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Google’s Continued Mobile Evolution

26 Aug

What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Google’s Latest Updates

HandsPhones_Banner_8.25.16

CoreyMorris

Guest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Director of Digital Strategy

We’re getting closer to the day when we no longer separate or distinguish traffic by     device type—when the word “mobile” as an adjective becomes a thing of the past.       Google has been and continues to push forward changes intended to enhance the mobile user experience; consequently, it has become the standard for many web designers to take a “mobile-first” design approach. This week’s announcements are not likely a big surprise to most, but as digital marketers, we do need to take note of them.

First, and most importantly, Google officially published that in January 2017 they will begin evaluating popups and interstitials (aka “interrupters”) to determine whether or not they are too obtrusive to the user experience. If they determine interstitials are in fact too obtrusive, the website will not rank as highly. There are still ways to do interstitials, but it will need to be carefully executed to ensure the mitigation of risk. This is not a blanket statement or policy against popups and interstitials, but one that is focused directly on user experience. There are many tactics for utilizing them that sites currently employ that will not be impacted by this update as they don’t pop up until multiple pages have been visited or after a long enough delay, so as not to negatively impact the initial experience after landing on a mobile page from search results. Note that Google will be looking for this when indexing pages and judging the experience of users coming from a search results page.

We know that the initial experience for a user is important to Google (and should be important to us as well as webmasters), as Google does factor page load times into search rankings. There have also been debates in the past about Google’s use of stats on users bouncing back to the search results page quickly after clicking on a result as a negative factor for rankings (I won’t get into the heated SEO debate on that in this article).

The second and less significant update posted by Google this week is encouraging. With the “Mobilegeddon” event being far enough into the past, Google is now going to remove the “mobile-friendly” tag from mobile search results, as nearly 85% of sites qualify. This is a minor move and continued evolution of mobile becoming the norm in search results.

To read Google’s full announcement, click here.

If you missed my article last week about the significant Google AdWords change to text ad formats (also driven by mobile usage), you can read about that topic here.

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Take Your B2B Offense Up A Notch

8 Jul

How to Create Effective Presentations and Repurpose Content

Home Run

I am a big Kansas City Royals fan, and I love the game of baseball. The other day while I was watching a game, I realized just what it was that made the Royals such a relentless team. Although it may be better known for its defense, the Royals are also known for keeping the line moving on offense and putting the ball in play. This had me thinking about how the approach to putting out content can be very similar in strategy.

Today’s B2B marketers are faced with an increasing amount of presentations and content that they have to create in order to match the efforts of competitors. In fact, 76% of marketers will produce more content in 2016 than they did in 2015. With such a high rate of content being produced, your audience is looking for digestible content that will hook their interest and keep them engaged throughout your presentation and their experience with your brand. In this post, I will explore how keeping it simple, having a direct call to action, and repurposing content can enhance your marketing strategies and make you an all-around smarter B2B baserunner.

Getting On Base:

Whether it’s by bunting, hitting a single, or simply being selective with pitches and getting walked, the most important thing is to get on base. Simplifying your message is one of the best practices when presenting, and is sure to get you out of the batter’s box and on to the bag. You want to avoid overwhelming your audience with too much information on one slide. Keep your points direct and simple, allowing only a one point or two per slide to stay on message. This is key because your audience will process information in an organized sequence that will help them to understand your most important points. In fact, during his presentation for the iPhone, Steve Jobs only used 19 words in 12 slides, resulting in one of the most memorable and effective sales presentations, landing him in the metaphorical presenter Hall of Fame. While it is proven that visuals increase retention levels, visuals should only be used to illustrate a point and not just to fill space. It is okay to leave some whitespace, as you do not want to distract your audience from the message’s main takeaway.

Stealing Second:

Any good baserunner will tell you that reading the signs is crucial. Reading your audience is as important as timing the pitcher’s throw to home, and with the average attention span being only 8.25 seconds, you have only a short window to hook their attention. The best way to keep your audience engaged is to end each presentation with a clear call to action. Implementing a strategic ending is crucial and your strategy should adjust to get your audience engaged with your brand. For example, on a webinar I gave recently, I used the last slide of the presentation, which would normally consist of a thank you message, to advertise one of ER Marketing’s whitepapers with information on how to download it. This slide was effective because it stayed on the screen throughout our entire Q&A portion of the presentation, and converted a lot of attendees into people who downloaded and subscribed to our content. By using this slide as a direct CTA, we took a usually worthless slide and converted it to a runner in scoring position.

Taking Third:

Not every piece of content needs to take you from first to third; in fact, in most cases your past content already has you half way there. Since the need to constantly keep turning out content to keep your audience engaged is rapidly increasing, consider modifying and recycling some of the content you used in your presentation. This will add value to your marketing and further drive home your message. Repurposing your presentation can be something as simple as taking information from your presentation to create a more in-depth whitepaper or using video during the presentation to upload short highlights for your company’s website. You can also repurpose titles and headers from your presentation for Twitter posts with links to a related blog your company has written in the past. The combinations are endless.

The Home Stretch:

Home plate is in sight and you’re getting a good lead down the line, but don’t forget to take into consideration whether or not you will need to go back to tag third. When repurposing content, not only is it important to consider the medium that you want to use, but it is also important to recognize that content needs to be optimized for mobile viewing. According to KCPB, mobile digital media time is now greater than time spent on a desktop. It was also found that more people are viewing email on mobile. It is clear that mobile can no longer be treated as a separate channel, because most of your audience will be interacting with your content through mobile digital experience. Keeping a consistent experience with your content on both mobile and desktop will get you sliding into home safely.

While content and presentation curation may seem daunting, just remember to keep it simple and direct in order to drive home your messaging. As George Brett said, “When you get in that situation you simplify the approach…you play as hard as you can, win a game and come back to play another game.”

For your next presentation or webinar turn to these content tips, or visit ermarketing.net.

 

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Oh Snap!

30 Jun

Is Snapchat the Next B2B Marketing Tool for Your Brand?

Snapchat-large

For those who aren’t familiar with the mobile app, Snapchat, it is a multimedia app with more than 100 million users, that allows you to send brief digital content for in-the-moment experiences.

The challenge that marketers face today, whether it be B2B or B2C, is that you have to be involved with all of the different social media platforms in order to evolve. Many people fail to see how Snapchat can be another tool for B2B marketers, or do not take it seriously as a mainstream content contender, but they could be seriously missing out. Snapchat is not likely going away anytime soon, so to simply ignore it and say “well, that’s not where my customers are,” is simply an oversight, because whether they are on Snapchat for business or personal reasons, they are still there engaging with your brand. I recently heard the Global CMO for GE, Linda Boff, speak at #BMA16 and loved her point that:

     “Customers don’t log on to a different internet at night.”

With Snapchat being one of the fastest growing platforms out there, it provides your company the opportunity to better understand your audiences’ changing needs and desires and to get a summary on what has happened in the last 24 hours. Just this month, the app released a new API that will not only enable brands to purchase 10-second video slots, but will also allow your business to track who is coming into contact with your brand’s experience on Snapchat.

Now, what can B2B companies utilize it for? Most of the time social media platforms all get lumped together and treated as the same, when in reality, they accomplish and approach things in very different ways. How you communicate on Facebook is different from Pinterest, which is different from Snapchat—and people go to those channels for a different purpose. Facebook is more of a browsing, news and social outlet whereas Pinterest is very purposeful and very niche for different individual interests. Snapchat is a different way for you to communicate who your brand is through creation of stories that will add value to your audience. Understanding how to use the platform will make it easier for you to create appropriate content.

People no longer want bullet points from companies on the features and benefits of your product and why it’s so amazing. With so much parody in products and price, you cannot break through to customers without providing something different and showing that you are a brand that can engage with them.

It is important to recognize that with platforms such as Snapchat, Vine, and Instagram, B2B marketers need to start acting like media companies. Snapchat really isn’t a space for traditional and glossy advertisements, it is a source for creating awareness and experience for your brand because your audience has become more savvy and are aware when they are being “sold to.”

Snapchat is very experiential, very in the moment and therein lies the major opportunity. So, if you’re at a tradeshow, or a conference, or you are doing a demo, you can post behind-the-scene videos and pictures to invite your audience into that experience.

How do people interact with your product? B2B has a lot of manufacturing involved; if you are in that space, seeing how a machine works, how it provides a solution, how it makes somebody’s life easier—you can show that visually with a video, a picture, you could time stamp it, or you could create your own geofilter. If you’re a larger corporation and seeking to humanize your brand, then you can find ways to further build on a relationship with your audience. Is the CEO going to engage in a 10-second Snap that will resonate with who your brand is and create personality for your brand? The options are limitless and the rule book is out the window.

While Snapchat may not be the end-all-be-all for your marketing approach, its strong digital profile can organically create a sense of content urgency like no other platform. Because of the way content disappears after 24 hours, and keeps the length of stories very short, consumers are more likely to keep coming back for more.

Lastly, the assumption that Snapchat is primarily for millennial entertainment purposes does not discount the app’s value from a business standpoint. Millennials are becoming more and more active in the industry and they will continue to seek information and entertainment through channels that they know. A recent survey found that Snapchat is more popular than Facebook among 72 percent of millennials. It is important to play the long-game and plan for the future, because while Millennials may not be your biggest customer segment, they will become that in the future, and what they’ll remember is how your brand’s experience made them feel through its social presence.

Whether your B2B brand is geared toward the building industry, healthcare professionals, or something else entirely, developing and utilizing a consistent Snapchat strategy will create brand loyalty and can generate awareness through engaging your audience with unique content.

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Content Marketing & SEM: Stats Any B2B CMO Should See

5 May

Why Content Marketing Should Be Part of Your Digital Strategy

SEO and Content

Content marketing. Heard of it? If not, you probably haven’t been reading much Navigate-the-Channel. We’ve spoken a lot about how content is an incredibly effective B2B strategy to provide more information to customers at the early stages of their buyer’s journey, establish companies’ trust and expertise, and ultimately, drive more sales.

That’s all well and good, but there are other issues that B2B companies need to consider when it comes to their content strategies. Issues like Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, in which major search algorithm updates will affect the way search engines deliver the highest-quality results to their users. If your website can’t offer relevant content to those users, you can bet that your website will literally be bumped down the page, hidden under a pile of search results from companies that were just a little smarter than you about integrating content marketing into their strategies.

A recent article from Search Engine Land drew my attention because of its insights regarding content marketing and SEM. Here are a few standout facts that B2B companies should read before planning their content strategy:

  • More than 60-70% of content goes unused, meaning companies need to work to better understand who they’re writing for and why by conducting an audit of buyer personas and journeys.
  • B2B companies should prioritize utilizing a Content Management System (CMS) that integrates authors, topics, and keywords. For Adobe, switching to an SEO-friendly CMS resulted in a 307% increase in organic traffic within a year and a 287% increase in rankings on Page 1.
  • Don’t forget design—content needs to capture attention to be effective. Images, video, website design, and aesthetics are important contributing factors when it comes to “moving the needle” and shouldn’t be underestimated.

As Google continues to demand more and more from websites, it will become critically important that B2B companies fill their sites with the high-quality, relevant content users are searching for. You need to make sure that you’ve not only done the research to find out what your audience is looking for online, but that your content is written and created to deliver to those needs. SEO, therefore, is a critical component of your content marketing strategy.

Or it’s not. But if it’s not, you better enjoy Page 2.

 

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Book Review 3: The Fred Factor (Part 1/2)

7 Apr

4 Lessons Anyone Can Learn from Fred’s Example in Customer Service

fred-factor

I was at an event recently and had a chance to visit with different people with varied backgrounds and professional pursuits. Someone asked the group, “are you a Fred?” and maybe more importantly, “do you have any Freds in your organization?”

That intrigued me enough to pick up a book written by Mark Sanborn titled The Fred Factor. What a simple, yet compelling book for anyone to read and think about to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

The book starts out with a story about how Sanborn’s mailman and his mail delivery created an extraordinary experience. According to the author:

“This postal carrier stopped by my house right after I moved in to introduce himself and welcome me to the neighborhood. When he learned I traveled almost 200 days a year, he suggested I give him a schedule and he would hold my mail, bundle it up and only deliver it on the days I was home. I suggested he just leave the mail in the box on the side of the house and I would pick it up when back in town. Fred, the mail carrier, suggested that was a bad idea because burglars watch for mail building up in the box. He suggested putting what he could in the box and the balance between the screen door and front door.

I started to wonder if this guy was for real and really worked for the U.S. Postal Service.

Two weeks later, after coming home I noticed my front door mat was on the side of my porch. Under it was a note from Fred. While I was gone, another mail carrier had delivered a package to the wrong address. He went and got it, left it on my porch and covered it with the doormat so it was safe with a hand written note so I knew what was going on.”

Over the next 10 years, the author received exceptional service from Fred the Postman. He could always tell when a substitute was on the job, as mail was jammed in the box as opposed to neatly bundled. These encounters inspired the author to figure out what the “Fred Factor” is and what it takes to become one.

So, how can we get more Freds in the world? That’s easy to answer: Be a Fred! Only if you make the ordinary extraordinary will others see the possibilities for themselves. One thing seems common to all human beings: a passion for significance.

So, what does it take to be a Fred? There are lots of nuggets and good points in this book but a great place to start is with the 4 main principles the book outlines: 

Principle #1: Everyone makes a difference.

Only employees can choose to do their job in an extraordinary way. Yes, the right management, structure, procedures, and culture of a company all matter, but in the end, only employees can CHOOSE to do their job in an extraordinary way. Nobody can prevent you from choosing to be exceptional. The question to ask yourself everyday is what kind of difference you made on that day. A good reminder is to know more and notice more.

What we haven’t been told nearly enough is that people give work dignity. There are no unimportant jobs, just people who feel unimportant in their jobs. B.C. Forbes, the founder of Forbes magazine, said, “There is more credit and satisfaction in being a first-rate truck driver than a tenth-rate executive.” Think about that for a minute!

The Fred Factor emphasizes that the more value you create for others, the more value will eventually flow towards you.

Principle #2: Everything is built on relationships.

Fred is proof that, in any job or business, relationship building is the most important objective, because the quality of the relationship is what differentiates the quality of the product or service. Most mail carriers can get the mail in the mailbox, but Fred got to know the person so he could deliver exceptional service custom tailored to them.

Principle #3: You must continually create value for others, and it doesn’t have to cost a penny.

Don’t have enough money? The necessary training? The right opportunities? In other words, do you ever complain that you lack resources?

Then consider Fred. What resources did he have at his disposal? A blue uniform and a mail bag. That’s it! He walked up and down the streets with that bag of mail and his heart and head full of imagination. By the end of the day, Fred had beaten a silent competitor that threatened his potential. That competitor is mediocrity—a willingness to do just enough and nothing more than necessary to get by.

Principle #4: You can reinvent yourself regularly.

The only difference between a rut and a grave, as the old saying goes, is the depth.

Become a sponge for ideas. Learn how to distinguish between activity and accomplishment. If you want to reinvent yourself, answer these questions:

  • What are the most important lessons you have learned?
  • What did you once deeply desire to accomplish that you never attempted?
  • Whom do you most admire?
  • Which of their skills and characteristics would you like to develop in your life?

Work on your IQ (implementation quotient). How many good ideas die for lack of action and follow through on your part? Knowing you could have made someone’s day and actually doing it are two different things.

You might want to practice the one-a-day plan. If you do one extraordinary thing a day, whether at home or work, your work will be a record book of the extraordinary.

These four lessons can apply to anyone in any industry, but it is especially true in the building products industry. Building is unique in that, despite all sorts of modern and technological advances, it is still almost entirely built around relationships. Likewise, it doesn’t matter how smart or creative we are with marketing if the people making, maintaining, and nurturing the relationships aren’t acting like Freds.

So, how about giving it a go? It’s time for those in the building products industry to learn from Fred—and help create more of them.

Stay tuned for part two of this book review, which will cover how to find and develop Freds as employees.

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