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3 tips to optimize video for B2B marketing

Videos for B2B marketing can help companies generate more leads.

Content marketing is a many-headed beast, but few of these appendages are as effective as video. According to a recent comScore study more than 188 million Americans watched roughly 35 billion online ads in December 2013 alone. The two main culprits for drawing in consumers to videos overall were Google Sites – largely derived from YouTube – and Facebook. As far as video ads go, Google still ranked No. 3, while sites such as AOL and Hulu were bigger players in the online video marketing game. Still, B2B marketers are increasingly looking to social networks like Facebook for lead generation, especially after the company changed the Ads API program that will conceivably make it easier for companies to target users based on their behavior, according to Business Insider.

Here are a few tips to make sure your online video marketing will strike the right chord:

1. On Facebook? Make sure visuals are powerful
Despite the fact that you can integrate online advertising videos pretty seamlessly on Facebook, one characteristic that might pose a problem for some is sound, wrote Mashable. Videos will play automatically when users scroll over them, but potential leads won't hear a single word unless they click on the content. For this reason, it's important to make sure the visuals are strong enough to attract a click.

2. Create a narrative, not just a product pitch
In keeping with delivering a strong visual message, you should also work to develop a coherent narrative within the 60-or-so seconds or 5 minutes that are devoted to your online video. Even in a B2B marketing context, your audience will still be a living, breathing human being who's interested in learning about the company as much as the product or service being advertised, ClickZ advised. Although it can be a challenge, weaving your brand message into the particular offering your video highlights is the most effective way to impact prospects and improve lead generation efforts.

3. YouTube user? Get analytical
As with any Internet marketing effort, measuring the outcomes of your strategies is crucial. Thankfully, Google and its video sharing behemoth YouTube give businesses plenty of opportunities to mine for valuable data. Search Engine Watch explained that marketers can do a quick search on YouTube using keywords relevant to your business. From the results, you can develop a list of optimal search terms that you should include in video titles and descriptions that will direct more viewers and leads to your online content. 

Posted in Social Media Marketing |

Social media helps convert leads

Cultivating an online community is vital in generating leads.

Forging connections through social media is crucial for a business, but nurturing those relationships is what matters most. Engaging with people will spark interest and lead to sales. Engagement requires knowing your audience, listening and contributing to the conversation.

MarketingProfs suggests identifying people with similar values, goals and perspectives. These may be individuals you already know such as colleagues, customers, vendor and suppliers. It's important to also consider reaching out to individuals who would show interest in your services. To get an idea of what people care about – listen. Observe people's interactions on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. 

Go ahead and chime in, contribute and start the conversation. Build awareness of your company and your brand. However, it's not just about you. It's important to remember you're engaging in a conversation. Be cognizant of your audience's interests and passions. 

Once you've cultivated this community, make it easy for connections to invest in your product. Forbes recommends placing your phone number on your Twitter profile and creating a Facebook tab that asks people to sign up for emails. All of these tactics will pique people's interests and generate sales.

Posted in Lead Generation, Social Media Marketing |

Which type of content marketing is most effective?

Content marketing efforts need regular refinement.

With all the different types of content marketing available today, it only makes sense that some tactics are more effective than others. Reporting on a Nielsen study, MarketingProfs examined different types of content across product categories and stages of the buying cycle. The results revealed that expert reviews carried the strongest influence, compared to branded content and user reviews. To arrive at this finding, Nielsen looked at the way content marketing efforts impacted brand awareness, perceptions and purchase decisions for several different types of product. Not only did expert reviews raise buying intentions, but they also increased familiarity with the brand. 

The reasons behind this result are likely because expert reviews are independent from brands. Buyers are less likely to trust B2B marketing initiatives that show a clear bias. This is why it can be difficult to inspire trust through your website alone. In addition, buyers found expert reviews to be more informative than branded content. This type of content was also considered more credible than basic user reviews.

These results may vary based on your industry, but the results illustrate the importance of offering a variety of content for the different stages of the sales cycle. 

How to improve content marketing efforts
B2B marketers may be getting bogged down with content because they are too focused on creation rather than strategy, Search Engine Watch suggested. Many marketers don't feel as though their strategies are successful at driving the desired results. The top goals of B2B content marketing efforts are boosting brand awareness and improving lead generation campaigns. However, many marketers are not devoting resources to the areas that would most benefit. For example, you may need to adjust your search engine optimization efforts to see the best possible results from both of these tactics. However, boosting organic search and increasing social media engagement aren't typically seen as high priorities in content marketing. Focusing on these areas can improve content results, especially in the early stages of the sales funnel.

While content creation certainly shouldn't be overlooked, it's important to focus on the marketing strategy behind this effort. You can see better results by employing multiple types of content, such as white papers, videos, infographics and blogs, but it may be worthwhile to take a step back to make adjustments to your strategy. In B2B marketing, it's especially important to have an accurate knowledge of your audience. Understanding their pain points and goals can help you better target prospective customers with content. 

Don't neglect SEO strategies in content marketing
Basic website metrics can help you identify which on-site content is functioning best and what isn't working. Website analytics can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your content, according to Forbes. Without proper attention, content marketing campaigns can quickly run off the rails, and the longer this continues, the more difficult it is to get them back on track. Helpful areas to analyze include the following:

  • Most popular pages: This identifies your top content and how long users are staying on each page. Knowing the most popular pages can help you improve the low-performing ones. 
  • Landing pages: Many visitors will see landing pages before anything else on your website, and they play a significant role in converting visitors into leads. 
  • Exit pages: The content on the last pages visitors view before leaving the website may hold the most room for improvement. Are you utilizing a strong call to action to direct readers to a next step? Are these pages delivering value? Having the answers to these questions can help you make adjustments that will convert more visitors.
Posted in Analytics, Lead Generation |

Why local search marketers should stick with Google

Local search marketing works well  when optimized for Google.

When Google announced on April 1 that it would be bringing back the "search nearby" function to Google Maps, there was an audible sigh of relief from various corners of the Internet. Search Engine Land recently wrote the search engine behemoth received significant blowback earlier this year in February after it updated its Map tool, which saw the local search option apparently removed. According to SEL, users still had the ability to search for local businesses using the new map, but it was anything but intuitive for most people.

Businesses should look local
The backlash calls attention to the fact that local search marketing continues to be an important resource for many companies, regardless of their size. Not only is Google a popular resource for customers looking for restaurants, service providers, government offices and any number of businesses, but it's probably one of the best resources for enterprises looking to take advantage of local search marketing. Not all organizations understand how to get started, so Forbes suggested they begin by adding their information to online resources, such as Google Plus Local or Angie's List. This is often as simple as clicking on a link that prompts the user to input contact information and other general content.

Google keeps local companies in view
From this point, Myles Anderson, contributor to Search Engine Land conducted a study comparing keyword use in various locations searching on Google, Bing and Yahoo. The research showed generic search terms, such as dentist or builder, were given greatest prominence – more listings on the first page result – on Google. On the other hand, longtail keywords, or those with a narrower focus, were displayed with much less frequency on the first page result.

At the same time, Anderson suggested Google serves local companies' best interests better by integrating location-specific aspects, including the searcher's IP address, to display results. Yet, Search Engine Watch explained the keywords that companies use on their websites are useful for unlocking the local market. These can include neighborhoods, city and town names, area codes, ZIP codes and well-known landmarks that customers can refer to so that they can find the business.

While many business owners want to drive more attention to the products and services they provide, this approach may be end up being too narrow and will negatively impact their SEO. Anderson's study, however, concluded geographically-linked keywords are far more effective on search engines like Yahoo and Bing, but the tools Google uses to integrate location are more effective to drive traffic to local businesses.

Posted in Search Engine Optimization |

SEO and content marketing still need to work together

Google Authorship could be one way to maintain SEO results after Hummingbird.

Marketers have argued over the merits of content marketing compared to search engine optimization, but these strategies need to complement each other. Google's latest algorithm, Hummingbird, has created a significant update to the way content is ranked, according to ClickZ. The changes will ensure that SEO initiatives don't impact the value of content marketing. Instead of lessening the impact of traditional SEO, Hummingbird is tying it closer to content marketing. 

Keywords are still important, but B2B marketing teams need to change how they approach SEO strategies. You can't strictly adhere to guidelines set by the algorithm and hope for the best rankings. Though relevant keywords have a place in these initiatives, good content will lead the way. Context in your content plays a more significant role.

Looking for a clear way to stay ahead in SEO after Hummingbird? Google Authorship may improve your company's online visibility, a separate article for ClickZ stated. This links to writers' Google profiles, which can help build credibility. Because there is a snippet of the author's profile included through the search engine results page, viewers are more likely to click through. Connecting your website to Google Plus – the only social media site that influences rankings – can help you accomplish this.

Posted in Search Engine Optimization |

Real-time marketing needs to go beyond social media

Social media allows marketers to communicate with prospects in real time.

Social media can help B2B brands get more attention. These channels can jumpstart B2B marketing efforts because networks like Twitter allow companies to achieve the largest reach with the smallest investment, The Wall Street Journal reported. In particular, Twitter can help firms reach a specific audience through the use of relevant hashtags. 

For example, if your company is participating in an industry conference, the weeks leading up to it are a great time to take to social media. This can lead to higher engagement during the event. 

Although real-time marketing used to be a concept exclusive to social media, the shift in available tactics has changed this, according to data from eMarketer. Personalizing content was found to be the most important feature of real-time marketing, and increased customer engagement was viewed as one of the top benefits. Although social media was still considered the top choice for instant communication, other online marketing channels were seen as effective. Company websites and email rounded out the top three tactics. 

Social media allows marketers to join conversations with their target audience without bombarding this group with promotional messages, The WSJ stated. 

Posted in Social Media Marketing |

How are buyers interacting with content marketing?

Content marketing can improve your brand's reputation.

Content is an essential component in nearly every B2B marketing strategy. Reporting on research from CMO Council and Netline, MarketingProfs said vendor content is a factor in 88 percent of purchase decisions. More than half of buyers also feel that content marketing improves their knowledge of currently available business technologies. This marketing tactic also educates decision-makers on issues and challenges within their industries. 

Different buyer personas interact with content in varying ways. The majority of leads find vendor content through search engines and portals. Some go directly to company websites, and one-quarter ask colleagues for recommendations. When it comes to selecting a vendor, leads are most interested in research reports, case studies, technical spec sheets, white papers and articles on trade websites. 

The research process differs across many organizations. In some B2B firms, mid-level executives are responsible for nearly the entire process, from finding vendor content, making the decision and educating senior management about why the choice was made. Other companies task junior or mid-level employees with the research process, and then senior managers make the final selection. Additionally, senior employees in some businesses are responsible for finding content and sharing it with mid-level workers to assess the information and arrive at a decision. This highlights the importance of catering to separate buyer personas. It isn't a safe assumption that the same people at each organization will be interacting with your content.

How to create a mature content marketing strategy
While content has the promise to improve lead generation efforts, increase brand awareness and help build relationships, it can be a challenge to correctly implement this strategy. B2B marketers struggle to produce enough content and to provide truly relevant information to their target audience. It can be difficult to transition away from self-promotional forms of advertising. To create real engagement, you need to focus on brand storytelling to connect with your audience, Forbes stated. Even though B2B products may not seem to lend themselves to this approach, storytelling can lead to deeper engagement. 

Segmenting content for different buyer personas can also contribute to a more mature content strategy. Establishing thought leadership in your industry can give you a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting prospects with your content. Creating lasting relationships with prospects can generate long-term success in your marketing initiatives.

Posted in Lead Generation |

Match social media networks to your target audience

Choosing the right social media platform can make or break your campaign.

One of the most important aspects of a social media campaign is choosing the right network for your target audience. This selection is crucial because B2B buyer relationships are complex, according to Search Engine Land. When done correctly, a social presence can boost brand awareness and help you connect with a niche audience. Decision-makers are unique across different segments of the B2B sector, meaning certain platforms may be more relevant than others. 

One way to determine which channel is the most effective is to measure engagement on your current profiles. It isn't about the size of your follower base – likes, retweets and shares can provide a more relevant indicator of how people are interacting with content.

To use social media as a lead nurturing tool, it may be a good idea to map out the buying cycle in advance, ClickZ stated. However, you need to be aware that social leads often take longer to nurture. To make the most of these campaigns, you need to be proactive about engaging prospects through social channels.

In addition to customer preferences, how different types of content marketing perform on various networks can be an indication of the best choice. For example, if you frequently create videos, these may get more attention through certain social channels. 

Posted in Social Media Marketing |

Content marketing checklist for better results

Content marketing strategies have many separate pieces.

B2B marketing wouldn't be complete without a solid content strategy. It's becoming essential for lead generation and raising brand awareness. Many firms are on the quest to establish thought leadership with their content marketing efforts, but some are struggling to get the basics right. 

One of the reasons it's so difficult to measure the relative success or failure of this marketing strategy is because there is a long lead time between when you create a piece of content that initially attracts a prospect and when your sales team closes the deal, according to MarketingProfs. While it's important to measure how much traffic your blog is getting, it may be a better idea to track how much engagement content generates. Although many marketers want to produce viral content, you will have better results if you create materials that are relevant to your target audience. Content marketing is about attracting the right audience with the appropriate message. 

Here are some tips for refining your content to make it a more useful lead nurturing tool:

1. Define your strategy before diving into writing
You need to have an accurate picture of your goals before launching multiple content campaigns, Forbes stated. Who is your target audience? Do you have separate customer segments? Are you trying to increase sales or drive brand loyalty? Having a better idea of these objectives before you start can help you create better content. 

2. Realize content is a marathon, not a sprint
Some marketers may not be convinced of the power of content because they expect to see immediate return on investment or increased sales. Others in the B2B sector are married to the idea of the sales funnel, but modern prospects may not follow the same, linear customer journey. This is why you need to focus on creating content for each stage of the buying cycle, as well as writing material for multiple buyer personas. In addition, marketers need to contend with much longer sales cycles. Content should aim to hold attention for an extended period of time rather than grab it for a few moments. This is a mark of high engagement. Preparing for a longer sales funnel can help you build the relationship with prospects over time. 

3. Try alternative content activities to build relationships
One of the reasons content marketing is so effective is because you can use it to connect with a much wider audience than you can reach with other tactics. It's worthwhile because you can establish more credibility in your industry, build quality links and gain brand advocates, Search Engine Watch said. If you're struggling to come up with new ways to present topics, you may be able to take inspiration from previous campaigns. "Best of" lists, expert guides, interview pieces and news roundups can all help you create new engagement. Lists can cover anything from different apps to experts in the industry. You're offering leads something they will find valuable without being promotional. This enhances your relationship with influencers and can be particularly useful when joined with social media efforts. Roundups are fairly easy to put together, and are a great way to convey big news within the industry. Utilizing new forms of content can help you keep the same topics fresh for longer so you don't have to scramble to think of new things to write.

4. Retargeting
​Retargeting allows you to connect with individuals in your audience who may have missed a piece of content the first time around, according to Marketing Pilgrim. This works in conjunction with search engine optimization efforts to direct traffic back to your website. Retargeting is relatively inexpensive to carry out, and it allows you to maximize your content budget. You can make your content work a little harder to gain prospects' attention without spending more. This can encourage leads to take an action, such as request a product demo or subscribe to your newsletter. 

5. Don't let content operate in a vacuum
Whether you're trying to generate qualified leads or gain better SEO results, it's important to measure and test all campaigns regularly to ensure you're on track to meet your desired objectives. Otherwise, SEO could be running off the rails. This doesn't make the best use of your marketing budget. Optimizing each aspect of your content campaigns can help you meet your goals.

6. Focus on quality writing and share content through the right channels
Some marketers get completely bogged down with the strategic aspects of content, and the results can be inauthentic blog posts and articles. Your initiatives need to focus on delivering relevant, helpful information to your audience over being excessively witty. However, this isn't to say your content should be boring. Another part of being relevant is reaching your target market through the right channels. For example, if your ideal leads maintain an active presence on LinkedIn, this is a good place to share articles.

Posted in Lead Generation |

Focus on lead nurturing in content marketing efforts

Content marketing can act as a lead nurturing tool.

While there is little doubt that content marketing is highly useful for B2B lead generation, your efforts need to go beyond this first step. Buyer behavior has significantly changed in the past few years, and companies should be more proactive about how they engage potential customers, according to Forbes. Clients have greater access to information, which allows them to make better decisions, and this may result in buyers being on the same level as sellers. 

Buyers are more independent and spend longer researching their options before making contact with a sales representative. Prospects are also more reluctant to trust brands, which is where content marketing comes in. This tactic can build credibility in your brand. Because buyers take longer to assess their options and arrive at a decision, content acts as a valuable lead nurturing tool. Prospective clients seek out as much information as possible during the research process. Structuring content marketing initiatives around your sales objectives can help you map the buyer's journey and create more relevant materials. In addition, this has the extra benefit of building brand reputation. Companies need to create B2B marketing efforts for the longer sales cycle. 

Posted in Lead Generation |




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