There’s no question that companies have recognized the way the Internet has transformed the way people and companies get information about other businesses. Certainly the way business-to-business (B2B) marketers have responded to the changing advertising landscape is indicative of the heightened role of the Web for communication. According to the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, 30% of overall marketing budgets is devoted to content marketing. But where should B2B marketers focus this budget? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Try LinkedIn. Read the full entry
Marketers and advertisers alike want better understanding of their buyers and their behaviors. Knowing the purchase behavior of prospects can help a business create a strategy that’s focused on moving that customer from one phase of the purchase process to the next. Despite social media being considered a channel for more B2C companies than those in B2B, recent studies indicate that social media can work for businesses looking to influence their buyers, if only they put their efforts into the right places. To influence your buyers via social media, you need to understand how they’re using the various networks. Here are three steps you can take towards a stronger social influence. Read the full entry
Businesses are all about the bottom line. While returning customers definitely make an impact, new customers are what allow a business to grow and evolve to its full potential. Lead generation is one way many B2B businesses acquire new prospects. However, not all leads that your business will generate will be ready to make a purchase right when you receive their information. Social media is an often untapped way that your sales and marketing team can nurture leads. Sure, pushing shareable content out through company and personal accounts is nothing new. But, using social networks as a way to have nurturing conversations is rarer. Here are three reasons why you should be using social media to nurture new leads. Read the full entry
We aim to bring you the latest tips, strategies, studies and reports when it comes to B2B marketing and sales. This Friday, we want to bring you some of the top marketing charts in recent weeks. A focus on optimizing strategies through personalization and targeted spending and marketing are just a few of the things on marketers’ minds.
The Adobe 2013 Digital Marketing Optimization Survey found that the majority of companies (53%) spend less than 5% of their total marketing budgets on optimization activities. In total, 86% of companies surveyed allocate 15% or less of their marketing budget to optimization activities, while at the other end of the scale only 3% of respondents allocate more than half of their marketing budget to optimization efforts. The data from this study shows that those who spend more on optimization are reaping the benefits in the form of higher conversion rates. Chart – What percentage of your total marketing budget is allocated to optimization activities (including agency fees, professional services, and technology)?
A new study from Accenture finds that digital marketing is going to get more of the overall marketing budget in upcoming years. Nearly 2 in 3 respondents said that they would be devoting at least 25% of their budgets to digital marketing next year (Tweet this!) and 23% indicated they would be assigning more than 50% of their budget to digital next year. However, many of the CMOs surveyed indicated that they feel more difficulty in improving the efficiency of their marketing operations and improving their workforce’s responsiveness to the consumer and digital shifts that are taking place. According to survey respondents, consumers’ experience expectations have the longest-term impact on marketing strategy (65%). Accenture found that CMOs in high-growth companies have found a less turbulent path by improving their digital focus.
Personalization is vital to the success of businesses, yet many companies are failing to deliver cross-channel personalized experiences to their customers. The Econsultancy/Monetate Realities of Personalisation Report finds that while 43% of companies currently deliver a personalized experience on desktops, this figure falls to just 14% on tablet and 13% on mobile. Product recommendations (42%) and on-site search results (40%) are the most common personalization tactics. Using the
data readily available, B2B businesses that can offer personalized experiences will find greater success. Chart – Which of the following channels are you using to deliver personalised experiences?
Ifbyphone’s 2013 State of Marketing Measurement Survey found that marketing analytics, in an effort to determine ROI more accurately, are on the rise. Software solutions, as well as in-house analysts, are just two of the changes businesses are making in an effort to measure their marketing efforts. Marketing tactics vary, i.e. they are online and offline, which causes obstacles to appear when it comes to measurement. When respondents were asked to rate a range of marketing tools for their effectiveness to generate sales leads the marketing channels that were rated most valuable were in-bound phone calls, in-person visits, and email inquiries followed by PPC clicks/website visits. With this mix of online and offline efforts, it makes sense that when asked about their marketing measurement investment priorities, respondents to the survey indicated a preference for investing future marketing budget dollars in emerging technologies that can contribute to a greater mix of online and offline marketing measurement. Chart – Most Effective Marketing Channels for Generating Sales Leads
The 2013 Online Advertising Performance Outlook from Nielsen and Vizu revealed a number of trends taking place in the digital marketing world. In 2013, 63% of marketers state they will increase their online brand advertising budgets, with 20% reporting that those budgets will grow by 20% or more (Tweet this!). Not only are ad budgets increasing, they are shifting to different channels at a greater pace. The report found that budgets are shifting as consumers move into and become more comfortable with the digital realm. 48% of brand marketers will shift dollars from television into online video and 70% will increase spend in both social media and mobile advertising (Tweet this!). Similar to the Ifbyphone study however, many marketers (45%) don’t feel adequately equipped to accurately measure their efforts.
Early on in the week, ad:tech took over San Francisco with advertising experts, the latest in digital marketing and over 200 exhibitors. Of course, Business.com was there to be part of it. Advertising has evolved since its early days and has changed drastically over the past few years with various technological advancements that are becoming more widespread. Smartphones, Big Data and local search all play a significant role. The future of advertising changes as new technologies come to the center of the marketing stage. Ad:tech gave us the opportunity to look into the future of advertising and we’ve broken down the key points just for you.
Data Driven Decisions
Jim Yu of BrightEdge began with a shocking, and not well-known fact: 90% of global data has been produced in the last two years. New technologies allow advertisers and marketers to close the loop where it may have been difficult, or impossible, data in the past. Now, those running ads and marketing campaigns can measure and understand which experiences are really working. Marketers want data that can help them optimize campaigns for a greater ROI. As advertisers find ways to more accurately collect, analyze, and report on data, data-driven decisions will become more of a focus. Michael Hummel, co-founder and CEO of ParStream explained how businesses must be able to get real-time data to make optimization decisions with ease in order to outshine competitors.
Local and mobile search are more important than ever. Social media is impacting SEO. As we progress with new technologies and platforms, the advertising world will continue to shift. Data will impact how, when and which content is created as well as how and when it is distributed and across which networks. Advertisements will need to have more content that engages consumers. If you take away something from ad:tech, let it be that the nature of advertising is going through a revolution due to data, engagement and the shift in search. Advertising is about connecting with the consumer. Brian David Johnson, the “Chief Futurist” from Intel, left the room he was speaking in with one thought that we want to leave you with now, “”Change the story people tell themselves about the future they will live in. Figure out how to make people’s lives better.”
A keynote address during ad:tech San Francisco came from Susan Wojcicki, senior vice president of advertising for Google. Advertising is continuing to change as time progresses. We’ve moved from a push model, where the advertisements viewed by consumers were at the discretion of companies and agencies, to a model where users can choose to see and engage with their ads or not. “Have users say ‘these are the things I’m interested in,’” she said. “Have them raise their hand…When we give them control, they take it…For every one that opted out, two actually added interests.”
To develop a successful advertiser relationship with consumers, visitors must have choice about which ads they see – especially as they become more prominent on the web. Allowing users to identify their interests and wants produces a healthier relationship that will lead to greater loyalty and success. Engagement ads are the future.
Mobile and Local Optimization
Michael Lazerow, the CMO of Salesforce Marketing Cloud claims, “The computing revolution is really a customer revolution.” Over the recent years, a computing revolution has occurred but, it isn’t the only area of business that has evolved. There’s been social, cloud, mobile, community, local, experience and trust revolutions as well. There are more and more smartphones in the pockets of consumers, nearly half of all cell phone users, and they’re using them as more than a way to call or text a friend.
Research is conducted and buying decisions are made from mobile devices. Think it doesn’t impact your business by a whole lot? Think again! Approximately 20% of keywords in a given portfolio are impacted due to mobile and local search. Businesses need to be engaging with customers on every channel. Lazerow points out,”It’s not about where you want to be, it’s where your customers are…Every company has to build communities…how do you build communities where you engage and build assets?” In the future, marketing, sales and product development will become even more integrated.
Were you at ad:tech in San Francisco? What did you learn about advertising’s future?
These past few days, members of the Business.com marketing team have been attending Social Media Marketing World 2013 in San Diego. With just about 1,000 social media and marketing professionals in attendance, Social Media Examiner was able to create a large-scale networking conference with special events such as a boat cruise in the bay and 45 minute learning sessions from industry experts. While some speakers spoke more to those in roles at B2C companies, many suggested tips and strategies that B2B marketers can use.
Lock On to LinkedIn
Sales and marketing professionals who are looking to generate new leads for their business or strengthen their relationships with those they’ve established a connection with, LinkedIn is the network you must be on. In the opening keynote, Social Media Examiner shared some stats from a study that has yet to be released. According to their survey, 49% of the 3,000 marketers responded saying Facebook is the most important social network they use followed by LinkedIn at 16%. While there were a number of presenters who spoke to LinkedIn directly, here are a few things B2B marketers can begin to use immediately to find greater success on the social network.
- Use banners – Your Products/Services section of your company page allows your business to upload three banners. This display advertising is often an untapped section of company pages.
- Add new audiences – It’s all about relevance and targeting your audience is one way you can deliver the great content your site has to offer to the right people.
- Choose keywords – On your personal page, in URLs and in product descriptions, use keywords so that people conducting searches on LinkedIn can find you and your business easily.
B2B marketers are making a shift. As the behavior of buyers has altered, marketers are taking note and altering their strategies. B2B buyers are doing more and more research before ever getting in touch with a provider. Forums and online communities enable businesses to build their own social networks and target communities. Technorati found that 54% of consumers say smaller communities are more influential. As this is the case, it makes sense that 29% of marketers plan to increase forums activity (Social Media Examiner). Social community marketing strategies are becoming more important as it’s yet another way for businesses to connect with their target audience on a more personal level. Your business can cultivate communities with:
- Forums or industry-specific communities hosted on your site or by your business on LinkedIn. These can create conversations, opportunities and leads for your business.
- FAQ podcasts and YouTube videos enable your business to address customers and audiences directly. Podcasts and videos show the people behind a business and encourage discussion.
Build Your Blog
Does your business want to be influential? Do you want people within your organization to be considered influencers in your industry? If you answered yes to either one of these questions, you need to be blogging. Technorati found that 86% of industry influencers blog. In the Social Media Examiner survey, 14% responded that blogging was the most important network for their business and 62% of marketers want to learn more about blogging. As different industry leaders and experts discussed their blogging, there were a few trends that kept appearing.
- Add value – Your blog should add value to its readers. Pay attention the demographics and actions of your audience to create content that will benefit them.
- Fascinate – In the closing keynote of Day 1, Sally Hogshead noted that the average attention span is now 9 second. In order to capture your audience’s attention in that time, you need to fascinate them with your blog’s content.
Some of the major points from Social Media Marketing World is that businesses who want to connect with customers need to realize that what those customers and buyers want are connections. It’s about the relationship and social media is how your B2B businesses can cultivate those relationships so that as a buyer moves closer to their purchase decision, they don’t just think of the business or brand, but the people behind it.
Did you attend SMMW? What did you take away from the events?
Small businesses and major corporations are both constantly trying to generate new business. Lead generation can be done a number of ways: through lead generation services, online marketing, tradeshows and more. Social media is the talk of the town for B2C businesses, but B2B companies are just getting on board. Successful B2B online marketers are using social media and seeing a positive impact from doing so. Did you know that the companies who actively manage social media campaigns have seen comparatively high conversion rates as well as healthy engagement rates (Optify’s B2B Marketing Benchmark Report)? If you’re wondering how to nurture those leads you’ve generated on social networks, take these 3 steps for greater success.
Step One: Connect
You may have made contact with a lead once… or maybe you haven’t. Social networks are a great way to reach out leads directly through mediums other than email or the phone. Optify found that Twitter is the strongest social media channel for generating leads. It even outperforms Facebook and LinkedIn 9-to-1 with 82% of social media leads coming from Twitter. Lead generation and lead nurturing efforts can be improved as your sales and marketing teams connect with these people and business decision-makers on social networks.
- How to Find Them: You have their contact information. Use it to find and connect with these prospects on networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
- How to Connect: Personalize your connection requests, especially with LinkedIn. If you’re asking someone to become a fan of your company on Facebook, provide them with a valid reason they should.
Step Two: Engage
Engagement with prospects can mean different things for different businesses, but the often overall goal is to create a deeper relationship with those potential customers. Engagement involves your business providing value to these leads via social networks. According to Optify, website engagement from different social media channels varies, but LinkedIn leads the pack while Twitter shows the lowest page views per visit.
- Tweet prospects directly to let them know when an event is taking place in their industry.
- Aim to become a thought leader for your customers to turn to by providing content that can help them gain new insight into how to be more successful. Share your content and the content of others – you don’t want to be overly self-promotional.
Step 3: Convert
Conversion is the ultimate goal. Connecting and engaging a lead are necessary steps in order to convert a lead into a customer. Social media can be the final point of contact between a prospect and your business or brand, so make each touch point count. Facebook is the strongest driver of traffic among the three (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), but Twitter leads the way for lead generation. While Facebook drove the highest percentage of visits from social media, Twitter outperforms it in terms of lead conversion by over a 9-to-1 ratio.
- The B2B buying process has changed and now customers are more likely to come to you when they are ready instead of responding to advertisements. Provide ways for prospects to become customers on your social networks such as with applications, social media specific discounts, etc.
- Optimize your landing pages so that as a customer comes to your pages via social networks, they don’t become lost and have a way to carry on the conversation, via live chat or easy social sharing.
Some may not see the value in lead nurturing via social media. However, it is time to open your eyes to the possibility of these expanding networks. The 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, sponsored by Social Media Examiner, found that 58% of marketers who have been using social media for more than three years report it has helped them improve sales. Social media is where you business can truly become creative in how to attract, engage and convert leads you have generated. Lead nurturing isn’t restricted to follow-up calls and emails. Brand out and stand out with a social media nurturing campaign.
Social business and an engaging social content strategy go hand in hand. The content you produce can incorporate a number of assets including checklists, images, videos, copy and social posts. Social media and the social content strategy approach have more in common with all other forms of content marketing than you might think. We know content marketing is on the rise for B2B businesses in 2013, but how is social media included in this number? As you develop your strategy, keep these three things in mind.
Talk Through Your Audience
It is easier to get your brand, content, and social posts in front of people who already connect with your business. What about the audience beyond your immediate fan base? B2B marketers, especially those on a budget, need to create ways to talk through their audience. The audience of your audience, and their audience, are potentially new customers for you. As you develop your social content strategy, consider the ways in which you can talk through your current audience to connect with new audiences.
- What do your customers want? Focus on the content that your customers want and what social networks are the best for sharing and promoting that type of content. For example, if you’re targeting IT professionals, LinkedIn may be a better place to start than Pinterest.
- What do they want to experience? Consider the type of experience someone will have when they encounter or share your content. The experience, whether it’s a phone conversation or the way in which they find information on your site, should be a consideration with everything you do.
For B2B buyers, their audience isn’t family and friends for the way it is for B2C buyers. A significant number of B2B buyers (38%) involve more team members in buying decisions, and around 30% do more detailed ROI/cost analyses of solutions than they did in the past (2012 Demand Gen Report B2B Buyer Survey). This means, B2B marketers need to find a way to reach all the decision makers involved in the purchasing process.
Understand Content Strategies are Social by Nature
Business may be about the numbers, but marketing and sales are all about the chains and the paths customers take to reach the end of it. There are the sales and marketing funnel, buyer journey and more. “What the customer wants you to know” equals understanding what your audience and their audience want you and other vendors to know. The social B2B buyer and buyers in general are affected by the opinions of their peers. As mentioned, business buying is a group decision. While this conversation may be offline, it often begins or ends online.
- Reach out to leads who are in the research phase of the buying cycle with whitepapers, case studies and infographics that not only educate the buyer, build thought leadership but are also easily shared on social networks.
- If possible, share the demographics of who else is buying from your business. Your prospects may be interested in knowing who, in their area or industry, has found success with your products or services.
Nearly all B2B buyers (94%) view multiple pieces of content from the company they ultimately select (2012 Demand Gen Report B2B Buyer Survey). This is one indication that you need to be producing content that your audience will find relevant and useful in making a purchasing decision. The other key indicator in this passage that you should be focusing on is that of multiple pieces. For example, you can create calculators, webinars, case studies, eBooks and buyer guides. Each of these unique pieces of content helps elevate your business and brand.
Be Relevant to Address Needs
You may have been able to pick it up from the previous sections of this article or past blog posts, but the content your marketing and sales teams share needs to be relevant. What your customers and their audiences say should serve as inspiration for the content you create from a social perspective. Listening is the basis, while acting to drive action and sharing are the goals. Content is what brings these two together successfully.
- Start social listening, if you aren’t already, to discover the pain points of your audience and their audience. Then use content and social media to solve these problems. Note: add example of how they should do this.
- Segment, target, and personalize your content to be as relevant as possible. Social media is not for amplification, it’s for social conversations.
More than 37% of buyers say sellers fail to provide enough content tailored for their specific job roleor industry. Stand out from the crowd while nurturing a lead by providing relevant content that they’ll find valuable. Nearly 63% of the respondents said that case-study examples were at the top of their research content lists. Industry case studies that address the pain points are a sure way to encourage your content gets shared.
Social media networks are important platforms for every business. It provides you with the opportunity to connect on a more personal level with your audience. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by! Talk to and through your social audience by developing a content strategy that focuses on relevance and tailored content.
B2B marketers are always looking for an edge – something that will set their business and efforts apart from others. A new study from BtoB Online (with Eloqua) of 556 digitally active marketers found that modern marketers embrace technology, digital channels and dynamic content and have a commitment to sales enablement. When asked at what stage their companies are in improving go-to-marketing effectiveness, 68% said they are “strongly” or “fully” committed to improvement. In order to improve marketing effectiveness, spend some time considering whether or not your marketing team is changing with the times. Modern marketers need three things to be successful: digital aptitude, content knowledge, and sales enablement skills.
1. Digital Aptitude
The world of marketing is increasingly becoming more data driven. Marketers want to make sure that their time, money, and other resources are being directed to the right place. Successful modern marketers are making the most of data and digital solutions so no time or budget is wasted. At Business.com, virtually every marketing investment (of dollars and resources) is data-driven. While creating the infrastructure, processes and systems to support this requires an investment of time and money, it definitely pays off. When asked what has contributed the most to modern marketing, 60% responded that the ability to track marketing ROI with technology has contributed the most to modern marketing. “Big Data” is a concern for modern marketers as 35% said they are working to overcome poor infrastructures in the collection and analysis of data and 29% said they simply lack data to support their colleagues in sales. With the use of data and software solutions that are audience-oriented, modern marketers can reach target prospects more effectively.
2. Content Knowledge
An emphasis on content marketing has led to a shift in marketing as a whole. From where content is distributed to what type of content is produced, marketers must make sure they’re getting the right content to the right people. When asked what has contributed the most to modern marketing, many indicated the ability to track ROI as noted earlier. However, a large portion of those surveyed (42%) indicated that the shift in power from the brand to the customer is changing marketing. Another 58% of respondents cited the effective use of social media. This is huge because social media networks are a main content distribution channel for B2B marketers. Prospects want content and marketers know they need to provide it. Demand-generation and lead nurturing techniques are changing because of this. In fact, 42% respondents cited the maturation of demand generation and lead nurturing as a contribution to the change in modern marketing. You need to know the type of content that will most appeal to your audience as well as how to get it into the hands of those people in order to be effective. That’s where sales skills come in.
3. Sales Enablement Skills
Understanding the buyer journey, the key decision makers and influencers as well as their roles and responsibilities can help marketers more clearly define their profiling for greater success. Modern marketers need to build relationships with buyers just as sales representatives do. The rise in both content marketing and social provide the vehicle for creating and nurturing these relationships. When asked what factors are driving the needs of modern marketers, 60% of respondents identified the need to achieve fast and relevant touch points in the market, 35% identified increasing difficulties in conveying timely offers and messages to specific customers, and 12% indicated a general decline in the awareness of brands. Getting marketing and sales working together can make a huge difference in the efficiency and success of your business in connecting and closing with prospects.
Modern B2B marketers will make the most of the data and software solutions in front of them to yield the greatest ROI. Having a digital aptitude is necessary as the business world becomes more data driven and efficient with technology. Understanding the customer, the buying process and the decision makers can help marketers develop more targeted content that sells without directly selling. Content that converts is and must be a focus. Successful modern marketers are able align targeting with changing market and business needs.
What other qualities does a modern marketer need to possess?
A new study from Optify looked at the websites of over 500 of the Inc 5000 fastest growing companies and found that only 37% are using autoresponders to follow up on leads. Our research has found that there is a direct correlation between follow-up timing and conversion rates. Because a sales rep is not always available to reach out immediately to a lead, auto response emails are a simple and effective way for your business to communicate with a new prospect. There are four elements to an auto responder: a form, a “thank you” page, an email and cadence. Your initial and follow-up emails need to be branded, relevant and timeless. Our testing has found that emails sent from a person within the company, as opposed to sending from a generic company name, drive a higher response. Auto response email campaigns are a great way to stay connected with prospects after they submit a form and here are three ways your business can make the most of them.
The Thank You Page
A clear call to action can direct your customer further down the conversion funnel. The thank you page is an opportunity to upsell, cross-sell or deepen engagement with links to your blog or social networks. Focus on delivering content on your thank you page that helps the reader make sense of everything they just read and how they can put it into action to improve their business. You can even offer additional downloads. Turn your thank you page into a resource page and a way your business can continue to build its brand.
- Optify found that 91% of the B2B companies analyzed displayed a “Thank You” page stating that the form was received
- Only 18% of those with thank you pages displayed a call-to-action upon form submission. Be sure your thank you page encourages leads to continue interacting with your business.
The First Follow-Up
A fast auto response email places your business in the eyes of a potential customer again, before they have a chance to forget about your business and the form they filled out. Include trackable links to content on your site or blog. Sales teams are often reaching out to leads via phone calls. Your team’s first follow-up shouldn’t be a call or an email. It needs to be both. Timing is everything and when responding to a completed form within 5 minutes versus 10 minutes leads to a 900% increase in contact rate, your business needs to be reaching out to touch base quickly and through multiple communication channels if needed.
- 70% of the companies that use autoresponders send the first email within 15 minutes of a form being submitted with the average response time for these companies being just over 3 minutes.
- Only 58% of the immediate (within 15 minutes of submission) auto response emails were personalized.
- Emails sent in between phone calls raise the chances of achieving contact by 16% (Leads360).
The Next Follow-Up
Play with timing until you find the best time to submit emails. One best practice your business can follow is the 3:7 schedule. While your first email is sent immediately, second and third emails can be sent 3 days after form submission and then again one week after submission. After the first email, your follow-up emails need to progress depending on where the person is in the purchasing funnel. Letting the user know what to expect provides an additional layer of transparency to your lead nurturing process.
- 6% of the initial auto response emails contained an indication of a future email (Optify).
- Most companies send more than one follow up email — the average number of follow up emails sent in the first week was 2.54 and the average interval between the first and second email was just over 30.5 hours.
- The data from Leads360 reveals that the optimal number of email messages to increase conversion during the first month of a prospect’s lifetime is 5.
Combining the findings for phone calls and emails, the most effective contact strategy involves 6 phone calls and 5 emails, interspersed over 22 days. Use auto responders to make this process more efficient. An effective auto responder campaign generates a response. Give the prospect another opportunity to request additional information and connect with your business. An auto response program collects additional information about each prospect that your company and sales reps can use to prioritize follow-up. You can use your auto response efforts to nurture leads and guide them through the conversion funnel for greater optimization and success.
Has your business seen success with the use of auto response emails? How so?