Posts

Variety of Content is the Key in the Early Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle

In the early stages of the industrial buy cycle, you as the marketer have very little information about the visitor to help you tailor your marketing content to their needs.

In Needs Awareness and Research phases, the first two stages of the industrial buy cycle (see my earlier post Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle) your prospects and customers use a variety of online content to find solutions to their current problems and needs.

The chart below shows the variety of content used at different stages of the industrial buy cycle (Source: Understanding the Industrial Buy Cycle: How to Align Your Marketing with Your Customers’ Buying Process from GlobalSpec).

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Industrial and B2B Customer Engagement Simplified

More and more industrial and B2B marketers now view customer engagement as the key to driving incremental sales and revenues. However, accurately defining and measuring customer engagement in complex business or industrial sales is still elusive.

The most simplistic approach to evaluating customer engagement is to measure conversion rates. For an eCommerce site that is easy, it is typically the value of transaction per visit. However, it is not so simple to measure customer engagement in situations with long sales cycles that’s commonplace with manufacturers, sellers of technical products and B2B consultative solution providers. I have written about this problem in my previous post, “The Disconnect Between B2B Content Marketing and Customer Engagement.”

Some B2B marketers are using more sophisticated ROI measurement tools to track activities over the entire life cycle of a lead. For example, at Sopheon, a software provider, measures qualified leads by their source, their region, volume per region, the speed of aging, movement through the sales cycle and other metrics.

These metrics are all linked to 10 stages in Sopheon’s sales process. This way the company can see exactly where the leads are coming from, how old they are, where they are in the process, which account executive is handling them and where leads typically fall out. Read more

Social Media with Email Marketing – is it the Super Combo?

Lately, social media seems to garner all the attention in the media and blog posts with very little mention about email marketing. This long time staple has become the Rodney “No Respect” Dangerfield of B2B and industrial marketing.

I’ve read several articles about the impending death of email marketing because of the steady decline in open and click-through rates (CTR). Are those predictions a little premature? Can we deliver a powerful 1-2 punch by combining  social media and email marketing? I came across two research studies that answer the last question with a big YES!

The first study done by AWeber (aff. Link), was a survey of small business owners and found that the two most common tactics used in 2009 were tweeting e-mail newsletters and sending out blog entries to e-mail lists. In 2010, almost 50% of small businesses will include “follow us” links in their e-mails, and about 44% will include share options in their messages. (See charts below). Read more

Focus on Content in B2B Marketing

Lately all the talk in B2B marketing has centered on social media. However, to be successful with social media, you have to provide real value and that usually comes from great content.

Paul Dunay in his blog post, “4 C’s of B2B Marketing” has defined this very nicely. His 4C’s are:

  • Content – the creation of a steady stream of engaging content
  • Connection – connecting with the audience you wish to attract
  • Communication – communicating with them in an ongoing conversation
  • Conversion – and then converting them at the illusive moment of need

What is content marketing?

Wikipedia defines content marketing as “an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases.”

The old ways of pushing out content is no longer effective. Now, B2B content marketing’s agenda is to educate and inform customers and prospects. Content Marketing’s slogan is – “Don’t pitch. Don’t sell. Don’t interrupt. Educate, inform and provide value to customers and prospects. Your business will grow.” (See Content Marketing – The Ultimate Cheat Sheet).

Here’s a short but highly informative slide show that explains how to use content effectively as inbound marketing. Read more

Social Media and B2B Marketing Do Pair Well

For a while, it was difficult to find hardcore data to make a business case for social media. I’m happy to see that’s no longer the case. Just this week, I received two invaluable reports with charts and graphs to answer many of the questions that B2B marketers have about using social media.

The first report is titled “2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report” and it is from Michael Stelzner, the founder of WhitePaperSource and the author of Writing White Papers. Watch this short video as Michael explains what’s in this report. Then you can download it for free (no, you don’t even have to register) from his site. Don’t forget to check out Social Media Success Summit 2010.

Industry Report Overview from Michael A. Stelzner on Vimeo.

The second report on social media and b2b marketing is from HubSpot. They have compiled over 50 marketing charts and graphs based on analysis of their 2,500 business customers.

This Marketing Data and Research Presentation includes data on:

  • Lead Generation
  • Blogging and Social Media
  • Marketing Budgets
  • Twitter and Facebook
  • 50+ pages of marketing charts and graphs from original research

Download the report from here. (NOTE: Requires registration to download)

Business Value of Social Networking

Saw a very interesting video where Seth Godin talks about how useful social media is to businesses. Even though the use of social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is growing exponentially, there is a raging debate about measuring its ROI.

I use LinkedIn and Twitter quite a lot in my online networking and sure, I’ve grown my network in a short period of time. But like many b-to-b marketers, I’m not sure how it has impacted my business. So, I’m leaning more towards Seth’s point of view.

Take a look at this video and decide for yourself. After all, when Seth Godin speaks, people listen.

What’s working for you? Leave me your comments below.

Top 5 Tools for Streamlining Twitter

Now that twitter has taken flight, there are dozens of tools available to streamline the process and make you more productive. If you are an avid Twitter user, these five tools will help you manage your Twitter accounts without tying up your entire day.

  1. TweetDeck – This application works on your desktop. It allows you to manage your Twitter account without having to visit the site each time. You can create groups for friends, business associates or anyone else you like with this application. Best of all, TweetDeck works in the background and can be used offline at your leisure. Some cool things about TweetDeck to point out include:
    • The ability to post your Facebook status and keep up with your friends within your TweetDeck window.
    • You can group certain users together in one window so you don’t miss any tweets from them.
    • You have a separate window for your @ replies, direct messages and your main stream.
    • No need to refresh the page as it updates automatically for you and you can change the amount of time in between updates. Read more

Social Media Marketing: Time Trap or Opportunity Magnet?

New Study Reveals the Answers. This new report exposes the best tools and benefits of social media marketing.

A surprising 64 percent of marketers are spending five or more hours weekly using social media sites like Twitter, found the just-released Social Media Marketing Industry Report: How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses.

"Social media marketing is an engagement with online communities to generate exposure, opportunity and sales," says report author Michael A. Stelzner, founder of WhitePaperSource," and the real shocker is that experienced folks are investing more than 20 hours each week with social media."

Businesses of all sizes are leaping into the social media pool–and many are well-known brands. Computer giant Dell recently reported a million dollars in sales by issuing coupons on Twitter. Even Ford is using social media to interact directly with its customers.

"Social media has helped Ford quickly achieve its goal of being a top social brand and has broken down the more conservative communications processes that were in place," said Scott Monty, head of social media for Ford.

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The Gender Gap in Social Networking

It is no secret that the whole social networking phenomenon got started with the younger generation. However, there is a distinct gender gap as its acceptance has grown to become more mainstream. 

Rapleaf has done a study of 13.2 million people to see how they were using social media. While the trends indicate both sexes are using social media in huge numbers, their findings show that women far outpace men. Usually men tend to be early adopters of technology but when it comes to social networking, women are way ahead of the men.

The study found that among twenty-somethings, women and men are just as likely to be members of social networks. Facebook, MySpace, and Flixster are very popular. However, they found that young women are much more active on these sites than young men. In addition, men above 30—especially married men—aren't even joining social networks. With the notable exceptions of LinkedIn users and venture capitalists in the Bay Area "friending" everyone on Facebook, married men are not hanging out on social networks. Married women, however, are joining social networks in droves. In fact, women between ages 35 and 50 are the fastest-growing segment, especially on MySpace.

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Have You Heard of Sales 2.0?

While I was researching sales and marketing automation solutions, I came across several videos that were talking about Sales 2.0. I found them on allbusiness.com.

It is true that they are referring to the current trend of using social media but in ways that are fundamentally different from the traditional sales process. I found the videos very informative and learned something new. You may find them interesting too. Read more