BRINGING SEXY BACK to B2B MARKETING

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If you can get through this next sentence without falling asleep, congratulations. B2B marketing has traditionally consisted of facts, figures, testimonials and whitepapers. Still with us? Good. As boring as that all seems, we can assure you, it doesn’t have to be this way. And if you’re a B2B business out there, we just want you to know – it’s not you, it’s us – the agencies that owe it to you to help bring your brand out of its cocoon, releasing its true colours and allowing it to soar high above the mediocrity. After all, there’s no such thing as a boring product, just boring packaging.

Hit ‘em right in the ‘feels’
With a huge amount of advertising noise coming from every direction, particularly the digital space, it’s important that B2B businesses really put themselves out there. Marketing efforts need to be tailored for the common human, not robots. Tuning in to those things called feelings will encourage people to really engage with your brand and talk about it. Remember the customer comes first so ask yourself:

– What are they interested in?
– What’s the best way to reach them and when?
– How are you going to solve their problem?
– How are you going to make them look like a god to their peers?

Try to avoid hitting them with the hard stuff too early. Yes, they may need some solid facts at some stage but first, think about how you’re going to lure (ahem) lead them in. Although B2B products may not be bought for emotional gratification, it doesn’t mean the marketing behind it can’t include plenty of warm fuzzies. Make them feel safe, show them how cost-effective it is and let them know your company cares about them as an individual.

Get your flirt on
Let’s face it, you’re trying to make an unsexy product desirable so just like a finely-tuned Tinder profile, show a shit tonne of charisma and put your best profile pic forward. Social media is the forum to do this; it gives you a chance to present a familiar, less formal side to your business through the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Instead of your customers feeling like outsiders learning about your business, here’s their chance to get in on the action by joining conversations and sharing with their friends. Showing pictures of your staff is also a great way to ‘humanise’ your brand – “oooh, they look like a warm, down-to-earth company – in fact, they’re the kind of company I can see myself starting a relationship with” (sigh).

Stick to the game plan
Right, so now you’ve got an idea on how to make your company relatable and look super snazzy (side note: don’t go too far and use words like ‘snazzy’) so what now? Avoid going in hot without a strategy. You’ve got fun stuff and you’ve got boring stuff, now how are you going to roll it all out? Do continue things that have served you well in the past (we never said get rid of those white papers all together). Do target more than just the top dogs – an idea can come from any person in the company. Do aim to reach people outside of work hours too because, well, people are addicted to their phones and tablets. Don’t lose yourself – brand identity still needs to be evident in everything you do. If all else fails? Offer free stuff! Everyone loves a little win, even if it’s as simple as a free e-book.

Last but not least, don’t forget the plug. Whenever you get the chance, talk up your company and offer the easy click. For example, BallantyneTaylor would say something along the lines of “we know you’ve enjoyed this article, so don’t play hard to get – if you want to get a little stalky and see what other great things we’ve done (and could do for you) check us out riiiiight: here.

Mixing things up – how to sprinkle a bit of B2C into the B2B marketing pool

B2B Marketing for Business

Now is as good a time as any for B2B marketers to loosen that top button and see what they could learn from their not-so-distant B2C relatives. Let’s take a look at how to spice things up in the marketing department to create a whole new breed of innovation.

B2B marketers have traditionally focused on using rational arguments to persuade customers to buy their products but with it becoming increasingly harder to grab the attention of potential buyers, marketers need to think smarter. While logic leads to conclusions and emotions lead to actions, audiences are now accustomed to being approached in a personal, emotive way meaning not taking this angle could have the potential to make your brand seem distant, disconnected or bland. So, clever marketers understand the need to tug on the heart strings/funny bone/[insert emotive body part here]. We’re not saying turn your whole marketing strategy on its head, but rather think about how to inject more personality into your messaging.  Remember, it’s not just the product or service you’re representing; it’s the personality and values of your business too. So yes, the number one goal may be to educate in a professional way but while you’re at it, think about how you could also show your audiences that you’re fun, charismatic and original too.

Get creative with the tools you’ve got as well as one’s you haven’t used before. B2C marketers use the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to paint a picture and get conversations started. B2B marketers can consider employing social media too but it means thinking outside the square. What else could you talk about/show that is relevant and will get audiences paying attention? Don’t be afraid to have a bit of fun with your content. Whether it’s mixing things up with a new tone of voice, creating some fun  visual elements, or even making a video (which many B2B researches watch during the entire path to purchase), there’s plenty of options to consider . Everyone appreciates a good laugh so this could be your chance to jump on social media and show a less formal side to your business while aiming to make your audiences smile.

B2C knows that mobile means money which is where B2B needs to lift its game. It’s not just B2C audiences that will have their attention grabbed by a well-placed banner ad, video, or sponsored content – B2B audiences are real people too so don’t be afraid to get down and digital. Research from Panvista Mobile shows that “59% of B2B purchase decision makers and influencers use smartphones to gather information about B2B products and services, and 65% of executives are comfortable making a purchase from a mobile device.” Ensure your content is optimised for mobile so you never miss out. Google did a study in 2014 with Millward Brown Digital which discovered nearly half of all B2B researchers are millennials (digital natives), and 49% of B2B researchers who use their mobile devices for product research do so while at work. They’re comparing prices, reading about products, comparing feature sets, and contacting retailers.

In the end, everyone is a consumer in one way or another so keep reaching out to them.  Stick to what you know works while also aiming to surprise and connect differently with your audiences. Tap into habits and thought patterns when working out what makes your audiences tick on a personal level. Deliver something that will make them sit up and think ‘that’s different… I like it’.

5 ways to reach the right audiences with Programmatic Advertising

5 benefits of programmatic advertising-ballantynetaylor

1. Specific targeting

Want to reach 20 – 25 year-old males who live and breathe video games, tend to be on the internet between 2am – 6am, and live in Invercargill? With Programmatic Advertising you can do just this. You have the ability to target any market you choose – no matter how niche.

Instead of applying a ‘spray and pray’ approach, Programmatic Advertising allows a user to work out exactly who they want to reach, when they want to reach them and how they’re going to reach them. Instead of publishing your ad to a large, broad network where many of the people won’t see your ad as relevant or interesting, you can ensure that your ads are reaching specific audiences where your messages are more likely to resonate.

Using the marketing intelligence you already have (such as from your API or Google Analytics) is a great way to determine how you will proceed with your ad placements. This data should help identify any already occurring trends and opportunities to take advantage of.

2. Speed and time-saving

Through Programmatic Advertising, an ad can be served up in a matter of milliseconds. Once you have done all the background work in terms of placing your bidding price and setting the specifications on who you want to reach, your ad simply sits in cyberspace waiting for its first bite. When someone makes a search that links in with your ad (e.g. they have Googled prime fishing spots and you sell fishing equipment) your ad will suddenly kick into gear, competing with other ads for a spot on that person’s screen. If your bid is the highest then your ad will be served to them at lightning speed.

Programmatic Advertising proves time-efficient in terms of set-up and how fast it delivers. Instead of booking your media the traditional way (researching, finding a contact, discussing rates, negotiating, scheduling) programmatic puts you in the driver’s seat. You control the budgets and placements with real time bidding (RTB). Once the groundwork is done, the algorithms take it from there.

3. Cross-device targeting

Ever heard of a micro-moment? They are captured when a potential customer makes a decision or has their opinion swayed. Ensure your intent-fuelled, breakthrough moment is waiting around every corner for your customers – whether it’s via mobile, tablet or computer.

By deciphering your target market’s technology-user-habits, you can apply Programmatic Advertising to set your ads up like a well-prepared army – poised at all the right stations and ready to lurch. It also allows for brand/message reinforcement where your target might be exposed to your ads several times over various different devices, keeping your business top-of-mind. A good example of this would be to start promoting a weekend sale on Tuesday or Wednesday to build up interest over a few days.

4. Cost-efficiency

When implementing Programmatic Advertising, you can determine a budget and then decide how much you are willing to bid. Although this is similar to Google advertising, the major benefit with programmatic is that you are reaching out further than just the Google network. You will also be drawing on other ad exchanges like AppNexus, Microsoft Advertising, OpenX and rightmedia.

Ads are typically sold on a CPM basis (cost per 1,000 impressions). On average, programmatic CPMs range from $5 – $8. When compared to non-programmatic CPM which are closer to the $20 – $30 mark, it’s easy to see what option is the most cost-efficient. It is now possible to take a traditional online advertising budget and stretch it 5 times further with programmatic, which is particularly beneficial for SMEs that have a limited budget to start with.

5. Experts can do it for you

The best part of programmatic? You can get experts to do all the nitty-gritty for you!

Simply set the parameters in terms of who you want to reach and what you want to achieve. From there, experts can bring your strategic Programmatic Advertising plan to fruition. You may already have data and creative that a specialist can draw on, but if not, this is something they may also help you with.

The joy of taking this approach is that you reap the rewards but you don’t need to invest the time and energy needed to learn and implement the system. You can also receive a breakdown of how your ads are performing along with suggestions on how to further improve them.

BallantyneTaylor are experts in the field of Programmatic Advertising and can give your business a helping hand. Get in touch today and find out what you could achieve with them.

5 rookie mistakes in content marketing (and how to fix them)

Content marketing isn’t hard, but it isn’t exactly easy either.  We can’t just blindly whip together some content ideas, throw them into the Internet oven and expect it to come out as a content marketing soufflé.  Without proper considerations and strategy, all our hard work is going to collapse in on itself.

Like anything else, content marketing takes continuous trial and error, and a fair few mistakes along the way. So without further ado, here are our “Top 5 Rookie Content Marketing Mistakes” and some quick tips on how to fix them.

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1.)    Your content is too branded

Overly branded content looks like a traditional advertisement and thus, will be responded too like a traditional advertisement – like you are trying to sell rather than to engage your audience.

Fix: Form ideas around the overall values and objectives of your company, not the brand itself.  Content that is presented in a natural way is far more likely to be well received.  This doesn’t mean you must omit any essence of your brand, just be subtle.

2.)    You don’t have a strategy

We’ve all been there – devoted time and energy into creating a fantastic piece of content, only to realise…you have no idea what to do with it.  To get the most out of your content marketing programme and actually build your brand, engage your prospects and customers and drive sales, you need more than activity. You need a strategy.

Fix: Take the time to understand your audience, develop clear conversion goals and decide what types of content to create.  From here, you can develop a content map or matrix for all the possible distribution tactics you can use, and tier them based on content.

3.)    You’re not getting your audience involved

Content marketing is not a one-way stream of conversation.  Don’t talk at your audience, make it an interactive conversation.  It will open doors for new customers.

Fix: Craft content that is interactive – allow audiences to click, explore and participate.  Comments and other means of feedback can allow your potential customers to interact with your content and feel more connected to it.

4.)    You’ve got the facts, but where’s the emotion?

Content isn’t all about teaching and informing; it’s about connecting and experiencing.  Content that is both memorable and impactful taps into the thing that brings us together in real life – emotions that ignite empathy.

Fix:  Think of your content as a story.  What does the information actually mean to your audience and how can you express that?  Let your content evoke an emotional response.

5.)    Listen to the data – not your gut

Content marketers who have a comprehensive knowledge of their target audience often create content that they personally think is best without considering any outside sources.  One of the most importance sources being data.

Fix: By data, I mean your performance metrics.  The ones that tell you which pieces of content are being shared and which ones are being ignored.  Rather than to assume what your audience likes, know what they like based on the information you’ve collected.

Content Marketing is a hugely effective method of increasing ROI and overall customer engagement. If you’re making any of the mistakes above, now is the time to improve your process.

Talk to Managing Director, Steve Ballantyne for an audit on your content marketing strategy: steve@ballantynetaylor.co.nz

Or you can check out our ebook, The Superheroes of Digital Marketing, which features an entire chapter on content.

Shorten the B2B sales cycle by leveraging your content

If there is one thing that aggravates the modern B2B organisation, it’s the ever-lengthening sales cycle. As the future of your company may very well depend on getting revenue through the door, a sluggish sales course is a growing concern for everyone from CEOs to sales reps.

So first, let’s look at the factors contributing to longer sales cycles:

– Tighter budgets: Overtime, we’ve seen more prudence when buying with inceased emphasis on ROI

– Decision apprehension:Corporate expenses are being analysed more closely, making buyers leery of making a hasty decision

– Increased options: Buyers have almost unlimited opportunity for options, and too much choice can confuse buyers, leading to procrastination

– Poor marketing and selling: If the message isn’t crystal clear and/or the selling process alignment is off, the sale will take longer, if it happens at all

These days, content marketing is the trending topic on every marketer, sales rep and business owner’s mind. We know that propagating fresh, relevant content is essential to a successful digital strategy, but perhaps the most important content marketing benefit is the impact on the sales cycle. A relevant piece of content available to the prospect at the right time in the sales cycle can help accelerate the purchase decision.

Now let’s explore what types of digital content can shorten the B2B sales cycle?

Product brochures and data sheets: Prospects will want to review your product or service literature before making a purchasing decision. It’s possible they’ve already made the emotional decision to buy and are now looking for some confirmation by matching features and functions against their needs. Prospects can also use brochures and data sheets to compare your benefits and features against competitor’s offerings. Whatever the reason, well-organised and complete product and services information can only benefit you.

Company and product reviews: Testimonials and independent reviews will only magnify the impact of your self-written information. These independent commentators provide credibility to your product and brand while alleviating the buyer’s fear of making a bad decision.

Case studies: Case studies are an excellent way to validate your offering and are a great tool to show how a product or service works. This specialised content can have a much greater impact on prospects than a generic product pitch.

“How to” guides: Potential buyers are interested in how they will install your product and use it on an ongoing basis. Assuming your product is not over complicated, providing this information will ease buyer reservation and motivate them to act quickly.

Order forms: The ultimate way to shorten the sales cycle, order forms compel the prospect to take action now. Even if you offer an expensive or complex product, order forms can be used to generate a minor close — perhaps a free trial offer, where you ask for a small commitment upfront, followed by a larger commitment later.

Website information: Think of your website as the Nerve Centre. All of the categories mentioned above should be accessible via your website. Your website is where you are going to be able to educate, motivate and convert prospects into customers.

Price List: B2B companies commonly make the mistake of not listing their prices online. They hesitate, thinking their prices will drive away prospects and give competitors access to their offers. But if you apply all of the above, the price will be weighed against all of the other benefits of the product or service. Don’t lose out on sales because a prospect doesn’t feel you are being upfront.

 

When it comes to shortening the B2B sales cycle, there is no right or wrong formula when it comes to content length. Different products, services and brands may need more explanation and information than others. But if you feel that your website is getting a little text-heavy, try presenting some of the aforementioned digital content in non-text formats, such as infographics, audio and/or video. Get the information to your reader in a quick, easily digestible manner with clear links and CTAs.

If you’re not sure you’re worried you’re not quite hitting the proverbial nail on the head when it comes to your content, let us take a look. We can help get your on the right path to more money in your pocket! Email erin@ballantynetaylor.co.nz

Is your brand making one of these 5 content marketing mistakes?

In a recent blog post, we explored how modern day marketers are evolving their strategies to adopt a more consumer-centric attitude. More and more companies are recognising the need to transition from an “always be selling” mindset to one that focuses on having a story to tell.

In an age where an endless amount of choice is at your fingertips, information is what drives sales. For the past few years, content marketing has been hailed as the future of the industry, and by now most marketers have accepted and embraced the burgeoning tool. But as with any (relatively) fledgling discipline, brands are bound to have some missteps along the way. Even the most agile of companies can trip over themselves from time to time, so it’s high time we explore some of the most common challenges content marketers face today.

1. Throw it Out and See if it Sticks

If your brand’s plan for content marketing is “produce content,” then you don’t really have a plan. Launching new content with no clear direction is a ready-fire-aim approach and there’s a good chance you won’t be providing your readers with anything of value. Yes, your brand’s content marketing goals will likely change over time, but before you set out, you should be able to at least answer the following questions:

– Who is my audience and what are their questions? How can I provide valuable leadership with my own content?

– What are my brand’s short term goals for content marketing? Long term?

– What types of content are my competitors producing and what can I learn from them?

 

2. Content is not Shareable

You want your content to reach as many eyes as possible, but unfortunately no one is going to share if it’s too difficult for them. Every piece of content should have clear, well-placed buttons that allow your readers to share your content with members of their own communities and close circles. To maximise your share-ability, try to include the big three: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

3. Content Doesn’t Encourage Deeper Engagement

The whole point of content marketing is to connect with your existing and potential customers while establishing yourself as a reliable resource. Encouraging your readers to connect can help form dynamic, long-lasting relationships and brand advocacy. Stimulate engagement by:

– Asking viewers to comment or ask questions

– Offer suggestions for related material

 

4. Results are not Being Measured

In the beginning, the process of developing good content will be a bit of a matter trial and error. Unfortunately, not all content is created equal, and more importantly, not all content will work for every type of brand. Experiment a little at first but once you’ve got a good base, pay attention to what is working and what isn’t. With each post, your company should be able to measure:

– What is getting the most clicks

– How prospects are finding your content

– How long are prospects staying on your site and looking at additional content

 

5. No Call to Action

While the primary goal of content marketing is to drive brand awareness by providing existing and potential customers with useful, easy to understand information, it doesn’t mean that we have to avoid salesmanship entirely. Linking your content to a product or service can very beneficial:

– Offers a solution to a customer’s needs or questions

– Establishes your brand’s expertise

– Removes an unnecessary step in the purchase cycle

– Eliminates the need for your readers to look elsewhere for a product or service you offer

 

Content marketing strategies are unique for each and every brand. If you haven’t gotten started yet, or aren’t sure how to measure whether or not your current strategy is working to the best of its ability, flick our Digital Manager an email. She’ll get your content where it needs to be.

Veronica Nobbs: veronica@ballantynetaylor.co.nz

 

About Veronica:

Veronica has packed years of experience into her youthful career. A NZ digital innovator, she held the role of Digital Analyst for Jason’s Travel before launching her own last-minute hotel stay app. Veronica is Google Adwords Certified and is a specialist in CRO, SEO and SEM and can call on her analytical and marketing skills at warp speed.

5 ways to keep your customers from unsubscribing

All too often email marketers focus their efforts on acquisition, forgetting that retention is also a major player in growing a valuable email subscriber base. From a single freelancer to global corporations, client equity matters. We know that customers who are subscribed to your email list are more likely to make a purchase from your company, but it’s not as straightforward as simply getting the opt-in box ticked.

Client turnover is the thorn in the side of every e-marketer and runs rampant within the web service industry. While we are always going to acquire temporary subscribers who later chose to withdraw from our databases, we can do a few things to keep them from dropping off like flies.

1. You’re emailing too often

Increased email frequency or too-frequent emails is the number one reason people unsubscribe to email lists. Even those who have willingly agreed to receive your updates can become fatigued with the constant assault on their inbox.

It’s hard to determine a frequency sweet spot as it varies industry to industry, but once you have, try to stick to it. Or better yet, allow your clients to select the frequency of their updates (i.e. once a day, week, month); those on your database will appreciate being given the option and as they are in control of how often they receive your emails, will be less likely to opt out.

2. You’re not emailing enough

Curse you, fickle consumer! Will you never be happy with your update recurrence? Yes, a good frequency is hard to find and, typically, less seems to be more effective; however if emails are too sparse you run the risk of a customer forgetting about you all together.

When you obtain a new subscriber, send them a helpful “welcome” email and follow up again within two to three weeks to keep your business fresh on their mind.

3. Your emails aren’t relevant

Your customers want emails that are personally relevant. Unless your company boasts a niche following, collecting a little data on each subscriber can help you segment your audience more easily. For instance, your male consumer base doesn’t want a bombardment of emails about attending your “Ladies Who Lunch” seminars.

Gathering a little extra information when a subscriber joins your mailing list (gender or age could be a good start) will help you implement a basic filter so each invite or promotion is pertinent to the individual client’s wants or needs.

4. Emails aren’t optimised for mobile

If you haven’t come to grips with the fact that mobile devices are steadily surpassing desktop you are frighteningly behind the times. If your newsletters and email images don’t look good on mobile, there’s a good chance they are going straight to Trash. Content that is difficult to absorb will frustrate your readers and, if the content you send out is consistently a point of dissatisfaction, a customer won’t give opting out a second thought.

If you’re not sure how to format your emails to look good via mobile, work with an email marketing software that provide ready-made, mobile optimised templates.

5. Content is too long, repetitive or boring

Mobile trends suggest people are beginning to expect shorter, more consumable pieces of information. Emails that waffle on don’t feel relevant or useful. Similarly, if you are flogging the same content over and over, you aren’t offering anything useful to your clients, which give them more than enough reason to unsubscribe.

Strip the extra content from your emails and identify a single call to action for each message. If you are sending multiple messages for a single event or promotion, highlight a different feature each time to avoid hounding your clients with the same, mundane content.

If you would like to talk to a pro about how to up your email marketing game, give us a shout! p: 09 950 2140