How Digital Marketing Ramps Up Results for Manufacturers

15 Aug

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Having a solid trade show presence as your biggest marketing tool is no longer enough. In order to stay relevant and profitable in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, B2B manufacturers need to step up their digital marketing game.

Digital Marketing Provides Data-Driven Results

Just like traditional marketing (think: trade shows, flyers, and mailers), digital marketing means following leads, generating conversions—and ultimately, getting the sale. But here’s where things diverge: a solid digital marketing campaign allows you to deploy a more precision-based tracking system than traditional marketing channels are capable of. In other words, you can choose where to spend your advertising dollars based on hard data that results from a well-executed digital marketing plan.

With the right marketing strategy, you’ll get a clearer picture of your ROI, reliable metrics that allow you to manage your budget and set future goals, and the potential to keep your sales and marketing teams accountable with data-driven performance monitoring.

Your Customers are Digitally Present

Today, nearly everyone has access to the internet, even at work —and in many cases, that internet is in their back pocket, accessible to them at any given moment. According to GlobalSpec’s “2017 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector,” 61 percent of industrial professionals visit at least six and often 20 or more work-related websites each week. This translates to at least 50 percent of industrial employees spending six or more hours on websites while at work, and a full 31 percent logging nine-plus hours in work-related activities online. When it comes to finding components, equipment, suppliers, and services, 68 percent use the internet as their primary resource.

Most buyers depend on a vendor’s digital resources (like whitepapers, blog posts, and videos) when they’re at the beginning of their decision-making process—and they hold off making contact with suppliers until much later in the buying cycle. Having a reliable digital marketing strategy equipped with plenty of high-value content means you’ll be better prepared to communicate with your customers while they’re moving through the early stages of the sales funnel.

You Get Better Leads—and More of Them

When you provide relevant, quality content on your website—especially gated content like white papers and webinars, which require the contact info of the customer for access—your site becomes a lead-generating mechanism.

So, the more traffic your website receives from potential customers looking for specific content, the more leads you’ll develop.

But what about the quality of those leads?

Once again, digital marketing provides the benefit of data-driven information. With marketing automation tools like SharpSpring, you can qualify the leads you get using a point-based scoring system: a completed contact form earns 25 points, while a visit to your “About Us” page might only garner 5 points. Essentially, each of your customer’s activities on your site is tallied up for a final score that determines whether they are considered a “quality” lead—and whether they’re worth following up with in the future.

Your Digital Marketing Strategy is Scalable

As you develop, execute, and tailor your digital marketing plan, you’ll become more comfortable with the data and the overall strategy. You’ll get a better sense of what works for your business, and what doesn’t. Ultimately, deciding where to spend your marketing dollars will become second nature.

Since a digital marketing plan is easily customized to suit your business goals, your campaign strategy should align with your needs along the way. It should afford you the ability to ramp up the tactics that are working for you and scrap the efforts that aren’t producing the results you want.

If you need help strategizing for your next digital marketing effort, give us a call to discuss.

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Get Social at Your Next Trade Show: How to Use Social Media to Boost Your Event Marketing

10 Aug

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Even in an increasingly digitized marketing world, a well-executed trade show presence is an indispensable part of a solid marketing strategy for any B2B company. And just because trade shows are a more traditional way of getting the word out about your product or brand doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the benefits of real-time communication and instant exposure made possible through social media.

Social Media Plays a Key Role in B2B Marketing

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 B2B report, 68% of B2B marketers incorporate trade shows and similar in-person events as part of their marketing plan—but just 36% report that their events are effective.

A well-executed social media campaign can dramatically change that.

When done with a bit of planning and creativity, social media can help maximize visibility and attendance at your next big event. As an added bonus, it offers a convenient platform for repurposing your content and leveraging your trade show investment long after the event wraps up.

Check out a few of our favorite tips on getting the most out of your trade show through social media:

Customize Twitter Hashtags, Livestream to Engage Event Attendees, and Follow Up with LinkedIn Connections 

Depending on your level of participation in your trade show, you may have access to a list of contacts for partners, key speakers, and potential attendees. Leverage your contact list with these steps:

  • Follow them on Twitter and add them to a Twitter List
  • Create a company-specific hashtag and use it alongside the event’s official hashtag to tweet about your upcoming event
  • Start tweeting early—even as early as a few months before the event—to build relationships with partners, key players, and attendees and to increase the visibility of your event.

During set-up and while the event is taking place, engage employees and booth visitors with photos and video—and then use your hashtags to get your content where you want it via live tweets.

Twitter Tip:

If you think you’ll be too busy to manage social media at the event, consider using a social media management platform or hiring a social media partner to schedule bulk tweets beforehand. Then, add to those with live tweets as often as possible during the show.

Leverage Live Streaming: Offer Contests, Product Demos, and Giveaways to Engage Your Followers

Take some time to learn how livestream works in advance of the event. Whether you’re using Instagram Live, Facebook Live, or YouTube, do a few livestream trial runs beforehand: stream a production run, a project completion, or a customer testimonial to liven up your social feed on a regular workday.

By the time the event rolls around, livestreaming will be second nature!

At the Trade Show

Take advantage of the real-time opportunities for livestreaming during the event. Ask customers for testimonials, interview employees about their trade show activities, and engage partners in conversations about the benefits of your product and your company.

Livestreaming offers a great way to bring the trade show to those that couldn’t be there in person, and allows you to add some action and authenticity to your social presence.

After the Trade Show

Repurpose your livestream content to create a trade show recap that highlights your customers’ experience with your product and your company. Clip short snippets from the stream for future posts when you’re looking to show off your company’s personality.

LinkedIn for Long-Lasting Trade Show Connections

LinkedIn can be a bit cumbersome to use in real-time at the event, but it makes a great follow-up tool to reconnect with key players and potential clients long after the event shuts its doors.

If your contact is already a LinkedIn connection (and in limited cases even when they aren’t), you can use the “InMail” feature for direct messaging. Shoot your contacts a brief note thanking them for their time and interest, or simply to say that you’re glad you had a chance to talk and you’d like to keep in touch. You can also use the message as to segue way to offer access to a white paper or an invitation to an upcoming networking event.

If your contact is not yet a LinkedIn connection, go to their profile and click on the ellipsis at the top right. Click “Personalize Invitation” and write a brief message in the text box before sending your connection request.

Follow the above tips to integrate traditional in-person marketing strategies with the far-reaching capabilities of social media. If you need help designing and deploying your social media strategy, reach out to us for advice!

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Online Blogging is Essential for Businesses of Every Type

8 Aug

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There is a common misconception that online blogs are meant for opinionated and self-righteous individuals who desire attention. Though the web’s most popular blogs were once dominated by such individuals, blogs have progressed into an important inbound marketing method. Every business should have a blog. It serves as an important bridge that connects your company to clients as well as prospective business partners.

Blogs Catalyze Recall and Rapport

It is not enough to float out the occasional inbound or outbound ad and expect it to forge meaningful bonds with clients. A deeper connection is necessary. One way to develop such a connection is through a consistently updated blog. Use your blog to show clients that your business is interested in improving their lives or businesses and establish a rapport. Just as important is the establishment of higher recall. Knowledge provided through blog posts really does help establish your brand and boost recall. Heightened rapport and recall gradually culminate in brand loyalty.

Blogs are the Gift That Keeps on Giving

A blog that is regularly updated with keyword-laden content will reap rewards in the days, weeks, months and years to come. Plenty of prospective customers, business clients and others who can obtain utility or enjoyment from your services or products will find your blog online through search engines. Others will land on your blog after finding links to your blog entries placed in your social media content, website and other online avenues. People will likely search the web and find links to your online blog long beyond the points in time when blog entries are made. As long as your blog entries are optimized for search engines, your posts have the potential to be read far into the future. This is the widespread exposure your business needs to attract a steady stream of clients as time progresses.

A Viral Blog Post is a Low Cost Means of Marketing

If your blog posts are particularly intriguing, they will inspire some readers to share the content with their friends, family, co-workers and others. It doesn’t matter what type of business you are in. If you are capable of generating insightful content or finding writers who create intriguing blog posts, these entries will be shared. If the number of shares reaches a tipping point, the blog post will go viral and spread across social media and other spheres. Such exposure will boost perception of your brand and undoubtedly spike your sales.

Blog Posts Generate Traffic to Your Company’s Website

Every business can benefit from an uptick in traffic to their website and social media pages. Hubspot reports 60 percent of the brands that regularly blogs acquires more customers than those lacking active blogs. Captivating blog content delivered on a consistent basis will inevitably drive prospective clients to your online content. This is especially true for blog content that is optimized for search engines. Your company’s blog has incredible potential to redirect traffic to your website, online store, social media pages and other online pages regardless of the services or products you sell. Actively post new content to your blog and it will send plenty of online traffic your way.

Blogs Add a Professional Touch to Your Website

Every business is tasked with proving its legitimacy, authority and expertise to potential clients and business partners. Posting well-written blog entries with insightful information, industry updates and other interesting information related to the company’s industry goes a long way in establishing the business as being led by true professionals. This is especially true of a blog that offers readers useful information. After all, businesses exist to solve problems. If your blog helps customers solve clients’ problems or improve their businesses or lives in some way, they will be inclined to view the company in a positive light.

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Why Short Videos are the Most Effective in Online Marketing

3 Aug

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As the internet becomes increasingly ubiquitous, businesses of all varieties are adding videos to their online content. Videos can be easily embedded on social media, blogs and websites, giving them potential to connect with prospective clients, build rapport and make a lasting impression. The bottom line is some people are more strongly impacted by video as opposed to the written word. However, certain types of videos are more effective than others. Of critical importance is the length of the video.

Less is More When It Comes to Video

The cardinal sin of online video is making the content even the slightest bit longer than necessary. Though there is no magical video length that allows for the optimal effect, videos posted to the web should generally only be a couple minutes or less. When in doubt, make the video as short as possible. Put yourself in the position of a prospective client. They see a blog post, social media post or text on your website, with video embedded between the text. They click the video’s “play” button just to see what sort of footage appears. If the video content does not immediately grab their attention, they might not continue watching beyond the 30-second mark. If they are mildly intrigued, they will likely watch the video for about a minute. If they are absolutely captivated by the video’s beginning, they will likely watch for at least a couple minutes, if not the whole thing.

Why People Favor Short Videos

Do not lose sight of the fact that people do not visit company websites, social media and blogs with the intent of a watching video, so they probably won’t tune in for a video that is any longer than five minutes at an absolute maximum. Even those who are genuinely interested in a business’s service and products might not be willing to watch a five-minute video in its entirety. Attention spans are rapidly shrinking in a society that seems to offer just about everything in an on-demand fashion. People are being flooded with information from commercials to pop-up advertisements, banner ads, listicles, videos, photos and beyond. If your video content doesn’t pull them in right away, they will eventually gravitate toward other stimuli.

Prospective Customers Notice Video Length Right Away

The typical person’s eyes veer toward two things when they find a video online. The first is the thumbnail. If the video’s thumbnail looks intriguing, there is a good chance the prospect will click it and give it a chance. The other element people notice before clicking the play button on a video is the length. If the video length has four digits, meaning it is 10 minutes or longer, plenty of people will ignore it. If it has three digits, meaning nine minutes or less, some will watch. If the video is only a couple minutes or less, viewership will be maximized. The shorter the video is, the greater the odds of a click and a complete watch-through.

Short Videos Engage the Audience

Take a moment to put yourself in the position of a prospective client. You are perusing a company’s website and find a video embedded in the content. You find the thumbnail interesting. Your eyes move toward the video length and you see it is one minute and 40 seconds. You click the play button as you don’t mind sacrificing a mere minute and 40 seconds of your day. After all, most videos have something interesting to offer. So, you click “play” and are immediately hooked by the video’s intro. You continue to watch the remainder of the video and feel a deeper connection to the company. This is the type of engagement your videos should produce.

Alternatively, consider the lack of engagement generated by a prospective client who finds a video on your website, blog or social media that lasts beyond five minutes. Though they might click the video’s play button and give it a chance for 30 seconds or so, the odds of them watching a substantial portion of such a long video are quite low. The moral of the story is lengthy videos often intimidate viewers and make them feel as though the content requires a long-time commitment.

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Why Inbound Marketing Has Dethroned Outbound Marketing

1 Aug

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Out with the old and in with the new. It is a common saying that applies to seemingly everything, and marketing is no exception. The new king of the castle is inbound marketing. He is here to supplant the previously dominant outbound marketing. There is a good reason for this dramatic power shift: the seemingly ubiquitous nature of the world wide web.

The Shift to the Web

The internet is just about everywhere these days. It seems like everyone has a web-enabled smartphone, tablet or laptop that provides a steady stream of real-time information from just about any location. Even video game consoles and Smart TVs can access the internet. This increased reliance on the web for information and entertainment has paved the way for inbound marketing channels to reign dominant. The bottom line is that fewer people are consuming media, information and entertainment through conventional outbound marketing channels. The average person no longer picks up a tangible newspaper, watches a variety of TV shows or listens to the radio. More and more businesses and advertisers are responding by gradually phasing out these outbound marketing channels.

The Customers of the Future are Tuning out Traditional Outbound Marketing Channels

The vast majority of businesses are constantly trying to increase their market share. In particular, businesses covet young adults, teens and kids. These are the customers of today and tomorrow. If a business can convert these youngsters into loyal customers, they will rake in the profits across posterity. Young adults and those in school and college are enamored with the internet. They use smartphones, laptops, tablets and traditional desktop computers to surf the web, post on social media and watch online content. These demographics have eschewed radio, TV, newspapers and even magazines in favor of online content. Businesses that still rely on such traditional outbound marketing channels run the risk of losing out on the all-important young demographic. Alternatively, businesses that segue to web-based inbound marketing channels gain critically important exposure to this coveted customer demographic.

Is There Room for Two?

Outbound advertising channels are not completely dead. Older individuals still watch TV, get their news from tangible newspapers and turn on the radio. Businesses that target middle-aged and older individuals will enjoy success with traditional outbound marketing methods. Some industry experts argue that a blend of inbound and outbound marketing strategies is optimal as they reinforce one another.

For example, consider someone who takes the bus to work in a busy urban center. He spots a restaurant’s billboard ad while waiting to hop on the bus for his morning work commute. He pulls out his smartphone while riding home from work later that evening and sees the same restaurant advertising on his Facebook feed. He is much more inclined to remember the restaurant’s name, logo and/or slogan simply because he was exposed to its traditional outbound advertisement earlier that day. The company’s inbound advertisement on Facebook reinforced the initial exposure. The end result of such a multifaceted approach to marketing is increased brand exposure and a general heightened awareness of the business’s existence.

Inbound Marketing is Here to Stay

The moral of the story is that it is not wise to put all of your marketing eggs in one basket.  As time progresses, inbound marketing will undoubtedly prove dominant.  In the meantime, mixing in some traditional inbound ads here and there will certainly help your marketing push. Analyze your target demographic and settle a blend of inbound and outbound marketing that makes the most sense for your unique business.

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