STUDY: B2B TECH BUYERS EXPLORE MULTIPLE CONTENT ASSETS PRIOR TO PURCHASE

According to a recent study by Eccolo Media, nearly 64 percent of B2B technology buyers said that they read between 2 to 5 pieces of content before making a purchase.

About 30 percent of respondents said that white papers influenced their purchasing decisions. Additionally, 15 percent of people said that emails were influential to their consumption, while 57 percent cited product brochures and data sheets.

However, content is not only important during the buying process, but after the purchase is made as well, according to Eccolo. About 80 percent of survey respondents said that it’s “important” or “very important” to receive content after they have bought a product. To collect this data, the “2015 Eccolo Media B2B Technology Content Survey” asked B2B technology professionals about their consumption of content, such as white papers, brochures and case studies.

The data indicates that B2B decision-makers are interested in a wide range of content throughout the purchasing process, but how does the quality of marketing content impact them?

IT Decision-Makers Shed Light on Quality Content

A survey conducted by IDG Enterprises recently looked at IT decision-makers and their views on marketing content. About 8 in 10 respondents said that it is “somewhat challenging” or “extremely challenging” to find high-quality, trusted information on major enterprise products in their industry.

Within this realm, decision-makers download an average of 7 informational assets as they look through their purchasing options. Enterprise organizations tend to use 8 assets, while small businesses utilize an average of 6 pieces of content.

“Trusted information is hard to come by due to lack of truly independent unbiased information, overuse of marketing buzzwords, and fear of unwanted sales follow up,” wrote the authors of the report. “Strategic content marketing tactics and strategies and an educated lead nurturing and sales follow up strategy are critical.”

Nearly 54 percent of respondents said that access to research-based content drives their interest. About 48 percent said that their interest is driven by content that can help them make more informed buying decisions.


LINKEDIN TAKES OVER AS B2B SOCIAL LOGIN OF CHOICE

A new report from Janrain shows that B2B logins on LinkedIn increased by 6 percentage points in the fourth quarter of 2014, surpassing Google and making it the latest network of choice in the B2B industry.

The total number of logins leaped from 29 percent in the third quarter to 35 percent in the fourth. As a result of the increase in LinkedIn logins, Facebook and Google both lost 3 percentage points.

“We can draw the conclusion that B2B companies are beginning to better understand the benefit of offering LinkedIn as a social login option, an identity provider that passes over a data payload (with user permission, of course) that includes key professional data such as positions held and a verified email address,” says Alexandra Larralde, marketing manager at Janrain.

Facebook is still leading all social sites included within the study with a 43 percent login rate. However, the authors of the report conclude that it is losing ground in terms of B2B, Music and Consumer Branding as a result of Google’s growth.

“We expect the numbers to get even more interesting in the next few quarters, as Facebook migrates to its new app version introducing line-by-line controls and the anonymous login option,” Larralde continued. “It’s also possible that their renewed focus on consumer data privacy will help Facebook regain some of the market share it lost this past quarter.”

But how do these numbers compare to the third quarter? As previous data shows, the race between social sites was closer just a few months ago.

Reflecting on the Third Quarter

In October, Janrain reflected on social login trends for the third quarter of 2014. At this point, LinkedIn, Google and Facebook were all virtually tied in terms of login on B2B sites. Approximately 35 percent of respondents said they logged in with Google. Nearly 25 percent said they did so with Facebook, while exactly 30 percent logged in with LinkedIn.

Yahoo, Twitter and Windows were at the bottom of the list for B2B respondents to the study. Additionally, less than 10 percent of people said they stayed logged in with Twitter in the third quarter. However, social media still seems to be a leader in terms of logins across the board.

“By eliminating the need to create and remember yet another username-password combination, the use of social identities accelerates account creation and login,” says Michael Olson at Janrain. “And, social login’s popularity continues to grow – 90 percent have encountered social login and more than half of those are actively using it. Most crucially, people like it; of those who use social login, 91 percent are satisfied with the experience.”


DOCUMENTATION AND COMMUNICATION LEAD TO B2B CONTENT MARKETING SUCCESS

As more B2B marketers embrace content marketing, they are learning what makes it a successful component of their overall strategies. About 44 percent of B2B marketers claim that they are gaining a better understanding of what content marketing effectiveness looks like.

This was just one of many findings in the annual “B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” report released by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs this week.

FACTORS FOR CONTENT MARKETING SUCCESS

 

Communication appears to be a big player in the success and effectiveness of content marketing within a company. Sixty-one percent of organizations that said their strategies were “effective” stated that they met daily or weekly to discuss their content marketing progression.

Nearly 79 percent of effective B2B content marketers said that they also have clarity into their program, making it a key component of their success. In contrast, 77 percent of the leasteffective content marketers surveyed said a lack of clarity hindered their efficiency.

These statistics indicate that it helps to fully grasp a content marketing strategy before executing it, but how many B2B marketers have a documented plan?

Fifty-three percent of the most effective B2B content marketers claim they have a documented strategy in place, compared to 40 percent of the least effective marketers who said they do not have one at all.

“B2B marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy get better results from their content marketing tactics, social media platforms, and paid methods of content distribution (i.e., they rate them as more effective when compared with their peers who don’t have a documented strategy),” wrote the authors of the report.

Although there are many factors that contribute to success and effectiveness, there are several that make content marketing a challenge for B2B marketers as well.

THE CONTENT MARKETING CHALLENGES OF TODAY

 

While 44 percent of B2B marketers claim that they are clear on what content marketing effectiveness looks like, the majority (55 percent) say they are unsure. This indicates that B2B marketers are still learning what goes into creating a worthwhile strategy.

Thirty percent stated that their organizations are effective at content marketing, which is a drop from 38 percent recorded in last year’s “B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” report. Additionally, only 32 percent said that their content marketing maturity level is “sophisticated or mature.”

“In general, effectiveness levels are greater among marketers with higher levels of content marketing maturity,” the authors of the report concluded.

With this in mind, identifying the key pitfalls associated with developing a successful content marketing plan can be done through observing whereineffective marketers are lacking.

As previously stated, 40 percent of the least effective marketers do not have a defined content strategy. Additional research indicates that they typically lack editorial guidance as well. Thirty-five percent of B2B marketers do not have a documented editorial mission statement.

In contrast, 56 percent of effective marketers with a documented content strategy have a defined mission statement.

Less than half (49 percent) of B2B marketers who only meet bi-weekly or monthly about their content marketing strategies do not find these meetings helpful. This is a smaller number than the 54 percent of effective content marketers who view meetings as beneficial.

Keeping the entire marketing team on the same page and documenting a content strategy appear to be critical to content marketing success.

B2B MARKETING TRENDS: 2015 AND BEYOND

 

About 88 percent of B2B marketers claim that their organizations are using content marketing, but what other resources are they tapping into to achieve their goals?

On average, B2B marketers use 13 different content marketing tactics, according to the report. Ninety-three percent say they are utilizing social media to reach out to their target audience, while 82 percent use case studies. Blogs (81 percent), eNewsletters (81 percent) and in-person events (81 percent) are also popular strategies used by marketing teams.

However, in-person events have been the most effective tactic utilized by B2B marketers, with 75 percent naming this their top strategy. It may also be worth nothing that for the past six years, in-person events have been rated the most effective tactic by marketers.

As content marketing strategies evolve, 85 percent of respondents claimed that lead generation will be their main goal over the next year. To reach their objectives, 51 percent said they will increase their content marketing spend within the next 12 months, and 76 percent intend to create more content in 2016.

“It’s great that organizations want to create more content, but they need to be braver and bolder with that content,” said Ann Handley, chief content officer of MarketingProfs. “They can no longer afford to play it safe. Organizations must focus on telling more authentic stories targeting the specific challenges of their audience.”

The full report can be accessed via SlideShare as well as direct PDF found here.


WILL MARKETERS CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE WITH SOCIAL MEDIA ROI?

As marketers continue to invest in social media, research suggests that they are still challenged to prove the success of their initiatives. The “2017 State of Social Marketing” report from Simply Measured discovered that 61 percent of brand and agency marketers are finding it difficult to determine the ROI of their social media efforts. To learn more about the struggle, we spoke to Scott Fallon, vice president of marketing at Simply Measured, for more insight.

DO YOU THINK MARKETERS SHOULD CHANGE THE METRICS THEY ARE USING TO GAUGE SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS? WHY OR WHY NOT?

“Marketers need to expand the metrics they use to gauge social media success. 58.9% of brands use engagement metrics–likes, comments, shares, and such–which dwarves the next most used metric of conversion and revenue metrics, at only 19.9%.

Without looking at web traffic and other conversions–including revenue–coming from social, marketers are missing learning what in social will have the most impact on bottom line business results.

This makes it difficult to nearly impossible to make decisions on the most effective social tactics if something such as likes is your primary measure of success.”

ARE YOU SEEING ANY DIFFERENCES IN HOW B2B MARKETERS ARE APPROACHING SOCIAL VS. B2C?

“We did not explore this in our current research. As a broad generalization, we find that B2B marketers can have a different perspective on goals than B2C marketers.

For example, where a B2C marketer might be happy with measuring engagement–such as likes–the B2B marketer is typically less interested in that and more focused on clicks on posted content. The B2B marketer is more interested in drawing a prospect deeper into the funnel using social.”

HOW CAN MARKETERS BETTER TIE BUSINESS INITIATIVES TO THEIR SOCIAL EFFORTS?

“Marketers today are called on the mat to deliver leads that convert from activities such as email and paid search.

They need to treat social the same. They need to set social goals at the same level, which means looking at web traffic, form fills, and revenue that is coming from social activities, such as posts and sharing of content links included in posts.

We believe that engagement and awareness metrics are still important–because marketers can’t ignore branding and the top of the funnel–but too many think performance against those metrics is all they should expect from social.

Once those conversion goals are determined, and marketers have put in place the tools to track performance against them, then they need to adjust their social tactics based upon which content, posts, and social strategies drive the most bottom line results.

The summarized answer is that marketers need to stop viewing social as a side activity outside the main activities of demand generation, and treat it and report on it alongside the other demand generation tactics.”

HOW CAN MARKETERS GET MORE OF WHAT THEY NEED FROM THEIR ORGANIZATIONS (E.G., ANALYTICS SOFTWARE, PUBLISHING TOOLS)?

“This will happen when marketers demonstrate that social can and does deliver on business results. Social is a lead source, social is valuable through the entire funnel, and social can be held accountable for driving revenue.

If marketers can show that optimizing social leads to better business results, they can justify the tools needed to evaluate which social activities have the best ROI.

They can also make the case for the need to track how links shared privately from social posts represent intent to buy and are driving business results, but because of a lack of tools to track that, the traffic coming from this source is being inaccurately attributed to direct.

Studies have shown that the volume of this dark traffic is massive.”

MARKETERS SEEM TO SEE THE VALUE IN INFLUENCERS, BUT ARE HAVING TROUBLE INVESTING IN THIS AREA – WHY? HOW DO YOU SEE THIS CHANGING IN THE FUTURE, IF AT ALL?

“Our research showed that over half of brand marketers believe influencers are vital to the success of their social programs, but 76% have no dedicated budget for influencer marketing.

Why is that? Partly, we think it is because influencer marketing is not mature enough yet that it is setting business goals.

Today, the number one reason marketers engage influencers is to extend reach–55.2% say that is how they use influencers.

Influencer marketing needs to play by the same rules as other marketing domains such as email and paid search, if it expects to win budget: It has to set and deliver against business result goals, and not just focus on reach goals.

What we see evolving is the rise of the niche influencer. As the influencer space matures, and becomes more crowded, consumers can seek more specialized expertise from the increasing number of influencer choices.

So brands will invest in influencers who are effective in niches they care about, and not just those with celebrity-type followings and massively broad reach.”

WHAT DID YOU THINK WAS THE MOST INTERESTING STATISTIC/FINDING IN THE REPORT?

“The most interesting finding of the report is that social continues to increase in importance to the marketing mix but still 90 percent of marketers struggle to measure ROI or tie social to business results. Surprisingly, we found that only 57% of brand marketers set web traffic or conversion goals.”


MARKETING WITH VIDEO CONTENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE

Amobee’s recent report “Different Generations, Different Standards” looked at how marketers are investing in various video formats to reach out to their target audiences.

In the future, the majority of marketers (51 percent) said they believe that new formats, such as 360-degree video, will encourage their companies to invest more in online video.

To learn more about the direction the industry is headed, we spoke to Jonathan Gardner, Vice President of Communications at Amobee.

HOW ARE YOU ALREADY SEEING MARKETERS/AGENCIES INCORPORATE SOME OF THE NEWER VIDEO FORMATS (360-DEGREE, ETC.)? IS IT WIDESPREAD OR STILL EMERGING?

“I’d say it’s both widespread and emerging. It’s widespread in that most major brands and advertisers are interested in trying out new formats. Brands are naturally interested in vertical and 360° because there’s a halo effect in being involved with new types of media.

Our recent research showed among ad execs, 51 percent of respondents said they consider new formats like vertical or 360° to be a key factor in getting brands to invest more in online video. There’s a lot of experimentation going on but what we’ve seen plainly is to grow the space, buyers want to see real KPIs connected with any video spend.

We always advise our clients to look at the right mix of KPIs for their objectives and to ask the right questions.

  • Is this format going to help my KPIs? If you want to test a new format, first double check what you’re trying to accomplish overall.
  • Is the format going to be counter-productive or not matter at all? Often marketers get too caught up performance metrics like click-through rates. Conversions are a better metric, but you need to look at an overall conversion across a full funnel plan to make sure you’re getting the full picture.

Video completion rates can be interesting, but ultimately the best KPI is sales.”

JUST 33 PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS UNDER 30 BELIEVE THAT VIDEO AD SPEND WILL INCREASE MARGINALLY IN THE FUTURE, WHILE 90 PERCENT OF THEIR COUNTERPARTS SAID IT WILL INCREASE SIGNIFICANTLY – WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS THE CASE?

“While it could appear that they believe new money isn’t coming in, it’s important to remember the stats here are weighted against one another. Relatively speaking, the budgets have continued to shift from linear TV spend, but we see these as just the breakdown of a more fundamental trend in general advertising growth.

In general, there is a great deal of optimism across the board for the growth in online video advertising. Just look at the market five years ago and how much of a shift we’ve seen from older formats, such as banner ads.”

WOULD YOU SAY MARKETERS – REGARDLESS OF THEIR AGE – ARE IN GENERAL AGREEMENT THAT VIDEO ADVERTISING IS STILL AN AVENUE TOWARD SUCCESS?

“We would definitely say that. There is a general consensus that video advertising delivers value for brands.

What’s more, regardless of the output, all marketers see value in the tactics and philosophy of using ad messages and creative that are more highly engaging, immersive and connect with consumers where, when and how they want to engage.

One group has grown up with digital and challenges incumbent metrics, and the other has experienced the rise and transformation of television first-hand. The discrepancies don’t prove one generation correct and the other incorrect.

Younger people appear more blasé about video metrics, but they may actually see view-ability as less important than actually just making good ads.

The research also showed, interestingly, that brands are also still focused on metrics like clicks and conversions — as opposed to view-ability — which is expected from buyers who have been strictly on the digital side.”

WHAT METHODS, ASIDE FROM VIDEO, ARE MARKETERS TURNING TO IN ORDER TO GET THEIR CLIENTS’ BRAND MESSAGE ACROSS?

“We are seeing tremendous growth in brands looking at the entire “customer journey,” meaning that they understand no one is glued to their TV screen watching commercials all day long.

Most people use multiple devices, looking at many different screens and channels. These engagements offer brands the opportunity to segment and target messages depending on where they are in their day, and where they are in the thought process of making a purchase decision.

For example, you could be on an iPad in the morning, thinking about buying a new pair of yoga pants, and throughout the day, as you move along a path to a potential purchase, a brand that’s responsive to your contexts, mindset, content consumption and locations, could find unique ways to use data, strategy and creative to help you along the customer journey to make a purchase.

Tactically, marketers that are thinking this way are working with partners like us to centralize and mine insights from all of their audience data, engage audiences across all social, video and mobile channels, then analyze and optimize their campaigns based on their results.”

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT WAS THE MOST INTERESTING STATISTIC/FINDING IN THE REPORT?

“We asked survey respondents if video actually got the job done for marketers. Eighty-four percent of respondents said video is the most effective medium to get a client’s brand message across. Only 3 percent of respondents said they found the medium ineffective.

This shows that confidence in video is high, and that despite some challenges in standardizing the medium, the future of video looks bright to those who are using it.”


EXPLORING THE POTENTIAL OF VIDEO CONTENT MARKETING

In June 2017, data from the “State of Social Video: Marketing in a Video-First World” report from Animoto suggested that more customers were being influenced by the video content on social media. About 84 percent of consumers said they now watch video on mobile devices, and 81 percent of marketers are optimizing their social videos for mobile.

But how is this shift in content consumption and formatting impacting marketers’ overall strategies? We spoke to Jason Hsiao, co-founder and chief video officer of Animoto, for more insight into the report.

WHAT DIFFERENCES HAVE YOU SEEN IN THE TYPES OF VIDEOS B2B MARKETERS ARE CREATING VS. B2C MARKETERS?

“B2C marketers have more opportunity to tap into emotions than B2B marketers do. Consumers can be engaged with your videos online purely because they are fun and entertaining. There is more room to convey nostalgia and humor and other emotions in B2C videos.

When appealing to business customers, that audience needs to know that your product or service will truly enrich their business in some way.

That’s not to say B2B marketers can’t have a personality with their video marketing. They definitely can. However, I find successful B2B marketers tend to educate far more than anything else with their video marketing.

Buffer is a great example. They are a social media management tool that many brands use. They use Animoto videos on social media mainly to educate and enrich their audience’s expertise around social media marketing.

ARE THERE CERTAIN TYPES OF VIDEOS (E.G., HOW-TOS, EDUCATIONAL) THAT PERFORM BETTER THAN OTHERS?

“Marketers often feel like they need to be funny with video. At Animoto, we try to emphasize being authentic to you and your brand, first and foremost. And stick with the content you already know your prospects and customers care about.

At Animoto, we really value video shares. When someone hits the share button on a video we post on Facebook, that’s the ultimate endorsement, confirming that what we’re putting out there is resonating with our audience – so much so that they want their friends and family to see it. However, another business might look at videos as a way to capture leads and base it off that metric.

Under that lens of share-worthiness, anything that you can make that is timely is great. Billboard Magazine used Animoto to recap The Women’s March that took place in January of this year, and that got tons of shares.

A B2B example of this is Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith. She uses Animoto to reach brands that want to know what Facebook’s earnings call or new features Facebook is putting out there means for them. Timeliness is always great. Educational videos work well too if you are putting out info that people are interested in. B2B marketers can definitely take this approach. Make your following feel like they are getting valuable information from the expert (you!).

At the end of the day, choosing the types of videos that work best for a brand is step one. Regularly creating videos like that is step two. And step three is sticking to a consistent message. Consistency is so important. Use video to amplify what message your brand is already communicating.”

WHAT CAN MARKETERS DO TO PROVIDE BETTER CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES WITH THEIR VIDEO CONTENT?

“Video is the next best thing to being there in person. Utilizing video for your help center and even for customer service agents to use when engaging with prospects or customers is a great start. We encourage our Customer Success team to use video in fun and creative ways when communicating with customers who are writing in with questions or feedback.

Surprising and delighting folks is what a lot of brands strive for and video is great for that. Sometimes it’s nice to put a fun video on a confirmation page when someone has given you their email or any other touch points in which you’d like to convey what your brand personality is a bit more vividly.

Using video to inject personality and also to enhance education are great ways for marketers to start using video content during the customer experience.”

WHAT WAS THE MOST SURPRISING STATISTIC/FINDING IN YOUR RESEARCH?

“Learning that 92 percent of marketers are re-purposing content they already have for their marketing videos was really encouraging. Video is quickly becoming the medium that provides the best reach on social media and it enriches other forms of marketing as well.

I was expecting marketers to be resourceful in creating marketing videos regularly now that we live in a video-first world, but I wasn’t expecting that many of them to be using marketing collateral they already have to amplify their message with video.

Just a couple years ago, so many marketers viewed video as a special one-off project for a website or a campaign.

Now marketers are not only realizing that video has to be part of their regular communication to prospects and customers, but also that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel when creating a new video. They know they already have the assets to create something that they’re proud to share.

HOW CAN MARKETERS WHO AREN’T ALREADY USING VIDEO INTEGRATE IT INTO THEIR STRATEGIES? WHERE SHOULD THEY START?

“We like to tell marketers getting started with video that they shouldn’t view video as an entirely different type of marketing strategy. It’s a way to amplify your existing marketing strategy. Your content marketing, email marketing, social marketing. Anything you blog, tweet, post, etc. could/should be a video. Again, start with what you already know works with your prospects and customers and tell that message with video.

Finding a tool that is simple and fast to use is key. You can’t spend tons of time on each video you create. Brands need to be communicating with video regularly and so the amount of time you spend on each video has to be reasonable.

Choose what platforms on social media are the most important for you. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all different in the types of videos you would create. Facebook and Twitter needs to work with sound-off viewing and videos out-play. With YouTube, people are generally watching with sound-on. Identifying where you want to start posting your videos regularly will help determine the types of videos you want.

And then lastly, remain consistent and regular with your video usage. With each campaign, milestone, announcement or anything else you’re touting to customers and prospects, ask yourself how you can create a video for it. It will amplify your reach. You can create something short and with assets you already have. Don’t overthink it, but do be thoughtful about your approach and then remain consistent with it.”


5 SOCIAL MEDIA MISTAKES EVERY STARTUP SHOULD AVOID

Social media platforms are some of the easiest tools to use for marketing and reaching the masses. However, utilizing social networks for business purposes still requires planning, professionalism and organization. Here are five social media mistakes that every startup or entrepreneur should avoid.

1. Beginning Without A Plan
Before creating a profile on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network, a business needs to be organized. This means planning out when updates will be made, exactly what updates will be made, and how frequently to make them, depending on the platform (think: “Calendar”). Consistency can let other social network users know that an account is worth following. To ensure that the social media marketing plan stays on track, companies may want to assign these specific responsibilities to one person on their team.

2. Forgetting To Set Up KPIs
Spending dedicated time to defining and then tracking KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is critical to determining how effective any marketing strategy is, whether it’s outbound or inbound. Startups that are just beginning on channels, such as Facebook, should have KPIs to gauge how helpful the social network is to their marketing plan and whether or not the activity on that channel is actually growing their brand and their business. Some common social network marketing KPIs include a target number of followers, post interaction / engagement (e.g., comments, retweets, shares), and number of customers gained through social media (i.e., conversion). Over time, entrepreneurs may notice that one social network is excelling in the area of customers gained versus another. However, none of this information can be gathered or compared without defining the KPIs to track up front.

3. Failing To Respond To Other Users
Startups need to keep in mind that social networks place them in the public eye. This means they need to be prepared to respond to users – customers or not – in order to build their personality and maintain their reputation. Not all feedback is going to be positive, but startups should be ready to reply in a professional manner. Thinking of it as customer service can put entrepreneurs in the right mind to handle all inquiries that come in via social media.

4. Making Social Media Content Too Bland
Social media marketers should always be thinking of ways to make their content stand out from the crowd. On a social network, like Facebook or Twitter, there may be millions of updates posted onto the Web each day. Startups can make their posts stand out by incorporating links to engaging content, using compelling imagery, highlighting use cases, or encouraging followers to interact with them by asking questions. Sharing insightful content from other industry leaders can also make an account more valuable to its followers.

5. Focusing Too Much On Self-Promotion
While promotion is certainly a part of marketing, it shouldn’t be the only thing that makes up a social media profile. Startups should avoid over-promoting their services and products in hope of gaining more customers. Social media platforms are notably more personal outlets – businesses can use them to share their story and connect with prospects on a different level. Furthermore, Facebook and Twitter users don’t expect to be sold a product every time they log in. “Casual yet professional” is the name of the game for companies on social media.

[As seen on: Snapmunk]


HOW MARKETERS ARE RETHINKING THE CONTENT GENERATION PROCESS

Recently, the “2016 Content Report” from Rundown uncovered that just 28 percent of content ideas developed by marketers are actually backed by data and research. Additionally, none of the marketers surveyed said they were “thrilled” with the tech tools available to help them with content marketing.

For more insight into this report, we spoke to Taulbee Jackson, President and CMO of Rundown:

WHY DO YOU THINK MARKETERS HAVE BEEN SLOW TO DEVELOP A BETTER APPROACH TO CONTENT GENERATION?

“I think it’s a cultural challenge more than anything. Marketers, for years, thought in terms of months and quarters and years, and campaigns, but media doesn’t work that way anymore. It’s an always-on, real-time, two-way, omni-channel media environment, and the way marketers have done their jobs for the last 40 or 50 years just flat out cannot accommodate the demands that consumers, and the way they engage with media, place on marketing.

The literal workflows — the way the work gets done — is just outdated. Not only that, but people don’t fully understand that there is a difference between what marketing needs to accomplish, and what a content team is trying to accomplish.

Marketing needs to sell things. Content teams are not just responsible for helping marketing do that, but they are also in the business of establishing, growing, and engaging an audience for marketing to access. That is tough to do when you’re always selling, and many brands are not comfortable with the idea that they are in the entertainment business now, assuming they want to leverage “Owned Media.”

They are directly competing for consumer attention with media outlets, as well as your neighbor’s post on Facebook, your friend’s Snapchat message, the text from your mom, and so on. Your audience is telling you what is relevant to them, and you have to find a way to connect that to your brand in a topical, engaging, remarkable way.

That takes an incredible amount of specialized technology, as well as smart, creative resources, working together differently than your in-house marketing department has the last few decades.”

WHICH STATISTIC FROM THIS REPORT SURPRISED YOU THE MOST?

“I think the number of roles people are asked to cover was somewhat surprising; it reflects the general lack of understanding that people have of what it really takes to make great content — not just in terms of man-hours but also the special skills required.

Just because you can type doesn’t make you a writer, AND just because you can take a picture doesn’t make you a photographer. Very few people that responded to the survey had a clear understanding of their resources from not just a skills perspective, but availability as well.

Another one was how unhappy content teams seem to be with their tools and technology — that was a real surprise. Literally zero percent were “thrilled” with their technology, and only a few categories of software made it beyond a 50 percent approval rating.

I think this has everything to do with the fact that content teams are being forced to use tools that were never meant for content creation. Project management software has to work for everything from law firms to little league teams to construction contractors and real estate offices.

Making content is not a project, it’s a process — a very specialized one — and trying to use tools that were meant to be very broad, like project management software, or tools that are having to be repurposed from number crunching and accounting, like Excel, for content creation — it just makes things harder. It’s like trying to turn a Phillips head screw with a hammer.

Finally, the general lack of understanding about analytics and using audience data to guide your efforts was pretty disturbing. Lots of creation by opinion doesn’t always lead to the best results, but, again, it reflects how early it is in the history of content-driven marketing and audience development for owned media.

People are really just now starting to understand how to tie back metrics to insights that guide their decisions on what types of content to create — and, by and large, most creators are not analysts, so that is a little outside the expertise of many content teams.

We also noticed the number of dedicated analysts was very low, so I think many companies have a long way to go before they are really connecting data back to story-telling and audience development in a way that drives value.”

WHAT TYPES OF CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN B2B MARKETERS MAKE TO OVERCOME CONTENT-RELATED OBSTACLES?

“B2B marketers are interesting. I think specifically in the content marketing space, there is a massive difference between how B2B thinks and where their focus is, versus a B2C company.

B2B companies are very focused on more one-on-one interactions, personalization, and content that moves an individual through a lifecycle to a purchase or conversion.

Conversely, we see the B2C companies much more focused on audience development, and growing and engaging their audience, and on more of what we would call ‘hearts and minds’ metrics — perceptions, awareness, preference, those types of things.

They’re both right, but one cannot exist without the other. Customers only come from audiences, so you have to build audiences, but an audience full of people that do not convert to customers is not really accomplishing most business goals.

It’s a bit of ‘mad men versus math men,’ and I think both parties would benefit greatly from attempting to see each other’s point of view as not an ‘either / or’ approach, but a ‘both’ approach. It all works together, and both approaches are critical to success.

It all comes back to how well you use your content resources, at the end of the day, and I think B2B companies are just starting to understand that.

A LACK OF HELPFUL TECHNOLOGY SEEMED TO BE A CHALLENGE FOR MARKETERS. WHAT TYPES OF TOOLS COULD HELP THEM WITH CONTENT CREATION?

“I have spent the last several years really digging into this question — not just with the Content Survey, but with tons of qualitative interviews, user observation testing, trial and error with clients, and direct experience seeing how content is produced in more than 50 different companies.

The key word is ‘helpful’ — this is what is missing from the technology that’s out there today — it doesn’t actually help anyone do anything, it only enables them.

Most marketing tech can generate tons of data and beautiful visualizations of it, but it cannot connect it back to a meaningful, actionable insight for creators. It can give you a way to publish, but not a ‘what’ to publish. It can’t answer the key question, ‘Given our specific strategy and goals, and what our audience wants, what should we make next?’

Most tech today allows you to do things like assign tasks or send messages, but it can’t give you any insight into workflow efficiency, production status, where things sit in the approval process, resource allocation — the things you actually need to know as a creator, or a manager of creators. Most first-generation tools can’t tell you this information. It is a tough nut to crack.”

DID YOU DRAW ANY OTHER CONCLUSIONS FROM THE RESULTS?

“Content teams today, and in the future, are not in the business of ‘managing projects’ — they are in the business of managing the ongoing, specific process of content creation, in real-time.

I think that is the key takeaway from this report. Content teams are trying to execute for today’s media climate with yesterday’s tools, processes, and mindset, and that is causing a lot of pain.

People are being overworked and company expectations are often out of line with the reality of their content production resources.

What’s more, the person trying to manage the content team is kind of caught in the middle, trying to patch together spreadsheets, emails, shared calendars, file sharing tools, and project management software that was all built to solve different problems than the ones content teams actually have.”

[As seen on: KoMarketing Associates]


THE SLOW ADOPTION OF MARTECH FOR DIGITAL MARKETING EXECUTION

The “2016 Digital Technology Survey” from Real Story Group recently discovered that, although 59 percent of enterprises have digital marketing strategies in place, not all of them are utilizing the proper resources for execution. Approximately 47 percent of digital marketers say that they do not have the right tools for the job.

For more insight into the findings of the report, we spoke to Kashyap Kompella, the research director at Real Story Group.

WHY DO YOU THINK MARKETERS HAVE BEEN SLOW TO ADOPT MARTECH, DESPITE THEIR INVESTMENT IN IT?

“There are two interrelated themes here. First, we are still in the early adoption stage for MarTech tools such as marketing automation. Second, even among early adopters, these tools remain underutilized. Early adopters are realizing that success does not come easy – they are facing several challenges such as high costs, tool complexity and lack of internal expertise. Also, rosy notions of ‘data as an asset’ are being replaced by a realistic assessment of what’s practically possible, given the reality of disparate data sources and systems.”

DO YOU THINK MARTECH DEVELOPERS ARE CHANGING THE WAY THEY DEVELOP SOLUTIONS TO CATER TO THEIR USERS?

“No doubt, among marketers, there is a definite preference for products that are easy to implement and simple to use. But vendors (particularly the larger marketing cloud vendors) are currently more focused on integrating different components of their solutions.

Remember that a typical marketing cloud is the result of half a dozen vendors acquired over the last few years. Also, the greater diversity of use cases a MarTech platform supports, the greater its complexity. More often than not, MarTech projects resemble the messy ERP implementation projects of yore that required armies of analysts and developers.”

WHY DO YOU THINK MARKETERS ARE NOW SPANNING THEIR DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES ACROSS THE ENTERPRISE?

“The promise of newer MarTech tools is that you can more effectively use data. In other words, marketing is now more data-driven. It is then easy to see that a siloed approach won’t get you the maximum bang for the buck. You want to leverage data that exists in multiple repositories across the enterprise and that’s why enterprise-wide strategies are being considered.”

ARE B2B MARKETERS ADOPTING MORE MARTECH THAN B2C MARKETERS? WHY OR WHY NOT?

“The RSG survey results show that MarTech adoption and maturity curves are somewhat similar for B2B and B2C marketers. However, their focus areas are very different.

B2C marketers have traditionally been good at customer demographics and segmentation strategies. Now, they want to move the need on personalization at scale. Real-time marketing and mobile marketing use cases are also of greater interest to B2C marketers.

B2B marketers are investing in different applications, such as content marketing and account-based marketing.”

WHAT DID YOU FIND TO BE THE MOST INTERSTING FINDING IN THE REPORT?

“The RSG survey is an empirical validation of what we anecdotally see and hear from our enterprise customers – be it the middling customer satisfaction with products or current low maturity levels.

One of the findings is that there is a paucity of internal expertise – what is a bit surprising is that even large enterprises seem to face this challenge. If CMOs are going to be spending heavily on technology, then it is imperative that they pay attention to their current capabilities, benchmark themselves against best-in-class industry peers and invest in building capabilities where they may be lacking.”

[As seen in: KoMarketing Associates]


WHAT WERE THE MOST EFFECTIVE B2B MARKETING TACTICS OF 2015?

Even though many B2B marketers are already looking ahead to 2016, it’s may be worth recognizing the accomplishments of the past year. Why? Because a component of your B2B marketing strategy certainly needs to focus on leveraging the experience gained executing tactics and campaigns that worked well.

In an effort to shed light on how marketers tackled challenges and made strides in 2015, we spoke to a group of industry leaders across the B2B marketing space. Here is what they had to say about their most effective B2B marketing tactics over the past year.

STRATEGIC CONTENT MARKETING

“The most effective marketing tactic I have seen work for many brands is taking a strategic approach to content marketing. I’ve applied this as I’ve launched my own business. In the process, I have doubled my traffic, tripled my blog subscribers and generated inbound leads I wold have ever seen. It starts with creating a simple content marketing mission statement.

For me, it’s “helping brands reach, engage and convert new customers.” Next, I committed to answering my potential customers top questions with blog articles published nearly every day. I built a content experience to focus on gaining subscribers.” — Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group

REDEFINING THE ROI OF PR

“We introduced a new program this year integrating our upper funnel PR programs with middle and bottom funnel inbound marketing.

The result is that we can now tie PR to an ROI rather than be dependent only on nebulous findings like number of clips or impressions. We anticipate refining this even further in 2016 as we offer a crescendo of visibility and leads to our clients.” – Wendy MarxMarx Communications

SALES AND MARKETING ALIGNMENT

“The tactics I saw most often in 2015 aligned and tied most directly to sales pipeline contribution and conversion from marketing were buyer personas, sales automation, advocate management, influencer engagement and account-based marketing.” – Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

EMAIL MARKETING EFFECTIVENESS

“Depending on your marketing objectives, budget, industries and products, effective marketing tactics vary. Although everyone receives tons of e-mail, I still think e-mail marketing as part of your overall integrated marketing campaigns is necessary and can be effective. Be cognizant of your audience’s needs and desires. Write and create relevant content for them. Modify your e-mail templates to fit your content. There are many extensions, plug-ins and social icons that you can add to your website and e-mail to enhance clicks or the user-experience.

For example, Sumome is a pop-up plug-in that you can add on your website to encourage e-mail subscription. Wisestamp is a customized signature for e-mail and social media marketing. Although, it can be overwhelming and hard to keep up, it’s important to understand what works for you and your audiences. Less is more!” — Pam Didner, Content Marketing Strategist and Author of Global Content Marketing

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

“This year has been amazing for Relevance. We recently won a Content Marketing Award from CMI for having the highest subscribership growth. That was the highlight of 2015 for us. The biggest surprising trend for me this year was in social – the networks themselves.

The amount of innovation, change and new offerings offered by Twitter, Facebook, Google and LinkedIn exploded in 2015 – many of which gave marketers like us, not just better access to social audiences, but hyper-targeted options.” — Chad Pollitt, VP of Audience, Co-Founder of Relevance

WORD-OF-MOUTH MARKETING

“The most effective marketing tactic has been word-of-mouth marketing. When customers, friends, family, industry analysts, and bloggers say wonderful things about your company and convince others to buy your product, you’ve made it. There is a great amount of debate about, however, about how to make all of that happen.

For us, it’s been a focus on the customer, making something they need, delivering a great product and experience. The happier your customers are, the easier everything else becomes. The math is pretty simple; there will be a direct correlation between the number of happy customers you have and your marketing performance in 2016.” – Dan Slagen, VP of Marketing at Crayon Co.

SIMPLE MARKETING TACTICS

“One of my top marketing accomplishments is helping my clients, who are small industrial manufacturers with limited budgets, develop simple but effective tactics. These tactics, which help build trust and credibility and thus increase sales over time, include website, trade show promotions, PR, and e-newsletters.

In terms of trends, I believe B2B mobile is an under-appreciated trend that has more traction than data indicates. Although Google Analytics data suggests desktops still rule, I believe this is going to change pretty fast — and much faster than we think.” — Dianna HuffHuff Industrial Marketing, Inc.

EFFICIENT WEBSITE MARKETING

“2015 was the year in which the hot, and effective marketing tactics seemed to be all about mobile-friendly websites, email opt-ins, landing pages and webinars, video (both YouTube and Facebook) and engagement on Instagram. Dianna Huff and I released a book called, ‘101 Ways to Market Your Website’ earlier this year, covering marketing tactics that work today.” – Rachel CunliffeCre8d

CONTENT BACKED BY DATA

“For marketing and PR teams, 2015 was ‘The Year of Content – Backed Up By Data’. Today, cold media pitches (similar to annoying ads) are despised, many even publicly humiliated on social channels like Twitter.

While marketers are seeing huge upticks in conversion rates by simply providing their target audiences with useful content instead of interrupting them, PR leaders are having the same luck with journalists.” — Jennifer Moebius, Founder of Moebius Ink 

DATA-DRIVEN ROI

“This year, the Curata marketing team shifted to a data-driven content marketing strategy. We uncovered many insights about the effectiveness of our content and were able to make several changes to our strategy.

One example: We used our content marketing platform to analyze data on historical content and found that long-form blog posts generate nine times more leads than short-form blog posts. We now focus almost all of our resources on creating long-form content.” — Alexandra Barca, Content Marketing Specialist at Curata

[View the original piece here]


HOW DOES THE NFL SUCCESSFULLY ADVERTISE ON INSTAGRAM?

[As seen on Full Bottle Co]

When it comes to sports, the NFL reigns supreme. Football is everywhere, and the NFL has proven that it knows how to successfully advertise on Instagram. With more than 4.1 million followers on its account, you can rely on the NFL to bring you the latest professional football news on this social media platform.

But what goes into making the perfect Instagram post? We spoke to David Feldman, the director of social content for NFL Media, to find out.

Full Bottle: How does your team approach Instagram and integrate it into its overall social media strategy?

David Feldman: We view Instagram as the medium to showcase our best, most beautiful and important imagery. It’s also a medium to showcase top news items and editorial pieces.

FB: How has your strategy changed as Instagram has evolved?

DF: We’ve noticed that Instagram has evolved as more than just a place to look at cool images. When being selective with the right piece of content, Instagram can be a powerful source of referral traffic. But it’s very important to not overdo it and remember the true intention of the platform.

FB: What do you consider to be the key to success as an Instagram influencer?

DF: It’s all about fan engagement. If you are producing quality content that fans are liking or commenting on, that’s all you can ask for.

All that being said, it’s not uncommon to see hundreds of thousands of “Likes” on the NFL’s Instagram posts, which all appear to be eye candy. To see exactly what Feldman spoke about with us, visit the NFL’s Instagram page to see images of its biggest stars. In the process, you may just pick up a few tips on how to spruce up your own posts when you advertise on Instagram!


DOCUMENTATION AND COMMUNICATION LEAD TO B2B CONTENT MARKETING SUCCESS

As more B2B marketers embrace content marketing, they are learning what makes it a successful component of their overall strategies. About 44 percent of B2B marketers claim that they are gaining a better understanding of what content marketing effectiveness looks like.

This was just one of many findings in the annual “B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” report released by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs this week.

FACTORS FOR CONTENT MARKETING SUCCESS

 

Communication appears to be a big player in the success and effectiveness of content marketing within a company. Sixty-one percent of organizations that said their strategies were “effective” stated that they met daily or weekly to discuss their content marketing progression.

Nearly 79 percent of effective B2B content marketers said that they also have clarity into their program, making it a key component of their success. In contrast, 77 percent of the leasteffective content marketers surveyed said a lack of clarity hindered their efficiency.

These statistics indicate that it helps to fully grasp a content marketing strategy before executing it, but how many B2B marketers have a documented plan?

Fifty-three percent of the most effective B2B content marketers claim they have a documented strategy in place, compared to 40 percent of the least effective marketers who said they do not have one at all.

“B2B marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy get better results from their content marketing tactics, social media platforms, and paid methods of content distribution (i.e., they rate them as more effective when compared with their peers who don’t have a documented strategy),” wrote the authors of the report.

Although there are many factors that contribute to success and effectiveness, there are several that make content marketing a challenge for B2B marketers as well.

THE CONTENT MARKETING CHALLENGES OF TODAY

 

While 44 percent of B2B marketers claim that they are clear on what content marketing effectiveness looks like, the majority (55 percent) say they are unsure. This indicates that B2B marketers are still learning what goes into creating a worthwhile strategy.

Thirty percent stated that their organizations are effective at content marketing, which is a drop from 38 percent recorded in last year’s “B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” report. Additionally, only 32 percent said that their content marketing maturity level is “sophisticated or mature.”

“In general, effectiveness levels are greater among marketers with higher levels of content marketing maturity,” the authors of the report concluded.

With this in mind, identifying the key pitfalls associated with developing a successful content marketing plan can be done through observing whereineffective marketers are lacking.

As previously stated, 40 percent of the least effective marketers do not have a defined content strategy. Additional research indicates that they typically lack editorial guidance as well. Thirty-five percent of B2B marketers do not have a documented editorial mission statement.

In contrast, 56 percent of effective marketers with a documented content strategy have a defined mission statement.

Less than half (49 percent) of B2B marketers who only meet bi-weekly or monthly about their content marketing strategies do not find these meetings helpful. This is a smaller number than the 54 percent of effective content marketers who view meetings as beneficial.

Keeping the entire marketing team on the same page and documenting a content strategy appear to be critical to content marketing success.

B2B MARKETING TRENDS: 2015 AND BEYOND

 

About 88 percent of B2B marketers claim that their organizations are using content marketing, but what other resources are they tapping into to achieve their goals?

On average, B2B marketers use 13 different content marketing tactics, according to the report. Ninety-three percent say they are utilizing social media to reach out to their target audience, while 82 percent use case studies. Blogs (81 percent), eNewsletters (81 percent) and in-person events (81 percent) are also popular strategies used by marketing teams.

However, in-person events have been the most effective tactic utilized by B2B marketers, with 75 percent naming this their top strategy. It may also be worth nothing that for the past six years, in-person events have been rated the most effective tactic by marketers.

As content marketing strategies evolve, 85 percent of respondents claimed that lead generation will be their main goal over the next year. To reach their objectives, 51 percent said they will increase their content marketing spend within the next 12 months, and 76 percent intend to create more content in 2016.

“It’s great that organizations want to create more content, but they need to be braver and bolder with that content,” said Ann Handley, chief content officer of MarketingProfs. “They can no longer afford to play it safe. Organizations must focus on telling more authentic stories targeting the specific challenges of their audience.”

The full report can be accessed via SlideShare as well as direct PDF found here.



DIGITAL MARKETERS CONTINUE TO SEEK WAYS TO RISE ABOVE THE CROWD 

In a report published by Visual.ly in September titled, “Content Marketing Reimagined: How Brands Can Earn Attention in 2015,” research showed that marketers are increasing their digital budgets to accommodate growing media consumption. We had an opportunity to interview Elliott Brown of Visual.ly to learn more about the data uncovered in the report.

HOW DO YOU CURRENTLY VIEW THE CONTENT MARKETING LANDSCAPE?

Elliott Brown: “It’s hard to get traction with content. It used to be that if you just did it — if you were creating content and getting it out there — that was enough. Going back seven or 10 years, that was certainly the case. I think we’ve seen a lot of people try to get into the game, and all of the sudden there are a lot more voices out there, as well as channels. With all of the social media channels that are popping up, you’re competing with alerts on people’s phones. There is a lot more content out there in general. You’re competing with everyone out there from interpersonal communications to other marketers.”

HOW CAN MARKETERS IMPROVE ON MEASURING ROI?

EB: “To get better at measuring their ROI, they need to plan for it from the beginning, and it should be a part of their strategy. A lot of the times you start working and publishing and say, ‘Let’s use this CMS and this CRM,’ and you might have pieces that don’t really fit well. Measuring ROI should be a part of their strategic planning. It’s tougher in some areas that others, like B2B, where you have a full sales cycle.”

HOW IS MOBILE CHANGING THE DIGITAL MARKETING LANDSCAPE?

EB: “There are two big ways. Strategically, you’ve got to be thinking about what the consumer mindset is when they’re on their phone. It gives you a better opportunity to provide more relevant content. You also can’t be totally static – you need to be flexible and responsive to what people are doing. Tactically, mobile is a completely different channel. Responsive design is a good start, but you need to really think about everything you’re doing.”

WERE YOU SURPRISED BY ANY OF THE STUDY RESULTS?

EB: “I think the most startling thing that should make people gasp is the amount of data being produced. People are publishing a significant amount of more stuff, meaning that in two years, there are going to be more people competing for the same eyeballs. On the Internet, it’s about finding new audiences, and there aren’t going to be too many new audiences to find anymore beyond a certain point. You’ve got to be focused on informing people, entertaining people, or providing them with a service.”

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO TODAY’S DIGITAL MARKETERS?

EB: “The biggest advice that I have is to not put junk out there. I know that’s simplistic way of looking at it, but putting a tweet or blog post out there isn’t enough. Quality is really starting to trump quantity, and it’s worth putting the investment in better content that engages people. One way you can have both quality and quantity is by improving the way you work with your creative team. I would say improving the working relationship with people who create content will streamline the process.”

You can download the free report, “Content Marketing Reimagined: How Brands Can Earn Attention in 2015,” published by Visual.ly in September 2015.

As seen in KoMarketing, Fullbottle, and more.

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