Social Media and Its Importance for B2B Marketers


With the New Year arriving in just a few weeks, many companies are exploring their options of how to make 2012 a better business year than these last 12 months.

One area that B2B marketers need to look at is social media and how it can play a large role in moving their company forward and bringing back a greater return on investment (ROI) through the Internet.

According to a recent survey, however, it seems a large number of B2B marketers are spending large sums of money yearly for SM, only to fail and track what if any positive results they are receiving from it.

Cloud marketing automation software vendor Pardot reported recently that while many B2B marketers are throwing a lot of money at SM programs, close to three out of 10 surveyed indicated they are not tracking the effects of their social media programs for lead generation and sales.

Among those surveyed, 95 percent reported they utilize sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and/or corporate blogs to reach out to potential clients.  Meantime, only seven in 10 are tracking the return on investment (ROI) for such efforts. Even more interesting, just over 40 percent indicated that zero or an unknown amount of sales lead came as a result of such social media efforts.

The survey goes on to note:

  • Eleven percent of marketers indicated their businesses have a formal SM policy in place;
  • Fifty-five percent of respondents indicated reaching out to a SM-generated sales lead via phone or email is appropriate, even when the prospect had not invited the vendor to do such;
  • Forty-eight percent indicated it is okay to get back to a prospect through social media, if the prospect reached out first to the vendor through phone or email;
  • One-hundred percent of those surveyed reported it is acceptable to invite a prospect to become a part of a marketer’s online social networks
  • Just over three in 10 surveyed said it was okay to critique a rival through social media;
  • More than 64 percent stated they use “internal, free tools” simply to oversee social media campaigns

So, how can B2B marketers better utilize social media going forward in 2012?

Among the ways to do this is:

  • Cover the basics – If you do not have company Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ pages already set up and in action, get to it. With Facebook, set up a fan page and interact with those who befriend your company. Twitter is a great tool to share industry links with articles on trends, etc. LinkedIn serves as a great business resource, while Google+ is the latest rage, allowing your company to build a circle of friends;
  • Monitor the discussion - The key here is to monitor the chit-chat on the sites, especially when your company’s name comes up. By doing so, you are tuned-in to any questions, concerns and even complaints regarding your product and/or services. You may even be pleasantly surprised at times to see positive comments regarding your company’s efforts;
  • Be up front with current and potential customers – Many consumers use social media to vent about products and/or services, so there is always a chance your company’s name is going to surface in such discussions. If it does, be as professional as possible due to the fact responses from your company page can be seen by countless people, sent via links, copied and more. Customer service in today’s technological age comes at you 24/7. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring negative comments, but handle them with the idea that millions and millions of people are waiting to see what you say;
  • Build your brand – Being engaged in social media gives you’re the company the ability to increase its B2B brand awareness, improve your positioning among search engines, and give both current and potential customers more reason to want to come to your company’s Web site.

With the right approach to social media, your B2B marketing efforts can take off in 2012 or sink, you make the call. Tell us how you’re monitoring your social media efforts and what success you’re seeing.

Photo credit: technologymarketers.com

 

 

 

 

 


Mobile Content Viewing Increases, But Desktops Still in the Lead


A recent study from Eccolo Media suggests an increasing move toward viewing content through mobile devices is taking place among business audiences of B2B technology collateral, though desktop options still remain the vehicle of choice for many business leaders.

According to results from the “2011 B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report,” nearly four in 10 (37 percent) of U.S. corporate technology decision-makers note they have received collateral via a mobile device.

In breaking down the numbers, the report shows:

  • 33 percent of respondents note watching content on a smartphone, while 16 percent reported using a tablet;
  • 56 percent of executives still use a desktop for viewing white papers;
  • 58 percent use a desktop for reading case studies;
  • 53 percent use a desktop for viewing product brochures/data sheets;
  • Downloading and printing were more widely reported versus mobile viewing;

As for the kinds of mobile devices marketers are advised to optimize their B2B technology collateral for, 56 percent responding noted the Apple iPad, with the Apple iPhone receiving 45 percent of the vote.

Asked how often they turn to a mobile gadget for viewing written B2B technology collateral, 30 percent of respondents indicated they receive mobile content weekly, while 34 percent said it was more likely several times a week, with 23 percent indicating several times a month.

So while mobile technology is growing in popularity, many business leaders still feel the desktop is the way to go as opposed to a screen the size of their hands.

Not only does the desktop screen size offer a bigger picture, but it lessens the chances of an error that a smaller device can lead to as someone’s fingers are trying to access the smaller keys.

Many industry observers are predicting that within the next two to three years, mobile Internet usage will exceed desktop Internet usage, perhaps even sooner.

For B2B marketers, it is safe to say that mobile devices will soon become as critical to viewing marketing content as the desktop is.

In order to meet the needs of your business customers, it is important to be sure all assets are optimized for viewing on various screens and gadgets.

By doing so, you arrive at the chosen method of engagement on the part of the customer, something that should land you repeat business.

Photo credit: velocitypartners.co.uk

 


Business.com blogs redesigned, useful content remains number one goal


Recently, at Business.com, we have made massive updates to the look and feel of our main website. We have also redesigned our two blogs.

The B2B Online Marketing Blog and what was formally known as the What Works for Business Blog (now simply called the Business.com Blog) have both been completely redesigned and moved from subdomains to subdirectories within our domain. With these changes it is our goal to provide a better user experience for our followers, as well as to continue providing useful content for businesses.

In this spirit we now would like to “preach what we practice.”

For any small business to get the most out of its company blog and stay a step ahead of the competition, updates to both the functionality and content of their blogs are an integral part of making them tick.

Given that there are countless blogs out there, what will make your company’s blog stand out from the competition now and going forward?

Make It Your Business to Effectively Blog

At Business.com, we have taken the time to fine-tune our product, including our blogs, to better assist business owners. By doing so, business owners big and small can learn how to make more informed purchasing decisions for their business, improve their company’s outreach to consumers, their return on investment (ROI), and the ability to better brand themselves.

Over the last few months, Business.com has worked hard to improve the site user experience, while at the same time providing business owners with content to assist them in purchasing decisions and the highest quality leads for advertisers.

One of the many ways Business.com assists small business owners is by providing a pair of quality blogs.

The company’s B2B Online Marketing blog helps business-to-business marketing professionals attain viable online marketing solutions, providing valuable B2B online marketing tips. The Business.com blog provides small business owners with tips on how to effectively run their companies, best utilize employees, and find the best way to grow their businesses.

With a pair of quality blogs that are updated weekly, Business.com provides invaluable information to small business owners looking to lead the way in their respective industries.

Why Does Your Company Blog in the First Place?

Business blogs are offered for a variety of reasons, most importantly, to reach out to consumers electronically and provide them with pertinent information in a real-time setting.

So, is your company using a blog to do just that or is your blog inadvertently hurting your SEO performance?

For too many small businesses, they do not effectively utilize their blogs, oftentimes having them prove more harm than good. For a company blog to be a useful tool, it has to provide several constant features.

Among those are:

  • Needs to be constantly updated with proven functionality and strong, fresh content;
  • Needs to be reader-friendly in that it is easy to surf, does not contain a lot of bells and whistles to hinder the viewer experience, and offers real-time interaction with both current and potential customers;
  • Needs to be part of a wider branding program that includes social media and public relations efforts;
  • Needs to encourage visitor feedback. Among the ways to do that is by installing a plugin tool that will highlight some of the top visitors to your blog. The more regular visitors you have to the company blog, the more likely they will pass the word on to their friends and family about your products and services;
  • Needs to provide fresh contact information. Too often when companies change employees, etc. the contact information on their Web sites (including blogs) are not updated. Your company will look like it is not on top of its game if it is not providing updated contact details. Also, having updated contact details allows your customers and those interested in becoming such easier access to your business;
  • Needs to offer powerful headlines with keywords that deliver statements or ask questions. The bottom line is doing so leads to grabbing the reader’s attention;
  • Lastly, if you have not already, you need to decide what exactly you are blogging for in the first place. Company blogs can provide valuable information to customers and/or can be used more for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. Some businesses will blog often and utilize a large number of keywords tied to their specialty, with the reasoning behind this being attracting links to the company site to support search engine rankings.

When reading the continuously updated Business.com Blog and B2B Online Marketing Blog, small business owners are one step ahead of the competition.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what they most want?



Catch a Sneak Peak from Netflix When Marketing Your Business


For anyone who has been living under a rock lately, Netflix is giving marketers a lesson in how to take a really good product and essentially play Russian Roulette with it . The advice to B2B marketers is quiet simple, don’t be too quick to entirely duplicate the Netflix sales and marketing plan of recent months or your efforts to script a successful business plan could get shot down.

In the event you have not been staying up to date on the soap opera that is “As the Netflix Turns,” here’s a look at some of the data:

Netflix’s third quarter reportings include:

  • Drops in domestic streaming subscriptions, DVD subscriptions, unique domestic subscription
  • 810,000: Subscriber losses in the U.S.
  • Declines in operating margins

Now don’t for a second think that Netflix is closing up shop and laying everyone off anytime soon.

The company, which has been tremendously successful for the most part, reported its profits went from $38 million in Q3 2010 to $62.5 million for the same time period in 2011.

Despite those numbers, Netflix stubbed its toes earlier this year with its now infamous announcement to raise prices and make customers who wanted both DVDs and online streaming to have to pay for a pair of plans instead of one. The proposed plan would have led to Qwikster, which died a quick death.

Needless to say, the outrage over such a move meant countless subscribers saying they would not renew their plans. The fallout from the proposed split and price increase led to the company doing spin control in a variety of mediums, including on its company blog.

According to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, “We think that $7.99 for unlimited streaming and $7.99 for unlimited DVD are both very aggressively low prices … and they are the right place for Netflix to be in the long term. What we misjudged was how quickly to move there … Our primary issue is many of our long-term members felt shocked by the pricing changes, and more of them have expressed that by canceling Netflix than we expected.”

So as a B2B marketer, what exactly can you learn from the decisions of Netflix as of late?

Among the things to consider are:

  • Any major price changes should be well thought out, especially during these financial times;
  • Communication with your base is important. While you’re not going to ask customers if they’d like a raise in fees, float it out there that your costs are rising, i.e. what can we possibly do to avert passing these along to you. There could be an amicable trade-off of services/costs in order to make everyone happy;
  • Do as much market research/surveys before pulling a major move like Netflix did with wanting to split off services. Feedback AHEAD of time from customers would have shown them that this was truly a bad idea;
  • Use social media to dispel any rumors, any incorrect facts or statements etc. It seems Netflix was late to the party when it came to defending itself on different SM platforms when all heck broke loose;
  • Market with the idea that your competitors will very likely take advantage of a negative situation you’re putting yourself in, so how will you be ready to deal with that?

Any price increases or major alterations to product and/or service, both too much and too fast, are bound to come back and get you.

In fact, they could cause people to leave in the middle of your production. Tell us how you’ve handled price changes in your business.

Photo credit: friendgiftr.com