3 Ways Your B2B Content Can Provide the Most Value

b2b-social-media-content-giftMost of us wouldn’t give a friend or relative a highly flattering portrait of ourselves as a gift. Yet, B2B marketing organizations and marketing agencies do it all the time on social media and in other marketing communications. They push out self-promoting content about their brand, news, successes, or participation in industry events. You don’t have to go any further than the nearest press release to find examples of this self-serving marketing prose. Has anyone ever described themselves as anything other than a leader, an innovator or an industry disrupter?

The fact is that we know what makes a good personal gift, but we sometimes fail to put that knowledge to work in our marketing.

1. Understand What Content People Care About

Content is based on an understanding of what’s important to others, what interests them, what they care about. To do that you have to listen. In B2B marketing, one thing that fills the lead and demand generation pipeline is content that gives your audiences insight and information on the subjects they care about.

On top of your regular social media engagement, you can go one step further to connect with your buyers by following industry forums, blogs, interest groups and webcasts where they also share content. For example, IT.Toolbox.com does a fantastic job of not only understanding their IT audience, but engaging them with the right content. You can find blogs, research and discussion groups ranging from topics like technology trends and business intelligence to storage and security hardware. Content is available in real-time to stay relevant and engaging, while providing insight into industry behavior and patterns.

2. Make Your Content a Gift That Gives Continual Value

Give people content they can use long after their initial visit. After a lead becomes a buyer, valuable content will keep them engaged. Cisco Communities is a great example of how you can provide a wealth of buyer-generated content around trends, implementation and performance tuning. Help your buyers share what delivers results for them.

One organization found that its Facebook posts generated more interest and followers when it provided tips on using social media effectively, than by simply announcing product marketing news. Everyone wants to know where technology is going, so start a conversation. Ask “what, why and how” questions. Give your audience direct links to industry research and to the thought leaders who are talking about tomorrow’s technology.

Promote others’ relevant content, including that of your industry’s thought leaders. Find out who the thought leaders are in your industry and what they’re talking about. For example, searches in Cisco Communities not only include Cisco’s own product marketing content, but content from other partners and interest-based communities as well. Cisco even provides a filter so visitors can get to that non-Cisco content directly.

3. Be Surprising

People love a surprise. One sure-fire way to surprise people these days: give them content without asking for something in return – their personal information or an offer to chat now. Highlight your buyers’ successes, even when it has nothing to do with your solution. Offer an unexpected additional service or a one-time upgrade at no charge.

Stepping outside the “just business” zone can also favorably surprise your audience. Find out what community service organizations your top buyers support and get involved. Rotary International is one organization with a long track record of proven success at building business by building goodwill. Work with them, or a similar organization, and share what you are doing.

In a nutshell, your content strategy is all about giving content “gifts” that raise your value in the eyes of your buyers. Differentiating your brand isn’t only about your product marketing. It’s also about how you engage with your buyers: Understanding what they care about, reaching out to them wherever they are, supplying content with ongoing value, and, finally, surprising them with unexpected value.

What are some ways your content has given great value? Share what you’ve done in the comments below.

The preceding post is inspired by my podcast interview with Rishi Dave, former Executive Director of Digital Marketing at Dell.

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Photo credit: Flickr

The Search for Meaning in B2B Marketing

b2b-marketing-meaningOur friend Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners has written a lot about the what and the how of B2B marketing, but never the why. In this amazing Slideshare presentation called The Search for Meaning in B2B Marketing, and embedded below, he tackles the question of what makes his career in B2B marketing meaningful.

In addition to the ideas expressed, pay attention to the presentation itself. Presented as a notebook with handwritten notes, sketches and more formal type, this comes across as the simple musings of a creative guy (which Doug certainly is). He really captures the right tone and visual style in this piece. And the voyeuristic quality of reading someone else’s notebook makes it even more fun.

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The honesty of Doug’s writing really creates a connection with his audience of B2B marketers. While he is working out meaning in his own career, he hopes that it helps others in the field. My favorite line is:

When you were a kid, you never said, “I want to be a B2B marketer when I grow up.”

You definitely need to check out the whole notebook, but here are the seven things that give his work as a B2B marketer meaning:

1. I like helping companies grow.

2. I Like helping our clients achieve success in their careers.

3. I love working alongside talented, engaged, positive people who also love what they do.

4. I love learning new things.

5. I love work that demands creativity.

6. I like honest work that asks me to build a great case for my client.

7. I like figuring out how the business of business works.

Are there other things that give meaning to your career as a B2B marketer?

Which Companies are Totally Nailing B2B Marketing?

B2B marketing can often be dry, stuffy, and an overall snooze fest when not done correctly. Businesses are slowly but surely learning that business-to-business marketing doesn’t have to be all direct mail and incentive promotions. Some companies are actually producing really creative B2B marketing.

So, which companies have totally got this B2B marketing thing down? Let’s take a look.

Salesforce

Salesforce is one of the most well-known B2B products on the market and since part of their business is actually providing social analytics to customers they’d better be good at social themselves. Fortunately, Salesforce really excels on social, particularly on Facebook where they consistently using their header image to promote upcoming events. They also use Facebook to prominently display links to everything from infographics to blog posts.
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Demandbase

Demandbase does a really great job of providing (and sponsoring) educational content for B2B readers. Typically using a mixture of slides, white papers, blog posts, and even microsites, Demandbase racks up leads and pipeline every time it releases a new informational program. Their oft-downloaded and entertaining series of webinars doesn’t hurt.

Microsoft

Microsoft has gotten a lot of flack lately for its aggressive marketing in the wake of the disastrous Windows 8 platform, but what they’re really, really good at is bridging the gap between B2B marketing and customer-facing campaigns. For example, the “Children of the 90s” campaign spoke to every millennial who saw it, from consumers to in-house developers at big firms. Reaching the target audience is half the battle and Microsoft’s doing it right.

Sungard

Sungard provides software and IT solutions for a wide variety of situations…kind of boring, yes. But Sungard hit on one of the biggest trends of the year with their “Zombie Apocalypse” campaign that linked their services with the risk of an impending zombie surge. Using an infographic, social campaign, and even an e-book, Sungard made a totally boring concept totally viral. Genius.
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Atlas Copco

Atlas Copco is a producer of industrial equipment and they’re revolutionizing the way B2B companies use apps. Utilizing smart phone apps, Atlas offers at-a-touch technical specs, hazardous workplace information, and informational videos for customers to access anytime. The company didn’t just create the content and leave it there – they’re already on the 5th version of the iTunes app because they like to reevaluate and add new content often.

Clippard

You’ve probably never heard of Clippard and that’s because they’re a medical device company specializing in pneumatic actuators. They mixed up the boring trade show booth by creating an actual guitar made out of actuator valves that’s played by air. Get it? An air guitar! Their booth is now the must-see stop of any medical device tradeshow and they get to show off their product while engaging potential customers. That’s what good B2B marketing is all about.
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In 2014, B2B marketing will evolve to be more strategy-focused, much like traditional marketing. Companies will have to work harder to cut through the clutter and they’ll increasingly find ways to utilize social media marketing for business-to-business interaction.

The Difference Between B2B and B2C Digital Marketing

I was tempted to write a list of seven or so ideas on the differences between B2B and B2C marketing. Traditionally there’ve been several, but in 2013 (and soon 2014) I think there’s only one, albeit with seven or more consequences and considerations.

It’s important that we recognize the shift in how similar B2B and B2C have become. The method by which people find information has largely become the same, thanks to computing technology and of course Google’s drive to make vast information searchable on every level. Whereas B2C was traditionally led by outbound broadcast and press tactics — and B2B by outbound direct mail and sales calls — we’re seeing an always on consumer now searching online and leading the charge for information, creating an inbound approach from the perspective of both B2C and B2B marketers. This starts to reveal a common set of planning imperatives that we’ve outlined below.

What remains the real difference then?

It’s the number of decision makers and influencers involved in the sales and marketing process. The nature of influencing a purchase decision in an individual or household is of course more obvious and directed in B2C, whereas in B2B we have hierarchies and people in decision chains. Though the same B2B decision makers are as emotional and irrational as they are at home, it matters that there are so many of them in one chain. It sounds simple, but it’s not. The reality is that there’s not a uniform B2B hierarchy that we can expect either. These differ by market, and most of all by business size. It’s OK though, since it’s about employing key observations on strategic planning.

1. Product or service explanation

Some might say that B2B products and services require a lot more detail than B2C. I’d suggest the specific insight here is that those products and services require explanatory content in variable levels of detail and format for more audience types at different stages of the buying cycle. This makes it a longer planning process, with more variables to consider. For example, the requirements of a Finance Director at the closing stages of the sales process are wildly different to those of the Sales Director who becomes motivated to short-list the product initially.

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2. B2B is naturally more targeted

Thankfully, there appears to be a little more common sense for customer targeting in B2B, something that we’d hope would exist in B2C, where the attention is more sporadic and possibly distracted with vague ideas of viral and a misplaced value on collecting fans and followers — only to underserve them afterwards. B2B companies, on the other hand, have a better handle on who they’re targeting and where they are, a natural inclination which is also easier to solve. After all, buyers of a particular chemical product or future technology are inherently more findable that 16-19 year old males interested in football.

3. Creative, marketed content fuels inbound

Placing excellent content where buyers already are, or likely to be, and amplifying that with paid media is good sense for targeted marketing. It’s never been more important for B2B and B2C marketers alike to invest heavily in content that solves the problems of the prospective buyer. For B2B that’s also handling content that the potential buyer may need to manage influencers, too. Especially those holding the purse strings.

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4. Content strategy

Related to the above is recognizing that our content exists in an eco-system with our own content hub at the center of that. We must appreciate the difference between content requirements around a sales funnel on owned media platforms, whilst at the same time promoting content to an audience away from owned web properties. The quality of process and planning needed to do this well, and affordably, can’t be over-stated — targeted content can be re-shaped, re-purposed and re-created in multiple formats, for multiple applications. Considering long-form content first, and planning the process of atomizing it, can save time and money. Is it here that B2B marketers can seek inspiration from their arguably more creative B2C cousins? After all, all buyers are people, and entertainment and inspiration does not have to come at the expense of credibility, does it?

5. Integrating email and social media

It’s easy to abuse both social media and email, with poorly targeted ‘blasts’ of information that matter to a hungry sales division. This is something that B2B marketers have been notoriously bad at. Planning how to nurture those vaguely interested enquiries to qualified leads is something different again — and there have never been so many tools and strategies to make this affordable for even the smallest of businesses. Returning to the question of “how do I serve the needs of [the target audience],” at every stage of the buying cycle, will enable prospective customers to take the next step towards purchase by showing intent and re-engagement, not one giant and unrealistic leap. Both B2C and B2B marketers are still learning how to enter the conversational, and in the moment, nature of social media, the power and genuine one-to-one potential for slow and steady relationship building — using the networks, portals and platforms for what they are, catalysts for connection, rather than the be and end all.

The key remains to plan appropriately- to plan to succeed through a combination of targeted, integrated marketing that works in the service of the audience first and foremost.

Two Examples of Stellar B2B Facebook Pages

Facebook is a huge topic of interest to B2B marketers, so we wanted to share two examples of stellar B2B Facebook Pages, as a follow-up to How to Build a Great B2B Community on Facebook. That post was the first part of a MarketingProfs B2B Forum presentation and here are the case studies from the second part.

Examples of Interaction on Facebook

B2B-Facebook-MarketingProfs
Corey O’Loughlin is a community manager for MarketingProfs. She shared the interaction and impact of their Facebook initiatives (go ahead and like them if you haven’t already!).

At a high level, Corey outlined the following goals for their Facebook initiatives:

  • Map goals – MarketingProfs does engage in sales via Facebook but had examples for effective integration throughout the presentation
  • Create content
  • Get feedback
  • Drive membership
  • Show personality

Corey shared a series of examples from the MarketingProfs Facebook page, walking the audience from Facebook update through impact in overall content marketing initiative.

Example: 15 Marketing Buzzwords to Stop Using
A question, discussion, and response from this update, poking fun at marketing buzzwords turned into a Slideshare presentation, blog post, and follow up series.

The presentation hit the hot spot on Slideshare three different times and could be traced back to 500 new members.

Example: 8 Misconceptions About a Remote Workforce
Newsjacking Yahoo’s announcement eliminating their remote workforce, MarketingProfs (who’s workforce is completely remote) used a similar strategy, leveraging the actively participated in Facebook discussion to generate a presentation, which now has over 80,000 views on Slideshare.

A few other ideas to consider:

  • Fill-in-the-blanks are great for developing discussion
  • Negative updates tend to do better than positive ones, but use them judiciously
  • Updates can be great for getting feedback for challenges or issues (Corey cited an example of understanding their lack of pickup on mobile marketing events even though broader interests seemed so high)
  • Doodles and images work and MarketingProfs is lucky to have such a talented artist on their team

From a sales perspective, Corey showed an example of a creative brand-based selling action / promotion. The key is to be creative in communication and execution. The end result was that even though the update itself had very little engagement, they still sold five passes to this event.

Content Makes Your Boring B2B Business Less Boring

B2B-Facebook-Constant-Contact
Kristen Curtiss is the social media specialist who takes on the daily challenge of making sure Constant Contact customers stay engaged with the business through social media. Believe it or not, email is not very exciting without a bit of valuable content to keep things moving.

High level results of Constant Contact’s Facebook initiatives:

  • Over 91,000 Facebook Likes
  • 59,000+ fans (likes) gained in a two year period
  • 13% of fans have connected (interacted) with the page

Constant Contact uses a mixture of posts and updates to develop reach and engagement. Some of their best practices include:

  • Custom images work – they started by just using photos but found that adding “thought bubbles” and other customizations worked better for engagement
  • Remember marketing objective – Constant Contact consistently queries their audience to find out what they are most concerned with
  • Text only posts tend to get more reach from fans; even more so than images. Constant Contact uses a 50/50 mix of image and text updates to keep things balanced
  • They only post links to the site once a week because they get the least engagement (as opposed to images and text)
  • Constant Contact uses Facebook chats. They created a custom image that points to a chat on Facebook, which in turn helps develop customer understanding
  • Customer feedback is very important – Facebook is an important tool for them to message customers about issues / service and feedback on new functionality and development
  • Kristen recommends running social campaigns via tabs on Facebook and make certain to cross pollinate efforts (for example, their Facebook initiatives are embedded through other marketing channels like email distribution)

Lastly and most importantly, HAVE FUN! Remember that the key to getting good engagement rates is to keep things lively and conversational.

How to Build a Great B2B Community on Facebook

b2b-facebookWe know you (yes, you B2B marketer) are skeptical. The social network of choice for many B2B marketers is LinkedIn. Even though Facebook is the largest social network by far (and one of the most trafficked websites overall), B2B marketers remain skeptical of Facebook’s viability for marketing impact.

Mike Lewis, Chief Marketing Officer of Peoplefluent kicked things off his session at MarketingProfs B2B Forum with a few important statistics courtesy of a recent Hubspot report about Facebook:

  • 750 million monthly visitors
  • 51% more likely to make a purchase after they “liked” a brand on Facebook
  • 41% of B2Bs surveyed indicated they have acquired customers through Facebook

Here are three examples of B2B Facebook pages worth reviewing:

Mike also showed a business page he worked on – Awareness Social Media Best Practices – and the key is / was content and communication (and literally, “best practices”). The page went from 0 – 10k likes in 2011 and more importantly the organization could track 22% of leads back to a first interaction on this Facebook page.

What makes these examples outstanding?

  • Audience engagement
  • Compelling and relevant conversations
  • Encouraging the share
  • No selling (direct selling at least)

6 Keys to effective B2B Facebook page development:

  • Paying Attention
  • Interaction
  • Content
  • Presence
  • Management
  • Measurement

On paying attention: listen to people and their actions and behaviors. This is the heart of a Facebook strategy but more importantly (taking a phrase from Chris Brogan – paraphrasing) ”It’s not what you say, it’s about what you hear.”

  • Why are you listening?
  • Where are you going to listen?
  • What are you going to pay attention to?

Silo your attention based on brand, keywords, buying signals, etc. Understand the market landscape, brand, competition, customers, influencers, buying intent phrases (situational, problems, etc), and of course, what’s happening on the page itself.

If attention is the yin, interaction is the yang. Mike outlined how to understand your extended audience, since your direct competition is not necessarily your competition on Facebook. You’re also competing with other brands, a person’s friends, family, network, etc.

At a high level, here is your extended audience and the basis for how to communicate with them:

  • Broad Extended Audience – share photos and videos
  • Passive – ask questions
  • Moderate – consistency is key
  • Active – make them champions
  • Influential – guest post opportunities

Considerations for improving and developing presence:

  • Use milestones
  • Star and highlight important information
  • Connect other channels
  • Use custom tabs within your Facebook page
  • Maintain consistent branding across Facebook page

All in all great examples and ideas that hopefully can sway a skeptical B2B market audience to do more with Facebook.

The 2014 B2B Content Marketing Report is Here! Today! Plus an Infographic!

b2b-content-marketing-usage-2014It is that time once again and the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs have released the 2014 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends–North America Report. This is the 4th annual version of this B2B content marketing report, based on surveys of 1,217 North American B2B marketers across many industries from companies of all sizes. This is the gold standard report and you will be seeing it in presentations about content marketing for the next year. Grab some data for yourself today.

There is so much data in the report, and it always begins with the stat of how many B2B marketers are using content marketing. Again this number is up from 91% to:

93% of B2B Marketers using content marketing

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Most Effective B2B Content Marketers

One of the highlights of the report is what the most effective B2B content marketers are doing differently than their peers. And maybe that includes you. This is a great yardstick for your efforts. 42% of those surveyed rated their content marketing as a 4 or a 5 on a five-point scale with 5 being very effective. And this is up from 36% last year. And what are these most effective marketers doing?

66% of them have a documented content strategy

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86% of them have someone overseeing content marketing

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80% of them cite lead generation as a goal

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They use an average of 15 different tactics

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They use an average of 7 social media platforms

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39% of the marketing budget is spent on content marketing

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Only 35% are challenged with producing engaging content

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Metrics

The top metrics have not changed for the last three years and the number of B2B marketers citing them as their content marketing goals have gone up. This means that content marketing with solid goals are growing. And this report helps reinforce that. In a marketing space without clear standards of measurement, the answers of your peers in this report really are the benchmarks for how you need to approach content marketing.

63% use web traffic to measure content marketing success

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54% use sales lead quality to measure content marketing succes

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Challenges

And finally, the content marketing challenges for B2B marketers have been pretty consistent from year to year, however, this year the stats are split out by large companies and small companies. This helps add some context to the challenges reported. I have had this very discussion about last year’s report, so I am happy to see this breakout.

16% of large B2B companies cite their biggest content marketing challenge is producing content that engages

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34% of small B2B companies cite their biggest content marketing challenge is a lack of time

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Make sure you view the full 2014 B2B Content Marketing Benchmark Report embedded below to find that nugget of data to convince your boss that now is the time for content marketing.

B2B Content Marketing Benchmark Report Infographic

Click the infographic to view it larger and explore the awesome visual data from the report.
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4 Ways LinkedIn is All-In for B2B Content Marketing

b2b-LinkedIn-LogoLinkedIn has always been the professional social network and the most effective network for B2B marketers. The mission of LinkedIn is to connect the world’s professionals and make them more productive. As they focus more on content marketing, there are strong parallels, as the right content can also make users more productive.

The context of LinkedIn is professional. This is important to understand as LinkedIn is a customer first company. Even though customers go to Facebook at night, the next morning they come back to LinkedIn with their professional hat on. They are aspirational as they think about their career and other professional goals. They are investing time in the platform, rather than spending time.

Marketers need to put their prospects and customers first when it comes to content.

Here are the four ways that LinkedIn is all in for B2B Content Marketing:

1. LinkedIn Today

LinkedIn Today promotes content from the web that is shared using the LinkedIn Share button. The most popular content is surfaced to LinkedIn members, and shown to their based on their industry, interests and self-selected categories.

2. Influencers

LinkedIn selected 150 influencers to launch this program by offering the opportunity to post long form content about any topics, or blog, on LinkedIn. The only guidelines LinkedIn provided were that members are interested in content that informs, educates and inspires. These posts generated rich, deep comments from real thought leaders. The program has expanded to 400 people since its launch last year.

3. Slideshare

The acquisition of the world’s largest collection of business presentations really brought the idea of visual content to LinkedIn. There was always a strong connection between two platforms, as they both focused on the business side of things, but by using the Slideshare technology, LinkedIn has created more opportunities to post richer, visual content on profiles and company pages.

4. Sponsored Updates

LinkedIn took their time developing an in-stream, native ad product because of their customer first focus. These updates appear across mobile, tablet and desktop versions of the site. One example of a company that has achieved success with these updates was marketing technology company and power content creator, Hubspot. They got 400% more leads from their sponsored updates than any other source.

Change the marketers mantra from always be selling to always be helping

The key ingredient to better content experience is relevance and as marketers move from information to insights they can create more relevant content. Three ways to create more relevant content in real time:

  • Waiting for the Moment:
  • In the Moment:
  • Anticipating the Moment:

What is LinkedIn doing to help marketers make sure they have relevance content?

  • Highlight content types
  • Quantify content influence
  • Provide recommendations

How have the changes to LinkedIn and their approach to content marketing affected your B2B marketing on the platform? Have these new opportunities driven more traffics and leads to your own content?

What is Harder about B2B Blogging? Starting or Continuing?

b2b-blogging-getting-startedThere is no doubt that blogging for a B2B company is hard. Every day, or every week if you are getting started, you need to publish well-written, thoughtful posts that speak to your audience about their own business issues, while at the same time avoiding product-focused sales pitches and repurposed press releases. Seasoned content marketers don’t see this as a problem. They create content all day long. Night and day. With eyes opened and closed.

But for traditional marketers it is not that easy. And team-of-one marketers. And small business owners. It can be hard to find the time. Or the existing content. Or the creative ideas. But if you start dedicating a bit of time each day or week to focus on creating great blog content, it will become easier and more natural.

Trying to figure out how to get started? The links below provide different perspectives on blogging that are relevant for B2B marketers, and will get you thinking. But don’t just sit around reading blog posts on the internet. Talk to your salespeople. Talk to customer service. Learn what issues keep customers and prospects awake at night. Can you provide resources that can help? Not product pitches, but education. Use your blog to become a trusted resource.

Remember that B2B blogging is a long game. Whether you are looking at the ongoing search traffic or supporting a long sales cycle, both ideas should inspire you to keep blogging. Several of the posts below should provide some new inspiration to keep you going. And if you are the kind of person inspired by stats, according to Hubspot, 92% of companies who blogged multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog.

Are there other recent resources that have inspired your B2B blogging? Share them below.

People Do Not Follow Blogs – They Read Articles
What do you do when you enter the URL of a highly established blog into your browser? Do you read every article you see on the front page? Likely, you don’t. Instead, you quickly skim through the headlines to see if there is something that actually interests you. You click on those headlines that seem relevant or intriguing, then you read the first several lines.
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Blogging best practices: 8 ideas for curated blog posts
The blog is a critical centerpiece to your content marketing efforts. And it is also the content platform that is most difficult for organizations to maintain the pacing and quality necessary to compete. One of the best things you can do is curate. My only warning is that curating done poorly and cheaply can turn people off. However, curating done well is a scalable way to create great content.
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Is Blogging Still Relevant in a World of Social Media?
I must hear this question – or a variation of it – at least once a week. So I thought I’d open it up for some discussion to the wider community. My feeling is that blogging is a very relevant option for developing a web presence but as the question states – there are other legitimate options too.
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13 Dumb Mistakes Making Your Business Blog Drab, Smelly, and Sleazy
Let’s be honest. Creating a blog is tough. Blogging requires writing skills; enthusiasm about your company; and industry expertise. It requires energy, creativity, and perseverance. You can’t expect your blog to produce results straightaway. Depending on your industry and online competition, it may take three to six months, or sometimes even longer to generate results.
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The Unremarked Death of Another Business Blog
The biggest issue with content marketing is, clearly, THE CONTENT. There are many great tools to solve the issue of how to promote and manage your content: Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and the social networks themselves. For most organizations though, as we can see, that is the least of their worries … as they have no content to manage and share.
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Photo credit: Flickr

How to Optimize Your B2B Landing Page

B2B-landingpage-exampleTraffic from social media must come to a landing page to convert those visitors to B2B leads. Knowing the conversion rate of a landing page is the first step to optimizing that landing page.

The conversion rate of a landing page is the percentage of visitors that complete and submit the form on the page divided by the total number of visitors to that page. Generating leads with social media can be increased in two ways. The first is by increasing the amount of traffic to a landing page. The second is to increase the conversion rate of a landing page to enable more of the visitors to become leads. While improving conversion rates for a landing page is a long-term task, following best practices will help you start out with higher conversion rates and more leads.

Landing pages are different from website pages. Most of the pages on a business website are about education. Landing pages are about action. When a person visits a landing page, the most important aspect of the entire page is that it clearly directs the visitor to take an action. Most often that action is to fill out a form in exchange for an offer.

1. Provide One Clear Action

When looking at a landing page, take a step back from the computer. Take a quick glance, really only a second. During that oh-so-brief time and from that further distance, is the action that should be taken on that page clear? Simplicity is key to many aspects of social media marketing, but most important when it comes to landing pages. Part of simplicity on landing pages is removing options for the user. Too many choices are a bad thing. The more choices that you give a landing page visitor, the higher the likelihood that they will do nothing and simply leave the page without becoming a lead.

2. No Top Navigation

One of the easiest way to remove choices for the visitor is to remove the top navigation. Include a prominent logo in the uppper, that can link back to your home page, but do not include the standard menu across the top. Once you have gotten someone to the landing page, do not distract them with other paths. Let them finish the path they are on and complete the form. This means that you can’t use the standard web template to make these pages, but you need a clean landing page design.

3. Limited Bottom Navigation

The same is true about bottom navigation. Get rid of it. Lots of sites have a full menu and other resources in the site footer, which in this case would distract the visitor and keep them from completing the form. If your site needs copyright or policy links at the bottom of every page, add those very limited items to the landing page design, but don’t take the lazy route and include the entire web site footer.

4. Match Look and Language of Call to Action

A visitor clicked on something to get to the landing page. They were promised an offer. It had a compelling headline. It had a look to it. You set their expectations with that something (blog post, social media update, sponsored post) and now you have to pay off those expectations. The offer itself is part of that, but so is the look and feel of the landing page. You don’t want to create the disconnect of the visitor questioning what they just clicked on because there is no visual connection or pay off to their expectations.

5. What’s the Promise of the Headline

The headline on the landing page should continue with the promise of the offer. Will the visitor learn something? Everyone wants to be smarter. Will they get access to premium information? Everyone wants to feel like an insider. A simple way is to use the title of the ebook or webinar, which should already be optimized for attracting the right visitors with the right promise.

6. Keep Copy Short and Direct

Give them a brief summary of what they are signing up for. Include a few bullet points focused on benefits to the visitor, not features. And provide a clear call to action on the page so they know what to do next. Most landing pages have too much copy. See A/B testing below to determine if your pages have too much copy.

7. Include an Image

The correct image reinforces that the visitor is in the right place. It can show them what they are getting, although ebooks are often shown as physical books. Very confusing. It also helps someone scan the image and keep moving towards the form.

8. Limit Number of Fields

This is the most important part of the landing page. This is where you need to get the visitor to provide their information. Even though business contact information is much more available than it use to be, it still feels like an invasion of privacy to ask for certain information. Keep to the information you require and the number of fields at a minimum. Only ask for information you really need. If you are never going to follow up by phone from this offer, don’t ask for a phone number. Email is enough. Asking for a phone just reminds prospects that a salesperson will call. That will prevent some people from filling out the form. Many small businesses are reluctant to indicate their annual sales. Use number of employees as less intrusive way to gauge company size. Again, if you don’t need it, don’t ask for it. No matter what your sales team wants down the road.

9. A/B Test Everything (One at a Time)

A simple A/B test involves changing one thing on your landing page and driving traffic to both versions of the page to compare the difference in conversion rate. The more you can hold constant, the better your test will be. You should A/B test the big things like the headline, amount of copy, number of fields, even the button color and button text. Once Google A/B tested 50 different shades of blue buttons. Extreme, but they knew what drove more conversions.

10. Track the Right Metrics

And finally, to optimize your conversion rate, you have to have the right metrics. Start with how many people view the page. Next, you may have data telling you how many people started the form, but abandoned it. And lastly, how many people completed it. You conversion rate is the number of completed forms divided by the visitors to the landing page. This is the main number you are working to increase. The middle number of people who start the form and don’t submit it can provide specific feedback on the number of fields and the information requested. You will see a definite increase in conversion rate with fewer fields. But make sure the prospects are the right ones that lead to sales. And that is another set of metrics.

Do you have any examples of well-optimized landing pages or have you seen any particular fields that made you abandon a page without completing the form?