Category Archives: Marketing Trends

Thurs. Trends: B2B Content Marketing Leads to a Successful Marketing Strategy

As B2B marketers, we have begun to see the positive effects of incorporating B2B content marketing into our marketing efforts. Although we have started to see the positive impact that B2B content marketing can have in our marketing strategy, we are still struggling to obtain concrete ROI results.

Results from a study found in Interactive Advertising Bureau, 93% of B2B marketers are using content marketing within their marketing strategy.  (Source: 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends-North America: Content Marketing Institue/MarketingProfs)

2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs

2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs

The majority of B2B marketers have confirmed that they utilize content marketing within their marketing strategy, even if they’re not seeing the explicit overall effectiveness of their content marketing.

Proving the Effectiveness of B2B Content Marketing Through Documentation

According to the Content Marketing Institute eBook, The Essentials of a Documented Content Marketing Strategy: 36 Questions to AnswerB2B marketers who document their content marketing are far more likely to consider their content marketing efforts as being effective. Due to the documentation process, these B2B marketers also consider their content marketing to be less challenging.

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Thurs. Trends: 3 Email Marketing Trends for Your 2015 Marketing Plan

As email marketing continues to grow in popularity as a powerful tool to nurture your target audience through the marketing funnel and buyer’s cycle, there are some factors to take into consideration when forming your 2015 marketing plan:

Image-based Emails vs. Text-based Emails
Do consumers prefer that emails from companies contain mostly images or mostly text? According to research from HubSpot’s 2014 Science of Email Report, there is a significant disconnect between the self-reported data vs. the observational data that was received from the testing that they conducted. In both the 2011 and 2014 surveys that HubSpot conducted, it received nearly 2/3 respondents saying they preferred mostly image-based emails vs. mostly text-based emails.

HubSpot's Science of Email 2014 Email Preference Self-Reported Survey Results

Source: HubSpot’s Science of Email 2014 Email Preference Self-Reported Survey Results

As you can see below, however, HubSpot’s observational data shows that the CTR (click-through rate) actually decreases as the number of images within an email increases.

HubSpot's Science of Email 2014 Email Preference Observational Data Survey Results

Source: HubSpot’s Science of Email 2014 Email Preference Observational Data Survey Results

With email marketing, it’s always important to weigh the pros with the cons of using images vs text.  Experiment with various types of images and text content within your open- and click-through- rates and structure your strategy accordingly.

In general, a even mix of images and text covers all your bases. As well, don’t forget to create your emails in both HTML and text-based code so those email providers that have strict image settings still receive a reader-friendly email.

Timing Your Emails
When deciding on the best time to send out emails, it’s critical that you’re sending emails to your recipients based on their schedules. Unfortunately for email marketing, there isn’t a set time that everyone checks his or her inbox, so a bit of testing will be required. To decide on the best time to reach your audience, attempt a simple A/B test experiment.

A/B Testing

Divide your email distribution list and send your email to the two-segmented lists at different times. Review your open rate results and make changes to your distribution time if it is needed. Continue this type of testing for your email marketing regularly to ensure that your emails are being sent at the best time based on the schedules of your recipients.

Email Formats – Don’t forget Mobile!
The pendulum is swinging toward mobile devices as a primary source of email views compared to desktop devices.  Due to this evolution, proper templates and changes in the formatting of your emails need to be taken into consideration in order for your email marketing strategy to be successful.

Litmus Email Open Rate for Mobile Devices

According to Litmus, the majority of emails being opened are occurring on iPhones, Androids, and iPads. In 2013 alone, the mobile open rate increased 21% to now represent 51% of emails being viewed on a mobile device.

HubSpot's Science of Email 2014 Self-Reported Data Results: "How do you read email?"

HubSpot’s Science of Email 2014 Self-Reported Data Results: “How do you read email?”

Similarly, self-reported data results within HubSpot’s Science of Email Report show that 57% of survey takers reported reading emails on their phones and 33% of the survey takers reported reading it on their tablet devices.

This graph also points out that people are opening their emails on both their mobile and their desktop devices, so the key is to send responsive emails (emails that are ambiguous to both types) rather than picking one format in which to create your emails.

In conclusion
When it comes to planning your email marketing strategy it is important to take all factors into consideration. You must remember to test and evaluate your results in order to see continued success – and don’t forget to keep up with technology trends, as these play a huge role in the evolution of email marketing.

 

For more information on marketing trends to consider in your 2015 planning check out, Top 3 B2B Marketing Trends to Prioritize in 2015.

Inbound marketing takeaways from HubSpot’s 2014 Conference

Emily T, Linda W, Rebecca G, and Wendy C at the Welcome Reception at HubSpot’s INBOUND 2014 Conference.

As HubSpot Partners, team members from TREW Marketing joined 10,000+ inbound marketers at HubSpot’s INBOUND Conference in Boston where we each attended sessions and keynotes to learn inbound marketing trends and tips as well as have a front row to the HubSpot software updates for 2014.

Read some of the takeaways below from HubSpot sessions and keynotes, including marketing for industrial manufacturing, content marketing as a second shift for inbound marketing, data driven sales, and leadership starting with instinctive human behavior. And stay tuned to the TREW Smart Marketing Blog for full articles on the INBOUND conference takeaways.

 

Inbound Marketing for Industrial Manufacturing

by Linda Wallis, Account Manager

Why should Industrial Manufacturers use an Inbound approach?  I recently attended the Inbound 2014 conference and found some great sessions to help explain why.

Today, businesses have more buying power than ever before thanks to the internet. Using online searches and social networks, buyers everywhere are able to check reviews; research and connect with other buyers, sellers, and manufacturers; stay up-to-date on the latest industry news, trends, and technology; and talk with their friends, family, and professional connections about their product experiences.

Our business is different. I hear often in the industrial manufacturing industry that “Our prospects and customers are different. They’re serious people. They read trade journals, not blogs, and they aren’t on social media”. But, did you know that over 90% of B2B buyers start their research on Google?

In fact, industrial manufacturers are businesses that build complex, relatively expensive things for other businesses like new packaging equipment, or model-based control systems for a processing plant, or a dynamometer test system. Their targets tend to be engineers, scientists, operations and plant managers, or supply chain directors.  All very serious, responsible people trying to make effective, valuable decisions about technologies, vendors, and strategies to improve their business. So if they don’t find you, you don’t make it on their short list.

Why should industrial manufacturers use inbound?Because your best prospects are already online looking for better solutions every day and the more complex or expensive the purchase, the more research prospects will do (and the more opportunity for potential vendors to grow their credibility by turning up in search engine results)In addition, your online content can lead to long-tail keyword sets that you can own by describing challenges and solutions using your prospects and customers own words.  A committed inbound strategy can also make some traditional marketing strategies much more effective.

How Opportunities Come to Be.  No one is coming to your website to have fun in this industry. You’ve heard this before but content really is king! Inbound marketing is all about making your business perfectly visible online to your best prospects.  It’s about using online content marketing, SEO, social media, and marketing automation to turn traffic into leads and qualified leads into customers whether you’re a consumer looking for a new cell phone or an industrial manufacturer looking for a new strategy to improve quality, reduce downtime, and lower cost.

 

The Second Shift in Marketing: Content Marketing

by Emily Thornhill, Inbound Marketing Specialist

"These are magical times in the world of marketing." Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot CTO and Co-Founder

“These are magical times in the world of marketing.” Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot CTO and Co-Founder

Walking through the INBOUND halls in the Boston Convention Center, the resounding theme was content marketing. Referred to as “the second shift in marketing,” by Meghan Keaney Anderson, content marketing is no longer a marketing tactic that improves SEO for companies who are struggling with inbound leads, but is the baseline in which your marketing grows from. Content is no longer an option, or the icing on top, it is the foundation that must be quality, relevant and fresh

We’ve always stressed the importance of content marketing to a technical audience, and being at INBOUND proved our point that writing quality content is more important than ever.

Traditional, interruptive advertising was the fresh take on marketing and works for decades as we weren’t able to escape it. Google changed the scene forever when it shifted the power to the buyer.

Now, in the second shift in marketing, as told by Anderson, 82% of searchers on Google ignore ads on Google (and fast forward through ads in their DVR, I would imagine).  With the power to choose, searchers have to be impressed, which means content has to be good. Initially, there wasn’t a lot of content out there, so they chose what seemed legitimate. But now, with more and more content out there, searchers can be picky.

As said by Kate Ferrie, content that is wordy doesn’t make the cut. “TL; DR” (too long, didn’t read) has become a common comment on blogs and links from social media (so much so that people even warn folks against reading it:

The goal is to turn that into “GR;LI” (great read, loved it) with quality, informative, and fresh content.

Stay tuned to a full article on this topic in the coming days.

Also, check out: Top 3 Content Marketing Techniques for Capturing (and Keeping) their Attention

 

 

“Always Be Helping” – The Data-Driven Sales Approach

by Wendy Covey, President and Co-Founder

Prospects today are in the driver’s seat of their buyer’s journey, not the seller as was historically the case. On average, the buying process is 70% complete by the time sales is engaged, and the prospect is highly informed at this stage.

By meeting the prospect where they are in their buyer’s journey, and taking the attitude of “always be helping” rather than “always be closing,” you will have a significant advantage to closing the sale and beating out your competition.

In order to do this, you’ll need to shift to a data-driven, or contextual selling approach. Your sales force will use a combination of public information and prospect marketing actions to efficiently profile the company and prospect, and understand exactly what the prospect knows. From that backdrop, sales can better share control with the buyer, and guide where their journey needs to go next in order to close a sale. Conversations will become consultative and rich with information, personalized to that prospect’s need – from start to finish.

Resources for implementing data-driven sales:

  • HubSpot CRM and HubSpot Sidekick are two tools introduced at INBOUND 2014 which provide a technology platform for taking a data-driven sales approach.
  • Another helpful technology tool I found at INBOUND was Vsnap, which provides a quick way for salespeople to humanize the virtual sales approach through short video messages.
  • Author David Meerman Scott gave an interesting  INBOUND sales presentation based on his new book The New Rules of Sales and Service which outlines how to use data and real-time engagement to grow your business.
  • TREW Marketing offers lead conversion model consulting, helping you to create integrated sales and marketing processes and implement the data-driven sales approach.

Summary: Keynote by Simon Sinek, author of Leaders Eat Last

by Rebecca Geier, CEO and Co-Founder

A Leader Is... (quote) (1)As a psychology major whose favorite class in college was Bio Psychology (I know, I’m such a nerd), this keynote by Simon Sinek was like being 20 again, listening to my professor break down a complex psychological topic into very simply terms. It’s so logical when Simon explains that what makes teams tick, or totally break down all comes down to instinctive human behavior. As leaders, we can all learn from this to create environments that get the best of us human animals.

Below is my summary. To get the complete story, read the book, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t. Or if you can wait a few weeks, I’ll do a more detailed blog post with more on Simon’s keynote.

Summary: Humans are social animals – it’s why we’ve survived for thousands of years. Danger is all around us, and we come together to fight danger. In business, good people in a bad environment can do bad things because they’re instinctively wired to protect themselves. Likewise, bad people can do really good things in a good environment because they are socially connected and working together with others.

So how do you create this good environment where more good happens, where people work together to fight for the company? It all comes down to creating an environment where our three “selfish” chemicals – endorphins, dopamine and cortizol – are inactive, and our two “selfless” chemicals – serotonin and oxytocin – are in full gear.

If your work company’s culture is metrics and performance-driven, likely you are creating an environment that activates our human “selfish” endorphins, dopamine and cortisol chemicals. Here, we promote sacrificing others to make the numbers, tribal trust is broken and we’re left with a focus on the individual performer, not the company as a whole. You may make the numbers, but nothing more.

In contrast, if your culture is one where the company’s leaders are generous, set the tone, and follow the spirit of the Marines motto “officers eat last” where leadership is viewed as a responsibility not a rank, others become generous and feel responsible for their colleagues and the company. In this environment, “selfless” serotonin and oxytocin chemicals run high, leaders rise up to look out for their team, and in turn, people feel valued. The result: magic…and company performance far exceeding what individuals working toward their own goals can achieve.

 

Top 3 B2B Marketing Trends to Prioritize for 2015

September brings the beginning of the school year and football season, but it’s also the perfect time to start thinking about marketing planning and budget allocation for 2015.  So what are the B2B marketing trends you should consider as you start your planning process? TREW Marketing’s account team recently put our head’s together to create the following list of must-consider trends to prioritize in your 2015 plan.

Content Strategy Based on Personas

We all know content is king and should always be the top priority in any marketing plan. However, ensuring your content strategy is based on reaching your target buyer personas at the time of day/week, frequency, length and form factor they prefer is often overlooked in content strategy development. If you want to get the full value out of the time you spend generating content, taking time to map your content to your buyer personas is well worth the investment.

What are buyer personas? Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. Don’t have buyer personas? Consider adding those to your priorities list too!

Marketing personas

Also consider if you have adequate content for each part of the buying cycle including:

  • Learn content such as case studies, videos, blog posts and data sheets
  • Try content such as a demo or evaluation
  • Buy content such as white papers, product demo videos and webinars

And if you’re not yet doing a blog and don’t have at least two videos or webinars on your website, I would place these high on your content prioritization list for 2015.

Why invest in these two content types:

  • Companies that blog see up to 55% more web traffic and 70% more leads (HubSpot)
  • 46% of people say they’d be more likely to seek out information about a product or service after seeing it in an online video (Content Marketing Institute)

Website Design for Mobile Devices

We’ve all heard the buzz that mobile use is increasing, but with traffic numbers from mobile still in the 8-15% range for B2B (Harrison Jones, Search Engine Land; December 2013) does it make sense to invest in mobile? Once you have 10% of your users viewing your site in a mobile device, we believe you should definitely make the investment in responsive design to ensure you deliver a high-quality user experience for all devices, while capturing mobile search visits. How does responsive design impact search? Google favors websites optimized for mobile when presenting search results from mobile devices, placing you above your competitors that don’t have an optimized site.

What is responsive web design? Responsive web design is a way to develop websites where the server always sends the same HTML to all devices, and CSS (cascading style sheet) is used to change the way a page renders on different display sizes.

Parillion website

TREW created a Responsive Design web experience for Parallon Business Solutions. To the left you can see the desktop version, and on the right is how the screen responds to more narrow margins such as those of a smartphone.

Wondering what the top 3 actions B2B mobile users take when they get to your site:

  1. To learn what your company does at a topline level
  2. To get directions to your office
  3. To call you immediately

Pull out your mobile device and try to perform these three tasks on your website. If you can’t easily do these three things, you should consider adding this your 2015 marketing planning priorities. Read more about website redesign in the eBook, “Smart Marketing for Engineers: Website Redesign.

Marketing Automation

Are you generating a steady flow of new and qualified leads? Do you have an efficient content strategy mapped to your buyer personas? Do you want to scale your lead-nurturing efforts? If you answered yes to most or all of these, then marketing automation should be high on your list of priorities for 2015.

What is marketing automation? Marketing Automation allows companies to automate digital marketing practices such as direct email, social media, and lead nurturing to save time and resources. Marketing automation is not spamming your database and it certainly won’t help you grow leads if you don’t have a solid content plan and lead management process already in place – but if you’re ready to gain intelligence about your customers and website visitors and target the right content and offer at the right time to continue the conversion process from prospect, to lead, to customer, there is no better tool to invest in to maximize your time and generate an ROI that will impress your management team.

b2bcontentmarketingrevenuecontributiondriversmarketingcharts

The 2013 Lenskold Group/Pedowitz Group Lead Gen Marketing Effectiveness Study separated respondents those who describe themselves as highly effective and efficient (13% of the sample) and the rest. Both groups were most likely to say that marketing automation systems are responsible for improving content marketing-derived revenues.









NEW DATA: Google Authorship: The Ever-Changing Buzzword

So, after all I said and wrote about Google+, SEO, and Google Authorship, Google has decided to pull the plug on featuring authorship details in the search engine results page (SERP) – specifically, the author’s picture and his or her Google+ Circle count.

Turns out, 13 days after I published the blog, “Google Authorship: The New Buzzword affecting SEO,” Google decided that its SERP needed a facelift – AGAIN.  It decided it wasn’t fair to include pictures of Google+ users nor the count of other Google+ users who were in their Circles. Sneaky marketers were stuffing their Google+ profiles with links and people in their Circles. These stuffed profiles were ranking highly in the SERP and, therefore, were getting more clicks because – as we know – images are more appealing to click.

Googleauthorship

How this Affects your Content Marketing:

Basically, they are making it difficult again to optimize Google+ to help with search results. Good thing you’ve got killer content to get results anyway! As well, don’t forget to follow the guidelines from my original post. Even without your photo in the SERP, using Google Authorship to tie your content and Google+ profile still has weight with Google.

Read more in the articles below posted by HubSpot to see the new details they’ve uncovered, and keep on posting quality content! 

Thanks for reading! Hopefully Google will give me at least 30 days this time before it makes me a liar.

Original Post Content with New Data:

Technical audiences are in need of following Google’s newest update by placing more weight on optimized Google Authorship for longer lasting SEO and quality content marketing.

NEW DATA: Remember, your Google+ profile linked to your content strengthens your Google Authorship. No longer including the Google+ profile picture in the SERP (by Google) is what has changed.

Gone are the days when you can outsource content to “ghost writers” that fill your blog and website with keywords and links in order to shoot to the top of the search engine rank page (SERP).  Additionally, simply adding an “expert” author to your blog along with search engine optimization (SEO) tactics will no longer automatically and exponentially raise your “Author Rank.”

Google puts more effort into ‘author rank’ algorithm

Just like previous SEO trends, Google has decided it is tired of trying to weed out the quality content from the spam content through simple link building and authorship algorithms. Instead, Google has drilled deeper into its version of “Author Rank” in order to decipher accurate and useful content based on the quality of the author, or as Google has coined, ‘Authorship.’

Google Authorship Using Google+ for Author Rank

Source: wpseotricks.com

Rich Snippets are becoming more selective

Additionally, Google cut the use of rich snippets (the few lines of text under a search result that give more information) for low quality sites by 15%. It also indicates that rich snippets using authorship found in the SERP will be focused on more in-depth content. This means that author rank is more competitive and the gap between authoritative authors and “ghost” authors will be larger, which is very good news for technical audiences who seek out in-depth content.

Rich Snippets in the Google SERP

NEW DATA: The author’s image and Google+ circle count in this image will no longer be included in the SERP. The author will still be included. 

Summary: Authorship is key

As content marketing becomes as important as – and interchangeable with – search engine optimization, expert authors become more important to Google and its searchers. Predicted in the near future by Forbes, sites that do not create and maintain author rank will be in risk of not ranking at all on the SERP. Fortunately, technical content for marketing to engineers and scientists is tends to be already naturally optimized for the high quality and in-depth content Google is now valuing more highly, so long as the author is following authorship best practices.

To get started on building your authorship, contact TREW Marketing about our Search Engine Marketing and Content Marketing services.

Want To Be More Effective With Your Content Marketing?

Watch the video “Marketing Content Planning to Drive Leads” as part of our two-part series to learn how strong marketing content builds your B2B company’s reputation, improves your site’s SEO, and increases leads.

How Many Fields in a Lead Form? TREW’s August Poll

TREW Marketing is always looking for current data around marketing trends and techniques to capture the attention of our technical audience. The best way to find this information is directly from our audience – you. Each month we plan to post a one-question poll or survey on a specific topic and report the results in a blog post the following month.

The Debate: Form Fields for High Conversion Rates

This month we focus on lead forms and the number of personal fields a web visitor is willing to fill out on their first visit to a website. While questions about a person’s professional atmosphere and need are generally non-intrusive, some web visitors find giving their email address or company name too forward.  This There’s a debate with marketers about how and when to collect information from users – and for how much information you should ask.

When you come across a lead form, how much information do you believe is reasonable to fill out on a first visit? Let us know in this one-question survey.

Read more stats about Lead Form Fields and Conversion Rates:

Is Too Much Choice Killing Your Conversion Rates? [Case Studies] by Unbounce

Little Secrets to Contact Forms That Convert [Quick Tip] by HubSpot

7 Ways to Optimize Your Conversion Forms to Get Better Leads by HubSpot

Live Webcast: How Engineers Seek and Consume Content

Join TREW CEO and Co-founder Rebecca Geier, along with representatives from CFE Media, for a free webcast discussing how engineers use search engines, why they visit company websites, and what they value most in marketing content.  Pre-register now for the free seminar that will dive into the results and findings of the TREW and CFE Media industry-first survey of more than 700 engineers primarily in R&D.







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Trends: The Selfie, the 4-Screen Revolution and 3 other Digital Marketing Trends to Watch

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “selfie,” you must be living on a remote island enjoying life (like a genius, I might add).

The trend of taking a photo of oneself is dominating pop culture and can be found everywhere from social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; to television programs (remember the Oscars); to the radio via the pop song “#Selfie.”

selfie karen fields rebecca geier

TREW Marketing Co-founder and CEO Rebecca Geier takes a “selfie” at EELive! with Karen Fields, senior vice president of content at UBM.

Think this trend doesn’t apply to B2B Marketing? Think again. The way that your customers engage with others online is an important consideration.

Let’s examine how the selfie and other digital trends (such as the four-screen revolution, video and content curation) affect marketing, referencing this article on Inc.com.

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Thurs. Trends: Marketing Automation Trends among B2B Marketers

Marketing Automation allows companies to automate digital marketing practices such as direct email, social media, and lead nurturing to save time and resources. However, the biggest benefit is the long term nurturing that automation provides.  Automating your digital marketing not only benefits you as the marketer but also provides benefits to your customers and subscribers.

The Use of Marketing Automation among B2B Marketers

According to Marketo, a majority of B2B companies are still using manual methods to implement marketing tactics and nurture leads. This can be very time consuming Most marketers who considered buying a marketing automation program indicated that their biggest need is to improve marketing productivity.

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LinkedIn Fosters Growth of B2B Content Sharing

What content is most frequently shared on LinkedIn and social media by technical audiences? How do you create content that is more likely to be shared and consumed? Results of a recent study by MarketingCharts indicate that “professional content consumption is ‘dramatically rising’ on LinkedIn” and other social media platforms.

What are people looking for and sharing on LinkedIn?

Experts at TREW Marketing find LinkedIn to be the best social media channel for B2B content sharing, as it reaches a highly targeted, engaged audience that can be added to your company’s database and marketing funnel. Similarly, the study by MarketingCharts confirmed that most content consumers are trolling LinkedIn to keep up with industry news, discover new ideas, and network with their colleagues and clients. Content consumers are spending an average of eight hours per week on LinkedIn reading new research, breaking news, and case studies pertaining to their industry.

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