Tag Archives: online content

Know your content marketing priorities

If you’re a business-to-business marketer, you probably create a variety of content to promote your product through direct mail, email, Twitter and blogs, just to name a few. Sometimes, the trigger behind making a change in content can be motivated by the wrong reason.

MarketingSherpa recently surveyed a group of content marketers to find out what was the typical trigger that sparks a change in content. They compiled the results and created their latest Chart of the Week, titled “You’re a Publisher, Like it or Not.”

Content marketing: You're a publisher, like it or not

Content marketing: You're a publisher, like it or not

If one of your goals is to become a thought leader in your industry, you have to start thinking like a publisher, according to the gurus at MarketingSherpa.

“Above, we see that it’s often the wrong trigger. To be a thought leader is to think like a publisher – to think about the people at the other end of your white paper, Web event, blog or podcast. They’re not necessarily interested in your new product or feature (unless you happen to work for Apple); they’re interested in what’s happening in the industry or economy that’s inspired that product or service.”

The best reasons to update content fall in the middle of their survey results, including news, trends, events and research. Each of these reasons are focused on the reader.

Of course, the Sherpas also advise to take a look at the performance of each form of content to determine if you should make a change.

“Newspapers may be dying, but the need for compelling niche content is growing every day. To fulfill that need and sell your products, remember that you’re asking for the time and interest of your customers, and make it worth their while.”

Advertisements

B2B’s bread and butter: The white paper

White papers, B2B's bread and butter

White papers, B2B's bread and butter

InformationWeek recently released an insightful report on how to maximize the power of white papers in B2B marketing.

Researchers surveyed 542 IT decision makers and how they use white papers. The survey results show that white papers are still considered an important tool in persuading and engaging customer decisions.

You’ll have to register with InformationWeek to download a full copy of the report, but here are some highlights:

  • 76% of respondents use white papers for general education on a specific technology topic or issue
  • 74% percent use white papers to investigate possible technology solutions
  • 83% use white papers just as much or more than they have in the past
  • 93% pass along information they find in downloaded white papers to colleagues

While the survey dealt specifically with IT buyers, the results of the survey are easily translated across all areas of business to business marketing.

The survey also asked for feedback on what readers want from white papers, information that anyone within the IT industry or not can put to good use. Respondents revealed the top features of a good white paper include:

  • A concise abstract
  • Transparency/minimal marketing
  • Case studies
  • Product information with specifications
  • Technical diagrams
  • Downloadable PDF version

Survey respondents also revealed some eye-opening statistics on the impact white papers have on readers. Among the survey respondents:

  • 54% contacted a vendor for more information as a result of reading a white paper
  • 36% made a purchase after reading a white paper
  • 32% included a white paper in a case to support a purchase.

As new media struggles to show its growing value, the tried-and-true methods like business to business white papers prove that they still can have powerful results.

We’re all in the media business now

Whether you realize it or not, your company is a media company.

There’s a new media landscape emerging and no matter what industry you’re in, you’re a part of it. Slowly, but surely, more “businesses are becoming media companies,” according to Rick Burnes at Mashable.

While “most business blogs are still boring monologues about products,” many are changing with the tides and producing content that is less focused on the product and more about topics that interest their customers.

For example, the Whole Foods supermarket chain isn’t only providing their customers with the latest information on the food they carry. They’re also creating added value for the customer on their website by sharing recipes and cooking videos.

“Media production is simply becoming a skill that separates mediocre businesses from great ones. Companies that have the creative skills to attract an audience with quality, independent content are excelling.”

Businesses that take the traditional route (i.e. buying newspaper ads) are spending a lot of money on short-term exposure. By creating your own content, housed at your own site, is like putting money down on a long-term investment.

When you first create a blog, the lack of exposure you get at first may not seem like it’s worth the investment, but in time it will pay off. Produce articles, grow your content and keep working on adding more content and watch how your search traffic grows with it.

Content is king. If you provide added value for your customer, in more than just a product description, it will pay off in loyalty.

Read the full article here.

Reduce ad clutter, improve your image

One-third of online adults will immediately leave a website if it is cluttered with ads. Over 75% of those who remain on cluttered sites pay less attention to the ads there, according to a recent Burst Media report.

Ad clutter – the overcrowding of a web page with advertising units to the point of degrading the web users’ experience.

Through their survey of 4,000 web users, Burst Media found that cluttered websites “not only annoy the audience, they diminish ad effectiveness and ultimately do a disservice to the publisher, advertiser and visitor.”

How much online advertising is too much?

Most people won’t stick around on a web page with anything more than two advertising units. Over half (52.6%) of visitors said they have a low tolerance for any more than two advertising units per page, with another 27.3% of people ready to leave when there is more than one ad per page.

Clutter hurts your brand reputation by creating a negative impact on visitor’s perceptions of your brand. Approximately one in two respondents has a less favorable opinion of an advertiser when their advertising appeared on a cluttered web page.

“One of the main obstacles to getting consumers’ attention online is ad clutter,” said Chuck Moran, VP of Marketing for Burst Media. “It is critical for advertisers to ensure their messages are being placed in a high quality content environment to receive the maximum exposure they deserve, and to preserve their brand’s reputation.”

It’s a continuous struggle to find the right balance of content and advertising on any given website. The best strategy is to find sites with little clutter and take advantage of the perfect combination of Web traffic, according to Jon Gibs, VP, media analytics, Nielsen Online, in a recent MediaPost article.

Gibs suggests to avoid following the myth that the longer the page the more ads it can accommodate, the more time a visitor spends on a page the more ads they can consume, and smaller ads create less visual information.

“A suitable clutter level depends on the comfort level of a specific advertiser, the target audience and online environment. Lower-income households are typically more comfortable with higher levels of clutter, whereas high-income households prefer lower, according to Gibs. “Retail stores consumers visit tend to mirror their online advertising comfort levels,” he said.

Nobody knows your brand better than you. Avoid advertising in cluttered spaces and hang onto your brand image.

6 ways to work video into everyday marketing

With the release of their first Video Marketing Benchmark Guide, the gurus at Marketing Sherpa got to thinking about the increased role video will be playing future marketing.

When most B2B marketers decide to use video in a campaign, it usually comes to life in the form of a TV spot or viral video. Marketers are limiting themselves by only using video in these two areas, because video has proven to work in other types of campaigns, including lead generation, product launches, employee recruiting and raising brand and product awareness.

By looking to the past, the Sherpas were able to find proven video tactics that worked in past campaigns and will work in the foreseeable future. Here’s their list of six successful video tactics to work into your everyday marketing:

  1. Edutainment. The information in white papers and webinars can be very helpful to a lead generation campaign, but all the content and offers you present may be distracting your audience. Create videos that grab prospects’ attention by creating “edutainment” videos that deliver educational content in an entertaining context.
  2. Compliment live events. Don’t keep seminars and conferences a secret, share them with your online audience. Use streaming video to compliment a real-world event to reach a larger audience, acquire new leads or back a product launch.
  3. Email. Embed informational videos in email to support other campaigns. This one may take some extra time and testing, but marketers who have overcome the technical hurdles have had great success.
  4. Recruit. Create employee recruiting videos to attract the perfect job candidate. Recruiting videos give job candidates a clear picture of your company’s work environment and gives prospective employees more detail on what qualities an ideal worker would possess, improving the quality of job applications.
  5. Product tours. A video tour of your product or service can provide much more information to customers than a simple product page or FAQ. Walk customers through the features and functionality of your products to give customers a better picture.
  6. Organize. Put together a library of your company videos on a popular content-sharing site, such as YouTube or Blip.tv. Using third-party sites as your video archive can provide you with more valuable lead generation, brand marketing and search engine marketing.

It may take some time and a lot of testing, but working video into your everyday marketing is a proven way to boost the success of your campaigns. Read the full MarketingSherpa article for more information and links to case studies where each tactic was successful for businesses just like yours.

Keep yourself out of social media

When you first get started in social media it’s difficult to resist the urge to talk about yourself in everything you create. While everyone loves to talk about themselves, and it’s an easy thing to do, it’s better for business to put the focus on others when it comes to the art of social media.

Recently at The Social Media Marketing Blog, Scott Monty pointed out this narcissistic aspect of social media, explaining:

No one cares how many followers we have on Twitter, they’re not interested in our blog statistics, and they probably don’t like gratuitous name-dropping.

News flash: social media is less about you than it is about the other guy.

In a nutshell, here are the rules according to Monty:

  • Listen. Understand the groups and communities you wish to become a part of. After you listen to how the community interacts, you’ll be able to join in with credibility.
  • Give to get. “Karmic marketing” is based on the belief that “if you truly want peoples’ attention, you need to give before you get.”
  • Learn. Share links to information on other company’s sites that you think others would take interest in and learn from. He’s compiled a great list of some of the most generous people on the web and how they got to be so popular.

Head on over to The Social Media Marketing Blog and read Monty’s entire post. It’s full of some great information on karmic marketing and how it can work for you.

If you’re always talking about yourself, nobody is going to listen to you. Please, start a conversation about something else.

Online marketing content ranks high with buyers

White papers … they’ve still got it going on, if you know what I mean.

A recent study by TechTarget revealed that white papers are still king among buyers. Their Media Consumption Benchmark Report dispelled any questions surrounding white papers and if they still have any pull as a marketing tool.

While TechTarget serves the high-tech market and the results should be examined in that context, many of the main points can be helpful in other markets including the HR technology industry.

Michael Stelzner, author of Writing White Papers, recently highlighted the key findings of the 47-page report on his blog. Here’s how  buyers view white papers:

  • To evaluate a solution, people turn to white papers first. More than half of respondents rely on white papers more than newsletters (51%), trials (46%), product literature (41%),  articles (38%), webcasts (48%), case studies (26%), podcasts (9%) and virtual trade shows (8%).
  • Buyers frequently read white papers: 52% of buyers read an average of 5 or more white papers in a three month period. Buyers consume more white papers than any other type of media available.
  • What buyers don’t like about white papers: that they’re too product focused or too long.
  • The majority (80%) of buyers view white papers as an effective source in the decision making process, more than any other marketing tool.
  • White papers come in above all other marketing forms for gaining awareness and consideration among buyers. Almost half of buyers (47%) use white papers to gain awareness and 36% use them when considering a solution.
  • Buyers like to share white papers. White papers are the most forwarded material among buyers, as 42% either frequently or very frequently forward white papers to colleagues and friends.

The report is hard evidence that buyers value content that helps them solve problems and are more inclined to engage with your brand when they find that content helpful.

For more information on the power of white papers and content marketing, read these related posts: