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Learn the lastest in inbound marketing at the KEO Marketing Insights Blog.

Predictive analytics provides insights into B2B marketing strategies.

With many B2B organizations looking toward 2015 for a clear approach to their marketing strategies, analytics software and technologies will continue to an important component. Predictive analytics allows organizations to more effectively score leads and create an accurate picture of the marketing funnel (1). Using an extensive number of data points and behavioral metrics, B2B marketing professionals can get a better idea of what a particular buyer persona will actually purchase and their value to the company extended over a period of time. This allows companies to prioritize the leads that are likely to bring in greater revenue and stay on as loyal customers.

Marketing analytics like this are expected to continue to be one of the most important tools in B2B marketers' repertoire. In fact, 82 percent of marketers indicated as much, especially as analytics contributes to creating a more cohesive customer journey (2). Although mobile technology is a major influence on buyers as they interact with brands, just 39 percent of B2B marketers said mobile apps were very important and only 23 percent said they were effective. This may be because the technology hasn't developed to a point where purchasers are adopting it. Regardless, the key takeaway heading into the new year is marketing analytics are a strong investment as tools to help uncover greater customer insights.

1. "7 B2B Marketing Trends to Watch in 2015"
2 "A Cohesive Customer Journey Is Critical. Which Technologies Help?"

Customer understanding key to B2B marketing success

Customer experience is critical for B2B marketing, especially through online channels.

Customer experience is expected to play a more significant role in B2B marketing strategies. In fact, 86 percent of marketers said one of the most important factors for growing their companies is providing customers with exceptional experiences (1). At the heart of this push is having clear insight into buyers from a number of perspectives.

How are businesses trying to understand their customers?
Marketers have consistently tried to get deeper knowledge of their customers, but they're often met with different levels of success. For instance, 80 percent of B2B marketing professionals have a firm grasp on which customers are most valuable. Organizations usually define value based on transactional information, including purchase volume, frequency and the average spend per buy. But companies also have to stay aware of the likelihood customers will respond to upsell opportunities and their loyalty to the brand. With this in mind, 64 percent of organizations thoroughly understand customers' past purchases.

On the other hand, less than a quarter of businesses in the B2B market have a strong view of customers' channel preferences, and 40 percent feel the same about their customers' wants and needs. This level of customer insight is a bit more difficult to grasp because it requires behavioral analysis and access to survey data that can be expensive to acquire and may be challenging to get with any measure of efficiency.

How does it relate to B2B marketing?
Delivering a targeted message to B2B buyers demands a clear understanding of their behavior and preferences. Few companies have developed a clear view of how different channels work, which makes creating successful marketing campaigns very difficult. Do purchasers want to get information from organizational websites, search engines or industry blogs? Are banner ads working to capture more leads? Without knowledge of which online marketing channels work best with buyers, organizations will struggle to get relevant message to customers in the most effective manner.

In the current customer-driven economy, one concept that's critically important is knowing how mobile technology is changing buyer behavior (2). For instance, among organizations that see improving customer experience as a high priority, 63 percent are expanding their mobile strategies both internally and in customer-facing contexts. Beside putting a higher demand on IT departments, it's also pushing B2B marketers to take a look at mobile strategies to reach buyers. Considering more customers are using their smartphones and tablets to not only research potential purchases, but also buy items, it's important for organizations to develop a strategy that may include mobile apps and messaging, as well as Web experiences optimized for on-the-go buyers.

1. "State of B2B Customer Experience 2014"
2. "The Data Digest: Align Technology Investments To Thrive In The Age Of The Customer"

3 landing page strategies to boost lead generation

Landing pages are critical for lead generation.

Crafting the ideal landing page can be one of the more challenging aspects of a marketing strategy. There are numerous variables that need to be taken into account when creating landing pages that will drive traffic, improve lead generation and generate higher conversion rates. One of the most important components of a successful landing page is the call to action. A well-thought out CTA that's integrated in a clever way – keeping website design and user experience in mind – can produce impressive results for a marketing team that may be struggling with generating more high-quality leads.

Why CTAs are important
Without clear direction, buyers who arrive at a landing page will be left wondering what their next steps should be. It's similar to walking through an airport and trying to make a flight connection when there aren't any signs to direct passengers through security toward the correct terminal. While a landing page likely has text and images that explains what a specific product or service does, that alone doesn't always motivate purchasers to move further along the sales funnel. In an addition to being a directional tool, a CTA is also a way to distinguish leads, identifying those who are motivated by the offer (1). As a result there are a number of characteristics of CTAs that businesses should keep in mind when creating effective appeals.

  1. Simplify the message
    One roadblock is complex or confusing language and design, which clouds what the company offers and customers are sure of what they should pay attention to. The note-taking and organizational software maker Evernote provides a clear example of what a simple, straightforward landing page should look like. In large text, the landing page's featured CTA is "Remember Everything," a concept that correlates directly with what the business provides (2). The CTA also reflects back on Evernote's branding and logo, which happens to be an elephant, the animal that notoriously never forgets.

    At the same time, the landing page is relatively sparsely populated with significant amounts of white space and a few images of a laptop and other items that can create clutter. While the CTA button is fairly nondescript, asking visitors to "sign up," the primary message is at the forefront and is easy to understand.

  2. Keep customers curious
    While "The Old Man and the Sea" may have won Ernest Hemingway fame and solidified his celebrity status, it's one of his less well-known concepts that applies directly to CTAs and landing pages in general is the Iceberg Theory of Writing. While online marketing isn't within the same genre as novel writing, there is some crossover. With the Iceberg Theory, Hemingway explained there's about one-eighth of the iceberg above the water, meaning that's the amount of the "complete" story an effective or truthful writer is responsible for telling (3). The remaining seven-eighths of the story is out of sight beneath the water, and it's information that's not essential for the reader to grasp the meaning of text.

    With this in mind, a landing page that's weighed down with too much information risks drowning potential customers in data. As mentioned above, the message should be simple, and also develop a sense of curiosity among buyers. The desire to get more information is one of the most important reasons to develop attractive CTAs (4). The landing page visitor needs to get a clear sense of a product or service's value, but there should also be a sense of discovery once they click the CTA button.

  3. Test different approaches
    Not all buyers will respond to the same static CTA. HubSpot integrated slide-in CTAs that increased click-thru rates and improved lead generation. Just as the navigation tool bars on the right side of the page disappear, the CTA would slide in asking readers to take a specific action (5). As a result, the marketing automation software provider was able to improve the CTR by 192 percent and 27 percent more customers filled out the form. The key here was testing out the strategy to see how visitors to the website would respond. Even CTAs and landing pages that perform well during a specific timeframe may begin to draw fewer qualified leads. In this case, there's a demonstrated need to investigate and test out different approaches to creating effective landing pages.

    Another example of this can be seen with A/B test software provider Optimizely. Practicing what it preaches, the company carried out split tests to see if it could improve the landing pages linking to its pay-per-click ads on Google. Originally, three different PPC ads linked to the same landing page with fairly generic information. However, it tested out creating three distinct landing pages for each PPC ad and generated nearly 40 percent more leads.

Landing pages and their correlating CTAs are central to effective online marketing. Companies need to take the time to look at their strategies and make sure they're taking a straightforward approach that produces real results.

1. "Hook, Line, and Sinker: 7 Tips for a Killer Call-to-Action"
2. "Resistance Is Futile: 17 Calls-to-Action You Can't Help But Click"
3. "What Lies Beneath: The Iceberg Theory of Writing"
4. "Three Psychological Features Of A Landing Page That Make People Click"
5. "9 Real-Life Conversion Rate Optimization Tests to Try Yourself"

Online marketing expected to outperform TV

Online marketing is expected to garner the greatest ad spend within the next five years.

In spite of television's long stranglehold on advertising spend, online marketing is about to take the lead. Digital advertising expenses are predicted to reach $103 billion in 2019, which equates to 36 percent of all advertising spending (1). By comparison, TV ad expenses are anticipated to hit $85.8 billion in the same year.

The common consensus among many marketers is that digital advertising has matured to a point where it's longer an experimental strategy. However, there are still lingering questions about proving return on investment with digital channels. Mobile, for instance, is expected to play a much bigger role in marketers' objectives over the next five years – driving 66 percent of growth in digital advertising expenditures – and search engines are likely going to continue to be the most targeted channel.

This is largely because conversion rates stemming from search engine marketing outperform social networks and display ads. In fact, smartphones generate a 6.7 percent conversion rate through search compared to 0.3 percent on social sites and 2.3 percent with display ads. At the same time, click-thru rates for SEM ads are highest among smartphone users. With this in mind, companies should evaluate their existing mobile strategies in relation to SEM.

1. "Digital to Overtake TV Ad Spending in Two Years, Says Forrester"
2. "Digital Ad Performance by Device Type"

Optimize video for B2B marketing by channel

B2B marketing that integrates video can function at multiple points in the sales funnel.

One of the big challenges of integrating video into B2B marketing campaigns is understanding buyers' expectations and effectively delivering on them. Do decision-makers seek out video at specific points in the sales funnel? Are certain platforms more effective in reaching the target B2B audience?

The promise of video lies in its ability to present more complicated concepts visually when text-based explanations can sometimes leave buyers equally or more confused than when they first begin their search for a B2B solution. In the broadest terms, a buyer initiates his or her research by seeking out information relating to a business, the market in general, competition and reputation (1).

Where do purchasers go seek out content that guides them in their journey?
B2B marketers indicate social media channels are the most commonly used ways to connect with buyers, but it's not very effective. E-newletters are another option that ranks highly in terms of its benefit to connecting with B2B buyers. However, next to in-person events and webinars, video is one of the most influential kinds of content marketing.

What makes video effective?
One of the biggest benefits of video is its adaptability to the different points in the sales funnel. For instance, B2B purchasers who are in need of a quick jolt of information about a business and its place in a specific market often turn to short videos to get a clearer picture of what a company does.

Should marketers allow open access to this type of content or use a Web form to collect leads? There are a few arguments for creating gated content. First, it helps companies aggregate more robust information about the people accessing content beyond their IP address and other metrics delivered through Google Analytics. Second, it helps brands distinguish their content (2). Without going as far as building a paywall around a webinar or video, marketers send a signal to buyers that the content is higher quality than what customers can find through a quick search on YouTube.

What channel options do B2B marketers have?
There are a number of choices regarding where businesses can post their videos. An informational blog can be a logical home for video content as it interweaves with articles and infographics to give purchasers a more complete view of the organization. Companies can create individual landing pages on their website dedicated to video content and use search engine optimization best practices to drive traffic to the site with strategic keyword placement in the titles.

Social media channels are increasingly popular choices for video posting. In fact, Facebook is fast becoming the No. 1 site where brands put their visual content (3). Between May and June 2014, there was a 50 percent increase in video posts from brands in their attempt to increase awareness among buyers. The social network is predicted to surpass YouTube in terms of volume of videos.

However, LinkedIn may present the greatest promise among B2B marketers because of the site's popularity as a meeting place for business professionals. With a LinkedIn profile full of followers, a business can foster a dialog and improve lead generation by posting video that explores a particular pain point in the company's sector. Seeing as 72 percent of senior executives further explore an organization's offerings after viewing a video, it's a viable way to help push prospects along the sales funnel (4). By raising an issue and providing a solution in a brief, visual format, B2B marketers can position themselves as thought leaders and demonstrate their engagement in the business community.

B2B marketing that integrates video can be highly influential among buyers looking to get information quickly and be able to process it without having to spend a lot of time. It's also a way to initiate conversations with leads and prospects on social channels, which helps generate more business.

1. "Reach B2B Execs with Snappy Video"
2. "The Chasm of Expectations Between B2B Marketers And Buyers"
3. "Brands Are Increasingly Posting Videos Directly to Facebook"
4. "Creating B2B Engagement onLinkedIn with Video"

B2B marketing for a mobile audience

B2B marketing with mobile technology presents businesses with a new challenge reaching buyers.

The ever-present, always on nature of today's mobile culture is part of B2B marketing. There's little merit in arguing over whether purchasing decision-makers in most companies use their smartphones or tablets to research their next buys. However, there are nuances to the discussion that can significantly influence the strategies marketers put in place to target a B2B customer market. Do all generations equally embrace mobile as a research tool – and potentially a way to make purchases? Do the high-tech promises of geo-location targeting pan out in all circumstances? How can marketers approach mobile and make the best use of their budgets?

There's likely no single way for businesses to implement a mobile marketing strategy that will be applicable to every industry. Yet, by looking at advertising spending totals over the past few years, it's clear that mobile is assuming a larger role under the digital marketing umbrella. In fact, U.S. advertising expenses going toward mobile marketing have risen exponentially since 2011, when spending hit $1.6 billion (1). The following year, the figure reached $4.4 billion and nearly doubled in 2013 at $8.5 billion. An upward trend suggests businesses are anticipating they'll generate greater return on investment from mobile channels, and smartphone and tablet use will continue to grow.

Meanwhile, it's important to look into the unique aspects of mobile marketing and get a clearer picture of the B2B audience who will be the ones exposed to the marketing messages.

Mobile a more comfortable purchasing tool
The channels B2B decision-makers have traditionally used to get more information about potential purchases have been offline, such as trade shows and industry publications. These still remain popular today, but as more people become comfortable using digital technology to research and purchase items, the more common it is to see buyers using smartphones and tablets. In fact, 44 percent of corporate customers have researched an item to buy using their smartphone and nearly one-quarter went ahead and completed a transaction using the same device (2). Tablet use is slightly less common among B2B buyers for research – at 37 percent – but roughly an equal number have used this technology to purchase an item for business needs.

Skewing younger
Not all B2B buyers fit the same mold. Especially with demographic changes occurring in the workforce, marketers need to adjust their approach to influencing customers. In particular, younger decision-makers behave differently with respect to mobile usage. Those identified as members of the millennial generation – individuals between 18 and 25 – are more likely to use purchase items through their mobile device (3). Among buyers who are 45 or older, just 19 percent have used a smartphone to make a purchase, while 35 percent of millennials have done so. At the same time, mobile use is also influencing the sales funnel in many ways.

Taking control of the purchasing cycle
A big trend among B2B buyers is the fact that more individuals are prepared to take control of the sales funnel. Ten percent of purchasers prefer to do their own research into products and services and then buy items without getting a sales rep involved. However, 32 percent want to take the discovery and fact-finding phase into their own hands but also discuss concerns with a company representative on the phone. What should marketers do in this case? Instead of holding B2B buyers' hands every step of the way towards a sales conversion, digital marketers should be prepared to leverage search engine optimization and pair it with a mobile channel to provide guidance to decision-makers.

Online marketing must be mobile ready
Because of the reach mobile has among buyers and the influence it's exerting on research and buying habits, B2B marketers need to come prepared to meet buyers' needs. One critical step is optimizing the organization's website for mobile use. A mobile site's URL and title tags should include keywords that make the page discoverable via search engine queries. From a design and functionality standpoint, having a search box helps break down walls between the purchaser and the information he or she needs to make a better decision (4). Considering the smaller screen size available on smartphones in particular, visitors to a mobile site may not have the patience necessary to scroll through a lot of content to find the solution they're looking for.

It's also important to include a contact number on a mobile site not only to give buyers the option of reaching out to a business directly, but also for call tracking purposes. With click-to-call integration, business can place dynamic and unique numbers on a website that helps identify where the buyer came from, whether it's through paid ads or organic search. This can help an organization better track ROI when it comes to online marketing spend to drive more traffic to a mobile site.

Mobile B2B marketing is increasingly important. Decision-makers are using their smartphones to take control of the purchasing cycle in different ways than before. Technology is also transforming how buyers discover items and access information. Marketers need to ensure they have a plan in place to be a resource and guide the discussion to help drive more conversions.

1. "Mobile Marketing: Building A Digital Asset To Get More For Your Money"
2. "INFOGRAPHIC: 2014 State of B2B Procurement"
3. "How Younger B2B Buyers Are Making Mobile Matter"
4. "10 Best Practices for Mobile Optimized Websites"

Is mobile marketing for holiday campaigns?

Because of customer interest, mobile marketing may be important during the holiday season.

Many businesses remain uncertain about the importance of mobile technology in their online marketing strategies. The holidays present a unique opportunity for companies serving multiple industries to leverage new technologies to connect with buyers.

Noncommittal mobile marketers
On one hand, 31 percent of marketers believe mobile is increasingly important, but another 30 percent say it's still not clear whether it's a channel that can provide a clear return on investment (1). Those companies that have invested in mobile marketing are looking at the following tactics to drive engagement:

  • Mobile-optimized websites
  • Mobile search
  • Mobile applications

Customers show greater support for mobile use
Rising 8 percentage points over 2013, 96 percent of customers indicated they planned to research products or browse using a mobile or tablet app during the 2014 holiday season. Another 91 percent said they planned to make purchases through this channel this year.

How businesses can respond
The goal for many businesses is to make mobile apps part of the brand experience and provide consistency regardless of the platform used to shop for and complete transactions. It's also critical for companies to test out their mobile apps and ensure there aren't major bugs in the programming and all APIs are working to help customers have a more seamless experience.

1. "Is Mobile More Than a Shiny New Toy?"
2. "Mobile Apps Rule Holiday Shopping"

Does lead generation work without gated content?

Gated content plays a central role in lead generation, but is it always effective?

In most cases, marketers want to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to engage with their brand and learn more about the company, especially in fostering lead generation. However, gated content in a B2B marketing context functions as a way to separate high-quality leads from passively interested buyers. Most organizations will put up a wall around content, such as e-books, white papers and webinars, and ask viewers to supply some level of demographic and contact information for access (1). This approach serves multiple purposes:

  • Building a more robust customer database: Web forms have become an indispensable tool for lead generation. Content marketing collateral is an ideal way for businesses to either gather new leads or flesh out existing customer contact information.
  • Adding perceived value: Because a business has gated a piece of content, buyers receive a tacit message that case study or white paper is more valuable than other articles published on a blog, for instance.
  • Re-engaging customers: When a lead has gone cold, an information-rich e-book can help bring him or her back into the marketing funnel. When the content is relevant and establishes the company as a thought leader on a particular issue facing the industry, the purchaser is more likely continue connecting with the organization

When the gated content delivers on the idea that the marketing materials purchasers access is more valuable than universally available blogs and case studies, businesses can build trust (2). The fact that a lead supplies identity data to download content helps isolate those who are more serious about establishing a relationship. At the same time, marketers can better analyze which pieces of content perform better and improve both their online marketing and lead generation strategies.

When gated content can backfire
Because gated content is primarily a lead generation tool, it should help companies recognize which leads are more valuable than others. However, social networks present a different environment and unique challenges. For instance, brands using their Facebook page to run contests or post exclusive content regularly asked visitors to like the page for entry.

Recently, the social media platform announced it would no longer support this practice, explaining using likes as a gating tool doesn't provide an accurate portrait of how much interest there is among customers (3). Especially in the case of giveaways, businesses can't accurately verify whether the leads generated using likes are interested in the business or just the incentive.

1. "7 DIY Lead Generation Tools Every Business Should Use"
2. "Is Gated Content a Necessary Evil?"
3. "Facebook Is Tearing Down The Like Gate. Are You Ready?"

Online customer surveys can provide feedback that benefits B2B marketing.

Google recently announced it will provide website publishers with a new tool that will not only help monetize online content (1), but also provide benefits for lead generation and building demographic data. Google Consumer Surveys can be applied in the same way that digital newspapers have gated their online contest using pay walls. In this case, however, readers don't have to pay to get access to content, and instead answer survey questions. Site owners can earn 5 cents of each answer, while the survey costs 10 cents to create.

The tool is integrated with Google Adsense and can provide companies with a wealth of information. The surveys can be applied in a variety of contexts. Businesses that want to understand how a specific buyer audience responds to a particular concept or product in development can use the surveys to gather feedback from site visitors (2). Other uses include market trend analysis, brand tracking, customer satisfaction, campaign measurement and marketing design.

Information gleaned from these online surveys can play a significant role in helping B2B organizations identify buyer personas, recognize pain points within a target market and see how well their brand is positioned among competitors. The results can help guide both online marketing and lead generation strategies, while also opening up a new revenue stream.

1. "Google Offers A New Way To Monetize Site Content – Embedded Consumer Surveys"
2. "Google consumer surveys"

Optimized landing pages are a critical piece for any lead generation strategy

Lead generation often involves a complex network of interrelated strategies that ultimately aim to create new sales opportunities. Search engine optimization and content marketing are two of the most frequently cited tactics in today's digital marketers' tool belts, but they represent parts of the whole. One of the most important aspects of lead generation that can often get overlooked is the landing page. If a business spends all of its time developing a rock-solid keyword strategy and populating its blog and social media sites with great content, the organization may neglect its landing pages, which play a pivotal role in encouraging customers to take the next steps.

In combination with other online marketing strategies geared toward generating more inbound traffic, B2B organizations should take the time to optimize their landing pages for increased conversion rates. Here are a several variables that marketers should keep an eye on to develop more effective landing pages:

1. Be smart about keywords
Search engines are today's primary research tool for B2B buyers. Google, Bing and Yahoo are the portals through which customers dig for information about specific solution to an issue they're facing. As a result, businesses need to understand which keywords will match their customers' search for knowledge and resolution to a problem. Why? Landing page URLs contain keywords that search engines use to help guide buyers to relevant pages. Marketers can search for new, potentially better performing phrases by looking at competitors that rank highly on search engine results pages (1). While it's not advisable to outright copy the keywords another company uses for its landing pages, researching them can be inspirational. Using Google Keyword Tool, marketers can also discover new keywords that may push a landing page further up on Google's or Bing's SERPs by inputting the landing page URL.

2. Keep an eye on word count
Many B2B companies err on the side of simplicity for their landing pages, keeping content to the bare minimum (2). Depending on the product or service highlighted on the page, this may leave customers with unanswered questions. Because landing pages are truly a resource for persuading buyers to learn more, engage the brand and potentially start a relationship, there needs to be sufficient evidence that the customer is making the right decision. If a company wants someone to fill out a Web form for access to content or contact a sales rep to sign up for a product demo, there should be enough text – about 500 words – that explains the product or solution to the extent that the purchaser has enough information to go on.

3. Answer buyers' questions
In relation to putting enough persuasive content on a landing page, it should also address the target audience's needs. How can marketers find out what customers are looking for? Website analytics tools are indispensable in figuring which landing pages are capturing the most traffic and keeping users on page for the greatest amount of time (3). Resources like Google Analytics can help businesses discover how customers arrive to the site and what type of content they click on. From this point, landing pages can be optimized to address the concerns buyers may have by integrating more data-rich content on pages that are 100 words or less and have high bounce rates.

4. Drive engagement and conversions
Beyond the content included on landing pages, lead generation benefits from smart use of calls to action to direct buyers in a specific direction. For instance, the phrasing used in button text can make a significant difference in the way buyers engage a CTA. Changing the wording from "Free download" to "Show me how to attract more customers!" increased one company's conversion rate by 78.5 percent (4).

1. "SEO: Prioritizing Keywords and Content"
2. "Why Your Landing Page Should Have at Least 500 Words"
3. "4 Strategies for Reestablishing Your Website's Lead-Gen Magnetism"
4. "The Art of Writing Button Text That Can Double Your Conversions"

All contents copyright © 2014 by KEO Marketing, Inc.