Organic Search Remains King in B2B

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If you are looking for marketing advice, you don’t need to look very far. There are literally hundreds of marketing blogs, websites and platform vendors who offer up various levels of expertise and advice. So no matter whether you are an enterprise marketer or running your own business, you’ll easily find some ideas, strategies and systems that will help you activate your plans. BUT the question remains – with an abundance of information, who do you trust?

It’s often tempting to look beyond your usual marketing consultants or agencies for new ideas. But facts can be skewed or reported from a number of angles, and the grass really can appear greener when pitched the right way.

The challenge for marketers is to look beyond the facts and figures to understand the shifts and movements that are taking place. We need to look for the underlying behaviours that explain the facts and map this to our own businesses in a meaningful way.

Now, I have believed for some time that quality content is a fundamental requirement for successful marketing programs. But in the shift to digital, this need has been amplified – after all, we are know for what we produce. No content = no presence.

So in many ways this infographic from inbound marketing platform vendor Optify confirms my thinking – that organic search (and therefore content) is the most powerful driver of traffic to B2B websites. They analysed 62 million website visits, 215 million page views and over 350,000 leads from small and mid-sized US businesses to identify the trends in B2B marketing in 2012.

BUT the question remains? Does this ring true for your business? Does it match to your experience? And what are the movements that you are observing in your customer base? That’s where you should be looking.


2012 B2B Marketing Trends

Funnel Conversion: Make it About Your Customers

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It’s one thing to have a marketing insight, but quite another to do something valuable with it.

Living as we do with an abundance of data, what marketers increasingly need is a way to filter the information, distil it for insight and apply their business and brand knowledge in a way that creates value for both the business and their customers.

But where do you start?

Eloqua has compiled 40 infographics covering a swathe of marketing disciples from the back office to the front of house. There are charts on analytics and marketing automation, social media, email marketing and lead management.

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Armed with this data:

  • Consider your own marketing challenge
  • Find a chart that speaks to your problem
  • Compare and contrast the chart data to what you know about your business

Now … think about how you can close the gap or solve your challenge. Do you need help? Resources? Budget? What can you do within the next three weeks and what can be delayed until 2013?

STOP.

All this makes perfect sense. But before progressing, consider how this plays out with customer experience in mind. Which of your priorities also provide wins for your customers? What does it mean to recast your efforts through the lens of the customer?

With an abundance of data we can easily lose sight of our customers. Marketers must continue to maintain focus not on their marketing processes but on the constantly changing customer landscape. If you aren’t focusing on your customers, rest assured your competitors are.

Men … How Dense Are You?

While osteoporosis more frequently affects women than men, men with hip fractures have a mortality rate two-to-three times higher than women.

And as 30-to-40 per cent of fractures due to osteoporosis occur in men, it’s clearly an issue that men should be (cough) seeing their doctors about. The only way men can find out if they are at risk of osteoporosis is to have a bone density scan – which, yes, sounds like a visit to the doctor.

Rather than searching Dr Google, Osteoporosis Australia have created a simple test to help you find out whether you are at risk. You can take the test at HowDenseAreYou.org.au

Just do it –> remember early detection of low bone density can prevent osteoporosis.

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The Common Sense of Social Media

Are you old enough to remember the people who ran the corner shop? Do you even remember a time when there WAS a corner shop?

What about a milk man? Or a baker who home delivered?

These were people who knew your name. They knew where you lived. Their kids went to school with your kids. It was a time when communities weren’t something you engaged with online – it was something you lived in.

And yet for all the change that the shift to digital has landed on our shoulders – social media feels nostalgically utopian. It’s optimistic – often in the face of trolling behaviour and barely concealed bigotry. But it is also FAMILIAR.

In real world communities we long ago learned how to deal with unacceptable behaviour – and yet we seem to forget this in the digital domain. But if social media teaches us anything it is that we are accountable for our words and our deeds – for with every click, like comment and update, we leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs that lead us (and others) home.

In the corporate world, our employees traverse the web like modern day, digital Hansels. There are breadcrumb trails emblazoned across the webservers of the world. Your brands, products and services trail along in the wake of the words and deeds of your employees.

Once upon a time, the shopkeepers knew where their customers lived. These days it is the other way around. Social media has turned the outside world-in and the inside world-out. And yet many organisations are hopelessly unprepared for the digital world that is already upon them. As this infographic from Mindflash shows, 76% of companies do not have a clearly defined social media policy.

The solution is simple. Get help from the outside and build capacity inside. It’s not a fairy tale and there’s no silver bullet. It’s just common sense in the service of the common good.

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CMO to CIO – It’s Time We Talked

When we crowdsourced the first The Age of Conversation book back in 2008, the idea of working from the outside-in was untested. Over 100 marketing innovators from 15 countries shared their thoughts and early experiences and Drew McLellan and I produced a book that would go on to create a community, showcase the early adopters and leading social media practitioners and ultimately raise around $50,000 for charity.

People like David Berkowitz wrote about participation and its ephemeral nature in a connected world. Toby Bloomberg peered into the future, suggesting that business was personal and that technology is fueling emotional engagement. And Katie Chatfield told brands to prepare themselves for a party.

Several years on, however, how many brands are ready to party? How many can scale their digital interactions into some form of customer engagement? And how many are prepared to turn conversations into something more than a link or a like?

As this infographic from Socialcast shows, many businesses continue to restrict access to social media in the workplace. At the same time, social marketing agency Awareness suggests that better customer engagement was a top business objective for social media.

  • Social Media Governance a Major Concern for CIOs: The gap between the business objectives and needs of two vital organisational units – technology and marketing appear at odds. Robert Half Technology’s survey of 1400 CIOs indicates that governance concerns are high on the CIO agenda – citing security, legal liability and bandwidth as reasons for blocking social media.
  • Social Media Generates Productivity and Creativity Payoffs: The “micro breaks” offered by social media may actually increase productivity. But this pales into insignificance against the business value of bringing the outside-in. A recent McKinsey Global Institute report suggests that cross-enterprise collaboration is estimated to unlock in excess of $900 billion across four industries.
  • CMO to CIO – Let’s Talk Timing: The competing needs of the CMO and CIO are often seen through the lens of conflict. Customer demands and revenue expectations drive a marketing agenda while risk management, compliance and governance occupy the minds of the CIO. Yet, the opportunity for collaboration exists. CMOs need to understand the challenges of governance and technology and CIOs need exposure to the “front office”. The answer lies in planning and timing. And having the right conversation.

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Don’t Like Me – Hire Me: Recruiting Goes Social

The 2012 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey reports that 92% of US companies have used social media to identify talent and potential employees. The survey also indicates that 43% of companies using social recruiting have seen an increase in candidate quality – with 73% successfully hiring.

Increasingly this means that personal brands and employer brands are colliding online – well before an interview or conversation takes place. This will impact both the employer and the individual job seeker in positive and challenging ways – with all having to come to grips with the potential and impact of digital marketing as the global economy recovers and the war for talent resumes.

Social Networks Are the Place Where Personal and Employer Brands Meet

In a crowded market it can be a struggle to stand out. On the one hand job seekers compete for the attention of leading businesses and promising startups; and on the other, employers strive to identify and source those with the talent, skills and cultural alignment to succeed within their business.

Increasingly, social networks are the space where personal brand and employer brands meet – bridging skills and geographies through business opportunity.

  • LinkedIn allows individuals to create profiles and companies to create pages, join groups, advertise events, jobs and corporate information. It has over 150 million individual profiles and more than 2.6 million company pages
  • Xing is the European focused equivalent of LinkedIn with over 7 million profiles
  • BranchOut uses the Facebook Open Graph to bring a professional and skill based layer to the most social of social networks
  • Ushi is a Chinese invitation-only business social network and focuses its membership on executive and senior professionals
  • Tianji has 12 million members and connects China’s white collar professionals and entrepreneurs
  • Niche professional networks abound, offering very focused connection based networks by industry, role or even age and experience

Finding the signal in the noise on any of these networks can be a challenge for employers and individuals alike.

Individuals Turn to the 4 BEs and Employers Respond

Even when there is a war on talent – when the demand for the best and brightest workers outstrips the supply, the sheer volume of names, profiles, links and data can prove disconcerting. And for those individuals seeking new career challenges and opportunities, it’s no longer good enough to prepare and send a CV in response to an advertisement – job seekers need to use the 4 BEs of Social Discovery:

  1. Be found: Without some form of digital profile, individuals will struggle to compete with the more digital-savvy. A LinkedIn profile is a minimal starting point but can be easily augmented through simple online publishing tools like about.me
  2. Be known: Individuals are increasingly using digital publishing platforms to showcase their skills, experience and networks. Employers are scouring this information to verify career facts and experience of candidates
  3. Be trusted: It’s not just what you know – it’s who you are connected to. Reputation is an essential component for both the job seeker and the employer. This goes beyond the simplistic recommendations on LinkedIn – employers are seeking overlaps in networks to create verifiable profiles of candidates
  4. Be successful: Reputation is also about delivery. What are the personal case studies that individuals can publish or link to? What are the outcomes and learnings that can be identified and how does this match against other profile and career data. Employers are seeking a broader understanding of candidates – information that goes beyond the facts and figures and provides a sense of “character” and “personality” (for which social media is imminently suited)

4-BEsPersonal Branding Meets Talent Sourcing

Proactive job seekers are seeking out, following and engaging prospective employers across social networks – but the reverse is also true. Those businesses who require highly specialized skills and expertise are identifying and tracking candidates across their careers. Talent sourcers are employing ever more sophisticated techniques and technologies to accelerate their discovery process.

Vendors have already begun bringing technology to bear against this challenge. Yvette Cameron suggests that Oracle’s new Social Relationship Management suite will bridge personal social and enterprise data to great effect in the coming 12-18 months; and that we should expect similar announcements to come from Salesforce during the annual Dreamforce event.

Social Technologies Disrupting the Workplace Silo

Today’s workers expect that social and mobile technologies will not only be available within the enterprise – but that they will be used to in ways that will empower them and improve productivity. Business leaders have been challenged to justify investment and to trace the value proposition involved. Social technologies and the business rigor that they provide may well provide not only the disruption required to create value within the enterprise – they may well create the future of work – and that’s where personal and employer brands may find their perfect match.

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The @MarsCuriosity Rover Has More Personality Than Most Brands

When NASA’s Curiosity Rover hit the ground on Mars, it was minutes before we knew its fate (see infographic below). It takes some time for light and data to travel the 35 million miles between Earth and Mars. And yet we sat glued to the streamcast of dozens of people sitting at desks at Mission Control – hanging on every disembodied word from the flight controller – effectively living moments that had already happened.

Meanwhile, across the twitterstream, the @MarsCuriosity account was brimming with enthusiasm and pithy one-liners. One of my favourites is below.

It makes me wonder … why can’t brands adopt social media with such passion and interest? Why can’t they embrace an attitude that engages their audiences?

But it’s not just Twitter that NASA has mastered. They have open sourced their imagery and data – allowing anyone to design their own NASA-focused infographics (aka the social media expert’s tool of choice). After you have created your own infographic, you can then upload it to be shared with the NASA audience – giving you more than just a touch of space nerd celebrity.

At a guess, NASA have followed this path for a strategic reason – to drive a powerful emotional connection with a global, passionate and technically-literate audience. And at some point – around budget time – that audience will be called upon to help sway the thinking of penny-pinching politicians.

And if NASA – can orchestrate this type of sophisticated global engagement program – why can’t brands?

MarsCuriosityInfographic

With Mobile Commerce, We Are All Retailers Now

Closing DownThe early days of eCommerce were a hard slog. The technology was cumbersome and unreliable, the gateways were expensive and the business community was sceptical. And the shoppers … well even the early adopters were hesitant – concerned about credit card numbers, identity theft and having to pay for goods in advance that may never arrive.

But over time most of those issues have been overcome. And even those that still concern us – like identity theft, security and so on – are traded for convenience. After all, we are generally happy to share our credit card information when a deal is ready to be done.

Mobile commerce – or mCommerce – however, has been able to ride the shirt tails of eCommerce. In many ways, the success of sites like Apple’s iTunes and Amazon have not only changed our sense of trust – they have changed our consumer behaviour. Just think, for example … when was the last time you bought a DVD or a music CD from a shop? For many of us, digital experience is at the core of our understanding and acceptance of so many brands.

And as we follow the bridge of convenience through our mobile devices, we will find ourselves using what businesses call mComerce (though we will just view it as convenience). And this makes me think again – that for the future of our brands, we need to think mobile first but with a social heart.

But our businesses challenges do not stop at the mobile gateway. In fact, they are just the start of a business trend that is going to transform our industries. A couple of years ago, well respected content marketing evangelist, Joe Pulizzi  urged us to think about EVERY business as a “publishing business” – but now in the same way – we have no choice but to consider ourselves RETAILERS too. We are always on, always connected and always SELLING as the infographic from BigCommerce, below, shows. The question is … are you ready?

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Correct Sizing for Your Social Media Images

I must admit to being a little lazy when it comes to changing the images on my social media profiles. My avatar on Twitter has been the same one for well over a year. And LinkedIn … about the same. I can’t really be bothered with Facebook and the various size options for the timeline – for whenever I try something, it seems to crop unexpectedly or just look plain wrong. What I really need is a reference for all the social media platforms in one place. Now thanks to Original Ginger, I have what I need.

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What Google Searches in the Blink of an Eye

I can remember the day I switched over to Google for my internet searches. Before that I had a number of favourite search engines – each with its own specialty. One I would use for searching forums, another I would use for question and answer content. Still another would be used for web page and blog searching.

I quite liked the feeling of control that I experienced in those old days. I knew which tool to use and when. I could find things that other people couldn’t. This made me valuable.

But this process was time consuming. Sometimes I would need to work through many variations of my search terms using two or three different search engines before I found what I needed. And all the while, the clock was ticking.

Eventually I began turning more regularly to Google. It started with a blog search here or there. A boolean search from time to time. But it wasn’t just the results that made me switch. It was the relevance. And it was the speed.

Google’s search far outstripped all the others for speed. The clean, white page offered by Google smashed the slow loading, ad heavy portal offered by Yahoo! It was easier to read than Alta Vista … and it was just more relevant than Ask Jeeves.

But how does Google actually find and return such powerful results so quickly? This infographic explains nicely. And you may just be surprised to know that since 2003 Google has answered 450 billion unique queries that it has never seen before. And only a small percentage are mine!

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