When should an unqualified sales lead become a MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) and when should they become a SQL (Sales Qualified Lead)? How do you manage that process with maximum impact and efficiency?
When should an unqualified sales lead become a MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) and when should they become a SQL (Sales Qualified Lead)? How do you manage that process with maximum impact and efficiency?
The HubSpot CMS just got better. That's not only good news for the 63% of marketers investing in a website upgrade this year, but for all marketing managers struggling with the day-to-day frustrations of managing their site.
HubSpot has launched the new CMS Hub - a content management system that promises to "take the pain out of managing your website so you can get back to focusing on the customer experience."
But what is CMS Hub, exactly? And how can it help you manage your website?
The UK freight and logistics market is worth over £100 billion to the economy and has been seriously impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Heightened demand has been felt in food distribution, drugs, chemicals and reagents, PPE and other essential supplies. But other mainstream shipments have disappeared overnight.
The dire effects that Coronavirus is likely to have on the business world in general and the marketing industry in particular, have been widely trailed. But is there any hope amidst the gloom?
Today, people across the world will be getting involved in activities and digital events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22 every year to raise awareness of issues like climate change and global warming. Over the 50 years it’s been running, Earth Day activists have fought against issues like pollution, oil spills, toxic waste disposal and other pressing environmental protection issues.
This year, as the world battles COVID-19, Earth Day celebrations have gone digital. It will be an Earth Day like no other, with thousands of digital events taking place across the globe to mobilise people into taking positive action.
But who are the brands coming up with creative marketing campaigns to inspire us all this Earth Day?
As the world around us takes an unprecedented turn, the instinct for many marketers will be to play it safe. But as Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
The B2B companies who will thrive in this new climate are those with a growth marketing mindset; who are willing to bend, flex and try new things.
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.