Tag Archives: b2b networking

LinkedIn, the new B2B market research resource

LinkedIn B2B Surveys

LinkedIn B2B Surveys

LinkedIn recently announced a new service, called LinkedIn Surveys, that enables business-to-business researchers and investors to gather market research from network users.

LinkedIn Surveys will allow market researchers to contact and question the network’s  30 million professionals across the globe, approximately half of whom are IT and  business decision makers.

“The expanded userbase can provide vital B2B information to marketers, who will also have the ability to categorize the responses by seniority in their company, age, function, country and company size,” according to Bill Holmes at Overdrive Interactive.

In return for participating in the surveys, users will be compensated with rewards including gift cards from Amazon, Starbucks, Best Buy, or users can make a donation to charities. LinkedIn profits from the undisclosed amount of money researchers will pay for access to users’ personal data.

“LinkedIn overcomes quality and authenticity issues that other sample providers face,” said Dan Shapero, Director of Business Services, LinkedIn in a company press release. “Because of the public and self-policing nature of LinkedIn, members provide deep and accurate profile information and they update that information constantly.”

The news should be a welcomed gift for most in the database marketing world since good B2B market research and lists can be hard to find. If it all goes according to plan, “this could be a significant step forward in using a social media platform to garner vital data from their userbase.”

Social media and Web 2.0, feeling overwhelmed?

Whether you’re just getting started in social media or a seasoned Web 2.0 user, all of the tools, widgets and platforms can be confusing and downright overwhelming to keep up with.

Darren Rowse recently tacked the issue over at ProBlogger when a blogger he had been following suddenly stopped posting with no explanation. His reason for throwing in the towel:

“I can’t keep up with the advances in technology. Every day there is a new tool, widget or social networking site to test out. I can’t keep up. I’m feeling overwhelmed by it. So I gave up.”

We’re lucky to have resources out there like Rowse and ProBlogger to lessen the pressure to keep up with the latest technology. He recently shared five tips on how to handle social media and Web 2.0 if you’re feeling overwhelmed:

  1. You’re not alone. Even Rowse admits “there are days when I look at the things that I do and feel like I’m going backwards.”
  2. Stay focused. Identify your core tasks and what matters most to your customers or readers. “While it can be helpful to know about the latest widgets and tools to become distracted by them could actually be taking me further away from my audience.”
  3. Be smart, establish boundaries and focus your energies. “Unless you’re blogging about Technology or have a very Web Savvy audience you’d do well to pick and choose what you do and don’t focus your attention on and to put boundaries around these activities.”
  4. Use tools to refocus upon your goals. Sometimes you’ll have to remind yourself to spend less time focused on tools and more time focused on your goals.
  5. Have fun. “Social media is a space that is at it’s best when it is fun and playful. Let it bog you down and you’re kind of defeating the purpose of it all.”

Read the full ProBlogger post on how to overcome the overwhelming feelings that come along with social media and Web 2.0.

To simplify it even further, watch this video on social media in plain English:

Mmmm … ice cream.

B2B marketing in a bad economy, looking for a quick fix?

It’s no secret that the economy is in bad shape and it’s proving to be an enormous challenge for businesses of all sizes. B2B marketers are especially having a tough time with slashed marketing budgets. With an increasingly smaller budget, leads have become harder to come by and take much longer to close.

While there’s no one cure-all that will get our B2B marketing back to performance levels when times were good, experts have been sharing a wealth of information on how to lessen the impact of a bad economy on your business. Here’s some of the best B2B marketing advice we’ve come across lately:

Keep email alive. Don’t send email marketing to the chopping block, even when budgets are tight, according to Marketing Sherpa. Companies that invest in email and see it as a good tool have the highest open, click and conversion rates.

Evaluate your strategy and fix what’s wrong. Those at B2B Web Strategy advise marketers to do something “fairly uncommon” right now and take a critical analysis of your marketing program and fix deficiencies that may have been ignored during financially prosperous times.

Speak simply, clearly. Remember to keep speaking the customer’s language and avoid jargon in your marketing pieces. Don’t ruin a profitable business deal by confusing and irritating customers with inappropriate jargon.

Gather the most information quickly. Get quality feedback from website visitors with quick and easy to fill out forms. Research shows that the faster someone can fill out an online form, the more information they’re willing to share.

Promote your business with Facebook and other social networking sites. Using social networking sites is one of the best ways to get your company name out there. Most sites are free, easy to use and can generate hundreds of leads through viral promotion.

Whether at work or home, we’re all aware that times are tough. Now is the time to take a look at every piece to our marketing puzzle and ask: Is each piece pulling its own weight? What could help our programs run more efficiently?

B2B marketing and RSS, making the connection

An estimated 70% of B2B technology marketers are missing key opportunities to directly influence sales decision makers by not incorporating Really Simple Syndication (RSS) into their company’s online marketing strategy, according to a report from MarCom Ink.

B2Bs fail to connect with RSS

B2Bs fail to connect with RSS

RSS is a general term used to describe a group of web-based feeds used to publish frequently updated works including blog entries, news headlines, audio and video in a standardized format. Using an RSS reader, subscribers can stay up to date on timely events from their favorite websites.

After visiting 300 U.S. B2B technology-company websites, researchers found that about seven out of 10 are not using RSS. Researchers also found that while 30% of companies provide RSS, only 10% have multiple targeted feeds allowing subscribers to choose from a variety of topics.

These findings are important, Marcom Ink said, because while only 16% of the general public use RSS feeds, 71% of technology buyers find them valuable, according to a 2007 MarketingSherpa and KnowledgeStorm survey of more than 3,000 B2B technology-sales decision makers.

“RSS offers B2B technology marketing and PR professionals a golden opportunity to establish ongoing relationships with their target audiences and become a trusted source of valuable information on topics buyers care about most,” said Kim Cornwall Malseed, principal, MarCom Ink.

While evidence specifically geared toward B2B training product and service marketers is still missing, this recent study examines a missed opportunity for many organizations. RSS feeds can be used to alert customers of product specials, new articles, upcoming events, best selling products and much more.

Along with informing customers of the latest company news, the added benefits of using RSS feeds include:

  • Increased traffic. Submit your RSS feed to places like Technorati, Google Blog Search and BlogCatalog (here are some more places to submit your RSS feed). Getting your RSS feed listed in RSS search engines and directories creates new ways for potential customers to discover your brand.
  • Free advertising. With little effort, you can deliver timely and valuable information to a wide audience of subscribers. Once your RSS feed is set up, subscribers receive regular news and product information that could help them in purchasing decisions.
  • Higher conversions. RSS product feeds allow customers to receive product information straight from the source. Customers are more inclined to buy products from familiar and trusted sources. RSS feeds keep your brand name at the top of the list when customers are ready to buy.
  • Customer loyalty. With the constant communication and information they deliver, RSS feeds can act as a customer relationship management tool to maintain customer loyalty and provide customers with valuable content.

How does your company use RSS to generate leads and improve site traffic?

Blogging for business, 8 quick tips

So, you started a business blog. Good job. Now, it’s time to start writing.

Can’t come up with something to talk about?

When you’re blogging for business it can be easy to run out of ideas, but luckily we have people out there eager to share their tips for writing online content. People just like Pete Caputa, who wrote an article outlining easy ways to write quick articles for business blogs.

Caputa’s advice:

  1. Learn the art of aggregator blogging. Odd name, easy process. This is how it works: scan blog articles your audience would like (check out Alltop, Digg or Technorati), republish a paragraph or two with a link back to the original source, add a sentence or two of your own on why the article was interesting.
  2. Interview experts. Interview experts in your industry through email. Post the questions and answers as an article. You’ll spend the most time coming up with questions, once you send the email your work is basically done.
  3. Create a link blog. Usually created as part of a web site or larger blog, a link blog focuses mainly on what the name implies – links. There’s no writing required and they tend to attract numerous inbound links. Take a look at HubSpot’s link blog as an example.
  4. Run guest articles. Soliciting guest articles is a great way to connect with other bloggers in your industry and build interesting content. Depending on how great the article turns out, it could end up driving a lot of traffic to your blog.
  5. Revisit past content. Take a look at some of your old blog posts. Post an excerpt of the article, then expand on your previously written content with fresh information and new thoughts.
  6. Hold a contest. Everyone likes to win stuff, right? I recently found a great blog contest to determine which reader owned the ugliest tie. Whether the contest is silly or directly related to business, it can generate multiple posts and reader comments.
  7. Create lists with other blog lists. The post you’re reading right now is an example of this idea (thanks, Pete!). Many of the most popular bloggers out there regularly use lists in their posts. They’re perfect online content because they’re quick and easy to skim through.
  8. Ask questions. Questions are great ways to start conversations on your blog among readers. Nobody knows everything, engage your readers with a question and encourage participation.

The thought of writing a blog post can seem like a lot of work, but with a few tips and tricks you’ll be finished in no time. Blogging is a great way to build your network and start conversations with customers. Remember, even if you’re doing it wrong, it’s right.

How to use Facebook to promote your business

You built your Facebook business page, now what do you do with it?

Lets first say you’ve made the right decision by joining the social network and creating a page. Facbook business pages are indexed and searchable inside and outside of Facebook’s 100 million users, improving the opportunity that more people will find your business and invest in your product or service.

Now that you have a business page on Facebook, here are some tips for using the network to promote your business:

Create a page that is useful for viewers. Instead of focusing your page on your product or services, give customers the information they need to solve their problems. Whether it’s in the form of white papers, blog posts or interesting discussions, provide customers with engaging content that keeps them coming back.

Make friends and start conversations. Every Facebook page has a News Feed section where actions of each user are chronicled. Whenever someone interacts with your page, that action is listed in their News Feed and on their friends’ feeds. More actions on your part equal more chances to expand your fan base.

Start Facebook groups on the topic of your business. Create groups to allow Facebook friends and customers to discuss topics regarding your business, brand and website. Group moderators can send messages and updates to group members, spreading information quickly across your network.

Promote your Facebook business page. Let everyone in your network know that your Facebook page exists. Write a blog post, alert everyone on your email lists and mention it in your newsletter. The more people in your network who find out about your page, the more friends you can make, and the larger your network becomes.

Decide whether to use paid advertising or not. Facebook offers a few paid advertising options that are targeted and wide reaching. Depending on the size of your advertising budget, businesses can invest in basic or advanced advertising and even create partnerships with Facebook Beacon.

Remember that Facebook is not an email platform. Do not use Facebook messages, invites or notifications to spam people in your network. You can be de-friended just as easily as you were added. Treat people in your Facebook network the same as you would treat any of your other customers.

For detailed information on how to use Facebook as a part of your overall social networking program, check out Facebook expert Mari Smith’s post on How to Create and Promote Your Facebook Fan Page.

Here’s a pat on the back for getting your Facebook business page up and running … now get to work on promoting it.

Social media. Get it? Got it?

Good.

If you’re reading this blog, maybe you’re part of that rare breed of marketers who has embraced social media as a true and reward-delivering marketing tool. But, many marketing companies out there just “don’t get it.”

In a recent column posted on the Social Media Insider by Cathy Taylor, she explains just how agencies aren’t “walking the walk of social media.”

Consumers are currently spending 7.5% of their online time at community sites and they spend 5% of their time on search sites – just two statistics that make Taylor wonder why companies aren’t participating more in social media.

She brings up a great point that it’s more than just having a blog, or a Facebook account. Companies must actively participate. Keep blogs current, post often, and give them purpose.

“As for blogs, the number of agencies that have them is growing, but overall they’re still pretty spotty in terms of technical chops and raison d’etre, and there’s at times an embarrassing level of ‘Gee whiz! We’re blogging!’ to some posts.”

As you start out, pretend like you actually know what you’re doing and learn as you go. Even social media moguls like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and MySpace’s Tom Anderson still learn and experiment with new ways to market.