10 Ideas to Refresh Your B2B LinkedIn Presence Before Summer Vacation

b2b-linkedin-summer-plansMany B2B marketers are frequently looking for ways to enhance their social media presence and build more and stronger connections with prospects and customers. As you plan to wrap up big projects before summer vacation, this is the perfect time to focus on one specific social media platform: LinkedIn.

In the 2015 Social Media Marketing industry report from Social Media Examiner, 88% of B2B companies use LinkedIn and 41% of them cite it as their most important platform.

With this in mind, rather than wait until a busier time later in the year, here are 10 ideas that you can use to refresh your LinkedIn presence for your B2B company over the coming months as people are in and out of the office.

1. Review Company Page Description

The company page description is the kind of standard copy that not many people review and update, but you may find that it has gotten a little dated. That product launch is no longer new. You have added new capabilities or new locations to your business. You might even have a new brand position that totally changes how you present your B2B company to the world. Making updates to this page is simple, and won’t take you very long if you already have the new copy available. (Tweet this idea)

2. Change Company Page Image

This image was probably uploaded when you created this page and it has a very corporate look. Consider changing this image seasonally, or change it to highlight a current promotion. Visual content is making waves on other platforms and you can take advantage of that here. Make sure you resize your image to 646 pixels x 220 pixels so it will appear as you expect it. Since followers don’t usually visit your company page, but view your updates in their feeds, consider a brief update about the new photo. (Tweet this idea)

3. Review Results of Posts

If you have not already been reviewing the results of your posts, this is a great time to do so. While it is easy to review likes and comments on LinkedIn, clicks on links that drive visitors to your blog or website are more important to track. This will help you understand what content drives engagement. You should be using a URL link shortener that lets you track clicks, as well as a web analytics tool that lets you track where traffic came from. Google Analytics tracks Social traffic by platform, and you can even look at it by individual post. (Tweet this idea)

4. Add Relevant Showcase Pages

If your company does not have any Showcase Pages, this is the perfect time to plan them. While these were created to replace individual product pages, it makes sense to create these as topical pages about areas of interest to your prospects and customers. This is an easy way to segment your audience and post content that is relevant for each segment. Consider adding two or three Showcase Pages, and make sure that you promote them on your main page and other appropriate channels. (Tweet this idea)

5. Create Editorial Calendar for Updates

If you already have an editorial calendar established for your other content, make sure you include your LinkedIn updates as part of it. After reviewing your successful posts, you should have a better idea of what works on LinkedIn. Focus on that content and develop a regular cadence of posting. Consistency is key to engagement from your B2B prospects and customers. (Tweet this idea)

6. Throw an Employee Lunch and Learn

Something that is often overlooked in updating a B2B company’s LinkedIn presence are your employees. Most, if not all, of your employees have personal LinkedIn profiles. Each one of those profiles links to your company page. Teach your employees the importance of supporting the company with their LinkedIn profiles. Providing lunch will entice them to attend a meeting. It can also be done virtually for distributed teams. You can explain your overall plans on LinkedIn and some of the ways they can help. Consider sharing the ideas in the rest of this post. (Tweet this idea)

7. Create a Standard Company Description for Employees

Even though an employee owns and manages their own LinkedIn profile, you can make suggestions for their job description. Many job descriptions begin with a description of the company. You should provide a standard, two to three sentence description of your B2B company that has the appropriate keywords and brand positioning. You cannot force your employees to use this, but you can explain why it is important. Each employee can market the company within their own network. This standard description helps employees appear in the right search results. (Tweet this idea)

8. Encourage Employees to Share Company Posts

Just like providing the company description above, you want to encourage employees to share company updates with their LinkedIn networks. Since this also needs to be optional, your goal should be to make it as easy as possible for employees. The easiest way is to select what you want employees to post and give them suggested language to use. You can communicate this to them through your intranet, internal social network or even an internal newsletter. You can also encourage them to follow your B2B company on LinkedIn and Twitter and to share what they think their network would find interesting. (Tweet this idea)

9. Identify Groups for Employee Participation

There are many LinkedIn Groups that provide value in your industry or the target industry of your prospects and customers. If you identify some of these Groups for your employees and give them a tutorial on interacting in those Groups, your B2B company will have a larger presence in these Groups besides just someone from marketing posting there. Real employees with real industry knowledge and connections will get noticed. (Tweet this idea)

10. Select Subject Matter Experts to Blog on LinkedIn

And taking that industry knowledge and expertise one step further, you can identify the most likely subject matters experts and encourage them to publish blog posts through their LinkedIn profiles. This becomes even easier if they are already blogging for your B2B company and you can just ask them to syndicate their posts to LinkedIn. Make sure they include a link back to the original post. This is another way to leverage not just your employees, but their knowledge, to improve your company presence and ability to connect with prospects and customers on LinkedIn. (Tweet this idea)

Bonus Idea: Create a Slideshare Deck for Employee Profiles

One of the easiest ways to add visual content to a LinkedIn profile is to import a Slideshare deck. Create a short deck describing your company, or even presenting some industry opinion or research, that is no more than 3-5 slides. After your post this to Slideshare, your employees can add it to their profiles by simply choosing edit profile and moving their cursor to the right margin on any job description. Click the box in the middle with the square and the plus sign to upload or link to a file. You can also add the content to a different position. (Tweet this idea)
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By taking these simple actions now, your B2B company will be in a better position on LinkedIn once vacations end and your employees, prospects and customers are back in full swing for the fall.

Photo Credit: Me

Do B2B Customers Want to Tweet a Purchase?

b2b-twitter-logoRecently Domino’s Pizza announced that customers will be able to tweet Emoji to order a pizza. Emoji are those little symbols that teens and millennials text, tweet and load up in their Instagram comments.

Lots of people missed the real point about this announcement. It is not about Emoji. It is about serving existing customers. Not only do you need to be an existing customer for the Emoji tweet to work, but you need to have a standard order saved with your account. This means that this is more than a system designed to meet their customers online. It was designed to serve only their best customers. The ones that order regularly enough to have a standard order.

If you look at the best customers of your B2B company, do you have some that have standard orders? Do these orders have a regular frequency? How do they confirm them? These days it is probably an email. Can you remove some friction and make these orders even easier to place?

When I worked for a small manufacturer in the 1990s we required that all orders came in via fax. We needed a paper copy of each order and we were discouraging telephone orders. The fax copy served this purpose and it had a signature. This did not change when email came into the picture. For a while we still required the hardcopy fax. We did eventually move to email ordering and it made life much easier for everyone. Not only did we have a paper copy, but we had a digital copy too. But more importantly, it was a lot easier for our customers.

Do you know what percentage of your customers have smart phones? Do you know how many would be willing to place orders if you removed the friction? According to an IDG global mobile survey, 92% of senior executives own a smart phone and 77% report using it to research a product or service for their business. Most use a laptop or desktop to make their purchase, with 45% citing security concerns of the mobile web and 43% noting the lack of a mobile-friendly website.

And if you take this one step further and think about a Twitter order. Do you know how many of your regular customers are on Twitter? Let’s ignore the marketing problem of that question and examine the steps of the process:

  1. Your customer enters a standard order that can be shipped or invoiced based on a tweet.
  2. Your customer authorizes certain Twitter accounts to place these orders.
  3. You and your customer agree on the text of the tweets. These don’t have to be Emoji. They can be text. Since Twitter is a public network, your customer will want to mask their order a little bit. And note that this process only works if it is already known that your customer buys from you.
  4. You establish a confirmation response, whether through Twitter or another means. You can establish a separate Twitter account to automatically respond when the order is processed.

This becomes like an automated subscription service, but with a manual trigger that happens to be public. Maybe you are selling 500,000 bolts to a manufacturer every month. Due to a slight production slowdown, they need their next shipment in 33 days instead of 30 days. This can help them easily manage that delay of just a few days.

A benefit of a program like this is some social proof. Having companies order from you in public becomes another form of a socially-promoted customer testimonial.

This is not just for products. Service companies can consider a system like this where existing customers regularly renew monthly service agreements based on their needs.

Share why an approach like this would work or would not work for your B2B company either in the comments below or on Twitter.

5 Tips to Increase Engagement on B2B Social Media Sites

b2b-increase-engagementEven if your B2B company has been posting to social media sites for some time, it is always a good idea to review your activities to make sure you are getting maximum engagement from your followers. Below are five considerations that can help everyone from the beginner to the seasoned veteran.

1. Post at the right time

Make sure you are posting to your social media profiles at a time when your customers and prospects frequent those sites. In most cases you might find that B2B buyers will show up on weekdays from ten in the morning to four in the afternoon, thus making this an optimal time for posting messages. Still, every B2B company has its own target time frame, so make sure you pay attention to when your audience is posting in response to your messages and when traffic increases.

2. Add calls to action

You can add calls to action to your individual social media posts to encourage prospects to learn more about what you have to offer. Your posts should give B2B buyers the opportunity to raise their hands and express interest in your products or services. The best way to do that is to make a compelling offer that will drive them to a landing page on your website. Usually they will need to exchange their contact information for the offer. These offers can be a mix of things that generate awareness at the top of the funnel and things that help drive consideration. Sometimes it can also entail telling a prospect why a particular offer is more appealing than something else. In other cases it might involve telling a B2B buyer why the product or service in your offer is so important. Anything that can be used as a call to action will be worthwhile for your marketing plans.

3. Keep from being overly personal

While you might have lots of friends that follow your B2B company on your social media profiles, you should treat your page as a business-first spot. You need to avoid posting too much personal information. Focus on posts that are relevant to what your business is doing right now and what it has to offer your customers.

4. Take risks

Sometimes you’ve got to take a few risks in order to go places. You might want to take some small risks that will cause your B2B company to look more appealing. Don’t be afraid to post funny videos that are relevant to your customers and prospects. This could be your chance to break out of the “boring B2B” mold. The odds are people will see the human side of your business.

5. Get special guests

Consider adopting the idea of the celebrity takeover on your social media profiles. Identify influencers from your industry, or even subject matter experts from within your B2B company. Customers and prospects are more likely to engage with these industry stars during the takeover. There is really no limit to who you can tap for this purpose, and it can even become a regular feature of your social media profiles.

If you follow these reminders for how to post and interact on your social media channels, you will create more engagement with your B2B prospects and customers, especially if you can drive them to your landing pages or website.

Photo credit: Flickr

5 Smart Ways to Build B2B Thought Leadership with Content Marketing

B2B-Thought-Leadership-Smart-Content-Marketing-smallLet’s face it; B2B buyers are unlikely to take you seriously unless you’re a big-name brand or they’ve heard about you from an independent source, for example through a recommendation on a social network. Unless you’re Google, Apple or you happen to know the buyer’s cousin, you might as well not exist, right? Wrong. You can establish B2B thought leadership and build awareness through a smart content marketing campaign.

You’ve likely read blog posts explaining how to establish thought leadership in 10 Easy Steps or other such nonsense. But establishing real thought leadership, the kind that can position you as a trusted source (and one worth buying from), isn’t some kind of cheap parlor trick. Content marketing takes work. With so many B2B brands out there clamoring for the sacred status of “thought leader,” you’ve got to go the extra mile with your content marketing if you want to position yourself as a truly trustworthy and authoritative B2B brand.

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1. Authenticity Is key

According to Michael Brenner, former VP of Marketing and Content Strategy at SAP, in an article for Forbes, “thought leadership is simply about becoming an authority on relevant topics by delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience.”

Rather than push out half-baked content that’s merely trying to give the impression that you’re an authority in your field, you need to actually acquire the necessary knowledge and provide B2B buyers with purposeful, practical advice. In doing so, you’ll build trust and develop a relationship that could eventually lead to a sale. This is what real thought leadership is about &mdash knowing your topic extremely well and pushing out informed, creative content.

2. Do your homework

Do you know what pains your B2B buyers? You better if you hope to make any sales. B2B buyers will be more likely to engage with you if they feel comfortable with you and see that you’ve spent the time to get to know the kind of problems they deal with on a daily basis. It should not seem like you’re simply pushing them to buy your product.

Thought leaders are perceived as being entrenched in the pains that exist in the market, and that’s not something you can fake. You’ve got to spend ample time getting to know your B2B buyers’ pain points, by speaking with end users, reading relevant content, and attending industry events.

Spend the time getting to know the pain points of your B2B buyers and the content you produce will be more informed and more likely to make a positive impression on your buyers.

3. Think outside the box

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with your B2B buyers’ pain points, it’s time to hit them with content that demonstrates your knowledge of said points. As mentioned above, it’s not as easy as spending millions of dollars (as if that were easy to begin with.) It comes down to creativity.

Your competitors are likely pumping out blog posts and e-books to establish thought leadership themselves. The Internet is practically clogged with this kind of content. If you want to stand out in the sea of would-be thought leaders, you’ll have to go a step further with your content. What this looks like (or sounds like) depends on your brand and its unique place in the market, but you can do it if you put in the time and effort.

What can you say that others haven’t said? How can you solve a problem no one else has been able to solve? Again, you’ll be better prepared to create more original content if you’re knowledgeable about the buyers’ pain points.

4. Be a presence

You know the saying “out of sight, out of mind?” That certainly applies to B2B brands trying to establish thought leadership on the web.

Once you’ve amassed a content arsenal, it’s time to get it out there. By strategically placing your content throughout the web &mdash on popular content marketing blogs, YouTube, podcasts, social media, online magazines, etc. &mdash you’ll start gaining more recognition.

The more B2B buyers see your name, the more they’ll think “Hey, I see this brand’s name out there all the time. They seem to understand me.” Just make sure that your content is honest, smart and helpful. Visibility is important, so long as what’s being seen is top-notch stuff. Remember, quality over quantity.

5. Don’t Take Shortcuts with Your Content Marketing

Content marketing isn’t something you can “hack” or do in “just fifteen minutes a day!” It takes a concerted effort on your part and a willingness to really learn the pain points of your B2B buyers. By becoming an actual thought leader, as opposed to one solely doing it just for the sale, you’ll create more meaningful content and, in turn, will be more likely to have a more comfortable, open conversation with the buyer.

Happy B2B Customers Can Get You More New Customers

b2b-customer-acquisitionAs we all know, word-of-mouth is the best marketing channel there is. Social media gives us the opportunity to create and scale word-of-mouth on a level that was impossible a few years ago. Top B2B companies are already taking advantage of this. According to a 2012 report by the Aberdeen Group, the top B2B firms gained 230% more leads via social media than their competition.

So how does this happen? The process has a few steps:

  • Identify why customers love you
  • Build a relationship
  • Ask for referrals and get them started
  • Make it a system

1. Identify why customers love you

Why do your customers love you? It may be your unique value proposition (i.e. we provide a super simple way to create media clips), or something distinctive about your company (i.e. we provide great customer service).

If you don’t know this, the way to find out is simple. Just ask. Ask your happiest customers why they are so happy with you. Ask them why they love your product and your company. Ask them what drew them to you, and why they are staying.

Make sure you write down as much as possible. You’ll be able to hear directly from customers what keeps them with you, and you’ll use this exact language later.

Now that you know why your happiest customers love you, it’s time to build a deeper relationship with them.

2. Build a relationship

When you’re dating, you don’t ask someone to be your boyfriend or girlfriend right away – you build a deeper relationship. And when you’d like a referral, you do the same thing. The goal is to transition from customers to happy customers, and from happy customers to evangelists.

To start, make sure that they’re getting top-notch customer service. Then get them more involved with your company so that they feel an emotional investment in your success. The best two ways to do this are through case studies and testimonials.

In a case study, you would feature the customer and their success using your product. If possible, try to make the case study a longer form piece of content, like a long form interview, a video, or a podcast. This gives your readers more quality content and allows you to spend more time with your customer.

Testimonials are also useful. It’s always good to have testimonials, and they also help build a stronger relationship with a customer. Remember, the more you interact with your customers (within reason), the better the relationship.

One you have case studies and testimonials, feature them on your blog or website. Share it on social media, and invite your customers to do the same. When they do, engage with them and have public, online conversations. This breaks the ice of you talking about your business on social media with the customer. It also makes them feel special, because they were highlighted on your blog and on social media. It’s a win-win.

3. Ask for referrals and get them started

After you have established a relationship, directly ask for a referral. At this point, this should be easy. By now you have a long-standing relationship with them, beyond just being a vendor. You have talked to them about why they are happy and what makes them stay, you have ensured they’ve gotten top-notch customer service, and you’ve given them exposure in your blog and in social media. They should be delighted with you, and delighted to do it. If not, you can win them over using the same language they used with you when they said why they loved you.

How you structure the referral program is up to you. There are many different flavors of this. Dropbox has a referral program built into the product – they offered up to 16 GB of storage space for referrals. Many companies have referral programs that are simply discounts for both parties for a certain period of time. Some firms don’t have formal programs, they just ask for customers to refer others as a favor. Figure out what works best for you.

The key to making this work is to make it easy for them and to get them started yourself.

Take the time to create suggested LinkedIn posts, Facebook posts, or Tweets for them. In the suggested posts, use the language that they themselves used to describe you. It will resonate more with them and make them more likely to share it.

When they do share, Like/Retweet it, and engage in (another) conversation with them online.

4. Make It A System

You should systematize this process in your company, moving new customers to becoming happy customers to becoming evangelists. In the process you’ll gain insight into your customers, create great content and testimonials, and ultimately, get more referrals.

Your 2015 B2B Social Media Predictions Are Totally Wrong. Or Maybe They Are Totally Right!

b2b-social-media-predictions-2015It is the time of year when bloggers dust off their crystal balls and try to predict what will happen in B2B social media in the coming year. I have done this for many years myself. Whether these predictions are based on recent data, anecdotal experience or pure conjecture, they are frequently wrong. Or maybe they are right.

But the best part of writing these blog posts is that nobody ever goes back and looks at last year’s post to see what bloggers got right and what they got wrong. It is a content creators dream come true: attractive headline, shareable content, no repercussions.

Anyone can predict the future if they are not accountable for being right.

These opinion pieces are just that. Opinions.

It is very easy to find a survey and say that B2B companies are increasing their social media budgets. The percentage of B2B marketing budgets spent on social media will rise from 9% to 13% in the next 12 months. It will continue to rise to 21% in the next five years. This single data point will let a blogger predict growth in social media budgets for the next five years. And this survey is updated every year, so this one can go on for eternity.

But nobody is checking up on the bloggers to see what really happened. Or the marketers.

Every year the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs release their benchmark report about content marketing. But in this year’s version they changed the definition of content marketing and the number of B2B marketers indicating that they used content marketing went down from the previous year from 93% to 86%. Does this mean that bloggers can use this study to predict the decline of content marketing? Of course they can.

But other parts of the report reveal that B2B marketers are spending more time and money on content marketing. These selective data points support a prediction of increased reliance on content marketing. A blogger can take their pick of the direction, based on their opinion.

And be right either way. Or wrong.

What about making predictions about mobile? Is this really the year that B2B marketers will finally embrace mobile? It’s very easy to predict. Even easier than it’s been for the past five years that bloggers, including me, have been predicting it. 58% of American adults have smartphones. The breakdown of that data is even higher when you look at groups that likely contain your customers. And that data is almost a year old.

Predict away about the impact of mobile, but B2B marketers will prove it wrong once again. B2B websites, white papers, ebooks are still designed and built for desktop computers. This is one of the biggest no-brainers for marketers in years. But bloggers can predict this until they are blue in the face, but it is just not happening.

Other areas that inspire prognosticating for 2015 are marketing automation, social media advertising, scaling of social media across organizations beyond marketing, measurements of success beyond chasing likes and followers and true executive understanding and adoption of social media.

But for every one of these data-supported predictions, there will be many B2B companies that just don’t follow the trend. And prove the predictions wrong yet again.

It is easy to sign up for a Twitter account, but hard for many B2B marketers to embrace the platform and share information that is of value to their customers. It is easy to pull a white paper out of the archives and say you are doing content marketing, but harder to build a content funnel that matches prospects’ interest and timing so it can all lead to sales. And yes, it is easy to look at your own behavior on your mobile device as a rallying cry to go “Mobile First,” but to get all the pieces in place to make this happen at most B2B companies is hugely challenging.

For many B2B companies 2015 will be the year of true social media adoption and success at many levels. Unless I’m wrong.

Photo credit: Flickr

10 Keys for Starting a B2B LinkedIn Group to Generate Leads

b2b-LinkedIn-LogoMy friend Tom Skotidas and I recently talked about the keys to starting a LinkedIn Group as a means to generate leads for B2B companies. He is the founder of Skotidas, Asia Pacific’s leader in B2B Social Media Lead Generation. This is part of an ongoing series of conversations about the intersection of sales and marketing, well as social selling.

1. Start with your Product or Service in Mind

The first thing you need to do is create a group that is connected to your product or service. This may be related to the product category or your specific industry, but general enough that the right people will find the group relevant and interesting. Choose a group name that reflects the topic and will be meaningful to your prospects.

2. Determine the Most Likely Buyer

Since we are looking at this group through the lens of lead generation, make sure you take into account your most likely buyers. The group should be targeted to them. As you are planning the group make sure to develop a targeted persona so you know who should be in the group.

3. Never Mention the Product

Even though you have the product in mind, the point of the group is not to sell the product. Market trends and solutions related to the product and services are what is important to the group.

4. Create a Closed Group

You can create a closed group or an open group on LinkedIn. Start out with a closed group as you are building it up. This way only people you invite can join the group. As it grows and develops some traction, you may want to make it an open group to take advantage of search and sharing benefits of things posted in the group. While an open group is visible to all, you can still moderate members and comments.

5. Manage it like a Community

The LinkedIn group you build is a community and it needs community management. That means you, or someone on your team, must be a manager of the group. This person must have the personality to interact with group members on a regular basis, reach out to them publicly or privately to ask questions or elicit comments, and generally keep the conversation interesting and flowing. A number of different people can serve in this role.

6. Build it like a 3-Layer Cake

Start the first layer by getting your staff to join the group so it has a bit of a head start. The second layer includes your closest business partners and some existing customers. Let them know the purpose of the group and that their interaction is encouraged. Once the group has that lived in feeling, invite some targeted prospects to join the group. This is the top of the cake. They are the ones to focus on, and it helps that they are joining an active, growing group.

7. Know What Content to Share

The purpose of this group is to provide value to the community, and especially the prospects, so they begin to build a relationship with you. You can do that through content. You can use third-party content related to the theme of the group or even conversation starters, which are just what they sound like. Comments and questions that get people talking.

8. Engage the Group

The community managers need to continuous engage the group members to keep the conversation going. That may include messaging someone with a specific and relevant post and asking them to provide their thoughts in the group.

9. Practice Both Inbound and Outbound Lead Generation

You can use this group to manage both inbound and outbound leads. Sharing content in the group that provides links back to your blog, website and landing pages encourages clicks and shares to drive more people to those pages. As you build relationships with your targeted prospects in the group, you can coordinate with the sales team to reach out to them. And this is no longer a cold call.

10. Remember Marketing Led, Sales Fed

Finally, keep in mind that social selling initiatives like this are run by the marketing team, but ultimately they support sales. You are generating leads for sales.

Are there other best practices you have developed in using LinkedIn groups to generate leads?

20 Most Important Stats from the 2015 B2B Content Marketing Report

The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs released their annual benchmark report on B2B content marketing. It is based on surveys of 1820 North American B2B Marketers across all industries and company sizes. This is the fifth year that they have released this report, and it continues to improve each year. The entire report is embedded at the end of this post.

The first, and most notable stat in this report is that number of B2B marketers using content marketing has gone down from 93% last year to 86% this year. That is because they changed the definition of content marketing to “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” Apparently this helped some respondents realize that there is a difference between content marketing and just creating content.

This is a benchmark study, so it gives you something you can compare yourself to. The study also examines the habits and activities of the most effective B2B content marketers, so you can see how you are doing against those who report that content marketing is meeting their goals and driving business value.

1. 86% of B2B Marketers are using content marketing

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2. Only 38% of B2B Marketers rate their content marketing as effective

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3. 47% of B2B Marketers have dedicated content marketing groups

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4. 69% of the most effective B2B Marketers have dedicated content marketing groups

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5. Only 35% of B2B Marketers have a documented content marketing strategy

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6. 54% of the most effective B2B Marketers have a documented content marketing strategy

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7. 55% of B2B Marketers plan to increase their content marketing spending in the next year

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8. The top goal for B2B content marketing is brand awareness

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9. 83% of B2B marketers use content marketing for lead generation

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10. 81% of B2B marketers use content marketing for engagement

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11. 70% of B2B Marketers have created more content in the last year

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12. 63% of B2B Marketers use website traffic as their metric of content marketing success

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13. 94% of B2B Marketers use Linkedin to distribute their content

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14. 88% of B2B Marketers use Twitter to distribute their content

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15. 84% of B2B Marketers use Facebook to distribute their content

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16. 54% of B2B Marketers see producing engaging content as their biggest content marketing challenge

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17. 50% of B2B Marketers see producing content consistently as their biggest content marketing challenge

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18. 49% of B2B Marketers see measuring content effectiveness as their biggest content marketing challenge

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19. 54% of the most effective B2B Marketers publish content daily or multiple times per week

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20. 37% of the total marketing budget of the most effective B2B Marketers goes to content marketing

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Professors Share Observations on the State of B2B Marketing

b2b-marketing-ebookI recently participated in a project with the Oracle Marketing Cloud where they interviewed marketing professors about the state of B2B marketing and how they are using that knowledge to develop curriculum to train the marketers of the future. It was an esteemed panel of professors, including:

  • Barbara Kahn, Patty and Jay H. Baker Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania
  • Josh Murdock, Professor of Educational Technology & Social Networking, Valencia College
  • Mark Schaefer, Marketing Consultant, College Educator and Author, Rutgers University
  • Peter Fader, Professor of Marketing, Co-Director of Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative, The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania
  • Eric Bradlow, K.P. Chao Professor of Marketing, Statistics, and Education, The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania
  • Jessica Rogers, Graduate Social Media and Marketing, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Jeffrey L. Cohen, Distinguished Lecturer of Marketing Analytics and Social Media, Ball State University (hey, that’s me!)

Download the entire ebook here (registration required), but in the meantime, here are my answers to the questions.

1. What is the number one thing marketers may have lost sight of?
Too many marketing activities are siloed from the top-level business objectives of a company, and are not measured against metrics that others in the company care about. If your executives follow daily, weekly or monthly numbers related to things like sales, customer retention, cost savings and customer satisfaction, then reporting softer marketing numbers will not win any points with those executives. Marketers need to find ways to tie their efforts to those business metrics.

2. What are your observations with respect to the nuances of the B2B and B2C marketing disciplines?
As a lifelong B2B marketer, and co-author of The B2B Social Media Book, B2B marketing makes sense to me. No matter what techniques you use, you are ultimately driving prospects into a buying process where you can track where they came from. While selling through a distribution network can complicate things, a company sales rep, or someone no more than a couple steps removed away from the company, handles B2B purchases, making tracking possible. I have never understood how Coca-Cola marketers can track their efforts to sell a bottle of Coke at the grocery store or convenience store. This action is too far removed from their brand marketing and advertising to attribute action to particular campaigns.

3. What do you think a B2B marketer can learn from B2C or vice versa?
B2B marketers can learn creativity, creating an emotional response and storytelling from the B2C pros, and B2C marketers can learn more about calls-to-action, attribution and leading a buyer through a journey from their B2B brethren.

4. Can you compare and contrast the curriculum that you’re teaching and the current roles and responsibilities of today’s marketers?
I am teaching students about the importance of their public, online presence and how to keep up with a constant flow of information in their industry. This would not be an explicit part of their marketing role, but an understanding of this will make them stronger marketers. Traditionally, it has been social media savvy folks on the team who really understand how to build a personal presence and follow all the right sources in a manageable way, but these skills are important as a solid foundation for all marketers.

Students learn how to create and analyze social media marketing campaigns that resonate with customers, B2B and B2C, and are based on solid marketing and business principles. Proper goal setting and how to review analytics to understand success are also a key part of my learning objectives. This fits in with the skills and requirements of marketers in the field. Marketers create campaigns, analyze competitors’ campaigns and review the success of their own efforts.

5. What will you teach my future employees this year?
I start by explaining the difference between personal social media, which is what most college students do, and professional social media. They need to understand the importance of a professional profile, not just on LinkedIn, but on all social platforms, if they are going into marketing. This is part of the transition to the working world. I tie social media to business results and the basic principles of marketing, so students understand the value of social media to an organization. I go though major and minor social platforms, looking at current examples and best practices, so students have an understanding of what is happening right now in social media marketing.

Please download the ebook here to learn what the rest of the panel thinks about the state of B2B marketing and how education feeds into it (registration required).

5 Ways to Use Your LinkedIn Profile to Attract Inbound B2B Leads

b2b-LinkedIn-LogoMy friend Tom Skotidas and I are at it again and this time we talked about how anyone, but especially B2B sales pros, can use their LinkedIn profile to attract inbound leads. Tom calls this inbound social selling. He is the founder of Skotidas, Asia Pacific’s leader in B2B Social Media Lead Generation. We have been talking about the intersection of sales and content marketing for B2B companies. A lot of people call this social selling, but there is more to it than just that.

1. Re-Think the Purpose of Your Profile

Rather than just create a profile that shows your job history and qualifications, create a profile that shows how you can solve your target audience’s problems and serve their needs. Think of your profile as a piece content that reflects your company’s capabilities, rather than your resume.

2. Use the Right Keywords

Throughout your LinkedIn profile you should use keywords that are related to your products and services. Not just any keywords, but ones that your prospects commonly use. One way to determine those keywords is by using Google’s Keyword Ad Planner Tool. It is designed to help determine keywords for Google ads, so you need an AdWords account (connected to a regular Google account), but you don’t need to place any ads to use the tool.

3. View Your LinkedIn Profile as a Web Page to be Indexed

As you are re-thinking about your LinkedIn profile and using the appropriate keywords, remember that this is a web page that is indexed by Google and other search engines. LinkedIn is a high-ranking domain and can show up as a top result in searches for your keywords.

4. Don’t Forget About LinkedIn Search

Active LinkedIn users use the search functions within LinkedIn to find what they are looking for, beyond people’s names and companies.

5. Optimize These 9 Fields in Your LinkedIn Profile

Once you have your keywords to attract your prospects, what do you do with them? There are several fields in your LinkedIn profile that Tom identified as the most relevant.

  • Headline: The default is your current job at your current company. This is the most important thing to change to appeal to prospects.
  • Contact Information: This should include the best ways to contact you, plus a website or landing page that includes information to your target prospects
  • Summary: This is where you can really speak to the prospect about how you and your company can solve their business problems, using a good selection of keywords.
  • Experience: What you do in your job is another opportunity to tell the story of your success helping customers solve problems.
  • Marketing Assets: Work with your marketing team to get Powerpoints and PDFs to add to your LinkedIn profile and use your keywords in the title of the pieces.
  • Skills & Endorsements: Have others endorse you for skills that are most relevant to your target prospects. You have the ability to edit your list of skils.
  • Publications: Relevant blog posts, ebooks or articles quoting you can be listed here. If you don’t have any, this is a good time see if you can collaborate with someone to create some things to list.
  • Recommendations: Ask your customers for recommendations. They will use the terms that others in your industry use, and they will also validate your position as someone who is helpful.
  • Groups Joined: The Groups you join show on your profile, so make sure you join relevant Groups with names that look and sound good.

What have you done on your LinkedIn profile to attract B2B prospects?