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.

Make your content relatable and actionable

The amount of content on the internet is infinite, and it’s been noted that users rarely read content in-full. If your content doesn’t reach your audience on a personal level, prepare to suffer from a high bounce rate. Content must be relatable and actionable to increase your customers’ attention spans.

First, you will need to find out what resonates with your audience and create a plan to boost it across all of your platforms.  Once you’ve done that, you can start developing a plan of action.  But what content tactics will engage an audience and encourage them to take the next step?

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1.) Keep it simple

The best way to write content is to understand your readers could range from industry experts to amateurs and anywhere in between. If the piece of content you are creating is overly technical and industry jargon is necessary, make sure and explain it in easy to understand terms.

As we mentioned before, your audience suffers from a short attention span, so write for the skimmer, not the reader! Here’s a few tips:

• Use bullet points to break up long paragraphs
• Focus on clarity over jargon
• Link out important terms to Wikipedia or expert posts to provide more detailed explanations for terms you don’t cover

2.) Tell how to do, not what to do

Writing the “what” is a very on-the-surface content goal. Eventually, you or your reader will desire to delve deeper into the subject. If you want to be seen as a resource, you must discuss the “how” of your topic with your reader:

• Describe your personal processes and tools and explain how you use them to gain a competitive edge
• Give examples from your work and research and how you read the data
• List your resources and share how they helped you improve your knowledge or skill

3.) Include visuals

Showing visuals is one of the easiest and fastest ways to answer your reader’s questions (which appeals the short attention span we keep coming back to). Use graphs, screenshots of tools/buttons/ tabs you used, descriptive images or videos.  Anything that will grab attention.

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4.) Answer questions

Since Hummingbird, the web is geared more than ever toward answering users’ questions. During the writing process, think about the queries your audience might have and answer them in a short, to-the-point way. You readers will be happy and Google will be happy. And when Google is happy, you rank higher in search.

5.) Be innovative

Create your content in a wide range of formats and mediums, and be as unique and innovative as possible. Consider your content to be another form of branding yourself. Don’t hide behind your professional website – use innovative content to show users that your brand is personable, relatable, and human!

Want to learn more about how content marketing can improve your digital marketing strategy? Talk to Managing Director, Steve Ballantyne.  e: steve@ballantynetaylor.co.nz

Or check out our ebook, The Superheroes of Digital Marketing, which features an entire chapter on content marketing alone!

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!

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.

Thinking small in content marketing

This is typical:  you expend a lot of energy into a chunky piece of marketing content – then retire it, move on and start working on the next piece.  When you do that, not only are you leaving a lot of content value behind, but wasting a real opportunity to get more bang for just a little more work.

“Atomising” is a term coined by Todd Defren in 2008 to mean “sharing content in small bits.”

Breaking your content down into smaller, more consumable pieces is not only more appetising to your already-to-busy customer base, but will feed your business’ content pipeline and increase overall impact.

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We have to disavow ourselves of the natural inclination towards a “bigger is better” mentality, and here’s some excellent reasons why:

 5 reasons to atomise your big idea

       1. Atomised content is more searchable

Breaking your content up into snack-able portions puts more bait in the water to attract your most important customer – Google.  Producing disparate pieces of content gives you the opportunity to highlight a wider number of search terms, cross-link your content and increase your total number of ranked pages.

       2. Atomised content is more findable

This is especially true when you repurpose your content and atomise it.  Think about it; what will get more exposure for your company?  A blog post, or a blog post plus a Slideshare presentation?  Every presentation you make should also be able to be found as a blog post.  And every blog post you write has untapped potential to become a presentation!

       3. Atomised content gets consumed more

In a social media dominated world, where 140 characters equals a fully-formed thought, what is going to get consumed more? A 90-second video or a 25-page ebook?  Social media and content marketing trends are shifting toward brevity anda “show me, don’t tell me” mentality.

       4. Atomised content gets spread more

The potential for small content to go viral supersedes large content in almost every case.  And it’s easy to see why.  We are far more likely to recommend or share something that we have actually read.  But it’s also a case of simple maths – if you have a fantastic ebook, it’s going to get shared, but if you break that same ebook up into episodic sections, the collective shares for those components will be higher.

       5. Atomised content generates more leads

Thinking small in content marketing gives you more opportunities to include CTAs.  For instance, a 5-piece series gives you 500% more calls-to-action than one giant volume of work.  Additionally, the smaller your content, the fewer words, pictures and other content elements compete against your CTAs, which could provide additional attention and conversions.

The next time you are brainstorming a content execution for your brand, think about how you can take that idea and turn it into two, or four, and so on.  That’s thinking small.

Want to find out more about how you can optimise your content marketing strategy?  Get in touch.  Talk to Marketing Director, Steve Ballantyne:  steve@ballantynetaylor.co.nz 

 

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!

The essentials of content marketing

Engaging today’s business buyers is no easy feat.  Not only do the messages you send out need to be personalised and relevant to the challenges your audience faces, but the content you produce must be actionable – letting your buyers know what the next step in the process is and where they can go to find more information.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, you have to create content that people actually want to read.

Successful marketers produce informative content, personalise it and deliver it to specific leads throughout every phase of the buying cycle.  Content needs to not only showcase your expertise, knowledge and thought-leadership, but address the challenges and concerns of your buyers.

The best content will enlighten prospects, facilitate the buying process and lay the foundations for an ongoing conversation.

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Produce some eye-catching original content

When you are considering what to feature as your content marketing strategy, remember that your messaging is not limited to articles and whitepapers.  Think videos, webinars, microsites, infographics, ebooks and apps.  Or set your content apart with a more unique tactic – a video game, movie or cartoon.  There’s no end to the ways to interact with your brand; just be clear about who you are creating content for and what purpose it serves.

Curate content to fill the gaps

The average sales cycle for a B2B technology purchase can take up to five months and involve as many as seven people, each of which will be consuming multiple pieces of content during their journey.  You probably have a thousand ideas on how to reach each of these buyers, but is your budget going to cover them all?

Curating content isn’t stealing; in fact, it’s a respected social practice.  It will help you fill the gaps between original content ideas and will take some of the pressure off your budget.  But don’t run the risk of landing yourself in hot water, make sure you credit the source.

Promote your content

Now that you have some brilliantly worded original content and a catalogue of curated content, how do you promote it?  How will you get the word out and ensure the right people see it and share it?

There are three promotional techniques to advertise your content:  Owned, Earned and Paid.

  • Owned media is when you leverage a channel you create and control.  This could be your company blog, YouTube channel, website and Facebook page.  This is your chance to make the most of what you’ve got – but make sure your buyers stay front and center.  And think about the devices your buyers use to connect with you – desktop, mobile, tablet?  We strongly suggest responsive design to cover all your bases.
  • Earned media is when customers, press and public share your content and discuss your brand.  Every B2B marketer should be involved in the social media that matter to their customers, and the content you produce should be repurposed to suit each channel.
  • Paid media is when you pay to have third-party channel distribute your message.  This includes advertisements, paying for media coverage or distributing press releases on paid sites.  The hard part, however, is sifting through the options and keeping track of what is and isn’t working.  If you’re buying display advertising, experiment with design and calls-to-action.  If it’s pay-per-click (PPC), change up keywords and search terms.  Advertising on Facebook or LinkedIn?  Target different user interests, groups or job titles.  Find out what works for your audience, but bear in mind that people generally put more trust into non-paid channels, so set your expectations accordingly.

Last but not least, make sure your content is easy to find.  You could have the most compelling blog, the greatest website and the most informative articles, but it’s all for naught if no one can find it.  Keep a consistent look and feel across your content as well; you don’t want your webinar and looking like it came from a completely different company than the ebook!

Over the course of the next few weeks we will be exploring the pertinence of content marketing to any company’s marketing strategy.  Check back in each week as we delve deeper into this topic and find out how you can improve your own efforts and strategies.

In the meantime, you can check out our ebook: The Superheroes of B2B Marketing!

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

How colour can effect your brand strategy

The most prominent brands in the world are defined by their colours. McDonald’s golden arches, Coca-Cola red, BP green.  Entire slogans have been made around colour — like UPS, “What can Brown do for you?”  These companies have succeeded in creating a visual identity for their brand by strategically using colour in their logos, websites and products.

The colour you choose to represent your company is an essential character in telling your brand’s story. Our brains are designed to respond to colour. Once we identify pigment, a chemical reaction in our brain produces an emotional response, and these emotional responses trigger a multitude of thoughts, memories and associations with people, places and events.

Because of the emotional identification to colour, integrating it into your brand will help achieve the highest level of impact. But conveying a simple idea of meaning and differentiation compels us to select a colour that properly fits your brand positioning. Your colour scheme must represent your target audiences’ emotional associations and desires, plus how the value proposition or promise of your brand meets these desires.

Marketing blog, Marketo, put the rainbow under a microscope and created this helpful infographic to identify how different colours can help you connect with your consumers.

Colour is an essential component of any brand strategy. Properly chosen, it can define your value, strengthen and support your brand positioning, enable greater awareness and customer recall and distinguish yourself among competitors.

If you feel your company image could use some revamping, or are simply interested in a consultation to see how we can take your brand to the next level in the new year, contact us at+64 9 950 2140 or erin@ballantynetaylor.co.nz

Social media has the insight to modernise our marketing strategies

The emergence of social media and the decline of mass media are the two biggest marketing stories of the decade. Both print circulation and television viewership have been falling consistently since the turn of the century. TV viewership is down almost 50% since 2002, however, social media has experienced astronomical gains since its humble MySpace beginnings. In fact, social media usage among U.S. adults is up a whopping 800% in the past eight years alone.

These dying forms of traditional media are taking our conventional marketing techniques with them. Today’s connected consumer is inundated with choice the minute they enter the ever-expanding world wide web. In order for companies to win business, their message has to stand out among the rest and the hard truth is, singular-message emails or banner ads meant for a massive audience just aren’t cuttin’ the mustard anymore.

While it may be hard to ditch some of the time-honoured marketing techniques of yore, the rapid transition from mass to social media is actually presenting marketers with the opportunity of a lifetime. Information collected from social media allows us to create impactful, relevant messages and personalise our marketing approach — which is not only more effective, but more cost efficient and scalable.

3 Step Personalised Marketing Process

Data Collection: The first step to gathering user data is to implement social login. Social login is a form of single sign-on which uses existing information from a social networking site (we’ve all been prompted to “login using Facebook,” “login using Twitter,” etc) to sign into a third party website.  By using social login, your business can collect and interpret data information to better understand their customers.

Data Segmentation: Determining meaning from raw data is a crucial next step when personalising the marketing process. Once the data is retrieved it needs to be broken down and analysed to determine customer identity and behaviour.

Data Conversion: After data is segmented, it needs to be converted into actionable insight. Companies can tie collected and analysed data into the marketing platforms they are using, i.e. CRM software, email marketing platforms and advertising networks.

The implementation of personalised marketing allows marketers to collect information from their audience using social data. Targeting smaller audiences is made possible for marketers simply by examining a group of user’s behaviour data and social profile. Messages that are tailored to appeal to niche audiences have higher relevancy and consequently, effect on a group.

If you are looking to improve your conversion rate, our Digital Manager, Veronica Nobbs, can help you turn social data into a targeted, personalised marketing strategy. Contact her at: veronica@ballantynetaylor.co.nz