We have good news to report! Small businesses are still purchasing and B2B marketers are investing more marketing dollars than ever in an attempt to reach and retain this ever-important demographic. According to a new study from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and Penton, 2 out of 3 business-to-business marketers are investing more in engaging small to medium-sized business (SMB) customers over the next 12 to 36 months. 60 percent of these businesses plan to spend up to 40 percent of overall marketing resources on SMB campaigns (Tweet This!) Read the full entry
Tech marketers must constantly be adapting to the latest technologies and trends. More and more, B2B marketers are made to face the reality that our marketing is not so different from B2C marketing. And the reason is because the people we are marketing to are the same – human beings. They use the latest technology at the office to manage their business, as well as becoming experts at home on their own time. Many of the sessions and keynotes at the Tech Marketing 360 Conference in Dana Point, California last week focused on how tech marketers can use the rapidly changing tech world to their advantage. Read the full entry
As a devoted Netflix aficionado, I love sinking into my leather couch and chowing down on popcorn while I watch an entire season of Breaking Bad or Dexter in the confines of a single day. But yesterday I was able to tune into an all-day marathon series on a topic that’s more vital to my career as a marketer than anything offered from the video-on-demand powerhouse (and much more beneficial to my overall health and well-being). On January 28th, the Online Marketing Institute hosted a series of information-packed webinars featuring seven leading experts in the B2B digital marketing sphere. Read the full entry
I’m pleased to introduce our first Business.com Small Business Pulse report, a monthly, data-driven analysis of key issues related to small-to-medium businesses. Over the past several months, Business.com has been aggressively expanding both its content and its advertising products to target audience needs across all stages of the buying process – from awareness to research to purchase. Read the full entry
Keeping users engaged in an increasingly fragmented environment isn’t easy, but by providing targeted, engaging content, businesses can build their audiences. Many businesses turn to other sites in an effort to place their content and brand in front of new eyes and new audiences. Recently, BtoB Magazine released their annual list of the best B2B advertising vehicles. Once again, Business.com has earned a spot in BtoB Magazine’s Media Power 50, in the Business News category, as we strive to help others grow their businesses. Read the full entry
This past we week, we had the opportunity to sit down with representatives from Google and Yahoo! to talk about trends in content marketing and online advertising campaigns. While there were several good takeaways from each of the sessions, one of the standouts came from our meeting with Google. They offer a Youtube playbook that outlines an approach for creating a video strategy to build and engage audiences. Even after reading through just the first few pages, I was confident that this would be educational for small and medium-sized business looking to build out their content marketing strategies and on-site content strategy. YouTube can serve as a great content platform for B2B marketers
YouTube as a Content Marketing Platform
The B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America study from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute found that video had the largest increase of any content marketing tactic in 2012, jumping by 70% from an already large 54% increase in 2011 (Tweet this!). A study from Searchmetrics can help explain this trend. They found that video appeared most frequently, being displayed in over 70% of all the content included in Google’s general results. It isn’t enough to have videos as a marketing tactic, however. We have to be able to measure the success of our efforts. If you don’t know much about the YouTube Creator Playbook, there is an abundance of features B2B marketers can utilize to determine whether or not they are successful in their strategy. Here are a few of my favorite features.
- Because Google understands the difference in clicks and watch-time, they’ve added “Captivate Your Audience” and “Channel Experience,” which provides you with tips and strategies to increase watch-time.
- The customer experience can and will impact a buyer’s behavior. “Channel Experience” allows users to build a cohesive channel experience for their viewers so they can build a loyal audience and drive subscriptions.
- We’re all looking for ways to rank higher in search engines. YouTube Analytics and the ability to create Metadata for each video will make it easier for you to optimize your videos for YouTube and search engine indexing.
- Paid advertising online and on social media sites is on the rise. The “Paid Promotion” section allows businesses to create promotional videos and use readily-available YouTube promotional tools to build a loyal audience.
Creating Effective B2B Video Content
Think video is a space only for B2C businesses? Think again. With the right purpose and strategy in mind, video marketing provides B2B companies with a great opportunity to generate new leads and continue nurturing current leads through the funnel. In fact, the CMI study also found that 58% of respondents believe video to be an effective form of B2B marketing (Tweet this!). While the target length of a video should be between 1 and three minutes, you shouldn’t feel limited by the topics you can create videos around. If you’re unsure of the type of videos that your audience is most interested in, you have a few budget-friendly options:
- Interviews – Have your content team interview experts within your business or answer common questions received from customers
- Presentations – Presentations can be repurposed into videos without too much trouble. Insert a voice over and some background music to add pizzazz.
- On-Location – B2B marketers spend a lot of time meeting with clients, partners and other businesses. Take these opportunities to showcase your employees at events.
- Product Demos – Just as you would perform a product demo in-person or over the phone, you can perform a demo in front of the camera or using a screen recording solution when applicabl.e
- Case Studies – Take a case study and turn it into a video with before and after shots, a voice over, charts, and more.
Our sessions with Google, Yahoo! and other partners in the Bay Area helped us gain new insight into digital marketing and demand generation trends for small and medium-sized enterprises. Because Business.com is focused on helping your business grow, we want to continue sharing our learnings from the tour with all of you. Stay tuned for more from the Business.com Growth Tour of America.
Last week we kicked off the Business.com Growth Tour of America. From San Francisco to New York, we initiated the first of a series of meetings with our audiences; leaders in small-to-medium enterprises, our marketing customers and our partners in media, technology, search, social and design that make up our ecosystem. Our goal is to learn, share ideas on digital media marketing and technology and get input on the new Business.com.
Our meetings in New York City illuminated that we are at an inflection point in digital media and marketing. The convergence of marketing automation and media has created a time of complexity and transformation yet also a time of incredible opportunity. Marketers are looking to figure out several key things:
- How to balance branding and lead generation marketing initiatives?
- How to deal with too many marketing options?
- How to shift from pushing products to providing solutions?
- How to identify and engage prospects?
- How to deal with complex and costly analytics?
- How to accurately evaluate campaign effectiveness?
Media partners are also working through several key questions:
- How to drive subscriptions and engagement with audiences in an increasingly digital world?
- How to balance digital display and brand advertising with lead generation?
- How to evaluate the role of ad networks and exchanges?
- How to harness the myriad of advertising technology platforms and services?
- How to deal with Social, Local and Mobile technologies?
- How to better leverage data?
My thanks to our friends at Digitas, iProspect, MEC and Performix, MediaVest as well as Bloomberg, Dow Jones Conde Nast and Penton for their time and input. We learned a ton. We had a blast.
My next stop is the American Business Media Conference where I’ll be leading a panel on “The B-to-B Media Company of the Future.” Clearly I’m biased as I think we’ve already answered that question with the new Business.com. I’ll be learning from my panelists – Bizo, Scount Analytics, Penton, 1105 Media and Desilva Philips – and will share what I learn in a future post.
Simply put our mission is to help people grow their businesses and we feel it’s time to broaden the discussion so we can learn more, share more and ultimately serve our customers better.
We look forward to continuing to work with our customers and partners to help them answer these questions as they continue to grow their businesses. To view the learnings from our Director of User Experience at a recent design conference, click here. And, as always, feel free to offer your thoughts and follow the tour via @b2bonlinemktg.
Last week, as part of the Business.com Growth Tour of America, I had the pleasure to participate in a design workshop with 30 user experience designers and product managers in downtown San Francisco. The workshop was hosted by Cooper, a design consulting company that serves both big and small companies in Silicon Valley. As a product manager and user experience designer, one of the questions that I’m constantly struggling with is how I can more effectively align teams to design and build better products for our audiences. This workshop provided me with lots of new ideas and practical tips that I can start putting to use in our own business. Here are a few quick takeaways that B2B marketers and user experience designers can benefit from.
Use Videos to Tell User Stories
With a little creativity, videos can be produced with very little labor and time. A picture is worth a thousand words and videos are more powerful than pictures. Building good products starts with building empathy with our target users. During the user research phase, user experience designers and product managers go out to the field or learn a lot about our users, but the bottleneck is how to communicate it back to the team and allow the bigger product team to be on the same page of who we are building the products for. Video can be very effective at this stage. In fact, a recent CMI study found that 60% of B2B marketers find videos to be an effective content marketing tactic and the use of video has risen from 52% in 2011 to 70% in 2012. People usually associate videos as labor intensive and expensive projects. They don’t have to be such an investment in order to be successful. Cooper shared a few methods to produce high quality videos with a microphone and simple PowerPoint.
Work like a Team, Share like Wildfire
Building user empathy is no easy task. Deeply involve users in the everyday business routine and in the entire product development cycle without losing focus is no easy task. One of the tactics the Cooper consultants shared with us is “working out loud,” which basically means that artifacts produced in the product design stage, such as personas, design prototypes, user stories, videos, snapshots, should be widely shared within the company. It gets people to be more familiar with the target audience and create an immersive user-centered environment. Team members with distinct business functions are moving towards the same goal: delight the customers.
Participation Leads to Buy-In
Decisions cannot be made in silos. No matter how glorious the product manager’s vision, or how great a user experience designer’s wireframe is, it won’t go anywhere if they are unable to build rapport within the company and get buy-in on that vision. Business buy-in and design decision making involves more people than ever before. Crain’s BtoB magazine found that the 81% of B2B marketers must contend with multiple decision-makers during the sales process. To get everyone involved, conduct workshops and ideation sessions that encourage contributions from different functional teams. Getting insight from different perspectives and departments is a good way to show that you are taking into consideration the opinions of all the business units in the development process. Hearing different perspectives and the rationale behind those opinions pulls the team toward a shared vision.
Think About the Entire Online Ecosystem
For online product offerings, thinking just about the landing page user experience isn’t enough. Marketers would be smart to take the entire online experience into consideration, beginning with where the users come from (SEO, SEM, referral, direct and etc.). You’ll want to ask yourself about the route someone took to get to your page as well as:
- What other touch points beyond your website – such as email, social media, display ads, and offline interaction – are available and is the prospect using?
- What kind of customer journey has the prospect been through and what stage are they at in that process?
- What needs are specific to their background, industry and position within a company?
- What needs are their more general needs that apply to others as well
Keeping all these questions and collaboration strategies in mind help us as user experience designers, marketers and product managers build a clear mind map on how and where our new offerings and solutions can make the biggest impact.
Content marketing is on the rise for B2B businesses and nearly half of all B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing spend over the next 12 months. Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Enterprise Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report found that 95% of B2B enterprises use content marketing and of those 78% use white papers. White papers range from a short, single page document to hundreds of pages, but they are generally just an authoritative, formal document on a non-fiction topic. If you have a blog and are present on social networks, but are looking for a way to expand your reach with content marketing, consider using whitepapers.
Why Create White Papers?
Building brand awareness is a top priority for B2B businesses of all sizes. 84% of the respondents in the CMI survey cited brand awareness as the number one goal of their content marketing efforts. Giving away a free white paper can build brand awareness and is an excellent way to reach a customer who may not have otherwise considered you.
Tailored content is going to be more successful than generic blog posts or email newsletters. 92% of B2B enterprise marketers tailor their content in at least one way, compared with 91% of their B2B peers overall. Whitepapers allow your marketing team to tailor downloadable content for greater success. If a prospect downloads a whitepaper, you’re getting an automatic signal of what that person is interested in and where they are in the buying process.
How Do I Create Great Content?
The most effective B2B marketers are able to tailor content to specific profiles/personas more frequently and whitepapers can aid a business in this process. If you get stuck creating fresh, relevant content, have no fear! Here are just a few examples of content you can incorporate into your white papers that help the sales team address the various issues buyers come across in each stage of the process:
- Provide a perspective on individual markets and solutions, such as tips for shipping and receiving items internationally
- Content written by subject matter experts that discusses benchmarks and best practices, including survey results
- Enable prospects to understand alternative solutions, like product comparisons, analyst reports
- Offer advice about making the decision, such as case studies for those in similar situations and ROI calculators
- Annotated content or case studies that call out relevant discussions and decision points they can use in their customer interactions
Where Can I Use My White Papers?
White papers can be featured on your site, in blog posts and weekly round-ups and shared on social media. However, if you’re looking for a way to get a new site of eyes on your company copy, there are more options you can consider. The new Business.com white paper content marketing solution delivers high-quality white paper leads to your business while placing your brand in front of a qualified audience of buyers actively researching solutions, products and services.
We connect advertisers with buyers in the discovery and comparison stages of the purchasing cycle utilizing our unique intention- and relevance-based targeting capabilities. Advertisers can effectively demonstrate thought leadership to this concentrated audience of business decision makers with our distribution of their whitepapers. Our content marketing program focuses on helping advertisers reach the buyer at the right place and the right time to close more sales. Exclusive white paper content marketing leads from Business.com and the unique audience provided by the Business.com network can be filtered by industry, location, company size, buyer’s title and more (priced accordingly). If you’re interested in connecting with buyers and reaching a new audience via the white paper offering from Business.com, email email@example.com
If you’re looking to step up your content marketing strategy with new content and a new audience, consider white papers. You can target relevant demographics and engage with buyers, no matter where they are in the purchase process, with tailored content. Once you’ve created a captivating white paper, share and promote your white paper with partners and on social networks to generate qualified leads.
How does your business tailor its white paper content?
Our mission is simple. We help people grow their businesses, whether it’s the users who come to our site to find the products and services they need to run their businesses or the >10k advertisers who turn to Business.com every year to connect with this premium audience. While we have some insights into what advertisers want and what buyers are looking for, we are continually looking for ways to better serve all of our customers including the users who come to our site as well as the advertisers. We are taking it another step forward to figure out just what it is that will help small and medium-sized enterprises all over the country grow. From visiting sole proprietors to Fortune 500 companies, Business.com is going on tour.
What We Want to Know
During the Business.com Growth Tour of America, we want to learn about the challenges businesses are currently facing as well as where they are seeing success. From what’s working to best practices, we want to gather and share information that other businesses can learn from. Business.com is interested in hearing what you have to say. Speak up and make your voice heard on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.
Where You Can Find Us
We’ll be visiting major cities from coast to coast including New York, Florida, Chicago, Austin, San Francisco Los Angeles, and of course San Diego. We’ll be kicking off the tour this week in the big apple (stay tuned for more details) and next week our CEO, Tony Uphoff, will be speaking at ABM’s Annual Conference, themed “The B-to-B Company: A Fully Integrated Enterprise.” He’ll be moderating the conference kickoff panel to discuss and debate the emerging role and value proposition of B2B media when it comes to connecting buyers and sellers.
Stay tuned for the latest from The Business.com Growth Tour of America by following the tour tag on our blog.