B2B Marketing TipsThis is the second post of our New Year’s installment on ways B2B brands can retool their marketing assets to improve website traffic, lead conversions rates and overall brand awareness in 2017.

Trade shows are big deals

Trade shows are where many B2B companies spend the most time and money by far. According to our newest white paper, “Your Roadmap to B2B Trade Show Success,” B2B companies “invest nearly 40% of their marketing budget in exhibitions” in order to reach customers, prospects and influencers in one event. If you are looking for ways to gain more traction in the form of leads and media coverage at trade shows, then feel free to download our white paper from this link today!

Modernize your social media strategy

How is your company currently using social media to reach new prospects and develop thought leadership? Do you make the occasional post to Twitter or LinkedIn only to return a couple weeks later for another couple of posts? Are you getting bogged down making tons of posts but not seeing any traction in the form of more follows, reposts and deeper levels of engagement?

This year why not research your target audience more to learn what sort of pages and influencers they follow? Figure out what these pages and influencers are offering the people you want to engage with. Are there any common themes in the messaging? If you are selling cybersecurity solutions to CIOs of small enterprises, do your targets spend time on Reddit sharing thoughts on the latest hacks, or are they reposting their favorite cybersecurity bloggers on LinkedIn? Find answers to those questions and you’ll find new way to engage them more consistently in hopes of building up trust and drive future conversions.

Be strategic with your social media, as well. Heading to a trade show later in the year? Be sure you prepare your social media campaign in advance and include outreach to key journalists and bloggers. Loop in your blog to drive traffic there, or develop a landing page for a product announcement to facilitate lead capture — or both! Combine ad buys on social networks with a webinar showing the benefits of your new product, a launch party at the trade show, a contest give-away.

Don’t forget social ad buys

Modernizing your social media strategy must include social media ad buys. After all, the Facebooks of the world are not making money by letting you do business on them for free. They are fast becoming the best way for businesses to brand and lay the groundwork for lead conversions. While Facebook may not be the ideal platform for B2B companies (yet!), you can make smart ad buys on LinkedIn and Twitter that can drive more traffic, advance thought leadership and grow your company’s following.

Don’t forget to stay abreast of how social ad buying is changing, because it is. Improvements to advertising platforms on social media come all the time. For instance, it’s now possible to upload emails of your prospects and customers on Facebook to run targeted campaigns; you can then have Facebook create a mirrored list of high-potential targets based on the demographics of your customer and prospect list. LinkedIn and Twitter are now following Facebook’s lead and allowing email uploads to create targeted ad groups as well.

SEO

Popular search engines  like Google and Bing are constantly in flux as they try to refine their search algorithms to award legitimate content producers and discount or even block ones that game the system for organic higher rankings. For instance, it used to be common practice to send out “press releases” on distribution platforms like PRWeb until Google caught on to the practice of keyword stuffing employed by many SEO companies. Your SEO is better served by following best-in-class practices such as producing quality content on your blog with backlinks to your website, contributed articles to other influential industry blogs and even media placements in traditional media. There are no doubt other tricks of the SEO trade that won’t run the risk of getting you blackballed on search engines like Google but you would be wise to research them before pursuing them.

 

Business meeting. Marketing strategy brainstorming. Paperwork and digital concept. Intentional sun glare and vintage colour

It’s that time of the year to take stock of your B2B brand assets and how well they performed in 2016. The timing of the New Year dates back to Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. when he ordered a change to what eventually became the foundation for our modern 12 month calendar. Perhaps not surprisingly, the name January derives from the Roman god, Janus, who was the god of beginnings.

Many businesses also peg their operational budgets to the start of the new year. Which means that many marketing professionals are busy evaluating the performance of their marketing strategy and investments. The goal? Learn what worked well, what could use improving and what should be scrapped in favor of a new approach.

In that spirit, we offer you this quick look at things marketing professionals should keep in mind as they look to retool B2B brands for 2017.

Blogging – Content is still King

Nothing quite compares to an active blog when it comes to driving website traffic and conversions. And by active, we mean publishing at least 11 posts per month consistently. If Hubspot’s extensive research is any indicator, B2B companies that publish 11 monthly posts get nearly 3x the website traffic as compared to ones that publish only occasional posts. Post 16 times per month and you may very well see 4.5x more lead conversions compared to those who post only weekly. Of course, this assumes you are laying the groundwork for conversions by adding call-to-actions (CTA) on your blog and providing deep links to other parts of your website.

Grow your contact list

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to add an email address capture app to your website in order to ask visitors to subscribe to your email marketing campaign. Mind you, it’s not an invitation to start selling to subscribers. But you can lace your marketing campaigns with call-to-actions in hopes of converting them into customers. An app like OptinMonster will let you set up the contact “ask” either upon arrival to a website, a set time after arriving or when the visitor shows what’s called ‘exit-intent’ (moves cursor to address bar to navigate away from the website).

Speaking of email

Email is far from dead, especially in the world of B2B marketing. Most purchasers in B2B companies prefer to be contacted by email over phone. Social media, by comparison, is a non-starter when it comes to making sales overtures. Email is the way to keep your prospects informed of your latest innovations, successes and offers. Combine email marketing with webinars, free white papers and an active blog and you will win a large share of the market in short order.

Website updates – Out with the old

If your website is showing its age, instead of scrapping the whole thing and incurring a huge expense in the process, you might consider freshening up the site with new images, some tweaks to content and possibly even experimenting with new CTA copy and buttons. As previously mentioned, one of the more effective ways to retool your website is by blogging on a consistent basis. If it has been 3-5 years since your last website refresh, you may be due for a complete overhaul. If you operate on WordPress, you would be wise to look for newer, more responsive templates that can allow you easily update the website, do your own SEO (more on that below), maintain a killer blog, and even create sliders.

[Part 2 of blog post is coming tomorrow!]

With the multitude of content covering social media campaigns from almost every aspect imaginable, it can certainly be a tedious exercise putting it all together for a “big picture” view. That’s why we saved you the trouble and did it for you!

Our white paper, “How to run a successful social media campaign,” is a comprehensive guide for planning and running an effective social media campaign, complete with specific examples and relevant statistics that outline every step of the campaign process.

Here is a brief overview of what you will see in our white paper:

Know your goals!

In order to save time and resources, planning every detail of your campaign ahead of time is absolutely essential. Each goal and objective should be outlined, from what results you’re looking for to which platforms you want to use. For example, if your campaign’s goal is to spark more engagement on Facebook among a specific demographic, then be prepared to decide what actually constitutes engagement for your brand — comments, shares, conversions, etc. — and how it will be measured when the campaign is completed.

Stay consistent

After determining which social media platforms will receive the most engagement from your target audience, synchronize and execute the campaign across all of them. While each platform works in a unique way and may target a slightly different audience, your brand messaging must remain consistent across each of them. If you’re planning to use Facebook and Instagram as your primary platforms, you may want to use an ad on Facebook and a visual post on Instagram. Broadcasting your content in both organic and paid posts across platforms is an opportunity for crossover promotion that is a must in today’s pay-to-grow reality. Strive for consistency by using the same hashtag for each post.

Measure results accurately

Measurable results are the main objective when launching a social media campaign, otherwise how else will you know if your campaign achieved its strategic objectives? To best measure your campaign’s results you will need the right tools to determine your campaign’s effectiveness and, ultimately, its ROI. Most social media platforms provide ways to measure engagement and reach, but it’s advisable to use your own social analytics tool– there are plenty of them on the market today– in order to measure and report on the campaign in one convenient place. 

Ready to download now!

How to run a successful social media campaign” is now available to download! screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-11-04-33-amThe white paper will take you step-by-step through the intricacies of developing a social media campaign capable of delivering results across multiple social networks and even competing technologies like digital billboards. Our section on budgeting gives practical guidance on the need to create realistic budgets and even build in a little padding for the inevitable cost overruns that are part of running live campaigns using multiple teams, tools and timelines.

If you have any questions about our white paper or need advice on creating highly integrated digital marketing and social media campaigns for your growing business, feel free to share your information with us and we will schedule a brief call.

In the meantime, we wish you happy social media prospecting!

 

 

 

 

Product launches are never an easy process to coordinate. Depending upon the size of the company, it may require a project manager coordinating a range of activities from product development to manufacturing or programming to legal to marketing and, in the case of public companies, to investor communications.

But how about we focus on the marketing communications activities of companies in the middle of a product launch? What are some surprising activities that can get overlooked in the race to launch before the next big trade show or vendor conference?

Here are 15 items we came up with, distributed over owned media (the channels you own), earned media (the ‘free publicity’ received through media coverage) and paid media (what you pay for):

OWNED MEDIA

Blogging: it’s a head-slapping moment many companies have experienced before. How did you forget to update your in-house blog when it was right there the whole time? It should have been a slam-dunk after all. Still, in the fog of launch, blogs can sometimes fall by the wayside in the sprint to go live. Keep in mind that a best practices approach to blogging won’t have you gushing too much about your new product, but a launch post can and should be part of the strategy. Don’t forget to embed a call-to-action to convert readers into customers.

Social media: these days it’s hard to believe anybody would forget to incorporate social media into the product launch strategy. It’s unlikely that social media is left out but what’s more likely is that a company fails to approach it strategically by stitching into the launch messaging for a consistent customer experience across all communications channels. If this is a B2B product, it may make sense to seed LinkedIn while also working in Twitter, Reddit and some other communities. A B2C product launch can live its entire life on Facebook but forgetting SnapChat, Periscope, Pinterest and Instagram would be a huge missed opportunity. Bottom line: go to where your target audience lives online.

Product videos: video has become mainstream over the past few years but forgetting to make them shareable is a faux pas. Video can be shared over more platforms and if you turn it into GIFs or really short-form videos you can seed other platforms to drive exponential shares.

Email campaign: that’s right, you can’t forget the number one way to reach and convert customers to your new product or service. Email is still the undisputed King of maximizing per capita customer sales. Whether it’s part of a weekly or monthly newsletter or a one-off email announcing the launch, this will likely net you more sales than the combined sales coming from all of your social media channels.

EARNED MEDIA

Press release: don’t be among the crowd of press release haters. Yes, these seemingly archaic communications are down but they’re not out yet. While the media is split on the merits of a press release, it generally makes sense to use one when you launch new products and have a decent amount of product specifications and other related information to convey. A press release will keep the communication organized and allow you to be succinct in your emails sent to busy reporters and bloggers. P.S., posting the release on your website and through an online distribution service will improve your new product’s search engine ranking.

Reviews: one of the best ways to NOT get your viral message out is to forget to send your new product to journalists and bloggers known for doing reviews. Favorable reviews can help you blow past your sales projections, so best not drop the ball or you’ll be playing catch-up.

Ambassadors: here’s another great activation strategy that may get overlooked. Some brands have the luxury of calling on ambassadors and super fans to receive early product shipments to begin whipping up the anticipation in the marketplace. There can be some paid elements to this kind of program but in a perfect world your brand has the kind of followers that won’t mind doing some cheerleading just because they are singled out as influencers.

PAID MEDIA

PPC: don’t forget to work with your in-house or outsourced search engine marketing expert to weave any new terms (Free Trial, product name, special offer price, demographic details) related to the product launch. You want to be able to drive any many clicks as possible during the initial promotion. Google AdWords is still the 900 lb gorilla in the PPC market but social platforms like Facebook are giving it a good run for its money, especially for B2C campaigns.

Landing pages: forgetting a landing page can lead to disappointing PPC results simply because sending clicks to your homepage could end up a dead-end for conversions. Be prepared with some A/B tested landing pages that include effective call-to-actions in order to ensure you kill the conversion rates and see the revenue or adoption numbers you built into the launch P&L.

Google Analytics: while not technically paid media, it’s a part of your search engine marketing strategy and you don’t want to forget adding any new product web pages (including landing pages) so you can track inbound traffic.

Event signage: planning to attend an industry tradeshow or conference like CES or SXSWi later in the year and still don’t have the booth updated with your new product signage? Yea, you better get started on that. You’d hate to be caught napping while your target demo streams past your booth blissfully unaware of your revolutionary new whatchyamacallit. Heads will roll.

Product placement: well, if you are a consumer product company with the budget and don’t at least consider how to get your product into one of the hottest shows on TV or in an upcoming movie starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg then it would be a shame to let a competitor steal it right out from under you.

Event demos: similar to signage, not attending an industry event and demoing the product to the audience you address would be a sad thing indeed. If you are targeting K-12 schools with new sub $500 line of 3D printers then forgetting to attend the annual National Conference on Science Education could cost you thousands, if not millions, in lost revenue.

Event sponsorships: don’t forget to ask where your best customers like to hang out. Are you striving to be a high-end liquor brand for those with 6-figure and above income? Then advertising at the state fair may not be in the cards, although sponsoring a Formula 1 race might be.

Media buys: okay, for large brands, this rarely falls off the radar in a product launch. But for up and coming ones that automatically assume it’s not an option, investigating media buys with your ad agency should be on the go-live checklist. Whether it’s buying bus wraps and billboards, or commercials on tv and radio, it pays to take stock of your budget and decide what the potential ROI is on a projected ad spend. Will you actually see the ROI on an ad spend? Who knows, but don’t assume the worst until you have fully tested it as an option.

Some parting words of wisdom: it is of utmost importance to align all owned, earned and paid efforts in a product launch strategy. Keep in mind that with paid media it is useful to reach out to the media beforehand, to prime your audience for the advertising campaign to follow. And of course the messaging of both the media outreach (the press release, for example) and the ad campaign should be fairly consistent with one another.