Believing the Hype about Big Data

marketing automation, marketing efficiency, online marketingWe’ll be honest. We were a bit skeptical about marketing automation when we first heard about it. Is this really a trend that will be helpful for B2B marketing strategies?  But knowing we are typically our clients’ first resource to ask about the latest marketing trends, we knew we had to take a closer look and stay “in the know.”

For the newbies, marketing automation is a software platform that will help you more effectively manage your online marketing communications program. It automates what has traditionally been a manual process to coordinate, measure and implement your inbound marketing program: email, social media, SEO, etc.

Is it for everyone?

Marketing automation works best in markets where long sales cycles require prospect education and nurturing…the very definition of most BtoB sales cycles. Prospects spend a considerable amount of time researching products, services and potential suppliers online.

It’s also great for capturing—and tailoring—information at different entry points of the today’s sales cycle. The more time spent moving down the sales funnel, the more data is collected, hence the more opportunities to reach prospects (“maximize engagement”) as well as the ability to optimize how you reach them (“enhancing customer relationship management”) as they get closer to making a buying decision.

Bottom line…there are several advantages of implementing a marketing automation platform:

  1. Optimize through analytics: Because inbound marketing is digital, it generates a ton data—website activity, prospect profiles, prospect preferences…hence inbound marketing generates a “digital footprint”. Marketing automation software collects, analyzes and correlates this data, and creates actionable insights…from which you can fine-tune your program to optimize results.
  1. Streamline your marketing to sales communications: Automation also stores, accesses and shares data electronically between marketing and sales, both at the corporate level and in the field. If done correctly your sales teams will love you—when was the last time one of your sales people, manufacturer’s rep or distributor didn’t yell for more qualified leads?
  1. Quicker conversions: Streamlined processes not only mean quicker responses to your prospects, but also more targeted and effective communications…so you are moving prospects much more quickly down the sales funnel, and more efficiently converting them to customers.

It doesn’t work without good content
One of the constants in marketing communications is frequency. Regardless of the method you are using, the more you reach out, the better the odds are that your prospects will remember who you are.

The same holds true for inbound marketing. In this case, it isn’t a 12-time full-page print ad that stops you from turning to the next page of your trade publication. Rather, it is useful content that helps your prospects make buying decisions delivered to their inbox.

And content not only needs to be fresh every time you reach out, but it needs to be tweaked depending on where in the sales cycle your prospect is, and the delivery method you are using to reach them.

How to Implement

So first and foremost, you need good, consistent content. Then you need a tool that will facilitate the process for you, so you may want to take a look at marketing automation, or give us a call if you have questions. We’re happy to share our pros and cons about some of the more popular programs with you.

Constructing a Great Brand Online

online brand, creating your brand, brand tips, business brandForming an online brand has some unique challenges to ensuring your message is received correctly, with a major aspect being your company website.

The following blueprints outline some key elements to building up a solid website to enhance your brand online.

 

A Sturdy Foundation

If used correctly, search engine optimization (SEO) increases web traffic to your site via search engines. At a high level, good SEO:

  • Generates brand awareness
  • Serves as a continual reminder of your brand’s existence
  • Lends credibility the higher your site ranks

Thought-out Architecture

Once they get there, the next thing viewers will notice is the layout and navigation. Whether they’re new or returning users, the website design will leave a lasting impression. When marketing to business consumers, keep these tips in mind:

  • Attractive design promotes your company’s legitimacy
  • Make navigation user-friendly with links and tabs properly labeled
  • Avoid excess information unrelated to your brand on your home page

The Right Materials

A website with excellent design is nothing without content of equal quality. Visitors want as much information as they can, so they can make educated decisions about a product or service they are researching. Some of the best things a business can do on their website are to:

  • Provide detailed descriptions of products/services
  • Make contact information readily available
  • Provide information about the history and interior workings of the business

Finishing Touches

Content is only beneficial when it rings true. Businesses must always be open and honest with their audiences, and your website is a primary layer to portraying your brand with a positive reputation.

  • Give honest information
  • Address issues and policies directly
  • Show the business consumer where the products/services come from

Laying the Final Brick

Even with loads of detailed information, brand histories and optimized website design, some viewers will need social proof to trust a brand completely. Almost nothing will sell a potential customer more on a brand than knowing it is a favorite of others in the industry.

  • List other well-known companies that purchase your products and services
  • List awards and business rankings
  • Use social media to acquire a strong following online (LinkedIn is our favorite business-to-business social media tool)

Moving In

Now that your business has a strong online presence and a resourceful website filled with detailed information about your brand, the only thing left to do is invite your guests in and make them feel at home.

Blog, schmog. What does this have to do with business marketing anyway?

blog, business blog, blogging for business, business marketing, b2b blog, company blog, content marketingI know, I know, you hear the word blog and you think, ‘what in the world does this have to do with business marketing? Isn’t a blog simply a place to express your own personal viewpoints and opinions on something you are passionate about?’

 

Not necessarily—in today’s social media-driven society, blogs have taken on a whole new persona. They play an integral role in modern marketing communications, chumming around with the new kid in town, content marketing.

 

Briefly, content marketing is a strategic approach to create and distribute valuable, relevant and consistent information designed to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—with the ultimate goal of driving profitable customer action.

 

A blog is a valuable tool to do just that.

 

Blogging helps both small and large businesses alike because it effectively does several things in one fell swoop:

 

  1. Improves search engine optimization (SEO) – Blog content, with carefully crafted search phrases and targeted deep links included in each post, increases the likelihood of your company’s products and services being found when people are searching online. SEO gets a boost when you add relevant content to your website on a consistent basis.
  2. Drives traffic to your website and gives it added value - Obviously, this is something all companies want to happen. Driving visitors to your website not only helps increase brand awareness, but is a main contributor to customer education, which leads to sales.
  3. Establishes your brand and makes you industry expert – If your blog topics are informative, accurate and relevant, readers will continue to come back to you as a resource time and time again. Prospects aren’t looking for your thoughts on the weather—make the information meaningful and educational.
  4. Helps build relationships – Blogging can easily connect companies with individuals interested in its products and services as well as deepen the relationships a company already has with its customers. Blogs offer an excellent opportunity for companies to engage with potential customers who read them.

 

It is important to remember when creating a blog for your company that you use it as a place to be informative and not a place to sell products. You should be writing about relevant topics in your industry – whether it be a how-to, weighing in on a current industry topic or simply offering helpful advice to the reader.

 

Blogs are not only useful, they can be extremely powerful. Now go out and blog….blog…blog…

Let’s Eat Grandma!

punctuation, spelling, grammar, typing, professional typing, professional presentation, professional writing, writingThe comma—how something so simple can change a sentence so much. As in… Let’s eat, grandma!

The breakneck pace of electronic communication stands to pick away at modern language as we know it. LOLs, IMHOs and OMGs have replaced many a keystroke in business communications, but where does that leave true communications.

Have you ever received an email from a business associate’s phone with a signature asking you to please excuse the spelling and grammar errors? Have you sent one yourself?

If you want your message to be received with dignity, send it with dignity.

 

So where’s it heading?
To be honest, it’s going back to basics. See, although emoticons can quickly convey the intent of an email or an acronym can help you more easily fit a ton of words into a Twitter post, there’s still a level of language that needs to come through.

We spend time (or we should) pouring over marketing copy, press release wording and the oh-so-important mission statement. But hardly any thought is put into the day-to-day communications that build the true relationships we seek to foster within our business communities.

 

Get your message across
An Ohio woman recently had a parking ticket overturned due to the omission of a comma in the law. Kudos, my friend! The judge ruled in favor of a plain language interpretation, or as we like to say, common sense.

Good communication comes from a solid, well-understood and accepted basis. There’s a reason we have these linguistic rules—without them, meanings change and grandma winds up running over the hills at every family gathering.

These defined paths of grammar usage and spelling help us identify with the intended meaning of a sentence and clarify thoughts that might otherwise be left to interpretation.

If you need further validation, or just a good chuckle, this top 25 worst spelling mistakes is too hard to resist.

 

Even though it’s easier to TTYL, it’s not exactly the best way to ensure your message, and your intelligence, gets across. Solid writing, no matter what, leaves the best impression and least chance for the incorrect interpretation.