3 Content Marketing Trends to Pay Attention to in 2013


We hear it all the time: “Content is King.” Content marketing is become more of a focus for B2B marketers as they begin to see the transition from telling to showing. Content enables marketers to provide buyers with the information they need while still promoting themselves as a thought leader and business that adds value to others. Relevance to the content recipient as well as how the content is distributed are things businesses need to pay attention to in 2013. Each year, there are some shifts in the marketing world, whether it is the adoption of a new platform or a transition from one strategy to the next. Content marketing is experiencing some shifts in trends in the New Year. The study “B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America,” conducted by Marketing Profs and CMI (Content Marketing Institute), provides some key trend takeaways.

Content Creation

The number of B2B marketers creating in-house content has risen 18 percentage points. While many still use a combination of in-house and outsourced content, it is becoming more common for businesses to keep content creation in-house. This is even true for larger companies, even though CMI found that the larger the company, the more likely it is to outsource content. 91% of B2B content marketers tailor their content in at least one way, compared with 88% last year. Content creation, whether it’s in house or outsourced, needs to be relevant. Different businesses tailor content in different ways. You can focus on the profiles of decision makers, where someone is in the buying cycle, or the company and industry characteristics. A great content marketer combines all three to create relevant and personalized information to business buyers.

Visuals

Marketers are beginning to see the impact of visuals in their content marketing strategies and it’s one trend you need to be on board with moving forward in 2013. One of the biggest jumps in tactics has been in the use of videos. While only 52% of B2B marketers used videos in 2011, 70% used videos in 2012 and that number is expected to grow even more in 2013. The majority (58%) of respondents in the CMI study believe that videos are an effective marketing tactic. With the increasing use of visuals, more and more marketers are using the photo-driven sharing site, Pinterest. In 2012, more than one-quarter of B2B marketers used Pinterest to distribute content. You can use videos, infographics, charts and images as visuals in your content. Publishers who use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12% more than those who don’t (AnsonAlex). Infographics and visuals need to be a part of your content marketing strategy.

Distribution

Over the past year, 13% more B2B marketers are using social media to distribute content. In 2012, 87% of those surveyed by CMI responded that they were distributing content via social media networks. With increased social network usage, the number of marketers using social media is bound to increase in 2013. B2B marketers use an average of 5 social media sites to distribute content. Here are some of the most popular social networks for those in the B2B arena.

  • LinkedIn was used by 83% of B2B marketers in 2012.
  • Twitter was used by 80% of marketers in 2012, an increase of 6% over 2011.
  • Facebook was used by 80%, an increase of 10% over 2011.
  • 61% of B2B marketers used YouTube in 2012.
  • 39% of the respondents used Google+ to distribute content.

Content marketing is an appealing way for marketers to connect with leads and customers, no matter where they are in the buying cycle. In 2013, the distribution of content over social networks will increase, visuals will become more common and more important, and content will need to be more tailored to the person receiving it. Customers and potential customers are tired of receiving “fluff” pieces that don’t translate to their professional lives. Providing relevant, visually-appealing content that is distributed across multiple platforms is how your business can become more successful with content marketing in 2013.

What other content marketing trends have you noticed in 2013?


Using Your Lead Scoring System to Nurture: Part II


In the previous post about lead scoring and nurturing, we talked about what lead scoring is, why businesses need to do it, and how to set up a scoring system. What do you do once you’ve scored a lead? This post will cover that. According to DemandGen Report, on average, nurtured leads produce a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. Once you have a scoring system in place, you can use it to nurture leads through the purchasing process. Here’s how you can get started nurturing leads based off your scoring system:

Sales-Ready or Near-Ready

Lead scoring provides insights into who the most sales-ready leads are. Sales-ready and near-ready leads need to be distinguished from one another. You will want to review your scores to make sure that those you would want to send to sales actually meet the minimum score to be sales-qualified. If the lead just misses the mark, they’re near ready and need to be nurtured. Sales-ready leads are a no-brainer and need to be passed to your sales team right away. It’s the near-ready ones you want to nurture as they get closer to making a purchase. Between calls and your more sales pitch oriented emails, you can promote the rich content your company offers that this lead will find valuable. There are a few ways you can nurture near-ready leads:

  • Ask: Ask these near-ready leads for more information as to what they’re waiting on. Is it pricing or something else? A call to touch base could give your greater insight into how close this customer is and what further information they will find valuable.
  • Email: Email out special offers and highlight benefits the customer can expect if they chose to do business with you. A discount or new insight could be the added push a prospect needs.
  • Get Personal: Business buyers have expressed that the relevance of individualized content is missing from sites they visit. Provide this for customers can you could see an increase in conversions.

Almost Ready

These are your leads that received a B/C grade, were rated as warm, or fall in the middle tier of your scoring system. Often times, these “almost ready” leads are those that are somewhere in the comparison phase of the buying cycle where they are comparing vendors. When a lead is almost ready to make a purchase, often they need a bit of encouragement or a bit more information. Nurture almost ready leads with:

  • Email: Send out special offers, invitations for free trials or demos, and relevant information such as case studies and your company media kit..
  • On-Site: On your website, offer buyer’s guides and analyst reports that are industry-oriented. Tie your on-site content into personal emails you send out. Reference one or two places on your site that the lead could find valuable.
  • Ask: Again, you can always ask a lead how they want to be contacted and with what information. This could open the gates of better communication between you and the customer.

Nowhere Near Ready

Maybe they filled out a form for more research information or to download a whitepaper, but this lead is not ready to make a purchase. These are the leads that fall in your D/E grade score, cold qualification or received a bottom score in your lead scoring system. These “nowhere near ready” leads are just beginning the research phase. They haven’t identified which companies are offering the best features and prices; they might not even know what features of a product or service could benefit their business the most. Nurture these leads with:

  • Email: Send emails to these leads with links to download whitepapers and e-Books. If they’ve just begun the research phase, this is the information they’re likely to find valuable.
  • Educate: These leads are looking for educational information, not a sales pitch or how you plan to win their business. Earn their business by building a relationship based on sharing educational information and best practices.
  • Call: Introduce yourself and let the lead know you are there to answer questions they have and provide them with the resources they need to make an informed decision. Start building your working relationship right away with an introduction call to touch base.

Every now and then, take a look at your scoring system to see if needs to be modified so that sales staff are receiving only the leads who are truly sales-ready. Talk with your sales and marketing teams to make sure the lead scoring system satisfies both their needs. Make sure any nurturing emails you send out comply with the CAN-SPAM Act and are relevant to the potential customer. Once you’ve gathered a lead’s information, nurture them until they are sales-ready. You can generate more sales-ready leads at a lower cost-per-lead.

Does your business score and nurture leads? Have you seen success in doing so?


Lead Nurturing Through Scoring: Part I


More and more, prospects and business buyers are turning to online channels to conduct research before they make a purchase. From webinars and whitepapers to e-books and blogs, these buyers are engaging and researching long before they are ready to buy. Businesses want to connect with those who are reaching the end of the research funnel and are ready to make a purchase. However, with lead nurturing, you can connect with a potential customer no matter where they are in the sales cycle, score them and then create content mapped for each step of the buying process so that when it comes time to buy, your brand is top of mind. According to Marketing Sherpa, only 27% of leads are sales-qualified. When this is the case, businesses need to pay attention to the majority who aren’t ready to buy and focus on establishing the  relationship with a lead nurture campaign by delivering the information buyers need to make a purchasing decision. In Part I of Lead Nurturing Through Scoring, we’ll discuss how your business should score leads for greater success.

What Is Lead Scoring and Why Should I Do It?

Lead scoring is when companies assign leads scores based on points or a ranking system that takes into account how far along someone is in the buying process. By utilizing a scoring system, sales and marketing departments can begin to work more closely for greater overall success while helping your company determine whether or not a prospect is sales-ready.

  • According to SiriusDecisions, of the 20% of leads that sales reps follow up on, 70% are disqualified. It’s a mistake to ignore those leads. Just because someone isn’t ready to buy now doesn’t mean you should cross them off your list as a lost lead. After all, 80% of prospects that don’t make the grade today will go on to buy from you or a competitor within the next 24 months.
  • Marketo reports that a 10% increase in lead quality, such as through a scoring system, can translate into a 40% increase in sales productivity.

Lead scoring allows you to reach ready-to-buy customers now while helping you nurture leads who are still in the research and comparison shopping phase of the sales funnel. Generate leads, score them, then hold on and nurture those who need it.

How Can I Set Up a Scoring System?

Setting up and implementing a scoring system for prospects isn’t something you should take lightly. It requires research and analysis. A faulty system could lead to a negative impact on lead conversions. However, if you put in the time and effort to create an accurate scoring system for your prospects, you can create an effective solution that generates a deeper understanding of leads for better nurturing and ultimately, greater conversion rates.

  • Gather Information: Take a look at your data to see what actions prospects that converted took before making a decision.
  • Focus on Your Target: Use information such as demographics, behavior, registration information, level of interest and level of engagement to determine your perfect prospect.
  • Establish a Methodology: You can use a weighted point system, term rankings or letter grades to indicate how close a prospect is to being sales-ready using the information you collected and the qualifications in what constitutes a perfect prospect.
  • Determine Your Threshold: You’ll need to determine the point at which a buyer goes from needing nurturing to sales-ready.
  • Test and Analyze Your Scoring System: Compare your new scoring methodology to past customers who converted to see where your system needs tweaking before you implement it.

Your scoring system can be as complex or as simple as you need it to be. Starting out with a simpler scoring system can help you determine which things need to changed and which are successful so that you can tailor the scoring system more accurately for your individual business. A system that is too loose or too tight won’t be successful. Once you have the scoring system in place, you can spend time nurturing the leads who are deemed to be not sales-ready. With the scoring system, you’ll be able to gear content more closely to align with demographics and industry while boosting their interest level and engagement level and creating higher-quality leads. Your sales team will become more efficient and your marketing team can better segment their content and strategies.

Part II will discuss your options in creating the right content, dependent on your scoring system, to nurture leads and increase conversions.

Does your business score leads? How?


Top 4 Content Marketing Takeaways From OMS San Diego


Business.com was all over the Online Marketing Summit in San Diego this year. Business.com exhibited at the show, attended a few keynotes and workshops, and connected with some impressive marketers. On top of gaining insights into industry trends, we took away some great marketing ideas and tools. Here are a few of the events our team attended and the key takeaways:

How to Discover Hundreds of Powerful Content Ideas for Your Business, Presenter: Arnie Kuenn from Vertical Measures

Content development needs to be a part of your marketing strategy. If you don’t think blogs are worth the time, think again. The presenter share this stat: businesses with blo
gs on their site get 55% more traffic. If you’re stuck when it comes to creating new content, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  • Provide quality content that is valuable to your readers. The value is what keeps them coming back.
  • Use Answers, Yahoo and Google extra suggestions to see what people are searching for around your keywords.
  • Use OpenSiteExplorer.org to see what pages of your competitors are being shared and linked to as this indicates which content consumers view as valuable. You should be writing on similar topics.

Content Marketing like a Pro: Tactics and Techniques to Increase Search Engine Visibility, Presenter: Daryl Colwell from MediaWhiz

All content shared/written should result in your business acquiring contact information from the reader, customer or buyer. As we’ve written about before, it is important to plan your publishing around the buying cycle so customers are getting the most pertinent information at the right time. Don’t be afraid to step out from purely text content. Use other types of content to lure new visitors in. For example, tease potential customers with a snippet of a whitepaper, then ask for them to register their email before getting full access to the content in its entirety. When possible, create an editorial calendar so that you don’t lose track of the content creations and promotions that are coming up. Whatever content you’re using, make sure that once it’s been created you’re promoting it with media.

Getting From ‘Like’ to Buy, Presenter: Kevin Ryan from Motivity Marketing

When sharing content on Facebook, get visual. Photos are more likely to be ‘Liked’ and shared on the social network. This is important for your business as these interactions are logged by Facebook and their EdgeRank algorithm.  If someone likes a photo, it will impact whether or not you are more likely to appear in their news feed down the line. Content on social networks needs to be consumable and shareable. Think quality over quantity. If you are wondering what that content is that will be most successful, look for correlations between what is doing well in terms of keywords on social and what is doing well on search. Sync advertisements and content with where your business is performing well in search traffic.

Improving Lead Generation Using the Social Media Advancements in 2012, Presenter: Rebecca Corliss from HubSpot

Consumers are in the driver’s seat. No longer can marketers pitch what they want and expect it to be what the consumer wants. Businesses need to change their strategies and focus on the customer first before creating content. When using social media to generate leads, you want to create content, whether it’s a landing or product page or a blog post, people will love. That lovable content is becoming visual. Images on Facebook will, on average, attain 53% more Likes than a regular post. Hubspot experienced a 17% visitor lead conversion by sharing their e-books on Pinterest as visuals. They also shared that when using Vine alongside Twitter for their #inbound chat they saw higher engagement for that session than they had when using Twitter alone. Marketers, make friends with your designers because marketing is becoming more and more visual and you’ll want their help.

We had a great time at the Online Marketing Summit and hope all those who attended did to. If you attended a workshop not listed here, let us know what key points you walked away with by leaving a comment, sending us a tweet, or connecting with us on Facebook.

Do you agree with the information these speakers shared?


Business.com Visits OMS San Diego 2013 and 3 Reasons Why You Should Too


This week San Diego is being taken over by marketers looking to learn more about digital marketing at the Online Marketing Summit. From digital commerce to more modern marketing strategies, OMS has a lot to offer. We’ll be there (stop by booth #320) and think you should be too. You’ll be given the opportunity to learn about where your business can more acutely develop a competitive advantage, engage and collaborate with marketers, and learn all the best practices to make your marketing campaigns more successful.

Networking

We won’t be the only ones at the event! Attending this summit is a great opportunity for businesses, large or small, to connect with others. By stopping by the various booths, attending interesting keynote speeches and speaking with other marketers, you’ll be able to connect with new companies and colleagues for possible business together in the future. Connect on social media, via email, or exchange contact information for future outreach.

  • Find and connect with those attending using the official event hashtag: #omsummit. We’ll be live tweeting during some of the seminars to keep you in the loop. Find the streams from our team at @b2bonlinemktg.

Education

Engage with the leading providers of digital marketing services and technologies, such as Business.com, by tuning into a seminar or two and popping by more than a few booths. At OMS, you’ll be given the opportunity to receive in-person demos in the expo hall, attend sessions that provide the best practices with case studies for support, and gain education that can be put to use at your business in little to no time at all.

  • Be sure to stop by the Business.com booth (located at booth 320). You’ll have a chance to enter to win an iPad and get a sneak peek of our upcoming site enhancements. You can also speak to a marketing consultant and learn about special OMS offers.

Inspiration

With a new network and new information from OMS, you’re sure to feel inspired as you leave each day. Whether it’s a random conversation about how to better segment your email marketing database or one of the takeaways from a keynote speech, you’ll be surround with inspiring ideas for more effectively marketing your business. This summit is aimed at collaborative engagement and education so that marketers can immediately impact their organizations. You should be feeling very inspired by the end of the week.

  • Whether it’s a lead generation campaign or how to incorporate calls to action more successfully on social media networks, take what you learned and consider what can be applied to your strategies now or in the near future.

 

The details:

What: Online Marketing Summit, San Diego

When: Monday, February 11 to Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Where: San Diego Convention Center, 111 West Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101

Who: Business.com will be located at booth 320 and will be tweeting from @b2bonlinemktg. Be sure to stop by and say hi!

If you’ll be there, leave us a comment and let us know!


The 2013 B2B Marketing Outlook and 3 Questions to Consider


b2b marketing 2013 outlookThe outlook from B2B marketers is positive in 2013. The BtoB Online report, “Outlook 2013: Marketing Priorities & Plans,” found 49% of respondents planned to spend more this year, up from 40% in 2012. They also found only 10% said they planned to cut their budgets, demonstrating optimism from B2B marketers. The majority of B2B marketing professionals plan to increase their budget, with digital marketing being a major focus. Because customers, clients and leads are online, more and more companies are seeing the need for their business to have a presence online. However, other areas such as direct mail, events, and telemarketing continue to be a focus. When putting a plan in to place for 2013, ask yourself these three questions.

What is the Objective?

Different businesses will have different goals in 2013. While objectives may differ from company to company, there are some common trends worth paying attention to. According to John DiStefano, BtoB research director, demand-gen and customer acquisition are marketers’ primary goals this year. This should be no surprise as every business owner and marketer is looking for ways to connect with new customers. Other goals included building brand awareness and customer retention. Part of that is building a better website, because that could be the first point of contact between your business and customer. BtoB found that 21% of budgets will be geared towards website development this year. Because businesses and
marketers are looking to reach new customers, they need to be where their customers are. This is where budget comes in to play – you want to put budget towards the types of marketing that are helping your business meet its goals most.

What about Budget?

While many nearly half of all B2B marketers plan to spend more this year, each area of their marketing strategy is receiving a different amount of the budgetary resources. Digital marketing will gain the most, with 67% planning to increase such spending, according to the BtoB Online poll, conducted in November, which drew 366 B2B marketer respondents. The world, and its consumers, is moving more towards the digital world when it comes to conducting research, gathering information, and making a purchase. Other areas projected to see increases include social marketing (cited by 56%), events (42%), and direct mail (35%). Social media networks and in-person events allow sales team and marketers to connect with current and potential customers on a more personal level and a personalized experience is what many customers are after. Mobile is one area many B2B marketers are turning their attention. 32% now use mobile in their marketing strategy and 35% of respondents plan to increase their spending on mobile marketing by 36%, however most marketers (68%) are not placing a high emphasis on mobile ads this year.

What is the Impact on Lead Generation?

New goals and a new spending strategy will have an impact on lead generation. As businesses figure where there customers are, dedicate more of their budget to those areas, and create more tailored content, it’s likely their lead generation efforts will yield a greater ROI. Rishi Dave, executive director-digital marketing at Dell Inc., explains “We have increasingly found that our customers want to consume content—which is the center of b2b marketing—in multiple formats beyond just the computer, whether it’s tablets or phones.” According to the B2B Online report, more than 1 in 5 use mobile apps as part of mobile strategy. As businesses gear their content and budget more towards where they are seeing the greatest ROI, their lead generation numbers will improve. Because B2B marketers are increasing their digital marketing spend, chances are their lead generation via digital marketing channels is going to increase. Where you change your spending is where you are most likely to see a change in lead generation.

B2B marketers are looking at 2013 with a positive view. Many are increasing their budgets and focusing on the digital aspect of their business. When it comes to resource allocation this year, make sure you’re paying attention to where trends are taking place, from new social networks, to whether your business is performing better via one channel versus another. B2B businesses are trying to reach their customers in those places where communication lines are better and where content is being sought. The key takeaway: be where your customers are.