applied in the footer.
  18. Launch day. Flick the switch, uncork the champagne.
    Don’t forget to take a screen shot of the old site.
  19. Post-launch monitoring
    Make a schedule and force yourself to note the key stats at regular intervals after the site is launched. For the first few days, do it every day. After that, weekly. If you have budget, do a second intercept survey (see #2 above).
  20. Take the time to create a Content Development / Maintenance plan.
    Use a calendar and map out when you’ll be adding new content. How often will the ‘latest events’ section be updated? Who will update it? When will you review the product descriptions? Or case studies?
  21. Keep a journal of this whole process

This website redesign checklist was adapted from a post on Marketingfinger.com.