What Marketers Can Expect From LinkedIn in 2017

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With the backing of Microsoft, LinkedIn has big plans to increase its effectiveness for marketers in 2017. Russ Glass, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions’ Head of Products, was interviewed by LinkedIn Account Executive at Vivek Venugopal:

Venugopal: What about LinkedIn has kept you excited about being here? What gets you up in the morning and into work everyday?

Glass: I think LinkedIn Marketing Solutions specifically. It’s also very exciting because our mission is to be the most effective platform for marketers to reach professionals. It’s one of those issues you can actually accomplish. We’ve got this global network of professionals, this incredible platform that they come to on a frequent basis, that has great content and great information.

We have an opportunity now to take all of those assets and put great capabilities around it for marketers to be successful. Every day we are a little better than we were the day before and I think we are going to continue to see that kind of growth.

Venugopal: Can you tell us a little bit about what marketers can expect to see out of the LMS platform in 2017 and talk a little bit about the Microsoft acquisition and how that might impact the roadmap?

Glass: I could talk a long time about what we’re doing next year and all the opportunities with Microsoft, but maybe I’ll focus on the most important stuff, the stuff I’m most excited about. The first half of 2017 we will launch more product than the entirety of 2016.

We’re focused on a couple of key areas, the first of which is data. How do we allow marketers to bring their own data to LinkedIn so that they are targeting audiences more effectively and then combine that with LinkedIn datasets in order to do things you just can’t do on any other platform? Such as bring their own email data, bring their own account lists, connect with their CRM systems, connect with their marketing automation systems and use website pixels so they can retarget visitors on the LinkedIn platform. Then layer LinkedIn’s unique understanding of a professional and who they are in their business life so that you can get in front of exactly the right audiences and you can put content in front of exactly right audiences.

The second big area is reporting and analytics. We have a ton of analytics and reporting efforts that we’re going to start rolling out early next year including website audience analytics and conversion tracking, which we started to roll out and will continue to iterate on.

The third big area is return on investment. How do we help marketers, particularly lead-gen marketers, that are trying to convert our members into the buyer’s or download case studies or register for events. How do we let them do that more effectively? We’re launching products like our lead-gen form product where without leaving LinkedIn and without having to go to a landing page a user can submit their LinkedIn profile information to a marketer. It goes right into their CRM system and right into their marketing automation system. It’s an incredible product particularly for the B2B marketer.

The post What Marketers Can Expect From LinkedIn in 2017 appeared first on WebProNews.

January 17th 2017 B2B, Marketing

B2B Social Media: New Study Looks At Performance Across Industries

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TrackMaven released its 2016 Social Media Impact Report: B2B Industry Edition on Tuesday, looking at how the best B2B brands perform on social. They used their database to analyze a year’s worth of content from 316 leading B2B brand across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Overall, they found, B2B brands have the largest audience on LinkedIn. In fact, we’re talking 36 times the number of followers they have on Instagram.

READ: Does Instagram Have Any Value to B2B Marketers?

According to TrackMaven, the median social media audience size fro B2B brands breaks down like this: 109,000 on LinkedIn; 34,000 on Facebook; 18,000 on Twitter; 3,000 on Instagram; and 420 on Pinterest.

B2B brands get 20 times more engagement on Instagram that on LinkedIn. According to the firm, the average engagement ratio (number of interactions per post per 1,000 followers) for B2B brands is 22.53 on Instagram; 15.88 on Pinterest; 5.99 on Facebook; 1.09 on LinkedIn; and 0.86 on Twitter.

Brands with the best social media performance tended to be in the biotech, engineering, and financial service industries. According to Track Maven, brands in these industries have substantial growth and content engagement on social media. This, they say, indicates highly impactful social content. The financial service industry had an impressive 81.77% average annual follower growth per brand.

On the subject of LinkedIn, recent reports have indicated that business content has seen an uptick in referral traffic in recent months.

You can find the full report here.

The post B2B Social Media: New Study Looks At Performance Across Industries appeared first on WebProNews.

March 30th 2016 B2B, Social Media

LinkedIn Study Looks At The B2B Buyer’s Journey

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LinkedIn is sharing the results of its B2B Buyer Research study, which found that despite an apparent alignment between sales and marketing, “some of the same issues still persist.”

The company surveyed over 6,000 buyers, marketers, and salespeople in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Based on the findings, LinkedIn says that marketers must rethink many of the ways they communicate with their customers and how they align with their colleagues in sales.

“Marketers must strive to reach the entire buying team, not just the key decision maker, as there are now an average of 3-5 additional departments influencing the buying decision depending on the industry,” a spokesperson for the company said in an email. “In order to improve relationships with buyers, marketers and sellers must look to social media as a critical tool for converting leads (67 percent of buyers used social media for awareness, more than any other channel).”

“B2B buyers tend to be more engaged on LinkedIn than other average users of the platform,” the spokesperson added. “In fact, buyers are 9x more likely to share content and 7x more connected than the typical LinkedIn member.”

The company has an eBook available looking at the B2B buyer’s journey, but if you don’t want to read the whole thing, they sum up six takeaways from it in a blog post here.

Image via LinkedIn

January 22nd 2016 B2B

Have you started running your marketing by the numbers?

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by Mike Moran

One time, many years back, I ran into a famous public speaker. The speaker had one single product that made him rich: a single speech, delivered flawlessly, over and over again for years. It may seem appealing as a way to make a living, but to me it sounded rather boring. I like moving onto new ideas, not repeating the same ones over and over. 
Yet there is one subject I have been talking about in various forms since 1999 when I first brought it up at IBM, and I can’t seem to stop talking about it. It’s about digital marketing decisions based on metrics. No matter how long I’ve been discussing this subject, it feels like there are always more companies that need to hear the message.
At first, I thought it was understandable. After all, this web marketing stuff was new (back in 1999) and it makes sense that not everyone understood how to apply direct marketing principles to digital marketing.
But it’s 16 years later. I’m starting to believe that there’s a never-ending supply of companies that still are marketing by the seat of the pants. In 1999, it was almost all companies. Within a few years, the e-Commerce companies had caught on. Later, the retailers caught on, whether they sold online or offline. In recent years, I’ve found that many B2C companies have caught on, but that leaves a big, yawning gap.
Those B2B marketers are still hearing the same stuff from me that I was saying inside IBM in 1999. Identify your Web conversions. Test your marketing. Make decisions based on results.
It’s not easy, but it is simple. The principles are simple, but because it is difficult, we’d all rather think about something else. It’s human nature to be in denial of problems that we can’t solve. Many B2B companies are so overwhelmed at the idea of measuring its marketing and sales that we act as though the problem does not exist. It makes us feel better not to have to dwell on a failure this large.
Now, it doesn’t make the situation any better. It doesn’t improve our business results. It just makes us all feel better. So, the question is whether you are willing to risk feeling bad. Can you cope with feeling a little overwhelmed if the payoff is vastly improved business results?
I’ll challenge you with this question: “Have you started running your marketers by the numbers?” If not, why not?
It’s not a rhetorical question. Make a list of all the problems and ask yourself how you could take just one step to solve one of them. If even that is too overwhelming, then take a different approach. Fast forward yourself three years into the future and imagine that this problem is completely solved. (If three years seems unrealistic, make it five years.) Then ask yourself what had to happen to solve the problem. At this point, you can’t throw up your hands and say it is impossible, because we already said that it is solved. Don’t dwell on how unrealistic it is-this is your imagination. What must have happened to get you to the point where you can make your marketing decisions based on numbers?
No matter how difficult this, it’s too important to just give up. Do one thing to solve the problem. Then do something else. Before you know it, you might be able to make one kind of decision based on numbers, even if they aren’t the greatest numbers.
I’m begging you not to sentence me to this same speech 16 years from now.
Originally posted on Biznology

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September 10th 2015 Analytics, B2B

4th Post – Recipes For Practical Customer Experience Design & Optimization # CRO #UX #CX

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persona_BLPlease read the just published Personas: The Key Ingredient In Design For Conversion. It is the fourth in a series of six Recipes For Practical Customer Experience Design & Optimization posts.

In case you missed them, the first four posts are:

I. Pre-mortem because it is the antidote to Murphy’s Law 

First we’ll explore the most impactful step of the process, the pre-mortem. Some of our largest conversion wins over the last two decades ever were the result of our clients going through the pre-mortem exercise.  Murphy’s law states that everything that can go wrong usually will and a pre-mortem will help you spot previously invisible problems in your current customer experience as well as plan against future problems. But the pre-mortem step is not for the faint hearted as it may show you things about your precious baby that are not as attractive as you wanted to believe.  The only thing that makes a pre-mortem more powerful is by doing a pre-mortem on a persona by persona and then scenario/ campaign by scenario basis.

II. Reverse chronology because it explains conversions

Assuming you have a product or service worth buying then you and your customers have the same goal.  You want to sell and they want to buy. That’s why when you are planning a customer experience it is always best to start at the end point and work your way backwards to the beginning.  This step requires you to get very specific about how and why every decision and action needs to be taken in the buying journey.  It’s specificity also makes this step important to measuring and optimizing your customer experience when you finally implement it. Your Buyer Legend isn’t fiction so every detail must be accounted for, not only that but you must create persuasive momentum at every step.

III. Persuasive momentum because there’s no such thing as a sales funnel

Your customer isn’t truly in a funnel. There’s no gravity compelling them through your experience like there is in a real funnel. There is only the customer’s motivation and your understanding of that motivation to create persuasive momentum. Persuasive momentum is the progressive decision making process that aligns the customer’s goals with our own business goals. I’ll show you the three step test that will insure your customers’ experiences are always relevant, valuable and compelling.

IV. Personas because their motivations become your action plan

Personas are a common marketing tool, but their value is often misunderstood. Simply put, personas should inform you about exactly what you need to be doing. Personas can be elaborate constructs based on reams of research and data, or they can be constructed quickly with data and information at hand, but as long as they are directionally accurate reflections of a segment of your customer they can be powerful tools that will guide your Buyer Legends processes. I will be discussing how to construct ad-hoc personas as well as help you evaluate and if needed fix your current personas if you have them.

The next two will be published soon:

V. Write a Buyer Legend because the only story that matters is your customers’ story

This is the step when you actually pull out your pots, grab a spatula and fire up your burners.  I will tell you all the ingredients to include so you can have them at the ready. This is the step where all your previous work begins to pay off and when you’re done you will have an action plan that can be distributed, implemented, tested, and optimized.  A Buyer Legend is where the rubber meets the road.

VI. Measurement because if analysts cannot tell the stories and business people cannot measure the stories then the strategy isn’t truly aligned with customers’ needs.

Your Buyer Legend isn’t fiction, it’s not for fun or for entertainment, or even for creative fulfillment.  This is business, and anything important to a businesses success should be measurable and accountable.  Buyer Legends are both and I will give you a primer on measuring, optimizing, rinsing, and repeating.

We hope you enjoy the series and as always, we encourage you to try Buyer Legends for yourself, but if you need help, please let us know.

The post 4th Post – Recipes For Practical Customer Experience Design & Optimization # CRO #UX #CX appeared first on Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg.

April 10th 2015 B2B, Marketing

White Papers: Pros, Cons, Examples and Best Practices

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White  Papers.jpg

Not every piece of content we produce resides at the top of the sales funnel spinning up awareness. If that were the case, our jobs as marketers would be much easier.

When digital marketers roll up their sleeves and generate leads, many have found that white papers provide a utility for which potential customers are willing to give up a name and email address. White papers are more substantial pieces of content that allow customers to solve an information problem that represents the solutions your company can offer.

Do marketers still use white papers?

A 2014 study conducted by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs showed that 64% of marketers use white papers. Among those are marketers tasked with conveying more in-depth, complicated information to potential buyers. Those marketers recognize the impact that white papers can have on a consumer’s buying decision. When used effectively, white papers can serve as and anchor to a longer content marketing campaign. Here’s how:

White Paper Pros:

  • Leads. While white papers do not need to be gated to generate leads, most marketers use them as such.
  • White papers attract decision makers: White papers are the type of content that gets consumed by buyers. Those with a handle on a company’s budget, those who make strategic decisions for their organization are also likely to appreciate a fact-based, detailed report.
  • White papers set you apart from the competition. Who would you rather buy from? A company that went through the trouble of producing a multiple-page report that walked you through a solution, or one that didn’t?
  • Lead generation: White papers are seen by many consumers as “problem solvers.” Consumers are willing to share information because they are getting a solution in return.
  • White papers get shared. If Consumer 1 downloads and prints a white paper in the office, he may just use it to solve his problem and be done. When Consumer 2 comes across the same problem and uses Consumer 1’s copy of the white paper, she may be in a better position to visit your company’s site and make a purchase.
  • White paper content is recyclable. Repurposed content in the form of blog posts, infographics and more can be used to help drive traffic to your white paper landing page.

White Paper Cons:

  • White papers need a lot of care after they are created. Just posting it to your site and sharing it once isn’t enough. You’ll need to continually drive traffic to the landing page in order to demonstrate return on investment.
  • White papers can be perceived as dry and boring. Effective white papers are loaded with data, research and statistics.
  • You need to speak your buyer’s language. For example, an engineer looking to buy electronic equipment will likely see right through a white paper written by an marketing rep may not have done the research. Long content like white papers can take up a lot of resources in research.

What Marketers are Saying:

“You can attract more leads by posting your white paper to a syndication service. These services will promote your white paper, and you usually pay for every lead they bring your way. Just be sure that your syndication service can get your white paper in front of your ideal customers and that you’re not paying for bad leads such as your competitors, students and consultants.”

— Rachel Foster, 7 Ways to Promote Your White Papers to Get More Downloads, Leads and Shares

“A truly great white paper is educational and even groundbreaking. It should have your prospects nodding in agreement as they read it. They should come away better informed and believing that you clearly grasp their problem and understand how to fix it.”

— Justin Pugsley, How to Use White Paper to Sell to Businesses

White Paper Examples:

By exchanging contact information for an opportunity to download content, buyers are expecting that content to be useful and beneficial to their situation. White paper content should answer questions or solve part of a problem that consumers are facing. In the following example, companies understand the pain points that buyers face and offer solutions through white paper content.

To attract clients struggling with running a social businesses, Hootsuite offers a white paper 8 Tips for Social Business. The 7-page white paper includes a closing page further describing the company as well as showcasing some of Hootsuite’s top clients.

Hootsuite - white paper example


Adobe, in an effort to reach business professionals searching for detailed information about document security, published the white paper Global Insights on Document Security.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 4.40.57 PM

The white paper is 15 pages and contains the type of research and data an IT professional will be looking for when making decisions on his company’s document and file security practices.

Atalasoft, a document imaging company partnered with the digital publisher Software Development Times to release the white paper Scanning on the Web.

Atlasoft white paper example

The 7-page white paper details four separate options for web scanning and offers readers a 30-day trial of Atalasoft’s latest scanning solution.

Best Practices

Good white papers should be a part of any sales process in which purchase decisions are made across a longer sales cycle. In your effort to always being the best answer for your customers, consider these best practices when writing white papers.

  • Answer specific questions. Know what your customers are searching for and craft your white paper with buyer insight and data-driven topics.
  • Ask for just the right amount of data in return. What you ask for in a customer registration is up to you: It could be email address, name, phone number or mailing address. Beware that asking for more information than necessary will turn many people away.
  • Integrate. White papers works best in concert with other paid, earned and owned tactics.
  • Don’t push too hard for the sale. Present the information that you believe is required to help your customers solve the problem that brought them to your download page. Beyond that, any appearance of over-selling is probably a turn-off. Let your helpful content speak for itself.
  • Be visual. Use graphs and charts that can easily represent data.
  • Prove it. White papers are often formatted like more academic reports, with attribution of sources and footnotes if needed. Your customers want to know that the detailed information you are sharing is well-sourced.
  • Repurpose. Make the most of the time you put into your white papers. Content developed for your white paper can be used in smaller blog posts or condensed into infographics. Think of your white paper as a campaign anchor and develop resources around it to drive traffic and optimize performance.

Have you been successful using white papers in your marketing mix? What are your tips and tricks?

For more content marketing best practices, see our full list of content marketing tactics with links to in-depth articles on each tactic just like this one.


Top image: Shutterstock

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White Papers: Pros, Cons, Examples and Best Practices | http://www.toprankblog.com

January 13th 2015 B2B, Online Marketing

Roundup: 11 B2B Marketing Reports and One Killer Infographic

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B2B Marketing Reports

While they would be nice to have, the Future of B2B Marketing involves more than science fiction inspired predictions about cranial implants and neural marketing dashboards. Business Marketers are simultaneously investing in a more human approach to business content while also further tapping in to the power of data. Which innovations make sense for your B2B company?

From predictive analytics to more scientifically understanding buyer content consumption preferences, there’s a world of opportunity when it comes to optimizing B2B marketing performance.

In this post I’ve curated a collection of reports and one very clever infographic on topics that should be front and center for B2B marketers in Q4 and on into 2015. Click on each report image to download (some require registration).

Insight Venture Partners - Periodic Table of B2B Digital Marketing Metrics
Insight Venture Partners – Periodic Table of B2B Digital Marketing Metrics and Glossary – A very handy guide of digital marketing tactics with corresponding industry averages for performance. It also includes a glossary for the uninitiated to B2B digital marketing metrics.

Chief!Marketer: B2B Marketing Tool Kit
Chief!Marketer: B2B Marketing Tool Kit – With insights from a collection of B2B marketing experts, this report from Chief!Marketer offers advice on direct mail, analytics, lead gen, automation, social media, content marketing and team building.

AdvertisingAge: B-to-B Marketing Fact Pack
AdvertisingAge: B-to-B Marketing Fact Pack – A collection of stats and insights as well as some of the biggest B2B marketers in the world including AT&T, Microsoft, IBM, GE, American Express and many more. Industry stats cover CRM, automation, social media, content marketing, mobile marketing and lead generation.

CMI & MarketingProfs: 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmark, Budgets and Trends North America
CMI & MarketingProfs: 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmark, Budgets and Trends North America – Well over 100 statistics from this 5th edition of the report cover overall trends, tactics and where B2B marketers are investing in content marketing. A great tool for planning 2015 content marketing programs.

Technology Marketing: B2B Content Marketing Spotlight Report
Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn: B2B Content Marketing Spotlight Report – Holger Schulze, who runs the tech marketing community on LinkedIn partnered with a number of sponsors to identify new content marketing trends, challenges and best practices. This is a great complement to the report from CMI and MarketingProfs.

Marketo: The Definitive Guide to Lead Generation Workbook
Marketo: The Definitive Guide to Lead Generation Workbook – Informative and entertaining, this workbook gives B2B marketers a fun way to collect the information necessary to plan and implement a more effective lead generation effort.

Circle Research: B2B Market Segmentation
Circle research: B2B Market Segmentation – This report from UK based Circle research outlines approaches to B2B customer segmentation and how to implement a segmentation model.

LinkedIn: The 2014 Professional Content Consumption Report
LinkedIn: The 2014 Professional Content Consumption Report – Understanding how business buyers consume content is an essential part of optimizing the B2B buyer journey. Based on the information discovery and consumption behaviors of professionals on LinkedIn this report offers some very interesting insights into optimizing content for attract and engage content marketing efforts.

B2B Buyer Behavior Survey DGR
Demand Gen Report: 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey – This report helps answer key questions about about social media and content affect buyers during the sales cycle. How has the buying process evolved? What kind of content wins more deals? What role does social media play in the research process?

B2B Marketing Automation Platforms 2014
Digital Marketing Depot: Market Intelligence Report – B2B Marketing Automation Platforms 2014 – A Marketer’s Guide – This report provides a breakdown of the marketing automation software market, trends and platforms. Platform features are compared (Adobe Campaign, Act-On, eTrigue, HubSpot, Marketo, Oracle Eloqua, Pardot, Sales Engine, Salesfusion, Silverpop and Teradata. The report also offers advice on selecting a marketing automation solution.

Demand Metric & Influitive: Customer Marketing - Improving Customer Satisfaction & Revenue Impact
Demand Metric & Influitive: Customer Marketing – Improving Customer Satisfaction & Revenue Impact – Investing all your B2B marketing dollars into new customer acquisition is a lost opportunity when it comes to growing revenues from current customers and inspiring advocacy. This benchmark report from Demand Metric and Influitive outlines everything from the current status of customer marketing to tactcs, metrics, skills and what’s next.

IDC: The Math of Modern Marketing - How Predictive Analytics Makes Marketing More Effective
IDC: The Math of Modern Marketing – How Predictive Analytics Makes Marketing More Effective – This white paper discusses how a combination of structured and unstructured data creates a more complete view of the customer that can further the conversation, reveal patterns of customer intent, and provide predictive guidance on future customer behavior.


Another resource I’d like to add to this collection is a recent post that summarizes a survey of 200 qualified B2B Marketing professionals by the folks at Software Advice. It’s not a report in PDF format, but is a blog post chock full of insights, graphs and comparisons to other similar B2B marketing reports.

Software Advice – B2B Demand Generation Benchmark IndustryView 2014


Top Photo: Shutterstock

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Roundup: 11 B2B Marketing Reports and One Killer Infographic | http://www.toprankblog.com

November 4th 2014 B2B

The Weekly Compete Pulse

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Happy Halloweekend! Failed digital marketing strategies can be scary, lucky for you these articles are here to help. Take a look at our favorite articles from the past week below.

Three Things Every Retailer Needs to Know About Search Marketing

Clickthrough rate is just one metric that you need to keep track of in order to understand search. Learn which others are important and what else you need to learn in order to better understand your consumers here.

Getting Mobile Wrong Has Real Consequences For Sales, Brand

If you aren’t yet #gettingmobileright, you could be doing even more damage to your brand than you think. New data shows that mobile consumers are increasingly likely to turn to your competitors’ sites if they experienced usability-related frustrations on your mobile site. Read more here.

Lead Generation Metrics – Here’s How the Top Performers Do It

It’s often hard to compare B2B stats, but there certainly are champions in each industry. Learn which metrics you need to keep track of in order to stack up to them in this article.

How to Use Google Analytics Behavior Reports to Optimize Your Content

Do you know how to assess the performance of your content on your website? If you’re not using Google Analytics Behavior, you’re missing out on valuable intel. This article will teach you how to use the tool to optimize your content.

Big Data: Best Practices for Success

Are you using big data to your advantage? It can be incredibly helpful when done correctly, but without a well thought-out plan it can be daunting. Learn how to be successful in your big data project here.

November 2nd 2014 B2B, Mobile, News, sem, SEO

When do B2B Tech Companies Need Content Marketing? Inspiration for 2015 Marketing Planning

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B2B technology content marketing

Speaking at both a B2B Marketing and a Public Relations conference in the space of a week has yielded some insightful discussions. Many of those conversations have focused on the transition from where the B2B companies are today – a mix of tactics directed squarely at the C-level customer – and where a content marketing strategy might take them.

With my involvement in the B2B marketing space, I get to talk to a lot of marketing and PR professionals about marketing and communications programs. The desire to “do more” and innovate marketing isn’t unique – it’s pretty common across the board, especially with 2015 planning under way.

In the B2B technology world, traditional digital marketing tends to focus directly on the customer as defined by sales. Investments are made in advertising and editorial in the appropriate publications, speaking and sponsoring at the right events and creating a mix of owned media such as white papers, case studies and reports in the hopes that a C-level executive will find, read and be inspired by them.

That’s a tough hill to climb.

Creating a mix of content assets that describe a tech company’s products and services is not content marketing in the way that we practice it today.

Content Marketing is Strategic

Content Marketing is an approach and commitment by a brand to understand the specific needs of a target audience segment and to plan, create and promote content that addresses those needs. Content Marketing programs reaches, engages and inspires buyers as well as those that influencer buyers. The editorial plans that drive a strategic approach to content marketing include specific goals right along with the ability to adjust and optimize program performance.

What many B2B companies are doing with their marketing and content is to execute tactics – create a blog, videos, microsite, articles, and other content without necessarily connecting those tactics to an overarching business goal (outside of hoping for leads).

Content, media and advertising directed only at the C-level buyer misses two important points:

  1. Every other B2B technology company is doing the same things, going after the same C-level executives, creating information numbness
  2. Actual users of the technology are more influential on C-level decisions to buy than most B2B vendors think

There are so many B2B technology companies with terrific products and services following “the way we’ve always done it” marketing, it represents an huge opportunity for education and change. Differentiation of message and means to connect with B2B tech buyers isn’t just aspirational, it’s a necessity. Identifying, qualifying and engaging internal and external influencers is also essential.

When is it the right time for a B2B technology company to commit to a content marketing strategy?

Right now of course. 

Guided by a strategy that answers why, for who and to what end, tech companies can plan and implement content programs accountable to how buyers discover, consume and act on information that will lead to engagement and sales – even advocacy.

For example, a white paper authored with an industry analyst for the B2B company can be joined by an eBook c0-created with customers and influencers that serves as a resource for the industry. Not only are thought leadership objectives served with such an eBook, but so are customer acquisition and advocacy as the eBook is customized for specific customer segments and repurposed across channels from social networks to email to paid search ads.

I’m a firm believe in content marketing as a “right now” strategy, but I’m even more bullish on the notion of co-creation and what I like to call “Participation Marketing”. With co-created content marketing, not only do you create a higher quality content asset that participants are inspired to help promote, but you create an experience for the customers, influencers and prospects involved with it.

This is exactly what we do with conference eBooks. Over the past 3 years, we’ve not only connected with over 100 Fortune 1000 marketing executive decision makers, but we’ve created memorable experiences by co-creating content that helps advance our mutual goals. This type of approach is entirely transferrable to B2B companies that engage in industry events.

Informing buyers and constituents about your technology solutions isn’t enough to be competitive in the B2B space. Humanization of B2B content is essential to differentiate and create more relevant and meaningful experiences.

What I love about working with tech companies in the B2B space is that they often have great products, an impressive roster of customers and important insights about those customers. More often than not, they also need someone with a strategic perspective that can pull all those important ingredients together to create content marketing strategy.

Creating such a strategy and introducing creative ideas from other industries and engagements is exactly what I find so compelling. As B2B companies undergo their planning for 2015, I hope posts like this one provide some perspective on the role that a content marketing strategy can play in the marketing mix for next year and beyond.

Photo: Shutterstock

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When do B2B Tech Companies Need Content Marketing? Inspiration for 2015 Marketing Planning | http://www.toprankblog.com

October 15th 2014 B2B

B2B Marketing on Facebook? Yes! So Say IBM, Volvo, Salesforce & Lattice Engines

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b2b marketing

It goes without saying that Facebook is most commonly associated with consumer marketing since it’s hardly a place for industrial engineers to talk about the latest manufacturing process or for enterprise software companies to promote side by side feature comparisons.

But behind those companies are people – both on the brand and the buyer side of the B’s in B2B. B’s are people too and those people use Facebook to connect with peers socially. They may not look for product spec sheets for manufacturing hardware on Facebook, but they can get an idea of the people behind the companies they buy from as well as a more personal look at companies outside of nuts and bolts, hardware and software.

Enter our experts in B2B Marketing who use Facebook to do just that. At MarketingProfs B2B Forum last week, Joel Book from Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Katie Keating from IBM and Amanda Maksymiw from Lattice Engines came together for a panel on B2B Marketing and Facebook.

The panel moderator was John Haydon from Inbound Zombie.

Joel Book
First up was Joel Book @JoelBook, Principal, Marketing Insights at Salesforce Marketing Cloud (formerly ExactTarget). Joel talked about his client, Volvo Construction Equipment of North America and how they have been using Facebook for B2B.  If you haven’t heard of Volvo CE, they compete with CAT, Deere and other manufacturers of heavy equipment.

Volvo’s multichannel strategy for acquisition, selling and service of customers includes:
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Trade Shows, Remarketing Email, Volvo Construction Dealers, volvoce.com, Monthly Email and more. But Facebook has been particularly effective. Said one Volvo executive:

“For Volvo Construction Equipment, Facebook has been the number one social media technology for posting equipment as well as promotions and generating leads”

In Spring of 2013 Volvo CE started using Facebook ads to engage prospects by providing links to content which sent traffic to volvoCE.com. There they could convert to email subscribers.  After that, Volvo began targeting existing customers with Facebook ads.

Volvo CE Facebook

Targeted Facebook Ads were very successful for Volvo CE. Some of the targeting options focused on Facebook users with interests in the kinds of equipment Volvo CE customers buy as well as construction equipment brands that are competitive to Volvo CE.

Volvo Lego Technic

Volvo partnered with Lego to create a Lego Technic L350F toy targeted towards individuals with specific interests in construction equipment. Promoted on Facebook and elsewhere, this was a big PR success and created brand awareness as well as adding 1,200 names to their prospect email list.

A few tips on Facebook Marketing for B2B companies from Joel:

1. Create a “social profile” of your best customers using a tool like Active Audiences from Salesforce Marketing Cloud, then use that profile to identify and target prospective customers with direct response ads using Facebook Custom Audiences.

2. Use Facebook Custom Audiences to target and attract prospective email subscribers. 68% of B2B brands say email is “core” to their business. And more B2B brands are discovering that Facebook is their top source for attracting new subscribers.

Katie Keating
Next up was Katie Keating @ThingsSheSaid and Engagement Strategist at IBM. Katie manages all corporate social media channels for IBM, including Facebook. Her advice for B2B marketers on Facebook:

Visuals are essential. Show things behind the scenes, people, clients, and products. These are all important for driving engagement.

IBM Facebook

Think like a B2C – How do people experience your brand if they can’t touch it? For IBM it’s through their employees. IBM is spending effort on empowering employees to be brand advocates on social networks.

Try new tactics – IBM has tried things like Facebook chats and influencer research. They actually created a tool to mine influencers in India and engaged with them. This was all organic.

Let your audience “exhale” with content that’s just for fun. B2B Facebook content needs to break from products and services. Use Facebook ads to make sure you’re reaching target audiences.

On IBM’s Facebook page, they share the company’s history of innovation and behind the scenes content.  Facebook post performance is closely monitored and if a post resonates organically, IBM will support it for further amplification with Facebook ads.

Amanda Maksymiw
Last up is Amanda Maksymiw @amandamaks Content Marketing Manager at Lattice Engines, which sells predictive analytics to mid market and enterprise companies.

The Lattice Engines product is a new thing, predicting who your next customers will be, so a lot of their content is educational.

Lattice Engines’ goal with Facebook: Humanize the brand to attract and retain talent, drive engagement with Lattice Engines brand, retarget influencers, prospects and customers. Facebook ad targeting is based on interests of buyers and competitors.

Lattice Engines Facebook

Along with posting content on Facebook are offers such as the opportunity to attend a webinar.

The Lattice Engines company Facebook page is very employee focused. They engage with Facebook fans through images, conversations, text and video content.

A few tips form Amanda for B2B Marketers on Facebook:

  • Create and share a blend of personality and professional content. Post pictures of employees and content efforts.
  • Post pictures with short text – it leads to higher engagement.
  • Hone targeting and retargeting skills to grow, engage and convert your audience. Target based on email addresses, (custom audiences) location and interests.

So it sounds like a “human to human” approach beyond the business side of B2B actually has some legs when it comes to social networks like Facebook. Like any effort to connect with business buyers in new ways, it makes sense to experiment. See what is already happening in a B2B context in your industry, amongst competitors and early adopters within your own company. Decide what your goals are and be committed to both understanding the targeting options within Facebook as well as the type of content that will connect with business buyers when the situation is not all business.

Are you using Facebook as part of your B2B marketing mix? What lessons have you learned?

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2014. |
B2B Marketing on Facebook? Yes! So Say IBM, Volvo, Salesforce & Lattice Engines | http://www.toprankblog.com

October 13th 2014 B2B, Facebook