Does Your Marketing Plan Fully Utilize Social Media?


small businessEven though some individuals think social media is a fad that will one day be a thing of the past, others have jumped on the social media bandwagon, looking to ride it as far as possible.

As a B2B marketer, what role has social media played in your marketing efforts over the first half of this year and in recent years?

According to a recent poll from software provider Satmetrix, most B2B companies still fail to track their social media activity, in effect ignoring customers that interact with brand pages online.

The poll of nearly 1,200 worldwide professionals points out that 51 percent of B2B companies actually have no social media tracking at their businesses, in comparison to 22 percent of their B2C counterparts.

Also noted in the survey was that 69 percent of B2B respondents actually turned a deaf ear to customers that offered feedback through social media due to the fact they had no system in place in order to offer a response.

With those businesses measuring effectiveness of social media, a mere four percent undertook sentiment analysis, while most (56 percent) resorted to counted remarks and followers, suggesting measurement techniques prove to be lacking when it comes to sophistication.

According to a spokesperson for Satmetrix, “While 77 percent of consumers post about products, 67 percent of businesses have no means of measuring what is being said and less than one in 20 have any insight into the sentiment of what is being said. This is both a huge threat and a massive lost opportunity.”

As a B2B marketer, ask yourself:

  • What is your company’s strategy towards social media?
  • What could you do better with social media that you are not currently using?
  • What feedback have you gotten from customers regarding your social media efforts?
  • What allocation of time and resources does your company put toward social media?

In the event your B2B marketing efforts have not involved a fair amount of social media, do you fully understand what you are missing out on?

In many cases, you could be coming across as anti-social.

Photo credit: buzzom.com


Is Your Marketing Message Leading You to Prospects?


As a B2B marketer, how do you go about reaching out to business prospects?

Several recent surveys take a look at how marketers are going after prospects; along with what is showing to be successful and what is not.

In the “2012 Tech Marketing Barometer Study” from IDC, lead generation was viewed as a major B2B marketing priority for this year.

Among the respondents, bettering lead generation obtained the highest score (20.7), followed by putting together more brand awareness (16.2) and improving on marketing processes (13.9).

Marketers were also questioned on their performance on lead scoring, defined as the qualification of lead readiness when utilizing quantitative criteria.

Among the findings:

  • A mere 10 percent of tech marketers indicated they do not score leads;
  • One-third indicated they have begun to score leads, however it is not done consistently;
  • One-third reported they score leads frequently centered on different prospect interactions like opening email or looking at webcasts;
  • Sixteen percent stated they have scored leads consistently for more than 18 months, now being able to tie interactions to buyer intent;
  • Eight percent noted they have been scoring leads for a number of years focused on ideal customer knowledge and purchaser readiness.

Content Needs to Be Strong Focus of Reaching Out

Meantime, data from DemandGen Report indicates that marketers are in fact turning away prospects as a result of zeroing in on the wrong content too often.

The data noted that:

  • 88 percent of respondents say they have used white papers for business research in the last year, 73 percent have utilized webinars, while more than 50 percent have used Ebooks, blogs and podcasts;
  • White papers were rated as “most valuable” more often than any other format (56 percent of those that rated white papers);
  • White papers have the greatest spread between very valuable and minimal value. Respondents are five times more apt to indicate they are the most valuable (30 percent) than to state they are the least valuable (6 percent). On the other hand, the spread for ebooks, webcasts and podcasts is smaller than three times;
  • Close to half (47 percent) opt for text or narrative content formats, with just 33 percent preferring more visual content formats;
  • White papers ranked as the most likely format to be shared (70 percent), followed by case studies. Meantime, only 40 percent share webcasts.

The research indicates that providing one’s prospects a number of options is important, with the white paper getting prominent stature in their lead generation plans.

As we prepare to head into the second half of 2012 in another month or so, are you meeting your lead generation goals?

If not, have you been reviewing your content to see if it is off the mark?

Photo credit: fitnessandspicemarketing.com

 

 

 

 

 


B2B Companies Should Review Best Practices, Especially in Light of Penguin


If your B2B company has not been raking in the revenue you would like, now might be a great time to review your SEO practices, especially in light of the Penguin algorithm update.

The bottom line is your Web site needs to generate a steady flow of traffic in order to keep business coming in and expanding those efforts to potential new customers. As you may or may not know, your site and your full online presence must be properly optimized in order to achieve the best results via search engines, most notably Google.

If you have not recently reviewed your online optimization efforts, take the time to do so now. Among the things you will want to make sure you are doing:

  • Make sure your white papers/guides are optimized – By sharing your documents that are engaging and informative, you increase the awareness of what products and services your business offers. Optimization should also be a priority with imagery in order to have them crawled. You also build inbound links to raise your SEO, along with moving traffic to your site;
  • Put together SEO-friendly press releases – Informative press releases that are properly distributed will show up in Google News, giving you a good outlet to get your company’s information in front of many eyes;
  • Google place listing – When you have a finalized Google place listing, you will find that it is easier for your customers to locate you. Be sure to items like images, important contact information, deals and promotions, along with a solid description of what the company offers;
  • Utilize anchor text – It is important to have your anchor text strategically placed in order to insert a hyperlink behind a focused keyword that you want to stand out;
  • Utilize no-follow links – According to Google, a Web site that has links directed viewed by the search engine giant as being highly concentrated in spam can impact both the reputation and ranking of your own site. In order to battle link spam, utilize the no-follow link command. When it is turned on, a search engine crawler does not follow the link, while your site will not be penalized for direction to a spam locale;
  • Make sure your inbound links are beneficial – One of the best ways to gain positive attention from Google’s rankings is by making sure you have a large number of links from high-quality sites. The best way to go about this is by finding quality bloggers within your industry and swapping links with them;
  • Content rules – At the end of the day, quality and engaging content does make a difference. You want material that serves the needs of your current and potential customers (write with them in mind), with content that is original and provides focused keywords.

The Penguin Surfaces

As for the recent emergence of the Penguin algorithm, the numbers are in to show what kind of impact it has had to date.

Google reports the Penguin update impacted 12 percent of all searches, only affecting approximately 3.1 percent of all searches done in English.

For those that were still trying to understand Panda and had yet to focus on Penguin, this latest algorithm penalized those sites applying keyword stuffing and unusual linking patterns, among which would be anchor text links for targeted keywords not directly related to content on a page.

In order to better your ranking situation if you were left out in the cold by Penguin, there are some things you can do. They include:

  • Fess up to your site being punished and then correct the matter, be it cleaning up bad links and/or rewriting and providing fresher content;
  • Resubmit the improved content to get Google’s blessing;
  • Going forward, only utilize ethical SEO tactics;
  • Always be prepared for another Google algorithm procedure, meaning review your site from time to time to make sure your content is what it needs to be, along with fixing any linking issues.

How often does your business review its SEO best practices, and have you seen a hit recently on your site due to Penguin?

Photo credit: silverbackmarketing.com


Revitalize Stale Email Marketing Campaigns


We’ve all had that telltale sense of dread.

After spending days putting together an email detailing our newest offer (Brand new product! Never seen before! Will solve all your life problems, from varicose veins to a bad golf game!), we send the email out and wait for the responses to roll in.

Rather than roll in, however, they trickle in so slowly that a midday email from Grandma makes us sit up and take notice. (That is, until we realize Granny isn’t interested in our product, either – she just wants to know if we’re coming to dinner Sunday night.)

This sense of disappointment doesn’t have to be par for the course when you’re running email marketing campaigns. Rather than resolving yourself to lagging responses and sub-par returns on your investment, make it your goal to revitalize your campaign.

What Successful E-Marketers Do

Email marketing can come across as spam. (Shocking, no?) Successful campaigns begin with trust. The recipients of email marketing must recognize and welcome messages from the sender. Because of this inherent need for trust, strong e-marketers don’t rent or buy email lists. Nothing turns people off faster except, perhaps, Grandma’s meatloaf.

If you’re sending email via a third party, make sure their list is responsive. Are they following the Marketing Golden Rule to give as much as you take? Like any relationship, email marketing requires a balance. If you’re constantly trying to sell people through your emails, they’ll quickly tire of receiving them. Good e-marketers try to provide value as often as they sell. They provide real benefits – not just discounts on their stuff. Subscribers look forward to receiving their mailings because they offer tips, access to information, and other exclusive content for free.

Successful marketers act as if their emails are going to be read by actual humans. This means that their text is written in plain, natural language. Writing emails as if they’d go to a friend or a family member works better than trying to over-market. People see through the awkward verbiage of someone desperately trying to sell a product. But someone who’s writing so that even Grandma understands why this new-fangled contraption is interesting will entice more readers.

When writing, these marketers also pay close attention to their subject lines.

Like article headings, subject lines must grab the attention of the recipient. It’s the surest way to keep them from automatically deleting your message. How do you know what gets them intrigued? Target and tailor your campaigns. You can only knock on someone’s door so many times; when you do, make sure it’s worthwhile for both of you. Determine your ideal audience or target demographic, and build your campaign around them.

For example, my clients are eBook enthusiasts; when sponsors send emails to our client base, we suggest that they offer an eBook or an e-Guide in their campaign because that’s what our audience wants. It’s a win-win for our clients and our sponsors.

What Lackluster Campaigns Do

The least successful email campaigns are created without spam triggers in mind.

Email providers, including Gmail and Yahoo!, review each email before they direct them appropriately. Emails riddled with spam triggers – spam keywords, excessive links, and a low ratio of text to images – get siphoned into junk mail, or aren’t delivered at all. (Are you seeing why these are the least successful campaigns?) It’s impossible to get feedback if your emails are never read, so familiarize yourself with the most important spam triggers so you can make it past first base.

Similarly, bad email marketing doesn’t comply with CAN-SPAM regulations. Companies who fail to properly identify themselves or provide unsubscribe methods are quickly blacklisted. These aren’t optional details – these regulations are law. The only way to make your bad campaign worse is to get fined $16,000 by law enforcement for each email sent. Talk about a nightmare!

Finally, weak campaigns are never split tested. Split testing allows you to see which elements of your campaigns are most successful – or most disliked. Split tests quickly show marketers what’s stale about their existing campaigns, whether it’s their design, their copy, or their offer.

Several variations of split testing exist, so there’s no good excuse for e-marketers to not do it. If, somehow, your business is against split testing, at the very least you should be tracking your open rates, your click-through rates, and which links are getting the most hits. You can’t replicate success if you don’t know what was successful in the first place, but you can certainly fail over and over again by doing the same things.

By carefully considering your text, your approach, and your customers’ needs, you’re more likely to strike gold with your next email marketing campaign.

Keep your recipients’ perceptions in mind as you develop your campaign, and success shouldn’t be far behind. (Heck, maybe even Grandma will want what you’re selling.)

Photo credit: scholesmarketing.com

About the author: Nicolas Gremion is CEO of Free-eBooks.net, a source for free eBook downloads, eBook resources, and eBook authors, and Foboko.com, a social publishing network.


Should I Increase My B2B Marketing Budget the Remainder of the Year?


As B2B marketers review their options for keeping their budgets in line the remainder of 2012, holding the line entirely on spending does not seem to be an option for a number them.

Two recent reports surveying how B2B marketers planned to spend their budgeting funds for 2012 indicate a plan to increase such budgets and a turn toward marketing automation solutions.

First, a recent report from Forrester Research notes that B2B marketers say they will grow their marketing budgets by 6.8 percent during the year.

According to B2B Marketers Must Focus on Partnership and Experimentation as 2012 Budgets Rises, a little more than one-fourth (27 percent) of marketers will increase their budgets somewhere between 10 to 19 percent this year. Twenty percent of them state they will likely grow their budgets between 5 percent and 9 percent, while 18 percent plan to increase budgets anywhere from 1 to 4 percent. Lastly, 16 percent of marketers indicate they will be enhancing their budgets by more than 20 percent this year.

The survey also points out that industries planning to utilize the greatest portion of their budgets on marketing include finance and insurance (3 percent), high-tech (2.7 percent) and pharma and medical (2.6 percent).

While B2B marketing budgets for this year have already been planned out, that does not mean they cannot be tweaked to fit necessary needs.

Among the ways to make sure you came up with the right budget for this year are:

  • Review the 2011 budget to see where alterations were made during last year and whether or not those proved to be wise decisions;
  • Did you use blank-page budgeting? If so, you are able to construct the budget as you go along, using both the marketing plan and its marketing communications tactics to better assist your needs;
  • Allowing for potential cuts. In the event your boss/bosses are discussing plans to trim the budget from its present state, discuss with them which area of sales they would be comfortable part with, given the fact decreasing the budget will lead to less sales revenue;
  • See what the competition has done. One means by which to potentially stave off major slashes in the B2B marketing budget is by showing management what the competition has been doing to date. If there are areas to where you can capitalize on moves the competition has made, you are more likely to get approval from management.

Meantime, a Wakefly survey of several hundred B2B marketers’ points out the attention towards marketing automation solutions this time around.

According to the survey, while B2B marketers previously indicated allocating less than 3 percent of their entire online marketing budget to marketing automation solutions in the past, now more than 10 percent indicate doing such.

Overall, 61 percent of those surveyed said 2012 would provide them with budget increase, with 31 percent planning the same expenditures as they had in 2011. A mere 8 percent said this year’s budget would shrink from a year ago.

Other major growth was expected in marketing allocations for PPC search and landing page design, together making up another 30 percent of B2B marketing allocations for this year.

Surprisingly, no increase was noted in allocations over 2011 for both social media marketing and e-mail marketing.

In looking at the first four months of 2012, what appears to be working for you and what is not doing as well?

With seven months left to go in the year, what changes if any are planned for your B2B marketing budget?

Photo credit: marketingprofs.com