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.

4 “must-haves” of high converting copy

First-class copy is the best way to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers.  But like so much of conversion optimisation and digital marketing, it is not easy to produce.

That’s why we’ve listed these four absolute essentials of high-converting copy. If you can nail down these characteristics, you’re well on your way to producing some high-converting copy.

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1.)    Be clear

The type of content you produce/share is closely related to the product you sell.  Users need to understand what your product is, and in order to convey that, you must have clear copy.  Clarity is more important that humour, more important than grammatical perfection, more important that anything.

Clarity is about understanding.  If users don’t understand your product, they won’t buy your product. 

2.)    Be casual

We’ve got to break away from stiff and formal writing.  Write like you speak! Use simple words and be direct!  No one wants to read a landing page that sounds like a university essay.  Here’s a few tips to make your writing a little more casual and a lot more engaging:

  • Break grammatical rules – incomplete sentences, expressions, colloquialisms and slang are A-Okay!
  • Try dictating your copy rather than writing it. Pretend you are telling a friend about your product.
  • Refer to the reader as “you”.

3.)    Make sure you’ve got a killer headline

On average, five times as many people will read your headline over your body copy, so you had better make it good.  A great headline convinces more people to read your copy while a poor one sends them searching somewhere else.

And you don’t have to stop at just one headline.  As long as you space them out, size them appropriately and back them up with great content, use as many headlines as you want!

4.)    Good copy is easy to scan

Great writers make sure that the content they produce is scannable.  It’s not just about breaking things up visually, but rather an entire approach to writing altogether. So, what makes your content scannable?

  • It has short words.
  • It used short sentences.
  • In contains plenty of visuals – they break up your copy and make it more engaging.
  • It uses bullet points – they’re short, powerful and direct.
  • It’s utilises “white space” – no walls of texts here!
  • It contains headlines and subheads.

So you see, it’s just that simple.  If you can improve your copy, you can improve you conversions.

What else would you consider to be a “must-have” of high converting copy?

Want to find out more ways to improve your content marketing strategy? Talk to BT Managing Director, Steve Ballantyne.  steve@ballantynetaylor.co.nz

Or download our ebook, The Superheroes of Digital Marketingfor free!

Visual content marketing: The proof is in the percentages

This year, according to research by eMarketer, it is estimated that some $134.7 billion will be spent on content marketing. 

Meanwhile, international market research pro, Mintel, has predicted double digit growth for content marketing in the next five years.  With this ever-increasing spend, it’s vital that you are getting the most out of your budget.

You’ve got to give your users what they want.  It starts with giving them content that they will actually take the time to consume, and wall-to-wall text, is not the answer.  Messages get weighed down and hidden in excessive quantities of text, but images are understood at a glace.  So forget your whitepapers, let’s get visual.

Visual content shows your products without telling people about them.  Images break through the clutter of online content by communicating ideas quickly, like a snapshot. They also evoke emotional responses.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the stats below.  Our infographic shows how visual content marketing can be advantageous to your brand.

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Visual content marketing is set to dominate 2014.  People simply respond better to images, it all comes down to our natural learning style and how we retain information.  Have you tested visual content v. written content for your brand yet?

If you want to find out more about how content marketing will work for your business, check out our ebook: The Superheroes of Digital Marketing!

Why marketing automation should be part of your marketing strategy

My BT office is in downtown Auckland.  I’m an avid tramper and my favourite outdoor clothing brands all have stores temptingly close to our building.  It’s a blessing and a curse.

With the warmest June on record, retailers went into panic mode and started their winter sales early.  I needed a new water-proof tramping jacket but I only had a short break before my next client meeting, so I dashed across the road to Macpac.

It was their BIG sale and the shop was full.  The sales rep recognised me and greeted me with a wave.  He watched me head straight to the Gore-tex jackets, make a selection and bring it to the counter, eyeing my watch.  Reading the signals, he politely asked the Scandinavian couple ahead of me if he could serve me first.  They turned to the flustered ‘suit guy’ and shrugged, “Sure, why not.”

The sale was made and I was back in my office in less than 15 minutes.  If it hadn’t been for the sales rep’s keen eye, I could have been left waiting, growing impatient and leaving without making a purchase.

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Marketing automation should be like an experienced, intuitive sales person on a macro level

The biggest misconception is what the term “marketing automation” actually means.  Clever marketing automation, B2B or B2C, should be like an experienced sales person on a macro level.  Don’t think of automation tools as “set-and-forget.”  Rather, think of these tools helping you get to know your target audience better.  Much better.  Use this knowledge to create more relevant campaigns that actually resonate with a buyer. The right platform, used correctly, should treat leads as individuals with unique needs, wants, and drivers.

Immediate, ‘personalised’ responses will significantly reduce the sales cycle

In B2B, where the sales cycle is typically longer, marketing automation should allow customers to feel as though they are taking control of their own journey with you.  But because an adaptive, ‘personalised’ response is triggered instantly, the sales cycle will be significantly shortened and better qualified.  Just as I could have been left standing at the counter waiting and growing more impatient – marketing automation allows you to respond to enquiries immediately.  “You are 100 times more likely to close a sale if you respond within 5 minutes as opposed to 30.”

Marketing automation tools will:

• Reduce your sales cycle to win new business faster
• Continually improve your marketing campaigns
• Deliver more leads for upselling
• Deliver more leads from referrals

In a perfect world, your prospects or existing customers should be designing their own interactions with your company.  In fact, I believe buyers should be designing your entire sales infrastructure.  Used effectively, marketing automation will send tailored, personalised messages to your customers on a regular basis.  You should be ‘crafting’ this regular activity, building your relationship with rich experiences until they are ready to buy.

Four marketing automation vendors to consider and why

This article is an opinion piece, not a review, but I’d be remiss without sharing some of my insights with you.  I’ve researched dozens of platforms and vendors and I’ve short-listed four vendors that I would urge you to put on your ‘consideration’ list.  And because pricing should always be part of your decision, follow this link for a definitive price guide.

http://blog.capterra.com/2014-marketing-automation-software-pricing-guide/

1.) Hubspot – A great place to start

If you are an SME or small marketer, Hubspot should be on your marketing automation shopping list.  In a nutshell, it’s affordable and versatile with great training resources like easy to follow webinars, workshops and one-on-one live tech support.  For me, the best feature is the dashboard that gives you a live feed.  If you have a second monitor, you’ll be tempted to leave it running.  The mobile app is just as friendly and well designed, but your family will soon grow tired of you constantly accessing it at home on your iPad.
Hubspot will force you to set more measurable, strategic goals – visits, leads and sales. Be warned, it could become addictive.

2.) Marketo – For mid-size to enterprise businesses

If you have an in-house marketing team or an agency, Marketo could be for you.  It’s pricing is more flexible and B2B companies will gain better long-term value. It’s the platform we are most familiar with, primarily because some of our B2B clients already use it and it integrates natively with Salesforce CRM.
My Digital Manager, Carla Sheen, finds the visual drag and drop interface really easy to use and the reporting very thorough.

3.) Eloqua – If you’re enterprise or multi-site

Marketo and Eloqua offer similar capabilities and characteristics.  Both come with a comparably hefty price tag, but used to full effect they will grow revenue.

Eloqua is owned by Oracle Corporation who shelled out $871million US for the sale – yes, the same CEO, Larry Ellison, who shattered the sailing dreams of our nation.

It’s the vision of Ellison and the resources of Oracle that makes Eloqua different.  Marketing automation is growing exponentially.  Only 3% of non-technology companies have adopted the software so far.  Larry hates being second.  I predict that Eloqua will continue to release more updates than its competitors – like the improved lead scoring engine recently released that allows you to run different lead scoring modules for multiple sites, teams or product lines.

4.) Engage – And not just because it’s Kiwi

I would have put the Engage marketing automation platform, developed by Ubiquity, on this list anyway, but I must tell you upfront, they’re a client of mine.  SME to largest enterprise, you’ll find Engage scalable, functional, measurable and highly adaptive.
If you choose your stock market shares by studying the governance of the company’s directors, then you would be very happy to choose Engage based on the way directors, CEO Nathalie Morris and CTO Guy Bibby, run Ubiquity and its dedicated team. There’s a Xero-like zeal that’s palpable.

And the huge upside is that they are local.  Cloud-hosting is here in NZ, the account service team is here in NZ, the help desk is here in NZ and the tech support is superb and in NZ.  There’s a high degree of security and a small amount of local parochialism that might sway your judgement. The other vendors are northern hemisphere-based and the tech support probably won’t be there when you really need them.

Which Software is best for you? – again – it’s personal

Here we are full circle.  Draw up your wish list of features, components, and requirements– and then choose the tool that best fits these needs. You’re much more likely to get the greatest bang for your buck.  Marketing automation software is becoming more and more mainstream by the day.  It is a learning curve and a big investment in terms of your time and money.  As any carpenter will tell you, measure twice and cut once.  Do your research.

It’s not a question of IF you choose it but WHEN.

Consider this checklist before you decide

• Analytics / ROI Tracking
• Campaign Segmentation
• Contact Management
• CRM Integration
• Direct Mail Management
• Email Marketing
• Lead Management
• Multi-Channel Management
• Search Marketing
• Social Marketing

Read my e-Book ‘The Super Heroes of B2B Digital Marketing’

Marketing automation will only become more important over time.  To fully understand its place in your digital marketing strategy, download my BT e-book, ‘The Super Heroes of B2B Digital Marketing.’  The book was fun to write and hopefully you’ll find it informative and easy to follow.  The book will take you sequentially step-by-step through the B2B sales cycle.
http://ballantynetaylor/B2Bsuperheroesebook/

6 ways to earn higher rankings (and no, it’s not content marketing)

There’s a lot of buzz about content marketing at present, and how essential it is to earn higher rankings. And while there is truth in the hype, it’s easy to forget about all the other tools that good SEOs and marketers have at their disposal.

There’s an idea that the only thing SEOs do anymore is content creation — this is truly minimising the job requirements, which are vast. So we’ve listed 6 ways (out of many) that you can earn higher rankings without investing in content marketing.

1. Better snipets

When I say snippets, I’m talking about what shows up on a search results page: your titles, URL, meta description, maybe even an author profile or a video. All of these things lead to your page, and if you change or tweak then to be a little bit more compelling, you will be able to drive more traffic to your site. But you can’t stop at simply making your teasers more interesting, you’ve got to make whatever is on that page match what is on the snippet, or vice versa.

If the snippets and the page don’t make sense together, you run the risk of people clicking, then jumping off the page, often called “pogo-sticking.”  Pogo-sticking can hurt you in two big ways; first, the engines look directly at this behaviour and think, “Oh, people don’t like this page. I don’t want to rank it.”  Second, you lose the opportunity to convert these viewers into buyers or someone who would share or link to your content.

2. Improve crawl-friendliness

Search engines frequently crawl website pages in order to determine which ones are indexed in their search listings. Search engine crawlers, also known as robots or spiders, collect, store and download pages they find important, such as a sites’ homepage. The search engines may not download pages they find irrelevant.

Go through your website; you may click around and find pages that don’t help anyone. Get rid of them or remake them; you’ll significantly improve your crawl bandwidth and the contentment that Google sees in your site.

Improving your good v. bad page ratio, making sure your models of navigation are clean and your site more index-able will greatly improve your site’s traffic.

3. Make pages faster

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you make your pages faster, the internet will reward you. Some of the benefit will be reaped through Google directly (small factor in the ranking algorithm), but mostly it will be indirectly — lower bounce rates, reduced pogo-sticking and more opportunity to convert viewers.

4. Leverage your network to attract links

Leverage your networks to help attract links, shares, traffic, endorsements etc. Ask your followers — if you think you’ve gotten something great out of working with us, by buying a product, by using our service, interacting with us, please share it.

5. Identify pages that make your viewers happy, but aren’t getting organic search traffic

These are the pages that have a high engagement, low bounce rate, good number of visits, high browse rate, but for whatever reason, they aren’t getting organic search traffic. Often times the problem is keyword optimisation and keyword targeting isn’t quite there. Find the keywords that these pages should be ranking for and update the page, title and content to suit. In most cases you won’t even have to tweak much of the content to get the targeting right.

If you do happen to do a more significant update, relaunch and re-share it — especially if people or search engines have started to forget about it. Just a quick little update and reminder can help you just that little bit more when it comes to rankings.

6. Link building

For search engines that crawl the web, links are the streets between pages. Links aren’t everything in SEO, but search professionals attribute a large portion of the engine’s algorithms to link-based factors (see Search Engine Ranking Factors). Through links, engines can not only determine the popularity of a website and page, but metrics like trust, spam and authority. Trusted sites tend to link to other trusted sites, while spammy sites receive very few links from trusted sources.

Using link building tools, such as Link Intersect from Moz, you will be able to participate in competitive link building by finding pages that two or more of your competitors are linked to, but you are not. From here, you can create a prioritised list for outreach and start getting in touch. For example, if a journalist has written about your competition and not you, ask what you can do to be featured next time — it’s probably something really simple!

 

These tactics and hundreds more like it are all in the realm of what modern SEOs still need to do in addition to the newer obligations that we have around content creation and content marketing. If you want some advice about how to establish some SEO best practices within your organisation, come to us. Our Digital Manager, Veronica Nobbs is ready and able to take your strategy to the next level.