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How to make B2B content marketing more effective

Content marketing efforts should be carefully planned to avoid alienating your audience.

Content marketing is one of the top strategies for B2B firms. High-quality content can be a great source of lead generation, but there are some obstacles to getting the most from this tactic. In particular, B2B marketing teams may struggle to create content that is truly engaging for their target audiences. 

Warning signs of ineffective content
There is a multitude of effective online content, but there are also a lot of ways to get it wrong. Although B2B product offerings are often highly complex, loading content with jargon isn't the way to engage potential customers (1). Prospects want relatable content in plain terms. In addition, many firms try to disguise sales pitches as relevant industry content, which prospects can usually detect. While there is a time and a place for branded content, it should be avoided during the earlier stages of the sales cycle.

Content marketing efforts – especially blog posts – should be centered around the topics that interest your audience. Buyers often want to see articles that address their pain points. If your blog doesn't generate any comments or shares, it could be a sign that visitors don't find the material engaging.

How to make content more interactive
Truly engaging content takes time and effort to produce, which can be frustrating for marketers who need to focus on other priorities. One way to ensure your efforts are on track with customers' interests and concerns is to assess the results of sales surveys (2). This can reveal a great deal of information about clients' pain points, allowing your marketing team to refine the topics they cover to be more on point. 

When planning blog posts, there are a few main elements that can spark more engagement: a compelling headline, the problem in the business lives of readers and a solution to this issue. Ultimately, successful B2B content marketing tells a story. 

While it's important to consistently create new content, marketers can repurpose content. Sales collateral, presentations, emails and product pages can all be used as sources of inspiration. Additionally, in-depth pieces like white papers, webinars and e-books can be used to form infographics, blog posts and short videos. A diverse content marketing strategy can be more engaging for your target audience and prevent potential prospects from getting bored. 

1. "11 Red Flags That Your B2B Content Is Boring"
2. "How to Construct a Content Machine (Even If You're Not a Natural-Born Writer)"

Posted in Lead Generation |

How to win at social media for B2B

Social media is more popular than ever for B2B marketing.

Social media is increasingly important as a B2B marketing tool. LinkedIn and Twitter are valuable sources for lead generation, but some marketers are still struggling to make the most out of these platforms. 

Companies shouldn't neglect the importance of other Internet marketing channels. While buyers enjoy engaging in discussions with brands on social media, they still prefer emails to communicate with sales representatives (1). But social media is invaluable during the research process.

Here are some tips for how marketers can make the most of social media to connect with buyers:

  • Context is really important: Marketers need to consider which social network they are publishing content on to take the right approach. It may be beneficial to tailor content for each platform (2).
  • Don't forget mobile: Social media easily lends itself to mobile marketing. Since buyers often interact with these platforms on the go, marketers need to ensure content is easy to consume.
  • Remember content marketing best practices: While social media engagement is a little different from a traditional content marketing strategy, it's more important than ever to make a connection with buyers. Social media content should be free of industry jargon to avoid alienating readers.

1. "B2B buyers like social media but communicate mainly by e-mail"
2. "Six Tips for Better B2B Social Marketing"

Posted in Social Media Marketing |

What does the future of B2B marketing and SEO look like?

SEO is changing dramatically as content marketing becomes more important.

Search engine optimization used to be all about having a good keyword strategy. However, this has all changed in a relatively short amount of time. B2B marketing professionals need to consider the semantic value of their website content to win at SEO rankings. While many best practices are the same, search engines have changed the definition of bad SEO (1).

How SEO has changed in the past few years
SEO is constantly evolving, and B2B firms need to pay attention to major changes to ensure their campaigns are still performing well. Here are some new developments in the field:

  • Google removed exact match keyword research from AdWords.
  • The extensive adoption of content marketing is making it more difficult to beat competition with this strategy alone.
  • Google will continue to add new ranking signals, which adds to the complexity for a successful marketing strategy.
  • Search engines will take more actions against spammy websites.
  • Mobile apps will be indexed, which will create the opportunity for app optimization. This will be a significant change for mobile SEO
  • Search is becoming more personalized, especially as people use their mobile devices more frequently.
  • Mobile will receive more attention, requiring a semantic approach to SEO. 

Content and mobile will continue to be important components of an SEO strategy, but marketers need to ensure they play by Google's rules and adhere to best practices.

Accounting for more visual content
Content marketing is more driven by visuals than it was in the past. B2B marketers may see this as a content concern, but it applies to SEO practices as well. Because Internet marketing relies on more graphics, people often search for products with a particular image in mind (2). This means potential buyers could be searching with different terms than what marketers expect. 

Images still provide an opportunity for optimization. Companies can include keywords in the captions or descriptions of images. Search engine bots can't crawl images like they can with text, but relevant keywords give them more information about what the visual is. Adjusting the image file name can help marketers get better SEO results (3). When images are connected to other text-based content, image searches can help potential leads discover relevant industry information. 

Although it is becoming more difficult to stand out with content marketing efforts, visuals are a great way to connect with a target audience.

Pay attention to the semantic nature of content
Context matters more than ever in content marketing. When B2B buyers search from a mobile device, they won't use the same keywords as they would from a desktop computer. In addition, smartphones give people the option of voice-based search. This has been shown to result in complete questions, rather than inquiries that consist of a specific search term. Marketers need to consider these unique contexts and what the user's intentions are to craft a truly successful SEO strategy (4). 

One of the ways to do this is by assessing term frequency. In the past, keyword density was a good indication of SEO success, but now it's more about relevancy. Term frequency needs to be compared to the total word count, and marketers need to consider the overall importance of the keyword compared to other terms. In addition, user engagement is a good measure of how content marketing and SEO efforts are performing. Mobile will continue to be an important focus for Google, and users interact with mobile search differently. B2B marketing professionals need to be aware of these trends to keep their strategies on track. 

1. "Expert Insights On The Future Of SEO, Part 1"
2. "What's the Future of SEO in a Visual World?"
3. "Writing for SEO Part Two: Basic Optimization Tips and the Logic Behind Them"
4. "5 Semantic Friendly SEO Strategies That Can Enhance Your Search Engine Visibility"

Posted in Search Engine Optimization |

Consider content curation for B2B marketing

Content curation can help improve the brand's reputation.

Content marketing plays a major role in B2B marketing. While businesses across industries develop blog post, white papers, e-books, videos and other forms of content themselves, curating content is proving a strong strategy as well.

Content curation consists of collecting and sharing information that's relevant to a business's intended audience and the products or services it sells. When brands spread Web content from other sites that they find intriguing, it can position them as a hub for information or news about the industry they're in. This boosts brand credibility and can strengthen the relationship brands have with their followers.

Curating content involves not only seeking out important and intriguing articles, blog posts, videos and press materials, but also ensuring the sources the content comes  from are reputable. In addition, these sources should share similar viewpoints or ideals as the business. Good places to look for content curation include industry publications, government and educational institutions, and associations. Businesses may also consider researching industry experts' blogs.

Once a brand has a good idea of where to look for content to share with its audience, it's important to maintain integrity on all channels by citing sources accurately and ensuring readers know where to go for more information.

Posted in Search Engine Optimization |

What are the most effective B2B marketing methods?

A lot goes into effective B2B marketing.

B2B marketing and lead generation have always been challenging. Fortunately, marketers have an arsenal of tools at their disposal to ensure they make meaningful connections with prospects. When implementing a marketing strategy, it's important to consider multiple channels to engage with leads. Some of the most effective include the following:

  • Content marketing: This tactic has caught on like wildfire, and 93 percent of B2B firms report using content (1). Not only does this tactic increase brand awareness, but it also boosts search engine optimization results. Content is an effective way to amplify your organic search presence.
  • Social media: Similar to content, these channels are excellent for building brand awareness, but they can also be used as a lead generation tool. LinkedIn and Twitter are increasingly becoming more effective in the B2B world (2).
  • Event marketing: Although Internet marketing channels are more popular than ever before, there is still a time and a place for events. Conferences and trade shows may help brands connect with new prospects in person before using online channels as a form of lead nurturing

1. "B2B Marketers: Why Organic Content Is Your Weapon Of Choice"
2. "Infographic: Social media the most effective channel for B2B, 79% of marketers believe"
3. "What Makes B2B Event Marketing Work?"

Posted in Lead Generation |

Why infographics are important for B2B marketing

Infographics can improve content marketing efforts.

Content marketing is essential for successful B2B lead generation efforts. However, this tactic has changed a great deal over time. In the past, content was seen as a way to build organic links to improve search engine optimization results. Now it is critically important for the lead nurturing process because most buyers consult multiple sources of content to make an informed decision. Because the buyer's journey has changed a great deal in a relatively short amount of time, B2B marketing professionals need to account for new types of content in their strategies. Content marketing is becoming more visual.

In the past, content marketing efforts largely centered around blog posts and longform content such as white papers and e-books. While these forms are still highly applicable, it may be a good idea to add more visual content into the mix. Infographics are an excellent addition to a content marketing strategy because they manage to communicate a large amount of information in a way that makes it easy for decision-makers to understand (1). B2B products are often complex, which means infographics may be a great way to condense the key benefits of a solution to give buyers some clear takeaways. This approach also provides a more visually appealing way to present relevant industry statistics. 

Account for visual content
The sales cycle is getting longer, and buyers may seek more information before arriving at a decision. While white papers can help guide leads in the right direction, prospects may be looking for other sources of information because of lengthy text. Videos are another great way to communicate complicated concepts that would otherwise require extensive reading to understand. 

One of the reasons B2B marketing teams don't see the results they want from their content initiatives is because they fail to make a human connection to buyers (2). Leads are less likely to trust overly promotional sales messages or anything that is too full of industry jargon. Infographics and videos can help marketing teams speak their target audience's language and relate to prospects on a more personal level. Authentic storytelling is essential for making strong connections with potential customers, and visual content mediums can make this process easier than text-based pieces. 

B2B decision-makers are consistently changing how they research product offerings, and marketers need to switch up their approach to content to ensure they are attracting the right prospects and engaging them with relevant information. 

1. "12 Infographic Tips to Rock Your Content Marketing Strategy"
2. "3 B2B Content Marketing Tactics to Please Audiences and Stakeholders"

Posted in Lead Generation |

Preparing for new trends in SEO

Search engine optimization is a constantly developing field.

Search engine optimization is a constantly evolving field. With each of Google's algorithm changes, strategies that used to deliver results may be rendered ineffective. While some of the best practices are consistent, B2B marketing teams need to be aware of new developments in this field to ensure their marketing efforts continue to perform at a high level. SEO is still an essential strategy in the B2B industry, but it requires an up-to-date knowledge to succeed. 

Local search marketing undergoing major changes
Google recently announced its latest update, Pigeon, which affects local search efforts. Because more buyers are doing research from their mobile devices while on the go, mobile SEO is growing in importance, which is an important consideration for B2B marketers. In addition, some firms may only target a relatively small geographic region. Any traffic from outside this area won't be relevant, highlighting the reason to optimize local search efforts. 

Many SEO marketers notice a change in their rankings immediately following a significant algorithm change, and this has been the case with Pigeon (1). Since the update, there have been major fluctuations in local rankings, making monthly reports less accurate. However, many SEO experts have been suggesting that ranking reports are not as relevant as they once were, even though many companies still use this as a primary indicator of SEO success.

Especially with the dramatic shifts in local rankings, it may be a good idea to take a look at other metrics to get a better gauge of performance. For example, organic traffic is often overlooked in local search marketing reports, and this may be a better indication of how an initiative is working. In addition, it's beneficial to analyze landing pages. While once barely a blip on the radar, mobile search now accounts for a significant portion of the total, and this number is likely to keep growing. B2B marketers need to ensure they have an effective mobile marketing strategy in place. 

How to avoid other SEO failures
Because so many different aspects go into planning an SEO campaign, there are nearly endless possibilities for things to go wrong. B2B companies may have unrealistic expectations, not enough of a budget or assume things about the campaign rather than planning with hard data (2). 

Unrealistic goals are a major cause of SEO failure. For example, a small local business most likely won't be able to be the top-rated website on Google or Bing as soon as a campaign goes live. Successful campaigns are often based on intervals with more reasonable timeframes for specific milestones. 

Keywords are another major roadblock, and this is an area where marketers may make assumptions rather than doing enough research to select the right terms. Unless marketers use a keyword research tool to study this data, they could be making uneducated guesses on the terms customers are actually searching and optimizing for the wrong keywords. Without the right keyword strategy, the SEO campaign may be driving the wrong traffic to the website. One indication that this may be an issue is if the website has a high bounce rate for all organic search traffic (2). 

Poor content can cause SEO initiatives to be unsuccessful
It's a well-known fact that content marketing and SEO are closely tied together. Google continues to put more emphasis on high-quality content as a ranking signal. However, good copy is not the only consideration for boosting SEO results. Although poorly written content may scare visitors away from the site, all copy needs to be relevant to the target audience's interests to achieve a high ranking on the search engine results page. Visitor engagement sends a strong signal to Google that users are finding value in the content, meaning other people may as well.

Many companies used to focus on content for the sole purpose of building links, but this tactic isn't effective anymore (3). While some firms may still be considering SEO and content marketing as two separate strategies, B2B marketing professionals need to produce a higher volume of quality content to stay competitive in SEO. Not only do marketers need to consider relevance to the audience, but it's also important to have a diverse content strategy to have a positive influence on page rank.

Long-form content in particular is important for improving page rank. Websites that appear farther down in the rankings may have weak, sparse content (3). In addition, keywords are still important, but they need to be semantically relevant to the text. The days of awkwardly shoehorning a keyword into a sentence where it doesn't make sense for SEO are long gone. Marketers also need to consider multimedia content, such as video and infographics, to increase visitor engagement. Making content shareable on social media can expand a firm's reach as well. 

1. "One Positive Pigeon Result: We Can Finally Ditch Ranking Reports"
2. "7 Reasons Your SEO Campaign Will Fail and What You Can Do About It"
3. "4 Ways Quality Content Improves SEO Rankings"

Posted in Search Engine Optimization |

Avoid SEO mistakes in content marketing

Content marketing and SEO need to work together.

It's no secret that search engine optimization and content marketing are closely linked. However, B2B marketing professionals need to optimize both of these channels to get the best results possible. 

Because of relatively recent changes to Google's algorithm, there is a stronger connection between quality content and search engine page rank (1). In the past, backlinks were seen as one of the most important ways to increase page rank. While they still have an influence, quality may have a greater effect than quantity, especially if spammy websites are directing traffic back to a website. Blogs are one of the best ways to gain more inbound links.

Why is it so important to maximize the effectiveness of SEO campaigns? Seventy percent of clicks come from organic searches rather than paid (2). In addition, 75 percent of Internet users never get past the first page of results, which is why brands need to stand out. Marketers need to keep up with changes in ranking signals. For example, site speed is now one of the most important indicators to search engines, and relevant terms are one of the key on-page factors (1). 

Mistakes to avoid with SEO and a content marketing strategy
While B2B content is a highly effective lead generation tool, it can sometimes be at odds with strong SEO results. Because marketers are so focused on attracting qualified leads, some B2B firms have a tendency to gate all content, but this does not make a positive contribution to SEO (3). Closing content off behind a form prevents search engine bots from crawling and indexing the pages, which means that even if it is well-researched and delivers value, potential readers won't be able to find it. Content marketers need to know which content should be gated and which pieces should be readily available. In-depth marketing efforts such as white papers and e-books can be gated because they are valuable sources of qualified leads. However, blogs should not be gated. This is a chance to provide a valuable resource for leads. 

Another common mistake is putting too much focus on keywords. While these terms help relevant prospects find your website, marketers need to focus on the value of the content more than the searchability. If visitors are staying on the page and engaging with the content, this can send a stronger signal to search engines than loading a post with keywords. 

Marketers need to utilize multiple forms of content marketing to maximize their SEO results. In fact, longform content can be a jumping-off point for other materials. One way to highlight the best industry data your company has is with infographics. This form of content is easy to share on social media profiles, and your blog and can help you garner more attention for a gated e-book. Releasing an in-depth form of content such as a white paper is a great opportunity to create a short blog series to spark engagement and interest leading up to the release (3). You can even create a webinar to go along with a white paper or e-book.

While content marketing has a strong influence on SEO, it's still important to not neglect best practices to improve your page rank. High-quality content can improve your brand's online visibility. The buyer's journey has changed a great deal in a short amount of time, so it's no longer enough to target prospects with specific keywords. Content can serve as a lead nurturing tool. SEO and content marketing will likely become more intertwined in the future. 

1. "SearchMetrics Released SEO Ranking Factors For 2014: Content Now Really King?"
2. "7 SEO Stats That Will Have You Crawling With Excitement (Infographic)"
3. "B2B Content Marketers: Are You Making These 5 Common SEO Mistakes?"

Posted in Search Engine Optimization |

Colors and image play a big role in B2B content marketing

B2B marketing should embrace the effectiveness of images and color in their campaigns.

B2B content marketing strategies should focus as much on image and color as on text. Businesses implementing imagery as an integral part of their search engine optimization tactics will experience more engagement with customers and higher visibility in organic searches.

Choosing an image
Photographs, stock pictures, infographics and artwork are all suitable images for use on a business website. Graphics are terrific ways to quickly and effectively send a message. Human beings take in an image immediately; an article or summary takes much longer to read and process (1).

The click-thru rate for websites using images is larger than that of sites that do not (2). Every single blog post or article should have an accompanying image if the owner wants to generate traffic (3). The Internet is becoming a more visual platform. For instance, Twitter only allows 140 characters of text. Tweets sent out along with images saw 150 percent more retweets than those without. One picture becomes enormously important when text is so limited (3).

If choosing an image is difficult, consider taking a well-performing text post and re-purposing it into an image or infographic (4). Work with other industry experts to expand on the information already presented. Consider the platform on which the new and improved information will be posted. Where will it be easiest for others to comment on or share the image?

3M and Post-it notes
A fine example of images having a significant impact on a corporation's marketing strategy is that of 3M and their Post-it notes. A recent campaign for the sticky notes uses video (rather than text) to demonstrate how tiny colored squares can help people communicate (5). The marketing videos and associated images were posted on social media sites to engage users in the discussion. The result was a community of 3M product users and crafters sharing their own experiences with Post-it notes and a forum called 3MDIY Web portal. Post-it site traffic has increased by 50 percent since the campaign began.

Use of Color
When deciding on images to use for a website landing page or specific blog post, pay close attention to the colors. Before anything else in an image or brand logo, people see and process color. In fact, the ability to recognize a brand rises by 80 percent when color is added (6). Confidence in a brand is largely determined by the ability to identify logos and products.

Especially when creating an infographic or considering which photo to add to a post promoting an upcoming sale, color needs to be taken into consideration. The color green is an excellent example of one that elicits specific emotions in consumers. Physically, it is the easiest color for the human eye to see. It evokes nature, youth, ecology and adventure. Therefore, it is an excellent choice for corporations operating in the medical and scientific industries. 

However, depending on where a product is sold, it is imperative that the B2B marketing team adheres to cultural interpretations of color. Red will have a very different effect on a North American shopper than a European shopper.

Putting pictures to work
Optimization of images is the key to ensuring that desirable high click-thru rate. Google Image Search reads optimized images better than normal pictures (7). Files should always be saved as a .jpg or .png file. 

When possible, try to add a combination of original and stock photography to the site. Stock photography will not harm rankings, but having fresh images that don't exist anywhere else online adds a more personal touch. Make sure that any photo posted is high quality. A blurry image will give off an unpolished impression to viewers. Be sure to choose an image size that does not slow down the entire site's load time. Configure the picture so it can load quickly and clearly. 

Write a caption for every image posted. Studies show that up to twice as many readers pay attention to photo captions than read the article entirely. Include key words or phrases in this caption. Also, be sure to create alt text and filenames for all images. Alt text is a description that appears if a photo does not load properly or a visitor's browser does not show it. Best kept short and descriptive, alt text also makes websites friendlier to those with visual impairments.

Finally, using siteā€‹maps for all images gives each of them a better chance of recognition. A sitemap is a file that shows Google and other search engines how a website is organized. It contains a listing of all the Web pages, or in this case, images, associated with a site to improve search crawling. This is incredibly beneficial to increasing SERP rankings because an image sitemap provides the type and its subject matter to the search engine.

B2B marketers will dramatically increase brand awareness and lead generation when they implement images into their overall marketing strategies. 

1. "Color and branding"

2. "The 2 types of rich media your SEO plan can't ignore"

3. "8 blogging 'rules' you should probably ditch"

4. "6 top-secret content marketing growth hacks"

5. "Why 3M's marketing sticks with millennials and DIY'ers"

6. "How do colors affect purchases?"

7. "Google search engine optimization starter guide"

Posted in Lead Generation, Search Engine Optimization |

Effective B2B marketing requires fresh content

Stay relevant with original content marketing strategies.

Developing original content is one of the most effective aspects of B2B marketing.

Organic search results account for more website traffic than both paid searches and social media (1). Business services can attribute less than 20 percent of all visits to display, email and referred marketing tactics. A whopping 73 percent of all traffic for the business services sector can be linked back to organic searches.

This proves that developing fresh content regularly is a crucial element to the marketing process. Today, 31 percent of Fortune 500 companies have blogs on their websites (2). Of those, 80 percent maintain activity and post frequently. Though this can be the most challenging aspect of developing new content, it is an incredibly important part of maintaining high rankings in organic searches.

In addition, those companies that opt for a larger social media presence are relinquishing their status in searches. Blogs and original content give businesses more control over their image, and a blog platform allows better ROI measurement (3). Social media analytics are often less user-friendly, so assuring a top place in a news feed becomes difficult and time-consuming. Devoting time to content and user interaction is more beneficial than juggling an odd platform. 

1. "Study: Organic Search Drives 51% of traffic, social only 5%"

2. "The 2014 Fortune 500 and Social Media"

3. "Why blogging still matters: data, distribution and ownership of content"

Posted in Paid Advertising, Social Media Marketing |

 

 

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