I'll bet my last pack of toilet roll that at least one of the following three happened during your last virtual meeting:
- Someone was late due to ‘technical difficulties'
- Someone’s audio was compromised or not working at all
- No agenda was prepared
I'll bet my last pack of toilet roll that at least one of the following three happened during your last virtual meeting:
No one expected 2020 to turn out quite as it has. As the coronavirus pandemic continues, we are all finding ourselves adjusting to a new, strange normal. And the impact of COVID-19 is being felt by every business across every sector.
As marketers try to maintain revenue flow and keep customers engaged during this exceptional time, they will be battling with a number of different questions.
How much should we talk about the coronavirus? What should we say? And how we should say it?
Do we carry on our marketing activities as normal? What if we come across as insensitive or opportunistic?
Business-as-usual might feel surreal at this moment in time. But marketers need to be thinking long-term. They need to keep building their brand and engaging with their audience.
So here are our top tips for managing your marketing activity during this period of uncertainty.
New HubSpot data reveals the ideal blog post length for search engine optimisation (SEO) is 2,100-2,400 words.
I can almost hear you gasp.
Really? We should be writing blog posts of over 2,000 words?
Before we all panic, let’s backtrack just a moment.
The answer to how long your blog posts should be really isn’t as simple as that.
Ask anyone how they vet a potential B2B partner or supplier and the likelihood is that it starts with a trawl around their website.
But the website user journey isn’t just designed to entice and attract new customers, it should also delight and impress existing customers.
One of the biggest oversights of B2B businesses is that they can become complacent when it comes to their website.
“It does the job just fine.”
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Editor's note: This blog was originally published in July 2012 and has since been updated for optimal accuracy and relevance. It was originally The Art Of Persuasive Business Writing - Copy vs content: from a conversion perspective
With business writing, people generally consider content and copy as two different things.
Copy, on the other hand, seeks to incentivise.
Although in some cases copy can resemble content, its main objective is to engage your audience to take action – make a purchase, sign up for a newsletter, follow a link or add a page to bookmarks – whatever you want your visitor to do.
So, with business writing, while content informs, copy motivates.
As we enter a new decade, it's a good time to take stock and assess where you are. Is your marketing the best it could be?
Are you concentrating on the right elements and heading in the right direction?
Marketing has changed so radically in the past decade it would be easy to get overwhelmed or left behind. But then it would be just as easy to make rash decisions and end up wasting time and resources on a strategy that’s flawed or inappropriate for your audience.
Here are ten elements I believe are essential to an effective and successful B2B marketing strategy for the next year and beyond…
New research by Gartner predicts that by 2023, companies will reduce their budget allocation for influencer marketing by a third.
In their latest report, Gartner reveal that consumers are losing trust in brands and entities they don’t personally know and are instead turning to family, friends and local businesses to provide advice and information.
If you’re blogging regularly, you’re probably expecting a return on your investment.
But while blogging can be an affordable and effective way to bring people to your site, unfortunately, it doesn’t automatically guarantee you a steady stream of new leads.
This doesn’t mean people don’t love reading your blog posts. They may come back time and again. Perhaps they view you as an authoritative voice in your industry. But still, they may not turn into leads.
Move over content marketing. Brands, we’re told, now need to think like media publishers.
This is a topic we’ve discussed regularly on our blog over the last 12 months.
We’ve explored what it means to think like a media publisher, who the brands are that are doing it well, and how you too can pursue a media publishing strategy.
Let’s take a look.
Editor's note: This blog was originally published in June 2017 and has since been updated for optimal accuracy and relevance.
A discussion guide is a list of topics, questions and tasks used in qualitative research. When conducting interviews or focus groups for your B2B research, whether capturing feedback on a product or carrying out buyer persona interviews, a discussion guide is a vital tool for ensuring you make the best use of your time and gain a greater level of insight.
Most companies struggle to talk about what they offer in a clear way.
Donald Miller’s StoryBrand framework helps businesses simplify their messaging by taking a story-driven approach to communication that places the customer at the centre.
Nothing causes people to stop and listen like a great story. Stories can be used to teach, inspire, clarify and mobilise. In a world of information overload, stories can cut through the noise and influence people.
But according to Miller, the most crucial thing in telling your story is what your customers hear - not what you’re trying to say.
Conversational marketing; is it just the latest buzzword? Perhaps you’ve heard that a conversational strategy can be valuable for your business.
But what does it mean exactly?
What are the benefits?
And how does it tie in with inbound marketing?
Writing for web isn’t easy. You can be a talented writer but still find yourself struggling to connect with an online audience. That’s because many of the usual rules go out the window.
Long introductions, elaborate descriptions and digressions don’t work for an online audience. They are surrounded by other distractions and temptations, so you need to make an impact fast.
So, let’s get straight to the point.
What are the common mistakes you need to avoid when writing for web?
Valued at $75 billion, and boasting over 500 million active users, it’s hard to ignore new kid on the block ‘TikTok’. It’s the video-sharing app that's the talk of the town, or at least, the talk of everyone between 16-24.
So, should we, as marketers, be worried?
While the young are obsessed, the old are befuddled. And me? I sit somewhere in the middle. While I’m fast approaching 30, I 'get it' to some extent, but I'm still trying to understand the nonsensical lip-syncing videos that flood my newly downloaded TikTok feed. At the moment, it’s just highlighting a cross-generational friction.
I figured most of you probably sit in the same camp, with the same questions as me. What exactly is TikTok? Do I need to worry about it? Should I be on it? And will it help my business?
Content marketing has become prolific over the last decade. As B2B and B2C alike have recognised the benefits of a strategic content marketing approach, we've seen an increase in email newsletters, blogging, social media marketing, podcasts and video.
It's clear that investing in the creation and publishing of content is essential if businesses want to succeed. But what is the best way to invest?
Do you train your existing teams in content marketing strategy and tactics?
Do you hire in a suitably experienced marketing professional(s)?
Or do our outsource your content marketing entirely?
Last month, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) released the latest findings from their annual B2B content marketing survey.
The CMI have been reporting on content marketing trends for almost a decade and have become a go-to source for B2B marketers wanting to see how their marketing activity stacks up against other businesses.
This year’s report presents the findings gathered from research conducted with 679 organisations who primarily sell products or services to businesses.
Here’s a round up of the key findings, with the hope it might inspire your own content marketing strategy in 2020.
It’s been a few years since content marketing became one of the most popular and successful strategies in B2B marketing.
In the beginning, it was enough to publish content. And companies did – in great quantities. More must be better was the thinking.
Once there was a mass of content out there it soon transpired that it was quality and not quantity that was becoming important. Prospects and buyer were looking for high-quality, useful content. Now the trend was for high-quality, extensive articles covering subjects in depth.
With high-quality content available, the new battleground became authority and thought leadership. This information seems useful and helpful – but can we trust it? Who is publishing this content and can we trust them?
In a podcast last month, marketing gurus Neil Patel and Eric Siu raised the question:
Should you even use Twitter in 2020?
Discussing whether Twitter is still worth it from a marketing perspective, they mused that while Twitter posts don’t always result in significant amounts of traffic to a brand's website, the quality of traffic it does attract is really high, particularly in the B2B realm.
They also considered Twitter’s value as an engagement tool, concluding that the micro-interactions between brand and potential customers is very powerful, and difficult to replicate in the same way on other social media platforms.
The conclusion was yes, marketers should still be using Twitter in 2020. But it came with a caveat. To make it worthwhile, they considered that brands need to be taking a more thoughtful and strategic approach to their Twitter activity.
"How do you morally work in marketing? You're just manipulating people into buying things they don't actually need."
Believe it or not, this was the argument I found myself on the other side of a few days ago.
It turns out, some people still think of marketers as sleazy, suited men huddled in musky conference rooms, drinking whiskey while conjuring up clever ads to trick the public into the buying things they don't really need.
Not only has the ethical side of marketing tightened up, but so has our relationship with our audiences.
Widely touted as the biggest change to the Google algorithm in years, the BERT update has been the subject of much media attention. But what is it and should content creators be worried about it?
BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, of course. It’s a technique for NLP (Natural Language Processing) pre-training, developed by engineers at Google that’s now being harnessed to improve the quality and precision of our search engine returns.
Sadly, despite all the pictures of Bert and Ernie adorning the top of SEO articles - it has nothing to do with Sesame Street.
You might not think this is a necessary read just yet. But as the adage goes: preparation prevents poor performance. And the way you plan the next five years of your business could be largely determined by new ideas, insights and preferences of the next generation: Generation Z.
Generation Z will account for over 30% of UK and European customers by 2020 and 40% of online customers. And with the oldest members of the cohort celebrating their 24th birthday, Gen Z are slowly creeping up the B2B ranks and may even be perched on a (remote) desk near you very soon.
We are in a digital era of marketing where increasingly impersonal interaction takes place online and marketing automation is seen as the answer to a range of issues.
In contrast to this, customers and marketing pundits are driving the need for personalisation and customisation of content and customer experience.
These two driving forces in contemporary marketing are, at first glance, seemingly irreconcilable and imply a potential future in which customers relate only to pre-programmed algorithms.
Following on from my commentary of Brian Halligan's keynote presentation at Inbound 2019, let's reflect on key insights from fellow Hubspot co-founder Dharmesh Shah's presentation.
Dharmesh took a very different focus: 5 business fears you need to over come to grow bolder and better.
He started off his keynote with some light-hearted anecdotes introducing us to his biggest fears: low phone battery, eye contact and water. He went on to explain that while we all have fears, it's overcoming them that defines our business' future. Which, according to Dharmesh, is more important than ever.
Dharmesh talks about the 5 fears both he and co-founder Brian Halligan needed to overcome in order to grow bolder and better, resulting in the renowned, international success of the HubSpot platform and brand.
This trend is hardly surprising. Voice search is fast (3.7 times faster than typing) and convenient. Plus, with the best systems now operating with 95-97% accuracy, it’s becoming increasingly reliable.
Most smartphones are equipped with some form of voice-assisted search function, such as Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant. At home, smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home are becoming integrated into family life.
For content marketers, the aim is clear. In order to boost your SEO rankings and gain traffic and leads, you need to be creating great content. But anyone who writes regularly will be familiar with the fear factor an expectation to repeatedly produce great content can bring.
Not only does your content need to be high-quality, compelling and relevant to the audience it’s trying to reach, but it also needs to stand well apart from the myriad of mediocre content floating around the digital sphere.
You may be familiar with the book The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s a book about how small actions at the right time, in the right place, and with the right people can create a ‘tipping point’ for anything from a product, to an idea or a trend.
Gladwell describes the tipping point as “that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”
Although the book was first published almost 20 years ago, there are a number of opportunities it affords for content marketers today wanting to reach more prospects and grow their business.
Brian focused on the experience disruptors of the moment, using a few familiar names to illustrate his point: Netflix, Spotify, Slack, for example.
Your historic blog posts will often account for a large proportion of your traffic. These tend to be your posts that are evergreen in nature with highly shareable and valuable information, and a number of trustworthy backlinks.
But if these posts were written five years ago, are they still delivering what they need to? For your blog posts to make a real impact in a world of content saturation, they need to be as helpful, engaging and well-written as possible.
So identify your historic high-performing blog posts. Then to determine whether they need an update, ask yourself the following questions:
Influencer marketing has become one of the big buzzwords of recent times. The rise of social media has changed the marketing landscape.
All types of buyers – both consumer and B2B, now make decisions based on information and opinions supplied by their peers, by websites and blogs and by influencers on social media.
Influencers have become particularly important with the rise of social media channels such as Instagram, where conventional marketing is difficult, if not impossible to undertake.
Wow, can you believe 2020 is just 3 months away?
It was just a short decade ago that we were getting to grips with Facebook and preparing ourselves for the onset of social media.
Rewind another ten years, and we were anticipating the 'millennium bug'.
Today, we communicate with bots on a daily basis, we ask our smart home hub whether we need an umbrella or sun cream, and our toddlers can unlock and scroll before they can say "Wifi".
Striking visuals are a highly engaging form of content for businesses, and they're essential for building an SEO friendly website. That is why they are so valuable to your B2B blog posts. In a 2019 survey of more than 500 digital marketers, 88% said they used visuals in more than half of the articles they published.
With that in mind, here's some inspiration for content marketers who are on a mission to make their blog posts more visual.
As a writer with oodles of interesting ideas and creative flair you might be tempted to explore your artistic side every now and then and create custom visual content that will complement your copy. So, if you're in the mood for some light experimentation, what tools are available to you, and how easy are they to pick up and give a go?
Here's a short guide to the best free assets for your visual content toolkit.
We focus so much energy on attracting new customers, converting prospects, and nurturing leads into buyers. And rightly so. Acquiring new customers is essential for growth, is incredibly satisfying, plus, it’s a great morale booster.
But it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of chasing that next new contact which is very often short-lived - especially if the customer doesn't stick around very long.
Acquiring a new customer takes a lot of energy, resource, and cost, so if they don't stick around, it can be hard to see a return on investment.
Perhaps you know Ryan Reynolds best as Michael from Two Guys and a Girl, as the CIA Agent in Safe House, or as the title character in the critically acclaimed film Deadpool.
But what about his role in the world of content marketing?
See Ryan Reynolds isn’t just a Hollywood film star. When he’s not busy smashing out hit films, he’s creating some truly outstanding marketing content.
Over the last few years, Reynolds has slowly made a name for himself in the content marketing world, first with the hit film Deadpool (and subsequently Deadpool 2), but also in the drinks industry.
Editor's note: This blog was originally published in November 2012 and has since been updated for optimal accuracy and relevance.
Content, content, content. It is the linchpin of the whole lead generation and inbound marketing process. It educates, adds value and entertains. It can also help you to nurture relationships with your leads in a way that makes them choose your product or service.
Lead nurturing is the process of using content to draw prospective customers through the sales funnel until they reach the decision to buy.
Forgive the question, but does your content marketing strategy ask your audience to ‘lie back’ and think of you?
Or does it demand they ‘lean forward’ and pay attention?
Great lengths of text in your content are not attractive – it is only when someone starts reading that they come to life and potentially capture your audience. That takes an investment of time that many visitors may not want to make.
Too much uninterrupted text in your content will put potential readers off.
There are many ways to break up long stretches of text, but by far the most powerful is to use images.
You may have been blogging for years, but even the most seasoned writers need a little help sometimes.
Plus content writing isn't just about being able to write well. A good content writer will also be focused on ensuring they're writing about topics that resonate with their ideal customers and that their blog posts are getting found by those people.
If you have ever trawled through a stock photography website in search of images to represent your business, you will already appreciate that it can be a bit of a minefield. On the one hand, stock image sites give you easy access to professional photography (or illustration) and save you valuable time and resources.
The flip side is, frankly, there is such an excess of naff material out there. It can take some effort to source images that truly reflect your brand.
Are your website designs sensitive enough to modern SEO tactics?
Incorporating SEO best practices into your website from the ground up will help you to increase the quality and volume of website traffic, and deliver a more pleasing user experience for your site visitors.
Follow these tips to build a business website that both bots and people will love.
For a B2B business, there are two broad marketing strategies you can follow for gaining sales. You could pursue a traditional inbound strategy that involves creating a small number of buyer personas – fictional profiles of typical buyers. These buyer personas then form the target for all your content and marketing efforts, ensuring that your creations are attractive to your target market in order to bring in leads and engagement.
As a marketer, publishing original research is an opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership and position your company as an authority in your industry. And in turn, it can help you to build trust and credibility with your customers and prospects.
In a world of content saturation, publishing original research can help you stand out in your industry. But, it’s possibly one of the most underused forms of content.
Just 39% of marketers have published original research in the past 12 months, according to a global study by Mantis research and BuzzSumo.
B2B Marketing can be tough.
Finding new leads, engaging them and converting them isn’t easy.
It requires a lot of work, a significant budget and a massive amount of time.
But what if you could double your sales force? Triple it? And all without spending huge sums of money too?
This is not a fantasy, it’s achievable. And it’s a goal you should definitely set your business.
Great planning and foresight can elevate your video marketing content from good to brilliant.
In this blog, we explore how filmmakers can make creative decisions that save time and effort in the editing room, resulting in a video campaign that engages and delights.
Instagram. Whether you love it or loathe it, it's more than just an app for taking photos of your food. But is it right for your social media strategy?
We’re all familiar with the benefits of social media marketing. More exposure for your business, increased traffic and leads, improved sales, developing loyal fans, and so on.
Common sense would argue that if you want to generate awareness of your brand, then the more social media platforms you infiltrate, the better.
On the other hand, could you be better off putting your efforts into one or two social media platforms that are the best fit for your business, and not worrying about the others?
Editors note: This blog post was originally published in January 2016 and has since been updated for optimal relevance and accuracy.
Digital marketing can produce lots of data – but what does the data really mean?
Is it really helpful?
This post will give you five questions to ask about your marketing data to ensure it’s of value to you.
But first, what are the most important questions you need answering?
Psychology and sales have always gone hand in hand. Those subtle, little cues that brands use to encourage us to part with our money - we seem to fall for them time and time again.
Quite rightly, you might associate the psychological side of selling with B2C brands, but many of the same principles can be applied to the B2B conversion process.
Video is becoming easier, and cheaper, for marketers to create or commission. Here, we delve into the top 5 reasons to focus on video content.
As a marketing writer, I need to know about the latest trends in content marketing. I need to know where the next big thing is coming from and where the industry is going. I need to identify (and understand) the newest developments in software and systems. It’s my job, it’s what I do. And I do it so that I can interpret and relay how these things might affect the way you do your marketing.
Doing your own B2B research can help you to demonstrate thought-leadership and position your company as an expert in your industry.
But research projects aren’t turned around overnight. Research can be a big investment, and to make the most of that investment you should be thinking about how you can create multiple pieces of content from your research.
Some people prefer visual infographics over text statistics.
Some choose podcasts over written reports.
Repurposing your research for different formats means extending its lifespan as well as your reach, and as a result, creating more opportunities to convert prospects into leads.
Great copywriting is the oil that greases the cogs of your marketing machine. It keeps everything moving smoothly, swiftly and efficiently.
The higher the quality of that oil, and the more consistent you are with your application, the longer your machine will last.
But it’s not uncommon for marketers to underestimate the need for quality copy.
Marketing is multi-faceted and no two journeys will be the same.
A great copywriter will address this.
Image optimisation can heavily influence the way search engines calculate your site rank, and, consequently, control how easy it is for searchers to find your site. Behind-the-scene elements such as page load time and keyword usage come to play here. If you want to be the number one search result for your product or service on Google or other SERPs, you really have to get a reign on your images.
In this post, we take a look at the benefits of a website image audit, and identify a handful of best practices.
Editors note: This blog post was originally published in November 2011 and has since been updated for optimal relevance and accuracy.
95% of us check our email every day, sometimes up to 20 times a day. We're glued to our mobile phones, making it easy for us to have constant access to our emails. In fact, 28% of us check our work email whilst in the bathroom!
Despite whispers that email marketing dead, the reality is that it remains one of the best ways to attract and retain customers. It offers a highly efficient channel at the heart of inbound marketing for communicating with clients in a targeted, measurable and cost-effective way.
Imagine if you didn’t need to spend money on marketing at all? If you could just concentrate on making the best product or delivering the best service and buyers just magically came to you?
It sounds like a fantasy doesn’t it? But there is one, very real way to achieve this seemingly impossible feat, and that’s through word of mouth marketing.
The word community can mean different things to different people.
A sense of community can be brought about by religion, place of origin or background. Or your community might depend on where and how you live.
Lots of well-known, successful brands have harnessed this sense of community, and created armies of loyal advocates who engage and interact with each other based on a set of shared experiences, interests and challenges.
If you’re a savvy marketer, it’s likely you’ve already invested in your video marketing strategy. However, with so many channels and site pages primed for distribution, you may be wondering what your next steps should be, and where you ought to place your video content to achieve the highest conversion rate.
The buyer’s journey and who your video’s target audience is will be major deciding factors in the end delivery of your content.
Before you embarked on the project, it’s highly likely that you defined SMART goals for your video marketing strategy. Remind yourself, was your purpose to increase brand awareness, to celebrate a product, or rather to encourage prospects to purchase?
Creating an impactful, successful, revenue-generating brand is equally important for B2B as it is for B2C.
Having a strong brand is a powerful asset that works for you in the background attracting prospects, establishing authority and trust and making sales easier.
'Call-to-action’ (CTA) describes a website element that is designed to promote an offer and guide visitors toward it. Typically, they come in the shape of a button, image or textual hyperlink. CTAs are a powerful marketing tool that help to increase awareness and invite meaningful engagement from potential - or existing - customers. They can be thought of as a directional cue that shows interested parties where to head next.
Meta descriptions and alt tags. How much time should you dedicate? How long should they be? How often should you use keywords? Are they even a ranking factor?
The world of metadata can be confusing; best practice seems to change from week to week. Adding fuel to that confusion are recent updates from Hubspot, in which their portal now recommends meta descriptions are less than 150 characters.
Statistics show that doing research can have a positive impact on the success of a B2B business. Firms that conduct frequent research (at least quarterly) grow almost 12x faster and are almost twice as profitable as firms that do no research.
Companies will often use research to measure customer satisfaction, to discover how they are perceived in the market, as well as measure the appetite for new products.
But the opportunities for B2B research don’t end there.
For B2B companies engaging in an inbound methodology and hoping to grow their customer base, incorporating research into your strategy can offer enormous benefits.
Over recent years we have seen the rise of B2B brands as content publishers, with the results speaking for themselves.
Content publishing works because B2B buyers are now researching their issues and solutions online. They are only coming to the vendor when they know what they want and how much they expect to pay for it.
Around 87% of the B2B audience find content through a search engine – so if you are not publishing enough of the right quality of useful content to impact on search engine listing, you will not be in the running for a sale.
In the inbound marketing arena, we’re often being told that prospects don’t care about what we do, they care about how our products or services can help them.
But this doesn’t mean they don’t care about who you are.
In fact, people really do care about who they buy from.
Sustainability, for instance, is big on the agenda.
HubSpot defines a lead as “a person who has indicated interest in your company's product or service in some way, shape, or form.” Lead generation involves two steps, getting people to engage with you, and then capturing some information in order for you to begin a process that has the potential to convert them into a customer. Without that information, you are dead in the water.
Traditional marketing stresses the importance of detailed demographics in defining, targeting and attracting the right customers for your business.
GDPR came into effect on May 25th 2018, so now, over a year later (as of the date of writing) what has its impact been? How has it affected business and marketers? And in particular B2B?
I'm not going to preach the importance of customer retention. We all know this by now. And we all know how much easier (and cost-effective) it is to retain and nurture an existing customer than to acquire a new one.
If you've read any of Equinet's latest content, you'll understand by now that the content marketing industry is in the midst of a disruption. If B2B businesses are to thrive in this new climate, they need to stop marketing and start publishing. But this requires new strategies, new processes and in some cases, new employees.
The digital transformation of our lives has swept all before it and radicalised the way we transmit and receive information – the way we view information and store information.
Editors note: This blog post was originally published in January 2017 and has since been updated for optimal accuracy and relevance.
For many companies, developing a content strategy involves looking ahead to the next blog post, the next video, or the next eBook. This might involve a brief look back at the performance of past content to see what topics they should cover. However, a more positive approach is to continue to build on what you've already achieved.
And that's exactly what your organisation can do by carrying out a content audit.
With every piece of content you create, be it a blog post, video, podcast, or eBook, you should be thinking about how you can meet the specific needs of your buyer personas. And if you’ve invested the time to define meaningful buyer personas that go beyond demographics, you should be bursting with ideas for content.
But the buck doesn’t stop here. You also need to think about the buyer’s journey.
In the ever-changing marketing landscape, many businesses – particularly B2B businesses – are increasing their emphasis on Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) as a key measurement to plan their marketing strategy.
So what is CLV and why is it important?
Well, first let’s look at a metric that has been used for many years when planning a marketing strategy and budget – Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). This is simply the cost of acquiring a new customer.
Editors note: This blog post was originally published in June 2016 but has since been updated for optimal accuracy and relevance.
What’s the most important ingredient in your content marketing mix? Your way with words, your eye for design, perhaps, or your turn of phrase? Or, is it your marketing data?
A data-driven content strategy is a powerful one; informed by what your ideal customers really want and need.
Data is an invaluable tool for inbound marketers - but you have to know both how to collect it and put it to good use.
In the past, the roles of Sales and Marketing have been fairly well-defined, understood and respected, but the changing nature of the market and buyers' behaviour has brought them into inevitable conflict.
If we go back a few years, most companies had two, distinctly separate departments – Sales and Marketing.
In simple terms, Marketing would create all the sales materials and handle the brand positioning of the business. And sales would deal with the prospects and turn them into customers. It was more or less cut and dried.
Read the following sentence:
‘If people want to become more productive and efficient at work, they should implement the following habits into their working day.’
Let’s change one thing:
'If you want to become more productive and efficient at work, you’ll need to implement the following habits into your working day.’
Notice the difference? Which is more engaging?
Scaling business owners face a race for attention in this increasingly ‘noisy’ world. And standing out to the people who matter is only getting harder.
Even with the democratisation of the internet, an overwhelming proliferation of mediums, channels, technologies and advice has led many to confusion or even paralysis in the wake of unfulfilled promises; it’s all about email, it’s all about SEO, oh, they’re dead.
So it’s all about content marketing, right? Content saturation!
But it’s never about just one thing or another; it’s always been ‘in the mix’ — the right mix for your audience.
When done well, buyer personas help you understand your ideal customers better. This makes it easier to tailor your content messaging, product development, and services to their specific needs.
But too often, companies make the mistake of thinking about buyer personas in terms of demographics; only looking as far as their age, gender, and job role.
To define truly meaningful buyer personas, you need to look beyond the demographics of your ideal customers. You need to understand their interests, fears, and aspirations. You need the full story on how and why they make a buying decision.
In the era of fake news is the idea of an 'internet news channel’ set up and paid for by a non-media brand, slightly unsettling? Remember the launch of Trump TV, which used all of the tropes and paraphernalia of 'real' television news to deliver highly distorted and downright untruthful messages to the general public on behalf of the Trump brand as he continued his presidential bid?
According to visual content marketing statistics shared by HubSpot, 32% of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content for their business, with blogging tailing behind in second (27%). When images play second fiddle to copy you have a recipe for disaster.
If you've produced reams of B2B marketing content and are not seeing the results you expected, 'Thin Content' might be the culprit. So what is it and how do you fix it?
Google defines thin content as content that has little or no value. It’s the opposite of deep content – if Google hadn’t already named it, I’d be calling it shallow content. Examples could be automatically generated content, pages which are mostly affiliate links, doorway pages, content from other sources or low-quality guest posts.
For most legitimate B2B businesses who publish content, it's most likely to be either the last two, or simply pages that don't appear to be really useful to visitors.
Let’s look at three ways thin content harms your online presence.
Let’s rewind for a moment.
It’s 2008 and blogging is 'the thing to do' in business marketing. Helping to generate website traffic, improve SEO and promote your business, the concept slowly, yet gradually, starts to gain traction.
With little competition (at least back then), it was highly effective. Simply adding pages to your site while demonstrating a sound understanding of a subject and its keywords was enough to rank.
That was of course, before the activity evolved into what we know today. And the complexities and competition in blogging now make it far harder to rank by blogging alone.
Marketing has been radically transformed over the past decade or so as a result of the internet and other technological factors.
In fact, marketing has always has, and still is, evolving – but the pace of that evolution has accelerated rapidly.
This had led to traditional models of sales and marketing being drastically revised, or thrown out altogether, and any business that doesn’t acknowledge and adapt to these momentous changes is destined to be at a distinct and potentially ruinous disadvantage.
For the last decade, brands have been focusing their efforts on content marketing.
B2C and B2B brands alike have been churning out blog posts, creating eBooks, and promoting them on social media in an effort to generate more leads and customers.
But if everyone in your industry is blogging, and everyone is promoting those blog posts on their social channels, that's a vast amount of content vying for the attention of your ideal customers.
Then there's all the other content unrelated to your industry that's tugging at their sleeve, from the latest Netflix documentary to the biggest news stories.
Editor's note: This blog post was originally published in June 2014.
A few years back, I spoke to Anna Lawlor, who at the time was the writer and director of Social i Media, who offered some fascinating insights into why writing and thinking like a journalist can give content creators a real edge. Anna is now co-founder and Head of Content & PR at Luminescence Communications Ltd, a company specialising in creating high quality communications for professional services.
What Anna had to say back in 2014 still rings true today, and she offers some interesting thoughts on how content marketers should be thinking like journalists.
Content marketing is evolving yet again with some of the world’s biggest brands adopting a publisher's mindset.
In the wake of content saturation, audiences are switching up their media consumption and this is something we, as marketers, must embrace rather than fear.
More importantly, this is why brands need to shift the focus from content towards 'media'.
Images are nice, aren't they? I mean, they are pretty to look at and brighten up a post.
But there's more to images than decoration when it comes to attracting business to your content.
In fact, images are absolutely essential for a whole host of reasons – but let’s start with a few facts, some data and the hard science of images effect on SEO.
Editor's note: This post was originally written in 2016 and has since been updated for relevance and accuracy.
There have been plenty of articles written on the importance of using inbound marketing, including social media, to publicise events - but very little on the importance of events to inbound marketing and your overall B2B marketing strategy.
Inbound marketing content thrives on stories, but sometimes they can be a bit thin on the ground. So what can you do? Well, you can create your own story, and that’s essentially what creating an event is all about.
Here are just four reasons why events make for great content, and how to maximise their benefit.
Long form written content is traditionally highly prized by marketers because we know its power. It gets better SERP rankings than short form, it’s seen as more authoritative by search engines, and quite often it's considered more shareable.
Well-written, with the right keywords and centred around carefully chosen topics of ‘evergreen’ relevance, a long form piece of content (such as an ebook) can become a cornerstone of your digital real estate.
It will drive traffic to your site and support a virtuous circle of discovery, sharing and conversion.
Finding an agency that's a good fit could be the difference between your best year and your worse: the make or break project, the campaign that gets you recognised (for the right reasons or the wrong...), the money well invested, or the money wasted.
Ultimately, it will be one your most important working partnerships.
But when you're partnering with a different organisation - with new people, new values and new ideas, how to do you know if this one is the right fit?
87% of marketing professionals use video as a digital marketing tool. And Cisco has predicted that by 2021, more than 80% of internet traffic will be video.
The demand is there, as is the accessibility and affordability. The big question is, where do you start?
Here's an introduction to the 3 most impactful B2B videos your business can create.
There are around 170 million active* websites in the world today (*out of a grand total of around 1.7 billion hostnames) with an estimated 5.6 billion web pages indexed in search engines. WordPress alone sees around 70 million new posts a month.
So if you are writing a blog post and you want that blog post to be seen, how can you possibly reach your audience when there is just so much content out there?
As marketers, data analysis takes a firm seat in our weekly schedules. But so many of us are just skating across the surface of what can be achieved.
By shifting the focus from output toward outcomes, a business can maximise its performance and potential.
Your output is the avenue you take to achieve outcomes; it’s the daily activities you use to generate exposure, connect with prospects and promote your business. Your output includes your newsletters, your emails, your website, your blogs.
Last month was Equinet's first ever Certification Day, where the company dedicated a whole day to training.
While studying for the HubSpot Inbound Marketing certification, I was reminded that once upon a time, as little as 350 words was sufficient enough to rank well, as long as you included the right balance of links and keywords.
That’s a stark contrast from today, where the average blog post currently sits at 1151 words.
It got me thinking about how content marketing has changed over the years. In some ways, it seems as though we are worlds apart from the way things once were.
But are we really creating content that differently to how we did it in the past?
I thought it was time for a little refresh…
The flicking cursor taunts your tired mind and you find yourself doing everything and anything to avoid writing. Another pointless email, a quick snack... oh go on, one more coffee - then I'll make a start.
Hours later, you return to your blank page and question whether this blogging malarky is really worth it.
We've all been there. Whether you blog for your own business, outsource to a professional writer, or rely on your employees to come up with streams of remarkable, relevant and consistently well-written blog posts, burnout doesn't discriminate. Even the most talented and experienced writers suffer the dreaded yet inevitable 'bleurgh'.
There is a wealth of opinions about the essential need to personalise your marketing efforts – not only in the world of B2C but also for B2B.
Endless articles have been written about the drivers for personalisation – arguing that customers want more personalisation.
Yet at the same time, there is a massive kickback against the intrusiveness of modern marketing with personal privacy a key issue for many customers. News stories about the unwanted and unprompted violations of people’s privacy by some of the top social media companies such as Facebook, and the search engine giant Google are not helping the case for personalisation.
With the rise of Siri, Alexa, Amazon Echo and Google Home, voice search has been promising a revolution in our digital behaviour at home and work for some time now, but has it really happened?
Voice recognition has come a long way since the early days.
Remember Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella’s excruciating Cortona demonstration, where he asked the voice assistant to retrieve some data and she thought he wanted to buy some milk?
One of the guiding principles for content success is clarity. Without a clear approach, a clear understanding, and a clear delivery your efforts will be lost along the way.
In this article, we are going to concentrate on four key areas where clarity is the watchword.
Once you’ve gone through the process of defining your company’s marketing strategy you should ensure that everyone on the team, or at least those involved in the delivery of the strategy, understand it and all that it is designed to achieve. That also includes senior managers and directors of the company – everyone should be on the same page.
Content marketing, digital marketing, web design; all are part of such a progressive industry.
We know the value of learning. Our offices are stacked ceiling to floor with books, we constantly seek the latest webinars, seminars and events and we are passionate about training and development. We know that to succeed in this industry, we must always have our finger on the pulse, which is why we promote a culture of learning.
Case studies tell the inside story of your business partnership with customers. Typically, they delve into the initial challenges a user grappled with before finding you, and then share an honest, detailed account of how your business helped them to overcome those issues.
Video is just one of the ways you might choose to chronicle your customer’s experience. Here’s a summary of why case studies are an asset that can be folded into your B2B video marketing strategy.
55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. But, in a world where companies are starting to think more like media publishers, are text-only blog posts still holding people’s attention?
But this doesn’t mean we should be putting our pens down and aborting blogging altogether. And if you’re not convinced of this, I implore you to read this blog post.
How can you tell whether your content is truly performing at its best?
One way of course, is to consult your analytics. This will tell you how many people are landing on the page, how long they are spending there, and whether they are clicking on links.
Analyse your content continuously and you'll start to spot patterns and trends which will help you form a picture of what content works well and what doesn’t.
It could be argued that marketing is all about telling a good story. And certainly, content marketing has storytelling at its heart.
Being able to engage the audience, bring them on board, educate them and end with a rousing call to action is effective content marketing in action.
We even live in an age where stories often seem to be more important than facts.
Given that stories are powerful tools for marketing, we should be using them in our content, but where do they come from? How can you find stories for your B2B content?
Sometimes, an educated guess just isn't enough.
Deciding on which image to use in your social ad, the location of that call-to-action button, or which adjective to use in your email subject line often needs more backing.
While seemingly minor, small factors like these can significantly impact conversion rates, leads and engagement.
You'll find there's an abundance of studies, statistics and information out there which detail the relationship between conversion rates and psychology. And while this is all extremely valuable, we can find some truth in those theories by running our own experiments.
You could argue that the success or failure of any business-to-business (B2B) company scores is completely linked to customer service – far more than business-to-consumer (B2C). The buying process is longer, usually involves more people and the sums of money involved are much higher. There is often a deeper level of contact with prospects and a stronger relationship with customers once they buy.
According to McKinsey, while B2C companies enjoy an average customer service score in the 65 to 85 per cent range, business-to-business B2B company scores average less than 50 per cent. And as B2B customer expectations rise, the gap between the two offerings likely will widen.
New research published last week by Backlinko has revealed some interesting insights into the types of blog posts that garner the most shares on social media.
Backlinko analysed 912 blog posts, looking at how things like content format, word count, and headlines correlate with social media shares.
We delved into the findings.
So, which types of blog posts are most shareable?
“But Nikki, I had to buy those boots, the website said they were ‘trending’ and I didn’t want to miss out.”
Were they really trending though, Lucy James? Or were you a victim of social proof?
Of course, Lucy wanted the boots, but usually cautious and sensible with her money, Lucy would’ve deliberated a little more before making such a quick purchase.
What caused this sudden urgency in her behaviour? Perhaps it was the fact the seller used social proof to lure Lucy into impulsively parting with her money - ‘these are selling fast, so buy them quickly before they sell out’.
Whether you are happy with your B2B marketing results or feel they are lacking, here’s five ways to improve your marketing.
Not surprisingly, a great way to find out whether your marketing strategy is hitting its mark is to ask it’s intended targets. You should conduct some research amongst prospects, customers and ex-customers, and find out what they think.
Whether that is a simple Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey of existing customers or a full-blown, in-depth survey of the market, the insights you gain from the results will be useful.
Landing pages are some of the most important pages on your website. Each is designed to serve a purpose - most likely, to convert a prospect into a lead.
A good landing page will be simple, yet powerful. But a poor landing page could lose a contact at the crucial point of conversion.
Marketers use a variety of techniques to improve conversion rates - like imagery, contrasting colours, and graphics - but as we know, words are the real currency of the internet.
Writing well is one thing, but writing an effective landing page is a dedicated skill.
Millennials have overtaken baby boomers as the most dominant generation in the workforce.
And more importantly, they now make up 45% of B2B buyers.
The top end of this cohort - now approaching their mid-30s, are set to be our biggest allies as they move into managerial roles and acquire more purchasing and decision-making power.
Before we start, let’s remind ourselves why we might use LinkedIn as B2B businesses with a few relevant stats.
So, after all these years, content marketing is pretty much mainstream. And the pattern of a successful content strategy is by now, well established.
Fill your website with interesting, relevant blogs, the argument runs, become a resource for your audience, back up with eBooks and the occasional piece of video, then tend your patch. Your market standing, influence and sales will grow as result.
In the crowded world of the internet, companies are recognising the importance of becoming a media company and creating more informative, engaging, and compelling content that will help them to attract and retain customers. And the podcast medium is the newest big opportunity.
There has been an enormous surge in people listening to podcasts in recent years. In the UK, there are now 5.9 million people tuning into a podcast each week - compared to just 3.2 million in 2013.
Everyone from celebrities and journalists to broadcasters and marketers are recognising the ripe opportunity to engage an already captive audience.
Keeping up with new developments in marketing can be hard and it’s always time-consuming. There is always constant pressure to make sure you are not missing out on a valuable new tactic, method or sales channel. Not knowing about the latest opportunity at best makes you look ill-informed and at worst, costs your company money as competitors gain an edge and you scramble to catch up.
Media outlets, marketing pundits and vendors don’t help by hyping every new product, service or technology that comes along. Bloggers love to write about the latest thing and tell you how it will change the face of marketing.
Picture me as an art student half-way through a still life class. I'm focussed on the drawing. I'm frowning and fussing - erasing and redrawing the same area of the page over and over.
I'm totally over-invested in the minutiae.
And, every week, as the tutor paces the room, he invariably pauses behind me and says something along the lines of...
Editor's note: This post was originally written in 2014 and has since been updated for maximum relevance.
I like to think of blog posts as arrows – powerful, accurate and effective – but only if they are targeted. In fact any weapon is only effective if properly targeted – and can cause huge damage if it’s pointing the wrong way.
Whilst forgiving the somewhat campaign/war like bent of this view, applying this analogy to a blog – you have to identify the overall nature of your enemy and then hit specific targets with your posts. So what you need is a brief and a targeting system.
The ubiquity of spoken content in 2019 is undeniable. Podcasts, webinars, videos and presentations are prolific in marketing and sales, but spoken content transcends industry and sector. We see it harnessed in science, popular culture, psychology, education and so much more.
Not only does it empower you to thrust your brand into the spotlight, but it enables your organisation to cultivate thought leadership and gain a wider audience. For that reason, spoken word should be an integral part of your inbound strategy.
Content marketing has risen to prominence amongst both B2C and B2B marketers, driven in part by the significant influence of search engines on today’s shoppers and buyers and the diminishing power of conventional advertising.
Compared to traditional marketing programs, content marketing costs 62% less and generates approximately three times the volume of leads.
Countless numbers of companies have embraced it and placed it at the core of their marketing strategies, but what is the case for it? Is it a no-brainer, or are their downsides too?
To help you consider it, plan for it or even review your ongoing strategy, here are ten pros and cons of Content Marketing.
As a creator of online content, it’s important to have a keen awareness of your audience. Not surprisingly, this includes people from all backgrounds. The internet is for everybody - and businesses have a social responsibility to strive for more inclusive design.
People tune in for more than pure sound or image. Videos carry a message, and viewers with hearing or vision loss shouldn’t be made to feel excluded from global communications. Screen readers are making it easier for people with poor vision or hearing to browse the web, and content makers need to step up to the mark.
I’m one of these strange people that actually enjoy hearing about the latest marketing theories, reading up on best practice, researching the most recent thoughts on marketing strategy and tactics and all those articles on how to maximise your results. It’s great to know about the theory and hear what the greatest marketing gurus in the land think you should be doing.
Social media has solidified its reputation as a viable B2B marketing tool.
Rather than the fun, leisurely pastime it once was, it is now prolific in the digital marketing space and has been adopted by major business brands looking to take full advantage of the opportunities it offers.
I can’t stand reading my old blogs.
I'd go around the houses about five times before saying anything concrete. I used vocabulary I wasn’t totally comfortable with. And I always seemed to think more was ...more. More words, more examples, more regurgitations of the same ideas.
Of course, that’s reflected in the stats.
Even if traffic was high, nobody was hanging around long enough to extract any value from my posts.
But with people now searching using longer, more complex terms, search engines now favour topic-based content. And this means that professional services firms need to take a smarter approach to their content marketing strategy.
Marketers strive for healthy organic reach. And when it comes to video marketing campaigns, this is heavily effected by engagement rates.
On social media platforms, like Facebook for example, news feeds are designed to favour content from people or brands that users have previously engaged with.
So, I am making my New Year resolutions again, and one that I keep adding in is to blog smarter – blog better. It’s a great goal I’m sure you’ll agree, but where do we start?
What is the best practice? What works and what doesn’t work? If only someone published some useful stats that we could use? Oh, hang on…
Well, wouldn’t you know it, Orbit Media Studios have published their 2018 survey of blogging statistics and trends – how helpful is that? (Check out the link for the full research).
As a B2B marketer, you already have a strategy in place when it comes to social media - you may even have established a social media policy for your workplace. But the goalposts are always changing.
So what challenges will 2019 bring?
Last year there were several announcements that promised to affect social media marketing in 2019, for example:
And that's not all.
Whether you have an inbound strategy or not, I think it's fair to assume that staying competitive, profitable and on top of search engine results pages (SERPs) is a priority for most businesses.
But that requires you to constantly have your finger on the pulse - algorithm updates, ranking factors and changes in your readers’ behaviour will all influence not just a content marketing strategy, but a marketing strategy full stop.
You’ve spent hours producing content, publishing it and promoting it and now you have to measure its impact and prove Return On Investment (ROI) to the board as well? Isn’t just publishing it enough?
In a word, no.
If you can’t prove your marketing is working, then you are putting effort in for nothing.
So measuring is essential.
Everything you know about Artificial Intelligence in marketing is wrong… probably.
I say probably, because unless you have made a study of the subject then you probably won’t realise that the hype around AI for marketing is the modern equivalent of selling snake oil.
In professional services marketing, building trust with your prospects is key. You're selling a relationship - and the most important thing, in any relationship, is trust.
With that in mind, it’s no coincidence that many professional services firms traditionally won their business through referrals and word of mouth. But, in the digital world, we have to build trust differently. We have to work harder to earn it.
This is why many professional services firms today have adopted a content marketing approach. By providing your target audience with interesting, educative, and helpful content, you can position your company as a trusted source of authority and as the ‘go-to-guys’ in your field.
Images are a key component for almost every website - it’s hard to find a page online that doesn’t contain at least one.
For this reason, image optimisation plays a vital role in B2B website housekeeping. The benefits are plentiful. Optimising your images helps them to rank higher on SERPs, makes them more voice search friendly, funnels higher quality traffic to your page and ultimately improves UX.
With that in mind, alt-text is one of the most obvious places to start.
This year there has been a lot of talk about marketing automation, programmatic marketing and artificial intelligence, with promises of streamlining the marketing process and making it all more efficient.
With robots replacing jobs in manufacturing and with automated machines at the checkout and selling tickets at railway stations, with driverless cars on the horizon, and with chatbots being used to handle customer support, how worried should we be about our future as a human being working in marketing?
Let’s look at four critical factors.
There's a new decision-maker entering the B2B sales funnel.
Curious, socially aware, digitally native and research driven, millennials are more involved in making decisions about which products and services companies are using than ever before.
The B2B Millennial Marketing Report states that 73% of millennials are involved in product or service purchase decision-making at their companies.
By 2020 millennials will represent a third of the workforce so you can no longer deny their power and influence in the B2B marketing sphere.
Simply put, don't let millennials be an afterthought.
Research shows that in 2018 manufacturers are turning to content marketing to ensure they are front and centre when prospects are conducting their own online research.
However, the latest research by The Content Marketing Institute suggests that even though 64% of manufacturing content marketers say their organisation’s content marketing is much/somewhat more successful compared with one year ago, many are still in the early stages of implementing content marketing.
Here is a roundup of the key takeaways of the "Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends" report.
What if I were to tell you that 73% of the content posted to the Internet was fiction, that in the past ten years the number of verifiable facts within web pages had dropped by 48%, and that the vast majority of content was now being produced by trained squirrels in Tanzania?
Hopefully, you would realise that these are all pretty good examples of fake news - one of the biggest threats facing the Western World today (according to some commentators).
It varies from the almost believable to the absolute absurd, but has one thing in common: it bears little resemblance to the truth.
Social media platforms connect businesses with prospects and existing customers. They paint a picture of your audience's needs, spread your brand message and inform future marketing goals.
And, with social media marketing, you can position your product or service right in front of the very people who need it. Sounds great! But how can you gain more reach?
Growing an audience is one of the biggest challenges for businesses on social media.
Think about your channels. What’s really in it for your followers? Unless you are creating content that genuinely delights, people won’t be prepared to follow or subscribe.
Imagine you are a shop owner, selling to the general public. As the centre of your business, the building itself would be somewhere customers feel comfortable, at ease, guided by clear signage and top notch customer service advisors. Shelves would be stacked in an orderly and strategic manner, items would be priced clearly, and staff would be friendly, helpful and available.
What’s more, the store would be clean and warm (or cool, depending on your hemisphere...), with an engaging and attractive interior that is aligned with your brand identity.
The reason I paint this picture is because your website deserves the same investment.
Mobile internet usage has long surpassed desktop and laptop usage, and not just in the consumer world.
B2B buyers are just as glued to their phones as consumers. A recent study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) revealed some powerful stats about how B2B buyers use mobile in the purchasing journey:
There has been a lot of content in the past year focusing on the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on marketing. Here at Equinet, we’ve covered the topic discussing the nature of AI and how it has changed B2B marketing.
But a recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit and Osborne Clarke has unearthed the fact that UK businesses believe that over the next five years AR and VR will have a greater impact on their business than AI. Based on a survey of 550 senior execs from 11 countries, the research found that 88% of UK organisations believe AR and VR will have a significant business impact by 2022 – compared to 70% of those that said AI.
If you have been on social media, reading the news or following all things marketing, then you can’t help but have noticed the public response to the ‘banning’ of Iceland’s latest advert featuring the animated story of Rang-Tan – an orangutan whose had to leave his native forest due to palm oil production and ends up ransacking a little girl’s bedroom.
Currently, the advert is hosted on YouTube which has seen an estimated 30 million views (a figure that includes social media shares).
And a petition to “Release Iceland’s banned Christmas advert on TV” on Change.org is headed for a million signatures as of the time of writing.
Struggling for new content ideas? Or just struggling to find the time to write regularly enough? I may have a solution for you. Those old blog posts lurking in your archives - the ones you've either forgotten about or have been rendered obsolete over time - they could be gold dust.
According to Gartner, when it comes to Account Based Marketing (ABM) we have just past the peak of the hype cycle. That means it’s downhill all the way from here, until expectations are readjusted and its true merits discovered once again.
At the moment the breathless blogging about its value to business might be sounding a little hollow. 15 Captivating Statistics That Prove You Need ABM Right Now, for example, seems to be suggesting it’s a magic bullet for everyone, which it certainly is not. There is also hype around ‘hands-free ABM’, which is promising effortless, fully automated solutions for what is, in reality, a detailed and complex task of analysis and execution.
There is a phrase that many people use when giving advice on a new task, process, or procedure: Keep It Simple. It’s a great piece of advice for so many undertakings – as over complicating things inevitably leads to more mistakes and errors, with a greater chance of failure. After all, you never hear anyone say, “Make it more complicated”
In previous posts, we have talked about how important not only gaining but retaining customers is. Retaining customers is essential for a whole bunch of reasons including the possibility of repeat business and their potential to become advocates for your business. So how do you attract and keep customers? Do you have to go through a complex set of procedures? Are there sacred rituals involved? Which gods should you pray to? Or do you simply cross your fingers and hope for the best?
As the customer preference for sourcing information moves from face to face contact to search engines and digital resources, the time is ripe to re-imagine how you communicate with your manufacturing prospects.
And as we move into an increasingly connected and switched-on digital age, personalisation is becoming one of the more powerful tools at our disposal.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2012 but has since been updated for optimal accuracy and relevance.
Marketing is changing faster than ever. As you likely remember, there was once a time when B2B businesses would make cold calls or pay unsolicited visits to prospects to sell their products and services.
“It’s not very user-friendly.”
You've maybe used those words before, or heard them muttered in frustration as a friend, relative or colleague tries to navigate their way around a poorly designed app or a website.
But they are most certainly not words you want to be associated with your own website or app.
We live in a world of social media and instant communication, peer review sites and messaging. People are sharing their experiences of products, service brands and life in general, more than ever before. And not just people – the people that your business deals with – your customers and prospects – your buyers.
This has several implications for a business, firstly your product or service has to do its job, it has to be fit for purpose – otherwise, your customers will share their feelings and views on its shortcomings with other customers and potential prospects. Word will soon get around, and you will find it hard to improve sales without fixing the product or service and publicising the fact. Secondly, your customer support has to be fit for purpose too – you have to keep your customers happy, or again, those poor experiences will be shared.
Imagine a world without data.
A world where advertisers and marketers have no details about their prospects and where the first data they can collect is the buyer’s name on a purchase order.
With GDPR, which severely restricts what data the marketer can collect and how they collect it, and the so-called ‘walled gardens’ of Google, Facebook and Amazon, which only allow access to their customers on their terms, we may be headed in that direction right now.
To date, there are 25 million business profiles on Instagram.
70% of Instagram users use the platform to check out a brand they’re considering and 35% check their feeds multiple times a day.
On top of that, 400 million people use Instagram stories daily and one in five organic stories from businesses gets a direct message.
The world can be a pretty noisy place. We're constantly bombarded with messages, advertisements and stimuli online. Today, consumers are becoming increasingly hardened against traditional marketing tactics.
However, personalisation can play a key role in making your brand stand out, and advancements in artificial intelligence technology are designed to support this. AI is flourishing across website design, social media, email campaigns, customer segmentation and content optimisation.
Artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning and data analytics are helping businesses to become more responsive to consumer demands in real-time.
Wouldn’t business be so much easier if you didn’t have to deal with people? Well, today, there’s a whole range of systems, content channels and marketing techniques that allow you to market a business with little or no direct human interaction with the potential customer. Major companies are heavily investing in complex algorithms – often erroneously sold as Artificial Intelligence – that can interact “intelligently” with the prospect and customer.
One of the many advantages of working in an open-plan office is the opportunity to bounce around B2B blog ideas with fellow inbound content writers.
And a frequent topic of conversation is how to finesse our blog titles so they're pertinent, attention grabbing and search-engine friendly.
While the bulk of our creative efforts goes into constructing the blog post itself, it's surprising how much attention we also need to pay to those first few words that our potential customers are going to see - our headline.
Why bother wasting precious resource on an email marketing campaign?
No one opens emails anymore. Everyone knows email is dead.
Well, according to the stats, that’s all a fallacy.
Email is in fact, proliferating. Astonishingly.
DMA Insight shows that 95% of us check our email every day, sometimes up to 20 times.
There’s much more to blogging than just writing. Your post needs to be optimised for search and formatted in a way that’s easy for readers to digest.
The good news is that if you’re using HubSpot, their platform makes it easier for you to publish attractive and search-friendly blog posts. But it doesn’t do all the work for you.
Web video is widely used by digital marketers as a way to influence B2B purchase decisions. And, as a leading advocate for your brand, you might on occasion be asked to step into the spotlight to share your thoughts and expertise.
Whether you are comfortable with public speaking or not, the idea of appearing on-camera can seem daunting. But genuine, helpful testimony will greatly enhance your viewers' product understanding - as well as their readiness to buy.
Most companies are quite rightly, focused on sales. But they often concentrate on searching out new customers to get those sales – ignoring the easier and more lucrative market right on their doorstep – existing customers.
Did you know you have a 60-70% chance of selling to an existing customer? That’s versus 5-20% of selling to a new prospect.
So the first reason for selling to existing customers is that it’s an easier sell.
When it comes to SEO, its ever-changing nature makes it one of the most complex and intricate components of your marketing strategy.
Revolutionary trends will no doubt determine how we interact with search engines in the new year, and consequently, how searchers will find your content.
Websites are a significant business investment, and they demand a considerable amount of your resource to satisfy users and stay ahead of competitors. So putting them in front of the right people at the right time should absolutely be a priority.
Since Sean Ellis coined the term Growth Hacker in 2010, there has been a considerable amount of hype around the term and its related verb Growth Hacking. Many proponents point to the most famous start-ups as examples of growth hacking and make great claims for its effectiveness. But what is growth hacking, and is it an effective technique for growth?
Surprisingly, there is some difference of opinion about what growth hacking actually is.
Wikipedia defines it as: 'A process of rapid experimentation across the marketing funnel, product development, sales segments, and other areas of the business to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business'.
If you’re new to SEO, you may wonder why everyone keeps talking about pandas, penguins and hummingbirds.
This exotic line-up of creatures are, in fact, the names given to major updates to Google's ranking algorithm. But what is the Google algorithm and what do you need to know about it?
Featured snippets are becoming a growing area of focus within the competitive and constantly evolving world of search engine optimisation (SEO.)
And, according to HubSpot research, content that is selected to appear as a featured snippet can achieve double the click through rates of organic search results.
Over the past ten years or so, we’ve seen social media move from being an early adopter’s marketing experiment to a tried and trusted channel for both B2C and B2B marketing.
But that doesn’t mean you should rush in and use it without thought – like any communications medium it has its benefits and its drawbacks.
And like any marketing medium, there are things it’s great for, things it’s not good for, and things it should never be used for.
The Sales funnel has been a cornerstone in marketing strategy for over a century. Believed to have been invented by E St Elmo Lewis in 1898, the sales funnel is widely regarded as the first formal theory of marketing.
However, in today’s buyer-centric environment the model is no longer fit for purpose. The traditional sales funnel prioritises marketing and sales over customer service and favours closing the next deal over your existing customers. Customers are a by-product of the sales funnel, not the central focus.
If you think about how a funnel works. You have a large amount of energy at the top with lots of people aware of your company, a smaller amount of people engaging with your company in the middle, and even fewer people at the bottom becoming customers, at which point they fall out the bottom and the process ends until you then pour more into the top.
Recently Adobe published their 2018 Consumer Email Survey based on research by Advanis. Whilst this was US-based research, we know that historically there are many similarities between the US and UK markets.
The survey contains a number of fascinating insights, including the astonishing fact that 28% of respondents check their work email whilst in the bathroom! Not sure how relevant that is to any campaign you might think of running, but it's an interesting insight nonetheless.
A colleague asked me yesterday, “Should I focus more on long-tail keywords or short-tail keywords? Should I be using them differently?”
I have to admit I was floundering a little. With so much changing in SEO, even within the last 6 months, it’s becoming nearly impossible to provide resolute answers to such questions.
But it’s a pretty valid question in the inbound content writing industry. Should we focus on one more than the other?
Well-crafted, purposeful and informative B2B blog posts are essential tools to help build your community and create the foundations for long-lasting relationships.
But in the midst of a demanding blogging schedule it can be easy to lose sight of why it is you're doing what you're doing; who you're doing it for and what it is you're looking to achieve.
In this blog post, we highlight five key questions that can help keep your content creation efforts on-task and on track.
September has arrived. The kids are back at school, this summer’s heatwave is a distant memory, and it’s starting to feel very autumnal. Dare I say it, but it will be Christmas before we know it. So it’s not too early to start thinking about the new year, right?
The internet is full to the brim with video marketing statistics proving just how powerful it can be as an inbound tool. On occasion, you might be faced with a campaign that has surprisingly under-performed. If you take a second look, you might see glaring areas for improvement. How can you be sure your next investment in video will grow revenue for your business?
Here are some of the most common video campaign mistakes, and how you can avoid making them.
Most managers and even marketers are probably familiar with SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats – as a way of analysing a business in respect of the world it has to operate in. Despite a range of other models to choose from PEST, PESTLE and more, it still proves very useful for formulating a strategy.
But this SWOT model can also be used in marketing, and in particular, it is a very useful way of looking at your content marketing.
It’s important that you spend some time doing your own analysis – but here are some general ideas to get you started.
If you are working in Sales or Marketing for a growing business, you will undoubtedly be looking for practical tools to help you grow. Tools that can keep pace with your ever-changing business model and that help you streamline efficiencies in the way you market, sell and communicate with your customers.
However as your list of tools grow, the amount of time and attention they take grows. Your tool stack can become disjointed. Some of your tools may not integrate so you spend more time moving data around from one to another.
With HubSpot’s marketing, sales, and CRM software, you can focus on generating leads and revenue and forget about managing a stack of scattered tools.
Here is how.
Until recently, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials have been the target demographics for most modern businesses when marketing their services/products.
However, businesses should consider the purchasing power and the burgeoning influence of another: Generation Z. Generally considered to include people born between 1996 and 2014, they are the rising demographic armed with an economic force to be reckoned with. So, turn your attention to the effects of the youngest generation of consumers. Many B2C and B2B businesses have already started.
The popularity of video marketing, podcasts and webinars are expanding the horizon for B2B content marketers. By comparison, the written word may seem unexciting and a little out of date. But sometimes, it's worth going back to basics.
White papers certainly aren’t the newest platform for sharing your company’s content - but the power they can yield is far from being extinct.
And the stats speak for themselves: 71% of B2B buyers have used white papers in the last 12 months to research purchasing decisions.
Here’s a reminder of why white papers are still a powerful magnet for B2B buyers in 2018 and beyond.
Knowing when and where to publish your B2B content is every bit as important as producing it in the first place. Inbound marketers are experts at developing a deep understanding of buyer personas, with the aim of forecasting likely behaviour, and this can be used to levy impressive results when it comes to video marketing campaigns.
Information regarding the online activity of your potential customers can be used strategically to improve the delivery of your business message across social media.
This is an oft-overlooked factor in corporate video distribution.
High levels of growth can only be achieved by a business that not only has a good industry offering and a viable strategy, but that also delivers great marketing.
How do we deliver great marketing?
Let’s look at the bigger picture for a moment.
When developing a business strategy, many recognised management thinkers have settled on a resources and capabilities approach. Leading business strategist Robert Grant; suggests that competitive advantage comes from the resources a business owns and has access to, and the capabilities it has or can develop.
In recent months influencer marketing has started to lose its popularity as a way to generate business with big companies such as Unilever reviewing their use of influencers. Some would argue that influencer marketing is a waste of money. So what’s the problem? And can the B2B world use influencer marketing at all?
Well, the fact of the matter is, even if you are in a B2B business, you are almost certainly using influencer marketing right now to a lesser or greater extent.
Part of the problem seems to be the perception of who an influencer is and what they do. The popular image is of a celebrity tweeting about products and posing for Instagram selfies with products. And while there is no doubt that this happens – and is even very successful for some B2C brands, it comes with a whole raft of issues, and does not reflect the vast majority of influencers out there.
It’s natural for most people to assume that content and copy are one and the same.
After all, if you can write a decent blog you've surely got the skills to write a good email subject line, a CTA (call to action), and a white paper. Writing is writing... right?
Unfortunately, this is the kind of view that impedes marketers from getting the full value from their marketing strategies.
Marketers must have a handle on the nuances of both activities not just to aid in their growth strategies but to understand what skills are required from potential writing candidates to fulfil their brand’s needs.
But social media is a crowded space, and the challenge is getting your content heard above the noise.
To really illustrate this point, here are some stats about what happens on social media every minute;
Video continues to dominate the digital landscape - from its prevalence on company websites, social media and news sites to the popularity of online streaming services.
And according to research from Wyzowl in ‘The State of Video Marketing 2018,’ video has established itself as a highly-rated and successful medium for increasing traffic, engaging with B2B prospects and encouraging action.
Among the report’s key findings was the fact that eighty-one per cent of businesses have used video content as a marketing tool.
Of these, a substantial 97% of respondents said that video had helped them to increase user understanding of their product or service. And 76% confirmed that the use of video had helped them to increase sales.
More B2B companies are using video marketing than ever before. That makes sense considering the force with which a successful campaign can attract, qualify and convert new customers. But how can your business maximise on this creative venture?There are three stages to video production:
Pre-production - planning your video, writing the script and coordinating activities
Production - producing the raw material for your video. This could consist of filming, recording audio or creating graphical assets.
Post-production - assembling the footage, editing and reviewing.
One of the classic business strategy models is Porter's Generic Competitive Strategies, a set of generic strategies that could be applied to all products or services in B2C or B2B businesses to gain competitive advantage and grow a business. It's a logical extension of his earlier model – Porter's Competitive Forces Model (otherwise known as the Five Forces Model) that analyses a business in terms of five competitive forces. These five forces shape every industry and every market, determining their profitability and attractiveness. The five forces are:
Facebook has been getting a pretty tough time of late in the media and the courtroom. Fake news, scandals and security breaches meant its reputation took a battering.
In January 2018, Facebook's algorithm changed drastically to prioritise posts that create meaningful conversations and interactions, especially between friends and family.
Great news for Joe Public, but not so great for businesses looking to gain new customers via Facebook marketing.
The new algorithm makes it much harder for business pages to get seen unless you have a very engaged audience who frequently like, comment and share your social posts.
The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was introduced across Europe in May 2018 to strengthen individuals’ rights when it comes to the handling and processing of their data.
As inbound marketers, we’ve always put the power in the hands of our prospects - and the GDPR champions that notion, so it's a regulation we should all willingly, and easily abide by.
Our communications and the ability to generate leads are dependent on high-quality data acquisition. Landing pages are an integral part of that acquisition process, so it’s natural to be dubious over the thought of tweaking and overhauling your existing landing pages and conversion paths. What if we put prospects off? What if people choose not to tick the box?
Whiteboard videos are a prime example of an educational video that benefits buyer personas in the awareness stage of the inbound sales funnel. They come under the genre of explainer videos and use both illustration and animation to communicate concepts in a fun and unexpected way.
Investigation reveals that 45 per cent of companies who champion video as a valuable marketing tool feature an explainer video on their homepage. An overwhelming majority of those companies find great success with this content.
The following post explores the video production process behind making a whiteboard explainer video.
Choosing suitable imagery is a pivotal - and sometimes painful - point in the B2B marketing blog process. But there are valid reasons why marketers spend so much valuable time and effort selecting the right visual content for their posts.
Stunning visuals capture attention, improve the memorability of your post, provide variety and inspire emotion.
Marketing campaigns can sink or swim on the back of images. They reinforce your message and provide readers with context. In addition to this, they vastly improve website traffic: studies on visual content marketing have shown that articles with images get 94 per cent more total views.
The summer months often see the workplace a little quieter than usual. Half the office are away on holiday, relaxing on a beach or by a pool somewhere exotic. Decision makers are also likely to be taking some time away from their businesses.
And while a summer break gives us that much needed time to relax, it’s also a great time to get inspired. A little time out allows you to come back feeling reflective, reinvigorated and ready to tackle the problems you left behind - like growing your business.
Generating leads and expanding your customer base isn’t easy. But if you’ve been struggling with business growth and haven’t yet experimented with any of these tried and tested marketing strategies, this summer might just be the ideal time to dive in.
Anyone who is involved in any way with marketing is likely to have heard of the Boston Matrix, and even Joe Public has probably come across the term 'cash cows'.
Possibly one of the most well-known marketing models, The Boston Matrix was created by Bruce D. Henderson for the Boston Consulting Group in 1970 to help corporations analyse their product lines.
Also known as the Growth-Share Matrix, it categorises a portfolio of products in a way that helps strategic decision making. Typically it is used to make hard decisions about investment – which products/services to drop and which to invest in to achieve maximum growth.
It’s not uncommon for marketers to shy away from creating case studies.
Customers are often reticent about publishing those telling numbers and details and, more importantly, revealing their secrets to competitors.
Or perhaps, like many, you underestimate the impressiveness of your results and success.
In this post, we'll address each of those challenges, but not before we touch on some of the most vital features of a case study.
Case studies can be important content marketing tools. There is ample reason for considering them as a part of your strategy. So let's dive straight in; here's how you can craft a winning and most a crucially, a converting case study.
Demand Gen Report recently published the results of their B2B Buyers Survey 2018, their seventh annual survey on buyers’ purchasing behaviours. This year they polled 259 executives in a variety of industries, including High Tech (31%), Manufacturing (19%) and Professional Services (14%).
B2B buyer behaviour has evolved considerably since the first survey was launched in 2012. While B2B buying has often been synonymous with a long-term research process and a complex eco-system of decision-makers, buyer behaviour has expanded in a number of ways.
Here is our take on the four biggest marketing insights from this year’s survey.
More than 87 per cent of online marketers now use video content. And on Facebook, video is the top performing content type - over 100 million hours of video are watched on Facebook every day.
So what can your business do to improve your video marketing metrics on Facebook?
Facebook controls what people see on their newsfeed using algorithms that predict their interests.
The way that Facebook ranks video was updated earlier this year. Video content that gets sought out and returned to by viewers is now ranked favourably. Additionally, social media video that has visibly inspired interaction and conversation is given greater prominence.
Where do B2B marketers start with voice searches?
As individuals, AI assistants and smart speakers such as Alexa and Siri are now a familiar partner in many peoples' everyday search for answers, solutions and content.
But since they’re usually more closely associated with B2C brands, do B2B marketers really need to worry?
Consider how many people are using social media on a daily basis - it’s such a staple in modern living. Marketers can take full advantage of this audience by providing video content that resonates with them.
When you’re ready to embark on a video marketing campaign, you will need to write a script and formulate a plan as to how and where you will share your content.
One of the most common questions to arise in any video creation process is this: just how long should the video be?
Growing a business can be hard, but it’s the only way to survive in today’s competitive market.
Even if rapid growth is not your goal, you will still lose customers over time – so you will have to maintain your marketing momentum month by month.
So what’s the best way to grow your business?
Let’s start with a reversal exercise – what would you need to do to ensure you didn’t grow – or worse, lost business?
Think for a moment.
What steps would you take, or not take, to ensure your business shrank?
Google is notoriously tight-lipped about its ranking factors, and that doesn't look set to change in 2018.
It’s no secret that SEOers base their entire careers on educated guesses, experimentation and speculation.
Will Google ever disclose their algorithms? Who knows.
Will you ever reach page one? With hard work and perseverance, yes.
It's not always easy to predict the future, but it's worth a shot. Video marketing is ever on the rise. In one survey, 64 percent of marketers admitted that video is set to dominate their content marketing strategy.
Video marketing is a venture with high ROI and buckets of creative potential.
In this blog, we will have a look at some of the most alluring new trends when it comes to video marketing.
Topic clusters are an essential content strategy tool to help you simplify your content creation and concentrate your efforts around the manufacturing subjects that matter most to your customers.
In this blog post, we explore how topic clusters work, why they’re so useful for your content strategy and how you can go about creating them.
You might be missing out on an easy opportunity to improve your company’s website performance: image optimisation.
Google recommends image optimisation as one of the top three fixes for slow page load time. Images make a staggering difference and often account for most of the bytes downloaded on a page.
Removing images from your site isn’t viable, but reducing their weight is.
Kaizen is achieving continuous improvement through the application of small, ongoing positive changes - continually improving your business, your processes and your ways of working - one bit at a time.
No matter what industry you’re in, continuous improvement is vital if you want to stay ahead of the game. No company survives in the long-term by sticking to the status quo.
For those that really get inbound marketing, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that your inbound marketing methodology needs to be a process continual improvement.
The rising popularity of mobile devices has changed the way consumers search for information online, and marketers are already adapting their search engine optimisation tactics in response.
In 2018, SEO needs to consider the prominence of AI-powered voice search too.
According to Google, 1 out of 5 searches come from voice queries. 50 percent of smartphone users use voice technology on their device, and 33 percent use it daily.
Email was the pinnacle of nineties marketing. Transforming mass communication when it became free and available to all, email revolutionised how we reach our customers.
Nowadays, we have access to free social media, targeted banner advertising, Google ads, pay-per-click. You get the picture.
Despite the huge variation in companies, their people, products and services, almost all go through five phases of growth, facing four crises along the way, as depicted in a classic model – the Greiner Model of Growth.
It was back in 1972 that Larry Greiner of the Harvard Business School published a paper;‘Evolution and Revolution as Organisations Grow’. The original model proposed five phases of growth with a crisis at the end of each phase triggering the jump into the next.
A conversion is the process of changing or causing something to change from one form to another.
More specifically, in inbound marketing, a conversion describes the point at which a stranger on your website becomes a lead or a paying customer.
Conversion paths are therefore a critical component in the nurturing process, and failing to produce a tailored and effective conversion strategy could be to the detriment of your business growth.
To avoid losing out on high-quality conversion opportunities, you'll need call-to-actions (CTAs) that your visitors respond positively to, all of which are underpinned by strategic conversion paths.
Traditionally there are three resources that are generally considered essential to fast growth: access to finance, access to human resources and access to the market. Or in simpler terms:
As this is primarily a blog about marketing and not finance, I’m going to talk mostly about the last two of these, but be in no doubt that the first – access to finance – is fundamental to growth.
Without the money in place, you cannot invest in people or pay for marketing to gain customers. In fact, all three are intrinsically linked; the right people can help you get the finance, and deliver the marketing you need to reach customers. Attracting customers helps you with the money.
All three resources have to be present at the same time for a high growth strategy.
From navigation apps to personal assistants and chatbots - AI is here to stay. The artificial intelligence industry is booming - it has a predicted value of near $60 billion by 2025 and plays a role in software development that is nigh impossible to ignore.
It’s no surprise that savvy marketers are harnessing AI’s potential to improve their marketing metrics and hit vital business targets.
There is cut-throat competition for online attention, and high quality written content is a beacon for your company website. Here are some simple ways that artificial intelligence tools can help improve your blog posts.
For the vast majority of people in the world, social media is an everyday part of their lives.
Here in the UK, 66% of the population are active on social media; in January 2018 that was 44 million people.
And, that figure is still rising, and is up 5% on the previous year.
We all know what a major part the big social apps such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and LinkedIn play in many people’s personal and private lives – the average time spent on social in January 2018 was nearly two hours a day.
It seems that every company has a blog these days. B2B businesses are even more likely to have a blog than B2C companies. In fact, the latest CMI report revealed that 79% of B2B marketers are now blogging.
There’s no escaping the fact that to keep pace and remain competitive, you need to be regularly creating content.
But in such a crowded online marketplace, how do you ensure your B2B blog gets heard above the noise?
Today, images are a priority when it comes to bulletproof content marketing strategies. Visual content tends to generate more engagement than written content - partially because pictures are so memorable, easy to consume and easy to share. They are perfect for sharing a message that sticks.
A poorly devised SEO strategy ahead of a site migration is a recipe for disaster. A site migration in itself can be an extremely onerous task; one that requires considerable planning, consultation and attention to detail. But when SEO is treated as an afterthought, your search engine visibility will be compromised.
Given the right execution strategy, it can happen smoothly, efficiently, and can preserve all that hard-earned SEO.
Generating quality content, actively promoting it and keeping those creative juices flowing can be a challenge at the best of times.
The great news though is that your blogging strategy needn't feel like a chore if you keep a few simple and practical content creation ideas in mind.
Here are 12 strategies to help you produce relevant and engaging blog content that will delight your manufacturing prospects and keep them coming back for more
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Call-to-actions (CTAS) are the smallest nuggets of copy on your web page, with arguably, the biggest job.
We could be talking as little as two words. However, two words that are the difference between a visitor converting to a lead or bouncing off the page. It's for that reason they demand so much time, effort and research to develop.
There's a common misconception that writing microcopy is 'easy' because it's so short. However, having fewer words and space means there's even less room for error. Conversions can hang on as little as one word or colour; get it wrong, and you risk losing leads.
When it comes to developing a strategy for growing a business, we still refer to a model that is over sixty years old. It’s a testament to its worth that the basics have stood the test of time.
Developed in 1957 by Igor Ansoff (known as the father of strategic management), the Ansoff Matrix looks at two possible directions for growth strategy – products and markets.
Although the model traditionally speaks of products, you can substitute services for products and it works equally well. It’s also a model that is relevant to both B2C and B2B.
As well as the four possible strategies, the matrix also suggests a risk factor, with the top left being the least risky strategy and bottom right – diversification – being the riskiest.
Sourcing and cropping a powerful image for your B2B marketing blog is often one of the most impactful optimisation steps. Fortunately, you don’t need a fancy editing program or an art degree to do so.
Here are some basic instructions for cropping a picture, for free, on any platform:
Throughout my career in marketing, one common obstacle has always remained. Getting Sales to buy-in to and use the company CRM (customer relationship management) system of choice.
In the early days of the internet (yes, I remember them), CRM systems were cumbersome, time-consuming and unintuitive to use. Salespeople were field-based, and spent their days clocking up mileage visiting potential customers. Admin was seen as a frustrating waste of time that they could be spending on generating commission.
Times have thankfully changed, and CRM systems are no longer (or shouldn't be) a big messy anxiety-inducing database. A good CRM system should help you manage relationships and sell more efficiently.
It should be your sales people's secret weapon.
An effective lead generation strategy is a culmination of approaches that when combined, enhance your reputation, increase website traffic, and as a result, attract a steady stream of qualified leads. There are individual strategies that will enhance your overall approach, but what it really requires is a holistic effort.
At the heart of a successful strategy for blogging for manufacturing is the ability to be able to write about often highly technical subjects in a way that communicates your expertise, but that remains fresh, accessible and enjoyable to read.
A key element of this process is to agree on a clear and consistent ‘tone of voice’ for your company or brand.
But what exactly is your tone of voice?
And how can it help you to engage with your audience, increase rapport and better tell your story?
This might not be the first time you’ve heard of 'ABM' (accounts based marketing).
Previously known as ‘key accounts marketing,’ ABM assumes that B2B buying decisions are down to a group of people, rather than an individual.
Therefore, as opposed to using broad, traditional marketing techniques, it relies on a close alignment between sales and marketing to identify key influencers and decision makers within a business, supplying them with personalised, relevant, and compelling content.
The sheer volume of images available online can be overwhelming - especially when you know there is such great impetus placed on the use of visual media in B2B marketing content.
Sourcing powerful imagery sympathetic to your brand and content is a crucial part of the blog writing process. The tone of your blog can be dramatically swayed by the image you pair your writing with. Your choice affects numerous things, from click-rate, to audience comprehension and, ultimately, conversion.
If you’ve been involved in a website redesign before, you may not have fully enjoyed the process. Did it take longer to launch than anticipated? Was it over budget? Maybe there was a significant up-front cost?
These are common pain points.
But what if you could take away the pain of traditional web builds?
What if there was a faster, more agile process that would produce better results and ROI?
Well, good news - there is. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s called Growth-Driven Design.
The deadline is imminent, and by now, most organisations should have their houses in order when it comes to GDPR.
It’s likely you’ve recently received a flurry of "can we still contact you" emails from B2C companies that you’ve previously bought from, or shown some interest in. You may have even heard of some companies deleting all their contacts in a fit of panic, fearful of falling foul of the new compliance measures. When it comes to B2B marketers, many are taking a more systematic and considered approach to how they use and handle data sensibly.
And 6 in 10 say their efforts are more successful than they were a year ago.
This has important implications: with more businesses creating content, it’s a crowded space, and your content needs to cut through the noise.
Maybe you’ve started blogging, have created a few eBooks, and shared an infographic or two on social media.
While these can be extremely effective, there are a large number of other formats you can add to your content marketing arsenal.
So what content marketing formats should you be including in your mix this year?
Changes in customer behaviour are widening the gap between buyers’ expectations and sellers’ tactics. it is well versed that today's buyers would rather conduct their own research online than pick up the phone to Sales.
In response to this savvy marketers are driving traffic to their websites through inbound marketing methods; generating organic traffic and using topics and keywords to boost search engine rankings.
But marketers are also spending budget on advertising.
The Advertising Association is projecting that total UK advertising spend in 2018 will grow 2.8% to £22.7bn. The report also revealed that almost one in four pounds spent on advertising in the third quarter of 2017 went to mobile, which recorded year-on-year growth of 30.7%.
Marketing success today, rightly or wrongly, is often determined by your visibility in search engines, and the biggest by far is Google.
Your business could live or die depending on your search results. So getting your SEO right, and ensuring that your buyers find you when they are looking is crucial to success.
But while your competitors are also employing their SEO techniques to lead to their content, what can you do to get ahead in the SEO arms race?
One way is through Google’s rich results, previously known under various names – rich snippets, rich cards or enriched results, Google has now tied them down and called them rich results. But what are they? And how can they help a B2B business?
Directly after clicking a call-to-action, customers are swept away to a landing page tailored specifically to address their concerns. A fully optimised landing page helps prospective customers access the information they need in exchange for valuable contact information.
At this young stage of your lead generation, video is particularly powerful.
Active leads may have first encountered your CTA via email, a blog post, sidebar, pay-per-click campaign or social media. However it happened, they have shown a vested interest in a specific recommendation you made, and are now on a quest for further details.
Landing page video is an inventive way to deliver useful information about your offer.
The software as a service (SaaS) industry is one of the most lucrative niches on the market. Inherently scalable and profitable, it’s expected to surpass $112.8 billion by 2019.
But if you're in the business of selling software as a service, you’ll know that standing out is now more of a challenge than ever.
And, unlike many other industries, if a software company grows at only 20%, it has 92% chance of ceasing to exist within a few years according to McKinsey.
So, listen up, because getting this right is important.
Inbound and content marketing are often favoured by SaaS companies because they are conducive to B2B buying habits.
Research is regularly hailed as one of the most effective forms of content. Why? Because it encapsulates the very essence of thought leadership.
If you think about it, what better way is there to position your company as a voice of authority in your field than by sharing new insights on industry trends?
But carrying out your own research is an investment that can require a significant amount of time and attention. Perhaps that’s why just 49 per cent of B2B marketers are creating research as part of their content marketing strategy.
However, it’s not as difficult or demanding as you might think.
And research that delivers useful, relevant and interesting insights for your target buyers can be repurposed into multiple pieces of powerful content, making it the gift that keeps on giving.
Great SEO copywriting is the key to thriving online.
But one of the biggest challenges for SEO copywriters is creating content that is favoured by online searchers and search engines.
The job of an SEO copywriter has demanded a variety of disciplines in previous years. Now, it's not enough to write for algorithms. You must write for people first.
This means your writing must speak to your audience's needs and desires, while, at the same time, targeting specific keywords and following SEO best practices.
Trade shows and exhibitions have long been a mainstay in traditional marketing. The word “exhibition” originates as early as 1649. It is a derivative of the Latin word "expositio", meaning "displaying" or "putting on a show" (Morrow, Sandra L.)
Despite advancements in technology and the internet changing the way customers buy, B2B trade shows remain an important part of the inbound marketing mix. But like all other marketing activities, they are only effective if they are properly planned and executed as a part of your overall inbound marketing strategy.
In reality, your buyers do not need to attend a trade show to learn about your products anymore, they can visit your website, social channels or read online reviews.
In the age of inbound marketing, blogging is the number one B2B marketing tactic. It helps B2B companies increase awareness, credibility, SEO rankings and leads.
But it’s not easy. To really make the most of your blogging efforts, you need to be publishing at least one blog post a week. And with a mountain of things on your to-do list all vying for attention, it can be difficult to find the time to dedicate to it.
This is why things like writer's block can be incredibly frustrating. You need to get another blog post out there but for some reason, you’re just unable get started, or reach the point where you’re happy to hit the publish button.
So, next time you find yourself facing writer's block, take inspiration from some of these tips to beat it.
Social media continues to be a driving force for marketing success.
And, thanks to its creative potential and ability to drive conversions, an increasing number of businesses are turning to video to fill their content marketing toolkit. Video is a highly desirable asset. According to HubSpot, the use of video increases share rates 10 times on social media.
If you are engaged in a video marketing campaign you may be wondering what type of video content performs best on social channels.
Here are 6 video formats that inbound marketers can fold into their social media marketing strategy.
SaaS products are conceived, programmed and built to provide a solution to a problem. A concept which also happens to permeate the entire inbound philosophy.
It’s for this reason that an inbound strategy lends itself so well to SaaS marketing. But for SaaS buyers in particular, the relationship with their vendors can be very sensitive.
A SaaS inbound strategy demands a high level of skill, education and consideration to devise the most successful approach. Each stage of the buyer’s journey is as crucial as the last, and there is no time for complacency in such a disruptive and competitive landscape.
So, it’s only natural that in the commotion of trying to cover all bases and get everything right, sometimes things go very wrong.
Customers often opt to watch videos online rather than spend their time wading through written content. That said, the use of text can contribute hugely to the performance of marketing videos.
Your videos need more than stunning visuals. They also need carefully crafted text to keep your viewer engaged.
According to this report on the use of video in social media, 39 percent of consumers are more likely to finish a video when it includes text. Used effectively, it will reinforce your point and help viewers recall more of the information you have shared with them.
Text can be introduced in the form of overlays, descriptions and titles. It can be highly stylised and immensely helpful. A sprinkling of captions will give context to your video and add detail to your story without detracting from the main message.
Here's how to get the best results from your video marketing campaign by using text in your videos.
So what exactly is content marketing? And how can you use it to build your brand, nurture relationships with your prospects and convert those leads into customers?
If you’re using an inbound methodology you may have all the right strategies in place to get your buyer personas to your website. You might be using the right keywords, blogging regularly, and promoting your content on social media.
But how good a job is your homepage doing to convince your prospects that they’ve come to the right place?
Laura Ramos of Forrester once said, “Business buyers don’t buy into your product; they buy into your approach to solving their problems.”
And that is a stark truism in the technology space.
By producing content that is well-curated, well-researched and built around your buyer personas’ most pressing problems, you align your lead generation to your content marketing efforts. And in the process, position yourself as a thought leader.
It’s nearly impossible to ignore the rise of video marketing.
However, you may not be lucky enough to have the talent (or equipment) in-house to produce video content that lives up to the mark. This is where a video marketing agency - or inbound marketing agency with specialist video experience - can help.
In video production finding the right team is half the battle. You want to be selective with your recruitment process, because successful brand videos require a high level of skill to produce.
Choosing a partner you can trust makes collaboration and communication easier at every stage. A video marketing agency with a strong company culture should be able to give you an immediate sense of who they are and how they work.
Marketing of professional services differs from most marketing in a few fundamental ways. What they are, and how you can overcome them in a digital world is the focus of this article.
The biggest difference between professional services marketing and other marketing is the lack of a physical product. This is a key stumbling block for most professional services companies. After all, in order to sell something, you have to have something to sell.
It can be a challenge to deliver quality content across multiple social media channels consistently.
Your business can use video to bring a little variation to your social media marketing calendar. Visuals have been shown to reinforce marketing messages, which is no surprise considering 65 percent of us are visual learners.
Video is no longer optional: 87 percent of online marketers use video content and this trend is set to continue. Experts have predicted that video will account for 80 percent of online traffic by 2019.
Here are 8 undeniable reasons why you should be using video in your B2B social media campaigns.
While manufacturers are often pioneers when it comes to production, supply chain management, and new product development, many are laggards when it comes to marketing.
With the rise of the internet, global competition and technological advancements changing the way in which customers purchase goods and services, denial is no longer an option and those companies not willing to ditch the old school marketing methods risk getting left behind.
Manufacturing companies that have embraced inbound marketing are reaping the rewards. Here are some reasons why inbound and manufacturing are a good fit.
The troubling reality for today’s support teams is that customers are demanding faster, higher quality resolutions by the day - and for some businesses, this is becoming increasingly difficult to deliver. Research shared in this report demonstrates how teams are being asked to up the ante with outdated resources and limited time.
This can be problematic for businesses that rely on repeat business and customer retention, for example in the SaaS sector - particularly if they have a small party dedicated to customer support.
OK, so you’ve spent precious hours creating a rich resource of remarkable content for your manufacturing prospects.
But are you missing a crucial piece of the puzzle? These days it’s simply not enough to assume that, in amassing this wealth of fresh and high quality content, it will automatically find its way to your target audience.
In order to ensure that your content is seen by the right people, and as many of the right people as possible. you’ve also got to have a dedicated and consistent strategy for promoting it.
A blog is fundamental to a successful inbound marketing strategy. But eBooks are the next part of the process - they are an excellent way to turn visitors into leads.
Research by the CMI consistently shows eBooks to be one of the most effective forms of content. And the bonus? They’re relatively inexpensive to produce.
Social listening is the act of analysing conversations that take place on social platforms involving a specific brand or industry.
Not to be confused with social media monitoring, social listening allows brands to hone in on their target audience’s most common frustrations, challenges and values, extracting key insights that help design a more appealing content offering.
Perfectly described by Dan Neely, CEO of Networked Insights, “Monitoring sees trees; listening sees the forest.”
Every piece of content you create is a gateway to conversion, and the best way to prompt viewers to engage with your company and move along the buyer journey is a clear and strong call to action. You can do this with b2b web video.As part of your video marketing strategy, you will have outlined a purpose for your video. There is a specific action you hope viewers will undertake after your closing scene. Including a CTA will highlight this.
Whether you intend to drive visitors to your website, share a brand message, increase subscriptions or prompt your audience to get in touch – your video call to action is the trigger.
To succeed at inbound marketing you need a constant stream of fresh content. And those who write content as part of their job will tell you the challenges they face continually coming up with new ideas, or angles to take.
But what if the answers are already in your content library, you're just not looking in the right places?
Repurposing content means reusing your existing content in a different way.
Here are some ideas.
Turning your old posts into video blogs, or as they’re more commonly known, ‘vlogs’ are an informal, conversational way to get your message across to potential customers.
Most businesses now appreciate the importance of social media to promote content and to create engagement.
However, many take a reactive stance, just publishing content and then responding to any engagement that occurs.But what if you want to go further than this?
Then you need to consider the many benefits of social monitoring and social listening.
Traffic and leads. The two are intrinsically linked. You can’t generate leads without traffic. And traffic means nothing if you can’t convert visitors to leads.
But just one in five companies are satisfied with their conversions, according to Hubspot.
If your company is invested in inbound marketing, optimising your website to maximise conversions should be a necessity. But with conversion rate optimisation such a changing landscape, what are the best practices you should be embracing in 2018?
Here are our top tips for increasing your conversions this year.
Personalisation is no longer a novelty - it’s expected. But how can B2B companies use personalisation to convert visitors to leads when at this stage, they know little about them?
The way that we search online is evolving. And for many manufacturers, there's a growing realisation that the traditional, keyword-centric, SEO methods that we’ve typically used to drive our content creation efforts may not be delivering the same results that they once did.
So what’s changed? One answer lies in the intent of our online search queries.
When we ask a search engine a question we’re looking to solve a problem. But these days we’re also being increasingly more specific about what it is we want to know.
A sales funnel is a visualisation of how many leads you need to convert into business. It helps you to look for areas of improvement in your sales process, forecast future production / resource requirements and ensure Sales are focusing their efforts on the right type of leads.
The first step in creating a sales funnel is to set a quantifiable goal, this will be based on the number of sales you need to achieve in a given period. Then work backwards through each step of your sales process and work out your conversion rate at each stage.
Working backwards from your sales goal, and factoring in your conversion rates enables you to estimate how many leads are required to generate the sales you need.
SEO can be a tricky discipline to master. It’s continually evolving, and what works for one business could have the opposite effect on another.
“Build content for algorithms, but also for people.”
“Make sure you use keywords, but not too many!”
Alt-tags, metadata and topic clusters - it can be a minefield.
And then, there’s the on-page, off-page conundrum. What’s the difference? And what should you be doing to make sure you have both of these covered?
Preparation is the key to success for any mission, and it won’t surprise you to read that this rings true for video marketing campaigns. Writing a video script is one of the best ways to clarify objectives and define your core message.
Video marketing scripts cement focal points, highlight project requirements and provide the entire video production team with something substantial to refer to.
If you are ready to knuckle down and start writing your script, here are some helpful video script goals to consider:
Before the digital age, it was tough to get an idea of what your competitors were up to. You might be able to glean some facts from their brochures, press releases, seminars, shareholder briefings, or by posing as a customer and get a handle on their pricing structure.
But if a company played its cards close to its chest, then their marketing strategy, strengths and weaknesses and business intentions would have been hard to fathom. This often meant that you could find yourself rapidly outmanoeuvred by their product launches and better pricing.
Planning your marketing strategy when you don’t have all the facts is, at best risky, and at worst disastrous.
Video content has the power to be one of the best assets on your website.
From new product demonstrations to animated explainer videos, facility tours or customer testimonials, it’s a vibrant and engaging form of content that can enhance the customer experience, build brand awareness, encourage retention and generate leads.
People follow businesses on Instagram to get a behind-the-scenes look at what they are up to. They want to be shown your products, but also want a glimpse into everyday life.
If you want to use Instagram for business but are unsure how to get the most from the channel here are some tips.
With all this talk of using video, podcasts, and even voice interfaces like Alexa for content marketing, blogging may seem like an old idea.
But we haven’t reached the demise of the written word just yet. Blogging is very much alive and kicking in B2B marketing. And for a professional services company, a blog is one of the most valuable assets your website can have.
The more you blog, the more chances you have of capturing the attention of your buyer personas. But maintaining a healthy blog pipeline can be challenging. How can you consistently come up with interesting and relevant blog posts that will attract (and maintain) the attention of your prospects?
High-quality onboarding has been proven to improve renewal rates for businesses. This is particularly true for the SaaS industry, as well as companies that sell complicated (or hard to use) products.
Customers who have been educated on how best to use their product are far more likely to enjoy success with it. To your customer, success equals value - and value inspires repeat business. This is why a better onboarding process is likely to lead to lower churn rates.
Efficient onboarding also drives conversion rates up by reassuring potential customers that you really care about their experience. So it makes good sense to perfect the process.
97 percent of marketers say video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service. Sharing a classic onboarding video is one simple and effective way to introduce new users to key product features, benefits, tips and tricks.
In an age of content fatigue, we’re becoming less tolerant of intrusive and interruptive marketing.
Cold calls, spam emails and TV ads can all be blocked at the click of a button, and the power is truly back in the hands of the consumer.
When we have a problem or a question, we set up our chosen device and begin the quest for content.
We flick from article to article, blog to blog, white paper to ebook, trying to find the answer we’re looking for.
We choose where to go next, and who to give our precious information to in exchange for more content. We're completely in control.
UX or User Experience is a crucial factor in the success or failure of your marketing efforts. But what is it? Why is it important? Why can you not afford to ignore it? Let’s start with an analogy, or two.
Suppose you were walking down the high street and you came across a shop selling something you were interested in, but for some strange reason they had a four-foot wall across their doorway.
A few doors along is another shop with what you need in it with an open doorway. Which do you choose?
Or imagine you wanted to buy a coffee, but you had to fill in a long form before you could get served? Would you stay, or would you more than likely go somewhere else?
It is well documented that B2B Sales is changing. Buyers are more educated, not only about your products but also your competitors. They no longer need a salesperson to help them make informed decisions.
If you follow an inbound marketing approach, your sales team have access to information such as: which web pages prospects have viewed and what content they downloaded. This can tell you their life cycle stage and which of your buyer personas they identify with. The lead may have also been nurtured through workflows, at each step attracting negative or positive scoring which helps generate marketing qualified leads (MQL) that are ready for Sales qualification.
The role of Sales now is more advisory, and salespeople need to be cognisant of all the information the buyer has accessed, and adapt their approach accordingly.
Before you can expect to win the business of a prospective customer, you will need to prove your product or service can deliver on its promises. One of the most convincing ways to do so is a compelling case study.
A case study is more detailed and data-driven than a customer testimonial. Testimonials empower your customer to share their feelings and offer sincere praise, but a case study can more comfortably house the body of evidence surrounding your success story.
Social is something of an anomaly in that it is one of the few marketing tools that embraces both our personal and business lives. This could lull you into a false sense of knowledge and security by assuming your staff know how to ‘do social’, and therefore no formal social media training is required.
However, B2B social is very different to your personal social. And in an increasingly overcrowded space having a clear social strategy is crucial. Without a clear strategy, how can you measure your outcomes? And without formal social media training, how do your staff know how to behave?
Here is a guide to training your staff to use social media for business.
Making the switch from traditional marketing methods to an inbound marketing approach isn’t easy. There is a lot of work that needs to happen upfront to build your inbound strategy so you get the most from your investment.As with any major organisational change or adoption of new ways of working, it’s always worthwhile going back to basics: your brand.
The best brands represent everything the company stands for. Your brand is central to your value proposition. And to differentiate yourself from competitors, you need to build a strong consensus around your brand expression.
Like them, or loathe them, what you can no longer do is ignore them. Messenger apps offer a real opportunity in B2B marketing and are an essential consideration as part of your overall inbound marketing strategy.
Figures show that the growth in popularity and use of messenger apps has been huge in the past few years.
The top four messaging apps (Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and Viber) now have more monthly users than the top four social networking apps (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+).
Video content has become an essential tool in every inbound marketer’s toolkit.
Yet when you’re distributing video on social media, you can’t get away with a catch-all approach. Social media platforms have unique personalities and user-bases, which should be reflected in your marketing tactics.
Cornerstone content is high-value, next-step content that is core to your industrial marketing goals, that establishes your authority within your industry, and that acts as a foundation for your brand.
Case studies are just one way to create compelling cornerstone content for your manufacturing company that can help you to earn trust, to generate new leads and to communicate to your prospects the value and usefulness of your product or service.
You'll likely know by now that inbound marketing comes down to four principles: attract, convert, close, delight.
It sounds simple, but unlike outbound marketing, inbound is a consistent process. It’s ongoing. It takes persistent planning, research, dedication and patience.
The decision to move to inbound selling should be a considered one. It takes time, patience and expertise to build an effective and successful inbound strategy. But it's results driven, and inbound marketers need access to tangible and measurable results to prove their efforts are worthwhile.
Luckily, there are a plethora of online tools available to streamline, smarten, and optimise your inbound delivery tenfold.
A comprehensive study by Edelman in association with LinkedIn has revealed the importance of thought leadership to B2B demand generation.
The research discovered that it actually has an impact on every stage of the buying process.
Significantly, they also found that creating poor thought leadership content has a negative impact.
What defines thought leadership content?
It’s generally considered to be writing about the bigger issues facing your audience. It could be forward-looking, or research-based. It looks beyond the day-to-day issues and considers the impact of the longer term, or the wider environment.
As the popularity of inbound marketing soars so does the competition for audience. In a crowded marketplace, it is getting harder to stand out, and it seems every month a new marketing tool or platform is being launched.
One platform that is rising in the ranks is Instagram.
It is quite staggering to think that in 2012, Instagram had 50 million monthly active users. Now, it has 700 million.
That’s an increase of 1,400% in just five years.
Why? Because it is visual. Language barriers are not an issue. Facebook owns it - and they know a thing or two about social, and it is almost exclusively a mobile platform.
The internet is full of blog posts and articles suggesting the ‘perfect’ blog length and frequency; ‘To reach number one on Google, you should post X times a month’, ‘The most read blog posts are XXXX words long.’
Creating evergreen content is a proven strategy for upping your search rankings and driving traffic to your site. But what exactly is it? Why is it so useful? And how do we go about creating it?
In this blog post we explore what makes certain content “evergreen”, why it’s so worthwhile, what differentiates it from other types of online content and how we can harness its benefits for our content writing efforts.
What makes content evergreen?
Evergreen content, as its name suggests, is any form of online content that is long-lasting (eternal or sustainable,) that is not time-sensitive, that offers tangible value and that addresses the needs of your audience.
Four times as many people would rather watch a video explaining the benefits of a product than read about them. So, what better way to share detailed technical information than by making a dazzling product demo video?
Influential product demos explore a typical experience of a buyer's problem, then break down the ways your business could assist them.
Your prospects should learn things from your video marketing that they can’t find during a cursory online search: it’s time to get specific about your commodity and how it thrashes the competition.
Here's how to do it.
So many posts this time of year talk about all those things you should be doing in 2018, with many of those being fairly obvious, or a continuation of what you are doing already. So I thought I’d take a look at some B2B marketing things you should stop doing in 2018.
A few years ago, content was all about posting as often as you could, anywhere you could. Many inbound marketing advocates pointed to data that showed the more you posted, the more traffic you would get and therefore more leads. One of the key statistics came from HubSpot; “B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month got about 1.75X as many leads as those blogging 6 - 10 times per month, and about 3.75X as many leads as those blogging 0 - 3 times per month.” B2B companies rushed to get out content, commissioning it if necessary from all sorts of sources.
As content marketers, we’re getting better at measuring the effectiveness of our content.
57 per cent of bloggers now say they ‘usually’ or ‘always’ check their analytics, according to research by Orbit Media Studios.
But not all data is good data.
Ever heard the term 'vanity metrics'? Using them is easy, but determining their value to your business can be difficult.
In this blog post, we explain what vanity metrics are, and how you can make them more meaningful.
PDF as a format surfaced in the early 1990’s as a solution to a common problem. At the time there were so many computer programmes that you could use for creating documents and each of these used its own, proprietary format. This created problems when sending and receiving documents. Even if you had the same programme available, you might not see the images correctly (they may have been linked to files you didn’t have) and without the same fonts, the whole look of the document would change. If you wanted the receiver to see the document as it was originally created, often the only recourse was to print it out and send it by courier or post.
Inbound marketing relies on a steady stream of original content. But, just publishing content on your website, no matter how remarkable it is, and expecting it to get found is not an option.
‘Content shock’ is real. We are reaching a point where the volume of online content is outweighing our human capacity to consume it.
Before you put pen to paper, you need to define your B2B content distribution strategy. Here are some tips for setting out a content distribution strategy.
But, if you're chomping at the bit to get started with creating your own, this one might be for you.
So, creating your first pillar page - where do you start?
Well, it’s not as daunting as you might think.
Yes, it takes extensive planning and naturally, an investment of time. But in essence, pillar pages are quite self-explanatory. You choose your pillar topic, and with diligent research and planning, define all of the supporting topics, links and resources that bolster this content and ultimately, your site's architecture.
May 2017 marked my first foray into the exciting and challenging world of inbound marketing. I arrived with a background in journalism, creative writing and PR - but pretty much green to the world of inbound and excited to learn everything I could.
Suffice it to say, its been an incredible few months of listening, learning, reading (and reading) and immersing myself in a vast array of new topics.
On the one hand, marketing seems so much has changed since my first foray back in the 90s in New Zealand - and yet at its heart so much is still the same, with the time-honoured focus on building positive relationships and the solid value of providing audiences with “what they really want.”
This blog post summarises five key new topics that have particularly struck a chord over the past few months - and that look to be just as hot for inbound in 2018.
With massive thanks too, to the Equinet Content Team for their combined wealth of resources on the subjects.
For the past four years, Orbit Media Studios have been compiling statistics on B2B blogging trends. This year's findings make very interesting reading indeed:
Let's look at each of these in turn.
The way we search online is becoming more nebulous and ambiguous. Voice searches, conversational language and typos are now the norm, but users still expect Google to quickly organise and list the most accurate, helpful and contextually relevant content.
As a result, search engine algorithms are adapting.
Google now favours topic-based content, which is why marketers and SEO experts have responded with a clear cut, definitive approach: pillar pages.
Customer testimonials are frequently used by marketers to build trust and increase conversion rates, yet they don’t necessarily have to be delivered in the traditional written format.
Video customer testimonials are often much better received than their text-based counterparts. It has been stated that enjoyment of a video can increase a customer's purchase intent by 97 percent. And web pages that display video show superior time-spent-on-page metrics.
Buyer personas are known to inspect reviews before making any important purchase decision, and testimonials are particularly influential for those teetering on the edge of conversion, which is why customer testimonial videos are perfect for the consideration stage of the inbound sales funnel.
The best testimonials are credible, compelling accounts of a personal experience that somebody has had with your product or service.
Essentially, they tell a customer's buyer journey story, followed by company branding and a call to action.
More and more companies are moving from traditional marketing methods to an inbound marketing approach.
And those short on time or lacking internal resource or expertise are looking to external agencies for help.
Sure you expect an agency to deliver great results, but you also have a vital role to play in achieving this.
So if you’re considering hiring an inbound agency, here are our top tips for making the most of your partnership.
You may have come across the two ways of pointing to a web page when designing your website or blog, but what are the differences, and why should you care?
Well basically, the main reason you should care is because getting it wrong may well affect your search engine ranking and therefore your customer’s ability to find you – which is pretty important.
What is a URL?
Let’s start at the beginning; URL stands for Uniform Resource Locater and it’s a way of pointing to a file on a computer network, and the way to handle that file. A URL can be used as a reference for web pages (http), file transfer (ftp) email (mailto) and many others.
In your browser you will see the URL in the address bar. The address of the blog on our web site for example is:http://www.equinetmedia.com/blog
This breaks down to a protocol – a way of handling the file: http, a hostname: www.equinetmedia.com and a file name: blog.
This is a basic URL. There are additional components that can be added, but this is the basis for all web addresses.
A thank you page is the web page that your prospects are directed to after they’ve filled out a form on a landing page. But while it’s the final stage of the conversion path it’s no means the end of the story.
At the heart of a thank you page is the simple act of saying “thanks." But beyond that it has the potential to do so much more - in creating a great first impression, enhancing your prospects' experience of your website and building on the trust that they’ve demonstrated in you.
In this blog post we explore the 6 best practices of successful thank you pages that will enable you to further engage with your B2B prospects, improve your conversions and bolster your inbound marketing efforts.
Professional services firms have traditionally relied on referrals to grow their customer base. However, this method curbs your potential reach - your network is limited to your current clients and who they know.
And with 71 percent of B2B buyers starting their search online with no provider in mind, it's no wonder more and more professional services companies are moving to a content marketing approach in a bid to reach a wider audience.
The idea is simple: creating useful, informative and valuable content increases your likelihood of being discovered by potential clients looking for what you do.
But your content needs to be aimed at the right people - your target customers. It needs to attract (and maintain) their attention.
However vital writing B2B content is to your inbound marketing strategy, there are occasions when time is tight, and you could do with a blog that writes itself. Well marketing automation isn’t quite there yet – thank goodness – but here are some ideas for content that are relatively quick to produce, but are still very effective.
Outstanding video marketing campaigns create awareness, drive engagement and influence buyer decisions.
Explainer videos are increasingly becoming the go-to solution for marketers seeking a way to get the best content in front of a company's target audience.
Explainer videos are used to help people better understand your product, vision or service. Often, they include attractive graphics and audio. No matter the lookbook, an explainer video’s main intention is usually to convey your business message in 60 - 90 seconds.
They are one of the most popular formats available for commission by video marketing professionals - and with good reason.
‘Content shock’ is real. And it’s happening faster than we think.
We’re reaching a point where the volume of online content is outweighing our human capacity to consume it. The rate at which content is being produced and published is doubling every nine to 24 months. And as a result, organic visibility is suffering.
So what can you do to future-proof your content?
Marketing is often seen as getting your message out to the maximum number of people, which seems logical. Surely, it follows that the more people you reach, the more prospects you should get, and therefore the more sales you will make?
Certainly in the B2C arena, this strategy can pay dividends with mass market products.
But there are a number of reasons why a different approach needs to be taken for B2B marketing. Products are more niche, so mass broadcast is not practical or cost effective. And the truth is, that in order for many small to mid-sized B2B companies to succeed, they don’t actually need thousands of leads; what they really need is a reasonable number of high value clients.
In a previous post, we discussed whether you should recruit internally or hire an inbound agency partner. If you do decide to go it alone it is likely you are still going to need a content writer. In fact, according to Content Marketing Institute’s (CMIs) research, over half (56 per cent) of B2B companies outsource at least part of their content marketing.
Implementing inbound is time consuming. B2B content writing is time consuming. Without someone dedicated to both, you will end up with excellent content but no marketing activity to share it, or excellent marketing activity but with the same tired, sparse content offers.
Landing pages, when done well, are highly effective conversion tools that enable you to transform your B2B marketing prospects into customers by capturing their information through a lead-capture form.
They are action-oriented, stand-alone web pages that serve a single and highly focused purpose - to move your potential customers through each stage of their buyer’s journey, from the top of the funnel (or the awareness stage) where they may be seeking out information to solve a problem, right through to the bottom of the sales funnel (or the decision stage) where they are ready to “buy.”
Well designed landing pages enable you to segment your prospects, to direct them to a specific product or service and, most crucially of all, to encourage them to take action.
So why are they so pivotal to the success of your inbound marketing strategy? And what are the key attributes of great B2B landing pages?
Crafting beautiful emails full of useful content and calls to action is not enough on its own. If your emails do not get opened, you are wasting your time.
Getting the recipient to make that first click and start reading is the key to a successful B2B inbound email marketing campaign.The surprising reason people open your emails
You might think that the subject line is the main reason people open your emails, and indeed 47% of subscribers say this is the primary reason; however, a much larger percentage – 64% – say that who it is from is the biggest factor.
What this means is that the sender address and branding are very important. Make sure that the sending address includes your web domain so that recipients can recognise it. And as I wrote in an earlier post, make it a real person – research shows that this performs better than a generic email address.
With over a million blog posts written every day, it’s crucial your blogging strategy does nothing but propel you to the front of the crowd.
Silly mistakes can have a negative impact on your online visibility.
If you’re frustrated that your blogging efforts are having little discernible effect on conversion rates, it’s worth checking you haven’t fallen into the trap of committing some of the biggest blogging mistakes.
Video Marketing is a must for SaaS and other cloud-based software companies.
You know it’s time to incorporate video into your content marketing strategy; it has been under your nose for a long time and 87 percent of online marketers are using it already. But what exactly would corporate video look like for you?
Here are some ideas on how SaaS companies can use video marketing to their benefit.
One of the biggest challenges SaaS companies face while making video is taking dry technical content and turn it into something engaging and shareworthy. In a competitive B2B environment it’s necessary to provide solid context and detail.
Despite all the new digital channels, social networks and message systems that have emerged over the past ten years, good old-fashioned B2B email marketing still remains one of the most effective ways of engaging with your buyers, attracting new prospects and retaining customers. As a marketing tool B2B email returns an excellent ROI – which is readily measurable – unlike many other marketing channels. It’s usage is still growing with an estimated 3 billion users worldwide by 2020.
But like so many other things, it only works if it is done well. And with increasing competition within recipient’s inboxes, it increasingly needs to be done very well.
With General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) looming, compliance is also more important than ever.
In this article we look at some essential tips to help you optimise your email marketing, and ensure you are compliant.
You may well have heard of “inbound marketing” and “content marketing”.
But with the two terms so often used interchangeably, you'd be forgiven for not fully understanding what they mean, or the difference between them.
Traditional marketing doesn’t work as well as it used to. As customers, we’ve become good at ignoring a lot of marketing noise. We filter out unwanted spam, we block cold calls, and we skip television ads.
As the marketer, you used to hold all the power. Now, the control is in the hands of your customers.
This power shift is the reason inbound marketing and content marketing are terms you need to get to grips with.
In a previous post, we discussed whether you should recruit internally, or hire an inbound agency to manage your marketing.
But, if you do hire an agency, how do you know they have the right skill sets or are the right fit for you?
In this post, we look at who makes up an inbound marketing agency dream team, and how to spot them.
Attempting any marketing activity without a clear strategy is like watching young children learning to play football. The kids all chase after the ball without thinking about where the game will go next, and adjusting their positions accordingly. They lack the experience to develop a clear strategy and think beyond their next touch.
Social media can play a vital role in marketing for manufacturing, demonstrating your authority within your industry and connecting you with prospects who are looking to buy.
But how can you be sure that you're devoting your company's valuable time and resources to the social media platforms that are going to be the most beneficial for your business?
In this blog post, we debunk five myths that may be standing between you and your B2B social media success.
1) We need to have a presence on ALL social media platforms
Time is precious so don’t waste it focusing your efforts on social media platforms that aren’t connecting with your prospects and bringing you tangible returns. Far better is to find which channels your prospects are active on and focus your efforts on them.
Think about your buyer personas. What are their challenges or pain points? Where do they tend to search for information? And what sources of information are they likely to find most useful? Considering these key questions will help you to position yourself where you can achieve the most engaging presence.
Has your business gotten a taste for video yet? If not, you’ll find yourself at a bit of a disadvantage: 93 percent of marketers are already integrating it into their current content strategy and for a good reason.
Video marketing campaigns can provide your business with better quality reach, greater levels of interaction and heightened ROI. In fact - according to 52 percent of marketers worldwide - video is heralded as the content type that delivers the best return on investment.
When developing and optimising your video content, it pays to remember that no one size fits all. It might be the case that your inbound marketing strategy calls for the production of a bitesize video. Here's a walkthrough.
Just this week Stephen Hawking, warned that Artificial Intelligence could destroy civilisation, and yet it is regularly being touted as a useful technology as far as marketing is concerned. Indeed, it’s possibly the most hyped development within the marketing community at the moment. So what’s going on? What exactly is it? And can it improve B2B marketing?
In common with other new technology terms that become fashionable, artificial intelligence is talked about in many contexts, often applied to products and solutions that display very little intelligence, artificial or otherwise. Nearly half of marketers say artificial intelligence is an overhyped idea/term, according to recent research from Resulticks. And given the very casual way the term has been used, an outsider could be forgiven for struggling to understand the term or what exactly it is. Confusion also arises as the term can be used to describe two distinctly different things:
Technological and social changes have swept old methods of marketing away in every single industry and professional services marketing is no different. If you haven’t reviewed and changed your marketing strategy in the past decade, then you are getting left behind.
In this post, we look at some of the areas where professional services marketing has changed and what you can do to refocus your marketing efforts to remain competitive.
Clients are now savvy, short on time and keen on online tools that can make their working life easier and save them the effort. Your marketing strategy has to reflect this – old ways have changed, gone, and new approaches are the only ones with a chance of success.
Over the last few years, the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMIs) annual report on content marketing trends has become a go-to source for B2B marketers to see how their business is stacking up against others.
Last month saw the release of the eighth annual report. It presents the findings gathered from research with 870 for-profit organisations in North America who primarily sell products or services to businesses.
Here we highlight seven key learnings and what they mean for any business considering, or already engaging in, a content marketing approach.
Whether your intention is to raise awareness of your company, simply convey complex information, or share customer endorsements, visual media will bring your message to life.
This post explores some of the styles that work best for professional services.
Your website is where potential customers flock to find more information about your business and all that it has to offer, and it’s likely your homepage will be their entry point.
If you're in the early days of implementing inbound, or if you're still considering whether inbound is the right fit for your company, one of the first questions that comes to mind is bound to be: what is it all going to cost? That's not just monetary value, but also effort and resource.
Inbound marketing, when done right, takes time. It requires precision planning, execution and analysis, which gives even the most capable of marketers a burgeoning to-do-list. It also won’t necessarily replace the valuable work of your existing marketing team - exhibitions, merchandising, trade shows, internal communications, paid media etc. So in order to do it properly, it is likely you are going to need to call in the experts. In this blog, we outline two options - recruiting an Inbound Marketing Specialist, or Hiring an Inbound Agency.
Research shows that 80 per cent of professional services buyers visit a company’s website to evaluate them as a potential provider.
So, if you're a professional services company your website needs to be giving off all the right messages.
Your website is a product of your business, and therefore a reflection of your work. A poorly designed website gives the impression you don’t care for your customers and are ok with mediocrity.
The point is, your website can make or break your business.
Take Apple for example. As one of the largest global technology companies, you’d expect them to have a well-designed and responsive website, right? Otherwise, how could anyone trust their products?
Content is evolving. This world gravitates towards multimedia content now more than ever, and according to reporting by Cisco, come 2020, over 82 percent of all web traffic will come from video.
Who doesn't love it? Sponge cake, fruit cake, gluten-free cake, chocolate cake. So many options!
You specialise in each area. And you make damn good cakes. But no one is eating them, because no one knows where you are. And now they’re out of date, and going stale...
What I'm trying to say is, it's all well and good creating remarkable content, but what’s the use if no one is going to see?
That’s exactly why some bloggers recommend spending as much time promoting your content as you do writing it.
Over the past two or three years, many manufacturing businesses made a commitment to a content marketing strategy. Whilst, there is still a small proportion of manufacturing businesses that don’t do any form of content marketing, most recognise that the most effective form of manufacturing marketing, for lead generation and conversion, is content marketing.
Manufacturers have the upper hand when it comes to video content marketing. On the shop floor there’s an abundance of innovative techniques and specialist material to film, as well as passionate employees who can come to life sharing their specialist knowledge in front of the camera.
Viewers remain curious about technical advances in the industry - just look at the enduring success of the documentary television series ‘How it’s made’.
Additionally, consumers have an unshakable interest in product quality and will perform search queries reflective of this. This will serve you well if you make video content that aids their research; 90 percent of user say that seeing a video about a product contributes to their purchase decision.
Video marketing is a creative way to showcase your company's high standards. This blog explores some of the most rewarding video content formats for manufacturing marketing teams to experiment with.
Creative. Challenging. Dynamic. Relentless. Exhausting...
Just some of the words you might use to describe your B2B marketing role.
And, as you know, a successful marketer is one who is willing to learn and adapt to satisfy the needs of both prospects and customers.
In 2017, we’re slap bang in the middle of a period of disruption. Skill sets that might’ve propelled you to the top ten years ago could be now obsolete. Equally, if you don’t invest and expand your knowledge, business will begin to suffer in the race against political, economical and digital advancements.
Below we outline the top three B2B marketing challenges in 2017 and how you can put a plan into action to prioritise, tackle and wipe these off the to-do list, leaving you free to sleep easy again.
Dedicated, targeted and consistent blogging can help immeasurably in building your company's authority and establishing you as a thought leader in your industry. But what’s the secret to coming up with consistently great ideas that will engage and delight your manufacturing prospects?
If your blogging for manufacturing is in a content creation rut, here’s a guide to 24 pain-free ways to generate a host of new blog post topics that will rejuvenate and enliven your efforts.
What’s the purpose of your blog? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Are you looking to drive conversions, increase subscribers, boost revenue, build authority, raise awareness or convey information? Or maybe it’s all of the above? Having a clearly defined goal will ensure your content creation efforts stay relevant and targeted.
Despite the hype around social media, messaging apps and other newer forms of marketing communications, email is still an effective marketing channel. Providing your prospects have signed up for it, email still has the power to engage with clients and prospects as well as any other medium.
But like any marketing channel, it’s only valid when you are doing it right. Get email marketing wrong, you run the risk of losing not only prospects, but also your existing customers. Email marketing has great potential to irritate and annoy if is unwanted or unhelpful. There are few things people loathe more than spam. And spam is not just unsolicited emails, it’s any email that wastes the recipient’s time.
Marketers who use video grow revenue 49 per cent faster than non-video users. And research shows one in four consumers lose interest in a company if they don't have video.
However, as with any inbound marketing strategy, success relies on you reaching the right audience at the right time.
The buyer’s journey will equip you with all the intel you need to do so. Knowing what kind of video to make, and where to incorporate it in your inbound marketing campaign, will ensure that you get a return on investment.
The buyer's journey is the process that a prospective customer goes through before making a purchase decision.
Inbound marketing is driven by a consideration of your target audience and their likely mood, interests and expectations at each stage of their buyer's journey: awareness, consideration, and decision. For this reason, you might consider making different videos for each stage.
It has one job - to convert visitors to leads.
A strong landing page will provide you with the top of the funnel information about prospects that you need to kick-start your lead nurturing activities. A weak landing page means visitors will bounce, and your chance of a blossoming relationship dwindles.
If you follow any of the leading content marketing blogs, you will have noticed ‘pillar pages’ or ‘pillar content’ is getting a lot of airtime lately. The phrase has been around a while, as long ago as 2013, (which in SEO terms is ancient) but has come to the forefront recently, it seems, by HubSpot adopting the approach, along with the concept of ‘topic clusters’.
If you’ve been doing inbound marketing a while, you may be wondering what the difference is between pillar content and cornerstone content. The good news is cornerstone content is virtually indistinguishable from Pillar content, they’re just branded differently.
Pillar page - as the name suggests are architectural, and involve structuring your website around key pages. Cornerstone content pieces are solid foundational content from which the rest of your content should branch from, and link to.
It is a tumultuous time for anyone involved in SaaS marketing – massive changes in the marketing landscape, the way customers buy and the channels available mean that SaaS marketing plans and strategy are having to be revised or even scrapped. SaaS companies, with their reliance on good marketing to gain customers and combat churn, will find themselves at the forefront of this change. They can either surf it and gain the benefits – or go under.
Google is the master of user experience.
Tirelessly working to update their algorithms, analyse user behaviour, study intent, goals, and gripes to ensure the best experience possible.
And, they do all of this while keeping their staff well-fed and well-kept with ball pits, slides, and free lunches. What gives?!
It’s no accident that Google has cemented its reputation as the internet leader, seeing us through an unforgiving digital revolution.
They don’t get complacent.
We’re highly adaptable creatures, and the way we access and consume content is constantly changing in line with advancements in technology. Equally, the volume of online information is growing, and algorithms have a responsibility to present us with what they deem the top portion of content in a sea of endless web pages.
Effective content is the key to inbound marketing, and crafting effective content relies on creativity.
Creativity can transform a piece of writing into compelling content that captures people's hearts and minds; content that has the power to sway the decisions of prospects.
But equally important is having a solid structure in place for producing content.
In fact, structure enables creativity. Structure creates opportunities. Creativity allows those opportunities to evolve, and thrive.
A structured content creation process is the backbone of a successful content marketing strategy.
Content creation should involve four distinct stages, according to HubSpot.
It’s completely natural to want to approach your web design 'desktop first'. When you plot out your best content ideas the instinct is to go big. You're itching to impress with a great looking website that promotes the heart of your business, and for that you want a big canvas.
However, although a striking desktop presence is important, focusing on achieving that - rather than site optimisation for mobile - neglects the behaviour of a significant portion of website visitors.
An astounding amount of traffic is generated by users on mobile devices: 65% of all digital media time is spent on them. Arguably, desktop use is now secondary. The affordability of smartphones and popularity of tablets suggests this percentage is unlikely to decrease.
Can you answer this question simple question?:
Why are you blogging?
Now think about that question again...how are you measuring this?
There's more to blogging that simply hitting the publish button and hoping for the best. To create a successful blog platform takes careful planning, consideration and strategy. But as content is the fuel of inbound marketing, it is essential you get it right.
As Abraham Lincoln once said: "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."
We know their voices like we know the unmistakable fonts and colours so akin to their identities.
Whether it’s with distinctive simplicity, phonetic vocabulary, or inspirational language, each has mastered the ability to connect with their audiences in a parallel voice that yields trust and brand loyalty.
Their values dictate every word choice, every message, and retains the recognisable personality that’s present in every packaging label, website page and social media post.
Creating useful, timely content for your prospective clients and customers is essential in today’s inbound marketing landscape. Prospects are actively researching products and services and seeking information about problems and solutions. When you are composing emails for professional services there are some important principles to work to. Keep these in mind and you will create better, more effective content.
There truly is an art to creating readable web content.
And I’m sorry to say, it pretty much requires you to forget everything you learnt in school.
Okay, not everything.
(I'm yet to use Pythagoras' Theorum in my adult life, but maybe that's just me...)
Evidence suggests we digest content online very differently. And this demands a new discipline of writing.
Ever heard of the F-shaped pattern? Clever eye tracking techniques have been used to measure the amount people actually read. And you’d be pretty peeved to find out that it’s actually only 20%.
Consider why you search for content online.
Video marketing metrics.
In order to conduct meaningful analysis of what is and isn’t working for your campaign, it’s important to understand the story behind how your stats are gathered.
Their interpretation isn't just a congratulatory game of numbers. In practice, metrics expose the way your content is being received, pinpoints audience concern and give you a precise idea of what will work for your content marketing.
It seems September hit us with a bang.
The heat from a couple of weeks ago is a distant memory, the kids are back at school and already talking about Halloween, and the realisation dawns that we’re only three paychecks away from Christmas (you’ll thank me later, promise!).
What that also means is it’s time to start thinking about how these changes in buyer thought patterns, interests and behaviour can affect your content marketing strategy. And what should you be doing right now to garner more customers in your business?
A common problem in content marketing is constantly coming up with new ideas to write about. And any content marketer knows how crushing it is when a post you have poured over, put your heart and soul into, doesn’t generate you any results.
Conversely, you will know the delight at when a post you wrote 1-2 years ago, maybe even 5 years ago is still generating traffic and leads. This evergreen content is the holy grail of content marketing; “It’s that article that consistently ranks well in search and drives 65 percent of your site traffic, even though it was written in 2011”.
With modern businesses investing heavily in their online presence, video represents more than the opportunity for creative venture – it’s an active response to the expectations of a web-savvy audience.
Hubspot research proved 69% of marketing, sales and business professionals had used video marketing before. A further 31% are planning to use it in the near future.
This steady rise in popularity has transformed video production from novelty to necessity for the most successful inbound marketing strategies. The upshot is, join in, get smart or get left behind.
So how do you fold it in to your overall inbound marketing strategy?
Many businesses spend the majority of their money and time on acquiring customers. As consumers, we see this all the time. Deals for new customers are everywhere, whether it’s a supermarket offering money off your first online shop, or a bank offering cashback for switching your current account. But what about those long-standing customers who consistently remain loyal to a brand?
Customer retention is one of the most critical challenges facing businesses today. So it makes good sense to keep your existing customers happy - you want them to continue to choose to do business with you. Studies show that it costs ten times more to attract a new customer than to keep one. And let’s face it, happy customers make great advocates.
The inbound marketing philosophy acknowledges the value of customer retention and advocacy. The four-step process - “attract, convert, close, delight” - works to turn strangers into not only customers but promoters of your business.
There are many reasons manufacturers are taking to blogging. It helps their company get found, creates customer engagement, demonstrates expertise, and enables them to build trust with prospective buyers.
But how can manufacturing companies make sure their blog posts capture and retain, the attention of their customers and prospects?
Research shows that the average human attention span is just eight seconds. And it’s no wonder we struggle to hold our attention for long. In an always-connected world, we’re faced with an unprecedented amount of content. For B2B marketers, getting prospective buyers to pick out your content over competitors’ can be challenging, but is key to your inbound marketing success.
It wasn’t that long ago that link building was viewed as a mysterious dark art that involved various underhand “black hat” techniques to create backlinks to your site in order to influence search engines. At that time search engines worked on the basis that the more links you had – the more popular your site and therefore the better the content must be. As search engines have evolved and become more sophisticated, they’ve identified and discriminated against such dubious ploys.
Today, employing these types of deceptive techniques will get you demoted in search engine rankings, so doing more harm than good. That’s not to say that the search engines don’t take links into account – they do, but they have to be genuine, good quality links. Remember also that those false backlinks do nothing for your revenue – they don’t encourage prospects or convert leads, whereas quality links from good sources will; as well as increasing your standing with the search engines.
We’ve written about optimisation strategies and SEO before. And sure, they are some of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your website. But what happens after you’ve been found? The goal changes, right?
You need conversions.
Converting your visitors into leads, your leads into customers, and your customers into promoters takes time and investment. And perhaps one of the biggest investments is your microcopy.
We're talking about those small blocks of text in highly trafficked areas of your site, including CTA buttons, instructional copy and messages of reassurance. They tell users what to do (“Write your full name here”), alleviate concerns ("Don’t worry, we’ll only use your email address once”), and move them deeper into your site (“Learn more”).
Get these right, and your chances of converting can increase tenfold.
In previous posts we’ve talked about how valuable content marketing is for manufacturing companies. And seemingly, manufacturers agree. According to research by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 85 per cent of manufacturing companies use content marketing.
However, only one in five (20 per cent) say their approach is extremely or very successful.
In SaaS marketing the aim of your content is to generate leads, convert prospects, reduce churn and upsell additional services. To do that effectively you need to create content that meets the needs of your audience. Your inbound marketing strategy should include developing buyer personas and targeting appropriate content at different stages of the buyer’s journey.
But what topics make for a great piece of content for SaaS? Here are four tried and tested types of content that are effective and enduring.
The best bloggers for professional services understand the need take a professional approach. Business in this sector depends on the level of trust and authority you can convey to your potential clients (and to your existing clients). So just casually throwing a few words together will simply not bring the results you are looking for.
In this post we are going to look at three essential elements that contribute to a polished and effective professional services blog.
On the 25 May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaces the existing Data Protection Act (DPA). New regulations under the GDPR are intended to strengthen and unify data protection while protecting individuals residing in the EU. The GDPR expects companies to understand the risks they create when handling and using data while building a culture of privacy.
The good news is, if you’re already following principles stated within the DPA, transition should be easy.
In a recent post, we highlighted how crucial content marketing is for B2B tech firms. But to create the best possible content that will resonate with prospective buyers, you first need to define your buyer personas.
Earlier this year we wrote about the benefits of content marketing for manufacturing, following research published by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) at the end of 2016 which showed 85 per cent of manufacturing marketers use content marketing but only a third (33 per cent) say that their organisations have clarity on [what constitutes] content marketing success.
In this post we will give four examples of how your manufacturing company can use content marketing to your advantage.
In B2B marketing, content is king. It helps a company to attract new prospects, create new leads, and convert them to customers.
However research by Forrester indicates that almost 9 in 10 B2B marketers (87 per cent) struggle to produce content that truly engages their target buyers.
The problem, is many marketers fail to match content with each stage of the B2B buyer journey.
The information and solutions your prospects are searching for will vary according to where they are in the buying cycle. So to maximise your opportunity for success, you need to target your potential buyers with the right content, at the right time.
Industry research shows that technology firms are increasingly adopting content marketing strategies to drive business results.
A report by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) published earlier this year found 95 per cent of tech marketers are using content marketing, and that almost 7 in 10 (69 percent) say their organisation is extremely or very committed to it. And the results are clear. 79 per cent said it has increased audience engagement, 77 per cent said it has increased the number of leads, and 59 per cent said it has increased their sales.
In fact, the report showed that tech marketers are focusing on content even more than B2B marketers in other industries.
So why is content marketing so well suited to the B2B technology industry?
Manufacturing is an incredibly innovative industry, accounting for more than three-quarters of all private-sector research and development (R&D) in the United States (National Association of Manufacturers).
But manufacturing is also incredibly competitive. Factors such as global competition and Industry 4.0 mean it is essential your sales process keeps pace with your R&D, or you risk leaving customers in the dark; especially considering the sales experience drives 53% of customers’ buying decisions (Colin Masson).
One area you may not have considered the use of technology in is your manufacturing sales process. Many manufacturing businesses have traditionally relied on a direct or distributor sales force to generate growth. This approach simply doesn’t work as well as it did.
As a B2B marketer in the professional services industry, pressure from partners to bring in new opportunities means you need to deliver. But referrals aren’t what they used to be, and you can’t afford to sit and wait for them to come in.
You may be able to craft the best B2B blog posts on the planet, but if nobody finds them, then all your effort won’t count for very much. In another post I’ve covered the more technical aspects of preparing a B2B blog post for SEO, in this post I am going look at the way you write, and how that affects the way search engines see and display your posts.
For any business using an inbound marketing approach, defining buyer personas is an essential first step. Buyer personas are in-depth representations of your ideal customers. They go beyond the demographics of your target audience, and represent their attitudes, behaviours, challenges and aspirations.
Buyer personas are vital for creating content that will resonate with your target audience. Meaning you have a better chance of attracting new prospects, creating new leads, and converting them to customers.
Your sales and marketing teams will know a lot about your customers; the types of roles they are in, what they want to achieve by investing in a product or service like yours, and what the common objections to purchasing are.
But the best way to really understand them, is to speak to them.
While this will require some extra time and resources, we put forward the case that interviewing customers is the key to creating insightful and actionable buyer personas.
It is easy for blog writers to either ignore the benefits of SEO or to get hung up on its supposed complexity. So, what’s the right approach? How can you reap the benefits of good SEO tactics without either falling foul of the hidden rules or spending ages working through a post?
There is no escaping the fact that there has been a seismic shift in the way customers buy, and the manufacturing industry is no exception. Research shows nearly 90 per cent of B2B buyers begin by doing their own research online.
Manufacturers can no longer rely on a direct or distributor sales force to generate growth. Traditional sales and marketing tactics, such as print advertising, trade shows and cold calling don’t work like they used to. It is also difficult to calculate the ROI of such methods for manufacturing companies with typically long sales cycles. The famous quote: “I know that half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. My only problem is that I don’t know which half” rings very true. In an industry which relies heavily on measurability of processes and systems, this is something of a discord.
If you’ve used an inbound strategy to guide your website redesign, you’ll have focused on making it look fresh and modern, and telling a story through your content. You will have used appropriate keywords to drive traffic to your site, used your buyer personas to create engaging blog content, and added relevant CTA’s to convert visitors to leads.
But do you know what the end user experience is like? Is your website easy to use? Does it encourage visitors to engage with your brand and products?
Whether you are giving your website a complete overhaul, or are making regular changes through growth-driven design - your core focus should be on the user experience.
Getting real users to test your website means you can ensure it delivers a positive experience. But too often, this is overlooked.
We explore why user testing can be a valuable part of the website redesign process, and outline ways you can go about it.