Search Marketing 2013 Trends and B2B Takeaways


Search marketing continues to evolve as search engines and algorithms become more customer-centric, focusing on what the individual searching is really after when they type a phrase or keyword into a search box. A recent study, the BrightEdge 2013 Search Marketer Survey, took a look at what trends are changing the strategies of search marketing professionals. In this post, we cover how data integration, mobile devices, social media and content are all impacting the efforts of search marketers.

Data Integration

Innovation in digital marketing platforms means B2B marketers are using a number of search and social media marketing platforms in order to be successful. Integrated marketing across multiple channels can help your business better understand the productivity of each channel as well as the interactions between each channel to drive conversions. 81% of participants in the BrightEdge survey responded that it will be more important to integrate marketing data across channels and measure cross-channel ROI than it was last year (Tweet this!). As marketers, we want to be able to measure all our efforts to prove what we’re doing has a purpose. Making data-driven decisions is crucial to a business’s success. Integrate your data across search engines, social media and online advertising to discover what is making an impact in branded search, keyword search and search marketing success overall.

  • Takeaway: Big Data is a big word. While having a large amount of data to work with may seem like a big burden, integrating data across platforms is one project that must be tackled. Integrated data can help you determine the true value of each channel for more targeted decision making.

Mobile Devices and Smartphones

Smartphone and tablet use is on the rise, showing no signs of slowing. Optimizing a site for mobile/tablet search is becoming increasingly more important. Many businesses are finding that larger percentages of those coming to their page from search engines are on mobile devices. 52% of those polled responded that optimizing their site for mobile or tablet search will be much more important this year than last year (Tweet this!). Mobile optimization is a key aspect of effective marketing in 2013.

  • Takeaway: Optimize your website for mobile devices now. Make sure you work with your tech team and design team so that the experience is a fluid, cohesive one for each and every customer. A mobile-friendly site will boost your mobile search performance.

Social Media

Search engines are beginning to rely on social channels to indicate whether or not the content a site is producing is valuable to consumers. Social signals, and social traction, influence how search engines decide to rank pages and sites. Because social sharing is influencing ranking, search marketers and social media teams need to work together. BrightEdge found that 80% of search marketers think the social sharing of content as a means to improve rank will be more important in 2013, compared to 2012. While goals differ from company, consider which networks you will be focusing on in 2013 and the topics trending on each of those – they won’t all be the same. In order to increase ranking, identify trending topics in social media and then look to drive social sharing for pages relevant to these same topics.

  • Takeaway: Get active on social media and begin analyzing the trends to see how they directly correlate to your business, your products or services, and your audience. Social media trends can indicate the type of content your team should be sharing on social media at that moment and in the near future.

Content Marketing

Producing, sharing and managing content is a key priority for many in 2013 and moving forward. Content marketing is an inbound tactic that encourages businesses and brands to earn their customers. 41% of the BrightEdge respondents will spend much more time on content creation and management with another 42% saying they’ll spend more time than they did last year. The type of content that will benefit your business the most varies depending on your industry, but there is value in producing and managing more than one type. The types of content that will be most valuable are: social engagement (78%), blog article outreach (67%), infographics (43%) and thought leadership (43%). Content marketing builds brand awareness and encourages external linking from other sites, businesses and bloggers.

  • Takeaway: While content marketing by nature is a form of inbound marketing, businesses that want to truly be successful with their content marketing efforts need to focus on creating content that is link-worthy. What types of content is your audience and the media most likely to link back to? Create that!

Full-Circle SEO

A successful SEO strategy includes a 360 degree analysis of what affects the rank of a page for targeted keywords. One of the biggest trends BrightEdge discovered in their survey is that 75% of search marketers think a page-based SEO approach (as opposed to a keyword-driven approach) will be more important in 2013 than in 2012. On-page and off-page parameters that affect linking need to be considered as business evaluate their search strategy for 2013. Internal linking structure and external link development are both important parts of any successful SEO strategy. Links help search engine bugs crawl pages for importance and navigation. Internal link analysis will be much more important to 30% of search marketers in 2013, compared to 2012 (Tweet this!). Marketers not only want to analyze their links, they want to know right away whether or not there is a problem with their page so they can take action faster.

  • Takeaway: The linking structure of your business needs to be spot on. Invest in a consultant or SEO agency to help you ensure your site won’t be hit with penalties. SEO specialists and strategists need to pay attention to the entire linking structure, with internal and external links in mind.

Search is evolving as technological advancements take place. Social media and mobile devices, the emphasis on content, and a full-circle SEO and data approach are causing a shift in the search marketing landscape. Businesses need to appeal to search engines and the things that are being considered in their algorithms. Social signals, quality content, and internal and external links are all a part of that.


Display Ad Spend Grows at 17% Annually – Have You Considered the Impact on Search?


From sponsored posts on Facebook and Twitter to display retargeting campaigns, businesses have to choose wisely in order to ensure positive ROI on their marketing campaigns. When there are a number of online advertising options available for businesses, it can be difficult to decide which is best. While some may be cautious about the potential impact of display advertising on their bottom line, a recent Harvard Business School study, found that display ads have a significant impact on search applications, as well as clicks, and search ads showed significant dynamic effects on search applications that made them very cost effective in the long run. Forrester expects interactive display marketing investment to grow at a compound annual rate of 17% in the United States between 2012 and 2017. Here’s how your display advertising campaigns can impact search.

Branded Search Queries

A small number of studies examine the interaction between paid search and display. However, these studies have found that display advertising has an overall positive impact on branded search queries. Online display advertising essentially spills over, leading to an increase in brand awareness and branded searches. For those businesses looking to build brand awareness, consider your current investment in display advertising. Have you seen any spikes in branded search terms that align with your display campaigns? You probably have, but here’s how display advertising can affect branded search queries by the numbers:

  • A 2012 field experiment to explore the impact of display advertising on advertiser – and competitor – branded search queries found a 27%-45% lift in searches attributable to display advertising exposure within a very short time window (10 minutes).
  • A recent study found keyword searches for the brand increased by an average of 94% for consumers exposed to a display ad compared with a group of similar consumers who were not exposed to display advertising.
  • Another study found that combining display with search increases brand recall, by those who had been unaware of it before, by 6% and for aided brand recall, that rate jumped to 26% of participants.

Product Search Queries

Branded search queries aren’t the only searches impacted by display advertising. The combination of organic search plus display advertising leads to a lift in specific product search queries. If you’re launching a new product or set of products, display advertising can help generate buzz and boost searches for the release. Here’s how display advertising affects product search queries by the numbers:

  • One study found that exposure to a display ad increases the number of relevant search queries submitted by 5-25% when conducting a field experiment to explore the impact of display exposure on search queries.
  • A recent survey found that about 50% of all internet users react to a display ad by conducting a search related to the brand or product described in the ad and 14% of users make a purchase after conducting the search.
  • Another study found a 14% change in search visits after a company activated its display advertising campaign. In the Harvard Business School’s, display ads improved search ad conversion by 15‐20%.

Search isn’t the only area impacted by display advertising.  Display advertising drives search applications through search impressions and clicks. The Harvard study found that display impressions move consumers through search media, whether it’s through search or direct click-throughs. Not only that, they discovered display ads have a significant impact on search applications, as well as clicks, though the majority of this spillover took effect after two weeks. Targeted display advertisers on Business.com experience average click-through rates that are over 250% of the industry average. These studies, as well as others, indicate that display advertising does affect search. For companies looking to increase the number of searches about their business or products they offer, display advertising is an option to consider.

What success has your business seen with display advertising? Is there something you would change in the display ad space?


Landing Pages That Stick for Conversions That Soar


Landing Pages and ConversionA well-executed landing page can greatly increase conversions for your business’s lead generation campaigns. Rather than directing visitors to your home page, you can direct them to a specially-designed landing page that steers them down your conversion funnel. Landing pages are an extension of your online marketing campaigns and to maximize conversions, landing pages should be geared to the reason the person has clicked-through. Here are the three key elements of a successful landing page.

Call to Action (CTA)

Before you begin to draft the design of your landing page, determine what it is you want visitors to your site to do. Depending on your online marketing goals, you need to create expectations and method for measuring results. Are you trying to increase newsletter subscribers? Do you want them to test-run your service with a free trial? Your call to action should be directly tied to your goals. It may seem obvious, but some businesses forget to ask for what it is they want. If you want someone to download a program you offer, having a download button is necessary to a successful landing page. Keep it simple but let people know what exactly it is that they are downloading, subscribing to, etc. A call to action isn’t enough if people don’t know what they are getting from entering their information. Only ask for the vitals, otherwise too many fields may scare off potential conversions.

Content

“Clear, concise and persuasive” should be your mantra for landing pages. Provide enough information so that people who have never heard of your company, or are unsure of what it is you offer, can get a handle on just how much your product will benefit them. Groupon’s landing page simply says that you’ll save 50-90% off. While a single sentence or two may work for some, it doesn’t for most. You want to provide enough interesting information to warm up visitors and encourage them to continue in the direction you want, following the CTA. Always have at least one picture for eye-catching appeal. If possible, have a video. Try it out with a control group and monitor the results. Studies from eyeviewdigital.com report up to 80% improvements in conversion. You can often reuse the video for placement on YouTube.

Design

Design is very important when it comes to landing pages. Too much design can feel overwhelming and not enough can bore visitors. Keep your landing pages consistent with the design of the email or PPC marketing campaigns that led the visitor there; this includes fonts and colors. Studies have shown that single, centered-column landing page is the most effective, but you can test out other layouts to match your marketing campaigns. Keep in mind where the page fold occurs. Have your call to action clearly stated and above the line. Of course, you don’t want to lose people who scroll down so scattering your calls to action is beneficial as well. Provide the essential information above the fold, and if you need a longer page, include additional information below the fold. Making sure your call to action is a flattering, color contrast to the rest of the page is great way to draw attention to that section of the page.

Simple, well-designed landing pages can increase your conversions from marketing campaigns but remember, that testing is key. Be consistent with the design that has led people to the page and make the call to action clear. Landing pages are about extending marketing campaigns and in order to have a successful conversion rate, these pages should provide just enough interesting and informational content to show the visitor just how this product/service can benefit them. Pay attention to your CTA, content, and design to improve your landing pages and boost conversions.

 

What are some of your landing page best practices? Tell us what is working for you

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net


Corporate Marketers’ Need to Zero In on Communication (Part 2)


As more and more B2B companies are discovering, the role played by the corporate marketer has a big impact on the success of the business.

That thinking is further supported by a recent report from the Institute for the Study of Business Markets at Penn State University and Illinois-based marketing agency Blue Canyon Partners.

Moving on from the first part of the study, this research centered on ongoing talks with B2B marketers, identified the 10 best practices for corporate B2B marketers.

Points six through 10 include:

6. Teach and Communicate - Corporate marketing must take advantage of the opportunity to bring a common language of the marketing discipline to their firm. In B2B firms, oftentimes the whole concept of “marketing” is quite misunderstood. Corporate marketing must facilitate common language and learning throughout the business, and take accountability for communicating what marketing is all about.

The success of the majority of messaging programs starts with the company’s own employees and close-in stakeholders. They are responsible for ensuring that their colleagues know of corporate-wide changes taking place, whether fundamental changes in the firm’s business model or changes tied to new corporate marketing communication efforts. Providing information regarding the changes permits for internal build buy-in to the new directions. They assist employees in answering questions from customers and suppliers, because, as many business-to-business marketers know, third parties are more apt to first turn to employees to obtain answers.

7. Drive Internal Integration - Corporate marketing must also form cross-functional integration, which is absolutely necessary in executing marketing plans. They understand that good marketing plans are not developed and then “handed off” to other functions. Good marketing plans incorporate tight integration with numerous functions throughout the corporation – most especially the sales function – as they’re developed.  Marketers get inputs from finance, operations, research and design, engineering, corporate communications, and other functions as plans are developed.  They are vigilant in connecting marketing plans to the major functions that will implement or execute them.

8. Communicate during a Crisis – Along with the public relations department, corporate marketing owns the responsibility for the company’s communications during a time of crisis.  Due to the fact crises often impact customers, suppliers, distributors, and other constituents, it’s very important that a well-coordinated crisis communication plan, with protocols and practiced processes, is set up in advance of a crisis. Marketing assists to plan, design and resource this process, and is an important cog in the crisis team when a situation arises.

9. Introduce New-to-the-World Trends and Tools – Companies that are passionate when it comes to deeply understanding new trends, new ideas, and new tools rely on corporate marketing to bring this learning to the table in a balanced and actionable way. These topics can include the need to understand global changes, assess the economic outlook, address technology trends, think on the implications of new business model concepts, stay up to speed on changes in the competitive environment, etc. From recent social networking phenomena to the economic global shifts underway in the 21st century, corporate marketing must put together a forum so that this information can be leveraged and spread throughout the corporation, and assist businesses deal with concepts that might well first appear to be “out in left field”, but which in truth can profoundly impact on success down the road.


10. Understand Marketing Funding and Measurement - Corporate marketing functions move through a number of maturity levels as to how they’re funded, and how their success is measured.

If the funding model for the corporate marketing function involves ongoing cycles of justification with business units, all of whom contribute to the corporate marketing function budget (by way of an allocation or what is often viewed as a “tax”), the real leverage of this function is greatly limited.  While this methodology does ensure ongoing contact with the business units, this model can often lead to on-going wasteful discussions and a corporate function whose fate increases and decreases with the state of the economy, and business-unit-specific politics.

When a corporate matching fund is deployed well, it enhances connection between the corporate and business unit functions, greases the skids of execution, and can result in healthy synergistic relationships.

 

In conclusion, in the B2B environment corporate marketing must bring superior competencies, stronger processes, crisper language and brand direction to the forefront.  The move toward world-class corporate marketing takes time and investment, but involves a path that does not detour into the long-term parking lot. By zeroing in on the Top 10 best practices described, a corporate marketing leader can start a journey toward contributing enormously to the enterprise’s goals.

As a B2B marketer, are you willing and able to try and tie some of these principles into your pay-per-click campaigns and lead generation?

Photo credit: reducedprinting.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


5 Must-Haves for Your PPC Optimization Toolkit


By Jeanine Leder, Business.com Account Manager

Running a successful PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaign in today’s highly competitive marketplace requires specific knowledge about the demand and marketability of the product or service you are selling. To achieve the very best ROI on your advertising dollar, it is important to make sure your PPC campaigns are closely monitored and optimized.

Here are the Top 5 best practices Business.com follows to optimize our advertisers’ Pay-Per-Click campaigns:

1)      Data Analysis – Allocate a set period of time each day to collect and analyze keyword data, click volume, conversion rates, sources of traffic and daily uptime of the campaign to determine where the client’s budget is best spent.  Compare how these metrics measure up against the advertiser’s individual goals to ensure that we are delivering the highest ROI.

  1. Keyword Data – Business.com performs keyword research at the campaign level to draw the most appropriate audience to achieve the optimal CPL.  Account managers have narrow, specific keyword lists for those clients focused on low CPL and profitability, as well as large broad keyword lists for those clients desiring high traffic and brand awareness. Using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, relevant keyword lists can be produced using “exact match”, “phrase match”, or “broad match” options to generate the keywords to match the campaign goals.
  2. Conversion Rates/Sources of Traffic – Using some form of conversion tracking is critical to track metrics down to the keyword and category levels. It also provides you with visibility into how individual traffic sources are performing so that you can focus on those  sources that are delivering the highest ROI.

2)      Category Relevance – We find that campaign goals and target audience can vary wildly depending on the advertiser, the product or service and so on. Identifying your goals before launching a new campaign ensures that you are starting out your campaign on the right foot.  When we launch a new advertiser campaign on Business.com, we spend time getting to know the client’s business and their specific goals for the marketing campaign. Based on the information gathered from the client, we recommend all categories that may produce high conversions.

3)      Landing Page Evaluation – A landing page is the page that a potential customer comes to after he/she clicks on an ad. High quality, relevant landing pages drive the highest conversion rates.  Our team of account managers are trained to recognize the features of an effective landing page and work with clients to optimize the landing page to maximize ROI on the campaign. For more information on landing page optimization, read our earlier blog post.

4)      Ad Copy – Writing effective ad copy to reach the targeted audience(s) is not an exact science. Account managers work with clients to test different ad copy to find out what converts.  When writing ad copy, put yourself in the shoes of your audience. How do they think?  What would persuade them to click on your ad?  Be sure that your ad copy is clear and relevant to your landing page, but don’t hesitate to get creative and use an eye grabbing phrase that will lure the audience in and get the click.

5)      Budget –Close monitoring of budgets is key to ensuring that your company’s marketing dollars are being used effectively.  All of the steps above will give you the information that you need to make budgeting decisions based on your ROI.

 

A successful online marketing campaign does not happen overnight. It is rarely a case of “hitting the bullseye” right out of the gates.  It takes time, trial and error, close analysis and a bit of money to get things running smoothly and profitably.  Following the 5 tips listed above will help to get you rolling in the right direction. Tell us where you’ve found success with your PPC campaigns.


Optimize your Pay-Per-Click Campaign with these Free Tips and Strategies


[Asaad Bhamla is a new guest blogger and a Business.com marketing consultant who works with small and medium-sized businesses to meet their search marketing goals. He blogs about new business trends at The Online Economy, to learn more click here. ]

A pay-per-click advertising campaign is an effective way to immediately drive traffic to your company’s website. But whether that traffic converts into an actual lead or sale depends on your overall strategy and execution.  I’ve interviewed Greg Pritchard, one of Business.com’s dedicated campaign optimization specialists. Greg helps clients optimize their PPC campaign for success, striving to meet and exceed their goals every day. Greg shares proven strategies and actionable tips and tactics you can use today. Here are just a few things he shared with me:

Q: What is the most important step a new advertiser should take when setting up their PPC campaign?

A: Know what is going to determine success for you. My advertisers have goals such as lead generation, ROI or brand awareness. Based on your goals, set up conversion tracking to measure key metrics like cost-per-lead, bounce rate, time spent on a page,  etc. This will let you track the success of the campaign and make necessary adjustments. 

Landing pages are another important factor in the success of a new campaign. Make sure there is a clear call to action that correlates with your ad copy. Ideally, if this is a lead generation campaign, there should be a lead capture form on this page.

Q: Once a campaign is up and running, what strategy do you use to optimize campaign performance?

A:  Business.com offers a number of different metrics to measure a campaign. Within the account management dashboard there are performance indicators. These are based on the click through rates of an ad. This is an easy way to monitor the performance of specific keyword categories and ad copy. Performance can be improved by more tailored titles and ad copy. The higher the performance indicator the more traffic an ad will drive at a lower CPC.

It is also important to maintain the highest rank possible on a page. We have noticed that advertisers who capture one of the top three spots receive better ad performance and higher conversion rates.

Q: Tell me about a specific optimization tactic that you’ve seen success in.

A:  Creative cross marketing can drive quality leads from sources you might not have thought of.  For example, target your ads for printers to new businesses in the “Starting a Small Business” category. Many of our advertisers have been happy with the results of well thought out cross marketing.

Q: What does successful ad copy look like?

A: Effective copy can significantly improve conversions and lead quality. Here is an example of ad copy that was successful on a client’s campaign;

100% US Based Outsourced Call Center – One World Direct®
2010 ATSI Call Center Award Winner. Top Companies Choose OWD For 24/7 Inbound Call Center Services. Click For Pricing!
Inbound | Customer Service | Email & Web Chat | Get A Quote 
www.owd.com

Ad copy should include a direct call to action that will entice the user both to click and to convert (“Click For Pricing”). Key aspects of the brand’s value must be identified in the title (in this example, 100% US based). Also include key “trust indicators”, like the ® symbol and the recent award in the description. Finally, leverage multi-links that illustrate the broad variety of services provided by OWD and provide an additional call to action (“Get A Quote”).

These are a few tips to get you started. If you have any questions about managing your PPC campaign or want to share your success stories, please leave a comment below and I’d be happy to answer them for you.


Small Business Online Marketing Video Series – Expert Pay-Per-Click Tips & Strategies


This is the beginning of a series that will feature several how-to videos speaking directly to small businesses and addressing their online marketing needs. We know small business online marketers are strapped for time, so we have committed to delivering the most pertinent information in 5 minutes or less. Discover specific tactics and strategies you can implement today to begin boosting your online marketing performance tomorrow. If you would like to jump ahead in the series visit our YouTube channel here.

Looking for a crash course in online marketing? We’ll cover topics such as search engine marketing, pay-per-click (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO) and social media.

In our first featured video, our very own Business.com expert Matt Gussin Manager of Account Management walks you through the process of setting up a PPC campaign from start to finish in “Guide to Pay-Per-Click Advertising for Small Business”. 

Matt reviews the basics and more advanced topics of starting a PPC campaign including how to plan a paid search campaign, how to optimize your ad copy and how to select the proper keywords to maximize ROI.

Tell us what you think! Did you find this video helpful? What other subjects would you like to see covered?


Your B2B Search Marketing & Social Media Marketing Questions Answered


This is part two of a two-part blog post – Recapping the Business.com and BtoB Webinar, ‘Finding B2B Marketing Success Integrating Social Media and Search’

As promised, we’ll address many of the additional questions asked during Thursday’s webinar that we were unable to answer during the Q&A. To view the on-demand version of the webinar, click here.

In reviewing the questions, we evidenced a common desire among marketers to understand more clearly how they can measure social media and better integrate it with their search marketing efforts, a trend supported by the responses of more than 450 marketers in our recent co-sponsored survey.

In fact, our survey revealed more than half of B2B marketers currently do not use a social media monitoring tool to measure their social media efforts, even though three-quarters of marketers are currently using social media to enhance their search marketing efforts.

It’s clear marketers understand that (1) social media is an important part of an online marketing program and (2) that social media can be used to enhance search marketing efforts. However, when it comes to truly executing on the measurement of efforts, many marketers are unclear how to proceed. Our in-webinar poll reaffirmed this assumption in showing that 41% of marketers are currently not measuring their social media efforts; only 27% are using a social media monitoring tool.

Many attendees asked us similar questions surrounding the measurement of social media and the integration of social with search; to better educate our attendees and B2B online marketers, check back in the coming weeks for our upcoming solution guide detailing the top social media monitoring tools available for B2B marketers.

In the interim, we’ve addressed some of the main questions asked during the webinar. If you have additional questions on this webinar, feel free to contact us directly or comment on this blog post.

Q: How did you define/determine ‘The Best’ and ‘The Rest’?

A: The two groups, ‘The Best’ and ‘The Rest’ were a result of respondent segmentation on this within the Business.com and BtoB Survey: “What has been the overall impact of social media channels on the search performance of your business website(s)?”

Respondents who answered as having a positive impact (either ‘very positive’ or ‘positive’) were grouped into the segment ‘The Best’ (n = 205). Respondents answering anything other than these two choices (neutral, negative, very negative or don’t know) were grouped into ‘The Rest’ (n = 259). Data was then rerun for each segment and statistical significance was analyzed.

Q: For the BtoB/Business.com Survey, you said that the survey consisted of 464 people. Was that a random sample? How did you find the participants?

A: Participants were recruited through multiple BtoB Online E-mails that went out from July 1 – 16. Recipients were asked to complete the survey and were provided with an incentive to be entered into a raffle to win an iPad.

Q: Also for the BtoB/Business.com survey, what types of businesses participated and what industries were represented?

A: Respondents were primarily B2B decision-makers in an executive or managerial role that were overseeing or managing directly both paid search and social media marketing.  Responses on key variables were not significantly different between B2B and B2C respondents so that data was pooled for analysis purposes.  Although there were some specialty marketers, many (33%) were general B2B marketers and had cross-channel roles and responsibilities.  Most companies had fewer than 250 employees (59%) and were from a variety of industries, including high/tech, advertising and media.

 

Q: Must you post on multiple social sites, or is it beneficial to focus on Facebook and Twitter? Is it necessary to also go to Digg and others? Or should you stick to one venue?

A: Again, it all depends on what your overall goals are for your social media efforts – let your objectives determine the appropriate social media channels. We found within the study that The Best marketers were using, on average, more social media channels than the rest, so definitely don’t be afraid to use more than one social media channel and continue to try out and test new channels that might fit with your overall goals.

Q: What is another option besides CTR that will help track views/sales?

A: Some social media monitoring tools like Radian6 or Viralheat are CRM compatible and will allow you to link social media activity to clients and prospects, better allowing you to capture the influence of your social media programs. The majority of CRMs (like Salesforce.com) will allow you to then pull reporting that can show activity impact among these contacts and revenue generation.

Q: In today’s economy, how can a company approach the resource issue of social media ($ or people) within the confines of existing resources… without more budget or staff (or agency expense)?

A: A few suggestions for increasing your social media footprint without increasing resource allocation are:

  1. Will work for free – Check out your local community college or university to recruit interns to come on board at no cost to you in exchange for class credits.
  2. Clearly define your social media goals – Companies who set up Twitter and Facebook accounts because they feel like it’s a “must” can easily waste valuable time and resources. Consider your social media efforts as an extension of your overarching online marketing goals to clearly understand which social media accounts are the most right for you.
  3. Get other marketers on board – Now that you know what you want to accomplish with social media, let other team members know how you can use social media to assist with their marketing programs.
  4. Establish KPIs for your efforts – Work with your colleagues to establish measurable KPIs for your social media programs.
  5. Set up a free social media monitoring tool – There are many free and easy-to-use social media monitoring tools that take minutes to set up like SocialMention or Google Alerts to help you measure the success of your social media efforts. They are great resources for monitoring all the major social media channels for conversations and mentions about your brand, product or a competitor’s product.
  6. You have a social media army – use it! – We hear you on the resource front – realistically, many companies are still lacking in a dedicated social media manager.

One way to lessen the load (or reallocate, in a way) is to educate all employees on your social media efforts and encourage them to participate. Train sales to share the latest press releases, news and product updates across their social networks; show them how to monitor the major social media channels for potential customers looking for your product or service. Let engineering or product departments serve as the ‘field experts’ for any feature and functionality conversations or questions raised in online communities and forums where they’re most likely already participating. You’ll quickly find you’re able to make a bigger impact with less stress on your end. It make take some up-front work to establish company ‘best practices’ for social media use and train employees, but the investment will pay off.

Q: How can I train for myself for social media without paying big bucks?

A: Start by using social media to find what you’re looking for! Webinars are great (and usually free) educational tools. I’d also recommend doing a quick search in YouTube to see if anyone has set up an instructional video you can watch.

 Some channels and monitoring tools also offer free demonstrations and information on their Web sites for getting started, so make sure to look there; finally, consider asking around in community forums like Business.com Answers or other online communities to see if anyone has additional advice for the best ways to get started, given what you’re looking for.

Q: I have heard that Facebook may not be as key a component of social media for B2B organizations with a niche market. Is that true, or should we have a Facebook page and post updates even if we only have 5 “friends”?

A: You need to start somewhere, right? Every company out there probably had just a few Facebook “friends” at the beginning stages of their Facebook efforts. As to whether or not Facebook is the place for you to focus your social media efforts, it depends on where your audience is and how they are using that channel. If your product has a viral element and your brand has a personality that matches that of habits and behaviors on Facebook, then it makes sense to continue there. However, if your business is more conservative and thought leadership is a key element of your marketing strategy, you may want to consider starting off with a blog or Twitter account.

Take some time to really think about the end goal for reaching your market with social media, and that will help dictate your use of social media channel. You may find you’re better served engaging in a tight-knit online forum or community where your audience has established itself.

Q: How do you build a Twitter following without a “personality” to drive the content?

A: Share really, really relevant and quality content. Twitter users follow other users who are sharing information they’re interested in. Share links to the latest articles, blog posts and videos you find or create that you think your target audience would find valuable.

You should also engage with industry thought leaders and other key influencers on Twitter who are sharing content your audience values. Follow them and publicly thank them and retweet their articles and content you find valuable. Just make sure to keep a healthy mix of what you’re sending out and what you’re retweeting of others.

Q: For B2B videos and webinars- is it better to cover products & services, or simply share expertise?

A: Both can be effective, as long as you know when and which to use. Webinars are powerful thought leadership vehicles and are a great way to share your expertise with a large group of potential customers and current clients.  And, since the majority of webinars can be archived and accessed on-demand, this thought leadership content can easily be incorporated into your Web site.

Product and service videos are a great addition to your Web site or YouTube. They allow clients and potential customers to gather information about your product and maximize the use of your services. If you have an upcoming product release or enhancement to share, you could consider a webinar to showcase the new release and give a quick tutorial of what clients and future clients can expect. Just make sure to be clear about the webinar content up front – don’t lead attendees in under false pretenses of thought leadership only to be presented with a product pitch or demo.

Q: How much do the social media theories apply to non-retail businesses? e.g. Selling technical software to financial institutions or specialized equipment to manufacturers.

A: Consumers aren’t the only ones turning online for purchasing information. According to an Enquiro Study, 83% of business purchasers first locate a vendor online. Furthermore, a recent Coremetrics whitepaper indicated 67% of Twitter users who become followers of a brand are more likely to buy that brand products, and 60% of Facebook users who become a fan of a brand a more likely to recommend that brand to friends.

In the end, a business purchaser is still a single person looking to gather information and make an informed decision. With the majority of people turning online to conduct that research and locate vendors, missing out on the social media conversation can mean missing out in general. By knowing your target audience and how they search for and interact with your product, you’ll best be equipped to determine the social media channels that are right for you.

Q: Is there a tool for tracking mentions/text for such “social” networks like Flickr?

A: Yes, there are many. Some of the free tools mentioned above are SocialMention and Google Alerts. There are also paid tools like Alterian’s SM2, Sysomos’ Heartbeat and Viralheat. Check out Chris Rawlinson’s blog post for 21 Free Social Media Tracking tools for more information, and stay tuned for the upcoming Business.com whitepaper detailing the top social media monitoring tools.

Q: Is there any point of setting up a Twitter or Facebook account if it is not frequently updated? And how often should these accounts be updated?

A: Would you be inclined to follow or engage with a stagnant account? If you’re going to invest the time into setting up these accounts, you should make sure you’re maximizing the use of Twitter and Facebook to achieve your goals. These accounts should be updated as often as you have something new or valuable to share with your audience. News? Discounts? Interesting research? It’s all worth sharing.


Recapping the Business.com and BtoB Webinar, ‘Finding B2B Marketing Success Integrating Social Media and Search’


This is Part One of a two-part post.

Thank you to everyone who attended yesterday’s Business.com-sponsored webinar, ‘Finding B2B Marketing Success Integrating Social Media and Search.’ We’re grateful to have had such a successful turnout and appreciative to Kate Maddox of BtoB Online and Ryan DeShazer of Gyro:HSR for such great content.

If you missed the webinar, check out the on-demand version.

What You Missed

Thursday’s webinar, ‘Finding B2B Marketing Success Integrating Social Media and Search’ showcased findings from Business.com and BtoB Online’s recent study of more than 450 B2B marketers, detailing how  marketers are using social media to enhance search marketing and what success metrics they’re using.

Kate Maddox, BtoB’s executive editor, began by detailing the current use of social media among B2B marketers, as found in the study. While it’s clear the use of social media is an understood ‘must’ for B2B marketers, its evident many marketers struggle to capture the impact of their social media programs in general, and the resulting potential for positive impact on online marketing efforts like search marketing.

Business.com’s Patricia Neuray, VP Sales and Marketing, focused on the key highlighted differences among B2B marketers who are currently seeing a positive impact on their search marketing efforts as a result of their social media efforts versus those who are not seeing a positive impact or are unsure of their impact. Neuray respectively labeled these groups ‘The Best’ and ‘The Rest.’

Neuray explored the reported ways The Best use social media to enhance paid search and search-engine-optimization (SEO) efforts. She capitalized on The Best’s best practices by sharing a few top tips for integrating social and search efforts, including keeping measurement simple and making sure measurement reflects set goals. Neuray also urged the audience to take the best of both social and search marketing.

For example, use keywords, phrases and terms discovered through monitoring social media conversations to enhance your SEO and paid search, and use paid search as a springboard to drive traffic to your social media efforts by including links to social media accounts and profiles in your paid search ads.

Yes, marketers love a good list of best practices, but they love the execution of best practices even more. Therefore, it’s not surprising Gyro:HSR’s Ryan DeShazer, Vice President, Global Practice Leader – Search, captivated the audience for the remainder of the webinar with real-life examples of how Gyro:HSR is currently leveraging social media to enhance search marketing for clients.

DeShazer shared four methods for effective search and social integration and illuminated each method with a client case study. According to DeShazer, marketers can best integrate social media and search by discerning the value of social media, uncovering the lingo, influencing the conversion and the new link graph.

To check out DeShazer’s case studies and learn more about his four methods for integration, download the on-demand version of the webinar.

Business.com encourages you to share your highlights, thoughts and feedback with us by commenting on this post.

We were overwhelmed by the great questions asked during the question-and-answer (Q&A) portion of the webinar. To see our answers to additional questions, make sure to check back on Monday for our Part-Two post.