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Timing and strategy are critical for B2B lead generation

Lead generation strategies to reach IT decision-makers need to be highly targeted.

Business-to-business lead generation can pose many obstacles, especially when you're trying to reach company decision-makers. Particularly for those hoping to connect with information technology higher-ups, marketers need to be persistent and patient. On average, lead generation professionals should expect to send or make more than 220 emails or calls to pin down a qualified meeting to speak with an IT executive about a prospective partnership (1).

However, these individuals appear to be more receptive during certain times of the year. Marketers and sales representatives needed to reach out a fewer number of times during the spring – March and April, to be specific. Also, B2B professionals tend to have better luck earlier in the week, with Monday being the most successful day for contacting IT executives.

Aside from fluctuating lead generation success, the reason marketers may have trouble connecting with IT professionals is because of the expectations in their tech-driven industry. In many cases, earning high-quality prospects stems from thought leadership. In fact, the IT solutions firm Logicalis was able to drive $8 million in revenue from new B2B customers (2). The company's increased cash flow resulted from a content marketing campaign that hinged upon an engaging and informative eBook shared through email and peer-to-peer networking.

1. The Best Times to Prospect to IT Executives
2. Content Marketing: How an IT solutions company generated $8 million from a thought leadership campaign

Posted in Lead Generation |

How a smart PPC campaign can lift search engine marketing

Pay-per-click campaigns are often part of a strong search engine marketing strategy.

Search engine marketing is influenced by a number of factors. One key variable includes customer sentiment as it pertains to search engines themselves. Customer satisfaction has risen using the services of companies like Google, while Yahoo fell in the past year (1). In fact, overall Internet search engine satisfaction reached 80 points out of a possible 100, hitting the minimum requirement for an excellent rating. Google's performance jumped six points to reach a score of 83, while Yahoo only managed to achieve 71.

What are the strengths of search engine marketing?
With stronger positive feelings about search engine performance, it's important for business owners to make the most of these resources for their marketing initiatives. A go-to strategy that many businesses employ to reach out to new clientele is pay-per-click advertising. Google AdWords has become nearly indispensable for marketers hoping to drive more relevant traffic to their websites, while accurately measuring how well their keywords are performing in organic searches.

The concept is fairly straightforward: If customers enter the particular keywords and phrases you've integrated into your PPC campaign, your ads will show up on the search engine results page (2). As a result, buyers interested in your products and services will then be motivated to click on your ad to learn more or to connect with your business. In terms of lead generation, PPC can have a profound impact on the quantity and quality of prospective customers who visit your site.

How to take PPC to the next level
Be diligent. Considering how quickly keyword trends can shift, there's no excuse to rest on your laurels during your PPC campaign. Get to know what your target customer audience needs and how your services or products can solve their issues (3). In practice, you need to understand your buyers' business priorities as well as your own. By paying close attention to their concerns, you can craft a smarter, more agile keyword strategy that evolves as your customers' needs change. At the same time, your PPC ad copy can be more targeted and concise, cutting straight to the core of your customers' pain points.

Be organized. It may be beneficial to create checklists for daily, weekly or monthly tasks involved with your PPC campaign. Allowing yourself a designated time during the day to look at keyword strategy, for instance, can help you stay on top of important key performance indicators.

1. Search Engines Ranked by User Satisfaction
2. A quick look at ads on Google
3. How to Make AdWords Paid Search Work for You – 7 Important Steps

Posted in Paid Advertising, Search Engine Optimization |

Social vs. content: Which wins in B2B marketing?

Social media and content marketing are both critical parts of B2B communications.

In the realm of online marketing, business-to-business organizations have numerous options. Various marketing strategies have unique strengths and weaknesses, and it's ultimately up to each company to find ways to make each channel work. Two overlapping categories – social media and content marketing – are often handled separately because of the objectives businesses have in mind. That said, there are challenges and opportunities presented in both that marketers should remain aware of and help guide their future campaigns.

Challenges in B2B content marketing
Around half of all marketers focused on connecting with other business owners feel their content has reached maturity (1). In other words, a sizable number of B2B marketers believe their blog posts, white papers, infographics and other types of online marketing materials work to respond to buyers' needs throughout the purchasing lifecycle. However, 87 percent indicate creating content that engages customers remains a significant challenge. Meanwhile, 57 percent of marketers said they focus on developing content to distribute through various channels, including their website, social networks and print sources, on an ongoing basis. Another 45 percent indicated they frequently created content for sales purposes to help buyers better understand a product or service.

What may be one of the biggest roadblocks to creating high-impact B2B content is the number of people that companies regularly dedicate to development. In fact, more than 7 in 10 business-focused marketers said that fewer than half of their team has a strong part to play in designing and making content marketing materials.

What are your primary goals?
In most cases, content functions best as a lead nurturing tool to help move buyers toward making purchasing decisions. It's important for B2B marketers to emphasize the ways in which their products and services will help customers solve an issue or quell a concern they may have. Seventy-one percent of marketers say that case studies and similar content are frequently used to sway buyers, but very few have actively made it a core part of their campaigns (1).

Meanwhile, customers want to work with a business partner that both understands where the industry is and where it should be headed. This is one of the strongest benefits of a well-structure content marketing strategy. By performing research and creating a white paper that gives buyers a sense of what's coming next, a company can establish a sense of confidence among potential buyers. However, just 12 percent of marketers cite this as a priority.

At the same time, content marketing often crosses path with social media marketing.

What is a social business?
When most marketing professionals think about a social organization, they picture a business-to-consumer organization. However, B2B companies increasingly see the significant impact of social networks that connect employees with decision-makers in other companies. In fact, 60 percent of business-oriented enterprises strongly agree that social initiatives augment financial and strategic results (2). Social businesses are those that not only connect on social networks but are also using high-level analytics tools to measure data derived from social channels to inform business plans. They monitor both external and internal communications to gain a better understanding of how ideas flow through social media.

One way B2B organizations are leveraging social networks is to use the data found in feedback delivered by customers to manage the way they develop current and future products. Another common practice is to use social sites as forums for collaboration and thought sharing. For instance, LinkedIn has become one of the more successful platforms that business leaders use to raise issues and discuss pressing topics that impact a specific industry.

Yet, the most mature companies go beyond engagement and move toward measurement. While it's certainly important to foster relationships and initiate interesting conversations, B2B organizations need to be able to accurately measure impressions, shares, responses and other metrics to clearly understand how their social strategy performs.

A movement toward automation?
The solution many companies have sought is automating many of the marketing processes that have traditionally been manual. For example, distributing content through various channels or responding to buyers on social sites can potentially be handled using automation tools. For 45 percent of marketers, the main objective is to increase productivity (3).

Depending on the number of marketing pathways and social sites a business uses, managing content and social media by hand can be a time-intensive task. Another core objective using marketing automation is increasing lead generation and strengthening nurturing. However, 45 percent of marketers haven't effectively developed a strategy to integrate automation tools. This could help explain why roughly half of all companies outsource part of their automated marketing campaigns. Third-party providers tend to have the staff, budget, tools and expertise make them more efficient at implementing and analyzing this type of strategy.

In all likelihood, B2B organizations will use a combination of social media and content marketing to reach out to buyers. However, each company needs to recognize where its money is best spent using analytics, either in-house or through an outsourced agency. In any worthwhile venture there are challenges, but they're seldom insurmountable.

1. Compare Your B2B Content Marketing Maturity
2. Moving Beyond Marketing
3. Marketing Automation Benchmark Summary Report

Posted in Analytics, Social Media Marketing |

What email means for B2B marketing strategies

A marketing strategy targeting business owners should integrate email.

Email continues to be a critical part of any marketing strategy. There are few other channels that provide marketers with strong return on investment and a medium that can be customized for specific clients' needs. In fact, email marketing is 40 times more effective in acquiring new customers than social networks (1). Meanwhile, the average ROI in 2011 for every marketing dollar spent on email was $40.56 (2).

One of the greatest strengths of email marketing is due in some part to the recent legislation passed in the U.S. requiring companies to allow customers to opt out with clear directions of how to do so. In effect, the CAN-SPAM Act makes it easier for marketing professionals to whittle down their lists and deliver messages only to the individuals who express continued interest in their services or products.

With roughly 25 percent of all email accounts belonging to businesses, this channel is especially effective for B2B marketing. Business owners have found that email, as part of an overarching marketing strategy, is important for not only lead generation but also keeping customers engaged. For instance, 56 percent of marketers indicated this channel was most effective for retention (3). Email can be tailored to suit the evolving needs of your customers throughout their relationship with your organization.

1. Why marketers should keep sending you e-mails
2. Can Email Marketing Still Engage Your Customers?
3. Survey says referral marketing brings them in, email keeps them active

Posted in Lead Generation |

Worried about brand awareness? Think Internet marketing

Search engine marketing helps companies develop their brands.

Search engine marketing does more than put your ads in front of potential buyers. While the highest priority is often placed on click-through rates and ad impressions, you should pay attention to the impact your paid search ads have on customers. Even for companies focused on business-to-business outreach, building a brand name is critical to earning greater market share.

Search results influence branding
When customers run their queries through a search engine, the results they see work to build brand awareness (1). In fact, enterprises across 12 verticals saw an average 6.6 percent bump in recognition. When a company is listed at the top of search engine results page, more people were able to recall and name that business as an example when asked for a brand name.

In the B2B market, the numbers varied with even greater range. Customers who saw a brand's ad at the top of SERP were aware of a brand 145 percent more than companies that fell further down in the rankings. The suggested logic is that customers who enter a specific search term into Google, Bing or Yahoo are in research mode. In other words, they're more attuned to the results, looking for specific information that will lead to making a smarter decision.

What you can do with paid search
Meanwhile, pay-per-click campaigns offer a counterbalance to organic search engine marketing in their ability to reach the forefront of buyers' consciousness without requiring as much effort in search engine optimization. Specifically with Google, you can take several approaches to bring your brand to the top of buyers' minds when they're trying to find a business solution. For instance, Apple has taken advantage of Google AdWords image extension, which replaces most of the text with pictures (2). The technology giant incorporates a series of pictures to highlight the ways people around the world use their iPad and appears more like an organic ad. As is a best practice in search engine marketing, the ad contains a brief call to action designed to attract and influence customers.

Another computing and tech-focused firm, IBM, uses paid search ads to draw attention to its online presence. For instance, the company includes a social media extension that shows how many customers follow it on Google Plus. While the AdWords campaign example is far more straightforward than that of Apple, IBM is extremely competent and controlled in using character count.

1. New Study: Search Ads Lift Brand Awareness
2. How the Top 5 Brands Are Using Paid Search Ads

Posted in Search Engine Optimization |

Why app developers should prioritize mobile marketing

App developers need to take advantage of mobile marketing.

Mobile marketing for app developers is a critical lifeline for sustainability. The mobile app company poverty line rests at about $500 per app in monthly revenue, but half of iOS and 64 percent of Android developers fall below this standard (1). Regardless of your industry, this isn't a sustainable business model.

The more optimistic side of this news is that business-to-business centered organizations are in a generally more favorable situation. While only 16 percent of developers cite enterprises as their target audience, but they have double the chances of generating more than $5,000 per app per month. They're even more likely to earn upwards of $25,000 on a monthly basis for a single app.

Enterprises that develop apps designed as business tools tend to fare better than those meant for entertainment, but they still need to be marketed effectively. Roughly half of app developers put less than 25 percent of their monthly budget toward marketing, which doesn't allow much space for gaining notice from buyers, especially on an enterprise scale.

Push notifications have become the industry standard for most mobile app companies, but these organizations increasingly need to take advantage of customer segmentation to make certain marketing messages get in front of the right audience (2). Without a more strategic mobile marketing framework, app developers may face a tough road ahead.

1. Developer Economics Q3 2014: State of the Developer Nation
2. Mobile App Marketing Grows Up

Posted in Mobile Marketing |

How will Google authorship changes impact SEO?

Google authorship photos are no longer visible. How will the change affect SEO?

Have you felt the influence of Google authorship on search engine optimization? Since the company integrated Web content writers' photos in search engine results pages, the impact hasn't been crystal clear.

In fact, John Mueller, analyst for Google Webmaster tools, explained there wasn't a significant difference in click-through rates between pages that show an author's picture and those that don't (1). The characteristic that increased CTRs 30 to 150 percent was the use of rich snippets, which would encompass author pictures but can include other information as well. For instance, many companies include ratings or reviews underneath the landing page title text in search results.

The updated version of Google authorship removes the photo and replaces it with straightforward information, including name and date (2). Also gone is the number of circles a person belongs to in Google Plus. Mueller suggests this design will be less jumbled, giving potential customers a clearer view of SERPs. However, another explanation may be the fact that Google is putting a much greater emphasis on mobile search, which would benefit from fewer diminutive pictures that readers attempt to discern.

1. Should You Still Care About Google Authorship?
2. Google Drops Profile Photos, Google+ Circle Count From Authorship In Search Results

Posted in Search Engine Optimization |

Get to know Twitter’s revamped content marketing dashboard

Internet marketing professionals should expect greater analytics using Twitter.

One of the heavyweights in social media marketing recently added more muscle to its analytics abilities. Twitter announced it will give marketers the capability to access more detailed analysis of organic tweets (1). Previously, companies were only able to follow the performance of their promoted tweets – otherwise, paid advertisements on users' feeds – but will have the opportunity to see how customers are engaging content, as well as the number of impressions.

The benefit for business-to-business marketers is that they'll be able to drill down to some very concrete data regarding the lifespan of their Twitter posts. For instance, you can delve more deeply into an individual post to find the number of link clicks it has drawn, the volume of users who have seen a tweet and the number of times people have expanded, replied or retweeted a post. You can look at this information in real time or take a broader view by expanding the data out over a longer priod of time (2).

This new capability should give B2B marketers are stronger sense of how well their organic content performs, depending on the metrics they're analyzing. Furthermore, businesses can conveniently perform A/B testing on a larger scale, instead of just focusing on paid advertising.

1. Twitter's analytics dashboard now includes detailed data on all tweets, not just ads 
2. Twitter's New Activity Dashboard Helps Advertisers Measure Organic Tweets

Posted in Social Media Marketing |

Why B2B marketing videos are such a challenge

B2B marketing is increasingly using video to engage customers.

Internet marketing strategies are often constrained by your ability to measure return on investment. Has your pay-per-click campaign generated the number of leads you forecasted? Were they high-quality prospects who went on to become buyers? Whether or not your marketing budget keeps getting financial backing from the C-suite truly depends on not only being able to answer these questions but also providing solid data.

This issue is far more widespread than you might assume. For instance, 71 percent of marketers fell short of delivering clear ROI reporting in 2013 (1). Businesses survive on creating a strong revenue stream. If you're not able to demonstrate the value of your marketing campaign, you'll be in a difficult position in asking for a larger piece of the pie, let alone a consistent figure. Proving your ROI is even more critical when you're attempting to use a new channel, such as video, in a relatively unfamiliar context: B2B marketing

High-stakes strategy
Videos have played a strong role in the development of Internet marketing. Businesses have come a long way since cat-themed videos went viral and brought greater notoriety to companies using novelty and humor to gain customers' attention. Increasingly, buyers rely on video marketing as resources to get a clearer understanding of what a company does, especially in highly niche or technical industries. In fact, 70 percent of marketers have integrated video into their online strategies, and 63 percent of B2B-focused individuals have increased the amount of money they're spending on the marketing tool (2).

Marketers are likely finding the confidence and support to invest more in video because they're able to prove its impact to business decision-makers. For instance, 43 percent of video marketers can track and analyze this type of content across various outputs, including blogs, social networks and their homepages (1).

A need to find balance
Most B2B marketers use video for lead generation purposes, as well as increasing brand awareness and engaging customers. At the same time, just 19 percent of businesses use video to increase their conversion rates, while integrating this dynamic content on a landing page can create an 80 percent rise in this metric (2).

With the numerous positive outcomes of a sound video marketing strategy, the main obstacle businesses face is production costs. The price tag associated with making this content is often out of the question for many marketers, especially when conducted in-house. As a result, many companies look for outside help and expertise to develop engaging videos.

1. Video Marketers Prove ROI Better Than Text-Based Marketers
2. The State of B2B Video Marketing: Demand Metric and Vidyard Present Benchmarks Report

Posted in Analytics |

What changes are in store for mobile marketing?

Mobile marketing will play a bigger role in B2B communications.

As millennials make up a larger portion of the job market, the potential for mobile marketing between businesses will likely grow. By next year, Google anticipates mobile searches will take over the top spot from desktop computers as the leading source of Web searches (1). In 2013, spending on mobile search ads rose by roughly 121 percent. The technology giant has a stake in the move toward smartphone and tablet use for search queries because its revenue from desktop activity has dropped consistently over the past two years.

At the same time, mobile apps are complicating things for businesses because customers are using multiple tools to look up information about companies before they decide to make a purchase or reach out for more information. In fact, Yelp's app is predicted to give Google a run for its money in terms of bringing in ad revenue (2). This is because mobile users are restricted to a Web browser when they use their smartphones or tablets.

What this means for marketers, especially those trying to connect with buyers, is they need to ensure they're maintaining a strong presence on multiple online marketing channels, including paid advertising on sites like Yelp. It's also worthwhile to keep Yelp profiles updated with necessary keywords so customers have access to accurate information.

1. Desktop Search to Decline $1.4 Billion as Google Users Shift to Mobile
2. Study: Mobile Search Is Shifting From Google to Mobile Apps Like Yelp

Posted in Mobile Marketing |

 

 

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