The Future of Marketing is Automation

marketing automation infographic
Email is one of the most widely used and established platforms and has long been the cornerstone of many business-to-business (B2B) marketing plans.

Even as new digital marketing and advertising platforms, formats, and channels draw companies’ attention and budgets, email remains vitally important and is arguably more valued by B2B marketers now more than ever before. While its core function has not changed substantially, there are new developments and challenges marketers must address: mobile, content marketing and automation.

marketing automation

For B2B marketers today—personalizing messages and integrating channels are vital, and automation is essential for executing those tactics.

With content marketing now mandatory for email marketers and mobile making it critical that B2Bs reach the right individual with the right message at the right moment, it becomes nearly impossible to personalize email marketing without some form of automation.

B2B marketers recognize the value of marketing automation solutions, but many have been slow to fully integrate the technology into their sales and marketing efforts. Data released in November 2013 by BtoB Magazine showed just 26% of US B2B marketers had completely integrated automation into their sales and marketing initiatives at the end of 2013. More than half (52%), however, expected full marketing automation adoption for this year.

marketing automation features

Automation solutions are often broad and can be applied across multiple channels and formats, but for most, email automation is vital. B2B marketers surveyed by Regalix in March 2014 reported that among marketing automation features, email automation was the most important to them.

One significant insight from the Regalix data is that marketers say the email technology they need is not simply mechanisms to automate and manage email. Instead, they want sophisticated systems to manage cross-channel campaigns and deliver personalized, targeted experiences to customers.

Have you automated your marketing? To learn more – call Lori today at 877.447.0134.

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LinkedIn’s Content Sharing Benefits [study]

LinkedIn

Professional content consumption is “dramatically rising” on LinkedIn, according to a new study. Based on a survey of 2,701 LinkedIn members in the US who actively share and consume content, the report reveals that these “content revolutionaries” primarily share professional content on the platform in order to increase their visibility and enhance their reputations. LinkedIn counts as their top source for professional content, and they ascribe numerous benefits to their content consumption.

LinkedIn's Content Sharing Benefits

According to the study, a leading 78% consume content in order to keep up with industry news, while 73% do so to discover new ideas within the industry. Beyond building up their own knowledge base, content consumers also see benefits such as building relationships with colleagues and clients (62%), building their professional reputation (55%), and sparking conversations (51%).

The report also outlines the content types that are most popular among professionals for gaining industry knowledge and helping decision-making. When it comes to industry knowledge, the survey finds that new research, breaking industry news and case studies count as the most popular content types for clicks and shares, in that order. For decision-making assistance, career advice is most likely to earn a click from a “content revolutionary,” although brief, concise content and content produced by business leaders are most apt to be shared.

The most common form of sharing is using the “Like” button, per the study, with a slight majority of respondents indicating this to be their primary or secondary preferred method. Respondents are as likely to share with commentary as they are to do so without; slightly fewer copy to email.

Overall, “content revolutionaries” report spending about 8 hours per week consuming content on LinkedIn, and 65% have increased the amount of time they’ve spent consuming professionally relevant content over the past year. Among those, 61% find it necessary for professional success and 56% are finding it easier to access relevant content. Content should be mobile-friendly, says LinkedIn, as an average 43% of unique visiting members came through mobile in Q1 2014.

LinkedIn is certainly a popular choice for B2B buyers and decision-makers in the US, according to a MarketingCharts Debrief: “Reaching and Influencing B2B Buyers and Decision-Makers”. Buyers over-index the general population in their use of LinkedIn across various platforms, per data obtained for the Debrief. Although it is not their most popular major social network, is tends to be the one that they use most for professional activities.

To gain more from your LinkedIn marketing, call Lori at 877.447.0134 today.

Marketing Channels E-Commerce Companies Are Investing In

Media mix is a frequent topic all marketers are curious about. It’s a critical decision that requires getting and spending money, such as setting a media budget or purchasing a software tool.

This MarketingSherpa chart illustrates the channels e-commerce companies are investing in.

e-commerce marketing channels

Email marketing is almost universally used by e-commerce companies

Email marketing is one of the only channels (direct mail comes to mind as well) that forces a decision. To paraphrase a famous Apple ad, customers can glorify (clickthrough) or vilify (delete or unsubscribe) emails. About the only thing they can’t do is ignore emails. As long as your email earns its way into the inbox, customers have to make a decision on what to do with it.

Emails also have among the shortest lead times of any channel, so marketers can use it to quickly respond to events and it provides feedback on customer performance whether through A/B testing or simple analytics reviews. Companies can use this information to change campaigns on the fly, as this marketer alluded to in his Benchmark Study survey response:

Why is the number not 100%, then? Well, to use emails for marketing, you have to first build that list, so it can be a difficult for very new companies to pull off (aside from buying lists).

The top three channels most frequently invested in – email marketing, social media marketing and SEO – often require content

While content marketing is the seventh most-used tactic, according to the e-commerce marketers, there is an interesting similarity among the three most frequently used channels — they all tend to be heavily used channels for content marketing.

The marketers who said they invested in one of these channels, but not in content marketing, could focus all of their email efforts on promos, all social media marketing on ads, and all SEO on search engine friendly development.

Or, one might surmise, that even when they are engaged in content marketing — they don’t consider themselves to be engaged in content marketing because they are writing a check to an SEO agency or an email service provider. For this reason, there is technically no line item for “content marketing” and investment in this channel can be overlooked.

Nevertheless, content marketing does require an investment to be successful, as this marketer pointed out.

Print is the top offline channel

While print has been a much beleaguered marketing medium of late, it is a natural fit for e-commerce.

Unlike TV or radio, which often offer fleeting mentions of URLs, print advertising puts your website in customers’ hands. Beyond simply a printed URL, e-commerce advertisers also use QR codes, apps and other technology to make the connection between offline and online even easier for customers.

Beyond direct response, print helps reinforce the brand as well.

Print marketing can involve more than just traditional paid media, as content can play a role here as well.

Radio and TV ads are the channels least used by e-commerce companies

While broadcast tends to be the medium most associated with marketing and advertising, it is only used by a minority of e-commerce companies. Not only do radio and TV ads tend to be more expensive than other surveyed channels, they can also be more difficult to connect to traffic, sales and ROI than other channels.

Is your marketing delivering results? Call 877.447.0134 to increase your ROI.

B2B Marketers Search Trends [survey]

B2B MarketingRoughly 8 in 10 B2B marketers from around the world (but primarily in North America) say that their content marketing and SEO efforts are at least somewhat integrated, per results from a Regalix survey, making content marketing the most highly integrated with SEO of a variety of digital marketing disciplines. About three-quarters are creating content as part of their organic search marketing, and respondents clearly indicated that the rise in the quantity and quality of content creation is their most significant search marketing trend.

business to business search marketing trends

Asked to rate the significance of several search marketing trends, each of the respondents rated the rise in the quantity and quality of content creation as being at least significant, with 7 in 10 rating this trend highly significant. Roughly 9 in 10 also indicated the surge in video searches and the deeper convergence with social media to be at least significant, although only one-third or fewer saw those as being highly significant.

Almost half of the respondents view the continued growth of mobile ads and mobile content as being not significant at all.

The importance of content marketing makes more sense when considering respondents’ top organic search goals, which are to: provide educational/informational content; establish oneself as thought leader; and drive traffic to website. The top goal for paid search, though, is to accelerate lead generation.

Content marketing is capturing a greater share of B2B marketers’ budgets than a variety of other disciplines, including social media marketing. Three-quarters are using social to boost their SEO efforts, with LinkedIn and Twitter perceived as being the most effective. That’s not surprising, given that B2B buyers and decision-makers tend to heavily over-index in their use of those platforms, according to a recent MarketingCharts Debrief, “Reaching and Influencing B2B Buyers and Decision-Makers”.

Other Findings:

  • B2B marketers are using keyword strategies at different stages of the customer buying cycle, focusing on the use of generic informational keywords at the top of the funnel, and turning more to specific features such as cost, benefits as well as special offers and discounts further into the cycle.
  • While a majority of respondents are using organic search during each stage of the customer buying cycle, the use of paid search tends to decrease post-purchase.
  • 6 in 10 respondents are using responsive web design as part of their mobile SEO efforts.
  • Conversion rate is by far the most-used PPC metric, while site traffic metrics take the lead for measuring SEO efforts.
  • B2B marketers’ top-cited SEO challenges are: staying abreast of search engines’ indexing algorithms and technology updates; and measuring ROI.

About the Data: The results are based on an online survey of 376 B2B marketers of which 83% were from North America, 11% from APAC region and 6% from Europe. Respondents included CMOs and mid-level marketing professionals from leading B2B companies.

Take your marketing to the next level. Call 877.447.0134 today.

Content Categories Mostly Consumed on Mobile [study]

Mobile Content
Time spent accessing the internet on smartphones matched online time spent with PCs in January, according to a recent report from Millennial Media and comScore. But the extent to which online content was consumed on PCs versus mobile devices varied considerably by content category: for example, 80% of time spent with B2B content was via PCs, whereas 79% of time spent with streaming radio was on smartphones, per the study.

Mobile Content

B2B content emerged as the most heavily consumed on PCs, likely a reflection of B2B buyers and decision-makers being far more likely to be using PCs at work than the typical adult.

But beyond B2B, other content categories are also heavily consumed on PCs rather than mobile. Those include automotive (where PCs represent 76% of minutes), travel (68%), TV (67%) and business/finance (62%).

Mobile devices accounted for at least half of time spent in 6 of the 14 categories. Streaming radio was the most heavily mobile, with 95% of online time spent with the category coming via smartphone (79%) or tablet (16%). Mobile devices also comprised a majority of time spent with games (85%), social media (72%), weather (69%), and retail (53%), and half of the time spent with health content.

The distribution of time spent across devices also differs by age and gender. For example, women aged 25-49 spent almost two-thirds of their time with retail content via smartphones (47%) and tablets (17%), while men in that age bracket spent a relatively smaller 47% of their retail time accessing via mobile devices. And while business and finance content was generally consumed more on PCs than on mobile devices, there was a strong age gap in the findings, with 18-24-year-olds spending almost three-quarters (72%) of their time with this content using smartphones.-MarketingCharts

Is your marketing optimized for mobile? Call 877.447.0134 to learn more.

Desktop Still Leads Mobile For Content Sharing

Content Sharing mobile vs desktopIt’s a mobile world but desktop still holds the advantage in at least one area — engagement with content — according to first quarter data released today by social sharing plugin provider AddThis.

The mobile share of total engagement is increasing — gaining 17 percentage points since the first quarter of 2013 — but AddThis data still show a 65%-35% overall advantage for desktop.

That’s a trend-bucking figure considering how far the mobile pendulum has swung on the social media networks where much of the engagement is taking place. According to ComScore numbers for Q4 of 2013, 68% of the time spent by U.S. users on Facebook was on mobile devices. On Twitter, that percentage was 86%.

So why the disconnect? One possible explanation is that publishers are still clinging to the desktop environment and haven’t fully optimized their content for the small screen.

Another is that even on mobile sites or apps, the sharing and engagement tools are often cumbersome.

There’s also an issue of the definition of engagement. AddThis, which compiles its data from 14 million worldwide domains that have installed its engagement plugins, includes printing and “address bar sharing” in the mix, and both of those actions are much more likely to be performed by someone sitting in front of a PC. Here’s a breakdown of the top engagement actions tracked by AddThis:

how-they-share
After Facebook sharing with 26% of total engagement, the desktop staple sharing of URLs from the address bar is second at 21%.

Engagement By Category

AddThis also broke down engagement details by entertainment, sports, politics, food and travel categories, interesting information for marketers targeting those segments.  Download the full report here.  Notable findings:

Entertainment

  • —Peak sharing hour of the day: 2:00pm – 3:00pm ET
  • Top way to engage: sharing to Facebook at 36%

Sports

  • —Peak hour of engagement: 11:00am – 12:00pm ET
  • Top way to engage: 36% sharing to Facebook

Politics

  • —Peak sharing hour of the day: 10:00am – and 11:00am EST
  • Top way to engage: 27% sharing to Facebook

—Food

  • —Peak sharing hour of the day: 11:00am — 12:00pm
  • Top way to engage with food-related content: 46% sharing to Pinterest

Travel

  • —Peak hour of engagement: 11:00am – 12:00pm ET
  • The top way to engage with travel content is printing at 26%, followed by sharing to Facebook at 24%

-MarketingLand

Take your content marketing to the next level. Call 877.447.0134 today.

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Content Marketing – 3 Simple Tips

 

Content marketing

Creating great content can be a time-consuming and difficult process. With a well-thought out strategy, it can be much easier to create and manage. Here are three simple tips to help you write, repurpose, and repackage content that engages your prospects without consuming an inordinate amount of your time.

• Start your editorial calendar. It may seem like a daunting task, but it will be the one thing that’s holding you back from creating content in a timely and efficient manner.It’s best to plan an annual calendar, but you can start out with content for the next three months across your various channels. Simply take an hour today to plan your blog posts and newsletters for the next 30 days. Make sure you have cohesive and timely topics that will capture the attention of your audiences.

• Some of the best content is what you are hearing right now.  Whether your associates are presenting at an industry event or meeting next week, or if you’ve got a webinar planned next month, get a recorded version of the event and get it transcribed. It will provide a wealth of original written content that you can then repackage into your blog, your next whitepaper, or even your next video script.

• Repackage existing offers. For example, take three to five great case studies on your website and combine them into a single eBook under a “greatest customer successes” theme. Identify your top-performing blog posts within a specific category, and let these comprise the main sections of your next whitepaper. Or take the data you just compiled for a research report and use it to inform your next infographic.Editorial planning combined with some creative repackaging will provide fresh, engaging content — simply and quickly.

Short on time and resources? Call Lori at 877.447.0134.